There is a website called the World Socialist Website. Frequently, it runs editorial content extolling the supposed virtues of certain Middle Eastern dictatorships in their supposed anti-imperialist struggles against the US and NATO countries during the Arab Spring.
Its content has been widely cited by “infantile ultraleftist” bloggers in recent years to form reactionary critiques of the populist Green Movement in Iran, also to create a defensive wall of pseudo-leftist solidarity around Moammar Qaddafi during and after the western intervention in the Lybian revolution. Most recently WSWS, along with a myriad of internet-based propagandists led by the likes of Pepe Escobar, Alex Jones and As’ad AbuKhalil, has sucessfully induced a sort of free-floating, delusionally paranoid narrative among a small cohort of dedicated online denizens who inhabit certain leftist blogs regarding the Western invasion of Syria that, uhhhm, hasn’t actually taken place.
Along with the above-mentioned pseudo-intellectual trash talkers, WSWS articles have helped to form the attitude and shape the cookie cutter knowledge base of many so-called leftist bloggers, whose political opinions on close inspection turn out to be reactionary, sometimes racist and frequently conservative.
What such naif dupes relying on this propaganda organ may not realise is that the WSWS is operated by a long-discredited reactionist fringe cult with its roots in Britain, that poses as a revolutionary vanguard and was previously fronted by Gerry Healy. Today this fringe group is known as the Separate Equality Party/IC (formerly the Workers Revolutionary Party/IC). The SEPtic, as its now called, has evolved to become vehemently anti-union in recent times.
It was said to have been in the public relations employ of several Middle Eastern despots for several decades, including the Ayatollahs in Iran during the co-optation of the movement there in the late 1970s early 1980s from a secular leftist street struggle for independence to an Islamist coup d etat, when WRP/IC helped to justify through propaganda the selling out of the radicals who had battled the Shah’s police force on the streets of Tehran.
One of the more prolific sources on the Internet regarding the Iran turmoil has been the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). Although a casual reader might miss it, the WSWS is run by David North’s Socialist Equality Party (SEP) which periodically claims to defend the “heritage” (while trampling on the revolutionary program) of Trotskyism. Usually posing as a kind of generic socialist alternative to “mainstream” organs of liberal U.S. imperialism such as the New York Times and The Nation, the SEP declares its “solidarity” with the “International Committee of the Fourth International” (ICFI), consisting of SEP subsidiaries in several countries. Like the WWP in the “antiwar” movement, this dual posture occasionally brings the WSWS into conflict with segments of its cyberreadership – as currently over Iran. The Northites are not as crude as the Marcyites, preferring to one-sidedly bash Mousavi rather than singing hosannas to Ahmadinejad. But in the end, North & Co. politically line up with the hard-line Islamists … and not just today. Back in 1978-79, these “socialists” loudly defended Khomeini against the Trotskyists who warned against bowing to Islamic reaction.
The WSWS’ main line of argument is that the pro-Mousavi “green wave” in Iran is another edition of the U.S.-sponsored “rose revolution” in Georgia (2003) and “orange revolution” in Ukraine (2004). As we wrote earlier, “at first glance this looks very much like a U.S.-instigated color-coded ‘revolution’,” and “certainly, the imperialists are up to their usual dirty tricks” – but there are important differences. First, the U.S. government has not staked everything on “regime change,” and has responded hesitantly. Then there is the scale of the demonstrations – not a few thousand or tens of thousands, as in Tbilisi and Kiev, but many hundreds of thousands. The WSWS’ claim (“Iran, Imperialism and the Left,” 7 July) that “the Mousavi protest movement was a middle-class protest that lacked mass support” just doesn’t hold water. Certainly, just because a movement is big doesn’t make it progressive: look at U.S.-backed Solidarno?? in Poland. What fueled that movement was anti-Soviet Polish nationalism and Catholic reaction. In Iran today, while the protests are politically dominated by a wing of the Islamic Republic’s bourgeois rulers, they are fed by mass discontent over three decades of reactionary clerical dictatorship.
