Hiatus, and Rebirth

by The North Star Editorial Collective on August 28, 2013

It is no secret that in the last few months, for reasons mostly personal, The North Star has lost two of its editors, including its founding editor, Pham Binh. We will miss his contributions and wish him only the best in his personal and professional life. In light of these events, however, we have had to rethink our organizational structure and our mission in the last few weeks.

We have decided to take a hiatus until late September in order to institute a more formal editorial structure, revise our mission statement, and clean up the site, which has lately been plagued with technical issues. Moreover, we wish to significantly expand our focus internationally, since the editorial staff is increasingly living outside of the United States. This does not mean lessening our focus on U.S. politics per se but expanding the scope of our content. This may mean fewer reposts of articles and more original content, more interviews, and perhaps more fora in the future. It will also mean more content from writers outside of North America to broaden the perspective and debate. We are also syndicating podcasts, such as Black Sheep Radio and Diet Soap, in our weekly feed. We also hope to make the site more functionally searchable, more aesthetically pleasing, and to prevent  comments from disappearing—a technical glitch we hope to resolve soon.

During the hiatus, the site will not go down and there will be some content to read, but we will not be publishing original content.  We will also be soliciting regular contributors and section editors for Asia and Europe. All current submissions that are not immediately topical will be responded to and held for publication after the hiatus. The authors will be notified as their status before publication, although response time may not be immediate during the restructuring.

We also encourage you to give us feedback on things you would like to see here in the comment section of this announcement. The larger community of the North Star readership is why we do this, and feedback is appreciated, particularly if you are a longtime reader but have not been active in the comment section before.

C. Derick Varn
Editor in Chief

Pavel Dubrovsky
Editor in Chief

Ismael Diablada
Americas Editor

Stephen H.
Americas Editor

Dario Cankovic
Critical Theory Editor

Matthijs Krul
Economic Section Editor

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Deran August 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm

So, no more focus on building something new in the US? North Star becomes another place for Marxist academics to drone on and on? I miss comrade Binh already.


Derick Varn August 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Good luck building something new without first understand why most of the attempts to do exactly what you want in the past century have failed. But expanded focus does not mean, not a focus: it means, clearly, that is not the only focus.


Ismael Diablada August 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Deran, we’ll continue to publish material on US regroupment, multitendency socialist politics, left unity, etc. (as long as I’m involved, anyway). The perceived tension between that and “Marxist academics” is mostly self-constructed, I’d say, and there’s no reason that socialists from different places and orientations can’t talk to each other and learn from one another. In fact, that’s sorta the point.


Deran August 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Please, comrade, those sorts of discussions have been going on at least since I was a lad in the late-70s, 1980s. To suggest that all this needs going over again seems unsupportable. And these discussions are not hidden. They are archived all over the internet. Admittedly so have discussions aboutt socialist regroupment in the US, but there has been an opening to create something new in the US, North Star was leading forum in that project. Now The North Star seems to be going into the Marxist comfort zone of abstract theoretical maundering.


C. Derick Varn August 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm

The hard line you draw between “theory” and “regroupment” seems to be pretty problematic.

“To suggest that all this needs going over again seems unsupportable.”

Really, then why has so little changed for socialists in the states since the 1950s if that were the case, and why is that not true in other areas of the developed world. The idea that talking about that necessarily means not talking about regroupment seems. . . well, let’s just say it doesn’t seem to follow from deductive or dialectical logic.


Karl Grant August 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I think the shift towards international emphasis seems wise — the most weighty happening giving weight to the left unity perspective in recent years has been the rise of Syriza and the catalyzing effect that has facilitated on unity projects across the continent. Any analysis in that vein should speak to the American experience and encourage it.

Left sectlets have been under tremendous pressure from the success of the DutchSP/Syriza/LeftFront etc and have had to clarify their positions, strategies for growth, and perspectives on unity under the force of this pressure.

