Further Adventures in Trotville


The recent amalgamation of the International Socialist Organisation, Socialist Action Group, and Solidarity, to form a new Trotskyist organisation, Solidarity, presumably bubbles along in the background… somewhere. Unfortunately, three months later, while the ISO’s site hasn’t been updated (and its paper, Socialist Worker, is also seemingly moribund), the SAG’s site has re-entered the capitalist marketplace, and the new Solidarity site has been “coming soon” for about the same period.

The World Can’t Wait! (is the name of an RCP front).

(See also : Solidarity forever? Three of the four International Socialist Tendency groups in Australia have merged, Marcus Strom, Labor Tribune, March 2008.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah…

(I’m So Bored with the) U S A

On the one hand, the wsws.org criticises the United Auto Workers union (UAW preparing agreement to slash American Axle workers’ wages, close plants, Joe Kay, May 3, 2008). After enumerating its faults, Kay concludes:

It is critical that strikers elect rank-and-file committees to take the strike out of the hands of the UAW bureaucracy. These committees should make a direct appeal to workers throughout the auto industry—in the United States and internationally—to wage a common struggle against the concessions imposed by the corporations. The committees should organize opposition to any proposed concessions contract and prepare to mobilize a “no” vote.

The issues facing American Axle workers are of a piece with those faced by workers throughout the country and internationally. Fundamentally, auto workers confront the consequences of the failure of capitalism, a social system defended by the unions and both big business parties. A new political movement of the working class is necessary…

And the best party to lead that movement is, naturally enough, the Socialist Equality Party aka the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) aka the publishers of the wsws.org. (NB. In addition to the United States, the SEP has sections in Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany and Sri Lanka.)

Of course, while capitalism may be failing auto workers — and workers generally — some capitalist business enterprises are thriving, not failing. Thus, on the other hand, the unspeakable villains of the International Bolshevik Tendency (established c.1986 and currently lead by former — that is, renegade — Spart leader, marriage celebrant, and counsellor, Bill Logan, whom one Spart reader declares to be “the antithesis of the very essence of the liberating goals of communism”) have re-published an account of the “scandal” concerning the ICFI’s business interests, provocatively titled ‘Northites Inc.: Toeing the Bottom Line: Being Determines Consciousness’.* I thought I’d already commented on this episode, but I hadn’t, and it provides the opportunity for some terrific drama. Over to the Inter-national Bolsheviks:

In the spring of 2007, the Socialist Equality Party/Inter-national Committee (SEP/IC) was rocked by a public scandal when Scott Solomon, an embittered former adherent, revealed that David North is not only the leading figure of the SEP and IC, but is also CEO of Grand River Printing & Imaging (GRPI), a multi-million dollar business in Michigan [and “premiere provider of commercial web offset printing services”]. The SEP leadership would apparently prefer to keep its successful commercial venture secret, but it cannot deny the facts.

The GRPI evolved from the in-house printshop that used to produce the Bulletin, the newspaper of the Workers League (WL—the SEP’s predecessor). When the WL/SEP suspended publication of the Bulletin in favor of producing an online daily on its World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), the party print shop was apparently quietly transformed into a full-blown business.

At about the same time, the SEP/IC leadership discarded the traditional Marxist view of trade unions as defensive organizations of the working class and declared that they had become simple agencies of the capitalists. North wrote a lengthy essay on this theme entitled “Globalization and the Unions,” [sic] in which he announced the “objective transformation of the AFL-CIO into an instrument of the corporations and the capitalist state.” We polemicized against this in 1917 No. 29 (see “SEP: Defeatist and Confusionist: The Class Nature of the Unions”).