WSWS continue today to offer vehement reactionary support for the authoritarian bourgeois Syrian Government in its quest to beat down the majority Syrian population’s rebellion against four decade police state repression.
Remember Gerry Healy, Gen-X pseudo lefties? No?
Gerry Healy, the founder-leader of the British Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) who headed the IC until the mid-1980s, had a well-deserved reputation as a cynical political thug with a penchant for pseudo-dialectical gibberish and crisis mongering. In the late 1960s, along with Ernest Mandel and the Pabloist “United Secretariat” (USec), the IC hailed various Middle East bonapartists as manifestations of a trans-class “Arab Revolution.” The IC also shared the Pabloists’ enthusiasm for Mao Zedong’s “Red Guard” faction during the massive intra-bureaucratic wrangle known as the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.” Today, in a symmetrical deviation, North’s SEP denies that China was ever any sort of workers’ state.
By the 1980s, the political prostitutes of the IC were acting as paid publicists for Libya’s Muammar el Qaddafi and other Arab despots. The most despicable act of these political gangsters was providing intelligence to Saddam Hussein’s reactionary Baathist regime on émigré members of the Iraqi Communist Party. When the WRP/IC imploded in 1985-86, former members came forward and told of being sent to take photographs of leftist exiles at demonstrations, which the WRP leadership then passed on to the Iraqi embassy.
After Healy’s fall, the current IC leadership, headed by David North, sought to adjust the group’s image to something more closely approximating the “anti-Pabloite Trotskyist” tradition it falsely claims to represent. In their disingenuous account of their belated break with Healy, entitled “How the WRP Betrayed Trotskyism,” the WL leadership downplayed their record of years of slavish obedience to Healy’s every pronouncement. The insistence by North et al that they bear no political responsibility for the IC’s crimes, and that everything was Healy’s fault, recalls Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 attempt to whitewash the crimes of the Soviet bureaucracy by blaming everything on Stalin. People who go back and examine issues of the Bulletin will see for themselves that the Workers League’s uncritical adulation of Qaddafi and the rest of the IC’s bonapartist bankrollers was every bit as enthusiastic as the WRP’s. They will also see that the SEP/IC, like the USec and almost every other pseudo-Trotskyist tendency, consistently supported counterrevolution in the former Soviet bloc, from Lech Walesa’s Polish Solidarnosc in 1981 to Boris Yeltsin’s pro-imperialist rabble in Moscow a decade later. With the passage of time, and an influx of politically raw new members, the SEP/IC leadership has tried to distance itself from its inglorious history. The tone of the WSWS today is far less hysterical than the Bulletin used to be, but the program it puts forward is no more revolutionary.
How about the late movie-star radical chic poseur Vanessa Redgrave?
Vanessa was always on the Left, but the point at which she disappeared into the extreme Left was in 1973 when she joined Gerry Healy’s Workers Revolutionary Party. Corin had joined two years before, but she resisted until a wave of London car bombings convinced her that ‘the British military dictatorship’ was performing acts of provocation. She was distraught – she also admits in her autobiography that she was drinking heavily at the time, ‘opening a bottle of cheap wine every morning to get the fuzzy obliteration of alcohol’. She describes her decision to join the party in the same terms as a religious conversion: ‘I realised at that moment that I had no other way to live except in a political struggle with a party that knew that a serious study of history is necessary if we are to gain understanding and prevent a recurrence of repression. I rang Corin and asked him to come to my home then and there. I told him I wanted to apply immediately to become a Trotskyist and a member of the Socialist Labour League.’