In the States, The North Star has been an irreplaceable ‘political centre’ for raising critiques of the sects through that framework, and bringing together activists involved in local projects such as the Philly Socialists that speak to the potential for a nonsectarian left.

Lets keep it going.


Darwin26 August 28, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Well i took the G-kdz camping an i missed a few issues the last week or so but the ones dealing with building a real Left Party are at the top of my catching up list. I’m currently trying to make the movement/party happen at: uniting_people[at]lists.riseup.net PLEASE join us and make it happen.
We’ve all kinds ‘n shapes of coalitions, parties, individuals, orgs, #occupy looking to make through organizational Mandates/Platforms/Tenets, making Electoral politics happen while vaporizing Wall St and the Pentagon and bring on Full Employment / Peace. a Herculean task to be sure.
At Uniting People we don’t chat about Socialism or who’s a commie ’cause that’s an org killer ~ Karl and Friedrich spent enormous time putting out the fires of sectarian narcissism, (and it probably made the North Star rag back in the days of Manchester England circa 1835 – ’47, where the North Star actually began before Karl Marx. But for sure that’s part of a Socialist freedom to argue and discuss the various points and why we need to have this North Star site so we can keep the seething sectarians here and not upsetting our progress to End Wars and Achieve full Employment at our site.


Jon Hoch August 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm

To me the proof will be in the pudding. The North Star was getting 50 Facebook likes a day for a bit and that’s pretty much plateaued over the past week or so.

I agree with Deran though that we should definitely err on the side of a non-academic focus. Most people aren’t academics or interested in being one. We should aim for as populist an orientation as possible. Big tent.


Jon Hoch August 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Also, if you’re syndicating podcasts, why aren’t they on iTunes? That’s where most people get their podcasts from. (Apologies if they’re on there and I just don’t see them. A quick search for “North Star” found nothing)


Down with zionism August 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm

It is interesting to know who was the other Editor? Was it Louis Proyect, the closet Zionist, the protector of the “jewish state” who was pushing for a military strike on Syria to help Israel?


Pavel Dubrovsky August 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm

The reference was to Ben Campbell


Abraham Marx August 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Craft a clear sense of self purpose and identity. Whatever that may be.

The North Star is named after the american abolitionist paper, and so seems suited to focus on America as battleground and subject of discussion.

But, whatever your conclusions, settle on it, and stick with it, and don’t fall prey to mission creep. Narrow the focus, put on some blinders, and set some reachable goals.


Saturnite August 29, 2013 at 2:42 am

The north star gained its initial following due to rethinking US left strategy to fill the extremely high demand for a new left alternative. It also came from some reflections about improving organizational democracy in socialist groups.

So to refocus it on the bizarre international stance taking that was the site’s greatest detraction (Besides the heinous sectarianism against the ISO) is a fatal strategy and exhibits a lack of constance in purpose, which is ironic given the site’s navigational name.

At this point it honestly sounds like you are trying to become a new international, without the disgrace of admitting it.


pinkfishegg August 29, 2013 at 10:19 am

Dariwin26, I tried to go to uniting_people[at]lists.riseup.net and was redirected to https://lists.riseup.net/www/ .


patrickm August 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm

The way to develop is mostly by talking out in the open rather than huddling with like minded thinkers and talking in private. IMV that’s what has been going on at TNS and the result is not good.

I think the people that are now running the site are not that keen on commentators but rather (I guess) they would prefer to address the readers that never say boo. Well that’s just not how this stuff works. Those readers will go if the big debates don’t happen. It would be easy to slip back into Neverland at this crucial point when the paralysis is demonstrating that the editors are wobbling around on the fence.

If you don’t write much and never debate others who could possibly change your mind then you just aren’t very interesting and the rot will continue.

Lets look at the numbers for the TNS.

The following is a snapshot look at ‘the numbers’ for TNS on the 29th.