But really, what’s wrong with employers and employees working together towards a common goal? And do unions do anything other than cause industrial unrest? According to the Honourable Julie Bishop, MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Employment, Business and Workplace Relations, in a statement regarding ‘Increasing levels of trust between employees and employers’, dated Monday, 14th April, 2008, for example:

The unprecedented levels of industrial harmony in recent years in Australia have coincided with the dramatic decline in union membership. Declining union membership is evidence of the increasing levels of trust and cooperation between employees and employers. The vast majority of private sector employees choose to negotiate directly with their employer and do not choose to be represented by a union. The challenge for the union movement is to provide a relevant service for which people are prepared to pay membership fees voluntarily. Unions should not seek to use Labor Governments to force an increase in membership through a return to compulsory unionism and “no ticket no start”. The decline in private sector union membership contradicts Labor Party and union propaganda that business has been exploiting workers in recent years.

Across the world, Green River provides a dramatic example of a capitalist business run on the basis of ensuring a harmonious relationship between employers and employees:

David Green founded Grand River Printing in 1978. He was convinced that the key to long-term success was the creation of a unified and internally cohesive management team based on a common strategic vision and shared ideals. In the years to come, his most important contribution to the firm proved to be his ability to recognize talent, bring together people from very different social and professional backgrounds, arouse their interest in the immense potential of the graphic arts-printing industry, and impart to them a vision of a company that was both profitable, ethical and humane.

‘David Green’ is however, a Marxist revolutionary: the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in the US, in which capacity he has “lectured extensively in Europe, Asia, the US and the former Soviet Union on the history and principles of Marxism and the program and perspective of the Fourth International”, and is “the author of several authoritative works on the Fourth International and the Russian Revolution, including The Heritage We Defend, Perestroika versus Socialism, Trotskyism versus Stalinism and In Defense of the Russian Revolution“. (Also Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, Leon Trotsky & the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification, The crisis of American democracy: The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, Leon Trotsky and the Fate of Socialism in the 20th Century: A Reply to Professor Eric Hobsbawm and Anti-Semitism, Fascism and the Holocaust. See the Mehring Books site for all the exciting details.)

So much for his consciousness. As for his being, according to Scott Solomon:

Newsgroups: alt.politics.socialism.trotsky
From: Scott Solomon
Date: 22 Apr 2007
Subject: David W. Green (“North”) . . . CEO/Cult Leader for “Revolution”

EXHIBIT 2 [PDF, see page 2]
EXHIBIT 3 [PDF, see page 9]

Some years ago, the communist political cult to which I used to be a member for one year (then known as the Workers League, now known as the Socialist Equality Party) made an interesting “turn” in its political line. According to SEPtic, the unions were no longer organizations of the working class.

I found this “turn” to be quite startling. Upon further thought, however, it sorta made sense. David W. Green (“North”), the cult leader of SEPtic, having run the cult since the mid 1970s, had been a complete ineffectual. He and his cult never organized any workers, ever gained any influence in the labor movement, never accomplished anything. So, in a strange way, it made quite a bit of sense that “North” was now writing off the unions altogether.

Still, I wondered, how was it that “North” managed to keep control over a dedicated cluster in the top leadership.

Today, playing around on the web, I found a possible answer. It seems that David W. Green is CEO of the 241st largest printing company in the USA. EXHIBIT 1 is a link to the company’s site. EXHIBIT 3 shows that in 2005 the company generated $21m in sales. EXHIBIT 2 has pictures of “David North” and his wife in Crain’s, touting them as some of the best employers in the city.

The “puzzle” now makes sense. Question: Why does the North cult solicit members for donations when they run a profitable enterprise that could conceivably fund the SEPtic web page activities? Is there any sort of democracy in SEPtic? Were a faction to take over the cult, what would be the impact of the North crew vis-a-vis the company activities?

It’s interesting that CEO North now tells workers that unions are no longer organizations of the working class. This same “line” is probably echoed by CEOs at all unorganized companies.


    * The conflict between the Sparts and the IBT dates back to 1979, and centres on Bill Logan. In August 2007, the Sparts re-published The Logan Dossier, which is awesomely sub-titled ‘Documentary Evidence and Testimony in the August 1979 Trial and Expulsion of Bill Logan from the international Spartacist tendency for Crimes Against Communist Morality and Elementary Human Decency’. The IBT responds to some Spart criticism here, and describes in painful detail their version of the Sparts political degeneration over the course of the last few decades (that is, more or less since the expulsion of the IBT’s founding members). Note that the formation of the Sparts was triggered by the expulsion (in 1966) of a number of members of the Socialist Workers Party in the US.

