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Continuing the Discussion of Gino Perente and NATLFED

On December 7, 2002, an anonymous letter was posted on Portland IndyMedia about Gino Perente and the National Labor Federation, decrying the organization as a "cult".

One cannot dismiss the appeal of the so-called "National Labor Federation" by simply saying it was a "cult."
I met Gino Perente in 1972 when he, and Polly Gardner, and Mary Seeber (all dead now), and Elizabeth Logan (where is she?) regularly came by one of the Red Balloon Collective suites in the dorms at SUNY Stony Brook, and we'd have all-night sessions.

I went with Mary and Polly (who was 16 at the time!) to organize farmworkers in the migrant shacks in the East end of Long Island, New York. We got shot at by the crew chiefs and their hirelings; we moved evicted farmworker back into their "homes" with all their meager belongings. And, yes, we built a free medical clinic in the town of Riverhead NY.

So there were indeed stalinist and cult-like aspects to this organization. But unlike other cults, it did solid (if nerve-wracking, and unnecessarily authoritarian) work.

As to its alleged ties with LaRouche, this is one of the funniest parts of the history. I was there for all of that. I remember going with Gino, Mary, Polly and several others to a talk by the LaRouchies at Columbia University around 1975. This was when LaRouche (aka "Lyn Marcus") was in his "Women as Vampire" phase (his wife had run off with another member to England -- that was the basis for years and years of political psychobabble from LaRouche), and everything was being blamed on "the Mother" for sucking the energy and politics out of kids.

The LaRouchies used this as a way to bypass sticky arguments.

Anyway, we were in a first-floor classroom jammed with 50 or 60 people, the EFWA (Eastern Farmworkers Association) organizers including me standing in the back, and Gino, in his black leather jacket, says to the speaker from US Labor Party (LaRouche): "Punk, you don't say anything about what you're going to actually DO to make the revolution."

The guy prattles about something, Gino cuts him off with some witty reparte, and the guy shoots back: "You're only saying that because you, like all of us, had an unnatural attachment to your mother."

Gino, a master at cutting through academic bullshit, rips his own jacket off as he climbs over people to get to the front, hissing, "Dat's my mudder your tawkin' about!" and flattens the guy. And the room full of Larouchies and potential recruits goes flying out the windows (first floor). I never saw a room clear out so fast, as Gino, Mary, Polly and I laughed and laughed.

There's a lot more, a lot to hate too, but we'll never understand the DRAW if we try to pigeon-hole the organization and its leader into a typified psych-study, the way Chip Berlet and others do. They miss the things that were so powerful about being there, that made you WANT TO stay up all night round the clock, do stupid paperwork all day long, to be IMMEDIATELY RELEVANT, to work under an actual longterm strategy (however delusional it may have turned out).

My friend Van and I had long been out of the group by the time Gino died in 1995, but we felt the need to go together to his funeral in Staten Island (of all places) to see old comrades (some enemies), and basically to MAKE SURE GINO WAS ACTUALLY DEAD, and this wasn't yet another trick he was pulling on us!

Write to me if you want to discuss this further .... It's been a long time since I've thought much about it.

Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY

address: address: Brooklyn, NY


"Continuing the Discussion of Gino Perente and NATLFED" 12.Dec.2004 09:35

someone who was there

thanks Mitch for posting this.
It's about time those of us who were at one time or another involved with NATLFED and it's myriad affiliates started to cut through some of the really preposterous "cult" hysteria that has been circulating on the net whenever Gino or NATLFED is mentioned. I worked with the group for a few years a logn time ago. It was hard, intense, totally demanding work. I'm proud to have been part of it. And maybe someday I'll look them up and do it again. If ever there was a time when a NATLFED was needed in the USA, this is it.

please contribute to wikipedia article about NATLFED 05.Mar.2005 13:44

truth

In an effort to get through all the myths out there about NATLFED and its entities, I encourage people who truely know about this crypitc topic to contribute to the wikipedia article about the group. It can be found at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Labor_Federation

With your help, the truth about NATLFED will eventually surface in the clouds of misinformation. Thanks.

contribute to the truth 12.Mar.2005 08:05

wikipedian

please contribute to an article on wikipedia about the truth of NATLFED. The article can be found at:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATLFED

Thanks.


thoughts/memories on NATLFED 07.Jun.2005 18:45

Fred sha11e@aol.com

I'd like to thank Mitchel Cohen for his fine, humorous, and nuanced reflections on NATLFED. I had (and still have) very mixed feelings about the organization, I abhor labels like 'cult', and yet I'm very glad I resisted the intense pressure to stay longer in their NY hq. for extended training in 'systemic organizing.'(this was when the 'FC' was still alive.)
In the local entity I worked in at the time there were some very decent, 'together' people; these women were natural organizers who could out-talk, out-think, and out-work anybody in your run-of-the-mill lefty organizations. That's what made it so damn painful for me to quit! The problem was that manipulative and heavy-handed persons & structures in the NY hq undermined and underappreciated these local organizers -- stupidly failing to notice what fine personal advertisements they were for NATLFED.
What it comes down to, basically, is that groups like NATLFED will continue to draw some good talented activists until the so-called Left in this country offers something else besides precious self-congratulatory chit-chat groups (preachers to the choir)and mindless direct-actionism.

30 years later... 20.Jun.2005 13:59

Matt

I appreciate this recollection; it's interesting, and recognizing the source of NATLFED's draw is important.

But Mitchel Cohen's newest recollection of things NATLFED in this piece is from 1975. NATLFED continues to work, and many people--many of them young and recruited on college campuses--have reported very bad experiences with the group in recent years. One can not disregard their experiences. Mitchel, what have you heard from NATLFED in recent years? What do you think of their contribution to the movement? And most importantly (and getting back to the start of this discussion), what would you say to the young people they are trying to recruit now? This, I think, is the key question here. And personally, I would urge those young people to avoid NATLFED.

Former Cadre 22.Jun.2005 16:07

Gnomon I_gnomon@excite.com

I want to thank Mitch for his comments. Chip Berlet like most middle class academics needs to learn to stop speaking from a position of ignorance so as to make room for those who actually know something. I was a natlfed Cadre for 7 years, most of that time something of a desident within the organization while at the same time recognized as an experienced and politcally advance cadre. I first heard of Chip Berlett around the time Jeff Witnacks article first came out in 84, by that time I had objected to; Gino becoming Field command, because it alienated cadre from thier individual responcibility and need to advance the revolutionary struggle, objected to NOC expansion to the point where 40% or more of party cadre where assigned full time to NOC away from valid practical work within the party. I also objected to the several occassions in which local entities offensives had been directly sabotaged by NOC on the basis of preventing unparrellel developement.

If you have a friend involved in natlfed field work you will never be able to discourage them by telling them that it is a cult and that what they are doing is not of value because it is simplistic and not exactly true. If you have 2 years or more experience organizing in the field with natlefed your are probibly one of the best trained labor organizers in the country and you should not let the brainless prattle of self absorbed idiots get in the way of doing the work you are capable of doing. When I saw chip Berlet on the stage with ward churchill at NCOR 2 or 3 years ago, ward lost a significant degree of credibility with me. The tecniques of natlfed with community oriented labor organizing works, and saying it doesn't and the group is just a cult totally discredits you.
But Natlfeds strong point, being the advance level of theory that comes with practical work is lost on the national level, it is likely the most top heavy organization on the face of the earth. In 81 I think NOC's physical plant, it's space doubled in size after the purchase of the building on carroll street, and national began bringing fledgling cadre stright into NOC without allowing them to develope practical skills, theory and the confidence that comes with experience to challenge Gino authority. These undeveloped children pride themselves on possessing a big picture when in reality they don't know squat and spend thier entire day like modern day monks reproducing orders they are briefed on. I personally saw occassions where three to four Noc cadre worked all day on directives to go out to an field entity that had two or three cadre to implemented them. They where from my observation just like Chip Berlet, academic oreinted middle class kids easily convinced they knew better than lower class people more family with direct class struggle.
If you are involved in natlfed then ask yourself what effective political movement has ever been that damn top heavy? thier field method works fine, if you want to learn how to canvass, fund raise etc then go ahead and become a Viable Volunteer for awhile and learn some practical skill, but leave before they suck you in, preferably with a copy of the EO slipped into you backpack. But Don't expect to ever implement anything all to far within thier structure, I guaranttee they will sabotage your work.
If any former cadre needs emotional support transitioning into REAL political work I am willing to lend an ear an an encouraging word or two. I have successfully transfered some organizational method into an anarchist framework, replicating the special event protocal to direct actions aganist globalizations. I am also interested to know if anyone else has done this.

Will C you
Gnomon

what ever happened to izzy rivera and joe joy 27.Jun.2005 18:08

robert.young@gmail.com

these two men were my best friends before they were involved with gino and the others.after donating what ever they owned ot the eastern farmworkers,they dropped out of their normal lives ,left their friends
and became more deeply involved in that small circle. never to be seen again Cult?or not....
that is what really happened.i havent thought about it for 20 years
untill i just read this.

some insight into Natlfed related organizations 23.Jul.2005 13:54

Elizabeth Parenti-Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

I have spent some time providing insight of what I know about the begingings of Natlfed and some of the interrior operations. While I would not recommend becoming involved in natlfed today I think marginalizing any groups as a cult is unhealthy.

 http://tdsse.motime.com/


More Insight 26.Jul.2005 11:29

Robin Spellman Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

If you are a current or former member of Natlfed, or have a friend or relative involved in Natlfed, I would recommend reading the material on the above mentioned website. Although I do not know who Elizabeth Parenti-Soba is, whether she is actually related to Gino, or what her motives are in posting it, the words could have come straight out of Gino's mouth. Then I would recommend you reading "Thought reform and the psychology of totalism: A study of brainwashing in China" by Robert Jay Lifton.
I'm not sure how much of my analysis of this material come from Ms. Parenti-Soba's material and how much comes from the memory of Gino's classes either heard at NOC or read from transcripts late at night in upstate NY. It seems to me that Gino looked at why the current structure was still in power and, in part, saw that many institutions, our language and the way we are brought up predisposed us to accept this. He then decided to do much as the Chinese did and change people's perspectives (or para dyne as he put it, although I can't find a formal definition of that word) through thought reform. It worked about as well as it did in China and has caused a lot of damage to many people.
To Gino, perception was everything. It didn't matter if it was true. It didn't matter if you actually built mutual benefits associations as long as people thought you did. It didn't matter if he wasn't the fighter of communist haters, farm worker organizer, Guatemalan freedom fighter, etc., as long as others believed he was. Ms. Parenti-Soba speaks of folklore, working people's folklore and how that was the Genesis. The Genesis was not presented in this context, it was presented to impress the new recruits with Gino's history in the struggle and the organization's pedigree - even if neither had either. Folklore is one of the elements of thought reform and in that context, yes, that is what Gino was doing.
Much of the first 3 or 4 years of my time with Natlfed are difficult to remember, they are very fuzzy. But, I remember enough now to know that I was systematically exposed to thought reform in an effort to form the "new man", those who would lead the revolution. If your friend or relative is deep into Natlfed, was there before Gino died, or the current leadership is still practicing this manipulation of the mind, they probably do not consciously know it.
I want to post a couple of closing thoughts. The myth of the Suffolk Eastern Farm Workers Association drive is made up of some fact and a lot of exaggeration. When I first worked in Suffolk, I was the Riverhead membership coordinator. The story then was that the first summer of EFWA's drive signed 1000 members. The membership authorizations would support that number. As I participated over the years, I saw that claim go to 2000, then 5000, then 10,000 and before I left finally 50,000. This gave credibility to the leadership at NOC. It did not matter whether it was true, it only mattered that people believed it to be true. Any real work that actually would make change didn't matter, that could be made up.
In working with EFWA's upstate membership I feel confident in saying they did not want to be just a part of, or a number in the "people" or the "masses". They wanted to be seen as the individual they were and valued as that individual. I think an overwhelming majority would strenuously object to the practices ostensibly done for their benefit.

Worth Your Time 02.Aug.2005 07:33

Robin Spellman Fahlberg

I want to extend a sincere apology to Elizabeth Parenti-Soba for my initial reaction to her site. Her unique perspective and work deserves serious attention from anyone in labor or who considers themselves a friend of labor.

Natlfed, Simply a Cult (and one with appeal) 24.Aug.2005 23:40

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Wow, just found this site.

My article on the Natlfed Cult can be accessed at

 http://www.rickross.com/reference/natlfed/natlfed1.html or on the Public Eye's site at

 http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v04n3-4/Cadre_or_Cult_1.html

For some reason all onliine versions of my article have left out the Prologue....

The very end of the printed article ended with..

In a kitchen in Marysville (1), a few miles from the hole dug on the Feather River island ten years earlier, I sti talking with Gerald Doeden's old drinking buddy and former best friend (2).
"What was Doeden really like?", I asked him.
"Gerry could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, and then charge him 30% extra for being so far north," replied the friend. "There's one word, a code that we had between us," he continued.

"If you ever used it, Gerry would know you've talked to me,"
"What's that?", I asked.
"Ducdame"--it's from a scene in the Shakespeare play "As You Like It'

If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass
Leaving his wealth and ease
A stubborn will to please
Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he
An if he will come to me
Ami--What's that Ducdame?
Jaq--Tis a Greek invocation to call fools into a circle

1) Marysville, California. The northern California town where Gerald Doeden grew up
2) Alan Thoma. Best friend of Gerald's. He confided to me that he was an FBI agent during the LARGO days, the time before Gino for the East coast.


Natfled was/is a cult. That in no way dismisses it's appeal.

When Gino Perente/Gerald Doeden first went to the East Coast in the early 70's the EFWA/NLF didn't instantly become a cult. Had my exposure/involvement with Natfed been confined to the very early 1970's with the EFWA I might also not consider it a cult. I have interviewed many people whom were both around Gino before he left for the East Coast (he left to avoid child support payments in California) and in the "formative years". While often a disturbing picture of Gino/Gerald emerges, it clearly hadn't become a cult until later.

I also don't subscribe to the concept that Gino and Lyndon Larouche worked together. What I DO think happened is that Gino got enough exposure to NCLC to copy and instill some of it's cultish features into his own cult. Just as he did with Synanon. His group was repulsed by Venceremos, but again exposure allowed him to copy some of the style, as with the UFW.

Natlfed is a cult because it is inherently dishonest with it's own members. It has a whole "Genesis" which is based on a most far fletched patch of lies. But it doesn't tell the potential recruits to the inner "Formation" any of it at the outset. No, it waits until they've already committed to a schedule characteristic of other cults, then lays on the lies/implied threats as a kind of locking mechanism. This is akin to how the Moonies let recruits to their cult know that Mr. Moon is the second coming of Jesus Christ. By this time both the Moonie and Natlfed recruits have both invested enough, have been on a schedule designed to usher them through, and the "revelation" serves as a locking mechanism or one-way valve into cult status. In a way, it's a modern form of psychological slavery.

Having said all that I realize that the lies also exist atop a fair amount of real indignation over social conditions and an awareness that it's going to take more than perhapst routine and preditable protest or organizing to turn things around. And that was one of my primary motivations when I started writing my article and trying to expose Natlfed as a cult. I didn't want the inherently well intentioned to continue to be siphoned off into a vacumm. In addition at the time I left the organization I really didn't know what I was dealing with. It was only after really researching and looking into alot that it being a lying cult was the only way any of it could start to make any sense. You think I wanted to have this take on it? I was only "interior" for about 3 months, but still it was time I was away and severed from friends and family as is the customary way for all cults.

In addition I could see that there was a lot of stored energy, of which I had no inkling how it would eventually come out. And here was a group telling all it's interior members that it was part of a Western Hemispheric movement, one tied to the Sandinistas (the popular revolution at the time) and centered in Cuba. I was genuinely concerned that the "deadline" would come due and some stupid acts would then lead to armed incursions into Cuba. Witness al Queda and the Iraqi invasion!

In addition, the chronic lying that Robin Spellman describes is something every current and former Natlfed "cadre" should be well aware of. Factions here, factions there, factions everywhere. Embellish this, embellish that, soon what is fiction and what is fact? It was a theatre of lies and deceit. But it served a purpose, to gather people in a circle around Gino. The cult leader.

Natlfed, Simply a Cult (and one with appeal) 25.Aug.2005 00:05

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Wow, just found this site.

My article on the Natlfed Cult can be accessed at

 http://www.rickross.com/reference/natlfed/natlfed1.html or on the Public Eye's site at

 http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v04n3-4/Cadre_or_Cult_1.html

For some reason all onliine versions of my article have left out the Prologue....

The very end of the printed article ended with..

In a kitchen in Marysville (1), a few miles from the hole dug on the Feather River island ten years earlier, I sti talking with Gerald Doeden's old drinking buddy and former best friend (2).
"What was Doeden really like?", I asked him.
"Gerry could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, and then charge him 30% extra for being so far north," replied the friend. "There's one word, a code that we had between us," he continued.

"If you ever used it, Gerry would know you've talked to me,"
"What's that?", I asked.
"Ducdame"--it's from a scene in the Shakespeare play "As You Like It'

If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass
Leaving his wealth and ease
A stubborn will to please
Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he
An if he will come to me
Ami--What's that Ducdame?
Jaq--Tis a Greek invocation to call fools into a circle

1) Marysville, California. The northern California town where Gerald Doeden grew up
2) Alan Thoma. Best friend of Gerald's. He confided to me that he was an FBI agent during the LARGO days, the time before Gino for the East coast.


Natfled was/is a cult. That in no way dismisses it's appeal.

When Gino Perente/Gerald Doeden first went to the East Coast in the early 70's the EFWA/NLF didn't instantly become a cult. Had my exposure/involvement with Natfed been confined to the very early 1970's with the EFWA I might also not consider it a cult. I have interviewed many people whom were both around Gino before he left for the East Coast (he left to avoid child support payments in California) and in the "formative years". While often a disturbing picture of Gino/Gerald emerges, it clearly hadn't become a cult until later.

I also don't subscribe to the concept that Gino and Lyndon Larouche worked together. What I DO think happened is that Gino got enough exposure to NCLC to copy and instill some of it's cultish features into his own cult. Just as he did with Synanon. His group was repulsed by Venceremos, but again exposure allowed him to copy some of the style, as with the UFW.

Natlfed is a cult because it is inherently dishonest with it's own members. It has a whole "Genesis" which is based on a most far fletched patch of lies. But it doesn't tell the potential recruits to the inner "Formation" any of it at the outset. No, it waits until they've already committed to a schedule characteristic of other cults, then lays on the lies/implied threats as a kind of locking mechanism. This is akin to how the Moonies let recruits to their cult know that Mr. Moon is the second coming of Jesus Christ. By this time both the Moonie and Natlfed recruits have both invested enough, have been on a schedule designed to usher them through, and the "revelation" serves as a locking mechanism or one-way valve into cult status. In a way, it's a modern form of psychological slavery.

Having said all that I realize that the lies also exist atop a fair amount of real indignation over social conditions and an awareness that it's going to take more than perhapst routine and preditable protest or organizing to turn things around. And that was one of my primary motivations when I started writing my article and trying to expose Natlfed as a cult. I didn't want the inherently well intentioned to continue to be siphoned off into a vacumm. In addition at the time I left the organization I really didn't know what I was dealing with. It was only after really researching and looking into alot that it being a lying cult was the only way any of it could start to make any sense. You think I wanted to have this take on it? I was only "interior" for about 3 months, but still it was time I was away and severed from friends and family as is the customary way for all cults.

In addition I could see that there was a lot of stored energy, of which I had no inkling how it would eventually come out. And here was a group telling all it's interior members that it was part of a Western Hemispheric movement, one tied to the Sandinistas (the popular revolution at the time) and centered in Cuba. I was genuinely concerned that the "deadline" would come due and some stupid acts would then lead to armed incursions into Cuba. Witness al Queda and the Iraqi invasion!

In addition, the chronic lying that Robin Spellman describes is something every current and former Natlfed "cadre" should be well aware of. Factions here, factions there, factions everywhere. Embellish this, embellish that, soon what is fiction and what is fact? It was a theatre of lies and deceit. But it served a purpose, to gather people in a circle around Gino. The cult leader.

Just one more thing (Colombo episode:) 25.Aug.2005 07:42

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Obviously I disagree with your take on Natlfed, though I doubt that it was a cult in the early 70's. Still even then you admit there was a lot to hate, showing up at the funeral to make sure Gino was dead.

As I investigated this cult one angle or theme on it became following Gino's path to being a cult leader... .

Talented Shakespearean actor and local con-artist/buffoon, disc jockey, alcoholic, drug addict... ..

Becomes involved with AA, then (per ex-wife's and others) almost gets arrested for drugs, but instead becomes an informant and sets up arrests.

Becomes involved/exposed to Synanon (cult tied to UFW), the United Farm Workers,

Forms several armed groups in the early 70's in northern California. He opens the Little Red Bookstore in San Francisco and tries to interface with the established militant left (Venceremos, former leader groaned when I asked him about Gino—vehemently denied he ever had anything to do with the group other than show up at open meetings and spout off). They "train" and he declares war on the state. His best friend from Marysville I interview and he admits to me that he was an FBI agent. I ask him if Gino was and he refuses to answer. It's my educated opinion that Gino did all this as a spin-off from being a narcotics informant, just adding political targets to drug ones. But once he tasted the mileu and his power to encapsulate himself with others, plus studied other groups and cults, well.. the rest is history.

The group falls apart as Gino disappears. Turns out he was in jail for not making child support payments that is why he moves to the East Coast. He shows up with a few people from the West Coast and the Eastern Farmworkers are born.

Adding to Synanon cult exposure are NCLC and Fred Newman's New Alliance Party. The salient point is that he was a quick study and he borrowed features from all he was involved or exposed to. And with quite a bit of natural ability on his own. I also suspect he was one of those people whom had a psychological need to encapsulate himself with a large group. Sort of like an ant colony where the Queen Ant is also as much of a slave as any of the worker ants.

Critical Thinking & Centralism 29.Aug.2005 13:37

Robin Spellman Fahlberg 5

I wanted to add some comments on the cost of the secrecy and centralism in the CPUSA-P structure. In making these comments I am aware that there are costs for being open as well. When I joined Natlfed and CPUSA-P I was 18 years old, with little political experience or training in critical analysis and thought. My volunteer experiences had been with church groups tutoring in downtown Cleveland, OH elementary schools and going on summer workcamps to fix low income housing. I had very little to base an acceptance of the Analysis of the party on and worse yet didn't know how inexperienced I was. Because everything about the party was secret and you only got opinions from other party members I accepted it. I was told that the practice was based on fact and scientific analysis. This sounded very logical to me and again I wasn't in touch with any outside sources to check it.

I haven't seen the Analysis for years and don't remember enough to comment on it specifically. But, scientists publish their analyses for good reason. They want peers to review them and criticise them to ensure their conclusions are warranted. Today, if presented with a document like that I'd be checking and thinking about several things:

1. What facts is the Analysis based on. How do I know these are facts. Where did the data come from and is it reliable.

2. Is the Analysis based on the right set of facts. Are there other facts that aren't presented that should be taken into account.

3. Is there another analysis and conclusion that could be made from the same set of facts?

Only when an analysis is subjected to these types of questions can it be accepted as scientific. Unfortunately, in a secret or clandestine organization like Natlfed no interior political thought and doctrine gets subjected to this. Those who had the political sophistication to ask questions like this of Natlfed didn't stay long if they disagreed. In fact, they probably wouldn't have even been told about the party if they disagreed with the Analysis.

A common Natlfed answer to questions of "what were we building that was better than the current government?" was - "what could be worse?", or "could anything be any worse?". Well, the answer to that is always, "Yes", it could be worse. I'm sure that the same rational could have been given the Nazi party in Germany during the depression of the 30s. The people may have asked if it could get any worse. And the answer was "yes".

Another unfortunate result of this type structure is that corruption and power-mongering at the top permeates quickly to the bottom. To be fair, the type of power mongering and manipulation that Gino practiced is present in many areas of our society. But, most areas have some kind of balancing and separation of power to ensure the organization is not corrupted as a whole. If locals have enough autonomy (the whole idea of federalism) then even with power mongering and corruption at the top, the organization may continue to reach some of it's objectives. But, if everything is so centralised that the top is micro-managing, the corruption cannot help but permeate everywhere.

Some of the Genesis, some facts in the Analysis, and some of the theory I learned in Natlfed are probably true. I don't think that Gino got everything wrong. The problem is that since quite a few things were not true and there was no sourcing of the "facts" so that they can be independently verified, it is difficult, if not impossible to say what was true and what wasn't.

I also want to clarify that when I criticise the gradual exageration of the membership numbers of the original Suffolk EFWA organizing drive from 1000 when I first heard it, to 50,000 by 1993, it is not to detract from the significance of what was done. That first summer saw EFWA participating in protests against police brutality and the building of enough strength to run a drive on the migrant camps that fall. If any point can be made, it's that you don't need an organizatinal ability to sign 50,000 members in a summer to take effective action on behalf of a membership. In fact, it's probably the actions against police brutality and then the picket line that attracted the volunteers and built EFWA's original strength.

Folklore 29.Aug.2005 13:45

Robin Spellman Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I just wanted to add to my last comment that I mean nothing negative to those who have commented on the importance of folklore to a movement. Folklore is important and if presented in a manner such that it is understood as that can be quite helpful. But, when something is presented as a written scientific analysis or a formal document, it should bebacked up with sources and there should be some mechanism to subject it to critical review.
Just a sidenote -- A law professor I had was talking about the power of the written word and mentioned that God was referred to as "the Word" in the Bible. The immediate thought that came to mind was that at one time large parts of the Bible was passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. I began wondering the differences in how those early generations thought from a verbal account with what those of us who have a written version think.

It's a CUlt 01.Sep.2005 15:35

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

OK picture me as a version of that old and deceased comedian Sam Kennison ("It's a desert, nothing grows here" during one of the East African famines).

Now yelling,

"It's a cult, none of that matters!." Not any "organizing" (window dressing to "bring to formation"), not any "membership" (more window dressing), etc. Sure in the VERY EARLY years, before it became a cult, something remotely genuine might have been involved. But in a historical term this was also reduced to just retroactive window dressing for the cult.

What is the Anaysis based on? Come on! It is based on a series of lying manipulations designed to lock people into the cult. Why dance around the essence? Or is the post just to run interference?

Once you accept that Natlfed is a cult, a left wing political version of the Moonies, Scientology, NCLC, etc., then all the pieces of the puzzle fit. Then one can begin to come to terms with what it was all about.

Otherwise you're just chasing your tail in an endless circle of inane verbage!

Objectively Analyzing an Experience in Natlfed 02.Sep.2005 10:20

Robin Spellman Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

Jeff Whitnack - I have no disagreement with you that Natlfed was (and I would suspect still is) a cult.
I hesitate to use the word only because I don't believe that most people know the scientific definitions of that word. I have done some personally painful reading on the subject and can only conclude that the scientific models fit. These include Lifton's model and a model from Steve Hassan. These models look at mind control in a spectrum and natlfed is on the severe edge that crosses the line between letting a person decide for themselves what they believe and manipulating them to a belief has been crossed. And yes, Lifton was with US military intelligence during the Korean War - but the scientific conclusions he reached are no more or less valid because of this. Elements of the mind control used in cults are used throughout our society, in the government, corporations, the left, the right, religious groups and business groups.
Gino's first person Genesis was full of lies. In later years it was used to give him and the Formation credibility through a historicality they did not have. The Analysis, from what I can remember, was not all lies. It actually had some facts within it. What I meant to communicate (perhaps I did not do it very well) was that it was not scientific, which is one of the claims that Natlfed makes. Natlfed has a series of classes, Systemic Organizing, Strata Organizing, etc.. They are not all lies either. But they are not scientific.
I appreciate your comments and only mean to add to them. But, I will point out that lying alone does not make an organization a cult. But, when you control the milieu a person is in 24/7, their schedule, the information they have available, their thoughts (think of the organization first, not yourself, "an organization is strong because it is an organization"), and their emotions (asking people to suppress emotions for the organizational good, "let the systems cut away anything that doesn't look like an organizer")then it is more probable than not that you DO have a cult.
I would not advise ANYONE to work full-time with Natlfed. However, as I am trying to sort through the experience. I do not want to write the whole thing off, but take anything that was positive away with me. I am taking a Labor Law class this semester to try and get an objective view on what the labor laws are as I do not trust what Natlfed said they were. The first 2 weeks reading was on labor history, the NLRB, and Taft-Hartley. The text confirms that at least on most of this, Natlfed was pretty accurate. What was interesting to me was that no one in the class had ever heard any of it before.
Natlfed did have some victories through the years and I don't believe it is a disservice to try and disect what of Natlfed can be positive.
I have alot of latent and until recently repressed anger against some natlfed cadre, especially against Gino. But, after getting through some of that I am trying to look at the experience objectively. Nothing and nobody is all good or all evil. I think everyone does things for a mixture of motives - some good and some bad.

Seeking individuals with a sincere desire to end the war 03.Oct.2005 12:43

Elizabeth Parenti Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

seeking individuals with a sincere desire to end the war:
are you interested in learning systemic organizing yet unwilling to work with Natlfed? I am currently beginning a project consistent with the principles of systemic organizing but not inconsistent with the principles of anti-authoritarianism. The project requires 20 volunteers willing to invest 2 hours week over a six week period and is meant to lay ground work for a united front of resistance to U.S. imperialist policies supported by both the Republican and democratic parties.
If you are interested in participating with this effort please contact the project director Elizabeth Parenti Soba at  Dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com
we will maintain a policy of full disclosures provided to all participants participating with the project.

Jeff whitnack is a fat middle class patriachal asshole 03.Oct.2005 13:42

Elizabeth Parenti Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

Wow in deed. I stopped into this media in order to post the announcement that will follow and found out Jeff has still not gotten a life. When your article on Natlfed first came out I was a natlfed cadre I was a national cadre involved with developing additional arena's of operations AND stood in stated disagreement with Gino on many significant points. At that time thier were a significant number of cadre who where developing or held significant critisms of Gino that they actively presented, including myself. NONE of them thought at the time that your article was helpful. To date every former party member of 4 years or more who has made any public statements on the matter has stated that your information is inaccurate, and some few of those who opposed Gino policies or where in conflict with him while they were in the party have held the position that your activity was meaningless or harmful to those oppossing him. IE you held much the same position toward Gino as the democrats hold to the republicans, you stood in the way of meaningful critisms of his policies as they stand in the way of meaningful opposition to the current administration. You contenue to present yourself as an expert based on 3 months of marginal participation, and most of your evidence is derived from individuals with as marginal a level of participation. If I researched any organization based only on the witness of individuals who had left dissatisfied after less than a year of participation and excluded the input of those who participated more than a year because they disagreed with me I would consider myself to be lying, yet you consider yourself to be an expert. I have a significant problem with this. Jefferson once said he could disagree with what someone said but would die in support of the right of someone to say it, I feel much the same of the about the harmful proliferation of the concept of cult. I would like to tell you to shut up but that would be wrong and meaningless, I will say that you lie far more than Gino ever did when you present yourself as being an expert.

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

seeking individuals with a sincere desire to end the war 03.Oct.2005 13:47

Elizabeth parenti Soba

seeking individuals with a sincere desire to end the war:
are you interested in learning systemic organizing yet unwilling to work with Natlfed? I am currently beginning a project consistent with the principles of systemic organizing but not inconsistent with the principles of anti-authoritarianism. The project requires 20 volunteers willing to invest 2 hours week over a six week period and is meant to lay ground work for a united front of resistance to U.S. imperialist policies supported by both the Republican and democratic parties.
If you are interested in participating with this effort please contact the project director Elizabeth Parenti Soba at  Dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com
we will maintain a policy of full disclosures provided to all participants participating with the project.

Jeff Witnack need not apply, we have a lot of work to do.

On the analysis 03.Oct.2005 20:41

Ice Gnomon I_gnomon@excite.com

I was a natlfed cadre for 7 years and was in new york when the organization was raided. I do not recommend that anyone join natlfed. I feel that as long as natlfed maintains more cadre in administrative safe houses than they do on the field they violate the spirit of membership criteria that delinitates bolshivics/stalinists from menshivics/trotskites. I am am anarchist now and although I can imagine tactical situations in which I would work with a stalinist I will never work with a trot. As soon as natlfed maintains 9 cadre in the field for every 1 they have in an administrative safe house I will take them seriously as a revolutionary organization. I want to thank Sobie for alerting me to this discussion. That said regarding the Analysis;

I think on a national level the most important point of the analysis was that if a capitalist cannot expolit abroad he must exploit at home. The Analysis pointed out that due to the US defeat in vietnam and the growing resistance to US imperialism the need of capitalist to not just substain but increase the level of profits would require the restratification of the work force. Faced with limitations on the level of increasing exploitation abroad, Throughout the reagan, bush and clinton administrations the disparity between the rich and poor expanded to sickening proportions. Sounds like the analysis was based on reality to me.

Further I want to point out that as the level of oprression increase to the degree that thier was a significant movement to demand a living wage (which remains at 2-3X the minumum wage) the capitalist under bush invaded 2 countries (which futunately was all they could get away with because it was apparrent they where considering starting war with Syria, Iran and perhaps Korea as well.) This is again consistant with an understanding of the analysis.

Jeff you really need to back off, you don't know anything about what you are talking about, you do not discourage anyone from working with natlfed and you get in the way of both internal and external critisism based on an informed position. I find it very hard to maintain a civil disposition toward you in this conversation.

Ice Gnomon

Getting Beyond the "Cult" 07.Oct.2005 08:55

Robin Spellman Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I just started some counseling this summer to deal with the 14 years I spent in Natlfed. During those 14 years I was mentally, verbally and several times physically abused by cadre. I had phobias (irrational fears) implanted in my mind that 1) if I left I would be assassinated at some point and 2) if I did not work 16 hours or more a day, 7 days a week and take the abuse (it was called a command structure that was needed for revolution) I was responsible for the deaths of children in third world countries and was letting God down. I put in the 18 hour days and my heart into trying to build a organization that would provide a voice for farm workers in Wayne County, while unbeknownst to me, my work was systematically and consciously sabotaged from above. I finally got to the point after 14 years that I didn't care how many children I killed or that I was letting down the membership in Wayne County or if I was assassinated -- I just wanted out. I then left. I repressed my anger and the experience for 12 years. I am just now learning how to gradually let that anger out and how to deal with my emotions.
That said, it has absolutely no bearing on the truth or falsity of socialism, communism, the theory of strata organizing, the MBA, the Analysis or other theory put forth by Natlfed. It has no bearing on whether EFWA ran the first strike of farm workers on the east coast. It simply means that Natlfed's practice then, and probably now, did not and does not match the theory. There was a hidden agenda - i.e. power and sex for Gino and those who accepted his behavior and became like him. From what I can tell, those at NOC who disagreed and pointed out the contradictions were forced out of the organization. Gino made it so tough to stay that they left. As I stated above, people do things for mixed reasons. I do not rule out that Gino had aspirations towards change and revolution, but, at some point his need or want for power became the dominant motivation.
5 days ago as I tried to explain the TVTV process to my husband and how it was that someone who came to Long Island for a year to provide free health care to farm workers ended up in a cult. I decided to try an analogy and was able to explain using TVTV how I would systematically and methodically recruit someone into a religious cult where the leader wanted people to believe he was the messiah. I had no problem doing this. I watched a film on other cults and realized that Gino could have just as easily had everyone commit suicide and become martyrs when the revolution didn't happen in February 1984 as goad the FBI into a raid. He certainly didn't follow what he said would happen which was that the current leadership would step aside and let others try if the revolution didn't happen.
But again, that said, it doesn't change the truth or falsity of the above. What it does say is that there is a wrong way to recruit people. It will take me awhile to safely let the anger out of me and think through my beliefs. What I do know is that I will be doing something consistent with who I am and what I believe to make positive change in this world. What I do know is that there is a real and loving God who made and cares about every person on this earth - equally. I do know that oppression is wrong because it saps the human spirit and denies all of us the special gifts that person has.
I am willing to explain and document any of the above more fully to anyone who needs help dealing with an experience in Natlfed. I think it is important to get beyond that experience so we can use our beliefs - whatever those are - and talents in making this earth a better place to live. I also want to give a special thank you to those who have helped get this far.

You Go Girl! 07.Oct.2005 10:00

Robin Spellman Fahlberg

The thank you above includes Elizabeth Parenti-Soba and Liv Dillon who have both written me and seem to have moved past and through the Natlfed experience to use their intelligence, skills and passion for change to do something positive. To them I say "You go girl!"

Robin

"Pop" Rastus Harris & Gino? 07.Oct.2005 12:56

CHA volunteer

I volunteered at CHA on and off for 25 years. Helping those in need was and is a great noble purpose. 25 years ago a leader at the Oakland
office, "POP" Rastus Harris, a slender older black gentleman, would "hold court" while the upper cadre idolized him, catering to his every need.
They said back in New York he would labor at 62 cents an hour, hence the 62 cents monthly dues for members.
Pop, died in 1995. After reading the comments on this sight, about a one Gino Perente, A man of norwiegien decent, who pretended to be mexican, and was the top dog of NATLFED, also died in 1995, Now I have never met Gino, but is it possible, he and Pop were one in the same?

The cadre I met, told me Pop made all the decisions...He had a cane walked with a limp, And wore nice flamboyant hats, sometimes a leather jacket, When I was around, he was always silent. I got the impression the upper cadre would die for him.

If a "white dude" like Gino, could portray a definite "black dude"...
that was one helluva' disguise. Any one else know of "POP" Rastus Harris?
....google search...nothing. P.S. a detailed portrait of him appeared on the cover of the 1981 NATLFED calender.

One More Thing 08.Oct.2005 12:18

Robin Spellman Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

"Pop", or Rastus Harris, was NOT Gino. They were two different people. I only met or had contact with Pop on one occasion when he was visiting his sister in Rochester, NY and came by the Wayne County EFWA office. He seemed nice enough, but I have no experience with him on a day to day basis. I think he was one of the original migrant farm workers who went out on strike in Long Island.
Although Gino certainly dominated Natlfed, used it for his own purposes, and was able to force out those who had disagreements with him, he was not in and of himself Natlfed. There were other cadre who were motivated more towards making a difference and didn't buy into his abuse (There were also some who did become abusive themselves). Because of this there were times in all of the entities (Eastern Farm Workers, Eastern Service Workers, etc.) when some very extraordinary things were accomplished. I would say that these things were accomplished in spite of the leadership structure. Natlfed also had volunteers in local areas who have, as the writer above, volunteered off and on for years. There are also member of the associations who are not full time organizers who have volunteered and made a big difference over the years. I met some very committed doctors and lawyers who volunteered their services for years and were good people trying to make a difference. I would guess that more could have been done if the leadership structure were different.

"Pop" Rastus Harris 12.Oct.2005 21:21

CHA volunteer

Pop left New York back in '75, and with the help of Carrol Haddad and another woman Margaret Ribar. helped establish CHA on San Pablo Ave, near 53rd in Oakland, CA. Carrol was OPS manager and was extremely good at the meetings dealing with the struggles of the poor. From there CCMP, BAAP, and others popped up in East Oakland,& 1666 7th street Western Service Workers Assoc. in 1981 "founded by "Pop".

At that time the "cell" encouraged me to volunteer more, but they understood when I said I have a job and other things to do. There were a couple of "loons"
there gettin' in my face a little to become full time, But the cadre intervined and apologized to me, and allowed me to go my merry way.

For me, all I have to do is tell them "no". Maybe it's my intense eyes...

POP was not Gino 15.Oct.2005 09:19

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

As Robin says POP was not Gino, although he was an old time farm labor organizer highly respected, especially amongst those who left in the 80's who had significant disagreements with Gino. My favorite story about him is this trick of rolling a cigarette in his mouth without using his hands.
Gino never said his name was gino but that it was a party name he used and was related to how he fit into something called the genesis, which was an oral presentation of history that was not based on the great man great event mode. Gino was never suppose to be incharge of the organization, Struggler and Polly where and I find it very frustrating that his debunkers create a great man shadow that keeps people like polly, pop's strugglers and even myself in the dark in terms of what we where doing regardless of how real he was or not.