She met Gerry Healy (an ugly toad of a man) and travelled with him to meetings: ‘The next few weeks were among the most exhilarating of my life. It seemed to me that I learned more in that short space of time than in the whole of my previous existence.’ Healy was delighted with his new convert and got her to buy a house in the Peak District to turn into a ‘college of Marxism’. According to later defectors, the Red House was run almost like a prison – guards patrolled the perimeter and students were not allowed contact with their families or the outside world, for fear of MI5 infiltration. Naturally, the press were suspicious and in 1978 police raided the house on a tip-off from The Observer that it contained a stockpile of arms. No arms were found and Vanessa and Corin sued The Observer for libel but lost and were left with huge costs. Then, in 1985, the tabloids mounted a huge expose of Gerry Healy based on testimony from defectors – he had sexually abused dozens of women and stolen party funds. Almost all the party members then left – except the Redgraves, who stayed loyal to Healy till his death in 1989.
Today, the SEP/IC is still run very much like the LaRouchite cult, a perverted form of radical politics turned into a money-making enterprise. However, unlike LaRouche, who openly abdicated his leftist pretensions for a more realistic brand of neo-conservativism long ago, the SEP/IC remains a duplicitous organisation falsely labelling itself as “Trostkyite” and “Socialist” in order to fool the internet rubes that it regularly disinforms.
Here is a story you might find interesting:
I know of two men. One of them is the leader of a small Trotskyist political party in the United States. He is known as David North. The other is the CEO of Grand River Printing & Imaging, a company that earns 25 million dollars a year according to its website. They call him David W. Green.
For nearly 30 years, Mr. North ran his political party and Mr. Green ran his business. Mr. North gave speeches about the exploitation of the working class. Mr. Green exploited his workers, deriving surplus value from their unpaid labor. Mr. North thundered against the corporations that dominate American political life. Mr. Green sought those corporations out as clients, and probably did lunch with some of their executives. Mr. North would talk about the disgusting climate of corporate greed that pervaded the American cultural atmosphere. Mr. Green helped actualize that corporate greed by printing advertisements to help them push their products on consumers.
Of course Mr. Green was no black-hearted tycoon. No, surely Mr. North would have to exempt from his tirades against the corporations that dominate American politics and exploit the entire world certain capitalist leaders who stood out as genuine pillars of their community. Why, Mr. Green had gone to great lengths to make his workers as comfortable as possible. He invested in their training and education, he included them as part of his “larger vision”. But surely Mr. North, who understood Marxism very well, would point out the absence of democratic control of the workplace, or the usual separation of the worker from the instrument of production that is the requisite of capitalist production. After all, his party published in statement after statement that the aim of socialism was to create a democratic economy. Yet none of the reports on Grand River suggested anything about “democracy” or “worker ownership” – Mr. Green may have been a nice man who saw the value in keeping his work horses happy, but he was also a businessman. So surely, should Mr. Green and Mr. North ever meet one another, they would disagree on a great many things.
Unless, of course, they were the same man.
Could it be a case of multipule personality disorder? Not exactly. You see, David Green, alias David North, is a fraud. He is the biggest fraud to hit the socialist movement since James Robertson of the Sparticist Leauge or “Chairman” Bob Avakian of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He owns a multi-million dollar corporation, and the upper echelons of his political cult and members of their family occupy key executive positions.
Unsurprisingly, North also has a history of supporting strikebreakers:
Four years ago, the organization known as the Workers League, led by one David North, decided to write off the trade unions, saying “to define the AFL-CIO as a working class organization is to blind the working class” (Bulletin, 10 January 1992; see “Workers League vs. the Unions,” WV No. 580, 16 July 1993). Now, in the context of the defeated 17-month-long Caterpillar strike and the four-month battle by Liverpool dockers against union-busting, North & Co. have taken this formulation out of the realm of theory and shown it for what it really is: an open prescription for strikebreaking.
Early last month, as dock workers unions from North America to Australia announced their refusal to handle ships loaded in Liverpool by scabs, North’s followers in the British International Communist Party (ICP) wrote a scurrilous article, “Dockers Must Reject Fake Internationalism” (International Worker, 2 December 1995), calling this basic declaration of solidarity a “fraud.” Yet some two weeks later, American trade unionists of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) turned back a scab Atlantic Container Lines ship from three U.S. ports by honoring picket lines put up by dock workers who had flown in from Liverpool, giving a huge boost to their strike.