The Truth About NATLFED

Anniversaries of the Failed Date

February 15, 2012

So who wants to play a game of Scrabble?  It’s been 28 years since “the date” and 41 years since the start of the O.  Will they be drinking beer and cheap whiskey today?  Or re-hashing why the O didn’t “go”?  Blaming the ones that didn’t act who were supposed to as well as the ones who acted that weren’t supposed to.

Seems like an awfully long time has elapsed and still they carry buckets in front of grocery stores looking for donations and volunteers.

Some former cadres have been criticized for the delusions of grandeur like being the new governor of a particular state.  Yet that was the mindset.  People were ready to go, they were going to take it and they were really going to change things for the better in the name of the DOP.

Why didn’t the O go?

I suppose I could re-hash the old arguments, but you’ve heard them all before including the chickening out and the eventual downfall of Oldie as he succumbed to his drug habits, etc.  Some of us believe the cadre who tried to assassinate him through medical malpractice just hastened the demise.  A physician’s assistant is more than someone who knows how to use a BP cuff, and yes, intubating someone is a required skill.  I’ve looked it up for that job; so don’t tell me that cadre really was a PA.

Where are we today?  Looking at a group that survives on the meagerest of donations, continuing to dole out benefits but not as in the past.  At least in the past, anyone in need could receive benefits as long as they had a red membership card.  Several localities demonstrate reports of persons not allowed to get benefits because the member has fallen behind in dues or appears unwilling to do what the local OPS wants them to do.

Notice the money and people theme in that?  Really now, going after every nickel and dime from the poorest of the poor?  Working two jobs but can’t make it to the bucket drive…you see where I’m going with this.

Maybe that’s why some watchers think of the O as a joke, not a serious effort at all, but there is fallacy in that too.  I don’t see their group doing anything.

Well, OWS is doing something and the O is trying to get in on that action.  The OWS people think the O is a bunch of weird, strange, people.  Seriously, read their blogs.  You have to hunt for the stuff on WPC Brooklyn but when you find it you will read that and know this is a somewhat accurate representation of their feelings on the matter.

Cadres left in droves after the failed date.  Apparently, some never went home.  I know of some that went underground, changed their identities, fearful of “them” coming after them or even fearful of the O coming after them.  I can’t help you find those former cadres.  If they wanted to reconnect with you, they would have done so by now.

So you see, life does move forward.  Maybe not with marching bands or grand speeches in front of mobbing crowds, but it does move forward.

February 15, 2011

I’m reading the previous anniversaries.  I see nothing new to report other than previous past feelings.

The failed date was an unspoken anniversary that old timers spoke of less and less with each passing.  What is said these days is relatively unknown.  No one on the inside cares to comment, not even the excuses that once ran rampant (the locals chickened out, National chickened out, for whatever reason someone chickened out, the cops came and stopped it, etc.).   Sometime in the near future” was replaced with “when it happens, it happens.”

Many true believers abandoned the cause in 1984.  Others stayed, hoping the time would come soon.  Few remain.  Mostly what is left are the mindless automatons who repeat hackneyed phrases and tell stories that have been part of the oral history for nearly forty years.  Those who were there are gone.

Some hang on because they know of no other way.  Others are blinded by the “someday” hope, without any realization of what it will actually look like when it happens.  When it happens?  No.  Not this group.  It has become that which it once criticized of other groupings.

The cult paradigm is enough to stop open discussions.  That is simply how it is.  Even this personal weblog has become embroiled in petty bickering from time to time and for that we apologize.  We hoped to be better than that.

What are your thoughts?

*****

It is February 15, 2010.  It is twenty-six years after the failed date of revolution and thirty-nine years after the organizational founders assembled to build a new type of labor organization, one which would serve as a front to building the Communist Party USA Provisional Wing.

It started as a handful of persons assembled under Eugenio Mario Perente-Ramos, nicknamed Gino, Oldie, the Old Man.  His birth is variously reported but 1937 is what is in the FBI files so we will go with that, born November 21, 1937 as Gerald William Doeden in Crookston, Minnesota.  He died March 18, 1995 reportedly of congestive heart failure.  The doctor who took care of him in his final days was handsomely paid, which is why I say reportedly.

I will not rehash Oldie’s colorful history.  You can read some of it on Wikipedia.  He had worked with United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and assumed control in the New York City boycott headquarters.  He often recounted the various statements and tactics employed at the time including the shop in tactic.  The grape boycott was underway, you see.

It was a simple enough tactic.  You arrange for several persons to enter a grocery store that was known to be selling table grapes subject to the boycott.  They would start by loading perishables such as eggs, butter, meat products etc. forming a layer on the bottom of the cart.  Items like ice cream made a good middle filler, anything that could melt and cause a mess.  Then they would start to add the heavier stuff on top to compact the lower items.  They headed to the check out counters.  The lead person would have an epiphany, as loudly as possible, declaring that he or she would not shop at an establishment that sold scab grapes.