Elizabeth Parenti Soba


interrior struggle 15.Oct.2005 10:23

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

I want to speak more about some of the misconceptions that have resulted, i believe, from the insistance of casual short term participants like Jeff whitnack who portray themselves as experts on an effort he participated 3 months with. I was with the organization 7 years and was one of those who criticized Gino and other party leadership. I was one of those who left the organization, in part by agreement, in part by order and in part forced out after the raid in the early 80's, and it was clear that thier would be no forward motion in the organization as long as Gino was still alive. He had developed gangrene as a result of injuries during the raid and subsequent interrogation and I am of the opinion that this contributed to a determination on his part to sacrifice any higher principles to maintaining control. I agree with the criticism of NOC I believe first presented by myself or Gnomon that as long as natlfed maintains the majority of it's cadre as national staff in administrative safe houses, stripping it's field entities of personnel to create a buffer of inexperienced and naïve "national cadre" to utilize against any rank and file challenge to leadership it violates a fundamental application of it's own structural principles (that party members must be able to speak from a practical point of experience) and creates so top heavy an organization that moving forward seems to be impossible and in my opinion certainly is so.
I want to remind those who have heard the genesis, an oral tradition that was a primary organizing tool, that it began by explaining itself as an alternative to a great man great event way of understanding history . I am amazed by how so many people then proceeded to give him power as a great man and ignored valid criticisms. I want to remind some who may have heard him say it that the most advance theory in the party was within those who dissented and questioned why people hearing that ignored the dissent? I learned a lot from Gino but I was always willing to stand against him using channels and I openly criticized it when the excessive administrative resources at NOC were dedicated to shutting down those channels. During by last few years I was held almost as a prisoner at NOC while I went threw departure interviews and continued to dissent internally and was a close friend to many of those who where critical of organizational direction. I remember when Jeff Whitnacks article came out, neither myself or any active internal critic of national leadership thought it was useful as it's ludicrous inaccuracies provided diversions from real problems in the way George Bush stupidity provides a diversion from real criticism of his administrations policies.


Response to all 24.Oct.2005 17:31

Jeff Whitnack

Well let me also add that "no Pops, AKA Rastus Harris, was not Gino Perente or Gerald Doeden. I met Pops during my 3 month stint in Oakland. He seemed to be someone used as a propaganda prop for the cult.

Now those here may lambast me for only wasting 3 months of my time in Natlfed. But let me assure you that I spent MANY hours researching and interviewing tons of people. A common theme emerges, that of a left-wing political cult. Plug in right wing religion and Moon as Gino and it would be the Moonies.

There is nothing really difficult to figure out, it doesn't even take an expert, it's like wind direction. The whole organization was a cult devised for Gino Perente's benefit. He gathered fools into his circle. It was a bitter pill for me to swallow and I only got hoodwinked for 3 months.

All this talk of organizing and Mensheviks, is so much BS it would be laughable if someone deluded soul didn't really believe it.

I am sure when The Public Eye article came out many in Natlfed derided it...as they did articles coming out in Christian Century, The East Bay Express, Hayward Daily News, etc., etc. All of which I was involved with--- in my efforts to get Nalfed widespread exposure as a bogus cult.

When I started my efforts a concerned friend or parent couldn't look up Natlfed and find established proof they are a cult. That situation has been fixed and I am satisfied with my work to do so.

Perhaps if I am ever foolish enough to be again hoodwinked they will look up my past and just escort me out, or get rid of me in some fashion.

Meanwhile, if you all want to continue deluding yourselves as to the nature of what you were involved with, far be it from me to get in your way. Whatever floats your boat.

But my advice would be to face up to the fact that Natlfed was merely a cult devised for Gino's personal gain and needs. Nothing more and nothing less.

Ducdame.

Furthermore, ... 25.Oct.2005 11:36

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

To Elizabeth....

It is somewhat ridiculous how you portray Gino's cult as an organization you could mount criticism from within, and at the same time admit that many of the cultish attributes were imposed on you as well. I only heard of you as someone whom Gino came out with from the West Coast (interview with Wesley and Sylvia from Little Red Bookstore). I suspect the guilt of your involvement and activities both prevents you from facing up, as well as fuels your bizzare wrath and characterizations towards me.

Furhermore I could give a rat's ass what was the perception inside of Natlfed as regards my Public Eye article. (though the arrogance of Elizabeth and others assuming that Natlfed internal perception amounts to anything is most amusing---and especially among those whom have "blood" on their hands). What was, and is, important was that the word get out to potential new cult members (and their friends/family) that Natlfed is a cult. In terms of it helping people to find the inner resources to first recognize something profoundly bogus is going on and also the strength to decide to leave.....that was not a goal of my Public Eye article. I spent a fair amount of time talking to cult exit councelors (called in by concerned family members whom had contacted them) and the process of leaving a cult isn't necessarily facilitated to articles like the Public Eye article I wrote. In fact it could even serve as a "circling of the wagons" and be used to whip up internal paranoia or hysteria.

What I do think my article (and activities) has done, is for many whom have left, is it helped provide some focus as to what it was they were involved with. It wasn't an organizing drive, it wasn't a communist party, it was a bogus cult devised for Gino's personal needs. That is a difficult pill to swallow and a few still find it easier to make me a target. But many others have left the cult and sought me out.

Now I ask what exactly is "inaccuate" about my Public Eye article? No doubt I "missed" many of the little nuances and "facts" had I been enslaved for a longer period. But I doubt any of that would have been of real value. Once the cult's bizzare claims are debunked, once the cult is exposed, the rest is just superflous nonsense.

My article starts out with a desciption of LARGO members digging a big hole on an island in the Feather River. This group had about 15 members and I knew almost all of them, interviewed at least 5 or 6 directly (I knew them during this time but didn't know about LARGO until later). The article ends with a discussion I had with Gino/Gerald's best friend from Marysville. From interviews with his wife and girlfriend (whom he had a son with--whom sued him for alimony and propelled him east) it is clear he used to be a narcotics informer. Kind of a bounty hunter for local law enforcement. (I didn't put this in the article at the time)

The middle of my Public Eye article basically details the lies Natlfed tells to it's own members and shows that it fits the pattern of a dangerous cult.

And along the way of writing it, I helped expose them to CVSA, the left in general, communities across the country, etc. In Santa Cruz one former member went with me to all their supporters we could find and related the facts of them being a cult. They closed shop and left.

I entered Natlfed as a hoodwinked and enthusiastic "cadre". Perhaps it was only luck I got to leave relatively early and didn't waste many years of my life. Someone came and told me about Natlfed being run by "the same nut" that ran LARGO for them, described Gino "Sabo" (as they knew his alias before he used Parenti) as once using the name "Parente" when he attended a Welfare Rights meeting in Northern California. Elizabeth, how interesting that you continue to use both those surnames? Could you enlighten us as to what is involved with that? Is there something you need to let go of? Or did you come packaged somehow with two names Gino found so appealing? Reminds me of Runkle turned Ramirez! My personal motivation in writing the article was to expose this so-called "organizing drive", this so-called "communist party" to be both a dangerous cult and an utter sham. I was also initially worried that Gino's claims to be part of a Western Hemispheric Internationale (centered in Havana) might be used by the right wing----especially in light of the "deadline" to the month for a revolution (or assumption of power). But after getting familiar with Gino's personal style I realized that much of the threats was just more theatre and used for effect (though I've heard at the end some pistol whipping of elderly females occured at NOC).

Jeff Whitnack continues to Lie 25.Oct.2005 12:39

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

It is absolutely inconsistent with your label of Cult to say that thier was internal opposition toward Gino or any other leadership cadre and yet anyone who was really involved in the organization during the 70's and 80's can testify that thier was. You volunteered for three months in order to masquarade yourself as an expert.

Yes you don't give a rats ass (one of Gino favorite expressions, I guess you picked something up from him) about those of us who seriously tried to resist the horrible policies of the reagan administration. That is the whole point of my "bizzarre" attitude toward you. You have not done shit against capitalist oppression but want to stand in the way of people who gave a significant amount of thier lives to doing something about what was and is happening to thier world from speaking of thier own experience.

Quite frankly I don't think you care a rats ass for anyone out of stroking you damn ego. If you were hoodwink it was your own damn fault.


inaccuracies 25.Oct.2005 13:57

Elizabeth

I have to say that I check this sight very quickly after spending most of the day working on anti war activities and it really helps make my temper short. This is why it does not mean much to me that you spent so much time after your three months in activities denouncing natlfed and natlfed cadre as well as gino.

First, it was never Gino organization while I was with it, thier where other people in the party leadership and at some points his decisions were over ruled.

second, no one I know of in the party ever claimed to have a headquarters outside the U.S., in fact the party was pretty explicite that it's general line was more advanced than that of the parties of China, russia and Cuba. They were highly critical of the Chinese and Russian line of march.

third, Gino regularly told everone he met that Gino Parente was not his real name and that he changed his name regularly.

Fourth, the carlos and brook codes were not for security, they merely told the people calling how you were met. This is the same thing as when a letter has a particular department or suite number in it. It called being organized. I find it possible that the Dr S you met made revolution sound romantic, I find it equally beievable that you filtered it into dramatic romance yourself. This is much like the "are you a cadre of another organization" I did not find it romantic perhaps because I answered "yes, kind of" and proceeded to provide the basis for my answer. Perhaps some of your delusions were your own.

fifth, NOC is not the cave, the cave is not noc.

thier are more but I don't really want to waste any more time on it. I know you wont listen to anything that does not fit your existing understanding. I really only post this to communicate with people who really want to help manfested a better world. I truely believe that those individuals who gained valuable hands on skills working with the Natlfed I knew are worth communicating with, as you clearly state you don't care a rats ass for any of them. I do want to point out that your article never reduced our recruitment when it came out because it was easily countered by the reality faced by many who came through the doors of natlfed. It still is likely the case today. I and Gnomon have both clearly said we cannot recommend individuals join natlfed today, I have stated clearly that I could demonstrate that Gino purposely left it structured to self sabotage and I could prove this claim to anyone who wants to hear it. To be effective it must shift the balance of it's cadre out of administrative safe houses and into the field were they can gain practical skills from practical work that will equipe them not only to better manfest a desired world vision but also the confedence and ability to defy thier leadership and not act like a "cult". The lack of the large buruecratic body micro-managing and sabotaging field work would reduce the personal nightmare that Natlfed is to individuals involved in it today. This is a practical, real, serious, critisism that you are incapable of understanding because your agenda is to maintain your own little bubble of self glorification. Jeff you really don't give a rats ass for anyone.

No One Joins a Cult - They are Deceptively Recruited 25.Oct.2005 14:11

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I think there may be a basic misconception in Jeff Whitnack's comments about cults which I feel compelled to answer. I'll apologize ahead of time if it is simply the way it comes across as opposed to what was meant. The people surrounding Gino Perente were not fools and they were not stupid. They did not knowingly join a cult. They did not have the information they needed to make an informed decision and by the time they did, they had been manipulated by mind control techniques such that it was difficult to impossible to leave. No sane person would sign up to be abused day in and day out. Cults in general do not recruit poor people with mental and physical disabilities. They want people who are intelligent so that they can bring people and resources to the cult. They also want people who have inheritances or resources which they can steal. And Natlfed did steal (get people to hand over) their inheritances. In addition to Mia Prior's case which was publicised and someone actually went to jail for, I personally know of 3 other people where no one ever had to account.
Many people surrounding Gino were recruited and had phobias installed that worked as effectively as a prison cell to keep them there. I won't try to explain that in full but will refer people to authors such as Margaret Singer, Robert Lifton and Steve Hassan, and first year social psychology textbooks to explain and document this process. Pretty much the same process is used for religious,political and business cults. The cult can be a genuine business, a genuine political group or a genuine religious group. In Natlfed's case some genuine organizing work did take place. This does not make it any more or less a cult. In fact it probably makes it more dangerous. Gino used to say that the best lie is not ever a complete lie but a stretch/bending of the truth. What Natlfed did do was steal alot of time from alot of people. It matters not whether it was 5 years, 14 years, 20 years or 3 months - it is still just as wrong to steal that time.
However, I think what haunts many ex-natlfeders who were around for a long time is that much of the history, ecnomic facts and way of analyzing the facts and history were not at all lies. As I said earlier, I am not now a socialist or communist and at most might have gone through an ideal socialism period for a couple of years if it hadn't been for natlfed. But it does not mean that I don't see the study of these ideologies and how they interpret history as valid. I also find alot of truth in the analysis of stratification of the American workforce and the community/labor organizing methodology and theory of MBAs. Do MBAs work? No one knows that because that wasn't what Natlfed was really about. In the bits and pieces they were implemented in by natlfed cadre who didn't realize it was a sham they seemed to be effective at times. Would a communist party such as Provisional Party said they were make a difference? No one knows because that wasn't what Natlfed was about. Gino made sure that anyone who was serious about building either was either sabotaged or was forced out. I don't agree with the Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist party model because I think it does give to much power to one or a few individuals who eventually, unless they are a saint, abuse it. But, that is just my opinion. I believe in government that has as many checks and balances against any one or few people having absolute power because I think everyone is corruptible.
I remember getting a TRO to prevent residents in Greenport Long Island from being evicted with less than a week's notice. One gentleman was disabled and hadn't known he was being evicted because he couldn't leave his apartment. The eviction notice was tacked on his door. EFWA discovered the problem while canvassing and setting up TB screenings and followup because of a TB epidemic on Long Island among farm workers. I remember filing a lawsuit on behalf of potential victoms of TB against the Suffolk County Health Dept. to force them to deal with the epidemic. I remember demonstrating outside the Riverhead jail daily to support a hunger strike in the jail for decent medical care, non-spoiled food and other issues. I remember meticuously finding people evicted with sometimes only 3 days notice from Water St. in Lyons, NY through canvassing, and asking one who knew someone who knew someone. After winning a settlement with the HUD Dept. to compensate them with relocation money we had to find them and get an affidavit. I remember bringin in 5 truck loads of food a week for two years (this is in addition to canned goods in the emergency food closet)to feed people in Wayne County - since I was the only full timer I know I didn't eat it. I remember collecting 500-1000 sets of sheets, towels and blankets for 6 years to distribute to migrant workers who otherwise slept on bare cots with perhaps one blanket. I remember many trips to Immigration in Buffalo to ensure migrant workers could take advantage of the amnesty program. I remember trips to the Medical Center in Syracuse to get people medical care. I remember finding people shelter in the middle of the night. No one can forget those things and they were not nothing -- at least not to the people who were helped. I also remember many low income workers helping to run these programs and taking pride in themselves for doing so.
The irony is that the very things that made Natlfed so real and not nothing were the things that brought more potential victims to the group. I want to make sure I state very very clearly that this is not an endorsement and my best advice is to stay away. All of these things can be done without Natlfed. The individuals involved can find another way. But, it does haunt those who were in Natlfed and until we can heal and find other outlets for the drive to change the conditions for the poor in this country will continue to do so.

Robin Fahlberg

more from Whitnack 25.Oct.2005 18:30

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

First to Robin,

I agree that most of the people tricked into joining the bogus cult of Natlfed were not stupid or foolish people. There was probably a small minority (some come to mind) of people whom would have a hard time negotiating life in any meaningful fashion were it not for the structure of the cult. But most of the people were quite talented. Ron K, John G., Carroll Haddad, Willie, Brook, Geoff, Dick and Sheila, Alice, (to name just a small sample of the specific people I recall) etc. all seemed easily to be people of both talent and way above average intelligence. But to paraphrase Forest Gump "foolish is as foolish does". I think that every cult has it's recipe for recruitment. Find a recuitment pool of idealistic young people whom are burning themselves out anyway (CCMP, CCLP, etc). A certain amount of them will be in some personal crisis of sorts (break-ups, etc.). And it helps if there is some underlying un-met religion or political underpinnings. For instance many of the Moonie cult recruits had underlying Christian religous beliefs, but had grown up in country club type atmospheres, i.e. not exactly living up to real Christian ethos. The initial bait was Christian fellowship, then only after committing much of themselves, being on a cult-like burnout path, the "genesis" of Moon is laid on them in a locking type mechanism.....Moon is revealed to be the new Messiah. Suddenly all of Jesus's quotes from the New Testament become merely incitement for pushing them deeper into the Moonie cult----"leave your family to follow him", etc. It's just a gameplan. You follow the protocol and you'll get your per centage. If Robert Redford had a need to be a cult leader he'd come up with a game plan and get his per centage. Now his would probably be greater than mine would be, if I were also so motivated to be a cult leader. But if one works diligently, learns mistakes and setback, perfects techniques, then the "fools" will be gathered.

So too it was/is with the Natlfed cult and it's lies, from Genesis, to it being in any way a real communist party or organizing drive. Suddenly all of Lenin's writings on organization, the aura of the Bolsheviks, becomes fodder as was the New Testament for the Moonies. Sure well meaning people did some "good things" (as no perhaps also do the Moonies) but at the end of the day it was all just used as more flypaper to catch and entrap new people. If today we saw a news story about the Marines in Iraq handing out food and relief, would that change our mind about the criminal nature of Bush's war there? No, of course not. So why is doing "good things" in Natlfed suddenly any different? In fact it's worse in a way becaue they're using valid goals and agendas to betray the very people willing to go there.

There is something inherently disrespectful and abusive about any cults relationship with it's members. Natlfed is hardly any exception, it fits that description quite nicely.

Now for Elizabeth....(or more for the record)

First, in typical Natlfed fashion, you take my "I don't give a rat's ass..." comment and expand it to fit your agenda. I did care about those trapped in Natlfed, it was just that the goal of my article was not to directly encourage them to leave, but rather to expose this cult as being such in a definative way. I believe my goal was accomplished. I know a LOT of people left after the 1980's raid (or perhaps after the failure of the deadline). And that today the cult is a mere shadow of what it was in it's zenith. If I were to try and ascertain the contribution of my efforts (put reality into an Excel spreadsheet) I would hardly ask for your input.

For the record, I DID NOT enter Natlfed as part of any pre-conceived plan. I wish it were so, but unfortunately I was one of the "fools" also. Initially I tried to research this "group" as being something other than a cult---I didn't want to believe it, stigma and all. But it was the only way the "key" would fit the "lock".

When you say...

<SNIP>
"Fourth, the carlos and brook codes were not for security, they merely told the people calling how you were met. This is the same thing as when a letter has a particular department or suite number in it. It called being organized. I find it possible that the Dr S you met made revolution sound romantic, I find it equally beievable that you filtered it into dramatic romance yourself. This is much like the "are you a cadre of another organization" I did not find it romantic perhaps because I answered "yes, kind of" and proceeded to provide the basis for my answer. Perhaps some of your delusions were your own."

I have absolutely no friggin' idea what you were talking about!? There was no "Carlos" that I recall. Brook was the "Political Commissar" for Oakland, but I don't remember any codes. I also don't recall being asked if I was or wasn't cadre in another organization specifically. I have a faint recollection of them saying "we don't recruit cadre from another party". I suspect this was more to keep them from being directly scrutinized by any other party. It was amazing to me how their calling themselves a communist party caused some angst among real such parties when Natlfed started to be exposed as such. The fact that they called themselves a communist party made real parties then squirm a bit when they got exposed as a cult. Just like some real Christian churches probably didn't want to hear the Moonies are a cult.

Elizabeth, I see from your blog that you consider Gino to be your step father. It seems you have trouble seeing the obvious---that Natlfed was a dangerous cult. Perhaps you were too close to the trees to see that they added up to a forest? Or had too much power to really internally give it up? No doubt in it's early days Natlfed wasn't a cut yet, or at least a consolidated one. Perhaps that history and your unique status allows you to delude yourself? Or perhaps it is you whom really don't give a rats ass about the lives and years you helped to waste-- of all the "cadre" you helped ensnare?

My initial impression from reading (torturing myself) your blog is "this must be the person whom wrote the text of the Labor Colleges for Gino". Am I right?

Natlfed wasted many valuable years of many very good people. Multiply the people tricked by the years wasted and it's no small crime. It was inherently criminal and I do give way more than a rat's ass about it. It makes me pissed to think about and I would endorse any and all actions, personally taken by those affected, versus for those whom willingly and knowlingly participated in the lies and deceptions.

I used to know a guy whom was the adopted son of Jim Jones (the cult leader whom lead the mass suicide via poisoned Kool Aid). He was a member of the Temple Guard. He was in the capital of Guayana on a basketball team when the mass suicide took place. He never accepted that it was a cult, spoke of "his father" and only looked at the "good things". There was a TV documentary about Jonestown (anniversary of the mass suicide) and they flew him to the site, had his comments on TV. Simply amazing that he still defended "my father", as it is that Elizabeth defends her "step father" as best she can. The real son of Jim Jones was also there in the documentary. He accepted that it was a cult. Amazing the powers of self-delusion!

If Gino is your step father, that son of Jim Jones is perhaps your step brother.

Five Innacuracies? Where's the Beef? 26.Oct.2005 05:29

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Wow, for all the huffing and puffing about how innacurate my article was, is this all?

Let's go over them one at a time.

"First, it was never Gino organization while I was with it, thier where other people in the party leadership and at some points his decisions were over ruled."

I don't doubt that "officially" other people were in some positions. I interviewed Dan Decious for instance and he seemed to also have shared in some of the leadership glory/perks. And certainly in the beginnings of every cult there is a time frame before it crosses the line and becomes a full fledged cult. My labeling of Natlfed as a dangerous cult is not just my opinion, but is also the opinion of MANY others---almost every independent person whom has looked into it in fact (and quite a few of them quite schooled in the ways of cults). And at the end of the day Elizabeth herself has provided testimony as to how she was also locked up. If that isn't a Gino organization (cult)! If one holds up Natlfed to examination it is dripping wet with Gino being "The Old" or "The Elder". In fact his cult was so brazen in it's style on cult expert characterized them as "a crude but very effective cult". When it came to establishing and running a cult, Gino didn't do nuance well at all. So number one "innacuracy" is pretty innane.

"second, no one I know of in the party ever claimed to have a headquarters outside the U.S., in fact the party was pretty explicite that it's general line was more advanced than that of the parties of China, russia and Cuba. They were highly critical of the Chinese and Russian line of march."

Well George Vickers (author of one of the Nation articles) told me personally that the reason he wrote his article (describing Natlfed as a CPUSA and arising out of RYM II---I believe that was his text) was done soley for the reason of trying to flush out the truth. He also stated to me that he heard the same Western Hemispheric claims---ala new Internationale centered in Havana. He told me he traveled to Cuba and and spoke with officials there whom were concerned with these claims--they had heard them before. I also know that my article was recieved in Cuba and read with interest. I also witnessed a Bay Area MD, (Dr. AC) dressed up and passed off as a member of the Sandinistas. I checked that out and found it was just more lies and fantasy spinning. MANY other people heard the same types of claims. I don't doubt that Gino also told people at times his line was superior to everything, including sliced bread. Of course it was all lies anyway so one brief denial or "qualifier" can seem to obscure the basic intent of the cultic lore claim.

"third, Gino regularly told everone he met that Gino Parente was not his real name and that he changed his name regularly."

That is not the point and never was. In fact Gino further mystifying himself with such a claim would fit in nicely with his modus operendi. But from the blank slate of Gino being Mr. X, a more truthful portrayl would have gravitated towards Moon, Larouche, (even Geoffrey Dalmer) than V.I. Lenin or Che Guevara. He lied about what he was lying about, even when he was telling the truth that he was lying. The fact is that he was the specific individual Gerald Doeden. And this man Gerald Doeden never once belonged to any established movement organization (i.e PLP, CPUSA, Venceremos, OSPAAL, Guatemalan guerilla movement, etc., perhaps save the UFW). His real "roots" and personal history in Marysville/Northern California is a subject I also spent much time researching. He was widely held to be pretty much a talented buffoon, and the default impression of many in Marysville was "I wouldn't trust anything that guy ever said".

"Fourth, the carlos and brook codes were not for security, they merely told the people calling how you were met. This is the same thing as when a letter has a particular department or suite number in it. It called being organized. I find it possible that the Dr S you met made revolution sound romantic, I find it equally beievable that you filtered it into dramatic romance yourself. This is much like the "are you a cadre of another organization" I did not find it romantic perhaps because I answered "yes, kind of" and proceeded to provide the basis for my answer. Perhaps some of your delusions were your own."

Where is anything relating to the above in my article? This is most weird. Maybe this belongs in your article, it wasn't in mine.

"fifth, NOC is not the cave, the cave is not noc."

Even if I did get something is this regard a bit wrong, it's really small potatoes. Isn't NOC the Brooklyn establishment? It's where people were always being sent, the central core of the cult. "The Cave" was a term I believe related to Gino's lair, or perhaps it was the tunnel system beneath the Brownstones. Even IF I managed to misrepresent items of cultic lore emanating from Natlfed I hardly think that impacts the veracity of the article in any way.

Is this really all you can come up with?

And then you repeat the typical Natlfed mantra about serious people trying to solve the problems, juxtaposing people like me getting in the way, etc. More default patterns from the cult. In point of fact Natlfed activity was on balance probably some of the most counter productive thing that could have happened to so many. It removed many talented and brilliant people from both their own personal lives and fullfillment, removed them from any chance of doing anything really meaningful politically, and substituted many potentially useful life/years with instead abject servitude to Gino and his demented agenda and needs.

Natfled was a cult with Gino as the cult leader. He did systematically misrepresent the cult as being part of a Western Hemispheric new Internationale based in Cuba, his personal past is that of a con artist and pretty despicable, hardly anything revolutionary or progressive; and he lived in a cultic lair of sorts, with even highly "ordained" fellow "leaders" like Elizabeth subject to base abuse and cultic control.

Doesn't sound like my article was very innacurate at all.

I was lucky in a variety of ways. First I knew the LARGO folks and even before meeting Natlfed I had heard them tell tales over the years about crazy Gino and how he must have been an agent, how he just suddenly vanished into thin air. So I got an early boost to leave. Then after leaving another personal friend knew Chip Berlet of The Public Eye. So an offer was made for me to write an article. Then the research began. At first I TRIED to look into Natlfed with an open mind and considered that it could, just maybe possibly, be something akin to a real political movement or organization. Again I only reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was a cult. But after doing so all the pieces fit quite nicely. Once I understood the TRUE background of Gino and his modus operandi, I could predict with near certainty how and why he would react to things. Fear and uncertainty was replaced with almost a comfortable feeling of familiarity. But only once I had virtually pickled myself with the real facts and history, the true "genesis". When the key fits the lock, the door opens.

Then after my Public Eye article was printed, former Natlfed member John Gimenez (whom lived in the Bay Area) called me up and said "Hey the law office of Daniel Foster is handling this Hayward murder case for the women whom is accused of killing her husband and stuffing him under the house.". I notified the Hayward Daily News. The reporter was Karen Franklin----the daughter of H. Bruce Franklin, former Venceremos Organization leader whom audibly cringed at Gino's name and insisted he had no role in their group. John and I showed up at the courtroom and another chapter began!

I had a lot of lucky breaks.

very interesting 26.Oct.2005 06:33

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

So what I understand is that you joined the party in bad faith having heard from many of your friends who were "in Largo" at an earlier date. I have read post were some have questioned if you didn't just participate in the organization for such a short time Just to research a story for the public eye. This does seem to confirm that. I will not be responding to any of your future posts as I do not deal with individuals that demonstrate they cannot work in good faith.

by the way you are also inaccurrate in some of the statements about me, thier are many Elizabeths in the world, and thier where more than one or two in the organization.

Additional Natlfed Information 26.Oct.2005 09:10

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I want to first state that the purpose of this is to provide more information from some of the professional counseling I was able to afford to ex-natlfed cadre and second to provide more information to families of present natlfed cadre. I think this discussion is very valuable. I am a law student and therefore may be a bit strange, but I think conflict between opposing views helps to define the truth. I also want to say that I wrote the last comment before seeing the preceding three as there is a delay in posting.
When I got a few emails from ex-cadre in late spring or early summer describing events at NOC and in other entities, I realized that what I had previously taken as ineptitude, arrogance and lack of information in NOC direction was purposeful sabotage of efforts in Wayne County I had been running. I also realised that Gino had purposefully told people that he was going to have X or Y executed to scare them into not leaving and fearing the same if they disobeyed. I was furious to put it lightly. One of the reasons I eventually sought professional help was that I honestly hoped that gino was burning in hell. At times I still do. I know many ex-natlfed people who would have no problem with this thought, but for me, a christian, it was abhorrent that I should wish this on any human being. After doing some research into cults and mind control, I thought I was the biggest fool in the world. I could not believe that I had been so stupid and naive.
After some counseling and more learning I realized that I was not stupid, I was human. I was doing the best that I could with the resources I had available. I was susceptible to the same social and psychological pressures that everyone else is. I feel that the more I do know about mind control the less susceptible I will be in the future to the same tricks and manipulation.
I think it is correct when Jeff Whitnack says that Gino engineered one of the biggest cons there was. But, for the con to be effective, there had to be real organizing work going on. No one was going to be recruited to a group that did nothing. If a lawyer came to give a legal advice session and found there were no clients, he would not come back. If the students came out to canvass and found there was no canvass, they wouldn't come back. If the church volunteers came to do a food distribution and found that none of the food they collected was distributed, they wouldn't give that fat check the next time. The people going out and soliciting food, money and volunteers had to be believable and for them to be believable they actually had to be committed and think that they really were building mutual benefits associations. That's what I believed. I was told and belived that we were building community organizations to serve as a base for low income people to be able to address issues through. And, that exactly what I set out to build. Because me and others like me in the local entities believed in what we were doing, we actually did at times accomplish some things. But, I state from personal experience that what we did accomplish was not worth even 1% of the abuse that came with it. Had I been supervised and trained by a mature adult, perhaps the story would have been different. Instead I was given purposefully inconsistent direction, cadre under me or volunteers were agitated against me and I was told when I questioned anything that I was at fault (for whatever reason) and all I had to do was listen to what national organizers were telling me and I would succeed. I was told that afterall the national organizers had built Suffolk and signed 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 or 50,000 members the first summer - the numbers grew as time went by. How could I question people who were so successful??? In fact, the problems for me really started when I started doing exactly that.
Me and other field organizers were sent out to run entities when we were totally green. I was made EFWA Wayne County OPS when I was 20 years old, with no background or experience in organizing. I remember someone having to show me how to register and insure a car. As I result, in the beginning, I was totally dependent on NOC for direction to do most things - probably not an accident. I had no expereince or knowledge base to question what they said. This put in place a pattern of dependence, mental and verbal abuse that continued even after I had figured out how to organize. The best analogy I can make is to the battered spouse.
The recruitment process of Natlfed was called TVTV. I never realised the extent of the process until recently. Luckily for me, I never caught on that we were building a cult and therefore was only responsible for recruiting 2 cadre during my tenure. Luckily these cadre left before me, but I still feel bad about them.
When someone came through the door they had an initial interview where someone asked them about their background, interests, etc.. The cadre system coordinator or OPS identified anyone who they thought would be a potential. I now realize that who they were targeting were students who were intelligent and in a transition period so easy prey, professionals who might be going through a shaky period in their life (divorce, loss or change of job, children moving out), those in some kind of unique position to help the organiztion, or others who had resources or time and were somewhat vulnerable. The next time the person came in different cadre would be assigned to work with them. The potential recruit didn't know this, they thought they were having casual conversations with others. Information on the target's background, family, interests and political views would be gathered and reported back. A plan to address points in the person's political views which differed with the official party view was started. Each time the person came back someone was assigned to work on specific areas. Again, the target knew nothing about this - they thought these were innocent conversations. Reports were regularly given back on the response and more plans made. Other points of contact were engineered - perhaps we could use their phone, have cadre sleep in their home, etc.. The right people were assigned to work with the target, people who the target might relate to. There was a push to take up more and more of the target's time so that the target spent more time with entity people and heard the same thing over and over. The target didn't realize this was planned and came to think of changes in political views as simply his/her own thinking. This was exagerated if the target came through Invest Yourself (as I did) or field placement full time for a period of months.
After "guiding" the target down a political thinking path to see that a revolution was neede to change the conditions they saw, the approach came. It's important to understand that for many seeing the conditions of poverty regularly was quite a shock in and of itself. The person might be taken aside and told that they obviously were far more advanced in political analysis than the average person in American society and had probably figured out that this was more than just a community organization. They were then told about the Party. They then went to a recruiment session and NLCs and were worked with in the same manner as above until they came (they thought on their own) to an understanding that military discipline was needed in the Party, etc. etc.. After they accepted the discipline, they were gradually introduced to more and more abuse and control. In the 1979-1984 period especially young middle class student types were put through a year of work at NOC - this reinforcement of abuse/discipline would then stick if they were sent out into the field.
They were also introduced to the "military fraction". This was another Gino fabrication. Although there were military fraction cadre and talk of building an armed fraction there wasn't much more than people in uniforms at NLCs and NOC, guns conspicuously around NOC and I think in the entities a few military drills by the political commissars. As I had been a pacifist this is one area I never joined. You joined the military fraction the same way as the party by submitting a letter requesting it. A couple of years before I left I was at NOC for a supposed violation and NOC OPS did the same type recruitment speech for a group within the military fraction called the werewolves. She told me it was a special group designed for suicide missions. In my case I was in the cave with Gino after about a year in EFWA Suffolk and he told me that one of the other cadre was a police agent and he was going to have to eliminate me. Given that he was showing me his revolver at the time, I took it that he was goiong to execute the guy. Another time the PC in Suffolk told me that Gino said the Suffolk OPSM had one time killed someone and then eaten lunch right afterwards. I want to make it clear that this was theatrics, I realize that now. But, at the time and even after I left I was looking over my shoulder. There was another story Gino told regularly. He said he sent Mitch Cohen of the start of this discussion to Binghamton to start the Upstate organizing drive. He said when Mitch didn't do things right he had to send several goons up to take the entity back. The message was quite clear that if you ever tried to take an entity another direction, you would be suibject to physical violence.
I would be happy to give additional information to any who desires.

Robin

Don't Blame the Victim 26.Oct.2005 11:49

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I will willingly take the responsibility for beginning the recruitment process with the two people I mentioned (NOC completed it "so I didn't mess it up."). I will not take the blame or responsibility for being recruited by a cult. The best description I can give of being in Natlfed was a rape of the soul. Like the physical crime of rape, it is not the victim's fault, it is the criminal's. It is wrong to tell a rape victim that she shouldn't have drank quite so much, shouldn't have dated that type of guy, shouldn't have been walking there alone, etc.. It is equally wrong to tell someone deceptively recruited and abused in a cult that they were stupid or a fool. Recruiting someone to a cult is a methodically planned crime and should not be blamed on the person recruited. I think that a part of the reason more ex-cult members don't come forward and talk about their experiences is that they are made to feel stupid and foolish. The other reason of course is that the cult made them think they weren't in a cult or planted phobias whereby the person is afraid for their life.

Rockin' Robin 26.Oct.2005 13:46

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Robin that is a spectacular description of the cult and it's use of the MBA/Organizing drives as merely window dressing to "bring them to Formation", the cult.

I used to live near the old Doggie Diner at the corner of Telegraph and 38th in Oakland (by "Pill Hill" where the hospitals are). It was taken over by Carl's Jr. and I often wondered what happened to the big Dog's head (Daschund I believe--better not get it wrong or Elizabeth will use it to prove I don't research right). Anyway once I imagined how I could, if I had the personal motivation/needs (which I don't), build my own cult.

It would be based on stopping animal abuse--at least that would be the flypaper. I'd start off by picketing some local animal shelter where strays are gassed. That would be the kickoff (ala picket in Sacramento or Welfare Office or EFWA strike). Then I would target veterinarian assistans, veterinarians, students, animal rights activist and supporters. We would canvass door to door and get new "members" and solicit donations. We could hold free clincs and rescue missions for animals, etc. And in the core I would build some bizzare construct ala CPUSA Provisional or Scientology's Thetans buried in the volcano, Moons being the second Christ etc. Afer "volunteers" had committed themselves, were deemed open to the "locking mechanism" they would be taken to some super secret ceremony. A bizzare tale would be laid on them ala Moon being the Second Coming, Gino being the second incantation of Lenin in the USA, etc. I think a nice touch would be to have the Doggie Diner dog head there.

If I were so motivated (or perhaps the better term would be desperate) to be a cult leader I would eventually get "my per centage". With the above imagined "Animal Rights Cult" the money could definately come flying in, getting alot of actual committed cultists might be more problematic. The hard part would seem to be getting the "seed" energy and people to get it off the ground. With those people I might have to foster an illusion of internal discussion and group consensus. But eventually, as momentum, funds, and my own internal allure/power grew, I could dispense with any troublemakers with the brush of a hand.

Anyway the above is done as an illustration that it's pretty much a cult building formula, as Robin so succinctly describes.

Also I want to say that virtually EVERYONE whom left Natlfed did so with a fair amount of actual fear for their lives. This is no fluke and was part and parcel of Gino's cult apparatus and internal control. One man whom left the Redding Natlfed cult office described to me how he did so while backing up and holding onto a knife in his back pocket. When I myself left (pretty much a spontaneous thing--had a vol, forget if she was tabular or viable, drop me off on a street corner) I couldn't stay at any place where I thought they might locate me. I had to pop for a motel room somewhere just so I could sleep. Almost everyone whom I interviewed whom left did so in an "escape" fashion. Gangs and the mafia actually do kill deserters. Cults merely build the illusion of such and don't follow through. Usually...there is always Jonestown and those Comet cultists to consider.

Now for Elzabeth...

"So what I understand is that you joined the party in bad faith having heard from many of your friends who were "in Largo" at an earlier date. I have read post were some have questioned if you didn't just participate in the organization for such a short time Just to research a story for the public eye. This does seem to confirm that. I will not be responding to any of your future posts as I do not deal with individuals that demonstrate they cannot work in good faith.
by the way you are also inaccurrate in some of the statements about me, thier are many Elizabeths in the world, and thier where more than one or two in the organization."

No! Geez, are you visually "deaf"? I heard about LARGO over the years. But when I first got introduced to Natlfed, started volunteering and joined up, I had NO IDEA it was in any way connected to the person I had heard earlier described. People may speculate all they wish as to my personal motivations for joining that cult, I know Natlfed was busy spreading rumors, lies, and bizzare innuendo as to my having some agenda or marching orders. But I am really not the issue, despite the typical Natlfed tactic of "resetting the syllogism". My article describes Natlfed as a cult, shows Gino to be a fraud, etc. Yes, many whom were in for 5-20 years (the span of people whom I have interviewed) often come to speak with me and tell me I "didn't tell the whole story". Usually upon discussion and reflection what comes out is that I didn't tell THEIR STORY, or the one they perhaps need to write. Sometimes the discussion with the former Natlfed members has me thinking "gee I wish I could have included that aspect in my Public Eye article". But on further reflection it wouldn't have altered one iota the basic points which needed to be made and exposed.

And now you, of all people!, don't work with people whom "cannot work in good faith"? YOU say THAT to ME after you helped build that despicable cult Natlfed?! You had to know about the whole cultic process of tabular/viable/cadre, that much of what was being projected was pure lies. I am willing to give you every personal benefit of the doubt as to what may have influenced you to participate as you did. But I, as Robin, was also involved in helping to recruit people to Natlfed and I also feel a certain amount of guilt over it. Now you not only seem to feel no guilt or shame whatsoever, but in fact seem proud of your role, call Gino your step father (on your blog site), etc. You continue to prattle on with Natlfed ideology ("systemics organizing"), Natlfed smear and obscure tactics, etc. Your goal seems to be to somehow rebuild a "kinder gentler" Natlfed, one without the esteemed, albeit abusive, "stepfather".

non sequitur 26.Oct.2005 13:51

Elizabeth

"We're going to use our military. It is the last, very last option. No commander in chief likes to commit the military, and I don't. But on the other hand, you know, I have worked hard for diplomacy and I will continue to work the diplomatic angle on this issue." George W Bush on Syria to the Al-Arabiya television network.

Just thought those spending too much time on this discussion should know what else is going on in the world

a reply that has no relevance to what preceded it? yeah right. 26.Oct.2005 17:55

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

So now we are spending too much time? And you call it a "non sequitur", when such a "resetting of the syllogism" is standard Natlfed style! And to come off from such an arrogant standing! Who in the hell do you think you are? You aren't at NOC anymore, you aren't a leader of anything or anybody (and probably never really were--Gino was always alpha doggie), we aren't "your" cadre, etc. So don't try the silly Natlfed mindfark games on us. You wax and wane for literally hours and hours on your website discussing subjects and topics which gives a whole new meaning to the phrases of "esoteric" and "tangential". That is all fine and good, some of your ideas are even interesting (throw enough paint on the wall and some may be art after all), but it then seems most ironic for you, of all people, to be be besmirching others for wasting time on lesser subjects!

Oh yes some of us are just discussing unimportant stuff, meanwhile the Big Bad Natlfed Cadre are dealing with real issues and problems (insert whatever the current issue is...could be some MBA "member" issue, could be South Africa, Nicaragua, etc.). Apparently you can take this woman out of Natlfed, but you can't take Natlfed out of this woman.

