The Truth About NATLFED


By Mary Struggler

It’s difficult to say what is the best way to recover from such a traumatic experience.  As you all know, I have unresolved issues.  Chuckle, chuckle.  It’s okay to laugh with me.

For me, well, they tossed me out on my ass.  I was beaten and thrown out onto the street.  I ended up in the hospital.  I was pretty pissed off about the whole situation.  I always scoffed at the idea of people creeping off in the middle of the night.  There was no hiding my departure.  It was loud, it was painful, they called the cops to haul me away.  There wasn’t even an attempt to drive me away from the complex to dump me on some street corner.

Shock. I couldn’t believe what had happened.  Throwing people away was not something the organization did.  The emphasis had always been to keep people in the organization through re-education.  True, there were some who walked away that Gino was glad to be rid of.

Confusion. I couldn’t understand what happened to me.  I tried to rationalize it.  I was a good soldier, someone who followed orders and did as told.  Sure, I had disagreements.  Regular CC meetings were eventually replaced with  decisions made by the Quorum of Quorums.  Given the power struggle that ensued after Gino’s death, the Party needed stability.  It was a time that centralism had to take precedence over democracy within the organization.

I tried to use the correct channels, but as someone not in favor of the current hierarchy I found it difficult.  I knew a group of dissidents were trying to manipulate me but I felt stability and unity were more important at the time.  Perhaps if I had acted differently…

Anger. I’m still very much an angry person.  There was no opining.  I know the CC never ratified the expulsion order.  I still get angry when I hear stories of others who were similarly expelled.  Better fewer but better. And the monkey flips the correct switch and gets the treat.  Suddenly cadres were disposable instead of being the Organization’s most important resource.  Perente-trained cadres were liabilities and had to be disposed of by whatever means necessary.  I’ve talked about the hamster wheel approach being employed by the organization.  They’re going nowhere mighty fast.

Acceptance. It took a long time before I realized the fallacy of the organization.  As I look back, I see things that I did not see at the time I was there.  Why did Proscenium fail?  Why did we not try again?  Accusations of sabotage or cowardice seemed commonplace.  The entities continue to deliver benefits but the strategies lie dormant.  Without the benefits programs, they would cease to exist.  No one can even tell me what AWA purports to do, what their strategy is supposed to be; same with MWA or MOWA.  They are charitable efforts, funneling resources to the leadership to continue exorbitant lifestyles.

Regret. Probably the hardest thing to get over and maybe completely impossible to do.  Some of the cadres I helped recruit are still in the organization.  I did my job too well.  Some of the cadres who recruited me are long gone including David S and David M.  I’ve been accused of looking for atonement.  That’ll never happen.  I am my own worst critic.

There are no founders left.  Those who didn’t die left long ago.  Nelle and Viola abandoned the Party a long time ago.  So did Greg, David, Ray and Elizabeth.  Gino, Mary, Polly and Rastus are dead.  Those who continue to “carry the torch” have changed the agenda.

Progress. As I move on in life, I realize I can’t let the past weigh me down.  I know the stigma of having been a NATLFED organizer.  I still take my little pot shots from time to time, bidding on the brown stone complex just to let them know I’m still around (who else wants those buildings?).  Aside from that, I haven’t done much else except this and a couple of other blogs.  I have found involvement in other things.

The healing process takes a long time.  Someone told me it’s year for year, if you were in for sixteen years it takes at least that long.  Some therapists insist upon concentrated therapy so it doesn’t take years but judging from the ex-cadre communities very few have taken that route.

I was fortunate in that I had family nearby that took me in.  Others were not so fortunate, stranded hundreds or thousands of miles away from the nearest living relative.  I still remember the time that a woman named Phyllis K (not the same one who is currently an operations manager) stole one of the NOC cars and left with her child.  I forget where the car was found abandoned but she made it through several states in that crate.

I remember another time when Chris De was the housing crew leader in charge of the Metro II crew and allegedly made off with the ten dollars worth of subway tokens.  Ooh, big time thievery.  At least, we were told she stole the money.  Maybe that was true but if I remember procedure the housing crew OPS would have given the tokens to Metro II OPS for securing.  Metro II miraculously had tokens on hand to get the crew back to NOC.

There always seem to be fantastic stories about certain persons who departed.  So and so was more interested in ass and grass.  Such and such left on indefinite medical leave.  Brick and brack left with millions of dollars.   If you think about it, the organization once had around eight hundred cadres during its heyday.  No matter what the story, the fact remains that none of these people ever tried to build something else except a mere handful.

There was the woman who was organizing farm workers in New Jersey.  I don’t know what happened to her but the effort is dead in the water.  Another was organizing the maquiladora workers and surfaces from time to time.  Yet another tried organizing a factory and failed.  The one on indefinite medical leave is as healthy as a horse, just doesn’t want to go back to the organization and lives in a retirement community.  (Someone once told me her son and daughter-in-law used to pay the rent for her using the entity’s proceeds, leaving the door open for her to some day return.  It’s been what, twenty years?).

Most former cadres have abandoned any type of “progressive” efforts and instead lead as normal lives as they can manage.  When you were once part of something that promised so much but delivered little, you get a little burnt out, skeptical.

It’s interesting to note that some new voices are emerging.  While some are supporters, others are former supporters or volunteers.  These voices are the most interesting to me.  (Don’t start any schizo accusations, just read the recent SF comments and you’ll understand what I’m saying.).

Maybe in a few years I’ll be sane.  Chuckle, chuckle, laugh with me everybody.

I found this Cult Survivors Handbook online and decided to add the link to our blog.

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