Resigning from The North Star

by Pham Binh on August 27, 2013

I’m resigning from my position at The North Star and retiring from political writing to take care of long-neglected problems and people in my personal life. This step is overdue, both for me individually and for the site as a thoroughly collective project, which it became in summer/fall of 2012.

Different forces and individuals on the left have used my role here as an excuse to avoid engaging The North Star, its arguments, its activists, its writers, and its readers. That will no longer fly, and so new cop-outs will be necessary.

I am confident the site will continue onwards qualitatively and upwards quantitatively even though progress is never fast enough for the revolutionary-minded.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Estes August 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Sounds like a wise decision. One of the enduring difficulties for the left has been, as you know, the inability of groups to accomodate the personal lives and relationships of people who cannot dedicate themselves to the cause 24/7. I hope that you are able to better focus on your personal life and resolve whatever problems you currently face.

Unfortunately, I believe that the issues that prevent people from engaging the North Star go beyond your participation with it. But, as you say, “new cop-outs will be necessary”. Perhaps, I have been overly negative at times (I have an admittedly nihilistic streak), but, always, I hope in the spirit of recognizing the importance of the enterprise.


Jon Hoch August 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Hey Pham,

Everybody needs a break, however lengthy that break might be. I hope that break’s not for good, because you’re really talented. But only you know what’s best for you. Friend me on Facebook if you start another account and are willing to add some far-flung loners! You know me, I won’t burden you with heavy political stuff in my feed :P



Robert Gahtan August 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I for one, will sorely miss your commentary and observations. You have contributed enormously to my thinking. All the best.


Darwin26 August 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Ouch! and Good Luck ~ i was very happy with your posts and moderating skill. a tough assignment to be sure. I do hope you’ll post and hang with us… i’m sorry to see you go.

Billings, Montana


Bob Morris August 27, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Hope things work out and that maybe you’ll be back at political writing somewhere sometime. I’ve enjoyed working with you. Happy trails.


Arthur August 27, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Hope your attention to other sides of life brings speedy results and enables renewed and reinvigorated participation again soon while maintaining an ongoing balance.


Sheldon August 27, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Good luck Pham, and take care, hope to see you back someday!


Abraham Marx August 28, 2013 at 12:36 am

There goes the neighborhood…


Saturn August 28, 2013 at 2:55 am

Well I’m sure glad you started the site. And yes I suppose it’s true, now people will have to take the site seriously as a forum about mass party strategy and organizational democracy, rather than sniping at it for your opinions on world events.


Saturn August 28, 2013 at 3:08 am

Anyway, thanks for starting this crazy thang, you really did kick off something important, and good luck with the personal stuff.


Des Derwin August 28, 2013 at 4:02 am

A blow, a big blow, but hopefully a temporary one. Au revoir comrade, I am indebted to you.

If it was you who posted Hal Draper (elsewhere here) you left us (for the time being) with a first shot and your best possible last (for now) 0n this route towards the north star.


Brian S. August 28, 2013 at 5:48 am

Sorry to hear of your departure, Binh. I’ve enjoyed our discussions immensely, both when we have agreed and when we have disagreed. You will be missed.
But I appreciate that there are times when political committments and LIFE pull in different directions. I wish you a speedy and positive resolution of the issues that have prompted this decision, and I look forward to your return in happier times.
You have left a significant legacy to us and stimulated critical left thinking in a way that is sorely needed.


Charles August 28, 2013 at 7:08 am

Sorry to see you go!


Benny Åsman August 28, 2013 at 7:19 am

Pham, I feel sorry you are quitting the NS. You have shown yourself to be one of the few in the Brittish left that doesn’t put up their finger in the air to feel from which direction the White House wind is blowing. Thanks for your concrete and non-dogmatic analyses of world events. After your departure my visits on NS will be less frequent.
Good luck with any problem you may have.
Benny, the swede


Manuel Barrera August 28, 2013 at 10:00 am

Take care of yourself, Binh. Solidarity forever.


Jitan August 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

You do realize the “left” has nothing against you personally but everything against your imperialist pro-war politics which run contra to everything the “left” stands for? That your arguments have been made over a dozen by far better thinkers than yourself? Stop painting yourself as some martyr to a bloody cause and accept yourself as a pro-liberal who likes to cover everything nasty he believes in with “bourgeois-revolution”.