I just wanted to look at some issues of direction so I had to start a review somewhere and this was just a way that I thought of. Others will no doubt have better thoughts on how to review TNS, so things are moveable, but I think there are some solid lessons in these numbers whatever way we look at them. The important point for me was just that it was a quick method to get some numbers together to think further about how to develop TNS.
I counted from the bottom up and as I have to teach a bit of primary school maths anyway the students got put to the task (adding the bottom 1 from the next page and so on) cruel I know but It will all come good when there is 1 more post and counting is one of those things kids have to practice…but now that I have the numbers (I take full responsibility for any errors but its not that far out as far as I can see and the point is not total precision at all) lets see what to make of them

The first thing I propose is to simply drop off the first 3 ‘pages’ as the initial start up phase that is of no particular consequence now. 15 posts constitute a page thus the first 45 posts are simply set aside as the site was being started and in total only 124 comments were made so that rounds at about 3 comments per post.

When http://www.thenorthstar.info/?paged=29 has 1 more post the snapshot will briefly become 29 full pages (15X 29= 435) that we can go backwards from; discounting the start-up 3 we are left with 26 X 15 = 390 (that post is now made!)

What happens when we take out the top 3 posts from each page that has 15 posts, so we then get comments on 3 and comments on the 12 other posts? We get an average and see what that looks like for each and then think about where the future effort aught to go if we want to see this project grow and continue to be a useful contribution to any left project.

IMV quite good evidence for the power of ‘let a hundred schools of thought contend’ and who is engaged and has a real belief in this project is revealed when we take a look at the past.

What were the top articles and did they stimulated involvement with the site more generally? Numbers on current ‘pages’ first.

Pg 29 37
28 40 first three pages disregarded
27 47

Total top 3 = av remainder av
Pg 26 315 (177,35,30) 142 47 173 14 177
Pg 25 429 (154,81,44) 279 93 150 13
Pg 24 166 (25,24,22) 71 24 95 8
Pg 23 846 (196,167,109) 472 157 374 31 196 Pg 22 217 (53,37,22) 112 37 105 9
Pg 21 207 (61,52,20) 133 43 74 6
Pg 20 138 (35,30,30) 95 31 43 3
Pg 19 285 (128,51,46) 224 74 61 5
Pg 18 292 (119,62,25) 206 69 86 7
Pg 17 374 (90,88,61) 239 79 135 11
Pg 16 219 (83, 51,27) 161 53 58 5
Pg 15 265 (128,63,23) 214 71 51 4
Pg 14 521 (143,130,79) 352 117 169 14
Pg 13 114 (43,42,8) 93 31 21 2
Pg 12 411 (229,57,43) 330 110 81 7
Pg 11 158 (40 35, 13) 88 29 70 6
Pg 10 251 (54,45,38) 137 46 114 10
Pg 9 309 (208,19,14) 241 80 68 6 208
Pg 8 1,057 (387,149,129) 665 221 392 33 387
Pg 7 671 (243,86,76) 405 135 266 22
Pg 6 604 (204,121,57) 382 127 222 19
Pg 5 488 (140, 91, 90) 321 107 167 14
Pg 4 628 (349,172,64) 585 195 43 4
Pg 3 497 (150,145,69) 364 121 133 11
Pg 2 291 (53,45,40) 138 46 153 13
Pg 1 87 (25,20,17) 62 21 25 2 incomplete

What stands out is the way that publishing contentious articles stimulates not just debate on the particular article but debate on the also ran articles as well. The site was lively when there was real disagreement and people ought to think about that as they are slowing down when all hell is breaking loose in the anti-war movement that they all (I guess) have come from. Are they in or out on this one?

For example when the editor published my article last August it drew debate and was not bettered in the numbers for a long long time. Then when the anniversary of the liberation of Iraq was debated (and my submission rejected) a debate broke out anyway and the numbers then doubled again.

Of course one has to consider the quality of the comments as well as the quantity, but there can’t be ANY quality without a quantity to mine and what has stunned a lot of people at TNS is the sort of arguments that they have never heard before.

But I think that some people just do not believe in this project as an engagement with others that really do think differently and they have not participated in the debate in for example the top 10 threads as but the clearest example of this.

