Standing In Shadow: White Man

By George E. Jordan

NY Newsday, April 6, 1992

The New Alliance Party calls itself a black-led organization, but it was founded and is still largely dominated by a white political activist who calls himself a therapist even though he has no formal training in psychology.

Fred Newman credits a counseling job two decades ago at a drug clinic with his emergence as the guru of social therapy—the theory that binds what is now a multimillion-dollar political, publishing and entertainment enterprise.

Bronx-born Newman, 51, earned a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University. He said he was bounced from three [?] college teaching jobs in the 1960s because of anti-Vietnam War activities.

Desperate for work, he answered a newspaper ad for counselors at a state-run drug clinic in Queens “Blame it on the State of New York,” he said recently at the party's lower-Manhattan cultural center. “They let me pass that test and convinced me I could counsel.”

Newman, fired from the clinic after six months for organizing a work stoppage, started his own political collective on the Upper West Side called Centers for Change. After joining and then breaking from Lyndon LaRouche's political movement in 1974, Newman began promoting his brand of social therapy and, along with several dozen disciples, founded the International Worker's Party, which later evolved into the New Alliance Party.

“What we're becoming, and what we are concerned with,” Newman said, ‘is creating a third national political party that can operate nationally, independent from the Democratic and Republican Parties.”

Newman maintains he is not the New Alliance Party's leader—that that job belongs to Lenora Fulani—and says he has no control over the organization's lucrative business enterprises. Newman—Fulani's campaign manager, mentor and former group psychotherapist—speaks of her parental tones. “I organized her,” he said. “She is one of my life's “proudest accomplishments.”

Newman' critics call him a cult leader who uses therapy to manipulate people. His followers call him a profound theoretician and skilled businessman who is under constant attack because he poses a threat to the Democratic Party.

“This man is someone I love very dearly,” Fulani said. “I have worked with him for the past 15 years by choice because of his political positions … To suggest that is anything other than a choice is so insulting. It's racist and sexist to its core.”

Newman tries to downplay his brief, 1974 association with LaRouche, who has since moved to the extreme right and is currently serving time in federal prison for campaign fraud. “It's been almost two decades,” he said, “We're a long way from that.”

But Dennis King, who has written two books about LaRouche, says both men are highly organized, aggressive fundraisers and advocates of psychotherapy.

Newman denies that his therapy clinics brainwash patients and steer them into New Alliance.

But at the core of his social therapy is a belief that most emotional problems are in reaction to sexism, racism or homophobia. When a patient is cured, Newman has written, “the patient is organized … [a cure] must result in the patient performing revolutionary acts.”

Ben Harris, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin and an expert in the history of psychology, said social therapy poses many potential ethical conflicts. “The cynical view,” he said, “is it's a way to control people, because if your [New Alliance Party] cell leader is your therapist, you have nowhere to hide.”

Unlike most states, New York does not require therapists to be licensed or have any special training in psychology.