Inside The International Workers Party (new Alliance Party)
Date: December 05, 2002 11:48PM
Statement delivered at (original) Cult Awareness Network Forum
New York City, June 16, 1993
I am a former member of the New Alliance Party and its internal cult apparatus, the International Workers Party. As a five-year member of this cult, I believed my actions to be an individual, as well as a “collective,” choice, as they, in many cases, coincided with my personal and political beliefs.
Even when I left in July of 1990--which I might add was of my own accord--I still did not consider the group a cult. However, based on research and analysis, I’ve since come to the conclusion that it is, in fact, a cult and that my emotions and actions were systematically controlled and corrupted by Dr. Fred Newman, and others, through the use of Social Therapy.
I met the cult in 1985, when I was a single mother living in the Bronx; struggling to finish college and under much emotional stress. One day I saw an advertisement in the party’s newspaper, the National Alliance, for “Social Therapy,” which was described as a “non-racist, nonsexist, non-homophobic” treatment. Although my initial consultation provided no magical solution, the therapist’s calm and reassuring manner did seem helpful in exposing and alleviating a tremendous burden of “secrecy” and “shame.” And so, I was hooked. The next few sessions were similarly gratifying. My sense of trust and hope increased dramatically as I continued to expose the abuse and emotional dysfunction I had endured. This approach, I concluded, would help me understand the basis for the anxiety and depression I had suffered.
Soon after, I entered a short-lived “grouplet.” Persuaded to regard the change as a “difficult but necessary challenge,” I suppressed my initial reaction that my therapist seemed more concerned with consolidating her time than with the sensitive issues involved. Although the change proved to be a failure, the therapy itself still seemed somewhat gratifying. The “grouplet” was barely a month old when my therapist suddenly announced she was moving to Philadelphia to expand the work of The Institute. My initial shock, anger, and sense of abandonment were quickly abated by reassurances that this “new development” could prove to be a “productive growth experience.”
Despite my uneasiness, I agreed to enter into both a larger, mixed-gender group and--as a balance, it seemed--a smaller, women’s grouplet in February of 1985. My new therapists and their assistant “co-therapist” trainees, however, seemed even more detached and reserved than the first. The racial, sexual, and cultural makeup of the patients in the larger group was also quite unsettling. While we shared some commonalities, I could not foresee how such a mixed-bag of people--white, black, Jewish, Puerto Rican, gay, and straight men and women--could ever work together.
But my discernment and reluctance gradually eroded as we began intense discussions about those very differences. Our diversity, we were told, had to be examined in order to build the context for support--in order to “build the group.” It seemed like an exciting challenge then to talk openly about such sensitive issues in a seemingly supervised and progressive therapeutic environment.
At our therapists’ urging, we then confessed all of the stereotypical prejudices we had held about each other. Exposing these biases, we were assured, would help us understand our “societal relationship” to one another. Only then could we work to redefine our backward relationships. It was a most humiliating experience to then be labeled as an “upwardly-mobile, wanna-be white, insane Spic,” or to be compelled to confess how I really regarded the others--patients and therapists alike--as just “niggers,” “dirty Jews,” faggots” and “dykes.”
And as these offensive remarks violated our psyches, the adroit therapists then led us through this bitter quagmire to the more soothing, but dangerous, path of least resistance. By comparing our painful experiences, we came to realize that we had all been similarly subjugated. The trouble wasn’t “in our heads,” but “in the world,” we learned. Our emotional problems were neither isolated nor individual. They were, in fact, symptomatic of our oppression.
The abuse we had suffered had been prompted by racial and social prejudice. These biases, in turn, were predetermined by the inequitable distribution of wealth and power. My degradation and self-destructive behavior were a “lawful” response to my role as a scapegoat and victim of vulgar capitalism. Thus the emotional and the political were fused and I became a depersonalized byproduct.
Through Social Therapy, I was conditioned to relate to my personal history in exclusively political terms. My family’s problems and subsequent poverty--and all of my suffering--were the result of the government’s imperialist invasion of Puerto Rico. The United States had been founded and, in fact, still subsisted on genocidal and increasingly fascistic practices with regards to people-of-color.
While these were, and, in my opinion, remain valid political arguments, conducting them in such an emotionally vulnerable setting did not fully explain, let alone improve, my condition. The process did, however, serve to increase my dependency and impair my cognitive skills (I could not understand this back then, although I did realize that discussing my problems in such a political context had not helped: I still felt “crazy”).
But consciousness-raising in itself was not enough. Our individual development and growth, we were told, was dependent upon the group’s. Indeed it was the group on which we had to focus. And building truly emancipated and intimate relationships with the members of the group could only be achieved by discarding our perverted societal beliefs. Only by embracing this psychotherapeutic-political doctrine could I hope to change what it meant to be a “poor, working-class, Puerto-Rican woman.”
There were no other solutions. Case in point: my attempts to escape the pain with drugs or to bury my nightmarish past by “making it.” Those efforts had failed miserably, hadn’t they? I still felt crazy, didn’t I? And we had all played this game, hadn’t we? Our collective emotional dysfunction was proof that the American dream was a sham, wasn’t it? Somehow, it sounded great.
After a few months of this intense group practice, I began to feel more confident and assertive. Although I felt empowered and liberated of many ghosts, I was still not “cured.” My persistent anxiety--indeed, our collective emotional baggage--were inherently related to still prevalent societal inequalities. How then, could I possibly hope to recover when poverty, homelessness and injustice still existed all around me?
The answer, of course, was to do something to make things better. By working to bring about social change, one could eventually assume a more politically-advanced, i.e., “historical,” identity. Although the process of changing the world was in itself curative, it was still not the solution. “History,” in fact, was the cure, I learned, as I studied abstract articles by party leaders Newman, Dr. Lenora Fulani, and others. One would be cured, i.e., people would be cured, when history had righted itself. Only when the world was rid of all the backward “isms,” then and only then, could we genuinely develop as human beings.
And, while commitment was deemed a “personal choice,” the struggle for social change could not be an individual or a “nationalistic” endeavor. In and of itself, my writing, indeed, my very existence, was meaningless; for only through collective action could people truly overcome the horrors of societal oppression. The group mind-set was now at work. Thus, the “cure” for my depression and anxiety was ultimately conditional upon my becoming a serious political activist.
And, lo and behold, I had chanced upon this tendency of likewise committed people! I could now ignore all that I had learned. I could now reject the opportunity for a better existence. Or, I could choose to make a real difference; one that would benefit all of mankind. The burden of choice was now mine.
By late 1985, the decision was being made. I had become an avid reader of the Alliance and had grown impressed with the tendency’s sophisticated network which, in addition to the Social Therapy Institutes, the National Alliance newspaper and other publications, also included the Barbara Taylor School, the Castillo Cultural Center, the All Stars Talent Show Network, the Rainbow Lobby (a Washington D.C.-based lobbying outfit since renamed Ross & Green), and, of course, the New Alliance Party.
Deluged with invitations from therapists and other employees, I began frequenting Institute events and parties and making contributions in support of the other projects. And, as a “natural” extension of my growing support, I was also encouraged to exert my influence with others to help further the cause of this wonderful movement.
It seemed logical then to encourage all my friends, family, and fellow students to join the Institute, or to try and sell them tickets to various events. The politic, was, after all, the ultimate solution and I wanted to share it everyone I knew. And it did not seem out of the question then, to exploit my position as an intern at CUNY-TV’s “Cityscope” to schedule one of my therapists as a speaker for a program on AIDS. Nor did it seem strange that I should begin to use Social Therapy as a topic for my academic papers and video projects.
END OF PART 1