Contributions of just numbers in themselves do not mean that much if they are of a junk level that site owners don’t value anyway; but on the other hand no response or low and falling numbers of comments is not a good sign either and ultimately will doom a project and this type of project is very hard to build without engaging in debate.

I have just reviewed the top 10 posts of TNS (they range from 387 comments to 163) and none were written by C. Derick Varn, Ismael Diablada and Andrew S., Matthijis Krul or Dario Cankovic and that is OK of course but I also looked for any involvement in any of these big debates and that was a concern because Dario Cankovic turned up twice in 1 post February 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm February 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm and Ismael Diablada once on June 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm in another.
So it appears that the current editors have a very different track record than Pham Bihn. The change of direction is already apparent (with the material selected for posting) and is not only disappointing from my POV but from a review of the numbers responding disappointing to others.

It is gob smacking to me, the general silence as the Syrian drama unfolds. The post ‘On the Levan’t is uninteresting. People want a current cruise missile defense to be posted on a site that is known to have published in favor of a united front war against tyranny in Libya and Syria. The silence is very loud.

Is there a policy being pursued to not be in full on debate about the coming attack on Syria? Are people unsure of what to say other than they feel sure they want to distance TNS from…..

I think that TNS is stuck for some time with this issue as the key issue that can develop genuine democrats and communists out of the shattered western human material that has come out of the failed 21stC anti war movement.

To give the site any chance of developing a larger base of readers and commentators there has to be an editorial stand even if divided on what is to be done NOW.

Who is going to march with the old gang and who is not! Who admits to being on the fence?

The record shows what people are interested in debating and what they yawn about and 0 comments on a post really does show poor editorial selection.

Pity that Binh had to bow out just when all his red line views from last December are turning to mush and anti-war demos are being called by the usual suspects. A genuine left needs to speak up for war!

Here is the sort of crap that’s out their in the places frequented by our current editor that posted the last not ‘time crucial’ offering http://socialistunity.com/allegations-of-chemical-weapons-use-by-syrian-government-forces-dont-stack-up/
This is the Neverland gutter that would never support the use of these chemical weapons (of course) but all it can think of is to protect from the consequences those that would initiate much larger slaughter of the innocent in Halabja. People that know better have the hide to keep saying remember Iraq! WTF remember Halabja and the Anfal slaughter and remember that in destroying the mass murdering regime of Saddam Hussein and liberating the Iraqi peoples the revolution across this swamp was launched.

Nobody did anything when the Iraqi Baathists did 10 times worse than this latest attack by the Syrian tyranny. Many years went past before that bastard was hanged by the Iraqi peoples.

Getting tyrants dealt with is so new that we forget that when Saddam Hussein did so much worse the US under realist politicians hid it and to this day do not draw the direct link but rather shake their heads and caution people to remember Iraq!! Sheesh mindful of Iraq – are people on drugs?


admin August 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm
ISH August 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

“Pity that Binh had to bow out just when all his red line views from last December are turning to mush and anti-war demos are being called by the usual suspects. A genuine left needs to speak up for war! ”

One hopes a relaunched North Star would not be a home to such repulsive social imperialist sentiment. I’m sure there are plenty of neocon blogs out there where such a grotesque statement would be welcome.


Louis Proyect August 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Ish, the views of Pham Binh (and me, for that matter) converge with some of the largest groups on the left like the ISO in the USA, the British SWP (that despite its terrible record on sexual assaults in the party and internal democracy has always had a very good position on Syria–as well as other issues, of course), the NPA in France, Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance in Australia. Your views are closely associated with the Marcyite sects and John Rees’s Counterfire website in Britain. Of course, you can have differences over these matters and be part of the same broad movement. However, by referring to Binh as “social imperialist”, you are regressing to the sort of Stalinist and “old school” Trotskyist smears that helped destroy the left in the 1970s and 80s. I have a feeling that young people will reject your sort of Vishinsky-style prosecution.