    The other important split in the Sparts occurred in 1996, when the former editor of Workers Vanguard, Jan Norden, got purged. Naturally, he went on to found another derivative of the Fourth International: the League for the Fourth International. It boldly declared “Reforge the Fourth International!”. The Internationalist Group has adherents in the United States, Brazil, France, Germany, and Mexico. The LFI used to have a Dutch section too, but he left in 2004 to join the IBT.

    ** Bonus! The Dumbass Guide to Leninism, Marx and Coca-Cola, Monday, November 5, 2007: “Recently someone came up to me and asked “JM, I’m a college student with severe personality problems which Leninist party should I join?” To help him out, and in honor of the 90th anniversary of the second Russian Revolution, I’ve posted this helpful guide to the various sects, splinters, splinters-of-splinters, and grouplets of Leninism. Please print and distribute…”

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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11 Responses to Further Adventures in Trotville

  1. BobBrown says:

    What was the Collingwood Vs Hawks score? I missed it.

  2. @ndy says:

    Word on the street is that Collingwood seniors attended an all-day workshop on Marx’s Capital on Saturday, and Eddie Everywhere arranged for the seconds to take to the field in their place. Consequently, I missed the score too, but apparently it didn’t go too well for the Pies, and Eddie’s decided the seniors should probably concentrate more on football, and actually play when they meet St Kilda on the 16th.

  3. JM says:

    Thanks for adding me to the blogroll, and saving my “guide” from archive hell.

  4. Tom Cod says:

    So that’s the connection between “Grand River CEO David W. Green” and the Social Equality Party. As comedian Arte Johnson used to say on the American TV show “Laugh-In”, “Verrry Interesting . . . . but stupid!”

  5. Doric says:

    What a pathetic effort to slander David North and the SEP. That David North is a committed socialist and Trotskyist is beyond question. One only needs to consider the prolific literary output and its quality to realize that the suggestion North is nothing more than a deceitful opportunist could only be made and disseminated by spineless, deceitful imbeciles. The SEP is not an organization of radical misfits; the people I have come into contact with are serious intelligent individuals, not gullible followers of a religious sect.

    North would indeed be an idiot to sacrifice his whole life by having to hide his apparently ulterior motives all this time for financial gain. The guy can hardly lead the life of a wealthy hedonist and chair an international socialist organization at the same time can he. So what’s the point? When he is eighty is he suddenly going to come clean and enjoy his ill gotten booty? Yeah, that’s it.

    As for your inane comments about the unions and capitalism, you have humble pie all over your face. That the SEP is consistently correct in its analysis is further validation of its perspective and of the unblemished integrity and commitment [of] its cadre.

    Keep chasing your tails, that’s the only thing you are good for!
    Obama declares war on auto workers
    31 March 2009

    President Barack Obama’s speech on the auto industry Monday was nothing less than a declaration of war against the working class. In a statement dripping with class arrogance and cynicism, he rejected the cost-cutting proposals of General Motors and Chrysler as insufficient and demanded more concessions from auto workers.

    No one could be unaware of the blatant double standard that has governed the administration’s response to the economic crisis. Up to $10 trillion has been handed over to the giant banks and hedge funds. These sums have been turned over, with no restrictions, to institutions whose reckless speculation was a critical factor in creating the economic crisis.

    These vast funds are not going toward the production of socially useful goods and real value, but rather to bolster the bank accounts and investment portfolios of the financial aristocracy. Just this past week the administration came out in opposition to any attempt to reclaim bonuses to executives at AIG and other institutions bailed out by the government.

    The sum of money involved in the bailout of the banks dwarfs the amount involved in the auto industry by a factor of several hundred. But when it comes to the auto industry, Obama declares that the companies must not become “wards of the state” and demands massive cost-cutting measures—all of which are directed against the workers.

