Radical media, politics and culture.

Kevin Coogan's Further Documents on the WWP

Anonymous Comrade writes:


Appendix 1


One of the IAC's best-known campaigns is aimed at lifting all economic sanctions against Iraq. By raising this issue, the IAC is trying to appeal to many people who have no sympathy for Iraq but who are rightly concerned that the way sanctions are currently imposed only ends up punishing ordinary Iraqis, particularly children, who are deprived of food and medicine while the ruling elite remains unharmed. UN agencies involved with Iraq believe that as a result of the way the sanctions policy has been implemented, thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians are needlessly dying every month. The sanctions policy has also been seized upon by Saddam Husayn to generate sympathy for Iraq, both in the West and especially within the Muslim world. Husayn, of course, wants an end to all sanctions so that he can go about rebuilding his war machine. From his point of view, humanitarian concerns about sanctions serve as a perfect "wedge" issue to force an end to any UN-imposed restrictions on Iraq's sovereignty, restrictions that were heightened after he violated his promise to allow UN inspectors to freely examine potential nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare sites on Iraqi soil.

In an attempt to rectify the injustices caused by sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on March 7th, 2001 before the House International Relations Committee to argue for "humane, smart sanctions" that "target Saddam Hussein not the Iraqi people." A similar view was reflected in a report on Iraq from the Fourth Freedom Foundation authored by David Cortright, a former executive director of the anti-war group SANE. Cortright proposes a revised sanctions policy that specifically targets Husayn's ability to use Iraqi oil revenue to either build or import weapons and "duel use" goods while letting commercial companies, not the UN, be responsible for certifying and providing notification of civilian imports into Iraq. The proposal would also permit the ordering and contracting of civilian goods on an "as-required basis" to overcome cumbersome UN regulations.

While by no means perfect, Powell’s support for "smart sanctions" met with enormous resistance from both Congress and the Pentagon, both of whom fear being seen as overly "soft" on Iraq. Given this political reality, one would have thought that the IAC might have given at least some of Powell's or Cortright's proposals a degree of critical support, since they would materially improve the conditions of ordinary Iraqis -- something the IAC itself claims to be so concerned about -- as well as open up a broader discussion of the sanctions issue. Yet in a March 20th statement, Richard Becker, the IAC's "Western Regional Coordinator" (and a leading member of the WWP), denounced smart sanctions as a "poisonous fraud," claimed that smart sanctions were a form of colonialism, and renewed the IAC's demand "to unconditionally lift the genocidal sanctions against Iraq" which, coincidently enough, is exactly what Saddam Husayn himself would like so that he can rebuild his military machine.

The manipulation of the Iraq sanctions issue by the far left for its own political goals may have hurt the campaign against sanctions, according to Scott Ritter. Ritter, a former Marine Captain who led the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) disarmament team in Iraq for seven years, is today a leading advocate of ending the type of sanctions that only hurt the Iraqi people. In an interview with Ali Asadullah (available from iviews.com) that appeared on February 2nd, 2000, Ritter stated that one of the problems which genuine sanction critics have being taken seriously is that the issue "has been embraced by, I would say, the fringe left of the United States. . .Because the issue has been embraced by the left -- including radical elements of the left -- it's lost a little bit of its political credibility." Due to the fringe left's radical beliefs, "virtually all of what they say [about Iraq] is wrong, factually; or heavily slanted with a political ideology that most of Americans don't find attractive." When one fringe left group claimed that American policy in Iraq was equivalent to Auschwitz, Ritter told them that such a statemenot not only alienated people, but that "[it was] about as grossly an irresponsible statement as I can imagine. This isn't Auschwitz, this isn't genocide. . .This is a horrible policy that's resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead kids. But there's a big difference between the two." Ritter also said that it was almost impossible to get a legitimate debate in the U.S. about sanctions because while one side "demonizes" Iraq, the opposition views "the regime as some sort of nice little genteel Middle East nation."

When specifically asked about Ramsey Clark, Ritter replied: "I wouldn't be in touch with Ramsey Clark. . .I fought in the Gulf War. I was in that war. I know what went on during that war, and we're not war criminals. I'm not a war criminal. And none of the people I served with are war criminals. And yet he's accusing the U.S. of committing war crimes because A-10 aircraft fired depleted uranium shells at Iraqi tanks. That's horribly irresponsible. I don't want to be associated with that man. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. He may have a point when it comes to economic sanctions, but he hasn't a clue of what's involved in modern warfare and why we targeted certain targets. . .He's grossly irresponsible in some of the things he says." Apparently, Saddam Husayn disagrees with Ritter's assessment of Clark. Otherwise why would he continue to welcome Ramsey Clark-led IAC delegations to Baghdad year after year with open arms?