ISH August 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm


1) By quoting patrickm of the Last Superpower grouping I was pretty clearly referring to him and his prolifically commenting cothinkers as “social imperialists” not you and Binh. Though your and Binh’s record on Libya and Syria (still?) has you bringing up the rear I wasn’t referring to you at all.
2) I have no idea why you would label me anything resembling a Marcyite. Check your glasses next time you read something I’ve written.
3) It’s rich for you to accuse me of “Vishinsky-style prosecution” after your thankfully now deleted personal bullying outburst on another thread. Pot meet kettle.


Louis Proyect August 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Sorry, Ish. My cataracts sometimes get in the way of my reading comprehension. In terms of the people who you are referring to, I think their worst sin was not their politics but their repetitiveness. When you have those people and Aaron Aarons banging away at each other 25 times a day, it makes you want to go somewhere else. I have my doubts on the future of this website, but I would like to see commenters limited to 5 a day. Even if there is not a mechanism to enforce it, it would be a useful guideline.


Pavel Dubrovsky August 30, 2013 at 3:52 am

“A genuine left needs to speak up for war!”



Jon Hoch August 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Honestly, I feel like the direction TNS is going in is academic silliness. Who knows or cares who Ted Grant is? I certainly don’t. And compared to the general population I’m a lot more interested in socialist ideas and people. So if you can’t get me interested, that’s not a good sign for growth.



Jon Hawk August 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Not to create a cult of personality around Pham or anything haha, but one of the things he said that I really liked was that reading socialist stuff shouldn’t feel like being forced to eat your greens. It should feel fun and urgent. That’s not how stuff has felt here recently.

I think there should be a debate about the direction of TNS and possibly new editors should be chosen. (Don’t take that as me volunteering) If that doesn’t work out, I think we should take non-sectarian, non-jargony, non-Marxist-equivalent-of-how-many-angels-are-on-a-pin ethos elsewhere.


Jon Hoch August 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm

OK, I’ve tried to comment on three different threads now. None of them have gone through. What’s the deal?


Jon Hawk August 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I’ve tried to retype a critique of the site’s apparent new direction like three times in different ways. I’ve tried posting it to the different articles and none of them go through. What’s the deal?


Pavel Dubrovsky August 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Your post got caught by the spam filter. You then resubmitted it, with slight changes in wording, 15 times in the first few minutes and then an additional 14 times over the first hour. Exactly what a spam filter thinks a spambot does. We check the filter every few hours (we’re volunteers here). If a post doesn’t go through immediately, we’ll find it in the filter and release it. Resubmitting a post that’s flagged as spam by the filter won’t do anything but cause the filter to think you’re a spambot.


Abraham Marx August 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I’ve got something to say about the most recent article… On Trotskyism and Cliff….

Not a week prior I submitted an article titled the North Star. I had no notion of the Binh shitstorm or the headless state of the paper….

In it I drew a comparison to Douglass paper of the same name, and to the need to move past sect/Marxist language. I suggested the rhetoric of slaves, abolition, and emancipation were extremely useful arsenals we leave unused.

I also wrote a bit about what a paper that honed in on the abolitionist image would say and do.

It seems especially prescient. And, seeing that still more tasteless sect whining is posted instead of an article about the future of the North Star and the American left, I have to wonder who is in charge, and what kind of backwards sect blood feud they can’t seem to get over.

I am disappoint.


Ken Morgan August 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Louis Proyect wrote:”Ish, the views of Pham Binh (and me, for that matter) converge with some of the largest groups on the left like the ISO in the USA, the British SWP (that despite its terrible record on sexual assaults in the party and internal democracy has always had a very good position on Syria–as well as other issues, of course), the NPA in France, Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance in Australia”

Speaking for Pham Binh, no not really, unless he changed his previous position of supporting US military action in Syria. I just heard the House of Commons has voted against UK military action in Syria.