    When Obama declares that the proposals submitted by GM and Chrysler are inadequate, the principal object of his attack is the working class. To carry out a “fundamental restructuring,” Obama said, “will require unions and workers who have already made extraordinarily painful concessions to do more.”

    The impact of these further concession demands on workers will be devastating. Already, 400,000 jobs have been lost in the auto industry over the past year and tens of thousands more are on the chopping block. Workers will be thrown out of work amidst the worst job market in generations.

    Wages will be slashed further; work rules will be gutted to increase exploitation; health coverage, pensions and other benefits will be slashed or eliminated. Immediately targeted are the medical benefits of hundreds of thousands of retirees.

    Not only the Big Three companies, but a significant section of dependent industry, from suppliers to dealers, is threatened.

    Before the assault is over, workers still employed in the industry will be subjected to sweatshop conditions, with virtually no benefits and no job security.

    The administration has all but signed a death warrant for Chrysler and its 26,000 hourly workers, giving it a mere 30 days to reach a merger agreement with Fiat or forfeit further government aid. Obama is likewise pushing GM and its 46,000 workers toward the bankruptcy courts, which would be used as a “mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger,” he said. This is code language for shredding union contacts and imposing near-poverty wages by judicial fiat.

    Obama concluded his remarks with an utterly cynical assurance of “support” for workers who are being devastated by his own policies. These declarations deserve nothing but contempt.

    The measures announced Monday confirm once again that the Obama administration is a government of, by and for the financial elite which exerts a stranglehold over the economy and controls the entire political establishment.

    The investment bankers represented by Obama are using the economic crisis as an opportunity to fundamentally restructure class relations in America. Culminating a three-decade offensive against working people, they are destroying whatever remains of the gains made by previous generations of workers so as to intensify the exploitation of the working class.

    The attack on auto workers will become the spearhead for similar attacks against workers throughout the country and internationally, in every sector of the economy. Wage cuts, layoffs and cuts in benefits and social programs will be implemented across the board. The Obama administration has already made clear that it is targeting basic entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    Obama’s announcement once again exposes the bankruptcy of the United Auto Workers union. It has played a critical role in pushing through concessions year after year and suppressing opposition from the workers. In the process, it has ever more closely integrated itself with corporate management. There can be no doubt that the UAW will capitulate once again. It is concerned solely with the perks and privileges of the bureaucrats who control the union.

    After the auto companies received government loans last year, the UAW promoted the lie that the Obama administration would take a pro-worker position and the union bureaucracy enthusiastically backed his campaign. This, just as every other policy of the union, has proven to be a trap and betrayal of the workers’ interests. In the naked instrument of Wall Street that is the Obama administration, one sees the culmination of the decades-long effort of the UAW and the entire trade union bureaucracy to subordinate workers to the Democratic Party.

    If a disaster is to be averted, auto workers have no choice but to take matters into their own hands and assert their independent class interests. The Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site propose the following steps:

    1. Form independent rank-and-file committees to revive direct forms of working class struggle!

    If further concessions are to be successfully opposed, workers must move to form organizations completely independent of the UAW. Rank-and-file factory, workplace and neighborhood committees should be formed to revive the militant traditions of the working class. Workers should prepare now for demonstrations, strikes and factory occupations to prevent plant closings. An appeal must be made to all workers to take up a common struggle in defense of their basic needs—for jobs, housing, health care and education.

    2. Break with the Democratic and Republican Parties!

    Industrial action must be infused with a new political strategy based on the independent interests of the working class. The actions of the Obama administration clearly show that if workers are to defend their interests, they must build their own political party.

    3. Reject the capitalist system and revive an international socialist movement of the working class!

    The economic crisis has exposed all claims that the “free market” is the highest form of social organization. Workers in the United States and throughout the world are facing the devastating consequences of the collapse of capitalism, an economic system based on the pursuit of private profit.