Aaron Aarons August 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm

You’ve nailed it, Jitan. I personally have found it a lot more meaningful to debate with others of the North Star cadre than with Binh. If you leave out the Last Superpower crowd, Binh is on the right-wing end of those who post on this site, and he seems to be very fond of repeating himself while not dealing with opposing arguments.

Good-bye for now, Binh! I wish you well in your personal life.


Abraham Marx August 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Man Louis, you should repent


Louis Proyect August 29, 2013 at 10:00 am

Why should I repent? I paid hundreds of dollars to create this website. The idea was mine, not Pham Binh’s. I also don’t appreciate seeing my remarks deleted. I hope something good comes out of this but I really wonder how well its original mandate will be followed. I have some worries that it will become a grad student hangout, a more affable version of Platypus. Oh well, since I am not paying for it any more, it doesn’t matter very much. Peter Camejo’s vision of a North Star will remain relevant, whether or not this particular website loses track of it.


Derick Varn August 29, 2013 at 11:30 am

Your comments were removed because they are violated the comment policy set forth by Binh. We do not pull comments because they are critical of us, but we have a pretty clear stated policy about open insults to commenters.

Anyway, we hope that your skepticism will be proven wrong.


JP August 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm

What was the “mandate” of the previous North Star? Attacking other left organizations (e.g., ISO) and bringing pro-imperial views into the “conversation” (e.g., Patrick Muldowney)?

North Star already was a “more affable version of Platypus.”


Abraham Marx August 29, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Louis, this comment was meant in rejoinder to some other article. And facetiously. And as someone who appreciates your blog. And your mailing list even more.

It’s what made me a Marxist. Functionally you can say whatever you want about anything because you put your money and time into actions far more powerful.

I saw in North Star a chance to really focus on American tactics and strategy. Laying concrete….. Not theory weenie nonsense.

We’ll see.


Todd August 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Ah, the infantile-left’s coming out of the woodwork, braying . . . .


byork August 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm

You have my very best wishes, Binh. I hope this site remains a place where opposite views and analyses can continue to be debated. Your role in ensuring this has been much appreciated.


Robin Yassin-Kassab August 28, 2013 at 9:27 pm

i hope to read you again once you’ve established the necessary order. best wishes to you.


Jan Hoby August 29, 2013 at 4:20 am

sorry to hear that you will no longer contribute to The North Star, with all your insight, knowledge and perspective. Although I live in Denmark and has been a revolutionary socialist in more than 30 years – so many of your contribution has been educational for me. Wise socialists like you are really needed at the international left. We have a surplus of parrots, but not independent-minded and non-dogmatic socialists. So it’s a loss that you stop, – (for a time?)
Socialist greetings from Denmark


Red Blob aka Steve Owens August 29, 2013 at 5:44 am

Dear Pham Binh, Good luck, you’ve written a lot here and Ive been meaning to read most if not all of it. Your absence will allow me time to catch up but don’t stay away too long or the revolution will come and go and make us all redundant.
When I leave a place and people say nice things I always say if I had known people were going to be this nice I would have left a long time ago.


Jon Hoch August 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

I have the same worries as Louis, but I’m willing to see where it goes.


Andrew Coates August 29, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I have always found your contributions valuable and wish you well Pham.


Deran August 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I see the CentCom has already deleted the entirety of the original About section and rechristened TNS as another Journal for Meaningless Marxist Maundering.

Althusser? Zhouenlai? Really?


Abraham Marx August 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

This is my thinking exactly.

The North Star was founded on the premise of being a place for American leftists to come together and discuss things. As you note, the About section strips out Frederick Douglass entirely.

“we aim to put North American socialists in conversation with socialists in different traditions and cultures”……. i.e. since we Americans are so backwards, reactionary, and impotent, let’s just fetishize other parts of the world, and pretend that becoming” experts” on a situation halfway round the world translates into anything other than self-regard.

I think that the editorial board, as it is now, should take on board some other people. Proyect for one. And I’d also like it if Binh, in the spirit of Lenin, offered up a last testament that wouldn’t go uncensored (I’d bet that they changed the admin password as soon as he left)….


Jon Hoch August 30, 2013 at 9:29 am

I think in the open spirit of TNS we should vote on the editorial board.


Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) August 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Sorry to see you leave TNS but I’ve had the feeling for some time now that TNS has left the struggle. I checked in here today to see if you had anything on Syria, but then why would you? It only the point of sharpest struggle right now.

