Sunday, November 05, 2006

Rich Whitney and Daniel DeLeon

I belonged the Socialist Pary of Frank Zeidler back in College in the 1970s. I left, or sort of fell out of it, when I graduated in 1976.

Rich Whitney belonged to he much older -but still existing- Socialist Labor Party founded by Daniel DeLeon back in 1877 . The Socialist Party and IWW eclipsed the SLP in the first decade of the 20th century.

Yet it lingered on. It was a fixture on the new left in the 60s and 70s when elderly members and younger converts like Whitney would show up with copies of The People. The SLP's current National Secretary, Robert Bills, writes to Illinois Times of Whitney's eighteen year history with the SLP.

There are two types of lies: lies of commission and lies of omission. Green Party gubernatorial candidate Richard Whitney told little green lies of both types when Terry Martin of the Illinois Channel asked him two direct questions during a recently televised interview: “What is your history? What party have you identified with over your adult life?”

To these questions Whitney replied: “I’ve always been independent-minded. I’ve never been a member of the Democratic or Republican parties. . . . I actually have been a Green for over 10 years now, because I helped found . . . our local in 1996 . . . . I’ve been always very much involved in third-party kind of politics in trying to get us out of this stranglehold of the two party system.” (Watch the video at

Fact is that the 51-year-old candidate and 10-year veteran of the Green Party belonged to the Socialist Labor Party for 18 years, from 1975 until 1993. There’s nothing wrong with being a Socialist, at least I don’t think so. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind about being a Socialist. However, there is something wrong about a candidate asking for your trust while concealing the truth when asked: “What is your history? What party have you identified with over your adult life?”

Green and yellow really do go together.

Robert Bills
National secretary
Socialist Labor Party of America
I've changed my mind on Socialism but I'm proud to have known Frank Zeidler and grateful for the brief time I spent with the SP. So I'm not Yellow about having been Red.

In fact, Bush's ownership society ideas seem awfully close to the pension fund socialism comrades like Whitney and I argued about back in the 1970s. So maybe I'm still one.

PS Let me add a link to the Illinois Channel where you can find the interview with Whitney.

I'd be awfully curious to know Julie Samual's political past too.

xp Bill Baar's West Side


Anonymous,  10:59 AM  

Looks like Whitney and Blago have a lot more in common than we thought.

Will make for tough choices for some people when they go to vote.

Blagojevich has my vote. He can get our socialist views out there and turn them into reality better than Whitney.

Bill Baar 11:05 AM  

anon, follow my link on Frank Zeidler and read the Milwaukee Journal's obit,

Milwaukee has had non-partisan elections since 1912, but Socialism had developed a strong foothold in the largely German and working-class Milwaukee of the turn of the century, said Milwaukee historian John Gurda.

"They were creative; they were incorruptible; they were absolutely incorruptible; they were frugal," Gurda said of the Socialists.

Blagojevich, Obama, a whole bunch of other so called progressives don't fit that mold.

I'm sticking with JBT.

Anonymous,  11:41 AM  

So, the Topinka camp has to go back nearly 14 years in order to even find ONE negative on Whitney? LOL She must be getting incredibly desperate in these final days!

Anonymous,  12:15 PM  


The issue isn't the socialist involvement as so much the fact that Whitney purposely hid the truth from the voters.

He is running as the alternative and has now become more of the same. No where on his website or his Project Vote Smart profile is this affiliation mentioned.

If it was just a youthful indiscretion, why did he not inform the public?

We have a Governor that will not come clean with the people that elected him and now the disappointment of the alternative not being honest.

Bill Baar 1:20 PM  


He blonged to one of the quirkiest and oddest parties on the American Left.

If you're familiar with the left, it's not Whitney's socialism but his DeLeonism that's odd....

This would be like Blajojevich revealing hidden activism with William Jennings Bryan's free silver or Topinka coming out as hidden activist for the gold standard.

It's the admitting a fascination with a quaint but cultish political party that's embarressing, and probably the reason he didn't disclose it.

The thing that would have garnered a socialisitic vote from me for would have been an thankful nod to a Socialist-Delonist heritiage and say, hey, Milton Friedman had something that made sense in 1974 and mabye the left should be joing Bush in 2006 on it....

"I have often speculated that an ingenious way for a socialist to achieve his objective would be to persuade Congress, in the name of fiscal responsibility, to (1) fully fund obligations under Social Security and (2) invest the accumulated reserves in the capital market by purchasing equity interests in domestic corporations...Suppose the president's proposed policy had been followed in the most extreme form from the outset in 1937, i.e. the whole excess of the Social Security payments...had been invested in the stock market...In that case the Social Security Trust Fund would own more than half domestic corporations! To return to my fantasy, full funding would have long since brought complete socialism." [31]

That would show some of the creativity the Milwaukee Socialist were known for on Whitney's part.

Then he'd sure hope some of their frugality and incorruptiblety would rub off on him too.

He get could a majority of the state singing the Workers Flag is Deepest Red.

Not to mention the old comrades were a pretty socially conservative lot by today's standards.

That might help get Bruno's alliance of decent progressives and conservatives. It can be done.