Louis Proyect August 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm

The ISO has evolved since then:

IT WOULD be very easy in a presentation on U.S. imperialism in the Middle East to state that the U.S. and NATO are fueling a civil war in Syria by arming the rebels, and that they are lying about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons as a fig leaf for foreign intervention. Then we pat ourselves on the back for exposing this latest attempt by U.S. imperialism to control the region–and, for good measure, denounce Syrian revolutionaries as al-Qaeda terrorists allied with Washington.

Some may be content with that explanation, but I think that’s a simplistic view that doesn’t accurately represent what’s happening.

full: http://socialistworker.org/2013/07/11/understanding-syrias-revolution


Arthur August 30, 2013 at 11:44 am

They are clearly taking that “easy” line. Current theme is:


It isn’t just “simplistic”. It is outright apologetics for fascist mass murder.


Matt September 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm

(Sigh), again, whatever it is, the Assad regime is not “fascist”.

This is really the most vulgar sort of politics.


Ken Morgan August 30, 2013 at 8:29 am

Nothing in this article, would indicate the ISO supports direct US military action, air strikes, and ground troops in direct support of the Syrian rebels. The ISO has never supported Assad, so no change there.

In Portland, OR, this past April the ISO helped organize , staff, and provide speakers for a two day conference, “Palestine, Imperialism and the New Middle East: The Arab Spring Two Years On”. I attended that conference. The ISO position , at that conference, was in support of the Syrian revolution, which seemed to be the sentiment of the overwhelming majority at this conference. At the same time no one, including the Syrians and Palestinians, present, called for direct U.S. military intervention.

In the “Socialist Worker,” article, I do see support for the rebels getting arms from any source, including the U.S. I suppose it’s possible that Pham Binh reversed his previous position calling for direct military action in Syria. Did this happen?

The paragraph from the article beginning with “It would be very easy’ and ending with “terrorists allied with Washington” has been the position of groups such as Party for Socialism and Liberation and Workers World Party. This has never been an ISO position.

To wrap, up the article supports the armed opposition to Assad, doesnt’t oppose the armed opposition receiving arms from any source, including the U.S., and doesn’t call for direct US military intervention.

Louis, I think that’s fairly close to your own position.


Louis Proyect August 30, 2013 at 10:06 am

There’s more to this than the article. At the last Left Forum, the ISO organized a workshop focused on a presentation by the http://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/ blogger who asserts the right of the FSA to get weapons from any source, including “Satan’s Grandmother”–a term I really found very apt.


Ken Morgan August 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

Louis, if you find any source, where the ISO supports a US military assault on Syria, whether, it be by, aerial or naval bombardment, cruise missle attacks, or Army and/or Marines, in county on the ground, in Syria, please share.

The main source of conflict, regarding Syria, between Pham Binh and the ISO, as well as myself, has been Binh’s support of a US military invasion of, or aerial bombardment of Syria. Unless Binh has reversed his position, then no, the ISO and he have not converged in views, on this question.

At the Portland conference, I mentioned earlier, I heard no one, and I asked people between meetings, who supported US bombing or invasion of Syria. Once again, I’ll state, this was a conference, where there was no, at least visible, support for Assad.

Those who insist that support for the Syrian revolution requires support of a US war drive in Syria, do more harm than good, for those fighting to overthrow the Assad regime.


Louis Proyect August 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Binh’s position was this:

“The moment the Syrian and Libyan revolutions demanded imperialist airstrikes and arms to neutralize the military advantage enjoyed by governments over revolutionary peoples, anti-interventionism became counter-revolutionary because it meant opposing aid to the revolution.”

This in essence is consistent with defending Ho Chi Minh’s right to get backing from the OSS or Lenin traveling to Russia on a German train. Unlike Paul Berman or Christopher Hitchens, Binh has never once written an article urging the president of the USA to attack Libya or Syria. The fact that the USA bombed Libya does not lead to any conclusions about the rebels, just as the New Zealand/Australian invasion of East Timor determine the character of the liberation movement that demanded such action. Nor does it say anything about the Socialist Alliance in Australia that supported an invasion. I understand that this might be difficult for you to understand, but a look at Trotsky’s “Learn to Think” might help. Plus, Ken, you need to lose about 50 pounds for your health.