Of course I am aghast at what Bush and his gang (The Project for a New American Century) are doing. But what if I started to discuss my concept about what is going on in this website? Or my take on what actions and organizing should be done in opposition? No doubt Elizabeth you would find some substantive issue of disagreement, or perhaps just some turn of a phrase, then use that to attack me--all the while tying it back to the Natlfed issue.

Not from Natlfed 27.Oct.2005 08:26

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

To be clear I am not from Natlfed or NOC and no statements of mine reflect the position of the current leadership of Natlfed, most of whom I have never met. This is the contenued misinformation spread by Jeff Whitnack who consider himselves experts on Natlfed.

I apologies if my remark offended Robin or others who I respect who have participated in this debate, but I will not apply the term "Cult" to any organization or association of individuals no matter how much I disagree with thier course or structure.

I do feel that Jeff whitnack contribution to this discussion is based on a highly prejudicial and uninformed position. If it is arrogant of myself to feel my understanding of the organzation as a former member of party who while in the party was one of My step fathers most vocal critics as being somewhat more informed than an individual who quit after three months of provisional membership then I am guilty of being arrogant. I feel that Jeff Whitnack is being arrogant in telling me, and others who made long term commitments to the organization that his narrow and bigoted understanding is greater than my own.

Also for the record I recruited at least 18 individuals into the Provisional party. This was largely a reason why I choosed not to immidiately escape from NOC, but to hold on during conditions that could at times have been called torture involving both physical threats, sleep deprevation, as well as some physical violence. I felt responcible to fight out for my vision of what the organization was about. IF natlfed became a cult is was because people gave power to Gino outside the agreements we had all made within the contents of joining the party and excepting his structure. if Gino was the alphia male it was only because people choosed to accept an alpha male rather than accept channels that many of us did try to use to oppose him. While sounding like valid critism Jeffs position just buys into the line of giving Gino power he was not entitled to by the organizations structure. Jeff seems to think thier is some power in holding onto ignorance rather than at all allowing his understanding to evolve. Jeff's article seems to have been his moment of glory in the doings of the left, and I understand that my renouncing him as ill informed undermines his self-image. Perhaps that is wrong of me, but his pride undermines the self-image of any cadre who feels the work they did was worthwhiled dispite any evil Gino may have done to undermined thier efforts.

I want to point out that my blog is not meant to reclaim the past but to reclaim the knowledge of the past interms of how it may be used today. I think myself, gnomon and many other former cadre could claim to be as familier with the implementation of systemic organizing as anyone in natlfed today. The value of systemic organizing is not in my mind a question, it allowed Natlfed to grow as a grass roots organization in over 16 location through the country in less than 10 years while creating the first successful farm workers organization on the east coast and the first representive body of Temporary workers. These advances for the working class had nothing to do with Gino co-optation that followed. jeff has said nothing to make me consider these statement to be false.

Reply 27.Oct.2005 15:53

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

I am well aware that you, Elizabeth, are (probably) not now a member of Natlfed, or what remnants remain of Gino's cult. My point is that everything you've typed in, your default mechanisms, all remind me SO MUCH of the default Natfled style and mentality. While you're not in the cult, the cult is still in you. After being involved, studying, conducting interviews with TONS of people (wish I could multiply people interviewed with time they spent in Natlfed---it would probably add up to over 100/person years), I could almost predict how the cult would respond to just about anything and everything. So too it is now with you and your retorts, allegations, innuendo's, and silly smears.

I will leave it for the readers of this to decide what Natlfed is and was. A bogus cult devoid of any real value as regards organizing for change in this country? Or a legitimate organization with valuable lessons and experience, only tragically mis-aligned by (fill in the blank here---Gino's usurption, others allowing such, etc.) a tragic flaw of sorts? The vast majority of people whom look into this at all invariably come away with the only logical conclusion, that Natlfed is and was a bogus and dangerous cult. (oh but how can any of them know anything, they didn't serve years and years doing "systemics organizing"). It's like the Vietnam War in a way. I also wasn't a soldier there, but that doesn't stop me and many others to be able to look at it for what it was, a criminal war of the USA against Vietnam. Then some USA vet will always say "but you weren't there, how can you say anything" (or "you were only there 3 months, how could you write anything?").

"....but to hold on during conditions that could at times have been called torture involving both physical threats, sleep deprevation, as well as some physical violence."

Oh no doesn't sound like a cult at all!

"Jeff's article seems to have been his moment of glory in the doings of the left, and I understand that my renouncing him as ill informed undermines his self-image. Perhaps that is wrong of me, but his pride undermines the self-image of any cadre who feels the work they did was worthwhiled dispite any evil Gino may have done to undermined thier efforts."

Again, YOUR sense of self-importance is way over-blown. The very last thing you are doing is undermining my self-image. It is so funny I can actually get a bit of a laugh out of it. That is an interesting turn of a phrase----that "his pride"..."undermines the self-image of any cadre who feels the work they did was worthwhiled (sic) dispite (sic) any evil Gino may have to to undermined (sic) thier (sic) efforts." It is perhaps not my "pride" but my allegation that the only realistic way to consider Natlfed is that of a cult. Clearly for some this challenges their self-image, as it did mine also after I left the Natlfed cult. People would offhandedly (and dismissively) tell me it was "just a cult" and I definately (and somewhat desperately) didn't want to face that music (Robin decribes this above). But ultimately "a cult" was the only shoe that fit this Cinderella.

Do you honestly believe I feel any being with even one functioning brain cell would really buy into your perspective on Natlfed and the issues of it being a cult or not? Or that your posts here in ANY way undermines the validity of my article. For now, that article is THE definitive work on Natlfed & it being a cult. If you want to try and publish a retort, go ahead and try.

I'll have to ponder whether or not that article represents any "highest point" for me. That article was really just one part of an overall campaign I conducted to get the word out to the public that Natlfed is and was a dangerous and bogus cult. Let me just say that I am quite happy with my life now and have no need to protect the integrity of my Public Eye article. And certainly not from Elizabeth's attacks!

Imagine you (not necessarily you Elizabeth, but "you" the general reader) have an 18-20 yr. old son or daughter. Imagine while away at college they tell you they're very enthused about an organization they've been volunteering at. It's a Natlfed front. Imagine you actually tour the office and have a sense something is amiss, a bad sense or feeling about it. If it was before my article and efforts there was virtually nothing on record clearly indicating that Natlfed was a cult. But then after my article and efforts, anyone with any skill whatsoever can find out that it's a cult (while the Internet clearly helps, my basic point would still hold even if the internet had failed to come into existenc). That was my goal and I was successful in it. I have a certain amount of pride of course in accomplishing that goal. Did it make any difference in terms of anyone being kept out of the cult's grasp whom would have otherwise been ensnared? I don't know, but it seems reasonable to assume some effect. In any event it was the right thing to do, to expose them for what they are. I know for a fact I got to help one former member go to Santa Cruz and virtually eradicate their base of support. At a minimum this was helping him get a sense of closure or payback for the years of his life the cult ripped off.

But while I do feel good about exposing the cult, I also had a sense of helplessness about what could be done to free those whom were ensnared (my "don't give a rat's ass had to do with ordinate Natlfed reaction to the Public Eye" and was NOT meant to express uncaring about ensnared cult members!). After spending a lot of time with anguished parents and friends of Natlfed ensnared cult members, after spending time discussing the issue with Counscelors whom were cult experts, I came to the sad conclusion that it was a very hard and difficult thing to get through to someone once they were so ensnared. The cult routine is effectively brutual and efficient.

While I was only in it for 3 months, it was still a despicable act for them to use lies and cultic tactics on me--as Robin describes. I was only lucky to have been able to escape as early as I did, and in retrospect can view the 3 months as a kind of training in "what a cult is about". But a recent aquaintance just got out after 20 years! 20 Years ripped off via lies and pure BS. I was further lucky in being both asked to write an article by a well recognized and respected journal (Public Eye---still in publication and Chip Berlet, my editor, is a recognized authority on the right wing) and to be in close contact with former LARGO members whom could steer me to the roots of Gerald Doeden. For me the article and efforts were a bit of personal revenge on Gino and all his knowing minions in the cult. That is what I can say with utter certainty I feel very good about. I only wish I could give that gift to everyone whom was also so ensnared.

Elizabeth's bizzare posturing and rather pathetic comments hardly detracts from any of this. Quite the opposite in fact, as anyone reading the actual events and happenings she described can come away with the inescapable conclusions.

What Natlfed did to so many people in particular, and to the progressive movement in general, was most despicable and contemptible. Elizabeth, I spit in your face for your continued defense of this cult and for your ordinate role/pride in it. It was perhaps only chickens coming home to roost that you yourself got to experience a small fraction of the sordid conditions what you helped to inflict on countless others. While overall you are perhaps both victim and perp, on this forum you continue as a Natlfed perpetrator of lies and deceit.

To Jeff 27.Oct.2005 19:40

Elizabeth

Thrrrrrrrrrsppp!!!!

to those with family involved 28.Oct.2005 10:06

Elizabeth

To those with family or friends in Natlfed I want to add some comments. It is my unqualified believe that you will not serve yourself or them by alienating or marginalizing something so much a part of them. I have been activiely engaged within radical politics for over 30 years, and I would not renounce any part of that investment. I know of no one who ever voluntarily left natlfed as a result of arguements presented that marginalize thier own work and thier life.

Again I would not recommend anyone to join Natlfed, just as thier are many groups I don't recommend but would not attack. I do have serious questions that I would suggest anyone involved with Natlfed to consider. If I where to be engaged in conversation with someone exploring natlfed today, I would suggest they consider certain documents within thier history that perhaps they are not even aware.

1. One of the most effective potential revolutionary strategy persued in Natlfed history was the TWOC (temporary workers organizing committee) offensive that began in 79. After it stalled the cadre in charge in the field, then New brunswick operations manager, left the organization after submitting a critisism of how NOC had prevented that strategy from moving forward. I do not want to violate his confidentialty but he was known as Billy L., the critisism compare the situation in the field to that faced by Ho Chi min in dealing with higher leadership more concerned with the needs of the soviet union. I would want someone I loved involved in the organization to ask to read that critisism from someone respected in the organization enough to pilot thier major field offensive who left in frustration. I would encourage any natlfed cadre to demand access to that critisism.

2. As well in the beginging of the offinsive period begun by system 79 a woman named Lisa A. was Polly's aide de camp. The night before she left NOC she wrote a hand written letter to all NOC cadre addressing how thier work was related to the emotional brake downs of experienced Field cadre. I would hope you demand to see that letter as well and consider it's content.

3. I would suggest you look at, or asked for if it is not still commonly available, the document about "old china hands". It was aimed primarily at a man named Greg H. who was best known for authoring another document addressing the question of Russia's commitment to communism during the era of polish solidarity trade union movement. If Natlfed or the party ever was a cult it became so largely because of the Purge that followed the "Old China hand" document that effectively made experienced rank and file critisism of party leadership Impossible. I would want someone I loved involved in natlfed to read that document and consider how much it disempowered field level leadership.

Finally I would want them to know that many experienced former cadre, Including myself and Robin, have said that Natlfed is too top heavy with micro management. For what my opinion is worth Natlfed cannot be taken seriously as long as it keeps most of it's cadre in administrative safe houses rather than on the field. Historically revolutionary organizations based on grass roots organizing should have only perhaps 3-5%, at most maybe 10% of it's cadre involved in national administration and management. To the best of my knowledge Natlfed allows as little as 30% at most 50% of it's cadre to work out in the field doing practical and real work. Those are solid figures to be questions by anyone working inside natlfed today.

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

Sorting Out the Past 28.Oct.2005 11:25

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

Jeff,
Although I think I have made myself pretty clear that Natlfed was and probably still is a cult, I still have to respectfully disagree with you about the value of learning from the work Natlfed did do, separate from the mind control techniques that were used. This is not an attack on you or the work that you have done. I think that you came in the door wanting to work for low income people just like I did. Luckily, you left sooner. I think the article you wrote was a good piece of investigative journalism on the Genesis and Gino's background. I think because you were only there three months (and even that was to long for anyone to lose) you have been able to write those three months off.
I was in Natlfed 14 years. If I decide to write off everything learned there, I will have to go back to where I was when I was 18. Back then I did not know American labor history (it's not taught in high school), had a surface view only of the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War era and the farm workers movement. I knew nothing of socialism and communism except that they were very very bad. I knew nothing about the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the communist internationals and so much more history. I did not know how to canvass, make phonecalls, do public speaking, to organize food drives, dinners and everything else EFWA did. I did not know how to file a Civil Rights suit, landlord/tenant law, what a fair hearing was. I had no idea what a migrant farm labor camp was or how a good percentage of Americans live in poverty. I certainly did not know the extent of racism in America. I did not know how to pay bills, organize campaigns, register a car, and so many more things.
I am definitely not saying that people should join Natlfed to learn these things. There are plenty of other sources. What I am saying is that I learned to do those things when I was in Natlfed, and I consider them valuable enough that I want to hold onto them and use them NOT to build a cult, but in other arenas of life where they can do some good.
Until recently, and only with professional help from a very good therapist, I was not able to do this. Many of these skills and much of the knowledge were tied in my mind to the abuse and emotions surrounding that. This was true to the point that engaging in a political conversation or saying Provisional Party caused a physical anxiety attack. It is only when sorting the good from the bad and dealing with the bad that one can get on with their life. And getting on with my life means getting to keep the valuable things that I learned while in Natlfed to use elsewhere in my life.
It means getting to keep the knowledge of how to organize a strike or other action. It means getting to keep a knowledge of other social, political and economic systems besides capitalism. I, myself, believe in a free market system with restraints. I have seen free markets create incredible technology that can save, prolong and improve life. I also see from my Natlfed experiences how it oppresses. I think a knowledge of other systems allows one to look at how to change the one we have to address the problems.
You don't throw away your past. You learn from your mistakes, throw out the bad and KEEP the good.
Robin

Positive things from Natlfed 28.Oct.2005 17:11

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Robin,

You are right, again. Even prisoners, subjected to the extremes of isolation and abuse, may come out with positives. Taking my good friend, whom spent 4 years in the cult, he also got some good out of it. But I also watched as, over the years, it took quite a while for many of the default Natlfed internalized habits, concepts, etc., to pretty much dissipate out of his soul.

His parents had contacted me via the Cult Counscelors whom had previously established contact with me. The day he left and came home his mother called and told me. She later showed him some of my work in progress, investigative info, etc. (Public Eye article had not come out). It took about 4 months before I was told he wanted to meet me. I remember it vividly as I sat talking to him in the kitchen, "how do I know you're not an FBI agent?" was his first question......We became very good friends, he was the Best Man at my wedding etc. The time ripped off from his life, derailed him from college just before graduation, plus even after leaving it took him quite a while to get his bearings and effectively move on. It also seemed to have left him with somewhat of a workaholic tendency in which he seemed to take on too much (as we moved farther apart geographically and me raising a family this became more evident). He eventually settled in on very demanding and interesting work, married a very great women. But childhood illness finally caught up with him and he passed away recently. At his funeral I met other former Natlfeders, one whom had left after 20 years. While still recognizing Natlfed as a cult, obviously the time spent in Natlfed still in many ways belonged to him. I would not pre-suppose to write any article advising people how to cope or adjust after leaving a cult.

I have also noticed that some Natlfed members are both angry/envious that I not only spent a mere three months, but that I dared to write an article on it. But my article was not just based on those three months (though from a journalistic standpoint it was a bit of in-depth investigation---albeit unintentional at first), but also on LOTS of reseach and interviews. If I had just written my impressions 2 weeks after leaving the cult it would have been a different article---though probably essentially worthless in terms of warning potential new cult members.

The documents Elizabeth mentions MIGHT be of value IF someone was to do a study detailing "The Path to Cultdom" that Natlfed took. But to imagine that some concerned parent or friend, even a tabular volunteer, could ever locate such documents, MUCH LESS request and receive them from Natlfed, is ludicrous. All that is needed is to clearly and succinctly explain/document that this group is a dangerous cult. What Elizabeth describes as organizatinal or revolutionary failings are actually successful strategies IF the real goal is to build a cult. Which it clearly is.

I remember after the 1980's raid, the local FBI agent on the news (I got a VHS sent to me) was declaring "this is a Marxist-Lenninist cell, in the classic sense." A left wing "CPUSA" cult was probably a political wet dream for McCarthyite era trained FBI agents. J. Edgar would have probably relished being around to raid and "expose" this "band of communists".

Certainly when Gino (and a few others?) arrived from the West Coast in early 1970's it is entirely possible that group wasn't a cult, at least in the consolidated sense. I personally have little idea in when and how that exact transition came to be. I only know that at least well before 1980 the group had clearly become a bogus and dangerous cult. And looking at the ACTUAL past and historic activities of Gino, a cult was the far more predictable outcome of his past activities, needs, and talents.

The Mutual Benefits Associations, the organizing drives, the CCMP and CCLP type fronts, ALL these were clearly explained early on to me as merely being flypaper to "bring them to Formation". The point was to keep them going JUST ENOUGH to both be attractants and then show they wouldn't work. If one looks at the extreme amount of work and time spent by so many in Natlfed, and then compares it to any impact...it's as if I have a souped up truck, V8 with every conceivable addition, but all the wheels are buried in sand as the truck whirs and the wheels spin. Meanwhile I'm out there screaming "I'm gonna win the Indy 500" as I attract and stuff as many people in the cab as possible.

How to Steal an Organization 29.Oct.2005 10:19

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

Jeff and Elizabeth,

I was re-reading the entire string of comments here yesterday and then thinking about it last night and this morning. A very disturbing thought came to me and to say I was upset would be an understatement. Enraged is probably closer. I am still angry after an hour weight work-out and I hope this is in no way disrespectful as it is not meant to be so. I would appreciate any thoughts you have on it. It's just a theory and quite frankly, I hope I'm wrong.
Adding to the analogy of the animal rights cult Jeff wrote of - Jeff said he didn't know where he'd get his original starting cult members. I have an idea. Begin by starting a legitimate animal rights organization with a few people who are committed to this. Convince them of a few cult elements to start, but just a few so the organization is legitimate. Begin by ensuring the organizers put their heart into a few early big wins that give animal rights people hope that a new era is beginning. This will then attract people with experience in the animal rights movement and add more legitimacy. Establish the organization firmly as a legitimate animal rights organization. Then little by little, inch by inch, begin to steal it from the original and later joining members who are actually committed to animal rights. When you have a few committed cult members from a newer recruitment process begin to get rid of the legitimate organizers.
When someone catches on that you now have a cult and starts calling you on it, the legitimate organizers who were forced out will object because what they worked in was not started as a cult and they actually did win animal rights victories in a legitimate organization. If later on the legitimate organizers decide that they want to claim their historicality from the victories they won early on and form something different, the anti-cult person will accuse them of starting a new cult. The legitimate organizer will be enraged because not only was their original organization stolen from them, but now someone is trying to steal their legitimate historicality as well.
If you want to be even more diabolical don't concentrate on animal rights, start an organization to give poor and oppressed people a voice. Then not only can you steal the hard working committed people's organization and parts of well-meaning people's lives, you can give poor and oppressed people hope that they might become more than second class citizens. You can even get them involved and give them leadership positions and pride in themselves. Then you can crush that to, through stealing the organization and turning it into a cult.
This is obviously a gross simplification, but do you think it fits? I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Robin

Hijacking an organization for a cult? 30.Oct.2005 07:35

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Elizabeth,

There seems to be two parts to what you are saying.

One is the question of whether or not what you describe is a possible way to start or launch a cult. My initial reaction is that this is a bit "past my bedtime". A cult expert, say Gary Scharff or Margaret Singer, might be able to provide an answer as to whether or not your description fits a pattern of what many established cults have done. Did Moon hijack some semi-established religous group in South Korea before he set out? Did the Children of God do likewise? Did Lyndon Larouche's NCLC raid an SDS offshoot? Etc. It would seem entirely reasonable to me that such a parasitic relationship with a valid (from the standpoint of it being not a cult) organization or religion would help to provide the "seed money" for a cult to achieve critical mass or escape velocity.

The second aspect is "is this what happened with Natlfed?". Even if NO other cult of any stripe (political, religous, or self-improvement ala Scientology) ever started out by latching onto, even creating, something legitimate, it is stilll possible that Natlfed was the exception.

I simply don't really know, nor was it relevant at the time fate handed me the task of writing the article and exposing Natlfed as a cult. It had become a very crude, brutal, and effective cult by the time I wrote about it.

Was the initial EFWA strike a valid event in the labor history of the USA? Was there ever a time in the history of Natlfed when some aspect, portion, even Natlfed in general, wasn't a cult? I can't say. And any answer in the affirmative (yes there was a time when it wasn't a cult) I would imagine would have to account for Gino/Gerald's personal role in EFWA/NLF/CPUSA-- keeping in mind his chronic lies, very shady and suspect personal history from any left or progressive perspective, personal cultic charisma, etc.

Further, anyone whom would undertake to prove such a non-cultic history would also have to achieve some basic credibility by copping to the fact that, at least well before 1980, the entire organization was clearly just a cult and nothing more (and nothing less!). Sure the author could prove it had some non-cultic "genesis" and be right, and also then claim it never became a cult and be wrong. But such a position, on whole, wouldn't be of value for former members, the progressive community, etc. You can be half right one way and be totally wrong (it had a begininng when it wasn't a cult and also never became one anyway). Or half right the other way, yet for all practical purposes totally right (it always was a cult).

When I joined up it was a total cult. I can't look back at any valid organization, even a semblance of such, and have any regrets that something valid was destroyed by cultic infiltration or subversion. Others may have a valid different memory. Yet it was the "dream" that such a dedicated organization exists, that real MBA's with real active members could exist....the mirage of a dream.

What I do remember, and still do, was how much the Natlfed hook sank into "flesh" and fed a political appetite/perspective I still feel some of which dwells within. It was uncanny really. Pisses me off to think about, that so much talent and energy was siphoned off and wasted!

I wrote my article about how Natlfed was a cult. I will leave it for others to delved into the early history and nuance of when, where, and how it all came to be.

Oops, to Robin, and Carlos and Brook codes revisited 31.Oct.2005 03:03

Jeff Whitnack

First my above comments were in particular addressed to Robin.

To revisit the issue of one of the "innacuracies" in my Public Eye article. Elizabeth originally alleged that..(alleged innacuracy #4)

"Fourth, the carlos and brook codes were not for security, they merely told the people calling how you were met. This is the same thing as when a letter has a particular department or suite number in it. It called being organized. I find it possible that the Dr S you met made revolution sound romantic, I find it equally beievable that you filtered it into dramatic romance yourself. This is much like the "are you a cadre of another organization" I did not find it romantic perhaps because I answered "yes, kind of" and proceeded to provide the basis for my answer. Perhaps some of your delusions were your own."

I had forgotten about this code(s), used as part of the "ADD-R" (Additional Arena) scheme which was a big recruitment drive for Natlfed. I can testify that it was big in the California Bay Area, if not other regions of the country. What it seemed to involve was going directly to people with known left or progressive backgrounds and using Natlfed, MBA's, and faked international connnections to revolutions in Latin America and the Cuban government. I witnessed this first hand. The "ADD-R" recruitment scheme seemed to be somewhat of a new scheme of recruitment. In the past one had to volunteer for years for the local MBA or CCMP/LP type organization. Often a lot of time went by (years I was told) before someone was informed of the "party"/cult behind it all. Even with my "mere" three months (which is still a significant exposure) I witnessed Natlfed cult members, whom had been recruited via the traditional path, express jealousey and resentment towards the "ADD-R" recruits. In part this was because a fair number of them were actually practiciing MD's or residents. These "big fish" were kept on a looser drag at times by the cult fishing industry (allowed to keep their private homes as dwellings, not subjected to the full cultic expectations, etc.). Class jealousey within Natlfed, there is a subject heh?

I mentioned the "I was a friend of Carlos" code (only one code, not two) in describing how I was ensnared into the Natlfed cult. Again, I had forgotten, but I former Natlfed member whom monitors this site emailed me privately and reminded me...

"I was to call either number and use a code to signify that I had had the
>introductory lecture. Using the code meant saying that I was of "friend of
>Carlos" and then ask to speak to a woman named "Brook." (Looking back now,
>this code routine didn't seem to serve any real purpose of security, rather
>it acts as
>another screening filter. If, after having the canned rap, you then call up
>their office and use the code, it signifies that you
>accept their game of intrigue. But, if the person is too skeptical
>or scared, well then, there are other fish in the area.)"

Here is how it went down for me. A personal friend of mine, Dr. GB, and I were working to sort out/process medical supplies which had been collected to be sent to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua (about 1981 or so). I had met him socially as his former girlfriend (Marlene) was a good former house mate of a woman I had known for years. While visiting her I met Dr. GB and Marlene.

Anyway, after the sorting/processing session Gary invited me for a private chat. There I heard the canned Natlfed chat, in which GB used a "I want to talk to you about my recent trip to Nicaragua" to then explain to me that there was an actual revolutionary organization in this country. If I was interested I was to call the CCMP office in Oakland, ask for Brook and say "I am a friend of Carlos". Brook wasn't a code. Brook Oliver was the "Political Commissar" in the Oakland area. (Did Gino watch too much of Boris, Natasha, and Fearless Leader?)

This was not innacurate in terms of the facts. But what of my speculation that the "codes" served as a kind of screening tool to usher in those more susceptible to cult recruitment? Certainly that is in the eye of the beholder and is, in any event, a minor detail in the overall decision or analysis of whether or not Natlfed was or wasn't a cult. I will agree that from a limited viewpoint it served as a kind of mailbox tree for incoming calls. But on a deeper level I still allege that it also screens potential recuits to the cult. By participating in the code ritual right off it tends to usher in those more prone to the cultic intrigue and whipped up self-importance/bravado so much a part of the Natlfed cult.

I later went with someone whom delivered the EXACT same pitch as I heard GB lay out---almost word for word. And this person had never even been to Nicaragua. And I witnessed another MD/resident whom had traveled to Nicarague later attend a Labor College on a Sunday in a supposed military uniform of the Sandinista's, heard it claimed several times that Natlfed was the USA member of a Western Hemispheric new Internationale centered in Cuba, etc. Lies, lies, lies, not for secrecy from the USA government, but for cultic reasons to ensare new cult members.

But was I innacurate? I definately wasn't innacurate in how I described what occurred. I will leave it to the reader as to whether or not my impression of how the code were used fit into the overall cult pattern, or was just an early version of phone mailboxes. When a hypnotist asks a crowd who'd like to be hypnotized, he has already pre-screened in favor of those more susceptible.

This is an issue which is hard to prove one way or another. In any event it is a small, basically irrelevant side issue, in the overall story.

Again, is this the best you can do to dredge up suppposed innacuracies in my aritlce? I realize Elizabeth claims she helped to develop the very scheme which ended up recruiting me. I may have some minor "innacuracies" (was it really "ADD-R" or was it Add-AR"?), which in no way detracts from the salient points.

Responding 31.Oct.2005 08:34

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

I am needing to be fairly brief, which is a difficulty for me in general but also is a concern for such a conflict ridden discussion.

first with the simple question of Ad-ar, this was an organizational abbriviate for additional arena, it was largely associated with recruitment because of the Mass recruitment sessions began in the pent house apartment that became ad-ar-cen (additional arena center). My understanding is that this is because the mass recruitment program involved in the 79 period (system 79) involved mass recruitment of cadre for the purpose of vertical expansion (upward through the economic strata's) mostly manafested in expanding CCMP and CCLP to be national in character. It also involved expanding Coshad and NOC, building up business enetities associated with the Party. My own role within this was building closed section (denoting alegal work) additional arena's.

I think what I need to make clear to you Jeff that my concerns about your limited experience is based that you did not do much grass roots organizing work. I disagree that MBA's were just window dressing although I know that system 79 led to underminding that work. I beleave in the concept of learning from the work itself, which was really part of the TVTV process when it first was used. My whole point about how the organization was undermind from within is that young cadre, pulled almost at once from the field and into national never learned to be grassroots organizers and never learned politics from that practical level. Gino did know how to organize on the grass roots level, and so it seemed to me did everyone who ever stood up to him. What I am saying is that by creating a large body of "national leadership" devoid of real practical experience and the political wisdom to natured by the work, Gino and others in the FC staff and national operations were able to brake down rank and file critisism and destroy the democratic channels that existed. I don't think it serves much seeing this as how to create a cult, but rather how an organization or movement is successfully co-opted. These days a lot of my work concerns how the DLC (democratic leadership council) has engineered a corporate co-optation of the democratic party on a national level. It would not serve the interest of my revolutionary intent to say this means the democractic party is a "cult", it would be seen as rediculous. That it is not rediculous to label some groups as "cult" is only that they are more marginalized and I am not convinced that understanding ANY group (moonies, JW, scientology) really serves anyone interested in manafesting some form of a better world vision.

I am also reluctant to judge others motivations as opposed to thier actions or inactions. Even though I had a long term and close intimate association with Gino, knew him as well as maybe anyone alive today knew him, I would be hesitant to pronounce judgements on his motivation as oppose to his actions and conduct as looked at in relationship to the goals we both at one time put forth together. I had for many years a lot of personal anger toward Gino, feelings of betrayal and such, but I also in the end recognize him as a human being whose life is interconnected with my own very closely. I find it amazing that you consider your work as being your revenge on Gino, a man you never met. I have never stopped being a revolutionary, or at least an activist, it has been my major occupation for over 30 years and only 7 of that was working with Gino or his organizations. Many of the questions raised I have seen in almost any struggle, particularly when ego and control become more important than goal, Gino was by no means alone in this but reflected the social norm.


When I mentioned those documents above, I did not at all mean that they should be read by family members or others unfamilier with practical work. I only said that if I knew and cared for a cadre in natlfed today, I would want them to know that these documents were thier and suggest they demand to see the internal crisism within the history of the organization that they might not even be aware of. I would burn them myself rather than see them become the property of some stupid academic. I think this is at the root of some of my disagreements with you Jeff, what you call the "left" is most likely what I call liberal reformist. I didn't come into natlfed without a political background and I left, not feeling I was renouncing my believes but that I was renouncing a leadership that had sold out the believes it had once put forth. I particularly never disagreed with them in terms of keeping out people who were just readly to talk but not walk. I felt they had begun to forsake that believe in 79. You say how much you can predict what I say because you understood the organization so well, but you can't and you don't. You say my attitude to you has been bizzaire but look at what you have been writing about me. You said it was OK I was locked up and tortured while expressing a desire to spit in my face! Jeff something is incredibly immature about that. You wrote your article and presented a paradigm that sees the entirety of the organization and it's history as a cult. You seem unwilling to allow any attempt at understanding of that history, from individuals with more direct personal experience with that history, from understanding thier experience from any other paradigm. I find this very arrogant and closed minded, and I find it very violating of something that involves my personal history.

Elizabeth Parenti Soba


And now "Violating Personal History", oh geeze 31.Oct.2005 11:25

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Well how funny you express umbrage at my "I spit in your face" after your many and varied juvenile attacks and characterizations of me (just scroll up and see). (You started it) That was my way of expressing my profound contempt for you and your continued need or drive to explain Natlfed as anything more than just another dangerous cult.

I won't get into some stupid discussion about any "organizing" I did or didn't do pre or post Natlfed. That would just buy into the lie that there is any real political importance, any progressive history, to anything about Natlfed or Gino. But to characterize me as in any way deficient because I hadn't suffered wasted years and energy toiling away building the paper shell MBA's and CCMP,CCLP type organizations I find ludicrous. I am not the issue, the cultic nature of Natfled, and Gino's personal political history is the only relevant issue. But try to reset the syllogism.

Yeah right, Natlfed wouldn't have become a cult if only they had stuck to recruiting the pure and pristine recruits whom came up through the ranks of the MBA's. Does anyone really believe this nonsense? Natlfed was clearly an established cult by the time the ADD-R recruitment drive was underway.

On bulk my work was not revenge on Gino. On a personal level, of course it felt quite good to expose Natlfed cult and Gino for what they are. But the goal was to prevent the Natlfed cult from damaging more lives, from ripping off the progressive community. (I actually did meet Gino briefly at a house in Chico about 1970, although only years later was told whom he was. I don't remember any discussion or much about him, just was told that was him and have a clear image which dovetails with the video I saw of him laying on a couch after the 1984 raid, mumbling about "the person who.."). In a way I can also view Gino as a pathetic, if talented, individual whom was such a miserable failure that he had a personal need to encapsulate or insulate himself from reality by bringing so many to "Formation" around him. At a certain level it's like a modern ant colony or bee hive, where the Queen is as much a captive as the workers and drones. But Gino was out "pimpin'" with the cash, the car, and being "The Old". In a bizzare way my personal history became intertwined with Gino's and the drama played itself out. I recall when my good friend John Gimenez and I were contemplating all the bizzare and unusual coincidences and he exclaimed, "It's like there is a God or something" as he had that bemused and cheerful look on his face.

Certainly there was perhaps a time period when Natlfed didn't exist as a cult. LARGO also didn't exist as a consolidated cult either, though lies and deciet, double-dealings, etc., were clearly part of Gino's modus operendi back then. I don't think that Natlfed became a cult just by accident or some failed political line. Gino was always uber doggie and he just consolidated it. He was a lie and a sham from day one, as was his creation of Natlfed and the internal cultic "party". Just because maybe some well meaning and sincere people got caught up before the cult aspect was consolidated means nothing to me in terms of what the ultimate evaluation of Natlfed is, though I realize that may be a history of interest both on it's own right and in terms of studying how political cults can develop. I ask everyone reading this....think back on the tons of energy and committment demanded of people ensnared in Natlfed. Now look at the utter lack of ANY political or social impact whatsoever! (and any pathetic claims of such are actually the exceptions which prove the rule). There is a glaring hole to gaze into and that hole can only be described as being because it was in essence a cult whose ONLY real function was to channel lives to the service of Gino's whims. Just by randoim chance that activity and committment should have produced something more! The reality is all delusion, smoke and mirrors! What some decried as being mistakes in organizing was really just part of the cultic pattern. Gino didn't want to bring too much attention to his left wing "CPUSA" cult, why that might bring down too much. Better to keep things under the radar and keep reelin' 'em in.

You say you don't like characterizing the Moonies (etc.) as a cult? But if one looks at the basic structure and function of these cults, it's pretty much all the same. You almost just plug in the ideology or the religion (ala the Animal Rights cult I described as a hypothetical example). There is an inherent disrespect for the members or recruits in all these cults. What you see is not what you get, the external projection is based on a layer of carefully crafted lies and deciet, the hook is a lie and fear/intimidation/cultic routines keep people in. Maybe your Natlfed training to extol being "amoral" prevents you from seeing this as all as being profoundly despicable and evil. I have no such problem.

You say...
"I am also reluctant to judge others motivations as opposed to thier actions or inactions." And then you persist in quasi defense of Gino. Well I don't have any such trouble because I've interviewed so damn many people from Gino's past---girlfriends, mothers of his children, ex-wives, ex abuse victims, former employers,FBI informant best friends, drinking buddies, ex fellow "organizers", even two of his actual children, etc. A clear pattern of lies and abuse emerges. If his motivations were bottled up (imagine he became both deaf, dumb, and quadriplegic in 1969) they would be of no interest to me. If I had only his actions to judge and no people to interview, that would also be another thing. But I have an abundance of both his despicable actions and his lying words.

Elizabeth, your role SEEMS to have been as both supposed political operative and co-leader and founder of this cult. To the extent that was true, then yes I have about as much sympathy for you as if I heard that Ta Mok had tortured Pol Pot (or vice versa). From several people I heard that when Gino arrived on the East Coast he arrived with a woman named Elizabeth Perente. If you were intimate with him from way back then, then you were just one of many in his rotating harem I heard so much about. (another marker of a cult). Elizabeth it just doesn't stand to reason that you could be so intimately involved with such a despicable cult for so long, AND personally involved with such a despicable person, and not be smeared with blame for a significant amount of it. Perhaps hiding it in a political veneer provides you with a psychological cushion, but the truth should be evident to any thinking person whom can evaluate.

How can you call yourself a revolutionary, much less a progressive, when you defend a cult organization which ripped off so many people and did such despicable things. Indeed one you helped to build and defend to this day!

If this is violating your personal history, let's make the most of it!

don't you listen 31.Oct.2005 16:27

Elizabeth

you did not do any organizing in natlfed, which is why you don;t see anything in the grass roots organizing worth valuing I really don't know why I bother addressing you at all. The think is I want to talk about this with people who want to know what happen. where are all the people saying gee I left natlfed because I was warned by Jeff Whtnacks article, yes alot of people left the organization then talked to you, but you don't change peoples view or reach them at all by alientating them. I don;t really give a fuck about alenating you. I think your just a fucking leach who somehow is milking this for your own bull shit.

Testy testy 01.Nov.2005 02:01

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

I presume few, in any, left Natlfed because of my article. What I do think happened was that my article combined with my other efforts to expose meant that over time the influx didn't keep up as much with the amount of people leaving. My article came out in 1984 and I'll bet if a Natfled membership graph were drawn over the years it would show a big drop-off. But other things were involved, from the ridiculous deadline for a revolution (another cultic marker) expiring, the raid, Gino's personal decomposing and bizzare behavior, etc.

True, I did no organizing in Natlfed. But then NO ONE did any organizing in Natlfed. Not I, not you, not anyone. It was and is a cult. You bother "addressing me" because you desperately need to frame your past in some minimal definition which lets you off from the despicable reality of yourself and your actions, what you helped do to some many people and for so much of their lives. No organizing occurred, save "organizing" a cult for Gino's benefit.

Come on, ALL that effort, all those hours, all those people for so many years. And virtually NOTHING to show for it. No real confrontation in anyway with anything, standing in stark contrast to the internal posturing of CPUSA/P being such a shockwave and serious Party. MBA's which had a pulse akin to a hibernating frog in a dried up pond, as "members" served as passive window dressing to lure in new people, CCLP's and MP's which were functional solely just to suck up people into Formation, a central Party (which was really the inner cult)which was based on a series of lies and demented cultic routines.

If this is organizing, I imagine a revolution would be a bunch of nine year olds bashing a Pinata?

Further on not listening 01.Nov.2005 06:21

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

One of the things you obviously missed is that I have stated several times that I am not the Elizabeth you think I am, I never traveled to the west coast until the 80's and then only the southern offices. I knew several Elizabeth or Liz involved in the early days of the organization, I met the Liz who Gino called Bunky who I think you are tallking about when I was first recruited. I knew by reputation two other significant Elizabeths one known as liz. This is an example of what I find wrong about your style, you leap to a conclusion and then go on about it as if it were fact even when people have told you you were wrong. I make a lot of guess' about what happen too, but I don't share my guess' especially not as fact. I only mention this because I don't want you coming back and saying I lied about assumption you made, plus I am a little concern that your guessing may result in mistaken identities that tie someone else into something they didn't want to be involved in.

Second you still don't get it about the MBA, but you don't have too, just stop being in the way of other people learning.

In terms of organization structures and cults, I don't think you know what you are talking about and I don't think you could get any kind of group off the ground. I think marginalization of ANYONE, anyone period is a fucked up and dangerous thing to do. As soon as you marginalize someone you justify committing violence against them as well as dismissing thier ideas. It's the essential element of oppression. When you mention the cuklt watch connections you have does that include the deprograming movement? That's when you kidnapp someone you love from a cult and then but them through the same brainwashing techniques that people accuse cults of, it happens today with anarchist kids and the bootcamp movement. That's the kind of crap that happens when you start convincing people thier kids are in a "cult". You seem all for that, and all the bullshit about FBI agents and the crap, you don't know shit what your talking about, but you need to feel like your an expert.

I don't like you, I don't like what you say and I don't like that you demand this discussion revolve around the term Cult.


Which Elizabeth is which doesn't matter 01.Nov.2005 17:09

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

I have never said definately which Elizabeth or Liz you may or may not be. If you read exactly what I have written above, I never said I knew with any certainty if you are or aren't any specific Elizabeth. I only said that your own testimony seems to imply that you were both a victim and a perpetrator in the Natlfed cult. The main problem is that you continue to defend Natlfed as a legitimate political movement or Party when it was hardly either. The postulation is in fact downright ludicrous and would be comedic if Natlfed hadn't harmed so many for so long.

Further, your statements speak for themselves. You didn't leave of your own accord, even after being abused and treated on a level going to the extreme of cult practice. You were kicked out! And you still defend Natlfed as a genuine political organization.

Frankly it interests me little to nail down your exact identity or specific role in Natlfed. On total, over the years, how many people were tricked into joining that cult? 500, 1,000, 5,000? More? I have lists and lists of people from NOC, given to me by so many people whom have left. Multiply the people pulled to Formation by the years and what do you have? How many thousands of person/years does it add up to? And what impact did it have on anything politically or socially other than personal devastation and harm to the cult members?