In stead I find this.


Anthony Abdo September 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Unfortunately, I had praised this earlier this week, site from moving away from censoring comrade’s comments way too soon. I posted a comment yesterday that dealt with the use of censorship on this site, its cause, and its history. This is certainly a relevant topic for discussion on this particular thread. However, it was not allowed online.

A site like North Star that allows its ‘moderators’ to pick and choose in censorious manner what others are allowed to post is not going to ever be worth very much. There is always a need to have moderators but so many times those moderators abuse their position and act as censors instead. This is especially troublesome given the history of marxist leninists internally throwing comrades out of their own organizations almost nonstop historically. It is especially egregious in that the general population knows that marxists have murdered millions of their own comrades historically, which is still the biggest impediment from marxist ideas ever being given much of a hearing in the US and many other countries as well.

North Stat should loosen up greatly on it policies of not publishing peoples’ posts. If the site wee to be spammed by an automatic spamming software such as the Zionists are well known to use, certainly moderators should move into doing their work. But otherwise they should have a most liberal policy of NOT USING their powers. Moderation of web sites like this one where discussion is going on, destroy the whole concept of discussion when they are too delighted to always use their DELETE button.


Pavel Dubrovsky September 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Your post that was rejected was one long ad hominem attack on someone who’s not even a part of North Star. Read our comment guidelines if you have any doubts about what’s appropriate.


Anthony Abdo September 8, 2013 at 1:33 am

Actually, my removed post was an ‘attack’ on somebody who donated previously hundreds of dollars to North Star (in his own words) and who felt thus entitled to be able to continue to always dictate a censorious policy at the North Star website, same as he does on the other websites he runs, Pavel. My ‘attack’ reviewed some of his long lengthy personal history of how he ‘deletes’ other opinions from his own on a consistent basis at websites he controls, and how he wants to continue to do the very same at North Star if he were to get his way more here.

‘Your post that was rejected was one long ad hominem attack on someone who’s not even a part of North Star.’


Derick Varn September 8, 2013 at 2:54 am

If it is who I believe you are talking about, he has had a few of his comments deleted for the same reason. Said individual all but libeled me personally from the safety of his in the last week for not being able to get his way or for posts to have his tacit approval since we apparently do not agree with him on points of international policy.

So, if we are pulling his posts down for being ad hominems, then we have to be consistent. You will notice, however, that this is pretty much allowed to stand because it contextualizes your issue substantively. If we were being ideologically censorious, we are pretty bad at it.


Anthony Abdo September 8, 2013 at 6:13 am

(OOPs! Error. I meant 50 years and not 450 years. So I changed that…. I’m not that old yet!)

For me the issue is not merely differences with a certain individual or two over their support for imperialist interventionism in Syria and Libya at North Star or elsewhere, but policies regarding censorship of comrades both on the internet and in socialist organizations about all topics. In the case of the particular person who I am accused of launching ad hominem attacks on, this guy has ‘deleted’ me over a period of about 18 years multiple times from the list he is most famous for owning. And his protege, who he financially sponsored here, has done the same thing multiple times previously at North Star as well. So obviously the issue to me is not about anybody’s views on Syria or anybody’s views about anything other than their idea that this is the right way to do ‘moderating’.

Comrades who post on political sites have problems elsewhere than just at marxism list or here on North Star with having their posts, or themselves, getting ‘deleted’. I have no trouble much at all on alternet, yet at commondreams, their Michael Moorish-Norman Solomonish view of the Democratic Party has them nonstop censoring and removing me and many others who disagree with their particular from Maine brand of US reformist, ‘lesser of 2 evil’ voting and general mindset.

The desire of liberals and Leftists, socialists and communists to cut off debate from being allowed to happen, has been something that has bedeviled myself over almost 50 years personally, but for literally hundreds of thousands of others as well. It is a serious issue, and any attempt to reduce it down to trying to besmirch people for being ad hominem attackers or other behavioral accusations is just pure absurdity and deflection from talking about this huge and very real problem on the Left. It is almost as ridiculous as accusing Trotskyists of being only ad hominem attackers against Mao and Stalin. It is just nonsense, in short. This is a discussion that never will be terminated without a lot of anger being stirred up, because as this particular individual I am charged with personally attacking said himself, …’ I also don’t appreciate seeing my remarks deleted.’

LESSON HERE- Then don’t treat others this way yourselves, Comrades!


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