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July 3: Fred Newman’s Psycho-Sexual Politics

Lawrence Bush
July 2, 2016

Frederick Delano Newman, the founder and charismatic leader of the New Alliance Party and other political groupings that operated at the fringes of electoral and grassroots politics, particularly in New York, died at 76 on this date in 2011. Fred Newman earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford in 1962 and began to build a pan-sexual Marxist collective in New York, and a school of Marxist psychological thought that he called “proletarian” or “social” therapy, which relates to the group rather than the individual as the fundamental unit of psychological development. “Proletarian or revolutionary psychotherapy is a journey which begins with the rejection of our inadequacy and ends in the acceptance of our smallness,” Newman wrote. “[I]t is the overthrow of the rulers of the mind by the workers of the mind.” During the 1970s, especially after he fashioned a short-lived alliance with Lyndon LaRouche’s movement, analysts of the far-right such as Chip Berlet and Dennis King considered Newman’s group to be a cult, but Berlet’s magazine, The Public Eye, later said the categorization was “no longer accurate.” Newman was the mentor to Lenora Fulani, the first black presidential candidate (in 1988) to get on the ballot in all fifty state. He was also the author of more than three dozen plays, including at least two on Jewish themes that the Anti-Defamation League considered to be anti-Semitic. In 1988, Radical America devoted a group of essays to the critique of the New Alliance Party for its manipulative and cult-like practices. “Painful and unpleasant as it is,” the editors wrote,” the time has come to expose the NAP before it discredits the Left -- especially among blacks, gays and those exploring progressive politics for the first time.”

“We don’t repress individuality; we critique it. There is a difference!” —Fred Newman

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.