You ask (or imply) what I think about de-programmers and such? If one of my kids was about to be sucked up into one of those cults (i.e. Natlfed, Moonies, Scientology, NCLC, etc.) I don't think there is much I would stop at personally in terms of trying to stop that from happening. I never worked with people whom I am aware of ever did a forced deprogramming. I am also not sure they are even effective. Your attempts to link me with such is just another smokescreen, in typical Natlfed fashion. (yes yes, I know you're no longer in Natlfed, but as I've said before Natlfed is certainly oozing out of you).

But every cult counscelor whom I spoke with, after listening to Natlfed being described, quite easily came to the conclusion that it is a cult. You have a lot of people out there trying to lay the "cult" label on organziations/religions with which they've had disagreements or bad experiences with. One guy from the Phillipines I knew, whom was in training to be a Priest, tried to tell me the Catholic Church is a cult. But they don't fit the criteria (though being a Priest or a Nun may miminc a few of the elements). People tried telling me that the Marine Corp. is a cult. While certainly the "break-down/build-up" routine mimmics part of a cult, they also aren't a cult. So cult experts actually spend a lot of time disputing the cult label when it is applied to organizations/religions with which people have had big disagreements or bad experiences. This doesn't mean they are fine and dandy, just that they aren't a cult.

Just look at various definitions of what a dangerous cult is. Then ask yourself, "does this sound like Natlfed?

Here's one definiton. It starts by calling for reserve in labeling a cult. Then goes on to describe Natlfed.

"In our modern world of the new millennium, the word "cult" has become largely overused and is now a catch-all for any group, religion or lifestyle which someone doesn't understand, or with which they happen to disagree. This is a dangerous trend, as many of the organizations labeled a cult by dissidents are truly legitimate groups. Once the taint of the term "cult" is applied to a particular group, it is often difficult to change that image to the public.
To avoid careless labeling which could be harmful to a group and its adherents, it is important to know just exactly what a cult is, and how it is defined. A cult, by modern standards, is any group that incorporates mind control to deceive, influence and govern its followers. Although most people think of cults as being religious, they can also be found in political, athletic, philosophical, racial or psychotherapeutic arenas.
The mind control, or brainwashing, exerted by cults often take the form of at least several of the following elements:
A totalitarian control over the lifestyle and time of its members - Many cults tend to dictate exactly what its followers should read, eat, how and with whom they should spend their time, and even what they should do in off hours. This totalitarian control is necessary for the leaders to indoctrinate the followers in everything they do, and is also an attempt to separate them from anything not associated with the cult. This is why cults often live together in groups.
A charismatic, self-appointed leader with complete authority - Cult members are taught not to question the teachings, practices, or ideas of the leader. Many cult leaders truly are charismatic people, and are able to influence people to believe them. It is common that a cult member is not told everything up front when joining the group, but that they are taught increasingly controlling ideas and teachings as they go. In the case of some of the more well-publicized cults that have come and gone, it is also common that the leader's ideas and demands evolve over time, becoming increasingly controlling and restrictive. One very clear identifying element dealing with the leader of a cult is that the leader will always focus the attention and veneration of the members upon himself or herself. At the heart of a cult usually lies a very self-centered and self-seeking person.
A focus on withholding truth from non-members - Many cults teach their followers to be completely open and truthful within the group, while at the same time they are encouraged to be secretive and evasive when questioned by people outside of the group. This is another form of mind control-instilling guilt in the members if they hold anything back within the group. The members are taught that outsiders wouldn't understand or that they would only make fun of the ideas and practices and requirements for living within the group. Only specially-commissioned members are appointed to recruit members from outside. New members are usually encouraged to keep silent or even lie, especially to their families and close friends.
The three elements listed above are very successful ways to create a group mentality, an us-against-them way of looking at things. This is essential for any cult that wants to keep its members. The more afraid of the outside world the members become, the more strongly and faithfully they will keep within the safe fold of the cult."

The above definition clearly calls for not just willy-nilly labeling groups as cults. Yet the definition fits Natlfed to a T.

Or how about this one.

"Definition of a Cult


Every cult can be defined as a group having all of the following 5 characteristics:
1. It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members
2. It forms an elitist totalitarian society
3. Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma
4. It believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds and recruit people
5. Its wealth does not benefit its members or society"

Again, not hard to see Natlfed here.

Or how about

"What is a Cult?
"A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.) designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community." (West & Langone, 1986)
What Are Some Characteristics of a Cult?
· Authoritarian in their power structure
· Totalitarian in their control of the behavior of their members
· Pyramidal structure
· Uses thought reform techniques
· Isolation of members (physical and/or psychological isolation) from society
· Uses deception in recruiting and/or fund raising
· Promotes dependence of the members on the group
· Totalitarian in their world view
· Uses mind altering techniques (chanting, meditation, hypnosis and various forms of repetitive actions) to stop normal critical thinking
· Appear exclusive and innovative
· Charismatic or messianic leader who is self-appointed and has a special mission in life
· Controls the flow of information
· Instills a fear of leaving the group."

It's as if Gino, in creating Natlfed, sat there with the above list and, while developing plans for Natlfed, checked them off one at a time.

This is why any defense of Natlfed has to also embrace denying that ANY such cults exist, or by insisting that every cult be evaluated on some political basis (ala Natlfed's perspective). That speaks volumes of itself.

you still full of it 02.Nov.2005 05:28

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

I have heard all those reasonings as to what a cult is, and I have seen how they can be allpied to almost any organization or group you want. You complete skip the point of how dangerous marginalizing any group is? Then you say you would force your own kids with any means possible if they were involved in a group you demonized. My daughters a radical raw foodist, to be honest it was quite a challenge seeing her rip into a raw stake the first and every subsequient time she has done so, but I also beleave that she is free to make her choices and my marginalizing her choices would be both wrong and unproductive. The same thing, if you encourage someone to just keep screaming at thier kids, "it's a cult, it's a cult, it's a cult" most of the time they will just alienate them in such a way that will have long term and damaging results on thier relationship.

And where am I defending Natlfed, I have leveled a fair amount of serious critisism at what I know they did or do wrong. I am just saying your full of shit. You insist that unless everyone agrees that natlfed was nothing but I cult they must be badgered by you into agree with it because that's the only bases of discussion you allow. My first attack on you was that you were a patriachal asshole and you have really stuck to that. People reading this should read through the above from the begining, each and every person who has more direct personal experience with natlfed, the party and Gino has said that just dismissing natlfed as a cult was faulty and you focused on just attacking that position because it goes against your "difinative article" BULL FUCKING SHIT. You ego is all built around this. You don't care about anyone or anything but Jeff Whitnack and his fat headed Ego.

I was thrown out? interesting news to me! Hey Jeff you don't know shit about what you are talking about, that was the point of what I wrote about thier being more than one Liz. Your invested in being the expert, so half the time when thiers stuff you don't at all understand you just fake it with a big guess.

MBA (mutual benefits associations) are a pretty old concept, Gino didn't think it up. Fronts are an old concept too, J. Edgar and his crowd made that shit up. Why don't you once try to approach the subject like you were not the god damn expert? Why don't you try a little zen and come to this with an empty cup instead of being a fucking middle class bastard who needs to be the one who knows it all. I know you spent a lot of time "researching" natlfed, you still have very little direct experience with it and what happened. I was thier I know what happened and I know what was going on and what I was involved in WAS a genuine revolutionary attempt. Some of it, and some of the people in it were fucked up. Hey dude, I have been in a lot of political movements, most of them are a little fucked up and have people in it that are fucked up. I just say you screaming "Cult" like a little child holding a temper tantrum does not move the discussion forward.

You have proven to me that you don't deal in good faith, you also demonstrate why that isn't possible for you, you need to grow up, just like the vast majority of stuck up middle class mostly male egotists out thier. And screaming how Gino just was top dog, what does that say about people like Polly, Mary Struggler, What does it say about scores of people who went out and did important work that you insist could never have happened? I know some good serious wrok was being done in the organization well into the 80', I know I was thier and I was doing some of it. You want to say that didn't happen, in fact you stop all discussion and throw a temper tantrum until everyone agress it didn't happen. But I was thier and I say it was, so you say that makes me a bad guy because it disagress with your whole stick, and you say I am the one whose easily predicted. People should know that you are just a dumb stupid fucking child in a man's body.

Elizabeth Parenti Soba


On Robin's Hypothetical question 02.Nov.2005 09:52

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

In your question about someone building an organization in a deceitful manor, involving others with a higher commitment to a cause and then undermining them, and the effect then when the groups is charged with being a cult and how that then alienates the founders who are forced into a position were defending their history is then defending the "cult".
First I want to pint out that you would need to be a fairly adept organizer in order to gain the confidence of other qualified organizers who would be needed to get a grass roots organization off the ground. You could not be all talk and no walk. You could not come in as a pompous intellectual no it all, march into a farm labor camp were crew chiefs are use to driving out, often shooting out, labor organizers and expect your arm chair organizing experience to pull off something talented organizers in the past had failed to do.
This doesn't make the case entirely impossible, many talented people, even concerned people, have agendas that supersede their ideals, and humans in general are wonderful at justifying selfish motivations or learned patterns as serving a higher cause they truly do believe in. I am just pointing out that you need to know what you are doing enough to succeed, and as you know yourself from organizing work you did, requires skills to be learned, not dismissed.
Second, would you count on somebody just starting to call you a cult? It would not be such a hard thing to find a sensationalist rag that makes it's business denouncing marginal groups on the left, get someone like maybe a stony brook social work professor to feed them some tidbits that might make them start writing some ridiculous crap right off the bat. For example very early on the public eye ran an article not only saying Natlfed might have links with NCLC but that Gino parente was in fact Lyndon Larouche incognito. Of course once such a publication has bought into the fray their egos become involved. Since your organization does not publicly address them they really never admit past mistakes but continue attacking you in the most sensationalist manor, ways that you can easily counter amongst you recruits, but at the same time drowned out, at times shout out valid criticism. The real grass roots leadership you've been pulling in then burning out are branded with as real a leprosy as former communists and anarchist were during the red scare, since this serves the interest of other reactionary forces you can be assured that these morons and the morons they recruit would be contentiously encouraged by a number of sources, in addition to their own self-validation. In the town I live in there is a moron who makes his reason for existance to hound the green party. He justifies it because of the 2000 election but began even then doing direct actions against Ralph Nader whenever he comes to speak. His insane antics have led him to being alienated totally from the local activist scene but he gets plenty of manipulative encouragement from people who love are limited one and a half party system. You could count on the morons you manipulated into place to stifle anyone who left your group and tried to build a competing organizing drive, their gifts and skills would be questioned unless they hid the history of their organizing passed. Anyone who was concerned about a real, fully dedicated, revolutionary proletarian organization emerging could rest assure people tainted with the charge of "CULT" would be hamstrung from the beginning. You and the leadership you left behind could even continue to pass on inside dope to the dopes you continued to manipulate but that would not at all be necessary. They are highly invested in what you want them to say, that is if forming a cult was what was on your mind.


Natlfed 05.Nov.2005 14:05

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I'll start by saying this is just my personal opinion. Natlfed existed from 1972 when a few people started it in Suffolk to now - 2005. It has existed at various times in many geographic locations and different organizing arenas. It has encompassed the work of many many people during this time. I would suspect that a snapshot in time of one place might be very different than a snapshot in time of another. I am writing this based on my observations from my participation and stories and anecdotes of others I know. I also believe that every person is unique - both through their unique life experiences and because they were created unique. Because of this no two people will necessarily have the same view of Natlfed. I think each person has to analyze the experience for themselves.
I believe Natlfed was a cult in that it used deceptive and manipulative mind control techniques to recruit and keep cadre. I think this is important to understand if you have a loved one in Natlfed and want to get them out, you need counseling - methods differ for those who've been in a controlling group, and because a lot of the deceptive techniques are seeping into other areas of society. I think studying it empowers people to control their own minds. I do not support any type of forced deprogramming. There are many methods that involve building a relationship with the loved one and helping them to start thinking for themselves about their solution and making an informed decision whether to stay or not.
I think that the issue of whether Natlfed is/was a cult is not the same issue as whether there was valuable organizing going on and whether there is value in this organizing work. I think that the deception and manipulation had an effect on the organizing, but they are not the same issue. Cults can exist in many different forms.
A business cult does not cease to be a business because it's a cult. If organized crime gains some control over a union, it does not stop being a union. If there are power struggles in the leadership of a union and a leader of that union is more motivated to keep power for himself than to build a union, it still doesn't stop being a union. If a manager in a corporation is more interested in building their own little power base and climbing the corporate ladder than getting the work of the unit he's assigned to done, it doesn't stop being a corporation. Even if in these examples the person with the ulterior motive uses mind control techniques, the organizations don't stop being that type of organization. Everyone has some ulterior motives. As one of my professors said, Mother Teresa probably wanted to go to heaven.
The deceptive and manipulative control by Natlfed did have a negative effect on the organizing work I did, as I described above. I don't think we ever got beyond what might be termed as the "seed money" stage, because none of our gains were consolidated. Does this mean that what we did has no value? I guess it depends on what standard you use to judge it by. There's not much work to compare it with as there are not many who work in the arena of the poorest workers. I think it has to be compared to the cost and everyone will have to make their own judgment here.
It is hard to measure the value of the first EFWA Suffolk drive. Part of this is because it's hard to separate fact from fiction as Gino embellished the story more every time he told it. The first time I heard it, 1000 members were signed. At times Gino had himself and another organizer I know came from a college campus running the NYC Labor Council and the drive signing 50,000 members in one summer. I prefer to go by the stories told by others and, although not as flashy, they ring true and are impressive,
My first job in Natlfed was as Riverhead's membership coordinator. I coordinated the camp crews on the east end of Suffolk. There were still huge camps - up to 300-400 people run by some of the same crew chiefs as were there in 1972. The conditions were still deplorable and the crew chiefs were not nice people. From everything I can tell Gino did play cards with them and he and other men got EFWA onto them. Prior to 1972 no one went in those camps. I had forgotten something that happened when I first started, before Gino made himself FC and the green organizers were brought into NOC. Eizabeth's reply to my hypothetical reminded me of it. We couldn't get onto one of the camps run by Phony Tetterton. Gino told me to take a male organizer with me and tell Phony that if he wouldn't let us onto the camp, Gino would come out himself and deal with him. I did this and Phony started yelling and sputtering about who did Gino think he was, he didn't own the world. He then let us on the camp.
Pop was one of the men on the IM Young camp. He and Greg H., a 16 year old organizer, ran the first Benefits system. They got all the benefits requests and went out and organized what was requested. Pop was not window dressing. One story Anne Ribar told me while she was still in Upstate NY came from Mary Seebar. At one time in the early days in Suffolk, there was an arrest warrant out for Gino so he was in NYC and Polly had been arrested, so Mary was left running things on her own. Moral was pretty low. Then Mary decided that what she'd do was build a health center. That's what she did. Greg and Pop had to get the doctors to volunteer. There's a story Pop would tell about setting up a meeting with a doctor and being late because a car broke down and they had to get a volunteer to drive them. When they got there, the doctor told them it was lunch-time and why didn't they come back after lunch. Pop told him that they would wait as they didn't have any money for lunch and no one at the office did either. The doctor took them to lunch. The doctor ordered something like a salad. Pop looked at the menu and said "Hey Greg, they got steak." Pop and Greg got steak and the doctor changed his order as well. The doctor asked them how many doctors they had to volunteer. Pop said "Well, with you, that's 1." The doctor became the first volunteer MD at the center in Riverhead. Those are the real stories about how the organizing drive was built. Gino later had this big tale about promising the panthers they'd re-open the Railroad Avenue Center and all of this.
I resented the made up stories because they made it seem as if you had to have enough people and resources to sign 50,000 members in one summer and walk a strike of every farm worker in to be able to take any action. What was really needed was a group of organizers ready to do the real work it took. There are other stories as well. EFWA really did take part in the first police brutality demonstrations the summer of '72 and did file the first class police brutality suit.
I think there is a lot of value in looking at the actions Natlfed entities took. Because of the problems discussed above most victories were never consolidated. That doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from them and it doesn't mean that organizers didn't learn valuable skills.
I often regret that I was not smart enough, or experienced enough, or whatever, to see the problems in the direction I was given and to have done something about it. But, there were some real manipulative dealings that left me unable to see this and put Natlfed in the cult category from my perspective.
Again, this is my opinion and others have theirs.

Look at the 3 Big Elements of Natlfed 09.Nov.2005 01:42

Jeff Whitnack

I had planned a bigger reply to earlier posts. Suffice it to say I have gotten a humorous kick out of watching Elizabeth decompensate as she wildly lambasts me for every character or personal flaw she can imagine or invent, and as she throws in insults which would make a playground of 5th graders look mature. Your venom says way more about yourself than it does me. I have my flaws. Not recognizing the reality of Natlfed isn't one of them.

But for now would like to now just deal with one topic--that of taking on Natlfed on a poliitcal basis. I hesistate to do such because it might tends to give the appearance of legitimizing a subject which has none--that of evaluating Natlfed on a political basis. But if one isn't prepared, or courageous enough, to look squarely at Natflfed as a cult, then indeed let's look at Natlfed on it's own terms. Did it really organize anyone for anything worthwhile? Was CPUSA Provisional really a revolutionary communist party? Was Gerald Doeden really some revolutionary leader, as he claimed to be to so many for so long?

I don't claim to know the early history of EFWA. From the descriptions it sounds as if there was at least the possibility that some real progressive organizing MIGHT have started. But as the key figure in it was Gino, as it never went on to really grow or challenge anything (i.e. compared to UFW for example), any evaluation of Natlfed has that early history or potential drowned by the dismal reality of what Natlfed became...or to be more accurate, what Natlfed as Gino's "baby" was really all about anyway.

Pops may not have started out as window dressing. But I did personally spend time with him, waiting for rides, talking, drinking coffee, etc. By the time I met him he had become window dressing. He was described to me (former Natlfed member from on high) as "an alchoholic they got dried up and then trot out for show". But the whole charade wasn't really about any real effective organizing, or about helping people like Rastus Harris.

Let's look at the 3 Big Elements of Natlfed.

The National Labor Federation, comprised of the CHA and EFWA MBA's, the CCMP's and LP's, etc. Real mass based organizations? Or just using some lowest common denominator rap to get signatures, use those signatures to puff up the mirage?

The CPUSA Provisional. A real communist party? Or a cult with as much relation to any real communist party as Moon's group is to real Christian churches?

Gerald Doeden, AKA Gino Parente, AKA Gino Sabo, etc. A revolutionary leader? Or a cult leader and a big fraud?

These 3 elements really aren't separate. A strong thread of lies, mind control techniques, and gross distortions underscore each.

I would prefer to start with Mr. Doeden. But some would cry "but it was all about the 'organizing'". So fine, look first at the so called Mass based organizations.

The so called mass based associations never really amounted to anything. Had they been even spontaneously generated organizations chance alone would have pushed them into more vibrant activity or activism against the state, some notable confrontation people outside of Natlfed would still be talking about. For all the hoopla and brooha over the numbers, the images on calendars, the rolled up sleeves, the "Don't Tread on Me" rattesnake image, ..all this contrasts with something so lacking in life or political confrontation that I doubt any pulse could be found at all. It didn't matter if they signed up 5 thousand or 5 million people. Lifeless is lifeless.

Fluke or design?

Then compare the CPUSA Provisional with any real communist party or revolutionary organization. No other party on the face of the planet outright lied to it's own members about such basic things as 1) party history 2) basic status of the leaders 3) international connections. Sure Cuba's July 26th Movement had it's well kept secrets. But everyone knew whom Fidel Castro was, his activity and past were not some bizzare fantasy concocted by a buffoon ala Doeden. Same with Ho Chi Minh---when his true identity was revealed (only secret to keep from French) the Vietnamese populace was delighted that it was the same "Nguyen the Patriot". The so called "secrecy" of Natlfed was only really ever about lying to it's own members. Harvey Kahn (earlier Public Eye author of article about Natlfed) knew whom Gino's true identity was (I interviewed him and he told me when I was first working on my article). CPUSA/P (or Gino really) was fond of equating itself to a modern day USA version of the Bolsheviks. But again, the reality of who the Bolsheviks were, what they stood for, etc., was no secret to the populace. While individual members themselves would rightfully keep their location and identity secret, this contrasts severely with the CPUSA/P's regimen. Natlfed was never really hiding from the government at all. And don't forget about that "deadline for a revolution", down to the month? Come on, surely in retrospect that must ring the "this was a cult" bell?

Then there is the supposed great revolutionary leader, Gerald William Doeden. What a sick parody of anyone and anything even remotely revolutionary or progressive. He was a lying buffoon, skilled and talented only in theatre of the absurd political, playing mindgames on people and pulling off pathetic intimidations. He had NO revolutionary history, save what he concocted. He was an alcoholic, drug abuser, whom was a narcotics bounty hunter in the Marysville area. The ONLY organization he was ever affiliated with was the UFW (and they cringe when they admit it). He wasn't in the CPUSA. He wasn't in PLP. He wasn't in Venceremos, etc. He wasn't in so much of what he said he was (military service, foreign adventures in places like Guatemala, etc). There is a marked and stark contrast to the fake image of Gino Parente and that of the Gerald Doeden reality. It went beyond embellishment, to the extreme of outright fabrication.

Sham mass organizations. Sham party. Sham revolutionary leader. Coincidence?

Lots of well meaning people with excellent motivations and concerns sucked up and swallowed by the cult. Years and years of people's lives stolen from them-- by all the lies and the concocted imagry and mind control techniques.

But what does make sense, where the pieces do fit together, is when it is recognized that it was all a cult for Doeden's benefit.

Another perspective 09.Nov.2005 07:58

BeenThere

I would like to add my comments to this discussion and I'm happy to see that some important issues have been raised. But before I do, I'd like to ask EVERYONE involved in this discussion to take a deep breath and stop attacking each other. A writer loses all credibility when he or she feels the need to personal attack others to make a point or defend oneself by lashing out personally.

I was a former Natlfed organizer for over ten years. I was a lead organizer in the field for most of my tenure, but also spent a substantial amount of time at NOC. I was in charge of one of the larger entities for a long period of time and came face to face with many of the issues that have been raised in this discussion.

To say I have mixed feelings about Natlfed would be the biggest understatement of the year. Like Robin (who I knew well) I left feeling broken and battered, hounded by dreams, irrational fears and uncontrollable anger. I thought I would never get involved in another progressive movement, but worked to rebuild my shattered life.

On the other hand, I was relatively politically astute when I came in. I was looking for a revolutionary organization, as I was raised a red diaper baby and believed that I had been brought into the world to make a difference. My early days working with EFWA in the 70's and later with sister organizations was at first a dream come true. I know first hand the thousands of people who received medical care who would not have had access if not for us. We were distributing steaks and fish while the other pathetic "worthy poor" food closets were giving out Campbell's Soup once per month. We provided quality legal representation for those Legal Aid had forgotten or did not know how to represent. We got some pretty decent jobs for people who had been formerly living in abandoned buildings. We organized the hospitals to fulfill their committment to Hill-Burton, resulting in an entirely new medical resource. In fact, I recall that the hospitals were so concerned that we might sue them, that they helped us deliver thanksgiving baskets for turkeys to hundreds of people.

Was this political organizing? Probably not. Was it window dressing? I don't think so. Was the community better off for our existence. No question. Many of the people we served also worked with us as volunteers to help run the food distributions, join us for canvassing and some attended our labor classes.

There were a few instances, pitifully few, where we actually got involved in organizing the community beyond direct services. This involved training worker's committees to represent themselves on the job as well as a massive political effort to expose government malfeasance in our local town. I have no doubt that beyond past successes in the "early days" in Suffolk, that there was very little labor or political organizing going on. And this was window dressing.

I might add that since my departure, I have been heavily involved with a number of political organizations. As much as I thought I would be too burnt out to jump back in, I couldn't help myself given the times we live in. The irony is that I found a whole lot more focus, determination and practice in my days at Natlfed than I've found in my more recent endeavors, including my work with the local Green Party, the peace movement and other local community organizations. What I've learned from Natlfed, is I have no tolerance for long-winded discussions late into the night fighting about the meaning of a word or phrase while our nation slips faster by the minute into fascism.

Unfortunately, the left still does this. And this is why Natlfed has an allure at all. Much of what they do might not be substantive, but virtually all the left does in this country is not substantive. Pointless direct action following the same script that was written in 1967 and getting themselves nowhere.

Cult or no Cult

I am in no position to say whether Natlfed is a cult or not. I was too close to the action for too long and like Robin and Elizabeth, we all want to feel like our time spent there was worth something. I know for me, at least in part, it was. When I left and wrote my first resume, I was amazed at how many fields I had expertise in-- advertising, newspaper publishing, marketing, legal representation, politics, labor history, art gallery administration, business training, fundraising, mediation, advocacy and much more. I got my first job as a paralegal based solely on my experience at Natlfed.

However, that said, I would recommend to NO ONE that they consider joining this organization. Whatever well meaning work the organization does, it is destructive to its full-time participants. The hierarchal structure suffocates freedom of ideas, deters responsiveness from below, denies any willingness to debate the issues or concern for local entity autonomy etc etc. I believe that at some point it did, but this is long past.

I was never one to keep quiet, and I fought long and hard against local and then national leadership about the kind of direction we were getting, about the storybook fantasies being told about what was happening in our local arena coming from an extremely isolated National base, against the diversion of resources away from the local organizing. I fought through every channel that existed to change things and ultimately was called into National for "retraining" when I persisted. I continued to keep up the fight there, until I finally came to the conclusion, in the words of the EO, the organization wasn't working, couldn't work and wasn't designed to work. The methodology if followed COULD work, but National refused to allow entities the power to follow through. Most of the gains we made on the local level came despite National leadership, not as a result of it. After awhile, I stopped listening to National orders at all, and just continued with what I thought was best and was accused of a million sins, but, our membership reaped the benefits of a greater emphasis on their needs rather than focusing on Nationally inspired mindless tasks.

Does this make Natlfed a cult? I truly believe that calling Natlfed a cult is besides the point. In fact, I think it weakens the argument for and against. People who are idealistic and young, rebellious and progressive aren't going to listen much to alarmists pushing the cult button. I think that there is/was real substance behind some of Natlfed's work and anyone who ever worked in your typical lefty organization will see that Natlfed typically outworks and outproduces most other lefty organizations in terms of material benefits. They might not be changing anything, but they are helping on some small level.

Young people need to be warned that this organization lies about their true intentions and that their long term goals have little truth tied to them, but calling it a cult, whether true or not, does no one any good. That's my opinion and surely there are others who differ. I think the best way to defeat Natlfed is to build an EFFECTIVE movement that really does work to change things for those in our society living at the lowest rung. I mean, I've worked with several dozen people who were poor, alcoholic farmworkers who had nothing to live for, but when they became organizers, they felt a part of something, they learned skills that gave them self confidence and they had hope. It was more than they had before. Was it enough? Surely not. But who else was going to come along and do better? The Democratic Party? Give me a break. The Greens. They don't get their hands dirty.

The problem with cult-baiting is the same problem with red-baiting. It disparages an organization while encouraging it. The labels are often more telling about the label-givers than the organizations being criticized. People should be warned about organizations like Natlfed, there's no question about it. However when we say cult, it is terribly hard not to include the Catholic Church, Hassidic Jewry, the American military. I mean, the Marines train people to kill without question and then return home and become drug addicts the rest of their lives. Natlfed (as far as I know) has never trained anyone to kill anyone. It would be more effective to besmirch them as an ineffective insular organization that lies to its organizers than to call it a cult.

I'm not going to get ensnared in the semantical game on this webpage. I think it would be more helpful for people to read these posts and realize Natlfed is a paper tiger, pure and simple.

When I first left, I wanted my ten years back. But we all must play with the cards we're dealt. I do think I'm a better person for what I went through, and boy, the stories I can tell. But I do agree with Mitch, who started this discussion, that it would be more effective to broaden the issue some, rather than focusing on cult or not cult.

Hope this adds something positive.

Some Questions I'm Pondering 09.Nov.2005 09:02

Robin Fahlberg

I almost took this off-line as I feel a little like the student who has a question in class but doesn't want to ask it because he/she is afraid of sounding stupid. I decided to do this on-line in case others might be pondering the same questions.
I will be the first to admit that after 14 years of abuse and mind control, I still have alot of Natlfed in me. The standard operating procedure for Natlfed was to find out what the party line was to answer any question. If you went out on a limb and answered with your own intellect, you ran a chance of being corrected - even if your answer made sense - because it wasn't the organization's answer. After 14 years I would imagine that some of what I think are my own responses or logic are actually what was planted there by Natlfed. I am still trying to sort this out and this is somewhat painful. To do this I have to go back and remember what happened and what was said to me during the first 5 years of my experience with Natlfed. This included 2 years being in Suffolk or NOC with little sleep, constant activity, lectures into the wee hours and being scared out of my wits at times. This included 3 years of constant mental and verbal abuse in Upstate NY. This period is still somewhat fuzzy and it takes some concentration on my part to work through things.
I have learned that if something doesn't seem quite right that someone is telling me to ask questions and challenge it. In reading the above, I have to agree that on the whole as an objective analysis nof Natlfed's current worth, it is accurate.
What doesn't seem quite right is the subjective value of work done in the mass organizations. I agree that they did not live up to the objective potential they should have had. The standard natlfed explanation of this was two-fold. One, in the arena of unrecognized workers where it is very difficult to organize because you have such powerful forces arrayed against you it is progress to simply stay and hold onto the ground you have. Second, because we were still a minority force in the country we couldn't risk a heightened profile in any one place and needed to reassign resources to other entities when it happened. The ironic part of these explanations seems to me that in a way they have a bit of truth. The president on the IAMAW in Geneva, NY once told me that organizing farm workers is suicidal in NY state. Of course the reality is that if you continue this line of reasoning forever you get an organization that is sterile and will never do anything for anyone. At first, you thought well, this is just part of the timeline and when we get to a certain point we'll be taking action again. I recently listened to a broadcast that is on-line from an organizer with Midwest Workers Association, a 1998 addition to Natlfed in Chicago. Apparently Natlfed is still waiting for accumulated strength before they think taking action is appropriate.
Even though I know all of the above there seems to me to be an inherent value in doing something. I will be the first to admit that it was not effective and there were and are much more effective ways. I am not trying to defend Natlfed but decide if there was anything more than a genuine motivation on my part to take away from the experience. It seems to me that providing basic human needs is important. Perhaps it's not revolutionary, but it's important. It seems to me that bringing low income people and middle class people together so that they work together and find they are all just people is important, even if not revolutionary. It seems to me that even for a short time getting low income people working together and running even a clothing office for themselves is important, if not revolutionary. It seems to me that winning a settlement in a civil rights suit for minorities who were evicted from their homes against the HUD Dept.,for relocation money and an internal audit of the regional HUD office under direction of a federal court was important. I will agree that the amount of resources needed to do this may have been out of proportion with the work and that it was not consolidated. However I do know that after I left and EFWA moved out of Wayne County to Syracuse some of the members who were active when I was there started their own clothing and food program. One of our supporters in Ithaca continued to work with a group of volunteers who collected food that was going to be thrown out by large groceries and other food sources, sorted it and donated the food to other groups.
So, I guess my question is shouldn't those things be included in the analysis.
On an unrelated subject it irks me to no end that many cadre, especially those in national or regional leadership positions considered Pop and people like him as no more than window dressing. I found this attitude sickening. It is worth noting that not every cadre held this view. I remember one of the five trips to NOC I made from Upstate were with 3 people from the low income membership. Robert T. Burns who was a former black panther from Riverhead and retired construction worker began to explain in his own words why money and not race mattered. It was not from a written rap as the other cadre at NOC did but from his own experiences. The then Nat'l PC pulled me aside and asked me what the heck Robert T. was talking to people about. I told her. Apparently some other cadre hadn't understood what he was talking about because it was in plain english. Perhaps the official position was to treat people like Pop and Robert T. like window dressing. I was never told this, perhaps because Nat'l cadre had an idea this would turn me away from Natlfed.

fraud 18.Nov.2005 00:19

mel

you guys are unbelievable. It's real late at night and I can't continue wading through all of this. I can tell you that NOC was shit and so was Gino. While he kept everybody waiting well into the early morning to give a talk, he was fucking somebody in the cave. I speak from experience. Oh, and Dr S too. I'm sure Polly didn't have to die. My thought is she probably never got the care she needed except from Dr. Stu.

Soutpark and the Scientologists 24.Nov.2005 03:36

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Hey if you're having trouble staying up and reading all this.....just load up on some coffee and donuts! :)


Did anyone see the recent episode of Southpark about the Scientology cult?

One of the boys got sucked up in Scientology. The Southpark episode "revealed" what the inner core of Scientology actually believes. It's a bizzare fantasy about alien souls trapped in volcanoes and then in people's bodies.

One of the markers of the cult is that they usually have some internal belief which is so whacked out and bizzare that they could never be out front with it. Instead they suck people in and get them pretty much committed and out on a limb. Then in some ritual fashion they lay it on the cult recruits.

For the Moonies it's the "secret" that Rev. Moon is actually the second coming of Jesus Christ.

For Natlfed it was that deadline to a revolution, all the "Genesis" lies and fabrications.

One other thing...

I was mulling over the actual mindset that people had while ensnared in Natlfed. I remembered my own mindset a bit. It's not that anyone was a total zombie. Some "free will" and a feeling of subjective enthusiasm infused everyone of us while in Natlfed. But there was also this cultic undercurrent, an acceptance of an unreality which swirled just below the surface. It was almost seductive in it's group secretive conspiratorial nature as we ourselves were the victims.

If one reads the book "The Nazi Doctors" by Lifton (a book about how the Third Reich basically got the German medical community to voluntarily go along with it's plans) the author describes the process of "doubling". It describes how someone could go and work in the death camps and then also go home and read bedtime stories to their children.

While it is perhaps ludicrous to even compare Natlfed to what the Nazi's did, ...and that is not my goal or point!....but...I think that the process of "doubling" has some relevance here. We can all remember that we continued to exist as thinking individuals motivated and energized by the concept or semi-reality of change/organizing. That was real on our part. But on another level we bought a bag of bogus goods and were ourselves sucked into the whole charade machine.

Getting to the Present 28.Nov.2005 20:23

Matt

So i said something to this effect much higher up in this thread, aimed at Mitchel Cohen's initial comment. But now that Jeff and others are on the thread, I'll pose it again: What do you know of the current state of NATLFED? I ask in large part because here in Boston, the Eastern Service Workers are recruiting actively. There's been some discussion of their problems, and Jeff's articles and others like it are certainly an important resource for steering people away. But they're all pretty dated. With Gino having passed away and the Brooklyn raid being nearly ten years ago, what's going on now? Who's running things? I fear that some may figure that with the charismatic leader no longer there, the organization is benign--and I don't know if that's inaccurate!

What does anyone know? Much of this conversation is in historical terms, but they're still out there pulling in young people through college-based community service programs as well as direct recruitment.

Still Just As Bad 29.Nov.2005 06:42

Robin Fahlberg

I will try to get someone who has recent experience to comment directly, but from what I've heard - not much has changed. Margaret Ribar is in charge. Her aide is Dan Foster. She has a different style, but her direction is the same. Micro-management, verbal and mental abuse abound. The Party is still pitched in the same way even thought it doesn't exist in reality. The Party actively solicits and puts pressure on members to sign over inheritances. They do encourage keeping family ties and give cadre time off when parents are sick or dying. The same cult-like atmosphere is maintained and free thinking is discouraged. There are three new organizing drives in Alaska, Chicago, Illinois and Columbus, Ohio.

Thanks--love to hear more 30.Nov.2005 08:34

Matt

Thanks, Robin. And it would be great to hear more people with more recent experience, as well as others in this discussion.

Natlfed Inheritance 30.Nov.2005 09:48

Jeff Whitnack

From all accounts Margaret Ribar is now the leader of Natlfed. I only met her once but have discussed her personality and leadership with a number of people whom knew her intimately. One person knew her and Natlfed fairly recently.

I have my own personal inkling or take on "what's in it for Margaret" to be the new cult leader. But it is far from anything I would want to state with any certainty.

I had a pretty good idea of what Gino was about. His duality was on the one side he was a very talented actor and con artist/salesman. On the other side was the fact that he just oouldn't "make it" without encapsulating himself with the insulation of the cult. After a while the cult leader is almost as much of a prisoner as the cult members.

So I wonder then how someone else can rise up from within and "grow into" the cult leader role, as well as gradually mutating the cult to fit their own personal proclivities. But I just don't have anywhere near the same eery but accurate feeling about what Margaret is all about as a person.

But there is also a bit of "Res ipsa loquitur"--- proof is not needed because the facts speak for themselves. Margaret for many years participated as a west coast leader. Her sister and other family members were also recruited. There has been no attempt to open up for discussion outside of Natlfed, no attempt to recpature any legitimate claim to be doing anything even remotely progressive. While I have been informed of some minor, cosmetic, changes, for the most part it's the same game.

I can't put 2 and 2 together 01.Dec.2005 22:34

may dmibed

Hi there,
I just found this thread recently, after doing a web search for one of the natlfed front groups that I became involved w/. I've quit, but I'm having trouble figuring out what natlfed is recruiting for. In other words, what are they after? Not a rhetorical question, I honestly don't know the answer to this.
Is it just a general cult, or is there a purpose beyond just converting people? When I was there, I did a lot work to help the poor, but I noticed some things that were kind of off (all the stuff that's been mentioned before, like classes, pitches, high-pressure interviews, etc.)
I've done so much research on the group, but I cannot figure out why the group still exists. Are they hoping for another revolution or government coup, or are they trying to build a political party out of all of this?
I just don't get it. Please help!
Thank you!

A cult is like an ant colony 02.Dec.2005 02:38

Jeff Whitnack

When one looks at Natlfed it only makes sense that it is just another cult which primarily seeks to add people and resources to itself. For the most part the cult serves as a kind of extension or encapsulation of the core cult leader. The core belief could be political, religous, or something like exploring one's inner personality, etc. It's almost like you just plug in the ideology. No revolution, no political party, no coup,....just a hungry recruitment machine.

I don't know if there is just some "general" cult. They all have their own little pecular little aspects. But on another level they all follow pretty much the same gameplan----and especially when it comes to the formula for enticing, ensnaring, and enslaving. (The 3 E's of Cultdom).

If you try to make sense of Natlfed via conventional political or religous organizations you will indeed be banging your head on the wall (I know, I wasted a long time doing just that!).

The Million Dollar Question 03.Dec.2005 11:46

Robin Fahlberg

I think you've asked the million dollar question. Natlfed mutual benefit associations say they are building a voice for low income workers and providing a base from which low income workers can build new types of labor organizations. The Provisional Party says that its' purpose is to build a Marxist Leninist revolution in the United States and install a dictatorship of the proletariat. Yet the practice of each does not match either the stated goals or even the stated structure. Full-time organizers (cadre) are recruited towards these goals in a deceptive manner and provided training and direction supposedly towards achieving them. Yet it turns out the direction purposely sabotages these goals. The mutual benefit associations (except for 3 new ones) have been around for 30 years and have yet to go beyond what would be the very beginnings of a community based organization. Some national leaders have been there the same period of time and must have learned something. The MBAs purposefully shy away from what would be normally regarded as revolutionary activity. Gino, Polly and Mary are dead and so we can't ask them their reasons for designing an organization this way. During Gino's tenure it would seem to be a logical conclusion that his first priority was power and sex for Gino. My observations are that once full time cadre had been in Natlfed long enough and began to realize what was happening they either left or themselves became abusers. This might be Margaret Ribar and Dan Foster's motives. Perhaps as in families abusers are made by the abuse. Individuals cadre's motives I think vary. Many think they are building a better world and fighting for working people. Ultimately, it is impossible to truly know the motivations and we have only the material practice to judge from. (Note - all the above is my personal opinion, I don't claim to be an expert in psychology or cults).

Coming to grips with reality 07.Dec.2005 21:01

former leadership cadre

Just came across this thread and have to say that so much of what you say, Robin, rings true with me. I was a cadre from the time I was 17 years old until I was 31 and became part of the central leadership and was very close to Gino for many years. I left many years ago and after 5 years of nightly nightmares was gradually able to let go, and I hadn't even thought about Natlfed much in ages. Yet it obviously played a large part in making me who I am today. Unlike Robin, I bear the burden of knowing that I played an integral role in perpetuating the myths and abuse on a national scale.