The group would then follow suit, agreeing that they too would not shop in such a place.  Sometimes they were so convincing regular shoppers unaware of the tactic would join in, just to be part of the crowd.  As a spontaneous picket line arose, the store personnel were busy trying to salvage the groceries left abandoned in the shopping carts.

Oldie used what he had learned to form a core grouping of persons who had been loyal to him during the boycott, persons cultivated and groomed for his organization.  He often claimed he was sent to Suffolk to explore farm worker conditions for the potentiality of opening a UFW branch.  Others dispute this, saying he needed that excuse to leave UFW so he could build his revolutionary apparatus.

Whatever you believe, it is true that he and the original founders assembled and built Eastern Farm Workers Association.  They engaged in a variety of actions including the I.M. Young Strike, the lawsuit that ended in a victory declaring EFWA a labor organization of a new type, the entity jumps — sending organizers to different cities to establish new mutual benefits associations as part of the National Labor Federation.

David was sent to the Soviet Union and Margaret was sent to China as party representatives to deliver The Analysis of the CPUSA(P).  It represented the international desire of the organization for recognition by the leading communist parties of the world — leading because they had achieved revolution in their nations.

It touched the imaginations of activists, students, professors, doctors, lawyers, housewives, persons from every walk of life.  The dream of a new order and a better way of life through the dictatorship of the proletariat with the removal of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.  To contemplate this happening in the world’s largest industrial nation was audacious, to say the least.

In every fight, there is an adversary.  “They” were the enemy.  “They” were the cops, the corrupt politicians, those who did the bidding of the ones in power.  “They” were out to get us because we were a threat.  It is the classic we/they mentality.

There was the date: February 15, 1984.  That was the date of the revolution, the date to seize power.  The most open strategy was Temporary Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC) as it prepared to make the leap to Temporary Workers Union of New Jersey (TWUNJ), one part of Proscenium, leading to a general strike up and down the eastern seaboard and spreading across the country.  There were other tactics not openly broadcasted within the ranks including the plan to blow up Shasta Dam.

Everything was moving so fast that cadres were convinced we were really going to do it.  The point of production entities were practically fully staffed, the periphery organizations were developing, recruitment and fundraising was high, business operations began to expand, etc.  Cadres began fantasizing about being posted as city mayors and state governors under the consolidation efforts.

There was the last National Labor College conducted at Saint Ignatius, right across the street from the brownstone complex that housed the national headquarters.  I was not there.  I had the bad luck of still being in school and not yet eighteen.  I heard the stories about cadres traveling between the church and NOC, going back and forth, it being apparent that there was more to the group than just being building superintendents.

So what happened?  Reports vary.  There is a blog by another woman who says Oldie ordered her to call the cops on the organization.

Call the cops on the organization?

Things were already falling apart.  Cadres were ready to go but the organization did not go ahead with its plans.  Some say it was local sabotage, others say Oldie sabotaged the strategies, still others say the locals lacked the conviction to carry through with the plans.  The FBI raided NOC on February 17, 1984.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Oldie was injured in his attempts to flee the complex.  He was escaping down the dumb-waiter passage, which had been fitted with a ladder.  A rung broke and he fell.  When he tried to get out, someone had blocked the access panel with food storage barrels.  I never heard that part until I read Elizabeth’s blog.  Oldie had always said the FBI tortured him.  I never understood why he was not arrested on the spot.  He glossed over it by saying things like they did not really have anything on him.

There were around eight hundred cadres at the time.  The disillusionment of the failure led to many abandoning the movement.  I would go down to the local office after school and on the weekends, only to find out someone else had left.  It was like that in every location.

I guess things really changed when founding members eventually left including Struggs and David.  When Nelle left, the official line was she was on indefinite medical leave.  This line was promulgated because of concerns that the entire west coast would break away and form its own group.  The organization was in a rut, limited to the base programs of the mutual benefits associations, delivering food and clothing to members.  Much of the fight was gone.

There were attempts to reinvigorate the cadre ranks from time to time with exciting strategies.  As an entity liaison, I dreaded talking to my entity, only two cadres left and both extremely bitter as well as complacent with what they could and could not do.  Some criticize the efforts, expecting too much of the entities.

Then came a new attack, something that rallied the cadres and reminded us that we were considered dangerous.  There was the lawsuit filed by the heiress to recover her stolen monies.  She claimed that free legal services were part of the conditions for being a full-time member.  Oldie instructed the law firm to bill her for services down to the last cent in the trust account.  Harold was charged with forgery.

Harold’s arrest was an interesting scenario.  He was apprehended in the adjoining 1103/1107 breeze way trying to flee out the backyard.  David was also arrested.  It was stupid of Oldie to rely on a racist misconception of “all black people look alike” as Harold said he was David and David said he was Harold.  He was sent back to Massachusetts to finish serving his prison term as a convicted murderer.  (I knew he had been on the run for having done some things during his Panther days but did not know that.).  The lawyers were eventually convicted of fraud, debarred and imprisoned.