Anonymous,  1:38 PM  

I read Whitney's letter of resignation from the socialist labor party and towards the end he writes this:

"I shall work for socialism through more viable organizations and more promising pathways and methods."

He seems to have the momentum to do so now.

Pat Hickey 3:26 PM  

Hell, at least Rich Whitney belonged to the Socialist Party and didn’t merely play ball with them to advance his political career. He belonged and he quit. He joined Green.

There are members of my Democatic Party and even some loopy Republicans - the smarter than God - limosine liberals - who play ball with radical Leftists and even Commies to weave a mantel of Progressive for their tiny shoulders; those are real gutless wonders.

Bill Baar 3:55 PM  

Pat, I just wish he had acknowledged it instead of having to be outted about it.

Pat Hickey 5:07 PM  

He might have just forgotten - really.

If he never ran on any socialist ticket or anything. Maybe, he belonged like most Knights of Columbus members sem to do.

I thik that off-the-reservation Democrats are far more dangerous as they give the Commies some credibilty to the more tweedy-& turtlenecktypes.

dan l 8:49 PM  

Look...I'm right leaning enough so that, theoretically, when I hear "socialist", I immediately demand a trial.

But for some odd reason, I don't care. Not in the least. Not a bit. Not a hair. 0. Zip. Zilch. Nada. None.

To me, it's just another election year gag.

Larry Horse 11:28 PM  

Bush's ownership society was all talk. Too bad when you look at his actions, he's really done nothing to advance a society of more personal freedom, ownership, and responsibility.

Bush saying he's for an ownership society is like Joe Moore saying he's for working families. They both probably believe it to be true in their hearts, but their actions hurt these causes much more than they help. Any minor contribution that he may have passed towards an ownership society has been more than overwhelmed by his deficit and purely socialist programs.

Bill Baar 11:37 PM  

Bush got us Health Savings Accounts in the Medicare reforms of 2003. It will be far bigger then the drug benefit and the way we'll be paying for health care in ten years when combined with some Federal version of the Romney's Health care reform.

It's another step towards turing Americans from wage earners (wage slaves as the IWW would have said) into owners.

Now, crack the bigwigs who manage pension funds (and SSA) and turn that over to workers.

Ownership Society can sound awfully Marxist sometimes.

That's ok...

Larry Horse 2:20 AM  

The HSAs are a minor, watered-down version of true health care reform, and to suggest that they will be far bigger than the massive drug benefit is ludicrous. It was indeed what I was referring to as a minor contribution, because that's what Bush's HSA program is, especially since it was tied to a massive expansion of the welfare state that pushes people farther and farther away from an ownersip society. Read about the objective lie that is the "Ownership society" here (I say objective because I don't doubt that Bush wants more ownership, but if you actively work against what you preach, then objectively, you are lying):

Larry Horse 2:23 AM  

Other than the ill-conceived War in Iraq, the thing that disgusts me most about the Bush administration is that they claim to support the free market and "ownership" when their economic agenda is essentially debt-driven socialism. Not only do they have a horrible long-term economic agenda, but they have to give the free market a bad name by associating it with their abortion of a policy.

Bill Baar 7:58 AM  

...and to suggest that they will be far bigger than the massive drug benefit is ludicrous.

I think they'll grow just like IRA's did Larry. It's a real sleeper slipped into the legislation.

From an Illinois perspective, I wish JPT had latched onto Romney's plan as a compliment to it.

Of course, there is a solution here to the Illinois pension crisis too.

This is tough stuff for any politican and the frugality, and absolute incorrputablity of Milwaukee's Sewer Socialists would have helped a bit. Whitney walked away from it, but it's the only think of value left from the socialist heritage. It's not small thing either though.

Anonymous,  11:36 AM  

I think we should all look into what Topinka and Blagojevich were doing 14 years ago. I mean we don't see ANYTHING at Project Vote Smart! Why didn't they disclose this to the public. Oh my gosh, I'm so worried about them being so dishonest about this, that I'm going to have to vote for that Nuke guy. Come on, get real--when asked, Whitney answered.

Bill Baar 12:57 PM  

Topinka and Blagojevich have long long records.

Ask Whitney what the SLP's position was on same-sex marriage or Gay Rights while he was editor of The People?

It's not Red baiting I suspect Whitney's trying to hide. It's a long association with a pretty socialy conservative bunch of men by and large.

That's what's sort of comical about this all... JBT and Blajojevich march in Gay Rights Parades... when's the last time you saw anyone in a Gay Rights parade carrying a picture of the SLPs Daniel DeLeon?

Anonymous,  10:11 AM  

Actually Whitney AND the Illinois Green Party marched in the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago; and in fact, Dan Rodriguez-Schlorff, the Green Party's candidate for Illinois Governor, is the first openly gay candidate to run for statewide office in Illinois. Whitney is ON RECORD as supporting marriage equality. This is another "red herring."

Bill Baar 12:00 PM  

Sure,,, but you never saw Whitney carrying a Red Flag in a Gay Pride Parade during those 18 years with the SLP?

The old SLP comrades weren't too cool with that...

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