Yes, I was a victim, as I saw myself as doing the critical work of building the revolution and truly believed that what I was doing was out of revolutionary dedication to the goal. I did criticize Gino and opposed many directions the organization took, including the actions that led to people being arrested and imprisoned after 1984. Because of that, I was beaten many times and once was sentenced to death and scheduled to be executed. And I now carry the enormous guilt of knowing that I played an implicit role in perpetuating the lies that raped the souls of so many.

There is no doubt in my mind that NATLFED is and was a cult. I came to that realization while reading a book by a women about her own history in the Communist Party in China while I was still in the organization. The abuse and use of factionalization to conduct purges, intimidate and control through criticism, etc. with no real interest in the truth that went down during the cultural revolution was so similar to the internal workings of the organization that it forced me to acknowledge what I had been dreading to admit for a long time--that I was part of a big lie. That doesn't mean there was not valid intent and sincere desire and action to attain the stated goals--quite the contrary--hundreds of us were deluded into believing that our work at any given moment played a critical role to the future of the revolution in the U.S. and the world, but whatever positive role we may have played in the lives of others (and I knew more than one mba member who insisted they would not be alive had it not been for my actions) cannot justify the human cost to the cadre and families involved.

Elizabeth, I am pretty certain we know who each other is, even though you have changed certain facts to disguise your life history in your blog, and I believe I understand where you are coming from as well. I was once in love with the man and idolized him as well. Coming to grips with the reality was devastating to me. In the period before she left, Mary S. spent a lot of time with me and it was through her that I really came to understand fully the extent of the fraud. What angered me the most was to fully realize the extent to which Gino created inner party disputes by telling different lies to create opposing sides in cadre and leadership--each of whom truly believed the other was counter revolutionary and doing things to destroy the organization. He created different sections and factions in the organization precisely for this purpose. He did this so that he could maintain total control even as it appeared that others were battling it out, with him "uninvolved."

He sabotaged every single offensive that really got going (generally using others to do the work for him and then condemning the henchmen privately to the leadership they sabotaged) because the offensives were only used as come-ons and incentives and not meant to go anywhere. From 1980 on, I was often a ready and unwitting henchman for FC, and because of your location in the organization I'm sure you heard all the condemnations of my "crazy" actions, not realizing that I was so self-assured at the time in believing that I was carrying out orders and doing the correct thing because every action was directed by FC with explanations of the importance of its political correctness. Meantime, I was being told you were pulled out into the position you were in because you were so mentally fragile and couldn't take the criticism needed to be a strong revolutionary (like me, ha, ha!)

I spent my final year in the organization getting numbers of actions off the ground, only to confirm that Gino, even in his weakened state and morphine-induced stupors, would have someone sabotage them each time. And any work that had any real merit that was created by someone else's initiative rather than his direct involvement was attacked behind the scenes by him to leadership cadre and that cadre's subordinates. Dozens of strategies like the TWOC strategy appeared similarly "brilliant" on paper, but were never allowed to get beyond a very limited point of engagement. Gino once told me that this is how one remained "perfect". Lisa A. and Billy L. could only tell part the story because they did not realize that Gino was behind creating those different factions within the organization to pit the new, young leadership like myself against Mary, who became powerless and mute while still being called the Chair of the Central Committee, and to pit the political leadership against operational leadership, military against operational, etc. Thus, he remained blameless and above all criticism while manipulating the whole situation from behind the scenes.

You opted out of being a part of that, and Gino created a role in which you could opt out. I was not so smart. I was sucked into it. But Mary was forced out of any real role of Chair from 1980 on. That's why she began drinking so heavily, and when she would refuse to get up at the National Labor College and pretend, she would be beaten. Don't you recall how much make-up she had to put on to cover her black eyes before going to those things and trying to make it obvious she was reading someone else's words that were not her own? Do you remember the CC meeting in which she refused to speak while she was being attacked by all these different cadre who were getting directions from Gino? In her mind she was holding the entire CC in silent contempt because they were going along with the fraud. That's not exactly the interpretation others were told. I don't think anyone understood the position she was in from 1980 on. When she left she had a broken jaw (by Gino's fist) and had been sneaking out to have it treated at the hospital.

Gino was behind things like the "Old China Hands" document because he did not want anyone to get to any powerful role practically in the organization as that would be a threat to his absolute control. This was particularly true of any males who he felt he had less control over than the females, such as David S., Billy L., Tim W., Chris A. etc. who he attacked behind their backs to subordinates even as he praised them to their faces. He specifically promoted females who he established personal relationships with to positions of pseudo-power for this reason. But up to 1984 he chose people who were actually capable and had leadership skills but that he could control through factionalization or personal relationships. After 1984 he specifically chose people on the basis of their willingness to do what they were told without asking any questions or raising any criticisms.

It took me much longer to break away mentally to be able to stand back and see the truth even after I left than it took to leave physically. To condemn the organization that was so much of my life would be, in many senses, condemning myself, and so I felt compelled to prove that even if the organization was not true to its own stated goals, I must try to continue and prove myself as an organizer who could be true to her stated aims. After I left I went on to continue organizing outside the organization and was able to see what even one person could do unencumbered by sabotage and counter organizing from within. It was only then that I came to the full realization of how much valuable human resources were so squandered for the maniacal delusions of one man. It was only then that I could make the separations Robin speaks of and accept the person who I had grown to become while condemning the organization.

The analogies to an abusive family relationship really ring true here. I was highly critical of many aspects of the organization when I joined. I was pulled into NOC because of that criticism and my refusal to attend regional classes because I believed my time was better spent doing MBA work. My repeated requests to leave were always denied, and, in retrospect, I can now see that I was groomed to a leadership position despite my protests because of my lack of previous political experience. I was specifically groomed by Gino to be part of a conscious and concerted effort to sabotage and undermine Mary S. as NOC OPS starting in 1980. Gino ran that effort and created lies to turn myself and others against Mary. Mary had to stop talking about true Natlfed history. Gino wanted her stories of the history discredited because he was replacing them with the fabrications. It wasn't until Gino started an almost identical effort against me involving the National Legal staff and others years later that I realized fully how I had been used. Fortunately I was able to discuss that with Mary before she left and let her know how badly I felt that I played such a role in the attack against her. Divide to conquer through using lies to turn individuals in the organization against others was a tactic in constant use. And those who were abused became a part of the abusive cycle.

The saddest part is seeing the lives of so many intelligent people so consumed in an effort so contrary in effect to what they believed they joined, fought and lived for.

Robin, I really appreciated your sharing your insights. Beth, I am happy you found the courage to leave. I wish you the best in your journey.

Jeff, I appreciate your research and the time and energy you have put into it. I think the thing that irks a lot of ex-Natlfeders about your writings is that your involvement was so short and your analysis so superficial. You will never really know the depth of commitment and belief the longer term cadre felt. It is truly an assault on the psyche to have to acknowledge the truth of it all to oneself after so many years of devotion to the cause. Yet, you can state it so patly without much emotional baggage involved in the admission. For us to come to grips with the reality and come out with some semblance of our souls intact, we have to search deeper than the word "cult" and the knowledge that Gino was really a con-artist. There was truth in the organization, if only the veracity of our own heart-felt belief in a beautiful lie that was perpetuated on us and of which we became a part. Without that truth, we were simply insane and irrational.

the role of drugs 08.Dec.2005 07:24

former leadership cadre

I want to add to the mix here that it is impossible to really understand what was going on with NATLFED without understanding that Gino was seriously mentally disturbed, had severe obsessive compulsive disorder and was a drug addict of enormous appetite. I will deal in this post with the latter.

Most every "political" strategy of the organization from at least 74 on, that was generated from NOC, including the doctor recruitment campaign through Gary B. was motivated by Gino's almost insatiable appetite for drugs and the money required to feed that habit. He used the organization as a way to feed this habit (which, at points, cost many thousands of dollars a month). When I first went to NOC in 1975, Drs. at Kings Co. hospital in Brooklyn and Dr. Katie E. was being used for this. Then, when Katie left, Polly was being sent on supposed missions for cladestine military purposes to NJ every week. I learned later from Mary that she was being forced to present herself with numbers of fake names and identities at various gynecologists in NJ, posing with different problems that Gino researched in medical books to get the multiple prescriptions of Percodan needed to feed Gino's addiction.

Mary's opposition to this abuse of Polly is what really began to provoke the attacks on her and caused Gino to forge a wedge between them. Gino was in such a shape--so emaciated, palid and in a constant sweat by 1975 that he told people as a cover story that he was dying of Hodgkins disease. He was bedridden all the time. Dr. S was brought from the West Coast with the idea on Gino's part to get Percodan through him. Mary's idea was that Dr. S. would get him off the drugs and back into the business of organizing. Initially Mary won out, but it later cost her dearly. Instead of writing Gino percodan scripts, Dr. S. got Gino off the percodan by providing regular injections of a narcotic antagonist called Nubain that assuaged Gino's addiction while allowing him to function. That's what enabled him to get out and about and actually go into the field and become a "charismatic" leader again in '79-'80.

Mary sided with Dr. S. when he would not go along with Gino's demands to get back onto narcotics and refused to write a letter to N.Y. state opposing the prescription guidelines for methamphetamines. I'm sure Gino knew he would refuse to do this and just demanded it to run him out, so he could take control of the doctors' office himself and try to get doctors in there who would do his bidding. That is what really caused Mary to be attacked from all sides through the use of unwitting participants like me (besides wanting her to shut up about the real NATLFED history). Then Gino was getting Alan B. to write for massive quantities of drugs. At the point he refused to continue, he was physically beaten and thrown out (literally), with his own penthouse apartment and other possessions stolen from him to start AD-AR. His and Dr. S's names were stolen to continue the Dr's office without them.

Gino ordered Margaret, through Polly, to set up a doctor's office on the West Coast for the same reason. The "rapid recruitment" that began then with the "mass recruitment sessions" that so directly went against the previous understanding of TVTV was because weekly couriers to NOC were needed to carry drugs from the West Coast doctors on the airplanes to feed his habit. Polly had to get these together on the East Coast to be able to instruct Mark and Margaret how to do it on the west coast. I don't know what stories the doctors in the Bay Area writing those prescriptions were given via Margaret, but I know she became Gino's ally because she and Polly worked so hard together to get those drugs to him and finance the airfares. The cost of weekly airplane fares alone was enormous, but it provided enough methamphetamine and demerol not only to feed Gino's habit, but to get many of the people who did his bidding seriously addicted to speed. I was given a handful every few hours for so long that I dropped to less than 80 lbs. at one point. Gino had a tub of speed hourded through that doctor recruitment effort that was 10 inches high and 10 inches in diameter at one point.

It was in the heavy speed and demerol period that he became so agressive and violent as well as more and more delusional.

After the raid, he switched to dilaudid, an even more potent narcotic, and when Sheila and Dick and then Helen left, he was forced to assigned David M. to cook down Paragoric (an oral opiate that contains wax and alcohol) from doctor's office supplies and try to inject it to feed his habit. It was in this period that Polly suffered heavy abuse for his lack of real drugs, including being shot at. Injecting cooked-down paragoric for its opium content is what led to the absesses in his arm that almost killed him in 1985. And he became totally incoherant and delirious during temporary periods of withdrawal he went through during that time, before finding a new source of drugs through private doctors from Staten Island who where paid $500 a prescription that covered less than 1 week's suppply. During that period, Gino was really getting into promoting himself as a Wall Street trader, private banker, etc. because that is the image he was presenting to these doctors. One doctor ended up losing his license.

I could go on at great length, but I do hope that this post provides a better understanding to some of the ex-cadre who were not aware of the true motivation behind so much of the insanity that went down. Gino would change the rules of everything from systems to TVTV, etc. at any given movement to fit his personal desires for drugs at any given moment. And the cadre who couldn't abide by that were run out or forced into a constant state of trying to run or re-route an organization by its original mission statement, despite FC. That's the position Mary S. (and subsequently me) found ourselves in for our last years in the organization--realizing that he was a self-serving liar--a junkie who spent his days watching videos and making fun of the fools who believed his BS--but thinking we could still somehow get the organization back on track, despite him.

Mary S. thought getting him off the drugs and putting him back in touch with pre-natlfed connections would get him back on track and that became a constant losing battle. The difference between Mary S. and me and Margaret was that with Mary S. and I, Gino knew the mask was off. After 1984, he didn't try to hide anything from me or perpetuate the myths, because he knew I knew the truth of his motivations. The same was true with Mary S. That gave me the dubious priviledge of being able to hear his real insanity, rather than just the facade. He just worked to discredit Mary and then myself within the organization so no one would believe what we said. He even (I found out years later) met with my mother shortly before the raid to try to discredit me to her.

I was, after all, probably the only person who knew how Gino orchestrated bringing the raid down on NOC so that it could become the cover for his not following through with the timeframe. I was the one who identified the agents at NOC and unwittingly fed them the information Gino gave me to tell them that would bring down the raid. The police and FBI knew it, but fell for it. They called me on the FC office phone the day before the raid to give me the option to back out and not have to take the rap, because the way the raid was brought down was also geared to set me up. The plan in the raid was that I was to take the fall. I was to answer the door and accept responsibility, together with H. Jones. H. Jones and I were called into the FC office the day before the raid and asked if were were willing to die or go to prison for the rest of our lives for the revolution. I was prepared to do that. It was only the FBI's incredible stupidity that kept them from finding the false back in the closet where the weapons were kept. Gino's plan was for them to find it. He blamed Greg H for not fixing the dumbwaiter, attacking him constantly after the raid, but really he was furious that Greg H did such a good job at building the false back to the closet. It foiled his plan.

With Margaret and Elisabeth and others, the myths were perpetuated. That enables one to believe that they are carrying on "in his footsteps" whether inside or outside the organization.

OK. Enough of my ramblings. Drugs were the real motivation behind the main current of most anything you can think of that was going on with the organization behind the scenes. I hope that provides some clarification, especially to the field cadre who, rightfully, must have been baffled by so much of what went down.

Reply to former leadership cadre 08.Dec.2005 13:23

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

It is perhaps true that a far better article about Natlfed could have (or maybe will) been written by someone else whom was in Natlfed for a substantial amount of time. But I would caution that often "too much information" can obscure the central truth (i.e. in Natlfed's case that it was and is a cult). I don't have any need to be considered any "expert" on Natlfed. I think what I wrote all still rings true, though a far more insightful and thorough article could still be written.

Even though I only spent 3 months in Natlfed I can still remember the "call" and the initial motivation and enthusiasm I had over the prospects that such a national organization existed in this country. I also have a special feeling of kinship personally with ex Natlfed folks, as there is something unique in what we experienced and hoped for. Natlfed people I have met have often become some of my favorite people to hang out with (John Gimenez and others).

I can't help it that I only spent 3 months interior. But after leavign circumstances or fate then led me to be asked to write an article. I felt a need to expose Natlfed both to other potential recruits and to warn the progressive community.

This whole thread started out with a "cult, what cult?" type of discourse. And with attacks on myself and Chip Berlet. I felt I had to respond.

The Role of Drugs in All This 08.Dec.2005 14:09

former leadership cadre

This may become a double post as I originally posted yesterday, but it never got up, so I'm tacking on a reply to you, Jeff. I understand your position Jeff. It's not your fault that you were only in three months. You were astute enough to pick up on the lie so soon while others of us got pulled in for such long periods of our lives. No need to apologize for that. It's just irksome to hear it from you that's all. Don't take it personally.

Yes, I agree it was a cult, but I think those of us who were inside search for a greater understanding of what allowed that cult to pull and what was the real motivation behind it. Perhaps that's too much detailed for the non-ex-Natlfeder, but somehow I and others seem to find it helpful to have such an understanding.

I want to add to the mix here that it is impossible to really understand what was going on with NATLFED without understanding that Gino was seriously mentally disturbed, had severe obsessive compulsive disorder and was a drug addict of enormous appetite. I will deal in this post with the latter.

Most every "political" strategy of the organization from at least 74 on, that was generated from NOC, including the doctor recruitment campaign through Gary B. was motivated by Gino's almost insatiable appetite for drugs and the money required to feed that habit. He used the organization as a way to feed this habit (which, at points, cost many thousands of dollars a month). When I first went to NOC in 1975, Drs. at Kings Co. hospital in Brooklyn and Dr. Katie E. was being used for this. Then, when Katie left, Polly was being sent on supposed missions for clandestine military purposes to NJ every week. I learned later from Mary that she was being forced to present herself with numbers of fake names and identities at various gynecologists in NJ, posing with different problems that Gino researched in medical books to get the multiple prescriptions of Percodan needed to feed Gino's addiction.

Mary's opposition to this abuse of Polly is what really began to provoke the attacks on her and caused Gino to forge a wedge between them. Gino was in such a shape--so emaciated, palid and in a constant sweat by 1975 that he told people as a cover story that he was dying of Hodgkins disease. He was bedridden all the time. Dr. S was brought from the West Coast with the idea on Gino's part to get Percodan through him. Mary's idea was that Dr. S. would get him off the drugs and back into the business of organizing. Initially Mary won out, but it later cost her dearly. Instead of writing Gino percodan scripts, Dr. S. got Gino off the percodan by providing regular injections of a narcotic antagonist called Nubain that assuaged Gino's addiction while allowing him to function. That's what enabled him to get out and about and actually go into the field and become a "charismatic" leader again in '79-'80.

Mary sided with Dr. S. when he would not go along with Gino's demands to get back onto narcotics and refused to write a letter to N.Y. state opposing the prescription guidelines for methamphetamines. I'm sure Gino knew he would refuse to do this and just demanded it to run him out, so he could take control of the doctors' office himself and try to get doctors in there who would do his bidding. That is what really caused Mary to be attacked from all sides through the use of unwitting participants like me (besides wanting her to shut up about the real NATLFED history). Then Gino was getting Alan B. to write for massive quantities of drugs. At the point he refused to continue, he was physically beaten and thrown out (literally), with his own penthouse apartment and other possessions stolen from him to start AD-AR. His and Dr. S's names were stolen to continue the Dr's office without them.

Gino ordered Margaret, through Polly, to set up a doctor's office on the West Coast for the same reason. The "rapid recruitment" that began then with the "mass recruitment sessions" that so directly went against the previous understanding of TVTV was because weekly couriers to NOC were needed to carry drugs from the West Coast doctors on the airplanes to feed his habit. Polly had to get these together on the East Coast to be able to instruct Mark and Margaret how to do it on the west coast. I don't know what stories the doctors in the Bay Area writing those prescriptions were given via Margaret, but I know she became Gino's ally because she and Polly worked so hard together to get those drugs to him and finance the airfares. The cost of weekly airplane fares alone was enormous, but it provided enough methamphetamine and demerol not only to feed Gino's habit, but to get many of the people who did his bidding seriously addicted to speed. I was given a handful every few hours for so long that I dropped to less than 80 lbs. at one point. Gino had a tub of speed hourded through that doctor recruitment effort that was 10 inches high and 10 inches in diameter at one point.

It was in the heavy speed and demerol period that he became so agressive and violent as well as more and more delusional.

After the raid, he switched to dilaudid, an even more potent narcotic, and when Sheila and Dick and then Helen left, he was forced to assign David M. to cook down Paragoric (an oral opiate that contains wax and alcohol) from doctor's office supplies and try to inject it to feed his habit. It was in this period that Polly suffered heavy abuse for his lack of "real" drugs, including being shot at. Injecting cooked-down paragoric for its opium content is what led to the abscesses in his arm that almost killed him in 1985. And he became totally incoherent and delirious during temporary periods of withdrawal he went through during that time, before finding a new source of drugs through private doctors from Staten Island who where paid $500 a prescription that covered less than 1 week's supply. During that period, Gino was really getting into promoting himself as a Wall Street trader, private banker, etc. because that is the image he was presenting to these doctors. One doctor ended up losing his license.

I could go on at great length, but I do hope that this post provides a better understanding to some of the ex-cadre who were not aware of the true motivation behind so much of the insanity that went down. Gino would change the rules of everything from systems to TVTV, etc. at any given movement to fit his personal desires for drugs at any given moment. And the cadre who couldn't abide by that were run out or forced into a constant state of trying to run or re-route an organization by its original mission statement, despite FC. That's the position Mary S. (and subsequently me) found ourselves in for our last years in the organization--realizing that he was a self-serving liar--a junkie who spent his days watching videos and making fun of the fools who believed his BS--but thinking we could still somehow get the organization back on track, despite him.

Mary S. thought getting him off the drugs would get him back on track and that became a constant losing battle. The difference between Mary S. and me and Margaret was that with Mary S. and I, Gino knew the mask was off. After 1984, he didn't try to hide anything from me or perpetuate the myths, because he knew I knew the truth of his motivations. The same was true with Mary S. That gave me the dubious privilege of being able to hear his real insanity, rather than just the facade. He just worked to discredit Mary and then myself within the organization so no one would believe what we said. He even (I found out years later) met with my mother shortly before the raid to try to discredit me to her.

I was, after all, probably the only person who knew how Gino orchestrated bringing the raid down on NOC so that it could become the cover for his not following through with the timeframe. I was the one who identified the agents at NOC and unwittingly fed them the information Gino gave me to tell them that would bring down the raid. The police and FBI knew it too. They called me on the FC office phone the day before the raid to give me the option to back out and not have to take the rap, because the way the raid was brought down was also geared to set me up. The plan in the raid was that I was to take the fall. I was to answer the door and accept responsibility, together with H. Jones. H. Jones and I were called into the FC office the day before the raid and asked if we were willing to die or go to prison for the rest of our lives for the revolution. I was prepared to do that. It was only the FBI's incredible stupidity that kept them from finding the false back in the closet where the weapons were kept. Gino's plan was for them to find it. He blamed Greg H for not fixing the dumbwaiter, attacking him constantly after the raid, but really he was furious that Greg H did such a good job at building the false back to the closet. It foiled his plan.

With Margaret and Elisabeth and others, the myths were perpetuated. That enables one to believe that they are carrying on "in his footsteps" whether inside or outside the organization.

OK. Enough of my ramblings. Drugs were the real motivation behind the main current of most anything you can think of that was going on with the organization behind the scenes. I hope that provides some clarification, especially to the field cadre who, rightfully, must have been baffled by so much of what went down.

anybody know Lon or Charlotte Christiansen? 11.Dec.2005 20:23

k

Does anybody reading this have experience working with Lon and Charlotte Christiansen? If so, please share.

Variations on a theme 12.Dec.2005 13:02

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Wow The posting about Drugs is quite fascinating. I had heard rumors and asides about Gino's use of the recruited doctors to get drugs. But I had no idea of the ongoing and wholesale nature of it all.

But it doesn't surprise me as it matches in an eerie way the description I got of him from many former people whom knew him (and family members) from Marysville, CA.

It would also explain why he kept the political heat just below a simmer...wouldn't want repression coming down and blocking the drug pipeline!

But I have another reason for posting. After reading and participating in this thread I will be at work or home and scenes from the past will float into my head. Or I'll mull over and refine my answers to various subjects.

First, over the years I was working like a dog researching Natlfed and Gino, I would often have other leftists or friends get frustrated with me and my "crusade" (as they would term it). They were of the impression that Gino's cult wasn't worth my time to expose, that I should be doing "real political work", etc. But to me their objections and haughty attitudes were based on a basic contempt for the people ensnared in the cult(and underestimating the potential and real harm done to the progressive movement in this country and beyond). But such pleas to me always both fell on deaf ears and a deaf soul, as I was very aware that many very good people had been essentially kidnapped by the cult. It was distressing to me to know that any efforts I made would probably be of no effect in terms of helping/encouraging people already ensnared to leave. As I got a better idea of Gino's/Natlfed's ability to always spin/lie/reset the syllogism I even suspected that my efforts would only serve him to more tightly circle the wagons. So all I could hope for was that my efforts could help to warn others to stay away. If we could retrofit reality into an Excel spreadsheet I'd know the answer (go back in time and have me drop dead the day after I left Natlfed, and see if anything later changed).....

I also don't think I have any reason to feel at all superior for having only spent 3 months in the cult. As mentioned before I received solid news that the Gino of Natlfed was the "crazy Gino" I had heard about earlier. Then I got the flu for several days and it just simmered within. Add to that another angle. When I was in the cult initially my former girlfriend told her father about this. He exclaimed "oh don't worry, Jeff won't last long" and then went on a rant about how I never finish things I start, (nothing like resentful in-laws to ramble on about such things!). So while I am glad I didn't "finish" my time in Natlfed, the rooms of my house are testament to many other things only partially completed!

Question About Lon and Charlotte Christensen 12.Dec.2005 15:52

Did It For More Than A Decade

To the person(s) asking about Lon and Charlotte.

I may be able to help you. If you would, please, write a little bit more about what and why you want to know more about them. For example, are you currently a volunteer in one of the organizing drives with whom they are affiliated? If so, how long have you been volunteering? Are you someone who has just "seen them in the office." Are you someone who has made a committment to their work there in those places? A regular part time volunteer? Are you full time? Are you now out of the experience and want to know what it was about them that you don't know or understand. These are not questions to "pry" into your private life. These are just good things to know, so as to know how to answer you. If you are asking me, you are writing to someone who knows quite a bit about them. So it makes sense for YOU and ME to know more, to guage what makes sense to fill in about what you don't know. I won't waste your time and you will get more of what you want to know. So, write as much detail as you can / want to. It will help us both.

And if you don't want to do this, that's fine. I understand very well. And I hope you fare well with your endeavors. If you are working with them, please just pay a great deal of attention to what YOU really want to do. I will not and can not endorse their efforts. I forewarn you -- as you can see from the great deal of content above -- that if you were to become full time with this effort, it would be a tragic waste of your time, effort, your heart and soul. And if you are going to be full time anyway, despite what is written here (above) then I'm afraid I don't have much else to say to you, but I will give it a try, anyway. I will just wonder what is it of the above discussion that you don't really understand, or with which you disagree? Lon and Charlotte follow orders; they do what the leadership wants them to do, no more and no less.

Please include your email address in your response. Because if what you want to know is going to get into much detail - as in an indepth reply, I would only give my response to you personally. And that's because something of that nature is not appropriate to this venue (this discussion about Gino, etc.)I hope I've been clear and I truly hope you understand. If we can agree on these basics, then I would be happy to assist you!

Drugs and behind the scenes story 12.Dec.2005 17:55

Another former 10 year cadre

I was blown away by the posting from the former leadership cadre and want to applaud her courage and effort to take the time to write this amazing story for all of us. I, too, was around during those times that she wrote of. I was on the CC, but not quite in that "inner circle" that she was in with Mary S and Polly. I am thankful that I wasn't. I did, however, see what she speaks of. I tried to help Mary S when she had been beaten, and could not get out of bed for several days. I was sick at heart, and scared, and knew something was TERRIBLY wrong. I had been in 10 years -- full of idealism, thinking we could really make change. And then things started changing after a few years - around 1980. I hung in, because Gino had given us a plan in 1976 that would have
the revolution happen in 1984. I was young (only 20 when I started), naive but felt after several years that even if things got rough, I should keep going. I had invested so much already. I wanted to see it through.

But before and after the raid, I saw the craziness get crazier, and crazier. I was at NOC at the time. I didn't understand what was going on. The former leadership cadre has finally filled me in on the extent of Gino's drug use. It fits perfectly. For me, it is the piece of the puzzle that has been missing all these years. I could not understand why Gino set up the raid. He even TOLD the CC that he was going to intentionally broadcast our "plan" to the FBI a few days ahead of the "date". We just went along with it. We had no power, no debate. Gino called the shots, and we just carried out his orders. I didn't ask questions.

All that happened after the raid was to me, a disintegration of the organization and any sanity that remained. I didn't stay very long. I was out 3-4 months later, as soon as I got my chance. I had an inheritance coming to me, and I was already feeling some pressure that Gino wanted to get his hands on it. He already had conned me out of many heirlooms from my childhood home. Now I know why. It makes me sick. We were made to feel guilty if we didn't want to give our all to the revolution. Polly was very good at making you feel like a real shit if you didn't do everything Gino wanted. (now I know why) All these years I thought that what they took at least was to further the revolutionary cause -- even if misguided. Now I see that it wasn't just Gino evading child support in California. It was Gino devouring everything and everyone to feed his habit.

The story of Mary S is to me, the saddest of all. He ruined her, broke her. I never got to see her when she finally got out of there. But I suspect she didn't have much of a life. And it came to a tragic end. She was such a spirited, funny, smart woman with great leadership skills and a big heart.

That's all I want to say for now. I just want to say to the former leadership cadre that I am pretty sure I am the one who originally recruited you -- on a certain college campus in about 1976. I'm sorry for all that you went through. It was harrowing, but you were incredibly strong and still are. I hope you have been able to get on with your life, but I do know how difficult it is to do. I have moved on, and really put things behind me. But hearing this has brought back some awful memories.

Thank you, former leadership cadre. I hope many will read this story and understand the truth, maybe for the first time. It's hard to take, but it must be faced.

to former leadership cadre 13.Dec.2005 14:21

Elizabeth Parenti Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

I want to say first that I appreciate the improvement in this discussion. I had not been checking this site since my last post, first just to intentionally give it space then because we suffered a major setback in my locale communities struggle against gentrification that has severally impacted my life. For those interested I should be posting on my blog again soon. I might also add more to this discussion soon.

Although it is hard to tell in this format I beleave may be correctly guessing who I am, I am at least sure we knew each other. I would appreciate greatly if you emailed me.

Lon and Charlotte again 14.Dec.2005 15:20

k kascrandall@hotmail.com

To the person who responded about Lon and Charlotte,
Thanks for responding. I am a regular volunteer with one of the entities, but am considering volunteering full-time (but not as cadre) for three months at another organizing drive. But yes, I am coming to think that it might not be the best idea. I respect Lon and Charlotte a lot, but I also understand that it's probable that I do not really know the truth about them or their roles within the organization. Please share with me what you know about them. Also, tell me who you are and where you worked with them and for how long. Thanks.

The Dream that Natlfed Promises 15.Dec.2005 09:19

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

One of the questions in this discussion was "What is the draw of Natlfed?" For me it was the dream of wiping out poverty and oppression. At least for a little while, I got to live that dream. It wasn't real, but it felt that way to me. When I came to Riverhead, Suffolk County, Long Island at 18, I wanted to stop the suffering of poverty in the world. I was recruited after becoming convinced that socialist revolution would do that and the Provisional Party could make that revolution through the MBA strategy. I was politically and organizationally naive. So, I was able to live my dream. I worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, canvassed, bucket drove and participated in what I perceived as political action. At that time Suffolk County EFWA was participating in TB screenings and a lawsuit against the county for non-treatment of TB, an action against community development related evictions of low-income people in Greenport, gathering affidavits for a suit against police brutality and demonstrations nightly in front of the jail in support of a prisoner hunger strike. It felt like we were doing something. I found out later that the cadre in charge got in a lot of trouble for doing so much. We weren't supposed to actually advance the MBA strategy because that would impinge on Gino's dream.
Gino rewrote Suffolk County EFWA history, his history and the Party's history so he could be the best labor organizer in the US and a great revolutionary (and have his drugs and sex at the same time). As long as the MBA strategy never advanced past the beginning stage his theories would never be disproved. As long as he could keep outsiders from ever criticizing his theories and getting cadre to think critically about them, they could remain intact. He was living his dream. He knew it wasn't real, but I guess that it was enough for him. He attacked anyone who threatened that dream (and his drug and sex supply).
When I went to Upstate NY things were different. The atmosphere was abusive, but I could still live my dream because the strategy and organizing still made sense. When national direction would sabotage the entity work, I would believe the explanations of why the direction was necessary. I didn't realize how other cadre were being agitated against me and me against them. I had been sent out to Suffolk during my second year in a different position to undermine Suffolk OPS. I guess I was supposed to do the same to the Upstate NY EFWA OPS, but circumstance took him out of Upstate for awhile and then I became OPS.
Eventually, I saw that the direction was not consistent with the strategy. I wasn't content with my dream not being real and I began to fight to get the organization to do what it said it was doing. Because I had been in the organization so long, I had a skewed view of reality and the only thing I saw to do was use the channels the organization said were available. I did this time after time and finally burnt out. Then I left and not only tried to block out the time I had spent in the Party, but my dream as well.
I mean no disrespect to you Jeff, but that is the difference between your perspective and that of many of us who stayed in Natlfed. We were not only conned, we had our dreams that we fought so hard for taken away from us as well. We invested a lot in Natlfed and in what we thought was our dream, and it wasn't real. We tried to make it real and were smashed. Some, like the leadership cadre, suffered more than most of us. The braver you were, the stronger you were, the more willing to fight, the more you suffered.
I don't know what the cadre who are still in Natlfed know or think. Perhaps some are still deluded into thinking they are fighting the revolution. Perhaps they do know that it's not real and just aren't able to give up their dream. If anyone reading this is close to someone in Natlfed, please get him or her this information. Enough years of enough lives have been wasted following a dream that is not reality.
For those of you looking at participation in Natlfed, a good Party organizer can make the MBA strategy look like whatever you are interested in. It can be liberation theology, it can be like the Sandinistas, or it can be the solution to global exploitation, globalization, the destruction of the environment or whatever issue is important to you. As long as the MBAs never go further than the first stage you can believe this - and they won't go past the first stage. But it won't be real. Do yourself a favor and find another path to solving world problems. Real alternatives won't give you as simple and pat answers to how to solve world problems, but then if there were simple answers, the problems would probably have already been solved.

changing the goal posts 15.Dec.2005 12:42

BeenThere

I don't know about the rest of the old time Natlfeders, but this discussion has been very helpful to me to come to grips (once again) with the promise and lies of Natlfed work. Given that most of my time was spent in the field, we always felt alot of animosity with the National leadership. They seemingly had no worries of raising the rent and heat money every month, dealing with the day to day struggles of the low income community that walked in the door and juggling contradictory orders with the pressure from the community.

It was clear from my periodic stays at NOC that Gino was rapidly deteriorating and was drugged much of the time. I never realized the extent of it before reading former leadership cadre's post. (Nor the harsh physical treatment against the female cadre) I could never understand how 75 people could sit in that small room day after day for years while Gino droned on, half asleep, half in a stupor. Why didn't we scream and yell and say what the fuck are we doing here? Gino, in his stupor knew how to get our attention. Even half-asleep he'd throw in a word or two about the "coming offensive" (this was long after the 84 raid) and we'd perk up our ears and hope that the endless drudgery would finally amount to something.

It did, when we fought national orders and did what we thought was best for the community. I'll never forget the time when there was a fire across the street from our local office and I ran to rescue the several dozen members who were trapped in the fire. In the midst of the rescue operation and 1/2 hour before the fire department decided to show, national was on the phone wanting me to get back to the office to take their call. If I had, two dozen of our members would have died. Luckily we were able to save them and eventually find them better housing than what they had before. I was screamed at by several national cadre for daring to defy their "leadership."

This was always the choice. Do things the organizational way and sacrifice the people we were supposedly representing. DO something real in the community and come under attack.

It was the same thing at national. If I followed orders and brought them to their conclusion, leadership would tear you up. If you walked around as if in a trance, everything was fine.

Some revolution . . .

A short story 15.Dec.2005 17:11

BeenThere

The Lost Revolution

He looked across the desolate street staring at attached brownstones standing like coffins in a morbid line dance. Of the 25 different jobs he was obliged to perform, this was his favorite. After a week of 16 hour work days, the hypnotic stare-down of the midnight watch window was almost refreshing, reflective, even calming.

All was quiet but for the rhythmic breathing of two dozen sleepers sprawled along the floor below him, the rustling of sheets by a lonesome Romeo and the hum of the street still reverberating from its daytime frenzy.

He owned the place on nights like these. The pandemonium caused by seventy-five zombied staffers frantically performing their duties in two small apartments had subsided. Yet the tidal wave of responsibilities continued to suffocate his snoozing comrades in exhausted dreams as they pondered their perilous mission, clinging precariously on thin ice of wishful thinking and blind faith.

For Dennis Burns, the after-midnight hour brought him to another world. He looked left and slowly scanned the street to the right, transcribing into the watch log his best description of nothingness in military jargon.

He checked behind him to be sure the room was indeed still lined with catatonics. Then he reached for a crumpled steno pad containing his grand plan stashed underneath a sheaf of magazines describing military planes, police equipment and various evasion maneuvers. He looked at his watch. How to plan a life in twenty minutes? He thought about writing a matchbook cover touting his new philosophy, "Escape Tyranny and Join the World Again In Four Easy Steps."

It was ten years since he had anything to do with the real world. His parents, his sister, his cousins and grandparents were all left behind. They thought he was crazy, throwing his life away. He considered them counter-revolutionary petite-bourgeois Lilliputians. Yet in rare reflective moments and in stolen moments away from the organization, he knew that their dogma never captured what he felt inside.

His watch beeped. Fifteen minutes until the bear roared. He had to get downstairs. He walked across the apartment, careful to avoid sputtering heads and spare body parts littered from room to room. Skipping down to the catacombs of the basement, with its winding alleys, storage rooms and breezeways, he was reminded of the living spaces he just left. Instead of comatose humans, however, the basement was overcrowded with crawling felines and their kittens of every type and stripe caterwauling in every corner of the darkened dungeon.

Seeing no one around, he unlocked the men's cubby area and piled his life's possessions, 5 pairs of old pants, shirts and underwear, and some assorted books and personal items, into two 30-gallon garbage bags. He would have loved to leave Ruth a note just to say goodbye, let her know his plans. But it was too late for that now. Their growing relationship and the sexual tension that had risen and fallen over the winter months had to take a backseat to his future. Ten years of his life had ended with so little to show.

He had seemingly done everything possible to make it work, he told himself. He let no obstacle stand in his way, fighting through every attempt to encumber him. The results were dismal. Worse. With every effort, he lost a bigger piece of himself. And they piled up year after frustrating year. The time for contemplation was over and the time for action was here.

He stacked the garbage bags to one side next to a pile of trash near the locked gate. He checked his watch. Damn. Little time left and his scheme for the future was still incomplete.

He climbed the stairs and hopped back on the watch window stool. Everything was as it had been. As anguishing as the days were, nights on the watch window seemed almost restorative. The darkness hid the pain, soothed the pounding headaches, and comforted the ulcers that had gnawed at his 30-year-old body. He scrutinized the street below, annotated his watch log and pulled out his pad again. He wrote:

Week I: Contact friendly businessmen/professional. Get letters of reference.
Week II: Contact law schools, get applications, catalogs and registration dates.
Week III: Update resume, contact LSAT tutorial programs, get the dates for the next exam. Start job search.
Week IV: Begin new job.

He did some quick calculations. He had not paid rent, had a regular salary, bought a bag of groceries or paid utility bills for ten years. He made a wild, uneducated guess and continued writing:

Starting salary: $35,800 plus benefits
Week V: Begin law school applications, signup for LSAT course and test.

The CB static roared him back to the world.

FOXTROT I TO CONTROL I: WHERE THE HELL IS CAREY? Get her the hell up Burns. Code 3.

He quickly stuffed the pad back into the magazines and knocked on the door to the closet behind him, which had been transformed into the sacred quarters for organizational elite. "The Cave" could not have been a more appropriate name given its current resident.

No answer. He banged harder this time.

More static.

CONTROL I, Are you sleepwalking, Burns. Get Carey's ass down here STAT!

He swung open the Cave's door as Sleeping Beauty snored on.
He managed a gruff, "Carey, Julio needs you now, time to get up."

Dead air.

"Carey, get up and piss, the world's on fire."

Nothing.

He started to gingerly shake her and she sprung up cat-like.

"What the hell you do that for, son of a bitch," she leered.
She stormed out, flying downstairs, leaving him alone with the medley of grunts and snores and wheezes. And his plan for a future.

____

The frenetic apartment was once in the throes of controlled chaos. The radio chirped with alternate static and commands, overshadowing the conversation in every room. The foam mattresses had been stowed, the two-minute showers had been taken or not, and the breakfast crew was busily overcooking oatmeal and pre-made French toast.

In a normal day, he'd finish his shift on the window in a couple of hours and get a little shuteye, begin his assignments, or flirt with the women at the Control desk. But definitely not today.

He was still amused at the synchronicity of it all. He had decided with the New Year that it was time to go. As much as administration had tried to pin blame on him for every failure he complained about, his scientific experiment had proven that he was neither insane or a recalcitrant. He had proven for himself definitively that the organization couldn't work, wouldn't work and frankly wasn't designed to work, period. Then came orders from Carey to drive home a volunteer visiting the National Office from a local affiliate who was afraid of city driving. She had brought her car and he was assigned to drive her as far as a major PATH station in Northern New Jersey and then he'd catch a train back.