It sounds strange that an attack by the enemy would be used to bolster the ranks.  After a brief period of mourning the loss of comrades, the Organization began to move forward with a renewed focus on recruitment and fundraising — people through money and money through people.  I am not sure why the entities remained in their ruts but National continued recruiting heavily through Women’s Press Collective.

Many things happened.  Polly’s death struck many as an unnecessary loss.  Jim became a martyr after he died of cancer, despite the last-minute treatment efforts including chemotherapy.  Several entities were barely existing, reduced to just one cadre and allowed to remain in that condition for years.  This is the abridged version.  Now we segue to Oldie’s death, a personal tragedy felt by all.

Some say the organization was close to dissolving, falling apart as personalities conflicted and some sought control during the perceived power vacuüm.  There had been no chair for years, the general secretary had been ad hoc for years, fraction directors left and no one was assigned to replace them.  That was the state of the Organization when Margaret flew out to the East Coast and stole control.

The Organization did survive but it was radically changed.  There were several new entity jumps, a couple of successful strategies including the court case on the west.  Some old timers still remain but all of the founders are gone, either dead or having abandoned the cause.

What is the cause?  Just a footnote in the personal history of the people who were involved, a dream for those who still are involved and a perceived hope by those who may yet become involved.

I have long abandoned my ambitions for a better life for all, beaten down by the ones struggling to seize control of an organization that proved not worth saving, caught up in someone’s delusion that I had wronged her, then defamed when I did try something on my own.  I gave up, surrendering to the reality of life.

Some walked away, others were driven out and still others died in the attempt.  We all have different stories and experiences.  The organization has been around nearly forty years.  It remains on many cult watch listings and former cadres talk about their experiences.  New persons are recruited, other persons leave.

Some say it was all a big scam, a cult from day one.  I have always said it was a true cause in the early days but somehow lost its way and became a cult.  How it survives is a mystery.

Updated for the 30th Anniversary February 15, 2014

It’s the thirtieth anniversary of the failed date.  What reflections does the group utilize to reconcile the failure?  It’s significant to those who were in it and saw fit to leave after “the big wake up call” that the Organization could not deliver what it promised.

We’ve all heard the excuses and the finger pointing.  Who chickened out?  Was it the leadership or the rank and file?  Some say that since the group was never serious to begin with, it’s moot.  Only the followers were the dupes.  At least no one drank the special punch.

For those of you who were in it to win it, we realize that anniversary dates are triggers.  If you see a professional for help, be certain to discuss it because it is a nice, round number, which implies extra significance and impact.

While many have gone on to lead “normal” lives, others continue with different struggles because they were and continue to be true believers.  You can look at every arena and poke fun at what they fail to deliver but the reality is that people need help.

Reading another article, we were impressed with its eloquence on the evaluation of the effect of manipulators.  Yes, those who dare to care continue to fall prey as those in leadership roles within the group wear luxury coats and fabulous jewels.  Sleeping on a one-inch thick mat just doesn’t compare but if you’re “in the trenches” then you have accepted that as your lot in life to the cause.

Some of the more rural locations for the group continue to suffer the same problems as they did thirty years ago.  One office was closed for an entire week before anyone even noticed.  By the time someone investigated, the office had been looted of anything of value.  All food stuffs gone, clothing gone, even the ancient typewriters that are probably fetching a price on online auction sites.  File boxes were tossed about and papers ransacked.

We can only assume that the ones that abandoned their post probably took certain sensitive documents (those who were in it know what we mean).  Such a finding by someone else would have made a newspaper splash.

There were no keys left behind this time.  New arrivers had to break in, an easy enough task considering the place had already been broken into for several days.  There isn’t any word on what the group will do, whether remain in the location or find another site.

The curious thing is that no one in the community seems to care that the local went belly up, having failed to meet emergency needs for a long time.  Members sought relief from other charities and donors invested resources into such charities.

This of course is very different from the old days of wildcat strikes, elaborate strategies designed to position the group as a hegemonic force and polarized communities.

There aren’t even news articles anymore.  People have written off the group, some in the left referring to the effort as an example of failure when being so secretive with a so-called open end to the masses.  All or nothing, otherwise you can’t be a cadre, despising the “take what you can get” attitude that they used to mock other groups for employing.  Yet they’re still around.

It begs the question of why.

As always, we encourage you to do the research.  There are several memoirs publicly available and several more soon to be available.  This site isn’t the sole one to utilize.  There are others, to be certain, which claim to be objective – just compiling news articles.  What are the latest articles on those sites?

And yes, you can criticize that even this site has been silent of late.  We entertain the private e-mail discussions, particularly with the college kids that dodged a bullet with encounters on campus.  More campuses banish the groups, unafraid to state as reason that the groups are cults, citing cult watch websites.

Someone recently asked our opinion about the reorganization of the Ross site in the face of the loss of forum posts.  It happened – get over it.  We will continue to refer you there.

So happy thirtieth anniversary of the failed date, gentle readers.

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