Appendix 2


The IAC/WWP's new group, International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), coordinated the September 29th protests in Washington and San Francisco that drew close to 20,000 participants. ANSWER is now calling for renewed nationwide anti-war actions on October 27th.

There can be little doubt about ANSWER’s ties to the WWP. ANSWER's September 23rd press release, for example, listed as "press contacts" Richard Becker and Sarah Sloan. A director of the West Coast IAC, Becker was one of the WWP leaders chosen to give a presentation honoring the memory of the WWP’s founder, Sam Marcy. As for Sarah Sloan, "Youth Coordinator for ANSWER," she is also the "Youth Coordinator" for the IAC. Wearing her WWP hat, Sloan gave a presentation on the evils of capitalism at a WWP conference held at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology on December 2nd and 3rd, 2000. Teresa Gutierrez, another ANSWER leader, a speaker at the September 29th Washington demo and the "Co-Director, IAC," is further described in an ANSWER press release as the "co-chairperson of the National Committee to Return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba, and [as] a coordinator of the International Peace for Cuba Appeal." Unmentioned in the press release is the fact that Gutierrez is also a long-standing WWP leader who, in her March 14th, 1998 speech at a WWP memorial to Sam Marcy held in New York, gushed, "As a lesbian, as a Latina, as a woman and as a worker, I feel compelled today to express my utmost gratitude to this man [Marcy]." Yet another ANWER statement came from one Brian Becker (not to be confused with Richard Becker), a "Co-Director of the International Action Center," national coordinator of the January 20th, 2001 "Counter-Inaugural Protest" in Washington, D.C., and "a frequent commentator on Fox TV." In the WWP paper Workers World, Brian Becker is identified as a member of the WWP's Secretariat.

The WWP/IAC/ANSWER network is now pushing its own paranoid Marxoid line on the war by claiming that U.S.-led military actions against "Usamah ibn Ladin and other Islamist terrorists is really part of a U.S. imperialist plot." An IAC statement on the current crisis begins: "As the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the people of Afghanistan continues and civilian casualties mount, the International Action Center condemns in the strongest terms this latest terror bombing of a civilian population." Of course, only the most hardened leftist ideologue (or Muslim extremist) could believe that the U.S. attack in Afghanistan is a "terror bombing" campaign that is intentionally directed at Afghanistan's "civilian population" and not at the Taliban. The IAC statement then calls for opposition to "this imperialist war" and concocts a conspiracy theory blaming the "U.S. military-oil complex" for using the 9/11 attack as "a cynical opportunity" to beat its "rivals in Germany and Russia, for the oil resources of the former Soviet Union," thereby ignoring the obvious fact that both Germany and Russia completely support U.S. actions against Islamist terrorist fanatics.