It was almost too good to be true. He would chauffeur his escape and his superior officer had assigned it. He prayed no one would touch the assignments roster in the next four hours.
____
It must have seemed strange to his peers. While most little boys played with GI Joes and shot their cap guns at Indians, his best friend was Native American. While his friends wore sheriff badges, he wore buttons: one celebrating Martin Luther King, another campaigning for Eugene McCarthy and still another supporting the grape boycott.

He remembered his Psych professors at UCLA making the claim that first borns are mentally wired to follow in their parents' footsteps, unlike their rebellious younger siblings. It was true his parents were quintessential activists. They took him and his younger sister to Vietnam War protests in Los Angeles and Washington. Together they faced tear gas at the Washington Monument, breathed in second hand pot smoke in front of LA City Hall and listened to the music of Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Could it be the future was preordained?

But unlike his sister, the experience was meaningful. Once when Martin Luther King was to appear in a Washington demonstration, his mother opted to go alone rather than pull him out of another day of school. He cried all night until his 6 year old eyes were crusted closed with tears. His mom relented. It was one of King's final speeches before his untimely death. His sister could have cared less. But these movements were energizing. Inspiring. Hopeful.

Of course, it was also true that he had inherited that which was ingrained in his descendants going back hundreds of generations - the Jewish concept of mentchlakayt - acting to make the world a better place by being a "true human being." The illegal and immoral war in Vietnam, the exploitation and discrimination of African-Americans and others had all provoked a part of him that cried out for the downtrodden and called out for redemption.

Of course a Freudian might find a hundred other reasons for his activism. For Dennis, being part of history was euphoric and intoxicating. Some might say addicting.

His first self-initiated act of political defiance came at the ripe old age of 12 when he jumped out of Mr. Patten's 7th grade math class window to join a small group of protestors demonstrating against the bombing of Cambodia.

These childhood events planted seeds in him that blossomed just as he met the American Farmworkers Alliance (AFA) in his sophomore year at UCLA. The notion of organizing farm workers sounded romantic and the possibility of fomenting change through the poorest classes of society made sense.

When AFA finally called him 8 months later, his enthusiasm had not waned. But charity work for poor people was never his calling. The notion of teaching people to fish, or rather taking control of the pond always made more sense than handing out fish. Then he met Bob Cruger, the political commissar for the local organization. Bob took him aside one evening after a full day of organizing and explained to him in conspiratorial tones that feeding farm workers was not the goal of the organization. Rather, it was just a stepping-stone toward revolutionary change through organizing the poor. It piqued his interest enough that he wanted to know more. Six months later he found himself in a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park at a recruitment session for full time organizers.

Dennis immediately knew who he was when he walked through the door dressed in black, clumping in a pair of weathered but gleaming cowboy boots and sporting a Stetson. His dark eyes glowed deviously. His pitch-black goatee and matching hair contrasting a lighter but rugged face, making him appear like a cowboy, a bank robber or the devil. Dennis learned some time later he was right on all counts.

Julio spoke with authority, complete control and cunning humor, recounting his history as a mercenary enlisting in rebellions against dictators around the world. Dennis was transfixed as he described his military endeavors, a twenty year career organizing farm workers, revolutionary efforts in five nations, his activities in the anti-war movement, and his establishment of organizational entities that had infiltrated all facets of America's infrastructure.

The conclusion was clear. Slowly and quietly, the group had built a vanguard revolutionary force with a timetable to make the second American Revolution. The only question was, did he want to be apart of it . . .

But his first insight into the terror of the Old Man was at the first of his many forays to National Central Offices located in Staten Island in a mostly Jamaican and Haitian neighborhood. He heard the booming voice screaming, then the shattering of broken glass. Oldster's staff was petrified as he verbally raped them, stripping them of any vestige of integrity. The issue? Someone had failed to keep a correct inventory on a new shipment of water glasses. Later Dennis witnessed organizers leaving Oldster's office bruised and bloody.

Julio's staff ran to and fro, giving orders to their subordinates in a similar tone coupled with fear and rage. The wildfire swiftly immolated every staff member, working its way down the ranks, scorching junior officers and newbies like him last. By balancing rage with benevolent intellectualism, Oldster's troops carried out their orders without question, sparked as much by the fear of humiliation and pain as revolutionary conviction.

Stories of Julio's good old days abounded. In his pre-organizer days, he raised money for drinks betting his fellow stool mates that he could sell the bar's only toilet seat by randomly calling through the White Pages. By night's end, O'Malley's yellowed porcelain had been purchased by dozens of enthusiastic dimwits from the Bay Area to the Bronx. Julio collected enough to pay for his bar tab and that of every other drunk in the tavern. He was a salesman. It had taken Dennis until now to realize what and who was being sold.

____


After graduation, Dennis dove into life as a revolutionary with missionary zeal. He helped establish legal clinics for the low-income community, ran food distributions, organized free medical care services for the poor. Meanwhile he taught labor classes to workers and helped them organize on the job.

The work was difficult, the fundraising was brutal, and the opposition overwhelming. Employers tried to retaliate for losing some of their profit margin. Competing organizations hated the rivalry. But worst of all were the violent cross currents blowing in from National.

The more productive he became, the more National flooded him with contradictory orders, a deluge of extra responsibilities, paperwork and increasingly confusing strategies. Every month priorities changed and protests were met with vilification, denouncing him for his counter-revolutionary tendencies and sabotage. The roller coaster ride was exasperating and maddening.

Eventually he got sick, depressed, spent days in his room. He began to write. Had lurid affairs in his mind and in reality with fellow female organizers, dreamed of what could be done and hoped that times would change quickly.

Yet each morning after a sleepless night in the drafty office as scampering mice raced overhead across cracked ceiling tiles mimicking their human counterparts, the routine was always the same: Try to make the lives of others better, get sandbagged by his superiors for anything that succeeded. He lied to subordinates who questioned the madness and tried to convince himself that his work was actually furthering La Causa and would become meaningful once the revolution came.

Like a nun leaving for the convent, he gave away all his possessions, thereby slamming shut the door to his old life to join the movement. But what did that leave him at the end of the day? Each depressing night he wondered why the ends seemed so lofty and meaningful, yet the days so pointless.

____

When things got really bad, he would just leave, chill for a few days to get some perspective. What he loved most of all was to see his college sweetheart back in another lifetime.

She had become his angel, someone he could talk to with his Bedford Falls voice about his hopes and dreams. Jaya soaked up his insights and reveled in the passion he showed for everything, including her.

But their last time together had been different. Under the cool nights of the northeastern sky, the sparks re-ignited. As the gentle moon watched over their lovemaking, his heart was awakened to a long lost love and serious doubts about his sacrifices.

When the phone call came to retrieve him from his short layoff, he stoically said his goodbyes. But this time, something of himself remained on the Jersey Shores with Jaya.
____


Two years later his unquestioned allegiance began to break down. He loaded his priceless garbage bags into the Chevy Valiant and drove himself and the volunteer passenger across the bridge, over the Hudson and then south to an uncertain future.

Freedom was like Godiva Chocolate to a diabetic. The majestic Grand Tetons to a formerly blind man. His body became weightless, his mind started to float. At the train station he waited for her, tasted her, even before she pulled up in the old Buick Skylark. He melted to her touch, but the feeling shattered when the bearded men in muscle shirts grabbed at him through the car window, his head hitting the pavement as they dragged him away.

Dennis found himself screaming, but numb. When he came to woozy and dazed, he was in a darkened room, the glare of a spotlight partially obscuring the steely-eyed administrators he thought he had fled. His bags had been ransacked and he was pummeled with questions, threatened with losing valuable body parts, pistol-whipped and kicked until his body convulsed in what he figured was pain. He could no longer tell.

Then he was back before his old World War II issue typewriter, banging away on overdue assignments, cinderblocks filling his chest. His fingers typed, his eyes saw, but his head remained vacant. He was lost, humiliated and shunned for grasping at freedom's door.

When he awoke, slathered in his own juices, she was holding him like a jigsaw puzzle piece, her rhythmic breathing calming his palpitating pulse, her warm breasts against his bringing him back to the world he had escaped to. His muscle memory said it was yesterday. The calendar said ten years had passed.

The rising sun peeked through the French doors, reflecting on the Bahaman ceiling fan. Spinning light flashed onto framed wedding pictures, a baby crib and the antique furniture-laden room. The revolution had been lost, yet he remained in its clutches.

He walked over to the window, parting the flowing lace curtains. Brownstones had given way to swaying coconut and canary palms. The weight of the world succumbed to living for today.

He climbed back into bed. There was still plenty of time to sleep.

Continuing the discussion even more! 16.Dec.2005 13:46

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

in response to Robin's..

"I mean no disrespect to you Jeff, but that is the difference between your perspective and that of many of us who stayed in Natlfed. We were not only conned, we had our dreams that we fought so hard for taken away from us as well. We invested a lot in Natlfed and in what we thought was our dream, and it wasn't real. We tried to make it real and were smashed. Some, like the leadership cadre, suffered more than most of us. The braver you were, the stronger you were, the more willing to fight, the more you suffered."

Yes in many ways I agree. In high school I was editor of the underground newspaper, could have made a movie titled "I Was a Teenage Weatherman", and was active in many political arenas pre Natlfed. I don't want to go into many of the details for a variety of reasons---from legal ones to the danger of red herrings just clouding any truly relevant discussion. But let's just say that when Nalfed came along with it's "lure" I was an angry Bass whom struck hard on the bait.

But even with three months I can remember the "doubling" effect. One one level you keep your individual striving to be an organizer, a Party member, a revolutionary in the true sense of the word. That part of you as an individual not only can Natlfed truly destroy, but they keep it alive just enough to squeeze out the effort and motivation. In a certain sense IT IS AND WAS REAL. On another level you are the one conned and conning others, buying into the deadline, smiling and nodding at the fantastic tales and posturing ("are you sure you want to meet the military fraction?"). In fact when I look back on my own induction into Natlfed there was the genuine political/social motivation AND there were the personal particulars going on with me which made me good cult fodder at the time---but only one which matched my pre-ingrained political drive.

So I think for any of the long term members this doubling must have gone on so long, that yes on one level you WERE organizing, despite the core truth of the cult. But on other levels the cult influence and ways had their own agenda and cadence. I remember that dealing with all this after 3 months was still a bit like trying to rip the tablecloth off a table and leave the dishes intact. At some point you have to just do your best and let the broken pieces fall where they may.

Now here is the ironic part for me (and the older I get I wonder sometimes during philosophical musing if all existence itself doesn't gravitate towards the ironic).......

When I was researching Natlfed I was so PISSED OFF at leftists whom would berate me for "wasting time" trying to expose the cult and keep others from being sucked in. They had a snobbish attitude towards anyone "weak" enough to be sucked into Natlfed. But I had seen the caliber and potential of so many of the interior people and knew that to be utter bull. A big part of my personal motivation was anger that people like (just pops into my head) Carol Haddad has had so much of her very capable life sucked into this.

Then it's ironic that now people whom were interior with Natlfed seem to find my motives and orientation somehow suspect, question my core political validity, etc. It's just ironic to me that a core reason why I'm not more politically active today is because of being turned off by such anti-Natlfed cadre snobbish attitudes, and now those same ex Natlfed folks seem to feel more comfortable having me be some suspected right winger---just as the traditional Berkely leftists were more comfortable viewing people ensnared by Natlfed as being just people of little to no inherent political or personal value.

Strange Ways have found us,

Hey and thanks for the story. That reminded me of how I used a Tabular Vol's drive to just jump out and make frantic calls to be picked up, ducked into a movie theatre (Popeye with Robin Williams) stayed at a motel room so as to be unreachable, etc.

Ooops should have read it over more carefully 16.Dec.2005 15:25

Jeff Whitnack

When I said (third paragraph above)

"That part of you as an individual not only can Natlfed truly destroy.."

I meant that Natlfed couldn't destroy that part of you...."not only can Natlfed never truly destroy" is what I meant.

on the raid and the closed section, and on Gino childhood 17.Dec.2005 14:23

Elizabeth Parenti Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

I want to point out something Gino often said about war history that he also mentioned about people coming to revolutions. A million people go to war thiers is a million reasons. I was an insurrectionist communist who was already involved in closed section work consistant with the 21 conditions, I knew and worked with many individuals I trusted to be sincere. Without disputing anything said on this list I can say there was more to the story.

The drug stuff came as no surprice, but it was not the only thing going on or that a lot of money was spent on, check on the price of fully working thompson replicas sometime. Also it is something of a fable that Greg made the closet, an addition was needed to make more room and Gino seemed to have set this up to make the roomer that it was built by Greg and not him, maybe he just wanted the option of blaming Greg if the guns where found. That's the thing Gino told a lot of lies. He said outright that he lied too, he always told people not to lie because they were too dumb and wouldn't keep track of thier lies, he didn't say he was too dumb.

I want to say about stu and the drugs too, not everyone who was getting drugs was addicted. That was part of what Lisa A. letter was about, at least three people were drugged in ways to weaken thier resistance as disidents. This caused enough of a stink with some of the tougher party members that Gino had to do damage control and Stu was blamed for this. Not much later than this it seemed like what was really more mad about stu for making a mistake on the closing when the carroll street buildings were purchased that restricted foxfire enterpirces cash flow. I knew right away Gino was lying about this, just how I don't know. Stu might have been driven out for costing them money on the real estate deal then scaped goated the drugging folks as a convience, or Stu might have been singled out as the scape goat so that Gino could also blame the costly mistake on stu who he was supervising on the land deal.

It was rublish blaming Greg for the dumb waiter, When Lisa, the ADC always did the food processing to insure the dumb waiters exit was always clear. She ran each morning to insure she would be able to make it down to the basement to help get Gino out. When she left the new ADC had an injury from a car accident that prevented her from running fast at all, she split responicibilities with a very responcible 14 year old and Gino started carrying brass knuckles to punch out the dumbwaiter door if neither of them got to him right away. They dropped the ball, not only was the dumb waiters rope not maintained but a skid of tomatoes where stacked up covering the door, when he tried to bust out he broke his hand. If Greg or I had known he was planing to use that exit we would have told him it would not work. What I can't understand why he thought it would be ready to use given that he was making all his experienced closed section disidents and putting in incompetant people into key positions. A handful of disident cadre from the omni section basically saved his life that day, and most of us made a lot of jokes at FC and his staff expence afterwards.

It was planned for me not to be thier during the raid. I had been involved in an entity that broke part way away from nationals control for about 2 years. It had happened from time to time that as national tried to put in incompetant operations managers trained/programed at NOC over serious and frankly more dedicated revolutionaries and that leadership was bucked off. We did it though argueable channels and backed that up with a fair amount of force, we told Gino that if he sent goons to take over and missed rounding up Gnomon or myself we would head first thing to NOC to retaliate on him personally. We finally cut a deal, the ops manager we wanted was left in charge, but they insisted I take a transfer to suffulk. It may have been planned to bring me to noc all along but at suffolk it was pretty clear to me that he manipulating a power conflict between the FC-L and the Arena Ops in order to insure the big arena would never challenge noc and him for power. I started building bridges between them, I knew that the only offensive that went very far did so dispite or in defiance of NOC and Gino was afraid I was moving toward another split. When you mention my mental fragility you should remember I had gone over two years having to be on alert to Gino sending goons after me or maybe having to storm into the building to kill him. I was pretty close to a brake down and when they started drugging me it made me look a lot more like a basket case than might be real.

I wanted to say something about Gino childhood and the comments about him playing commie to sherriff. I knew right away Gino was lying about somethings. Koria ended in the early fifties, he was just to young to have been in the airborn during that war, but I could tell what he was saying about the truth squads wasn't complete bullshit. You people or just not taking things in thier historic, growing up in the fifties the son of a wobbly and playing martin luther king vs the police explaine a chronic broken leg better than anything I heard come out of gino home town. For the person noting that it must have been wierd for gino peers I think you should read more John Steinbeck.

I probibly have more to say but i think that enough right now.

more from a long term cadre 19.Dec.2005 10:05

Ice Gnomon

Thanks, this time to robin, for updating me about this. I was also a long term closed section cadre. I knew some natlfed and natlfed trained cadre used speed, most often in the form of cold medicines. I think it should be clear this was not so much for pleasure but to put in more hours the way I've seen truck drivers and college students do it. I also want to state that while I beleave this was as big as the former central committee member suggests ( I think you must be the one who changed your name the day after the raid? ) It was far from the only thing money was being spent on, some was spent on weapons and I want to tell you Gino taste in anything was everything but cheap. We got a big donation of very fancy towels from the helmsley hotel system and Gino brown nosing FC staff immidiately demanded they all be saved for FC (and I am talking about more than a few cases worth.) Struggler came by the run walking and talking with Robert T, and Ann suggested she should take one of these towels since she was chair. Struggler replied that she didn't need a towel better than everyone else all she needed was a towel that was clean, and she said it in a way that put Gino to shame to everyone thier. The investment banking stuff had some real sides to it, but it also justified Gino buying expensive stuff, outfitting his "body guards" in fancy close and driving around in limo (he also stole my lincoln for this purpose).

But even with all this I have to say people miss the real point of what was powerful in what the organization did. The canvassing and stuff was not for show. CLAC in canada did a lot of door to door canvassing in neighborhoods in quebec city before the FTAA protest and it showed a lot when the Rhinos (big armored vehicles full of paramilitary troops) rolled onto the streets (and in more than one instance was driven back.)

That's the whole thing, NOC (and I am guessing Coshad worked the same way) was the fake part, more than that it was used to subvert the effectiveness of any locale entity. That's part of what Soba trying to get through to Jeff, the thing about knowing a theory only when you've tried to implement it was very real. What I am learning is how many people spent months and in some cases years in the organization without once ever doing any real organizing work.

the affidavit of agent Herman: 26.Dec.2005 18:26

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

A former Natlfed member emailed me this link

 http://www.tkb.org/documents/Cases/USA_v_Reid_85-CR-26-01_(NC-M)_Government_Affidavits_001.pdf

It is quite interesting reading. What strikes me about it is how much Gino's activities have been a big hoopla of wild verbage with no real intent to actualy carry out anything (either political or military). Yet as one reads this affidavit it strikes me how much it could be titled "J. Edgar Hoover's Big Commie Wet Dream". The other thing that strikes me is how much leeway Doeden was given to carry guns, threaten and plan various things, without any real heat or arrests coming down (save for non payment of child support). Imagine if Doeden been a real member of the Venceremos Organization, or a Black Panther, he would have been arrested and charged years ago. From talking with former LARGO members it seems that all his wild talk, plans to do various things, none of them ever were consolidated into anything resembling a real plan--nothing which had any timetable to execution. As always it's Doeden doing the big talk to keep people in formation around him. It was in a way a balancing act---how to keep the lies, plots, intrigue just burning enough to keep up the energy -- without it burning down the whole culthouse.

With the current government using the 911 tragedy to usher in all sorts of bizzare agendas, we need to keep the "cult" label clearly affixed to Natlfed. When one reads this you have to ask yourself "was the internal Provisional Party really hiding from the government anyway? Or was it really hiding from the public in general?".

The other cause for pause is that, had Doeden actually planned and ordered actions to occur, no doubt at least some of it would have happened. I wondered years ago what might happen if Doeden ever became truly suicidal.

Anyway, just wanted to make sure this was generally available.

Well maybe this link will work 27.Dec.2005 11:43

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Tried to access the posted link, both by clicking on it directly, and copy/paste into File/Open. No luck.

So now attaching it as a website address. Let's see if this works.


( Nudge, nudge....) Wake Up Time... 2006 02.Jan.2006 00:39

"Buster"

After school, Dad met Jed on his way home and took him to the end of a railroad yard on the outside of town, back a ways from the end of the tracks into the forest and down alongside a creek that ran through there. Five guys huddled around a camp fire. One sang "Hobo's Lullaby." Woody Guthrie songs had preceded it. One strummed on a beat up guitar. Dad sat down on a log next to a man about 60 and Jed sat next to Dad. Rusty started a conversation with Dad. The two bantered back and forth about men who rode the rails from camp to camp - logging camps, striking saw mills, demanding higher pay. Sometimes they'd get it, sometimes not. Then move on. Jed listened to Rusty's story; one about how he grew up. Rusty almost made it through school until he just didn't go anymore. Restless and looking. Didn't know exactly what for. But he left home and rarely went back. His mom and pop passed on. Rusty found a family among men who rode the rails.

Dad took Jed home about midnight. Mom was worried. They sat down and had some pie and ice cream.

"Jed, you'd better get to bed, now."
"Yes, Mom." Jed heard rain pelting against the window and felt a cold draft crawling through the door jam as it hit the bed. So, Jed bundled the covers closer and fell asleep.

Years later, on a New Years Day, Buster untied a bundle of letters he pulled down stairs from a box in the attic. He took a look at one, then another, from his father, Jed, to his father. Letters were handed down, full of life stories. Stories told about turning points in lives that traversed paths all the way back to the "old country" before grandfather came to the States on a ship to Ellis Island. Father was younger - some years before Buster was born. Buster looked at the second letter. Something was tugging at Jed's heart and soul. After leaving school one spring day, father, at seventeen years old, found his buddy who was running messages for comrades in the City.

Jed breathlessly ran up to his buddy and asked, "Hey, Francois, can I go with you this time?"

"Jed, I can't do that. You gotta' get an OK from Gaylord, first."

Jed countered, "Francois, I've been running with you since first grade, let me go. I'm not going home for awhile, either, I've decided to join up. Let's go..."

Francois reluctantly let Jed tag along. They ran through alleys to a town house between 55th and Avenue Two. Francois, knocked on the door as both tried to catch their breath. A young woman answered and looking critically at Jed, scolding Francois for the trespass. Francois mumbled an excuse and the woman brushed them away. Jed and Francois turned, running a half a block before nearly bumping into a tall man on the corner with shiny black shoes, a trench coat and hat, walking the opposite way. Francois poked his head around the corner, eyeing the man as he walked. Sure enough, the man turned into the doorway they just left. Francois turned to Jed and said, "trouble." Both ran back to where they began their "mission."

Buster put the letter down. Francois had given Jed, his father, a meeting place and time to contact Gaylord. Gaylord, in a few days, would "induct" Jed into the Young Communist League and Jed would start a long life that included the League, the Party, a tour of duty in the Second World War, a career in Hollywood as a movie script writer, the blacklist, a second career as an English teacher.

Buster thought things over. He grew up on a tree-lined street, not poor and not anything else either; at sixteen, he was hanging out with three best friends - a bass player whose father taught school and in the summers took him to help as a forest ranger in the Olympic National Forest; a bongo player who also enjoyed intellectual discussion and play acting in his church sponsored drama club; a Rosicrucian and mystic who dialogued with the bass player about eastern philosophies. All four teamed up with a couple of others to write for the high school underground newspaper - some poems, some articles against the Vietnam War and a great deal of criticism of the local high school which they attended.

Later, Buster hooked up a couple of times with his bass player friend in San Francisco. Ben played in a band. Buster went to a couple of Ben's parties at his Victorian flat and once went with him to see "Hair" live.

Ben called Buster one day. "Hey, Buster, I'm going east in my van; wanna go?" Buster was kicking around; just doing some volunteering with an organization helping poor people. So Buster said, "Sure."

They drove east, stopping along the way to camp in the midst of awe-inspiring views of the great expanse of America. Skies with 1,000s of stars overhead. They saw the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, the Mississippi River, New Orleans and then swung up through the eastern seaboard. Ben dropped Buster off at Eastern Farm Workers Association on Long Island, NY. Buster had two weeks.

At EFWA they showed him the Long Island east end camps where farm workers lived. Farm workers graded potatoes, only paid when the grader was running. Often they didn't make enough to pay "rent" at the camp, or food they bought from the camp store. They owed more than they got paid, sometimes paid in wine. Not uncommon, crew chiefs picked them up drunk somewhere and brought them back. Some didn't make it back; they froze outside in bitter winter cold. When they struck the grader - IM Young Co., over these slave-like conditions - more young - some street wise, some fresh faced college kids, and not a few older, yet not particularly wiser adults with "good paying" jobs, as well as others straight off the farm labor camps began full time organizing. Some of this mix of "tough and ready" types, "young and idealist" types, and "older and wiser" types together played on Buster's dreams and hopes. A few talked to Buster about "more to this than what you see here." They asked Buster, "Don't you want to end this poverty?" "Don't you see?" they asked Buster after showing him a systematic and strata based organizing strategy and tactics that had raised farm worker wages on the Island and begun to organize farm workers, service workers and seasonal workers all across the country. Buster was drawing closer to something exciting.

See, Buster remembered the stories from his father and his grand father before that. The dreams and hopes, hooked into a new and exciting organizing drive, all of it grounded in real lives and real stories. And Buster was not exactly naïve. Before reaching this cross roads, Buster had done some years of anti-war organizing. He had done some years of boycott work, some years at community organizing, as well as some years at a few other things as well. He knew some things that didn't work, as they said, about organization, strategy, tactics. He also learned some new lessons connecting his experience to US history, to world history.

So Buster was drawn into a rarified atmosphere, while having his feet firmly planted on the ground; other, more experienced organizers gave him tid bits of "facts" with larger implications, stories alluding to bigger things. Buster walked the line while talkin' the talk.

Buster got "approached" soon enough. A perfectly dead pan woman wearing dark glasses gave him the "Analysis." When Buster, with all due respect and awe - remember he had been around the block at least once - agreed to that, Buster got a presentation of "The Book." Again, there was "the framing" of that - Buster heard or had seen things that tied into it, in a very real and poignant way, yet, remained distinct, exciting and very possible. Buster heard about "fractions."

So Buster went to work in earnest. He was dedicated, he was serious, he was not "f...." around. Not even literally, well, most of the time. Buster was in it for the long haul.

Over the years Buster rose to a leadership level. Just not "the" leadership level. And not "close" enough. Just close enough to the "center" of power that Buster could yet still continue to taste it and smell it and work his little ass off.

All along things "happened." The 1984 Raid. Again, some guy with shiny black shoes and a trench coat with black hat showed up outside Buster's "office." Buster remembered his father's stories about those guys. But Buster had more "real stories" - among those, he heard about the raid from people who had been there. And he heard, though the "R" did not happen, that the adversary had not beaten them, so couldn't beat them - the O. had survived a direct hit with all the force they had mustered to smash the O. All that remained now was to "win." And winning was possible - everything was still in place, so they said.

"Slowly" the O. grew. Buster's responsibilities grew. The growth was enough to keep a die hard going. Things continued to happen. Gino died. Well, OK. Gino always taught "systemic organizing" and "leadership" would arise from the masses to carry the work forward to victory.

More "growth." Stabilization since Gino had died. Another Raid. This time in 1996. A sweep of the national offices. Busted. Legal expenses to the tune of half a million dollars they said. Some of the best attorneys in the country came to the defense. A flurry of bogus charges - of weapons possession, actually old and rusty, most not working - of explosives - that were actually pieces of empty piping - of children crying in the night. Dozens of cadre were finally released and later a few took the rap for what amounted to misdemeanors and probation.

More stabilization. But a few curious things started happening around Buster. And Buster was actually a part of it - "seeing" and yet "not seeing."

Buster, still pondering, was reminded of his youth as a small child in front of the TV set. You see, Buster had watched a few Westerns on TV. He had seen where "Indians" caused "Settlers" to circle their wagons in defense of their families during journeys to open "The Great Wild West."

But was Buster now seeing a replay of TV westerns? What was this nagging sense in the back of Buster's mind? A friend told him, "yes, you saw a circling of the wagons." But Buster wasn't sure.

Buster ruminated about some meetings. In one of those meetings, two of the older guys - one, a comrade of long standing and of "leadership" level at one point - were expelled from "the leadership." Well, Buster thought, it was 'cause they weren't up to "leadership" caliber. One had left his post. The other refused orders. Sometime later, there was another meeting. Another of long-standing, at "leadership" level was also tossed out. Well, Buster thought, it was 'cause he would "go on strike;" he wouldn't work for days, sometimes, just sleep. Never mind the rest of the 300 or so days per year when he did work 18 hours per day. This guy's "got a problem" and he "doesn't belong here." At the top, "she" thought so. Others agreed, dutifully: "Yea...., I thought so too."

From some years later, Buster thought back on things. He heard statements ringing loudly in his head. One of them was, "Hey. You really ought to get your family home; it's part of your inheritance." "She" said it with absolute sureness. It would be useful to the O. Seemed to make sense. Buster thought, what the heck difference does it make? It's all going to "the cause" anyway. Mine, yours - the whole thing is going to turn upside down and you want to play as big a part of that change as possible, he thought. Only makes sense. Buster ran it by his family. They didn't think so. Didn't make sense at all, they said. Buster pondered other statements. Other actions.

Buster had taken on some new assignments and things were settling down. "She" had tightened down, even more than in years passed. Cutting away "loose cannons." Some "laggards." Long critical "talks." Strident and even violent "criticisms." Moralism, not "communism." Devastating questioning of motives ... battering, battering, battering. Even the "stalwart" would bend under the pressure, don't you think, Buster thought? "Damn," Buster thought, "she" demands either your "blood" or your "money;" is this a Queen's court or .... "This sure as hell isn't being run by "the Book," thought Buster.

Buster fell asleep, exhausted from pondering. As he did, he saw the wagons circled ever more tightly. Long ago, it was such a vibrant, adventurous wagon train when it started out. Some had made the westward trek before. Ah, and such youth. Energized. Such elder and wise ones. Experienced. Such brave ones. Such possibilities.

And then, during the cross fire, the firing that looked like it was directed "at the enemy," that "killed the other guy" - "the shot" - that fatal shot - directed at Buster, came from across the circle of wagons. It struck Buster in the heart. Killed by "friendly fire."

Buster looked up and thought for sure that he saw that "she" fired that shot. But Buster was not looking "up," he was looking down. At his pillow. He had woken up. "Good grief, it was a dream," Buster cried out. "No, I don't think so," a voice replied back.

In for 2 years, out for one 06.Jan.2006 00:30

Still Spooked

I am still suspicious of a lot of the comments coming from this site, just because I still feel a lot of paranoia. I'm scared to even name names or give specific information. I still worry that I'm being monitored. I'm sure someone at NOC is assigned to keep tabs on this sort of stuff, wouldn't you think. I was full-time and a party member of what I don't even really begin to understand. I'm still really confused about the whole experience. Idealogically, I wanted all the right things, to end poverty, to right the injustices of the current political and economic system. I did work from 7:45am to 11:30pm seven days a week. It was a slow pressure cooker, where I was constantly pushed for further commitment. I was constantly monitered, this monitering was reported to higher ups. I was expected to moniter others and report on them as well. This was made to seem normal, and what would be done in any serious organization.
I was never abused, but I could see the verbal abuse coming down the pike. I'm sure I was being babied, as a was gently led down the primrose path. When I left, their biggest concern was that I reimburse them for the cost of "supporting" me while I worked full-time for them, during which time I raised thousands of dollars for them through fund raising efforts. I signed papers when becoming cadre, of which I have no idea of the legal significance of? I listed all of my personal information for them down to details about any criminal history (I have none) and potential enemies. I'm afraid to talk about my experiences because I don't know if there will be reprisals. I really have no idea.
To Kirsten, if you're still reading responses here, that creepy constant pressure to give more and be more and stay more, and give them more control over your life and schedule, that's recruitment, with a heavy dose of manipulation thrown in for good measure.
I really believed in what I was doing, I'm not anti-communist, there's just something really fucked-up with the organization as you get further in, so I'm glad I got out when I did.
Anyone who leaves is a traitor and a piece of crap, and I'm not even allowed to step physical foot inside the door of the entities with out a big ass "meeting" which we all know will go on for 5 hours as the psychological pressure and endless verbal circles continue. They don't really care if I return anyway, they just want back the money they spent on things like car insurance and airplane tickets to NOC ect.
Honestly I really liked most of the people I met and worked with, it was just the constant control and manipulation and lies that made my stomach turn, not some major ideological split. The farther I went the more I had to conform, the less of the person who was open and free and wanted to change things was allowed to be. I just know how they'd sneer at everything I'm saying right now, they'd sneer at the pain. Me being self centered enough to even care about "myself" when the world's in the state it's in. I guess I'm just rambling now. Oh well, this isn't called the "former NATLFED'ers Self Help Group" for nothing. Oh wait! It isn't called that is it? Well thanks for listening.

you go 06.Jan.2006 11:04

John Black jcblackii@aol.com

Kudos for Mitch for added a decent comment to this discussion, which someone recently pointed out to me. Onward and upward!


John

Reply to "Spooked" 06.Jan.2006 11:21

Heck Tor

Hi, "Still Spooked." I have contributed to the site here. I wanted to make an effort to set your "mind at ease," if possible and give you some references to help you understand what has happened. I spent a huge amount of time in this and if I can help, good.

So, first of all, check out "Bounded Choice - The True Believers and Charismatic Cults" by Janja Lalich. It's 263 pages; just published. She reviews her 10 Year experience in "Democratic Workers Party" which was SF Bay Area based, led by Marlene Dixon, who was, coincidentally a contemporary and similarly "driven, or affected (alcoholic), motivated, brilliant - tragic - sick, or whatever..." to Gino. In fact they knew each other very well - Ha! No kidding.) Lalich's description and analysis will strike you as uncanningly similar to NATLFED. My personal beliefs are still getting sorted out as to what Lalich has concluded, but that's OK. So are we all (that have been there.)If you like you can contact her personally. I know personally - myself - that she would be happy to hear from you, on whatever level you wish to communicate to her. She is a warm, kind woman. But enough of that.

I will respond to you, point for point. Just to try to help. 1) Yes, it's true some of the contributors above could be "spys from NATLFED." But what of it? What are they going to do? Absolutely nothing - zip - nada, zero. Anyone trying to force you to do something against your will from natlfed is violating the law. You have your free will. You OWE THEM ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. That is a hard and fast, legal fact. Believe me, or talk to a lawyer. You can probably get that advice for free from one of them in your area. There are no "bogeymen" from the MF around the corner from your house, or down the street, or across town, or across the state from you. There is no interest from any of the people you worked with to "come talk to you," "come shake you down," or any other such thing.

2) You will see references to "monitoring" in Lalich's book to compare to natlfed. Of course you and I were monitored. Everyone is. And yes, it's like any business, corporation, and some organizations. But it is also like a cult. I won't go further on that one - since I know you have mixed feelings about that statement - and so did and do a lot of us who were in natlfed, precisely because of its "political" agenda. [See the lengthy discussion of this topic, above.]

3) Yes, you were "abused" in the sense that you are somewhat "paranoid," "spooked," uh - looking over your shoulder constantly or frequently. You feel that you "owe" them something, maybe. You feel guilt. You feel anger. You feel betrayal. You feel you were used. You feel depressed that you are / were not able to contribute politically to change this country. Then, or now. You are looking at the terrible situation the country is in and wondering what to do about it now. I know, I have and am going through the same things. But read some of "Robin's" contributions about that (above.) She would also be of some help to you if you want to contact her personally. She has an email address here to reach her. I've emailed her. But no you weren't perhaps, physically abused. You weren't hit, shot at, physically confined to a room or something like that. But that's just another kind of abuse. Both kinds have an impact on people. I hope you can and are making progress through your "journey to peace of mind, a productive, satisfying and fullfilling life."

4) Again, you owe them absolutely nothing. If there were a legal way to enforce them to compensate you, and me, and 100s of others then I would be the first one to let you in on that, if you desired. There is absolutely no legal significance to the papers you signed. Those were a cadre application and a statement of intent to join and remain committed to the O. which had no name attached to it. You know. I know. They are strictly of "internal significance" and have absolutely no bearing in any court of law for anything whatsoever. They don't even identify you - on paper - to anything. You could deny it all, if you wanted to do so. Even though there are people who could say you were doing "work" for them. So? That, in itself, does not prove a thing as to your status, role, affiliation. Precisely because there is no name attached to it. But the important thing is not that, but how you feel about it.

Familiar 06.Jan.2006 18:48

Spooked

Wow, I'm amazed at the instant response to my comment, I didn't know this was such a lively discussion, but, having kept it in for a year, I mean, I can't really explain to friends and family, I guess i'm glad.
I agree with above comments, I go back and forth, I want to find the good, and the things that make sense, I want to believe I was doing something worth while and important. I believe the almighty "R" is possible. On the other hand, I feel sickened and can't even barely watch the news anymore. Politically, it's like I've had my soul sucked out. What the fuck WILL work?
For everybody out there that just gave their heart and soul. I mean I read the 'cult' analysis, but that revolves around a "charismatic leader" Even the 1st page of the EO says that if your're here because of a charasmatic leader or to get fucked, get lost. That's not really the message I got. The message was never "FC" the message was "a path to create change". I wasn't buying a personality, I was looking for answers. For somthing that really could create change.
If you want to blame people, I mean what is an organization but the people that make it up. If funds are going to support something, who are all these people, they aren't all the devil. To blame it on a dead guy, or one woman at the top, I guess I just wasn't around long enough, or in deep enough to percieve the genuine power structure. I have a pretty good nose for bullshit. The people I met worked hard. The cadre I lived with worked hard. They worked for a cause. The problem is, that they worked within a system that was flawed. But hey, what are we living in right now for fucks sake?!!!!! What could be more flawed than the present system? Like I said before, I'm not anti-communist.
Something wasn't right, something wasn't true. The first time I said that it seemed that China made the continuation of capitalism possible through its production of cheap goods for the west, and had my head practically bitten off (I mean mind you, this was REALLY early on) I guessed something was a little off. *note to self-"how to be a good communist"= don't ask questions that might seem critical of communism!
Unquestioning adheration to norms, extremely important. The only acceptable avenue of crticism is to write a fucking paper about it using only "accepted source material". When am I going to do that? At 4am? Sleep was much more valuable.
I don't think the answer is as easy as simply labeling it "cult". I do have something to add in the arena of sexuality. Not OK, you either had to lie or sneak, and a lot of that was going on. No unapproved letters, no unapproved phone calls. They're recuiting 18 and 19 year olds for gods sake, how could they possible expect there not to be sex? I look at some of the younger women recruits, living in completely controlled situations, where every minute of everyday is monitored. Sex is a natural part of life, and who are they going to end up having sex with? Probably some higher up who has control over their schedule, because god forbid some interloper come in and distract their precious recruit. You want to know the answer I got when I asked about it? "you'll find you won't die without it." To me that is exemplary of the same problem happening with the Priesthood. It's twisted.

Heck, you know how I really feel about it? Really fucking sad. Heartbroken. A little haunted. I miss people, but I won't ever go back.

You Have Company 07.Jan.2006 16:15

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

Dear Spooked
You are in great company with your feelings. I can relate to all of them. I think it is very positive that you are talking about them and that there is a forum like this where you can. I think it's great that we can get feedback from each other. When I left, I had very similar feelings, but repressed them for 12 years so I could function. Unfortunately I also repressed my heart for changing the conditions that Natlfed said they were trying to change. I am just getting it back. I urge you not to do the same thing. I look at the images of Hurricane Katrina and cry. I see basic rights being eroded through the war on terror and it scares me. There are differences between my reaction now and my reaction when I was in Natlfed. I don't take anyone's word on what caused the problem or what the solution is. I listen to people, but I try and think for myself. If the solution was as simple as Natlfed said it was - someone would have come up with it already. Natlfed doesn't tell anyone their theory until they convince you it is right (or at least almost right). That way, no one who might disagree with them ever gets a chance to do so. If they were really interested in changing things they wouldn't be afraid of critical review. Yes, there might be some who have ulterior motives in their criticisms, but people aren't dumb, they can figure this out. Second, I realize that if others who I want to help have rights to be themselves and have the basics of life - so do I. Third, I realize that if I am involved in activity every waking hour, I will never be able to critically evaluate it. I would be happey to discuss anything with you by email or phone if you need someone to talk to. I think it is helpful to read books which describe cults or mind control. You can decide for yourself if Natlfed fits the criteria. The fear you describe is planted by Natlfed to both prevent people from leaving and prevent them from talking about Natlfed if they do leave. The book by Janja Lalich and books by Steven Hassan can give you information on how this is done. Let me assure you that Natlfed has never harmed an ex-member and the FBI/CIA has never harrassed an ex-member to my knowledge. In terms of any document or agreement you signed or made with Natlfed, from my law courses, it is my opinion that they are totally unenforceable. When one party to a contract uses fraud or breaks one of their obligations, the other party has no obligations. When a contract involves any illegal activity, it is unenforceable. The only reason Natlfed starts this when you leave is to try and entice you back. They know you will be having problems adjusting and want to get you back in if you can give them anything. With me, they told me I had stolen money, with no facts or proof whatsoever. When I told them that it was untrue and all they had to do was look at the books, they told me they couldn't believe the books because I kept them. All the members who they tried to tell this lie knew that I had used an inheritance of several thousands dollars to pay entity bills a year earlier and didn't believe a word. I had friends in the membership community who I kept in touch with and at one point Natlfed tried to tell me I couldn't speak with them. I told them they were full of it. You are free. They cannot touch you. I do urge you to seek help if you can, however. You've experienced a mental trauma and they are hard to deal with by yourself.

ever wonder why attrition is so high? 08.Jan.2006 00:24

whosasking effectivewindow@yahoo.com

I was a vol for six months longer than I should have been. I voluntarily surrendered my independence--and snatched it back after finding the isolation and culture shock not offset by a sense of progress or satisfaction.
Because I respected the organizers so much, their condemnation has haunted me. Though their beliefs, harsh judgements, and sometimes bizarre imperatives mean nothing outside the OC walls, they inculcated me with the idea that not being a full-time volunteer, is some kind of personal defect.
Thanks, NATLFED.

still spooked 12.Jan.2006 11:44

Elizabeth Parenti Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

I really had not planned on adding more to this disucussion, but what you bring up is something that does need speaking to. The organization had many phases but it was all very intense stuff. Many organizers worked in the most dangerous areas in our country, Phillies office was half a block for the corner with the highest murder rate in the city. Field organizers work within some of the most oppressed communities in the first world, with the violence inflicted on US poor an oppression that rivals the third world. Engaged with fighting against very visiable hardships, and in at least most cases sabotaged from moving forward by a national leadership one should be able to trust. Even in it's best and most effective periods cadre often suffered sever shell shock. When in 81 vacations time and time off for cadre where cancelled, and NOC began to more tightly control individuals, these things got worse and often conditions of fatigue and exhaustion were then used and manipulated by the hiarchy. I would be very surpriced if anyone in natlfed longer than say two years did not suffer some degree of unresolved trauma.