    The Socialist Equality Party fights for the socialist reorganization of the economy. This includes the nationalization of the major corporations and banks under the public ownership and democratic control of the working class. These productive forces must be organized on the basis of social need, not private profit. The world economy can no longer be subject to the blackmail of a money-mad financial aristocracy.

    What is happening in the United States is a severe expression of conditions all over the world, and workers can defend themselves only through their international unity. The corporations and banks—together with their accomplices in the trade unions—will seek to defend their own interests by pitting workers of different countries against each other. These efforts must be rejected. Workers in Europe, Asia, Canada and Mexico are impacted by the crisis in the American auto industry, and there is no region of the world that is not suffering from the economic collapse.

    The Socialist Equality Party is sponsoring regional conferences under the title “The World Economic Crisis, the Failure of Capitalism, and the Case for Socialism” in Ann Arbor, Michigan (April 25), New York City (May 3), and Los Angeles, California (May 10). These conferences will examine the causes of the economic crisis and develop a program that meets the needs of working people. They will initiate a fight-back against the ruling class offensive on the basis of the independent industrial and political mobilization of the working class. We urge auto workers and workers throughout the country to make plans to attend today.

    Joe Kishore

  6. Eric Sommer says:

    I’m not a member of the SEP, nor do I have any connection with it, nor do I necessarily agree with all of its program, but I fully concur in Doric’s rejection of this kind of slander against David North and the SEP.

    * The World Socialist website and its daily news updates are the most visited socialist internet service in the world;

    * It has provided cutting edge reporting which I personally have benefited from;

    * According to its website, the Grand River printing company has been chosen as a ‘Top 10 Best Workplace’ – based on criteria such as treatment of staff, training of staff, and the like – for three years. Moreover, it appears to have a very strong orientation towards green and sustainable forestry;

    * The Socialist Equality Party has taken a strong principled stand for the building of an independent workers party and workers trade unions during the current crisis; and contrary to the impression left by the slander against them, they have no fear of organized workers at all and are urging the formation of independent rank and file committees in workplaces at exactly the right time – now!

    To have played an important role in building a great socialist news service; to have helped to build and maintain a socialist party; or to have founded and helped to build as humane and ethical a printing company as is possible under capitalism – any one of these endevours would do credit to anyone. To have been a key part of all three is tremendous!

    Socialist parties, and socialist organizers and leaders – like all other parties, organizers and leaders – need funding. A humane printing company is a great way to get it. I don’t normally resort to ad hominem arguments, but the mean-spirited nature of these attacks on North and SEP is so apparent, that I will end by saying that those who have nothing better to do during a world economic crisis than to attack a dedicated socialist for owning a business need to consider whether jealousy, or just silliness, informs their motives.

    Eric Sommer

  7. @ndy says:


    “What a pathetic effort to slander David North and the SEP.”

    Really? You mean my post? Scott Solomon’s scribblings? Or both?

    First, slander is untruthful. Whatever interpretation you place on the business activities of David North & Co, it is based on fact. Secondly, nobody is disputing North’s many years of activism on behalf of Trotskyism; this too is fact. Rather, what is being highlighted is a possible contradiction between North’s political ideas (and by extension, the SEP as a whole), on the one hand, and his status as a CEO in a union-free company, on the other. Further, there is speculation that the SEP’s position on unions as a whole is influenced by this rather odd situation.


  8. Nick P. says:

    This entire “story” is based on the word of one man- Scott Solomon- who seems rather sick and deranged. Don’t believe me?

    Exhibit 1
    Exhibit 2
    Exhibit 3

    Unlike Scotty boy, my links actually work.

  9. @ndy says:


    So: ‘Scott Solomon’ is wrong, ‘Nick P’ is right, and ‘David W. Green’ and ‘David North’ are two completely different individuals?

  10. @ndy says:


    I looked at yr site.

    Naturally, I read ‘An Anarchist Defense of Karl Marx’ by ‘Chris M’.

    It was not a v good defense, nor was it especially ‘anarchist’. But yes: props for the Lego img.

  11. Pingback: David North ~versus~ David Green | slackbastard

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