Given the sheer crudeness of the WWP and its allied organizations, one would have thought that the "capitalist imperialist" press would play a key role in exposing the WWP's central role in both the IAC and ANSWER. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, ANSWER itself reprints reports from both Reuters and the Washington Post about the Washington protests that treat both the IAC and ANSWER as if they were perfectly legitimate groups. CNN's C-SPAN even covered the September 29th Washington demonstration in its entirety. Until now, virtually nothing has been written about the IAC/WWP, even in the upscale left/liberal press -- with two notable exceptions. The first was John Judis' article on Ramsey Clark for the April 22th, 1991 issue of the New Republic. More recently, The Nation magazine's UN correspondent, Ian Williams, wrote a June 21st, 1999 article for Salon entitled "Ramsey Clark, the war criminal’s best friend," which comments on the IAC/WWP.
Outside of these two articles, in order to find any real commentary on the IAC and WWP, one has to turn to the left sectarian and anarchist press. Perhaps the most detailed article dealing with Ramsey Clark, the IAC, and the WWP appeared in the Lower East Side New York-anarchist journal The Shadow a few years ago, in an article by Manny Goldstein entitled "The Mysterious Ramsey Clark: Stalinist Dupe or Ruling-Class Spook?"(to which one is tempted to add "or Flat-Out Kook"). This article has recently been widely circulated on the Internet. Self-described "council communist" Lefty Hooligan has also exposed the WWP/IAC in the punk rock publication Maximum RocknRoll. In his February 1998 MRR column, for example, Hooligan commented on longtime WWP honcho Gloria LaRiva, whose "handcuffs-and-nightstick Leftism is also evident in her unapologetic support for Saddam Hussein's brutality." (This is the same Gloria LaRiva who, according to a report in the August 9th, 1990 Workers World, told a San Francisco audience that "Cuba is far more democratic than the U.S.") Hooligan’s remarks, however, did not prevent MRR from later running a virtual press release from the IAC attacking American perfidy in its misnamed "News" section.
The WWP/IAC connection has also been repeatedly exposed by the WWP's rivals in the fringe Trotskyist movement, most notably in the Spartacist League paper Workers Vanguard, which in its September 28th, 2001 issue casually refers to the "Stalinoid Workers World Party" as well as the "WWP's International Action Center" without further elaboration, presumably since the WWP's role in the IAC is already so well known to fringe leftists. The April-May 1999 issue of The Internationalist (from yet another Trotskyist splinter group) devotes an entire page to attacking the WWP and "its creation the International Action Center" for serving as a "leftist front for reactionary Serbian nationalist politics." The WWP's presence inside the IAC is equally transparent to European leftists like Max Bohnel, a writer for the German Communist paper Neues Deutschland. In describing the IAC in a June 23rd, 1999 article, he wrote: "Hinter dem IAC steht die 'Workers World Party' (WWP), die den langsamen Zusammenbruch der US-Restlinken bemerkenswert gut überstanden hat." ["Behind the IAC stands the Workers World Party, which has withstood the gradual collapse of the remaining US left remarkably well."] Neues Deutschland then points out that both Ramsey Clark and the WWP have even come under criticism from other leftists because of their lack of criticism ["wegen mangelnder Kritik"] for the governments of Iraq and Yugoslavia.

Even activists on the libertarian/isolationist right like Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com have noticed the heavy hand of the WWP. In a July 2nd, 2001 column, Raimondo pointed out that Ramsey Clark "is nothing if not a walking stereotype, ever since he joined up with the Workers World Party cult that runs his 'International Action Center'." Raimondo then continues: "The WWP pod people, having taken over the body of an ex-U.S. Attorney General, use Clark as a front to push their own zealous defense of virtually every tyrant on earth, from Saddam Hussein to the black 'anti-imperialist' militias of Rwanda, to Slobadan Milosevic." After describing Clark as "positively spooky," Raimondo notes that the IAC "not only defends tyrants against US intervention -- it glorifies them as heroic fighters for 'socialism'."

Of course it should be pointed out that the WWP's radical critics themselves often promote views that are almost as wacky as those of the WWP. Nonetheless, up until now it has primarily been voices from the fringe Left that have pointed out the ties between the IAC and WWP, ties that are utterly transparent to anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the Left, but which appear to be utterly opaque to big "capitalist" media outlets like Reuters, the Washington Post, and CNN.


Appendix 3


The Orwellian absurdity that is the WWP reaches its summit with the group's well-known love for that well-known bastion of human rights and free thought, North Korea. Longtime WWP leader Deirdre Griswold captured the sect's admiration for the world's last remaining Stalinist state when she wrote as follows in the April 20th, 2000 Workers World: "In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- the socialist north of the divided land -- no date is more important than April 15, the birthday of Kim Il Sung. . .this year as Koreans celebrate Kim Il Sung's birthday -- and in the U.S.-occupied south, where such actions must be taken in secret because of repressive 'national security' laws -- they will also be telling the world that they are proud of and confident in their new leader, Kim Jong Il [Kim Il Sung's son and heir -- KC], who is following in the socialist footsteps of Kim Il Sung." A frequent visitor to North Korea, Griswold regularly goes into fits of literary rapture when relating her experiences in the North. Her December 22nd, 1986 WW report on her visit to Pyongyang (entitled "A visit to People's Korea where there is housing for all") begins "What a success story!" She then describes a nation where there is "no homelessness, no hunger, no poverty." The fact that North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world and that North Korea's population faces the threat of famine on a regular basis has somehow escaped Griswold's notice.

Ever since its beginnings as the Global Class War tendency inside the SWP, Sam Marcy's clique has regularly singled out North Korea for special admiration. The WWP's direct "party to party" relations with the North, however, only began to blossom fully after the WWP started attacking Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The WWP's big break came in May 1990, when the first official WWP delegation headed by Marcy visited North Korea "for 12 days in May" at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea. While in Pyongyang, the WWP delegates "had the great honor of meeting and exchanging views with Kim Il Sung." The June 7th, 1990 issue of WW even included a photo op of the WWP delegates with their North Korean friends, including Kim Il Sung, who stood in the center of the photo flanked by Marcy and Griswold.