I want to say that for those who really began making a difference, especially those for whom NOC became a dungeon and leadership attempted to kill the spirit of thier desent. The truama becomes very similair to that of political prisoners where part of the healing process is to manafest the dreams and desire that were stolen. For years NOC has tried to convince cadre that when they leave the organization they leave thier dreams and that no one has ever left the organization and gone on to recreate what they found valuable in it.

Yes I do think by now NOC knows of this discussion. In fact yesterday I posted something addressed to natlfed on my blog, and I email my blog sight to them after my first two posts. While I would imagine they might harrass, even attack someone like myself, perhaps even Robin, if we strolled by carroll street, I honestly don't think they are capable of being dangerous outside of thier limited areas of activity.

My understand of the FBI analysis in 87 was that the organization was incapable of moving forward because Gino had such tight control AND was loaded with morphine all the time. They no longer considered the organization to be a significant threat as long as he was still alive. I don't know how they have reevaluated that since his death, But I don't think they are high on anyone radar.

I avoid naming anyone who is not a public figure already associated with the organization. I try to avoid presenting information that incrimidates anyone but myself or those who are dead and i try to be very conscious of what is actually legal and what is actual illegal balance with what I think would be useful information to put out. I do think it is important to not betray trust toward individuals, even individuals I may never have met and even individuals who I might not agree with. I think it is important for some people on this list to understand that for some of us this was about revolution, it is not so easy to just say that what noc did was against the law, for me it was more important that what Gino was up to violated the constitution that described the agreements within the group itself. This might be at the heart of my concern with the cult label, look at the amish, thier main form of control is expulsion and the reason it is so powerful is that if an individual is expelled they can't be amish anywhere else. Just reducing it to, what they do is against the law, they are a cult, and come buy your way back into the american mainstream, does a service more for family and friends rather than members or former members themselves.

I already posted more than I intended to. I guess what I do want to make clear is that if some has left the organization and needs any advice or support in transitioning into a productive activist scene thier are at least a handful of former cadre who have successfully converted the skills and experience they gained from thier work with natlfed into the anti-authoritarian anticapitalist movement who would be willing to led an ear.

Elizabeth


Clarification on my criticisms of Natlfed 12.Jan.2006 11:53

Robin Spellman Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I want to clarify what I am criticizing when I criticize Natlfed. I am not criticizing the theory as espoused by "Gino". I agree with some of his theory and disagree with some of it. Some I have not analyzed. I am criticizing the practice of Natlfed. I am criticizing the practice on four bases. The first basis is that the espoused purpose is not furthered by the practice. The second basis is that there is no mechanism to develop the theory. The third basis is mistreatment and manipulation of its cadre. The fourth is that they have no credible leadership.
The Provisional Communist Party says its' purpose is to make a communist revolution in the United States. Natlfed says that its purpose is to build a voice and power for unrecognized workers in the United States. Whether or not I or anyone else agrees with these purposes is irrelevant because the practice of Natlfed and the party is inconsistent with either.
The theory put forth by Natlfed is just supposition. It has not been proved in practice. Gino's version of Suffolk's history, trying to say it had been, is a lie. Because Natlfed keeps its' theory secret until someone agrees to it, the theory has never been exposed to any critical analysis. All it is, is what Gino said. He offered no proof. He gave himself a history that would give him expertise in the areas of the theory, but this was a lie also. Until Natlfed's and the Party's leadership actually implement the MBA and other strategies and invite criticism and analysis of the theory by those putting it in practice, it is only the opinion of one man. In my experience and from correspondence with other including cadre who have left in the past two years, rather than implementing the strategy, leadership in Natlfed and the Party sabotage rather than implement the MBA strategy.
Natlfed keeps its' cadre busy 7 days a week, 16 hours a day. No one who keeps that schedule is ever able to critically evaluate their work or what Natlfed and the Party say. Natlfed discourages their cadre from critical analysis or criticism of Natlfed theory. Natlfed has physically, mentally and verbally abused cadre on a regular basis.
From what I consider credible sources, the current Field Commander of Natlfed and Chairperson of the Central Committee of the Provisional Party, Margaret Ribar participated actively in diverting resources from the stated purposed of Natlfed to providing drugs for Gino Perente. No controls to prevent the same abuse of power, which Gino perpetrated, have ever been instituted in Natlfed. Dan Foster, Margaret's Aide, has personally, physically, mentally and verbally abused cadre.
I am angry and this may color my comments over the past months. I am angry that resources, time, and organizations, which were meant for low-income people's struggles, were instead used for one man's drug and sex addictions and power dreams. I am mad that efforts by people like myself who gave our time without compensation were sabotaged. Isn't it ironic that we call others poverty pimps. I am angry that I was lied to. I am angry that I was manipulated. I am angry that I was abused. I am angry that people who are motivated to try and change the conditions in this country for the poor are sucked into a black hole called Natlfed. I want them to be available to participate in legitimate efforts.

request for interviews 12.Jan.2006 13:16

Nate Leskovic nle

I am working on a story about the Eastern Service Workers Association in Boston, as well as NATLFED. If anyone would like to talk to me about their experiences with the group, I would greatly appreciate it.

I know this topic contains a good deal of justified paranoia. To be upfront about myself: I just started working for the Milton (MA) Times. You can look me up on Google, or at www.thestudentunderground.org to see that I am not a NATLFED member, nor a government agent.

Obviously I would like to use your name in a story, but you can chose to remain anonymous if you wish...

I can be reached at  nleskovic@hotmail.com


thanks for your time,
nate

replying to Robin 12.Jan.2006 13:53

Elizabeth Parenti Soba

You have a right to be angry. I plan to be writing some things about how Gino justified sabotaging offensives and deal with the matter in accordance with my priniciples, but by all means anger has a right to be a part of this. What angered me most was when Move was bombed. Philly had 18 full time organizers, a large and active Workers benefit Council, and had even begun organizing amoungst low income enlisted families associated with the Philadelphia naval base. I led a team of canavassers into the area while the smoke was still rising from the ruins. People who were not thier don't realise the cops destroyed an entire city block with smoke damage spreading into buildings on the adjacent blocks. People throughout the city where walking around in the same kind of shock that 911 had associated with it. It would have been a pretty simple task to begin a massive canvass campaign feeding into an around the clock vigil around city hall on the scale of the actions that brought down the berlin wall. The organization could easily have sent in dozens of experienced and trained organizers within days and i have no doubts whatsoever that it was a revolutionary moment that occured when we had all the apparratus experience and ability to carry it pretty far. BUT if not and Gino let it happened they could not have maintained control and they did not. Yes they did do a national campaign about move, but it was just to defuse the energy, it was a worthless campaign just designed to avoid doing anything real.

I loved and love Gino and my our two lives our so intertwined I could never absent him from my history, yet I could never forgive him for this, and it was not the only offensive posibility sabotaged for the same reason. And it was not just Gino.

As for the sexual abuse, Gino knew to hide that from me. I never put it above him but I could never imagine Polly , Struggler or even his ADC ever letting him get away with something like that. I was very close to Polly and respected her a lot, much more than I ever respected Gino. I understand much of what motivated her loyalty and her connection to the ultimate sacrifice, I guess maybe she just felt trapped by it.

Some more comments from an x cadre 15.Jan.2006 08:32

Liv Dillon liv0815'at'yahoo.com (my 'at' symbol is broken)

Hi there everyone,

I'm still willing to chat with anyone who left the group about their experiences, or with anyone who has a family member in the group. I was in for over four years (starting in late 93 out in early 98).

My real name is Liv Dillon (i.e. I'm not using a fake name), I live in Philadelphia, my email is liv0815'at'yahoo.com (my 'at' symbol is not working) and I have been periodically posting my info around, because I am not worried about NATLFED checking my email, looking me up, or doing anything to me. Why? Because the group is a paper tiger, hopelessly buerocratic, not without its merits (though they are few), but in the end, not much to worry about.

Since I left the group I have lived in cities where the group is located (New York City and Philadelphia). I almost side swiped Frieda (maybe it was Phyllis..)Kornbloom in NYC while trying to parallel park my van. I admit, that I did take off and did not want to talk to her, but this happened very soon after I left the group, and I was still nervous. Later (a few months) I drove to my old entity in South Amboy NJ, because I thought it would do me some good, and asked Noelle Odelle (the OPS) for my bike back, which she gave me. No one tried to shoot me, keep me, and in one phone call to a person I still consider a friend, even though she won't talk to me, I was simply hung up on.

The fact that I was nervous at first, and then felt I had to go 'prove' to myself that I was safe, indicates that the group did have an irrational amount of control on my emotions (call it my mind, if you like... I don't really care). This is no longer the case. My phone number and address in NYC were always listed in the phone book, which is how some x cadre have contacted me, even though I never lived more then 7 miles from NOC. I have never resorted to using a pseudonym, and my name is all over the internet. I recently told a young woman who is 'trying' full-time out that she was free to tell the group everything I had told her. People should not be afraid of the group.

People don't join the group because they are brainwashed, they join because they want to see real change. Why they stay might be another matter, but it is hard to 'give up your dreams' when you are in an isolated environment, and don't work with other progressive organziations (NATLFED won't work with other groups) As x cadre, I think we can all atest to the fact that real change will not happen through this group. I've been working in organizations and groups since I left it, sometimes simply dishing out food, other times organziing pickets, sometimes taking very direct action against the state (something NATLFED NEVER EVER DOES). There are a lot of ways to change the world, NATLFED is not the most effective one. This, to me, is really the point.

I hope I haven't made my email long and boring, I had meant it to be short and to the point.

HERE IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT GOING FULL TIME:
(Whether it is a cult or not)
1. Don't listen to classes, or have lengthy discussions late at night when you are tired, it is harder to compute what is going on.
2. Insist on 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night
3. Don't loose contact with friends or relatives, and talk to them, if you don't you become isolated.
4. Try chatting with some x cadre (maybe not Mitch -- he never responds to email) but Robin,Gnomon (?), me, Elizabeth etc. All of our perspectives are a little bit different, we were in at different times and in different places, and maybe through chatting with us you will understand more what you are getting into.

When people are tired and isolated they loose sight of reality, they make bad decisions, you can see this again and again in history.

People should really put their email's on these postings... NATLFED doesn't even use computers...
liv0815'at'yahoo.com

replying to Liz post 16.Jan.2006 10:32

Ice Gnomon i_gnomon@excite.com

First I am assuming the ? mark after my name was asking if I was open to being contacted, Yes. When I was in the organization, the reason many people stayed even when they disagreed with the direct it was going in was that, at least for those interested in smashing the state, the best option open to them. When I first left it was very difficult transitioning to a left dominated by reform minded liberals who tend to make most of the organizations in the big outside world arguable more hopelessly ineffective than natlfed (again from the prospect of someone interested in smashing the state.) If you've left or are leaving natlfed with this as a concern feel free to contact me at the below email address.

As for those going in? I've done a lot of work with activists living in intentional community and I use to promote the idea that they should not so much see thier living on a commune as changing the world but also see the commune as part of the world they are trying to change. The differrence between an marxist leninist and an anarcho-communist could be simplified as the LM fighting fire with fire, creating a state to fight the state. It is an arguable strategy, what I could say is don't trust a boss when you see one, don't buy that thier is anyone more responcible for creating the revolution than you are. Deal with your comrades as individuals and build bonds and trust that allow you to go beyond the institutional stagnation when you begin to recognize it. and buy a good pair of walking shoes.

Two years in….twenty two out. 17.Jan.2006 11:23

Ben bboardman@ho-chunk.com

This has been an enlightening discussion, and I want to thank all of you for your candor and honesty. In particular, thank you to former leadership cadre for your description of Gino's addiction. Your story stripped the last film off the cloudy and confusing years I spent in ESWA, years that remain a formative part of my life.

First off, I have kept that experience a quiet secret that I divulged to few over the years. Now I wonder why. I see that even that secretive behavior was part of the residue of the sick game that I had carried inside, partly from fear, partly from embarrassment. So, my name is Ben Boardman. I worked in New Brunswick from 1981 - 83. I'm a doctor now working in Wisconsin. I would like to make myself available to anyone who would like to talk about their experience, and to any former cadre who remember me and just want to say hello.

I have also written stories about my years in ESWA, but I'll spare you for now.

In the years since Natlfed I have come to know a lot about addiction. Knowing about Gino's ferocious addiction to narcotics makes so much sense now. Even the saddest, most ignorant and downtrodden drug or booze addict develops great skills of manipulation. In the drive for more drugs they become experts in shame, guilt and love, befriending and belittling anyone who opens their heart to him. These are people who have sold their soul to the chemical they need and will take yours as fuel. Then take a man like Gino, who was born a genius and champion manipulator and you end up with a very dangerous and powerful addict, as we have all seen. Mary and Polly and many, many others were drawn into the game of loving and "saving" Gino from himself, and he used them for it. The partners of an addict will put up with terrible treatment, beatings and verbal abuse, and blame it on themselves. Gino may have believed in what he preached, but he also saw how great a shtick it was for getting him what he wanted. Manipulation and games of loyalty and love are the way a really successful addict gets his stuff. He will die eventually anyway, but at least not alone on a park bench.

And this helps to explain the crazy and contradictory directives from NOC, the dinner protocols, the criticism. Eventually, you didn't even need anyone to dole out the abuse, you just self-administered.

I also have good memories of those years. I worked with many very good, decent, very intelligent and funny people who I never would have had a chance to meet (and eventually escape and hide from.) I found friends in our "membership" whose memories I still cherish. I believe that even today I am working for those same people.

I am only sorry that this group still exists, sucking the good hard work out of committed people. I am glad there is more honesty in this discussion. The feedback page on the old "The Truth about Natlfed" web site was filled with guilt and anger and much fear. You are right about reprisals from these guys. They are a shell. I stopped worrying and began to sleep at night after I realized that the nearest entity barely had enough gas to get their cadre to sleep sites much less to drive out and find me.

More 19.Jan.2006 13:21

Robin Fahlberg 5Fahlber@stu.jmls.edu

I wanted to clarify my meanings in past posts when I characterize Natlfed as a cult. First, what I don't mean is that Natlfed is some weird, strange, counter-culture group existing only for itself which members have to be saved from in order to rejoin others in a normal life. This is pretty much the definition Gino vociferated and it was self-serving. As I understand the term cult, as used by social scientists, it means a group that practices mind control techniques such that they control other member's actions. They do this by manipulating the member's view of what reality really is. I consider the normal good middle class consumer in the USA as almost a cult in itself. Advertising and the current society teach that to be happy one must have a cavern of a house, with 4 bedrooms and baths the size of my current bedroom, walk-in closet filled with clothes and 50 pairs of shoes, the latest in electronic gadgets, TV with 300 channels, 2 SUVs and a Hummer in the driveways, etc. etc.. Obviously, we don't NEED these things to be happy. Without understanding the Natlfed experience, it is easy to move from one role defined by Natlfed, to another defined by the current society. The way to fight cults is to promote people thinking for themself and understanding the manipulations of others so they can decide who they are and what they want to do for themselves. The largest cults in this country are anything but outside the mainstream. They are very much in the mainstream of society. One of the triggers that sent me to a counselor were the practices at my husband's workplace which were similar to some of the Natlfed practices.
I was re-reading some of the posts a couple of days ago and noticed that someone said Margaret started the Oakland office with Pop and Carrol Haddad. It is hard to know what is the truth in Natlfed, but that is not the history of CHA I heard back in 1979. What I herd was that David S. had gone to the West Coast and met Nelle C. and Viola M. in about 1973. Nelle was a social worker who had a briefcase full of the system's problems. Viola was an attendant care worker. They started CHA together. Nelle and Viola would go out to the bus stops in the morning and sign members. Margaret didn't even meet Gino or anyone from Natlfed until 1974 when Gino moved into her apartment on Carroll Street. I also understand that Greg H. and Sue W. went out west to help build CHA. If Margaret is now taking credit for building CHA, she's borrowing from Gino's paybook.
I have mentioned Margaret and Dan by name while being careful not to use anyone else's name unless they're dead or have revealed their name themselves. I use Margaret and Dan's name because I think they, as any top leader in an organization, are fair game. The top leader in an organization has a good deal of influence and who they are matters. Their strategy, their morals, their theory will permeate down. Natlfed tries to say that individuals don't matter - it's the positions. This simply isn't reality. Who the Enron executives were and what they were willing to do did matter, just as who Gino was mattered with Natlfed. Who Margaret and who Dan is matters.
Thank you Ben and Liv and everyone else for your comments. It has been really helpful to me to have others to discuss the experience with.

This was from another time 29.Jan.2006 06:28

W2

I knew two of the people in this -- went to college with Chip Berlet, knew another person
mentioned here many years prior, was involved in other activism. It's all so far away now. ( PS Condi Rice was also in that college cohort, same school, 3 years after. )
It's very distant now.

This was from another time 29.Jan.2006 06:28

W2

I knew two of the people in this -- went to college with Chip Berlet, knew another person
mentioned here many years prior, was involved in other activism. It's all so far away now. ( PS Condi Rice was also in that college cohort, same school, 3 years after. )
It's very distant now.

Dear "Spooked" 24.Feb.2006 11:12

Robin Fahlberg rtfandrsf@aol.com

We exchanged some emails a couple of months ago, but I cannot find your email address. Could you email me. My new email address is below. Thanks.

Ex-Natlfed Support Group and Website 24.Feb.2006 13:35

Robin Fahlberg rtfandrsf@aol.com

I have thought for some time that I would like to start a support group for former natlfed members. It would be informal with the objective being to provide emotional support - even if just a friendly ear to former members, and perhaps some support in finding mental health resources as well. I have arranged for server space to host a website as well. If you would be interested in helping with this project please let me know. Perhaps others have ideas, but my immediate vision is to provide contacts to ex-members to contact by email or phone should they need a supportive ear. There could also be an area for people to tell their story should they care to. I think we all have differing ideas as to what Natlfed was or is, so there will be no official word as to this. Each person is free to think and write their own version. The reason for the site is to get people factual information and provide support.

This is a nonfiction epic story 06.Mar.2006 20:03

W2

of astounding power

childhood memories 08.Mar.2006 13:43

char charmagine1@aol.com

Most of my childhood memories are connected to the people that has been discussed previously.My mother and step-father(Robert T.)were cadre and close freinds with Polly and MaryS. I also remember many others that have not been brought up.

And a nightmare 08.Mar.2006 18:07

W2

'Nuff said from me.

Website 22.Mar.2006 05:57

J. Bartok

Robin, regarding your website idea, "Pro Boards" offers free forums online.
I hope this may be of some use:

 http://www.proboards.com/index.html

follow the money 23.Mar.2006 07:28

Marly

Very interesting site! Helps me understand what was going on when I had a brush with the group in Philly at a time they were recruiting older people, downsized computer techs, laid off workers, overworked medical assistanats, etc. We set up tables in grocery stores and did bucket drives, but never raised much money. I asked too many questions which they avoided answering, so I left. One of the questions was how they made the rent money on what we raised. Now I hear there are lots of workers in a central office to support and a reference to people giving them their inheritances. Were there a lot of those? How much money do other writers think this group has, and where did it come from?

For Marly 24.Mar.2006 09:48

Liv Dillon liv0815@yahoo.com

Hey Marly,

I live in Philly and would be interested in talking to you about what Philly ESWA is up to.

If you have time, drop me an email  liv0815@yahoo.com (I'm an x cadre over 4 years in)

-thanx

We were cadre once, and young... 04.Apr.2006 19:50

DTS david.smith@acm.org

I was at NOC for my entire tenure at Natlfed. Not one of the leadership, but one of the people who tried to keep the thing running. I am amazed at the stories here, and must commend you Robin, on your forthrightness on the experience. I had nightmares about Natlfed for years afterwards (20 years ago), and yet, with all the faults of Gino, think that there was something powerful about the idea. In fact, for my part, I stayed on through many turbulent times because I thought a radical change in this country was needed and did not see any other way to achieve it.

I finally left when I realized how much I had become part of the 'cult' and lost my sense of thinking independently. In the years since I've never regretted leaving, and would certainly advise anyone thinking about that organization to RUN, not walk away--but I do not regret the years of my life spent there. Perhaps because I was enough removed from the leadership I was not directly exposed to the abuses that went on (although I saw some of the effects), and my personal disposition helped me to adjust to the frequent schizophrenic directives. The message from a 'former leadership cadre' helped answer some of the strange trips I went on and I am grateful for that explanation.

In the contraversy in the course of this thread I must put myself in the middle. I think that Natlfed over time took on more and more aspects of a cult--and the recent biography of Mao Tse-Tung shows how that can develop into horrible excesses, but I think that the present situation shows how desperate the need is in this country for a new way of organizing for change.

That is why I cannot agree with Jeff Whitnack, who certainly saw through the pretense quickly enought, but who does not, I think, give enough credit to the desire of people for making change that would allow them to participate in a flawed organization as long as it appeared capable of success. Each person has to make that determination for themselves, and it does not help to declare that the goals they are trying to achieve are a lie.

In the years since, to my regret, I have not continued in that vein and yet, with a family I find that my desire for change is constrained by my desire to provide for my children. The idealism of my youth has been tempered by my experience in Natlfed (showing the underbelly of subversive organizations) and my realization that it is supremely difficult to not have an organic organization succumb to the cult of personality.

--David Smith

The Analysis 07.Apr.2006 06:06

Elisabeth Robbins robbinse1@msn.com

To all of you ex -natlfed members, thank you. I have a son currently with them, and your discussion has helped me a lot to better understand why he stays. He has been cadre for years, and I am reconciled to waiting. I'm still hopeful that he may decide some day to leave, but in the meantime I try to be selfishly glad his idealism led him to a place where he seems to be physically safe and insured of the basics of food and housing,. If natlfed hadn't captured him, he might have joined something like Christian Peacemakers.
I wonder if anyone would be willing to explain more about Gino's philosophy. I feel somewhat familiar with The Genesis, which must still have some power in the retelling, even though Gino is no longer there to give it in person. Several of you have referred to the Analysis and from that and from what my son has implied, I have a vague idea of its contents. Would anyone be willing to give a synopsis? Just how is the revolution supposed to happen? And why won't it be corrupted like every other communist takeover? Online preferably, because I think this is a piece about the group that needs to be available to anyone who is thinking about joining. Or if you would rather contact me personally, my e-mail is above.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Communist Party Provisional World Revolution Theory 07.Apr.2006 08:28

Robin Fahlberg rtfandrsf@aol.com

It is hard to get in a short post, much less a short document the total political philosophy of Natlfed/ Communist Party Provisional (CPP). At some point I probably will attempt to do this. I think it differed from time period to time period as well. It's been 13 years and my memory isn't what it used to be, so perhaps others can contribute. But, I'll give you a short synopsis. Gino was also adept, and I hear Margaret is as well, in adapting the theory to meet whatever he wanted to get out of any one individual at any given time.
First CPP does not think that socialism has been coopted by the various communist leaders. Any fault for any atrocities that anyone is allowed to know of is because of necessity. The necessity is because capitalism is always attacking socialism. Of course, once world revolution is accomplished these types of things will no longer be necessary. Unfortunately, there is little chance for any of the organizers to talk to anyone who has a grounding in communist theory and so they are indoctrinated with this after the organization has more of a hold on them.
CPP thinks there are two world camps, capitalism and socialism always battling. They think socialism is winning (or at least did). This was much easier to defend before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The philosophy says that within a relatively short time period, for a political theory, socialism has swept the world. The biggest player in the capitalist camp is the US. The US is the biggest exploiter the world has known and is responsible for more atrocities, hunger, tragedies, etc. than any other country in history. If the US falls, capitalism falls and we will have world revolution, socialism without the bad parts that are necessary while capitalism still stands. The Analysis was written in the early 70's (They said '69, but this went with the Venceremos connection lie). It said that because the US had been kicked out of Vietnam and other developing nations, it had no where else to exploit but at home. The theory being that capitalism has to continually find more markets and labor pools to exploit to stay viable. Therefore, exploitation would expand at home in the US.
The Party looks at the labor movement and sees fewer and fewer people in unions and more and more people stratified into the unrecognized workforce -- temporary workers, services workers, farm workers, domestic care workers. The Party therefore believes by organizing and being the dominating force in organizing the unorganized they will be in the vanguard of the revolution.
I don't remember if the calls are in the Analysis or Constitution of the Party but there are 2. One is for workers of all nations to unite with revolutionaries of all nations to make the revolution - this isn't exact. The other is "to the masses."
The Party then uses classic Leninism to say that a Party of disciplined and dedicated people, to the point of military discipline is needed to make the revolution. Thus the tight controls that people agree to and then are used to exploit, control and abuse them later on.
The basic message is that world socialist revolution in inevitable, but needs a Party of revolutionaries to make. This will solve most of the world's problems. Any problem in the past with communism is because of the attack of capitalism upon it. Socialist revolution will lead to communism and the abolition of classes. The US is key and the growing unrecognized worker strata will lead the revolution in the US. The Party is the only group organizing there and will therefore lead the world revolution with the party cadre at the front of this with a special place in history.
If something in any of the entities is not working, it is not because it won't (or that national administrators are inept or sabotaging it). It is because the other side is in power and therefore to stay in place is to move forward. That's why the revolution is necessary. All that is needed is for the cadre to work harder for revolution and of course follow Party discipline and listen to national leaders.

Polly 07.Apr.2006 21:32

anonymous

Did Polly die of breast cancer?

The Analysis 13.Apr.2006 13:34

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

to summarize what I believe is going on.

Just like the Moonies use New Testament (or old also for all I know) scenarios to build their cult---i.e. Jesus telling his disciples they have to leave their family, Moon is now the second coming of Christ----Natlfed uses Lenninist organizational theory to build their cult--i.e. Lenin advocated that under the particular conditions in Russia at the time what was needed was a clandestine organization of professional revolutionaries, now Gino is/was the new Lenin, etc.

Natlfed scrapes up every quote, embellishes or manufacturers every story and tale, in this effort. From tales of Lenin turning in socialist revolutionaries to tales of Vietnam's Lee Duc Tho stealing Kissinger's watch, their goal is to lie, seduce, ensnare, and trap. Delving too much into the particulars of the so-called Analysis, Genesis, etc., can miss the salient point.

Why Deatails May be Important 14.Apr.2006 07:05

Robin Fahlberg

I'm going to respectfully disagree with you on the value of information on Natlfed? Communist Party Provisional (CPP)'s theories. Your point on seeing the forest for the trees is well taken. But, I see two reasons to get this information public.
The first is for those who have family and friends in CPP and want to motivate them to think for themselves and leave. There is a book by Steve Hassan "Releasing the Bonds, Enpowering People to Think for Themselves". This book goes through the various methods cults use to entrap people and how a family or friend can build a trusting relationship with someone trapped in a cult and get them to start thinking and challengin the doctrine. To do this the family and/or friend needs information, specific information on how the cult works and what their theory is. The Analysis and the Constitution (including preamble) of CPP are touted as the most advanced political theory in the world. They are also touted as scientific. Getting someone to believe this is part of the recruitment process. Someone close to a CPP member can begin to introduce where the various parts of these documents came from, where the theory came from (there is nothing new under the sun in these), why they aren't scientific, etc.. This can be done in a questioning way such that the member begins to think about this.
The second reason is for those who were in CPP to come to terms with what they did or did nbot believe. I've always wondered whether the beliefs I espoused while in CPP were actually something I believed at one time or simply the product of indoctrination. There was such a shroud of secrecy over this in Natlfed that no one discussed it. There is in many areas of society such a demonization of communism that no one wants to discuss it. That leaves ex-members with few places to try and sort out their thoughts. I think part of the reason people left scared and looking over their shoulders was this secrecy thing. I think it is very healthy to talk about it and show that you don't get shot for doing so.
At minimum, family and friends of those in Natlfed should be able to find out the theory from those willing to discuss it, whether on or off line.

The Analysis, etc. 15.Apr.2006 02:38

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

Robin I agree 100% with everything you said. And for a parent/friend/loved one whose politics is already liberal/left (and especially not freaked over the very word or concept of the term "communist") it holds well.

For someone whom is liberal/left it's almost as if we are arguing over whether a driver should keep focused on what's happening right in front of the car or look at "the big picture". Both are needed.

But I also have run into friends or family members whom 1) weren't leftists or even liberals 2) thought the main problem was one of Natlfed's politics or theory---i.e if they could just get the person to see the wisdom of Milton Friedman, the goodness and greatness of Ronald Reagan, etc., all would be well. With those people, while trying to get them to focus on the cultic nature of the group, I tried to reinforce the aspect that, for a cult, one almost just plugs in the ideology or religion, etc.

One time John Gimenez (ex Natlfed from Santa Cruz) and his wife were over for dinner. We also invited some neighbors. Over a few bottles of wine John and I started recounting "war stories" of the past. The neighbor guy seemed to get a little irritated over "what you guys were trying to do". Also I have regularly been lambasted in my professional circles by right wingers whom have found Natlfed info on the internet and copy'd/pasted it all in. I still remember that FBI tape from the 1984 raid where the agent was describing Natlfed as "a Marxist Lenninst cell, in the classic sense". What a political wet dream Natlfed would have been for J. Edgar Hoover had he been around longer.

The Communist Part of Natlfed 15.Apr.2006 07:26

Robin Fahlberg rtfandrsf@aol.com

That is a very good point Jeff. When I first joined CPP and my parents found out it was communist they tried to argue economic systems. They are somewhat conservative, but are educated and didn't completely freak out like some would. That didn't work at all because I had already been indoctrinated with the message that they had grown up in a bourgeois world, were brainwashed by its' institutions and therefore could not see the truth. Parents and friends who think that communism is the evil of the world need to put that aside and do some reading on the subject as well as on mind control.
I've been asked off line for some information on the Constitution. The Constitution of the Party is a document that is gone over after someone joins the Party as a probational member. It has a preamble that is political and calls for revolution and a disciplined Party to lead it. The body lays out the structure of the Party including the Central Committee, the National Politbureau and Regional Politbureaus. It lays out a democratic centralist structure. While I was in CPP, there was a Central Committee up to when the Chair, Mary Seebar left after being beaten by Gino. From then on, I don't think there was a functional body, although there were members. I never saw a funtional regional or national politbureau. I understand that Margaret has formed a functional Central Committee and was elected chairperson. The document was hand typed for each new area organizing drive. The story was always that if it were ever taken by the police, the PC would say he/she had typed it up as a joke. It always had typos in it. Just like anything, the proof is in the practice. For all the theory or whatever claimed through the document, it was never put in practice. Parts of it were quoted, usually out of context to support whatever the national administration wanted to happen.
On the FBI thing, I considered for awhile whether or not Natlfed could have been started by the FBI as part COINTELPRO to spy on other groups and get people interested in change into a non-viable arena. The suggestion came through a few different sources for different reasons. I talked to someone who had been an investigative reporter in the 60s and whose opinion I respect. I had searched the Internet for any such suggestion. He said he thought that if this were so someone would have uncovered it by now. He thought that the FBI had probably infiltrated it as they had every left and right group during that time period. It is acknowledged fact that at one time 1/3 of the Klan were FBI informers or agents at one time. There were many files open for possible prosecutions during that time. The FBI knew who had done the bombings in the south during the civil rights period for years, but for whatever reasons did not prosecute. They may not have thought they had evidence for a conviction, or perhaps they did not want to expose their involvement. Perhaps the same is true with Natlfed. As long as they could siphon information from informants in Natlfed, not only about Natlfed but other groups as well, they did not prosecute anyone. And perhaps Gino played them as much as he played anyone else. As long as he allowed information to flow out to them, they let him stay in business despite illegal activities they knew of.

Just HOW ineffective is it? 15.Apr.2006 15:14

Elisabeth Robbins robbinse1@msn.com

Thanks for the previous comments. I'm understanding much more about this group than I did before this conversation started. And there is still much more to be said.

So, here I am, way far left, with a family member captured by natlfed, trying to figure out how to talk to him. We don't argue politics, much as I sometimes think he may be trying to bait me into an argument, because I honestly agree with him on the issues and the desired ends.

It's only on the means to the ends where we differ. And then, not because he's in a communist organization, but because I think he's in an ineffective organization. I'd like to talk to him about natlfed's accomplishments, or I should say lack of accomplishments. As you say, Robin, it almost looks like it was set up as a place where liberal/leftists could be derailed and taken out of action. For example, when are they going to start organizing labor? While they've been planning kids' parties and giving away food baskets, SEIU just down the street from his office has organized 1,800,000 service workers.

Would you ex-members guess that he recognizes how little he is accomplishing and tries to find excuses ("just standing still against such a tide of opposition is moving ahead"), or that he really doesn't see how ineffectual the organization is? Any suggestions on how to talk to him? Or should I just confine myself to the weather and grandma's health, and hope he figures things out by himself?

Natlfed's Ineffectiveness Varies 16.Apr.2006 09:04

Robin Fahlberg

How effective Natlfed entities are has varied from time to time and place to place. There are many very talented people who are motivated by a real desire for change in Natlfed. There is also the constant reminder of why there needs to be change coming through the doors of the office every day. Sometimes this motivation and material reality break through the breaking down of the organizers by national leadership process. There are several factors to how much an entity will do. One is what is happening in the national administration and how much of a hold they are enforcing on the locals. A second is the motivation and experience of the people running the office. A third are circumstances in the community which sometimes cry through any manipulations for action. A fourth is how active and politically educated key members and supporters are.
One of the positives I hope never to forget about Natlfed is their ability towards immediate action. They are able to organize a demonstration, food distribution, whatever without the endless planning meetings, studies, discussions, etc. of many groups. They just do it and organize the resources needed around it. Perhaps if there had been more of this kind of thinking during Katrina, not as many would have died. Just doing this and never planning or consolidating is reactionary, but there is something to be said about not being afraid to take some direct action.
If I knew people in Natlfed entities and were nearby I would be encouraging them to become involved in the myriad of progressinve activity now going on. There is a grassroots movement for immigrant rights. Many members of Natlfed organizing drives are immigrants. We should encourage the organizers to get involved in these demonstrations. Unlike when I was in Natlfed 13 years ago, there are unions who are actively organizing service workers, retail workers and other low paid workers. There is a boycott of Walmart going on. We should be encouraging natlfed organizers to get involved in these. One, they have real skills that are needed. Two, the more they are exposed to people making a difference without being abused and beat down, the more they will start thinking for themselves. If you live near your son and there is a demonstration going on, ask him to spend the afternoon with you and go to the demonstration. This is just a suggestion. The more organizers get out in the real world and out of the artificial one of 24/7 Natlfed office the better they are. When I was in Natlfed there were organizers (especially female) at national headquarters who hadn't been out of the same 2 bedroom apartment for years. Think of domestic abuse situation where the abuser tries to isolate his/her victim and create an artificial reality where it is OK to use physical violence and the victim thinks no one cares. You need to do this in a non-threatening or confrontational way. Hope this helps.

How effective is anyone? 28.Apr.2006 10:42

Elizabeth Parenti Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

I am writing to address some of the concern of Elizabeth Robbins whose son is now involved in Natlfed. I want to write in a helpful and meaningful way to you, and at the same time not let principle critisism turn into unprincipled Natlfed bashing. Over the past 7 or 8 years my political work has often involved building bridges between various demographies of activism in order to heighten the base level of volitility within the geographic areana I live and work in. In a pattern very similier to what the organization would call parochialism most groups engaged in one tactic or strategy will almost always see what others do as reformist, and thier is some truth in that any tactical area of struggle embraced in isolation of others is easily co-opted. The challenge of when is Natlfed going to start organizing labor is a weak one to people who have worked within field entities where the limitation of government sanction labor organization are seen on a day to day bases. The essential Natlfed strategy, (speaking here as natlfed being one fraction of CPUSA-P and distinguishing the strategy of that fraction from others) has always been to challenge the co-optation of the US labor laws. I think the question is more when will Natlfed every have the courage and fortitude to follow through with an offensive once it has laid the groundwork for it. By the mid 70's the farm labor actions and resulting court decisions, particularly around the eviction of striking workers from the camps had created the legal possibility of over turning the National labors relation act and with it the taft Hartley laws creating the possibility of radicalising the labor movement and destablising the capitalist state. At that time a vote of the central committee, whose decisions are based on majority rule and whose membership is based on Dot (lenth of membership, senoirity ) decided not to press a strong localised offensive but to grow geographically. Within a few years they had grown tremendously with offices in 16 locations on both coasts and the TWOC offensive created a similier opportunity to bring about a revolutionary situation and center was still not able to reach a decision to move forward. I think it is important to recognize a natural tendancy here for leadership, more comfortable indeed priveledge, than rank and file cadre to be less inclined to risk thier individual security obtain through the organization than to seek a meaningful struggle in which the state or the organization might be smashed. This is nothing new, most successful communist revolutions (Mao and Castro for instance) have come from outside the leadership of traditional parties which had grown comfortable as loyal opposition. Based on a historical analysis I think the only way Natlfed will ever play a direct part in making a serious revolution is if a field entity moves forward despite national leadership and other entities inspired by thier successful movement begin refederating away from national leadership in support of the brakeaway offensive. This was somewhat possible in the early '80 but not so possible now. From 73 till 85 natlfed was growing, first geographically as small proto-fractional entities grew accross the country, then vertically as a few of these entities began to flush out into arenas, many with a dozen or more full time cadre. Since the early 80' the national office has not just been sabotaging local offensives but stripping local offices of personal and the practical body of the organization, capable of powerful grassroots organization has been contracting.
It makes a big difference, in terms of approaching the situation, if your son is in a field entity or a national administrative safehouse. In the field cadre can be exposed to a lot of powerful potential of a grassroots organizing drive, plus they are exposed to a greater evidence of national sabotage of effective efforts. If your son is in a field entity I would suggest going on a canvass with him and seeing what the grass roots strength and appeal is like, but I would also point out to him that an overwhelming number of field level leadership cadre who have been involved in either establishing new entities, building arenas or laying the groundwork for offensives have left after stating that thier efforts where deliberately sabotaged by national leadership. In the past, and likely in the present, this has been justified in order to avoid uneven developement, but today natlfed is smaller and less effective than it once was, it is not in the state of becoming but in the state of contracting. According to the dielectical and historical meterialism, the basic philosophy of Marxist leninism, things are looked at as what they are becoming, but in the case of natlfed today thier is no indication of organizational growth and expansion but merely stagnation.
I don't know if you can argue anyone out of natlfed, But I would point out very strongly that thier is no historic presidence of a successful revolutionary party that places the majority of it's cadre in administrative safehouses where they cannot build a direct base of power amongst the masses. When the Nazi achieved a minority position within the german cabenet they monopolized police powers to arrest, not top leadership but the grass roots organization of the communist, social democractic and labor movements; cutting them off at the knees in order to undermined thier strength. Natlfed does this to itself and has been doing it since they took over the publication of invest yourself and began expanding NOC. The only purpose this served was to create a large pool of easily manipulated inexperience cadre capable of keeping the field entities undercontrol. To me this has always been the basic logic that natlfed defies, how can it develope a poweful grassroots base within the masses if only a minority of party cadre are ever allowed to do grassroots organizing? Isn't it inconsistant with the priniciples of party members within the bolshivic tradition that the majority of party members are pushing papers in a safehouse instead of organizing? As Robin mentions the organization has often maintained a strong potential for immidiate action, but it has also maintained a steadfast refusal to move forward in a substained effort to make meaningful change.


announcing a natlfed discussion group 07.May.2006 22:44

natlfed@yahoo.com natlfed@yahoo.com

Attention ex-cadre: there's a restricted-access natlfed discussion group at
 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/natlfed/

there's also an open access natlfed discussion group for everyone at:
 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/natlfed2/?yguid=267794959

Please join us to discuss one of the most controversial organizations of the American left.
Disclaimer: the natlfed discussion group has no connection whatsoever with National Labor Federation, which neither approves of nor has any knowledge of its postings.


