[Marxism] Fred Newman obit

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 10 07:17:37 MDT 2011


(The obit refers to his "empire of nonprofit enterprises." In fact,  my 
wife interviewed for a position at one of them about six years ago 
before she began teaching. Her impression is that it was a thoroughly 
professionally-run outfit, for what that's worth. In terms of 
cult-building, Newman has been a lot more successful than Jack Barnes 
and Bob Avakian put together.)

NY Times July 9, 2011
Fred Newman, Writer and Political Figure, Dies at 76
By DOUGLAS MARTIN

Fred Newman’s influential role in New York life and politics defied easy 
description.

He founded a Marxist-Leninist party, fostered a sexually charged brand 
of psychotherapy, wrote controversial plays about race and managed the 
presidential campaign of Lenora Fulani, who was both the first woman and 
the first black candidate to get on the ballot in all 50 states.

He helped the Rev. Al Sharpton get on his feet as a public figure and 
gave Michael R. Bloomberg the support of his Independence Party in three 
mayoral elections, arguably providing Mr. Bloomberg’s margin of victory 
in 2001 and 2009.

Mr. Newman, who died at 76 in his Manhattan home on July 3, eschewed 
conventionality. He insisted, for instance, that there was nothing wrong 
with psychotherapists having sex with patients. He created an empire of 
nonprofit and for-profit enterprises, including arts groups and a public 
relations firm. He wrote books on psychology and philosophy as well as 
plays. One play, about the 1991 riots between blacks and Jews in the 
Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, was condemned as anti-Semitic by the 
Anti-Defamation League.

His greatest impact came through mobilizing his followers, sometimes 
called “Newmanites,” to build alliances with third parties, including 
that of the Texas independent H. Ross Perot.

“If it weren’t for the Independence Party, Mike Bloomberg might not have 
become mayor,” said Douglas Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at 
Baruch College.

In turn, Mr. Bloomberg supported the Independence Party’s goal of 
nonpartisan municipal elections and gave the party more than $650,000 of 
his own money. His administration arranged millions of dollars in bond 
financing in 2002 and 2006 for a building for Mr. Newman’s nonprofit All 
Stars Project, which uses the performing arts to help low-income children.

Mr. Newman began his climb to influence in New York in the 1960s, when, 
from his apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, he formed a 
Marxist collective called “If ... Then.” Its members, many of them 
self-professed anarchists, collected money on the streets for the group. 
Most participated in Mr. Newman’s newly articulated “social therapy,” 
which encouraged patients to change themselves by seeking to change 
society. He encouraged collective members to sleep with one another, an 
activity he called “friendosexuality.” The collective published 
newspapers and started a dental clinic.

“It’s probably fair to say I was the dominant leader,” Mr. Newman said 
in an interview with The New York Observer in 1999. “I hope I wasn’t an 
authoritarian oppressor, but I think that’s probably accurate to say that.”

His detractors, however, said his “collective” amounted to a cult. Chip 
Berlet, a senior analyst with Political Research Associates, which 
studies unorthodox political groups, called Mr. Newman “a master at 
creating a myth of importance.”

“He was a brilliant charlatan,” Mr. Berlet said.

Frederick Delano Newman was born in the Bronx on June 17, 1935, and grew 
up there. His mother chose the same middle name as that of President 
Franklin D. Roosevelt, a hero of hers. After his father died when young 
Fred was 9, his mother raised her five children alone, supported by 
welfare checks, the rent from rooms in her house, near Yankee Stadium, 
and the fees she earned running poker games.

Mr. Newman hated school but tested well enough to be admitted to 
Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. He worked as a toolmaker to help 
support his family. At 19, he joined the Army and served in Korea. He 
graduated from the City College of New York and earned a Ph.D. in 
philosophy from Stanford in 1962.

He was twice married and divorced. He is survived by his son, Donald; 
his daughter, Elizabeth Newman; and by Gabrielle L. Kurlander and 
Jacqueline Salit, his life partners in what Ms. Salit described as an 
“unconventional family of choice.” He died of renal failure, his 
spokeswoman, Christina DiChiara, said.

Mr. Newman taught at City College but was fired after giving male 
students A’s to help them avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam. Other 
colleges hired him but fired him for the same reason. A job as a drug 
counselor led to his therapy career.

After forming his Upper West Side collective, Mr. Newman, in 1974, 
allied his group with Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., originally a leftist 
leader who veered to right-wing conspiracy theories and ran for 
president eight times from the political fringe. Tensions between the 
two prompted Mr. Newman to break the alliance after less than a year, 
however. He then formed the International Workers Party from what he 
called his core collective, with a mission to advance minority rights 
and a leftist agenda.

The party was dissolved at the end of the 1970s. Mr. Newman then founded 
the New Alliance Party as a vehicle for moving beyond a narrow leftist 
spectrum. Around the same time, he met Ms. Fulani, a graduate student 
who attended one of his clinics and joined the collective. Mr. Newman 
helped mold her into a political professional who for many years was the 
face of his political ventures.

“She is one of my life’s proudest accomplishments,” he told New York 
Newsday in 1992.

In 1988, as her campaign manager, he helped Ms. Fulani get on the 
presidential ballot in all 50 states, something no black candidate or 
woman had done. She received more than 200,000 votes. In 1992, Ms. 
Fulani ran again, and raised more than $2 million from private donors.

In 1991, the New Alliance Party gave strong support to Mr. Sharpton, 
then a community advocate, at a time when he was struggling for broader 
political recognition. It provided Mr. Sharpton with income, public 
relations help and up to half the participants in his demonstrations, 
often protesting attacks against blacks.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Newman began a campaign to encourage more 
independent voices in politics, almost regardless of ideology. These 
included Mr. Perot, Ralph Nader and even the conservative stalwart 
Patrick J. Buchanan. Mr. Newman supported a succession of reform 
parties, ultimately capturing control of the New York City branch of the 
Independence Party.

As late as 2005, Mr. Newman wrote that he remained a Marxist, albeit 
what he called a postmodern one. His final cause was to end the 
two-party system, which he believed stifled real choice. He wanted 
primary elections to be open to all parties, and to have all candidates 
run against one another. The top two would vie in a general election.

That proposal prompted a question from Mr. Bloomberg one day in 2001 
when the future mayor was seeking Mr. Newman’s support, Ms. Salit 
recalled. Mr. Bloomberg asked him if he would be putting himself out of 
business if he were to give up the ballot line he had used so effectively.

“We’re an anti-party party,” Mr. Newman answered. “We want to be put out 
of business.”




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