Pavel Dubrovsky August 30, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Please stop with the schoolyard ad hominems Louis Proyect or you will be moderated.


Louis Proyect August 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Pavel, it is not an ad hominem. There has to be transparency on this website that would not exist unless I paid for it initially and helped Binh with technical support. Binh had a long history as a member of the ISO, an editor of a newspaper geared to Vietnam veterans, and a writer of some importance. While I never had any responsibility for the content here, many people understood that it had my endorsement. The name North Star only came into existence because I was a close collaborator with Peter Camejo on the original North Star network. If you don’t want to share your CV or have none worth mentioning, that is fine. In fact, it is very possible that I will be launching a new North Star website at some point that will be consistent with its original mission.


Pavel Dubrovsky August 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I was referring to your comment to “Ken”. Telling someone that they need to lose 50 pounds as a closing shot in a post is both childish and an ad hominem. It’s a violation of our rules. Don’t do it again.


Louis Proyect August 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Yes, you are right. I was unfortunately reacting to the fact that Ken Morgan has a blog whose sole purpose is to defame Binh and me. I should have not allowed that to enter the equation. My apologies.


Derick Varn August 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

People publishing under nom de plumes here is not new, in fact, the piece you published today criticizing us is under an assumed name from an author who has published here under an assumed name. This has been the case for almost a year, and yet this is the first time this has raised your ere. This is fine with me as people have their reasons–professional and personal–for not publishing under their legal name. If wish to launch another North Star network in honor of Camejo, there is nothing we would or could do to stop you. However, if this is in the spirit of open dialogue, I must say, you do not seem all that open to working with people who disagree with you.


S.Artesian September 7, 2013 at 2:41 am

Excuse me, Ho Chi Minh obtained US aid and used that “aid”– those weapons to suppress the imminent proletarian revolution the vacuum of the Japanese collapse, and to welcome back the imposition of imperialism. “Ours is a bourgeois democratic revolution” said Ho’s comrades as they broke strikes, arrested strikers, disarmed workers’ militias and genuflected in front of the British occupiers.

So maybe, just maybe you might want to think or re-think that whole thing about taking arms from Western imperialists, not for what it says about Western imperialists, but because it says absolutely nothing about social revolution.

Nahh……you probably don’t want to do that.


Arthur August 30, 2013 at 12:35 pm

This is intended to be a response to Louis Proyect’s comment on an “easy” but “simplistic” position, but two attempts to post it at the right spot have failed.

Its clear they have adopted that “easy” position. Current theme is:


This is not just “simplistic” but outright apolgetics in support of nothing being done to prevent wider chemical mass murder attacks. They unambiguously want more people killed. Of course if the imperialists did nothing about it they would cheerfully denounce them for doing nothing but what they are compelled to do is take the extremely “difficult” position of branding themselves as apologists for mass murder by fascist regimes.


Ben Campbell September 3, 2013 at 3:18 am

The current editors of North Star were all invited to run the site by both Pham Binh and I, both of whom had to depart for personal reasons — I don’t know Pham’s situation, but I no longer have the time for this. Editing a “multi-tendency” site is actually quite tiresome and thankless, so I wish people would give the new editorial collective a chance before planning a mutiny (or worse, another ‘North Star’. Could you imagine that? Two Freedom Road Socialist Organizations is bad enough).

Ismael Diablada has actually been editing this site for nearly a year (joining at the same time I did), so there is clear continuity in the editorial lineup. Most of the other editors have been around in some capacity for months. They were each invited for their experience and quality of writing, which is excellent. In fact, I’m confident that each one of the new editors is more qualified to run the site than I ever was.

