Joe Hargrave: A Former SEP (WSWS) Member Speaks Out on David North aka David Green – A Tale of Two Men (Eric Josephson)

By Joe Hargrave

Here is a story you might find interesting:

I know of two men. One of them is the leader of a small Trotskyist political party in the United States. He is known as David North. The other is the CEO of Grand River Printing & Imaging, a company that earns 25 million dollars a year according to its website. They call him David W. Green.

For nearly 30 years, Mr. North ran his political party and Mr. Green ran his business. Mr. North gave speeches about the exploitation of the working class. Mr. Green exploited his workers, deriving surplus value from their unpaid labor. Mr. North thundered against the corporations that dominate American political life. Mr. Green sought those corporations out as clients, and probably did lunch with some of their executives. Mr. North would talk about the disgusting climate of corporate greed that pervaded the American cultural atmosphere. Mr. Green helped actualize that corporate greed by printing advertisements to help them push their products on consumers.

Of course Mr. Green was no black-hearted tycoon. No, surely Mr. North would have to exempt from his tirades against the corporations that dominate American politics and exploit the entire world certain capitalist leaders who stood out as genuine pillars of their community. Why, Mr. Green had gone to great lengths to make his workers as comfortable as possible. He invested in their training and education, he included them as part of his „larger vision“. But surely Mr. North, who understood Marxism very well, would point out the absence of democratic control of the workplace, or the usual separation of the worker from the instrument of production that is the requisite of capitalist production. After all, his party published in statement after statement that the aim of socialism was to create a democratic economy. Yet none of the reports on Grand River suggested anything about „democracy“ or „worker ownership“ – Mr. Green may have been a nice man who saw the value in keeping his work horses happy, but he was also a businessman. So surely, should Mr. Green and Mr. North ever meet one another, they would disagree on a great many things.

Unless, of course, they were the same man.

Could it be a case of multipule personality disorder? Not exactly. You see, David Green, alias David North, is a fraud. He is the biggest fraud to hit the socialist movement since James Robertson of the Sparticist Leauge or „Chairman“ Bob Avakian of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He owns a multi-million dollar corporation, and the upper echelons of his political cult and members of their family occupy key executive positions.

The rank and file members of the party are completely unaware of the existence of North/Green’s corporate empire, which includes Grand River Printing, Merhing Books, and who knows what else. They assume that the party sustains itself through the donations that it begs for on its website and at its conferences, as well as the regular contributions that members are expected to „pledge“ every month. I was exempt from this particular requirement only after I reminded one of its leaders of the considerable amounts of money I had invested in my own local branch. How nice of them. I can only imagine the giddy internal glee that North/Green must have felt every time some naive sucker wrote the SEP a check for a few thousand dollars. To North/Green, and the other party leaders, such donations were in fact chump change.

I can also only begin to imagine the difficult decisions that had to be made on a daily basis, such as, „how little can we put into this whole socialist thing to keep it viable while we live in the lap of luxury?“, and, „should I use a 50 dollar bill or a 100 dollar bill to do this next line of cocaine?“ All kidding aside, anyone who is serious about building a revolutionary movement, and who also happened to own a multi-million dollar company, would invest the maximum amount of profits into the former.

What I mean to say is, I could accept the fact that North/Green exploits the labor-power of his workers if the surplus value created by their unpaid labor was being used to build a movement that would one day end all exploitation. The ends, as I generally believe, justify the means if the ends themselves are justified. But this is obviously not taking place. The SEP has full branches in three cities – LA, NY, and Detroit. With the profit margins we can assume a 25 million a year company is capable of, there should be a fully-staffed branch in every major city in the United States. There should be an SEP radio station, a public access program on television, etc., etc., etc. Those profits, in sum, should be used to promote the movement, to expose not tens of thousands but millions of people to socialism.

What could possibly account for a failure to do these things? There is only one inescapable conclusion – that North/Green and his cronies enjoy the good life more than they do the revolutionary life. And they enjoy that life at the expense of the wage-laborers they employ. To dance around these uncomfortable realities they invent all sorts of paternalistic schemes where they provide top quality education and training for their workers – while, of course, „keeping wages competitive“. To read the website of Grand River Publishing & Imaging is to be sickened. Every line is infused with phony corporate enthusiasm and politeness, in order to impress the equally phony corporate clients looking to get their ads published and printed. Contrast that to what you normally read on the WSWS. How can these people sleep at night? They might respond like the fictional Renier Wolfcastle: „On top of piles of money with lots of beautiful ladies“.

It seems that every other week brings some new revelation about this political cult that I could have only wished I had known earlier. I tell you these things so that you can avoid my mistakes.