In April 1992 another U.S. delegation led by Marcy that included Sue Bailey (a WWP'er who heads the "U.S. Out of South Korea Committee"), as well as delegates from the CPUSA, the SWP, and the American Democratic Lawyers Association, again visited North Korea to attend a "Joint Meeting of Parties, Governments, National and International Organizations" organized by CILRECO, an organization that "promotes solidarity with the Korean people." (As the official leader of the U.S. group, Marcy received the North Korean equivalent of a papal blessing.) The Americans, along with delegates from 130 other countries, traveled to the North "to attend mass public celebrations of the 80th birthday" of Kim Il Sung, according to a report in an April 1992 issue of WW by Sue Bailey and Key Martin datelined Pyongyang.

While in the North for Kim's birthday party, the WWP entered into discussions with other hardline Communist groups, including a Stalin-worshipping sect called the Russian Communist Workers Party (RCWP) (Rossiskaia Kommunisticheskaia Rabochaia Partiia, or RKRP), which emerged from the anti-Gorbachev, "anti-revisionist" Movement of Communist Initiative in November 1991. On September 3rd, 1992, WW ran an article by Viktor Tyulkin, the group's top leader and the Secretary of its Central Committee. The introduction to the article explained that Tyulkin and Marcy had first met in Pyongyang during the April festivities for Kim "and [had] discussed the political situation in the USSR and the U.S." They remained in contact, and on Marcy's 85th birthday Tyulkin sent him a "message of solidarity" from the RCWP that was reprinted in the October 17th, 1996 WW. Tyulkin's comrade Victor Anpilov from the Executive Committee of Working Russia also enclosed his own message of solidarity.

Although the RCWP doesn't receive much press coverage in WW, it seems clear that the WWP has a sympathetic view of its activities. In a January 13th, 2000 WW article on Russian politics, the RCWP was singled out for its leadership role both in the strike movement as well as inside the "Communist Workers of Russia" voting bloc. The RCWP "left" is also contrasted favorably to Gennadi Zyuganov's far larger KPRF. Workers World's reluctance to devote extensive press coverage to the RCWP, however, may stem from the fact that any overt alliance with the RCWP would be rather difficult for the WWP's more naive rank-and-file members to stomach, since the RCWP is a textbook example of a radical "left fascist" group.

The anti-globalization movement was recently confronted with the problem of the RCWP after it was learned that two RCWP members were officially invited to take part in the recent Genoa protests by the international association ATTAC (the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens, which is best known for supporting the proposed "Tobin tax" on speculative transactions.) The leftist International Solidarity with Workers in Russia (ISWoR-SITR-MCPP) group immediately alerted other anti-globalization activists that the RCWP was an extremely racist and homophobic party whose members worship Stalin, campaign against black people in general and rap music in particular, issue material calling for homosexuals to be jailed, and published a party document in 1997 that blamed Russia's economic crisis on "American imperialism and international Zionism." The group also attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin for being so close to "the Jews that he ignores true Russian 'patriots'." According to ISWoR, the RCWP could be best described as "a pseudo-Communist anti-Semitic organization."
At the same time that the RCWP appeals to the far right, it maintains a pro-Stalin analysis of Russia that is almost identical to the one promoted by the WWP. According to the RCWP program, for example, "The RCWP completely rejects the revisionist, opportunist, traitorous line that was promoted and adhered to by the CPSU leadership from 1953-1991, which brought about the temporary collapse of the Soviet Union in a counter-revolution. The XX Congress of the CPSU (1956) was the breaking point in the history of our country and the communist movement."

Victor Anpilov, a former Soviet journalist who became co-secretary of the RCWP in 1992 (but who broke with Tyulkin in 1996-1997 over electoral strategy), also sent his greetings of solidarity to Marcy on his 85th birthday in 1996. However, if anything Anpilov is even further to the right than Tyulkin. After leaving the RCWP, he first entered into an alliance with the notorious Eduard Limonov and his Natsionalno-Bolshevistskaia Partiia (National Bolshevik Party). Today, Anpilov is promoting a new party, the CPSU Lenin-Stalin that backs Stalin's grandson as Russia's new leader.

Kevin Coogan is the author of a crucially important study on the postwar right, Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International (New York: Autonomedia, 1999), as well as a regular contributor to Hit List. Among other things, he wrote "How 'Black' is Black Metal? Michael Moynihan, Lords of Chaos, and the 'Countercultural Fascist' Underground," an article which appeared in Hit List 1:1 (February-March 1999), pp. 32-49.