The only complaint that I think has merit concerns the gender imbalance — but I am sure the editors recognize this. Believe it or not, it’s not like people (especially women) are lining up to volunteer their time to fledgling Marxist web publications. Thankfully, Binh, Ismael, and I were able to convince several excellent editors to join on. I’m confident that the website will continue to improve.


Derick Varn September 3, 2013 at 3:20 am

We do, and honestly, we do not want to comment on feminist issues until it is fixed.


C. Derick Varn September 3, 2013 at 11:00 pm


A set of criticism from some readers that we disagree with but do want people to know we are considering.


Karl Grant September 3, 2013 at 11:59 pm

and the critique is what that the readership of this site should simply launch a new organization? On what basis? If Solidarity has grown stagnant then what do we have that they don’t?

A common retort from those in the sects when discussing left unity and internal democracy is ‘why don’t you just start your own group and do that’. Well because there is no active constituency or substantial layer of activists moving in that direction. Simply proclaiming a party and recruiting in one’s and two’s is the way of the sect, no matter if it has a healthier program.

The ISN comparison is a poor one. Where they have several hundred activists with a diverse skill set splitting from their IST group, NS had a single individual and he left. Even so the ISN set about immediately negotiating a fusion with two other left unity political centres – Anticapitalist Initiative and Socialist Resistance (Solidarity’s UK counterpart). Related to the origins of the ISN, the major player on the UK radical left – the SWP is experiencing a crisis and sharp contraction which opens up space to argue for something better. An analogous situation and constituency does not exist here to pursue a left unity project in the same way.

If we must pick from UK models for a left project then I nominate the Counterfire example. They’ve maintained a political centre with a very small number of activists around a website, and function mainly as a hub to link ‘grasstops’ and those active within various left constituencies around the unifying theme of united action, rather than as a recruitment oriented ‘organization’ of the traditional left sect type. Here there is space for a similar project in many cities and its something far more within the capacity of a dozen bloggers than launching a brand new national activist organization.


Matt September 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm

My 2 cents:

The Binh NS began to seriously wedge itself into a cul-de-sac over the issue of imperialist intervention (I include here Russia, as well as important US clients such as Saudi Arabia) into the Arab Spring. This produced considerable negative cycling around this question that became quite alienating, attracting instead the vulgarian thought of those such as “Arthur”. That negative spiral continues down to this very moment. As an aside, it has produced the practical absurdity of certain people on the far left calling on US imperialist military intervention in Syria *at the precise world historical moment* when that imperialism is on the verge of suffering one of the most humiliating *political* defeats in its career: the global *mass* opposition to that proposed intervention before the fact, including in the UK and US itself. To be brutally frank, striking this political blow against US imperialism is strategically *far more important* than the outcome of a civil war, no matter how bloody, that has in fact been hijacked by inter-imperialist rivalries. I don’t mind being accused of “tailing the masses” here, when the masses are in fact moving in the correct direction.

U.S. imperialism is not world-hegemonic, much less an “empire” – here I agree with Radhika Desai in her recently published book, ‘Geopolitical Economy. After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire’ (Pluto Press) – but it is still the strongest imperialism in the world, a first among peers. Yet even this would not qualify that imperialism as the #1 enemy of the global working class and humanity generally. What qualifies the U.S. for this designation is the combination of that power with the continued absence of an independent mass working class political movement in that country.

That ties into the original purpose of NS: To work to overcome the organizational and behavioral absurdities of the “actually existing” US socialist left in order to open the way to build that mass movement in reality. For the continuing failure to do so, to accomplish this historic task, is not simply some “domestic” failure contained within the U.S., but, given the global weight of US imperialism, remains a failure of world-historical proportions, of *international* scope. So long as this independent mass movement is not politically realized en permanence in the U.S., its imperialism will continue to have a free hand in the world to act as it pleases.

In other words, the realization of this task within the U.S. is an *international* task, involving the entire international socialist movement in one degree or another. Hence it is not a matter of counterposing an “international” to a “domestic” focus: What I would argue to the editors is not to lose sight of this “North Star” to the international situation.


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