NatLFed: Past or Present? Future?
Date: December 11, 2009 01:47AM
I was once a member of NatLFed. It bothers me to see that oftentimes people want to limit this cult to a certain time-frame, set of members, arenas of activity, etc. NatLFed was, and still is, a kind of meta-cult that specialized in forming fronts that were directly connected to it as well as infiltrating other groups, especially other cults, in order to force compliance with its own goals.
NatLFed's goals were a bizarre mixture of stalinist leftwing fascism and American socialist programs. Maybe this part of NatLFed's existence can be placed in the past, because the goals were formed during their rise in the 1970's and 1980's, and now maybe the NatLFed goals are nothing more than the self-serving goals of any large organization: to survive and control its environment, but NatLFed operatives (cadres, whatever you want to call them) are still out there. They still control important services in poor communities and use those services to enslave vulnerable people and turn those people against their own self-interests as well as against the rest of society.
NatLFed concentrated heavily on artists when I encountered it as a producer in public access television in the early 1990's. I had an extensive resume in silk-screen and other art trades, and was working on a television project that I hoped would become a syndicated program when I was told by the station manager that I would have no problem getting all the equipment privileges I needed if I contributed a little bit of time to another producer's "pet project", the local NatLFed food pantry and fuel-assistance program. I had no trouble complying with this simple and apparently altruistic (on the manager's part) request.
The other producer was the daughter of Rockwell Kent, a famous martyr to the American Communist cause. She was also a typical NatLFed leadership cadre in that she was 100% American-urban-cultured, thinking her own culture so superior to all others that none other existed. I want to say New York City culture, but I know that a great deal of the NatLFed roots came out of Seattle and Ohio groups of the New Left of the 1970's. They share a similar class culture that infuses their socialist ideology with the most ludicrous bourgeoisie prejudice that anyone could imagine.
I was the daughter of strong labor organizers in Massachusetts and Connecticut mills, my mother went with the Freedom Riders groups in that famous summer, and I was certainly no stranger to socialist politics and ideals. My art education was well-founded in European traditional techniques, but since I was more interested in my own work and in the creative work of people like Picasso than in American Communist Martyr history, I did not recognize Rockwell Kent as anything more than a vaguely familiar name when the NatLFed cadre introduced herself.
(If I ever do get the strength to actually write the full story, I hope to include the satirical elements, to counterbalance the genuine horror of that cult: there is power in satire and we need to start satirizing NatLFed!)
You have to picture this: a woman who feels herself entitled to all of the upper-crust culture of New York is in constant drama-queen-martyr mode in the hills of rural Massachusetts. She gets handed yet another yokel (me) to train, is impressed by the skill and history of that yokel's backgoround (who knew there were socialists outside of Greenwich Village?!) but alas! The Yokel fails to genuflect at the name of Rockwell Kent!
It gets funnier.
But the violence that characterized the NatLFed in Berkshire County was never funny. NatLFed hooked up very closely with the local criminal class, as it does in every neighborhood, and people lived in real fear of what could happen to them if they challenged NatLFed groups, even if they did not know the NatLFed name.
The building in which NatLFed had its headquarters was donated to it by the Ruberto family. It had been their fish market, and Anthony Ruberto was the district attorney around the time I was becoming active with the food pantry. His brother has been the mayor of that city recently. While I was active there, the issue was my right to produce my program as I saw fit. I did not know I was treading on NatLfed toes, but I did know I was getting lots of demands put on me by the NatLFed cadre.
Something else I did not know at the time: back in 1981, when there was a very controversial case called the "Lenox 7" that involved my own nephew, Ruberto's own nephew was also involved. This case was the drowning of Barry Griffin and Richard Retzel in Laurel Lake by seven Lenox youths. They were charged with murder and it was downgraded to manslaughter and they were aquitted. Dukakis was governor at the time and was embroiled in the appeals of this case. I was active with NatLFed in the early 1990's, so this was background I did not figure out until later. The favor-trading that went into the dropping of the charges involved Ruberto and the favor-trading that was part and parcel of any working-class relief efforts involved that old fish-market building along with all the wink-&-nod agreements that accompanied those efforts.
NatLFed leaders, like all cult leaders. are supremely arrogant. They do not beleive that "outsiders" communicate and understand their world as human beings. NatLFed was hand-in-glove with the basest mafia elements in Massachusetts. GE had to dump PCB's, NatLFed helped. NatLFed silenced the whistleblowers, and everyone in aquthority had the Ruberto relationship and that fish-market staring them in the face any time they thought of listening to the whistleblowers. NatLFed controlled the direction of every social-service organization in Berkshire County, imbuing every single one with its insane totalitarian ethic. The cadres around the food pantry were all also involved in Pittsfield Community Television and controlled it thoroughly, attacking any citizen who tried to use it to question local events. I remember the way the people who blew the whistle on the PCB's were hounded out of the station, as I was.
After I left NatLFed, I got a job as a color-matcher in a silk-screened wallpaper factory. It was a nice job, but short-lived. I had to rely on the protection of the local police because of the stalking of me and family members, and those officers knew that they could not pursue their investigations very far before bumping into the legacy of the Lenox 7 case. The best they could do was make it very clear that they would be right on top of anyone who harmed me or mine, but they could not protect us from the character-assasination and continuous petty harrassment that NatLFed hoped would inspire suicide.