Is That So ??? 08.May.2006 13:14

Once A True Believer, Now A Skeptic

HELLO, YAHOO groups NATLFED 1 and NATLFED 2: Who are YOU? What is YOUR interest in this? I believe that an individual person posting on the web has a well kept right to remain anonymous and so I have been one of those. And I had many years in the O. One of these "discussion groups" requires the author's email address. That does not give the individual participant their right to remain anonymous. And I am fully in favor of anyone who so chooses to announce themselves in these postings or any other forum discussing NATLFED. So, I stand by a person's right to post anonymously OR state their name/ email address openly. You may want to announce YOURSELF, as the originator of the site. It will, believe me, give your credentials, your point of view, your interests a well-deserved AIRING. You, IF YOU ARE GENUINELY independent of NATLFED (funny how you have stated your "disclaimer" in such refined "legalese.") I know some people inside NATLFED who are keen on such well thought out and careful statements. But, enough of that - I won't continue this "second-guessing." Please ANNOUNCE YOURSELF TO THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Because if you don't, you may find that the most "valuable" participants, or, shall we say - the shy types - or shall we say, the "careful" types, or "afraid" ...(that instead you are "mining" the 'net' for information on ex-natlfeders) DON'T WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THESE TWO "ex-NATLFED" sites. I notice that you have posted on the "Boston Indy Media Site" - in that discussion on natlfed, also. You are definitely interested. But interested in what? BY THE WAY, THERE IS A SITE "up" but not yet running, already fulfilling these criteria that I ask you to follow. It's www.natlfed.org and it's author is Robin Fahlberg-Spellman. She stated, right off, who she is on the "home" page. Why don't you just jump in on that one. It already exists. And it is certainly independent of NATLFED, and I might add, without the somewhat ridiculous, superfluous "disclaimer" you so sincerely(?)put in your "come one, come all..." advertisement. How about it? Play ball? Or, play hide and seek? If you are playing "hide and seek" you can forget it. I don't play games with SHADOWS. I don't shadow box, I box for real. If you get the sense that I'm a little "ticked off" that you are launching this so-called ex-natlfed yahoo groups thing, you're right. It looks like a "competitive" channel. You're not happy with the already existing ex-natlfed discussion group site? Why? Maybe you are a real live player - maybe you are offering the benefits of the supposed difference between "COMCASTIC" (Comcast) and the 'slow as a turtle' AT&T / SBC DSL internet services. Give me and others assurance that you are respectful and genuine ... As the saying went, or goes... If it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. Thanks

Re: IsThat So ??? 09.May.2006 01:05

natlfed@yahoo.com natlfed@yahoo.com

hi there once a true believer,

first off, i wasn't even aware that robin had a site. My apologies for the duplication of efforts. But I've just checked it and sorry, but I don't see that Robin's site is also functioning as a discussion group. And it's a discssion group I am interested in right now. I'm not personally all that interested in moderating a group, but I just thought that the time had come for a place where informed comment could be assembled, and I would gladly turn over moderator duties to someone who has more energy.

You are right on target about being able to post anonymously. That's why anyone who joins can post anonymously. All you need to do is set up an e-mail account. Takes about 3 minutes at Yahoo. The advantage of a Yahoo restricted-access group is that your comments are then not on public display for all the world to see. One then has the freedom to communicate with one's peers without the intrusions of outside eyes. That is why I have been reluctant to join in the debate on Indy media sites: it's too public.

What you call refined legalese is what I call clarity. I am no longer in Natlfed, but I do appreciate "well thought out and careful statements". I was not aware that Natlfed had a monopoly on good writing. About your security concerns: you are welcome to email me. I am happy to provide my biography. But I am not going to be posting it here for all the world to see. I have my own security concerns too. You're certain welcome to join & participate if you care to. If not, best wishes

regards, natlfed group moderator

The Memories Come Flooding Back 18.May.2006 09:52

Kali

I was a fulltime National cadre in the early mid-90s. I haven't thought about my experiences at NOC for quite some time, but reading this message board has really brought memories back. Rather than go into a debate about the cultishness or the value of Natlfed, I will tell my own story, and people can judge accordingly. First off, I would like to point out that different people had very different experiences, depending on where they were and when they were there. It's one thing to talk about Gino's dominance, but those on the West Coast didn't know him and therefore didn't experience it.

I was recruited at the age of 17 and came from a communist milieu. At that age, I didn't doubt the veracity of Marxism (now I respect his analysis, but not his prescription). Furthermore, I was always a sensitive person who could not go through life ignoring the suffering of others. (I'm one of the reasons that the Christian Children's Fund commercials have content warnings.) To me, the organization seemed like it was doing something, and it was active. I was sold on that. I still intended to go to college, but hours were spent with me to convince me not to go to my interviews, etc. It worked. I gave up my opportunity to attend an august institution and my professional life is still suffering from that decision.

I knew Gino relatively well. I was immediately picked out to be "leadership" and was treated with kid gloves by Gino. I spent many hours talking to him about various, relatively inane subjects. In retrospect I believe his purposes were threefold. On the one hand, I didn't have the personality that responded to rough handlind. On another, I was used as a wedge to undermine the security of others in leaderships, such as Sue S. (Ops) and Dan Foster (whom I knew as Alan). Finally, I think he just enjoyed spending time with a smart and pretty girl. I don't know what Gino said about me behind my back (or why I care), but others in leadership regularly said that I would be running the country, or what have you. They also said that I was "too intellectual", primarily because I suffered from sleep deprivation.

I remember desiring nothing but sleep and all the tricks we would come up with to try to stay awake, especially during so-called educationals. I remember waking up during these classes literally seeing everything through a haze of red. I rememeber waking up on the floor because my mattress had literally been pulled out from under me without waking me. I started sleeping on my back so people could pick me up by my arms and shake me so that I would wake. I literally fell asleep while typing and other physical activities.

I never got to leave NOC while Gino was alive. For a while I was on laundry duty, which was a huge treat. That ended when Gino called for me while I was at the laundromat. People were yelled at because I was "too valuable" to leave the premises. It is true that I grew up in Brooklyn and could have reached my parents home within 15 minutes, and it's also true that my parents hired deprogrammers who probably would have seized me given the opportunity. But the bottom line is that I wasn't allowed outside and I looked forward to garbage and pro schlepps just so I could stand under the sky, even if it was just in the breezeway.

We were all required to attend classes given by Gino. He would be wheeled into the room, and everybody who lined the aisle would snap to their feet, fold their chairs and wait for him pass. During class someone who sit to his side holding a paper towel lined paper bag so he could cough phlegm into it. At the same time, someone else would make sure he always had a lit cigerette in his ashtray, literally lighting one after the other after the other. It wasn't too long before I was allowed to do both of these things, as a substitute for the regulars, but it was considered an honor and a position of trust and some people vied for the right to do it. Now I cannot imagine what the honor is in holding a man's spitoon, but at the time it seemed like a public acknowledgement of FCs trust. He nodded off during the classes. He was barely audible, but we took copious notes on his ramblings (it also helped to keep us awake). He would jump from one story to another, ideas and so forth. He would nod off and then wake up and keep talking. After the classes, some of us would often try intepret his classes, as if they were somehow coded. They weren't. They were only the confusing ramblings of a morphine (or whatever his drug at the time was) addict.

Gino constantly undermined Sue A. He would give her instructions, or give someone else a vague briefing which was supposed to contain orders for her. Then he would scream at her, or have other people -- her subordinates -- criticize her. She was one of the most nervous and miserable people I've ever known. I'm sure many will disagree with me, but she was also one of the smartest, funniest and nicest people I've known. The only problem I really had with her is that some time she would come down on people with weaker personalities. I can't really blame her for that given the position she was in. She was smart enough to realize the position she was in, and human beings what they were, those who were sent in to manipulate her were also pretty aware and ultimately built friendships with her.

Every four hours a group of Gino's attendants were called into his office for some sort of medical attendance. I believe that it was his to give him his fix. Why three people were required for this, I don't know, but I do know that none of these people got more than four hours of sleep at a time. One of those people was the medical officer (I think he was a physician's assistant) who was brought out from California. He was "arrested" shortly before Gino's death and relagated to the Women's Press Collective. I was on so-called gaurd duty (including escorting him to the bathroom) the night that Gino died. I don't know what his crime was supposed to have been. I don't remember if I felt guarding him, etc., was wrong, but I do remember feeling bad about what I thought was his humiliation. My recollection is that he handled it pretty gracefully and with dignity. If only I had done the same.

Every minute of every day was closely monitored by field directors (of which I was one) and Control. Control was a desk position with a rotating staff. Field directors would create schedules of every task and for every person at every time. These schedules were handed to Control who was responsible for knowing where everyone was at every time. Communication throughout the building(s) was done through a radio with an amazingly breakable and conventional code. Because of the radio everyone knew to where everyone was summoned, etc. It caused resentment when people like me were called to Gino more often than others.

There was also an observation post by the front window. A runner was called every time a police or fire engine went by so that the security chief could be told that the siren wasn't anyone coming after us. Occasionally, Gino would hear the siren and want to know what it was. In retrospect this had the effect of creating the mystique that we were always in danger because we were really doing revolutionary work. But the window watch also made sure that no one left the building unauthorized (those who left the building had to present an authorization chit to the window watch). On occassion, someone would leave unauthorized and an alarm would be sent off. That person was chased and usually convinced to return.

The work was generally useless. Each entity was assigned a liaison who was responsible for giving orders to the entities. If anyone from the entities felt it, I can confirm it: you were held in contempt. The culture of NOC held that those in local entities lacked the big picture and the political education to know what was best. This was enhanced by the lack of field experience by most at NOC. The other work was for the maintenance of life-style at NOC. By Natlfed standards we lived very, very well. Donations brought in high quality food, clothes, etc. Nearby entities were also required to bring donations to NOC, food and clothes that were donated to help the poor.

Our priority was recruitment, pure and simple. The work of the Organization was to sustain itself. Contrary to what others have said, no one was turned away, and Gino was very adamant about this (it may have been different on the West Coast). Nothing came before cadre recruitment.

After Gino died, Margaret Ribar came in with a couple of suited guys wearing reflective sunglasses who stood at her sides acting like body guards. She staged a coup, I guess you could say, and pissed me off because she systemically defamed every person in a leadership position. I understood this to be a direct violation of party principles. When I expressed my doubts to Sue and Dan, Sue seemed to appreciate my loyalties but basically warned me to be careful. Dan agreed initially, but then spent some time with Margaret (I've always wondered if they became lovers). After that, he seemed ebulant and pulled me and a few others (all young women) aside to basically, but more or less pleasantly, tell us to fall in line. I had a good relationship with Dan (who I understand had mellowed out considerably by this point), and felt that I could talk to him freely. I was immediately sent out to an isolated entity. I had requested that if I was sent out, I should not go with one person, with whom I had had problems (he was just out and out crazy). I was sent out with this person.

My parents were able to see me more readily in the field and my mother had the opportunity to tell me the result of her research on the background of hte organization, etc. She also gave me some money, which I was aware enough to That and being out in the real world had the effect of making me depressed and scared. I requested a return to NOC which was granted, but not without penalty. I was assigned to sit on the control desk for one half of the waking day and on the window watch for the other half. In short, I couldn't walk around, etc., while at NOC. I was spelled every couple of days for a few hours so that Anne R. and Dan could pull me into the cave and attempt, I guess, to reeducate me. I was yelled at, cajoled, insulted, flattered, and interogated. I think at that point I was disengaged enough not to respond.

Then I was sent to Boston. I was miserable at this point and suffered from a severe bout of depression. I would start sobbing at any time of day for no apparant reason. I considered suicide. I called NOC and asked for help. The initial response was that I should read "On Practice" by Mao. Dan was relatively kind to me and, I think, genuinely concerned. D'Jean, with whom I had been set up by Gino in competition, and who was on the outs with Margaret, was really very kind and supportive to me. A true comerade, if you will. But they could do nothing. Eventually, realizing that my only two choices were suicide or leaving, I decided to leave. I called NOC and spoke to Anne. Intially, she tried to get me to say, but then called back shortly later to say that Margaret wanted me to get out. I was very, very relieved because I feared being followed, I feared, as other people said, assasination or other reprisals. I know that these fears were groundless, but clearly they are common among recent departees. The raid took place a couple of weeks after I left, and I worried that people would think I was involved in bringing down.

I would also like to point out that there were children at NOC. They were well cared for, sent to private school and well loved. However, I don't doubt that the stresses of their environment, including the occassional violence, affected them. I worry most about the departure of their caretakers (me for instance). If anyone knows how the girls are doing, please post something. They must be young adults by now.

I would also like to point out that there were some mentally ill people at NOC. I have since heard, through a third party, about Barbara, whom denizens will remember for her extreme instability. She has left the Organization and is now doing well and is mentally healthy. Hearing that her condition was exaserbated, or even caused, by the living conditions and the pills she was given under god knows whose direction is absolutely heart breaking.

Another thing I would like to say: I loved everyone I knew there. The collection of people at Natlfed were really, really great. There were some who had some difficulties, but in the environment, it would be a spectacular person who didn't. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- treated me very well, and were very smart and generally compassionate. If anyone takes anything away from my story I hope that it is this. I often think that the reason I stayed as long as I did was for love of the people and my friendships with them. Perhaps Natlfed attracted people with especially strong and interesting personalities, but I still miss my old friends and wish them the best.

If anyone would like to contact me, please post your information here or at Robin's site (she also has my email address). I don't want to post my email address here, not because of fear of reprisals, but because of my desire for privacy about my past.

Remembrances 22.May.2006 13:16

Robin Fahlberg

It's taken a few days for me to emotionally process Kali's recent post. I find it a refreshingly honest and kind recollection. The first emotion I felt was anger over your treatment after Gino died. I found it incredible that someone would send 2 organizers with no field experience to run the Wayne County entity. It took me 6 years before I felt any competence (and then it was minimal) to be able to run an organizing drive in that county. I had the advantage of learning from the former EFWA OPS first. Even though he was a bully and verbally and mentally abusive, he was no fraud and he knew how to organize. I then had Anne Ribar, a very talented field organizer, as a mentor. Anne knows exactly how hard it is to organize in that area. You face a county of 80,000 people where the average wage of year-round residents is below the poverty level. It is rural and there is extreme racial prejudice. There are 5000-10,000 migrant workers who come every picking season who have little but the clothing on their back. Contractors run most camps and you have to learn to deal with them (without getting beat up or killed) to get onto the camps. Except to the people in the same town (approximately 5000 - 10,000) all phone calls are long distance and almost no public transportation. There is no university or college in the county. The campuses we recruited at were 1-3 hours away. The only volunteer base we had in the county were members. The county and village officials were hostile because we sued them.

Add to that the fact that Gino had died recently. It sounds like you developed a genuine friendship with him and it must have been very hard when he died. I cannot believe that in that situation you were sent to Wayne County. Although I would have to agree with Margaret that top national administrators should have field experience, that does not mean you dump cadre with no field experience in an entity with no one to learn from as a punishment for not agreeing with you. The people who need to be in the field are those who know how to organize and can teach new organizers. I find it somewhat ironic that as far as I know neither Margaret or Dan have any field experience themselves. Margaret met Gino when he came to NYC and stayed in her and Anne's apartment (now NOC). She was OPS of State Operations Teams (STOPS) both on the east coast and the west coast. And though the STOPS team actually went to the entities and stayed there for periods of time working side by side with the entity cadre, they did not OPS an entity.
Then she became West Coast Field Director and then FC. Dan as far as I know has no experience whatsoever in a field entity.

And then to punish you by making you sit at the Control Desk and window when you wanted to come back is CRAZY. To then deny your request to come back from Boston given your mental state was criminal. Had you killed yourself, a case for manslaughter might even be made against those responsible. Like I said, I do think that top national administrators should have field experience. That doesn't men that someone who doesn't want to be in the field should be forced to. Certainly there were positions at NOC where someone as intelligent as you could have excelled.

That said, there was still a layer of emotion below the surface that I had to explore. When I did I found that there were deep emotions I had suppressed from when I first went to Wayne County. I had been in Suffolk where there was always a great deal of national attention. Then I had been at NOC. All of a sudden I was in Wayne County and we would go for periods of months without any direction or communication from NOC except returned traffic with a few reactionary comments on it. I went as AA/FIIN SC. Within a month, EFWA OPS's father died, he left and then went to NOC for six months, and I was made OPS. RPC for Wayne also had field experience, but had been told to stay out of the operations of the entity and to just be PC. As I understand it, EFWA OPS had physically assaulted her at one time. I remember her trying to help, but holding back because she had been told to let me run things. I failed miserably at first. I remember not having a car and hitching rides up to Hobart and William Smith Colleges to keep things going on a shoestring. The lights were turned off and we were behind on the rent. The office was in Lyons back then, we were suing the village and county, and the local officials took every chance they got to harass us. NOC gave almost no direction or help. I was miserable. I thought about leaving but decided that if I was going to call myself a revolutionary, then I needed to step up to the plate and keep trying. I also have a stubborn streak and don't like to fail.

EFWA OPS returned as the Arena FD. When he came back I remember him yelling at me everyday because I was trying but did not know what I was doing. I finally began to learn some skills. I was completely controlled by AFD. Two years later when he asked me to sleep with him I did. I will not say it wasn't consensual, but by that time it would not have occurred to me to say no to him. But, as I said, he may have been a bully, but he was not a fraud. He had an ongoing fight with national going. He had brought charges against the national legal staff because they totally screwed up the lawsuits. He had wanted to start legal recruitment early and had been prevented from doing so. During Abie Rodriguez's second trial there apparently were daily screaming matches between Legal Staff OPS and then EFWA OPS. AFD never was mad at FC, but in retrospect I would suspect that he had something to do with setting the 2 against each other. Both were powerful figures in their own respect and may have been perceived as threats by Gino.

I suppressed the loneliness and feelings of abandonment and inadequacy I had during that period. After a number of years first under AFD and then with Anne as a mentor and then through trial and error, I did learn to organize in Wayne County. When NOC would sporatically send direction I resented it. The direction showed a complete lack of any knowledge of the arena or any desire to acquire the knowledge. Information and analysis which I sent in reports seemed to go ignored. In fact, it was if it was never read. Then I would talk to FCFD or NOC OPS and we would agree on a course of action. A week later direction would be given as if those conversations and agreements were never made. Eventually I learned to just endure the sporatic direction and then do what I pleased in between. I think in the end I was filled with anger, but suppressed it until it became depression. I was enraged that people who could care the less (demonstrated by the lack of any continuous and consistent direction, and lack of any knowledge of the arena despite reports) about Wayne County, the Wayne County entity, and the Wayne County membership should be telling me how to run things. I think I was also mad that those who had abandoned me in Wayne County, now wanted to tell me what to do. You could tell that the person on the other end of the phone wanted no feedback, all they wanted was a yes. Given the state of affairs at NOC this is understandable then. About 3 months before I left, I had made the decision to leave. I saved all the money I got from my parents and relatives and bought a car so I could bring my pets with me. During that time I didn't bother arguing with NOC OPS, I simply yessed her. After I left it took 2 weeks before anyone called me. NOC OPS told me she had thought that our relationship had finally begun to get better over the past 3 months. All I could think was that she thought when I just yessed her that that was getting better.

I just realized after Kali's post how angry I was. You simply didn't get angry when you were in Natlfed. You suppressed it all.

I also want to thank Kali because her post reminded me how much I really did like all the people at NOC. We had our differences and because of my repression of emotions I withdrew from any feelings toward them. I am now able to let that anger out and can also now feel love and friendship for the cadre I knew at NOC. For the past week I've been praying for them. I don't see anything else I can do, and that is frustrating. But as a Christian I do believe in prayer and God's power to answer in ways I never dreamed of when I have no answer. So I will continue to pray for us who have left, that we find peace and for those who are still in Natlfed, that they be free to think for themselves.

Robin Fahlberg

did Polly die of breast cancer 30.May.2006 08:06

jcb jcblackii@aol.com

Someone posted a question asking if Polly died of breast cancer. For those who may still not know, or who still care, yes, Polly died of breat cancer that she (and others)allowed to go untreated. Only a few people knew of her condition, the rest of us were increasingly distubred by the site of her in a wheelchair. She developed cancer in her lymph nodes and had a large tumor under her arm. She refused to get care due to her misguided thinking (not exactly sure what her reasoning was,be it fear, dedication to work until the end, fatalism?) and one day I returned to NOC from errands and they announced that she was dead. Quite a shock at the time. Truly a shame. That is what this kind of thing can do to a person.

JCB

Kali's Post 10.Jun.2006 00:49

S-Mac shelleymccargar@hotmail.com

Kali's post really cemented my feelings. It's hard to know if you're crazy or maybe just egotistical. You're trying so hard to commit to something, because you really believe in change, and people that you look up to, from local leadership, let's just say your FOD and NWPC are saying to you, " you're just what we need around here to shake things up," and " it's good to hear your criticisms, people are getting too comfortable," and so on. I was going to play a major role in leadership positions in the near future (sarcasm people...). I was so obviously pitted against my superiors. Who, I might add, were other young people who had worked day and night for the last five to ten years with the org (starting at age 18-21 years old). And when I went to NOC, I was told, "we really need more people like you." Now granted, I'm a young, enthusiastic, intelligent, blond hair, blue eyed, white female. How much the better to ingratiate myself, ask for donations, persuade people with my earnest enthusiasm?! I'm sure the Swiss bikini team is just what they need as well. When I was at NOC, I went on PRO runs, and I'm sure at LEAST 90% of it went to support NOC. Sure, people are leaving the building every day to run NCCLP, or NCCMP, but really it's just a job to keep paying the bills (food donations, clothing donations, computers, cars, cash) like any other. Only, they lie and misrepresent where it is all going. "folks, its going to help low-income working people..." OK, OK, I know, it's all in the name of revolution, so why does it make my stomach turn? Is it because I'm just not in touch enough with reality? I guess. Is it just because I'm not a good revolutionary?!!! Is it because I'm not a good communist?!!! When I left the only thing they wanted was money. And then they stopped contacting me. Pretty weird considering that I worked with them for two years, from eight in the morning until eleven-thirty at night, seven days a week,... and now we can't even be friends. OK, yes, I guess Kali's post made me even more mad than I was before, because before, I had doubts, and thought maybe it was just in my head. The anger part I mean. But smack, there it is and I just feel more indignant and angry because I spent so much time feeeling guilty and doubting myself, and I'm mad becuase I should have listened to myself and my instincts. so there. RANT RANT RANT. And I'm not even ashamed. THHPPBT!!! ;)

They Live in Never Never Land 08.Jul.2006 20:17

Guy that helped start Boston and regrets it

They have always lived in Never Never land, there is no basis for reality for anything they do, They are totally divorced from the real world in their whole 30 or so history. they are just a joke!!! Revolution??? LOL, they wouldn't know a revolt if it were happening in their pants...I think Gino was akin to Captain Cook..lol, not more, maybe less..lol, they are something to laugh at, that's about it, I remember their spreading peanuts with messages in Suffolk County bathrooms, LMFAO. what a joke they were and are!!!!! LOL...I wasted two years with them, they are not serious anythings!!!!!!!!!!!!!they are not revolutionary, just revolting!!!!

Wrong 03.Aug.2006 21:51

W2

These are good, smart people. You need to be a better student of human nature

Wrong? 23.Aug.2006 12:54

S-,mac

Wrong, because you are a volunteer or IC cadre? You actually think that what they're dong is going to in someway start a social revolution in this country? You think it's right to misrepresent and lie to volunteers and people in the community where their donations are going. It's OK to lie because thats what the government does? Because you're doing it in the name of "revolution" or to "build communism". They are the masters of their own tiny universe. That they have been able to con the public into donating money, resources and property, so that they might build some tiny empire (owning buildings, apartments and businesses in cities from San Fransisco to New York) is not a testament to their revolutionary skill, just skills as con-artists.
The main and only purpose of the small offices in your locale are to recruit more "IC", interior cadre, i.e communists. i.e people that are coerced into working 7 days a week, from 8am to 11:30pm, to the point of mental and physical exhaustion, to keep the resources coming in. Of course you need to legitimize the work, and the work of helping low-income people is never done. It's not to say that the offices never help the members, they do, but that is just a byproduct. If you really wanted to accomplish their said goals, don't you think more progress would have been made by now? And they don't use computers??!! To accomplish said goals? It's ridiculous. yes I did care and I truly believe that other cadre care about the circumstances of poor people and society in general, but this organization is just a big con, and will not ever accomplish it's stated goals. What a shame.

Clarification 15.Sep.2006 21:15

W2

"These" means everyone here on this page, 'cluding you. Wiki is good on the human nature aspect of all this.

NatLFed fronts 02.Oct.2006 17:07

Huh?

Anyone here know anything about the NatLFed group Berkshire County Fuel Committee or Western Mass Labor Action? Are they still around? What about Ed Coffin, Susan Kent, Peggy Uman? I saw an article about a group in Vermont still using Peggy Uman's name. I helped the Berkshire County Fuel Committee sometimes and I thought she had died. I was there when someone tried to recruit Gene Shalit's niece, (or was it his daughter?)

Bye 28.Nov.2006 18:37

Heading off

God bless

Still around 11.Mar.2007 14:51

Jeff Whitnack

I heard the 1107 Carroll Street brownstone, and the others, are for sale. Does anyone know whatz up with that?

Also some college in Rochester gave an award to Mark Horn, comparing him to Mother Teresa. I emailed everyone I could at the college and informed them they just bestowed an award on a cult member.

sour grapes 02.Apr.2007 12:51

jb

So now Jeff Whitnak is a spoil sport. If some college in Rochester wants to give Mark Horn an award, why stick your nose in. I am sure they are smart enough, or not too dumb, to know what they are doing. Are you jealous? Get a life. Email that to everyone you know.

You are about as sad as the rest of the people who cannot let go, if not sadder.

Natlfed Phone Numbers 09.Apr.2007 14:21

Robin Spellman Fahlberg

First, I want to apologize for the tone of the comments I made. You see them when you hit the view discussion button below. I would also like to thank whoever made the last one for writing a much more reasoned and compassionate response. No matter how different our opinions are, we should remember to have respect for each other.

I have to have some paperwork filled out about my time in Natlfed and decided to just give Natlfed a call and see if someone would fill it out. The two phone numbers which have been the same for years are now Disconnected or Not In Service.

More stories, more memories .... 10.Apr.2007 17:03

Mitchel Cohen mitchelcohen@mindspring.com

Hey folks,

What a freewheeling discussion this is! I just checked back in to the thread by accident ... All I can say is, I admire ALL of those who have contributed here, especially those who have continued the fight for social justice while exorcising the demons.

I just saw for the first time a very interesting (to me) reference by Robin:

"There was another story Gino told regularly. He said he sent Mitch Cohen of the start of this discussion to Binghamton to start the Upstate organizing drive. He said when Mitch didn't do things right he had to send several goons up to take the entity back."

Ha ha ha!!!!

I will write this story soon, as no one has talked about the upstate NY organizing (damn cadre I recruited sold off my collection of 45 rpm rock'n roll records in 1973-4 to pay the rent on the EFWA office on Clinton Street while I was away for a week in Brooklyn and Stony Brook -- at least they told me they listened to'm first the day before they sold them!)

In reality, the only "goon squad" to visit Binghamton were Gino, Mary and Polly (I don't remember if David Shapiro was with them as well), and they ordered the office closed because they didn't like the way we had moved the mattresses four of us fulltime organizers slept on out of the tiny back room (no shower) with the broken window in the middle of winter, and into a larger (and warmer) section of the office. We were ordered to move the mattresses back, as we were becoming too bourgeois (yea, we even found a lamp to put on the floor next to the mattresses).

Well, we argued for at least 36 hours straight as I recall it -- they could've just fixed the damned window ... Lots of threats, but we just laughed at those, never took'm seriously. (I think one of us threatened in response to tickle Gino til he said Uncle). Yea, I've learned a lot reading this list about the very real violence that took place later, but it wasn't real back then and certainly didn't scare any of us.

I remember way back near the beginning (72) when the same core would come by the Red Balloon Collective suite at Stony Brook. At one point, our members got so disgusted at Gino telling Mary to tie his shoes that Doug Appel -- who was never a member of EFWA/NATLFED, and learned to hate them, but who was a freshman at Stony Brook then and living in that suite -- snuck up behind Gino and dumped a bucket of spaghetti (or was it water? can't quite remember that detail) on Gino's head. Mary and Polly (who was 16 then) jumped into fighting mode but Gino, after a moment of being non-plussed, waved them away.

Jeez, I've been reading this thread for 4 hours now .... it's 7:30 in the morning, gotta get up in 2 hours (some things never change!!!!) ...

Strength and Love to all of us who continue in our own ways to change the world .....

Mitchel


Humor and More Humor - Hooooray ! 10.Apr.2007 18:37

Clown With A Frown

[ This comment appeared in the sub-section - "Add to Discussion," however I want to make certain that Mitchel and y'all see this without (oh golly, by gosh clicking a separate button). Sorry for the repitition, but I think the distinction between "Contribute To The Article" and "Add Comment to Discussion" doesn't quite fit our purposes here. ]

Mitch,

It would be simply wonderful for you to take the time to write as many first-hand stories about Gino as you can spare the time to do. Considering that you stayed up 'til 4 AM reading some of this dreary, frightful, dog-eat-dog, and cat and mouse stuff,

It would be a MORE THAN WELCOME RESPITE from the above.

Some of us are just too darn down in the mouth to get a laugh off the ground...

Please go full steam ahead... [ it really does make Gino, who for some of us was - mysterious, conniving, brilliant, sicker than a dog, even evil... realize he was just another Uncle Joe, except without one damn win under his belt. ] Well, people would argue about that, but it's better than some names he could be called instead. After all, even though its only minor league teams still playing out there today - like always, some of the players are quite intelligent.

And it's so much more FUNNY when someone can make fun of so-called smart people like Gino. Or, was he dumber than shit and we just didn't get it??? Or do smart people like hanging out with other smart people instead of watching TV and being soccer moms... Or, join NATLFED 'cause would rather not work dead-end 'Donalds jobs for a living the rest of their lives. Or, worse yet...

Thank you for what you have done, too...

Concerned About My Volunteering 11.Apr.2007 11:22

Robin Spellman Fahlberg

First, I thank you also Mitch. It's been awhile since I've laughed when it comes to Natlfed.

To Pearl,

It's hard to give you advice based on the little you've written. We all have our opinions, and this is just mine. Most of the Natlfed organizers I know are very good people. They are most likely trying to recruit you, but that doesn't mean there isn't also a human connection there. What we see looking in now as manipulation, didn't seem like that when I was there. In the very narrow closed logic that I got caught in, it seemed the right thing to do so people could see what was really going on in the country and learn how we (Natlfed) were the answer. There are also some very good people from the low income community and other stratas volunteering. But, you can be sucked into this group very quickly. If you continue to volunteer, ensure you have other activities, get adequate sleep, and maintain an intellectual balance. Don't take what they say as the truth and check it out independently. If you begin to feel to pressured, say no and don't go in for awhile. Another alternative is to find another group that doesn't have the same leadership and credibility problems as Natlfed, but provides the same services or does the same type organizing. The SEIU for instance always needs volunteers. There are social service organizations in every community as well. Maybe you can cut part of your time with Natlfed and volunteer at another organization as well to see what the options are. I will repeat what I said above though. When I found out Natlfed had opened an office in Columbus, Ohio, I phoned my relatives immediately to warn them not to go near the place. I didn't think about it, it was a reflex action after the experience I had. So, I guess if that's what I'd tell the people I love,it's probably the best advice I can give you.

Wishing You Luck, Robin

Slightly off topic, but 12.Apr.2007 00:25

Mitchel Cohen mitchelcohen@mindspring.com

Just so you know what I'm up to these days ....


STEAL THIS RADIO: new show Thursday, 11 a.m. on TribecaRadio.net

Mitchel Cohen hosts this new weekly internet radio hour.
Tune in to TribecaRadio.net

This week's guest: Paul Gilman, of the NY State Greens / Green Party
Primary Topic: The Truth Behind Biofuels

on Thursday, April 12, at 11 a.m. (repeats the following Tuesday at 6 pm)
and podcast after that 24/7
Dedicated to the memory of Abbie Hoffman, who died on this day in 1989.

Listen from ANYWHERE! Just go to TribecaRadio.net and click on "Listen Live".

Opening theme: Mario Savio, speaking in Berkeley, 1964
Theme Song: Dave Rovics, "Jenin"

Other Songs:
from the 1940s -- Spike Jones: "In Der Feuhrer's Face"
Colleen Kattau: "The Royally OilyGarchy" (from "Hail to the Thieves, Vol. III")
Phil Ochs: "I Ain't A-Marchin' Anymore"
Bev Grant & Bruce Markow: "In America"
Jolie Rickman: "Beholden (Peace Loving Nation)" (from "Hail to the Thieves, Vol. III")



LAST WEEK'S and ALL SHOWS (labeled "PILOT") archives at  http://www.tribecaradio.net/blog/categories/stealThisRadio/
or  http://www.tribecaradio.net/blog/04.04.07.STR.1.mp3 click on the little speaker symbol on the upper right

In the 4/05 edition of STEAL THIS RADIO, Mitchel discusses the forthcoming bombardment of Iran and the lies in 1990 behind the Gulf War. Also, an interview concerning New York City's garbage with Cathryn Swan, organizer with "Recycle This!" and "Freecycle" in New York City.

Music includes
- Jolie Rickman's "Emma Goldman," performed by Bev Grant & the Dissident Daughters, and other surprises.


Feel free to send verbal or written commentaries, music (on cd, please, or email via MP3), sound from protests and interesting talks, and ideas for future shows! We'll soon begin doing phone interviews on the air, from all over the world. Let's help make this show a contact point for our environmental and social justice movements.

All Power to the Imagination!
TribecaRadio.net

-----------------------------------------------
Mitchel Cohen was a member of the Students for a Democratic Society and co-founded the Red Balloon Collective at SUNY Stony Brook in 1969, under whose imprint he continues to publish a variety of political pamphlets and poetry books. He is a member of the Brooklyn Greens / Green Party.


Sour Grapes, Vic Elder's Harem Rapes, Gino Tapes, Cult Escapes 24.Apr.2007 14:04

Jeff Whitnack whitnack@pacbell.net

I doubt the Rochester folks, those whom gave an award to Mark Horn (and thereby also to the Natlfed cult) did so with an awareness of what it was going to. Or to what effect it could be used to help ensnare others into their cult. So I gladly stuck my nose in so as to notify them. Maybe the award will get recalled. Maybe they will just be wiser next time. Maybe some word will get out. It's not sour grapes, I certainly don't need or seek any such award. I have a life, the emailing and faxing didn't take long. All it takes now is to point someone to a few websites and the evidence that Natlfed is just a bogus and destructive cult is soon overwhelming.

And JB, if you're not in Natlfed anymore, why does it bother you that I notified the Rochester people as regards Natlfed? Are you still trying to pretend the sour grapes you ate while in Natlfed were actually sweet?

The Word "Cult" is damaging harm to any organization. 29.Jul.2010 17:40

JNash; Former Cadre JNash1955@aol.com

I feel regardless of the political agenda of an organization,clear cut or not, the word CULT is very demeaning. No one can blame all problems of the Organization on Gino/CP-Provisional. Most of Natifleds' best organizers had good intentions to improve living and working conditions that so many workers lack.I feel that the word cult is being used out of context. On the other hand a top heavy structure has a top kill effect, by slowing down over all progress of Natifled. Gino felt he had to rehab the intire formation, wasting too much time reorganizing Cadre and the strategy of the organization. Meanwhile the Organization was falling in on its, self as in "becoming a cult" or by utilizing cult like tactics Gino borrowed from a drug rehab.It appears that the organization is again moving forward, but how will it shake the fact that many will call it a cult.

(703)3805778
6712F MaryCarline Cir. Kingstown, Virginia 22310

The positives and negatives as being a Natlfed Cadre 04.Nov.2010 20:54

10 Bear-Present-Future of the National Lab jnash1955@hotmail.com

It just happen that I was hanging around the college radio station, looking for a good time spot. At that time a follow DJ was going to do a fund raiser to benefit the right for low paid or temporary workers to organize in the community, and eventually leading to a fund raiser to raise money for ESWA non stop for a week and the DJ had no sleep. This was the time that I got involved with this organization.I did realize that the station was going to have a great fund raiser to benefit (ESWA) that stands up for low paid temporary workers that have no rights or benefits as well as no access to organize.I could tell right off the bat that The Eastern Service Workers Association (ESWA) was not just another charity, in fact low paid workers should not have to resort to hand outs.Revolution to some degree was necessary because the low paid workers that often work harder make only a fraction of lets say office workers nine to five. I feel you can judge an organization how it treats its' volunteers and cadre. Natfled was attempting to be a voice of workers, but not for its' cadre, who could do unlimited work 24/7 and did not need food or sleep. by attempting a hard line coup attempt.This plan was highly risky,during the 1980s as opposed to 1968,1970,etc. This hard line approach is failing, because it is important for others to understand as much as possible if we are going to build up s successful organization.I was disappointed that there were out right lies and total deception used on new cadre in the 80s such as Natfled as part of the struggle in South and central America, and that we had headquarters in Havana. Members of the PPC were told that natfled entities,were just one sector of the formation. Sounds like Hitler at Stalingrad in WW11.and you will not be disappointed,and that all groups will be working together when the struggle comes to together to seize power in the United States. The secret rap about the genesis,it beginning came from Venceremos, a radical organization from 1970 and the over all strength of the whole organization including the existence of the formation or the Provisional Party-Communist This leads to more secretly and existence that leads to major deception that the organization is expanding its base to labor unions prisons,professionals,business and other fractions for temp. workers.The world we live in has changed during the last two decades. I believe that change will come and that the National Labor Federation wont have a part in the new government. Stalinist coup would become a new government and need people willing to work 18 hours per day. I find that the leadership was so stupid that the Provisional Party-Communist would be able able to consolidate.Nat power in a short period of time.If it was Gino at the top with out most of the missing party apparatus gone such as the Native American research Bureau, and the National Federation of Alternative Resources (NFAR).etc become blister groups hooked up with local Natfled entities group is major short cutting method setup for failure. Most of all you can't have your leadership high on drugs,ie Hitler was using drugs that clouds one mind. Most of the PPC activities and contacts were just on paper index cards. You can find better internet computers in the trash than the junk type writers the organization was using except an Apple2c that still running word perfect on a night Natfled could not shoot or think straight because was forced to stay awake days a a time. The fact was that the cadre were concerned about being busted because of the contacts such as IRA leader could well pose as a cop, putting people on edge. Know one would listen to me until the issue of a more repressive SS police that they had in Russian history. The Rick Ross is too fast toward calling groups a cult,now Amway corporation is a cult.I question why the organization did not organize in the ,mid Atlantic,DC,Baltimore';,Richmond.Atlanta,etc This region is very importation. Gino saw the ares as red neck, that is not the case. Gino found this to be shaky ground but it was very good solid ground to organize in.This area was just waiting to be organized at once.I believe you do not lie to, or improperly represent the organizations' image to new cadre when the on going story is hanging from one con game to another, and it did effect my values and debits, because Capitalism was corrupt and ready to tumble.I felt my life has gone the same direction because of years of not finding the right job to pay my bills and debits, because capitalism will one day fell on its feet.I feel that the organizing drives should be more honest with there best cadre and not use them up and lie to them, and have them take unnecessary chances that could harm all of the progress that had been made!! chances. I feel new reforms could change the image of this organization over the long term, and differ cult times will exist in the short term because of a cult like image.Further more this is not Russia, and it is not 1917.

10 Bear
2501 McVeary Court Silver Spring, Md. 20906 unit A