David North (socialist)

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David North
Chairman of the Socialist Equality Party
Assumed office
August 2008
National SecretaryJoseph Kishore
Preceded byPosition established
Personal details
David Green

1950 (age 73–74)
  • Lecturer
  • Author
  • Activist

David North (born 1950)[1] is an American Marxist, who has been active in the international Trotskyist movement since 1971. He is currently the National Chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States (SEP),[2] formerly the Workers League. He served as the National Secretary of the SEP until the party's congress in 2008.[3]

North is the chairman of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site,[4] the publication of the International Committee of the Fourth International. The author of several books and articles on the history of the Socialist movement, North lectures in politics[5] and the history of Marxism[6] both in the United States and internationally.[7][8]

Political History[edit]

David North was a student of the history department at Trinity College.[9] In 1969, North interned with the Democratic Senator Vance Hartke, who was known for his left-wing opposition to the Vietnam War.[10]After this internship, North's disillusionment with the Democratic Party turned him to the works of Leon Trotsky.[11]

North joined the Trotskyist Workers League in 1971. He was asked to join the staff of the Bulletin, the publication of the Workers League, in January 1972. In May 1972, North wrote “Where Wallace Really Stands,” a detailed exposure of the racist Alabama governor who was seeking the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.[12]

In 1973, North was elected to the political committee of the Workers League. He emerged as a central leader of the Workers League in the aftermath of the removal of Tim Wohlforth from the post of national secretary because of the latter’s serious violations of the Workers League’s security.[13] North was elected to the post of national secretary in January 1976.[14]

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, North covered and participated actively in numerous labor strikes, most notably the 1973-1974 unionization drive of miners in Harlan County,[15] the 1974 and 1977-78 national coal miners’ strike, the PATCO strike of 1981,[16] and the 1983-1986 Phelps Dodge miners strike.[17] Jorge O’Leary, the leader of the Phelps Dodge miners struggle, stated in a 2021 interview:

“The Bulletin, through Dave North, gave us a lot of information for our benefit. Not for the benefit of the governor or the company. He was honest, and we trust him… his political views are different from mine, but essentially we are for the working class.”[18]

Jorge O'Leary (second from left) with David North (second from right), as well as Ron May (right), a leader of the PATCO strike.
Lalo Marquez (left), Jorge O'Leary (second from left) with David North (second from right), as well as Ron May (right), a leader of the PATCO strike, taken during the 1983 Arizona copper mine strike.

North helped lead the investigation initiated by the International Committee into the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Leon Trotsky in 1940 and the extensive infiltration of the Fourth International by agents of both the Soviet secret police and the US FBI.[19][20] North is the author of many of the articles on the findings of the investigation, published under the title Security and the Fourth International.

In 1982, North informed the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), the British section of the ICFI and close collaborator of the Workers League, of his differences with the theoretical methods and politics of the organization.[21] The WRP leadership rejected North's criticisms and opposed a broader discussion of them in the ICFI. North expanded upon his criticisms of the WRP in February 1984, but the WRP again opposed their distribution.

North's 1982 and 1984 documents were distributed throughout the ICFI and to the WRP membership during the crisis that erupted in the WRP in August 1985.[22] While a majority of the ICFI accepted North's criticisms, as well as a section of the WRP membership, the WRP rejected the political authority of the ICFI over its national organization and broke from the International Committee in February 1986.[23]

In May 1986 North co-authored an analysis of the split, “How the Workers Revolutionary Party Betrayed Trotskyism,” with Keerthi Balasuriya, the national secretary of the Sri Lankan section of the ICFI. In 1986-87 North wrote The Heritage We Defend, which placed the split with the WRP in the context of the history of the Fourth International, and, in particular, the Trotskyist movement’s opposition to opportunism.[24]

North opposed the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union[25] and called on the Trotskyist movement to “answer the lie that Stalinism is Marxism… by exposing the far-reaching political significance of the crimes that Stalinism carried out.”[26]

In 1988, North argued that the rapid globalization of the world economy was “shattering the entire national state system and, with it, any possibility for the progressive development of the working class within the framework of a national policy.”[27]

In 1995, North called for the national sections of the ICFI to transform themselves from leagues into parties, anticipating a “new and protracted era of international capitalist disequilibrium.”[28] North also led discussions in 1997 to transition from a written newspaper to the web-based World Socialist Web Site, which was launched on February 14, 1998.[29]

At the founding congress of the Socialist Equality Party (US), held in August 2008, North was elected as the national chairman of the party.[3]

In 2019, in a review of the century-long history of the Trotskyist movement, North argued that the Fourth International anticipated the development of a “revolutionary struggle of the working class [that] will develop as an interconnected and unified world movement.”[30] The ICFI, he stated, would “counterpose to the capitalist politics of imperialist war the class-based strategy of world socialist revolution.” In January 2020, he co-authored a statement with SEP (US) national secretary Joseph Kishore that argued that the 2020’s would be a “decade of intensifying class struggle and world socialist revolution.”[31]

Personal History[edit]

North was born in 1950 in New York to refugees from Nazi Germany. His maternal grandfather, Ignatz Waghalter, was a noted Polish-German composer and principal conductor at the Deutsches Opernhaus (now known as the Deutsche Oper) between 1912 and 1923.[32] Fleeing Europe in 1937, Waghalter, after arriving in the United States, founded the American Negro Orchestra, the first classical orchestra of African-American musicians.[33][34]



North has defended the view that Trotsky represented a Marxist alternative to Stalinism, and therefore states that the collapse of the USSR does not mean that Marxism is a failed project.[35] Summarizing these views as described in North's book The Unfinished Twentieth Century, sociologist Charles Thorpe writes that North "makes a powerful case that, to paraphrase Faulkner, these debates and experiences are not dead; they're not even past".[35]

North has argued that contrary to modern academic traditions, Marxism is not defined by academics, but instead by Marxist organizations and Marxist struggle.[2] He writes that this tradition is represented above all by the Trotskyist opposition to Stalinism and its contemporary continuity in the Socialist Equality Party.[2]


In 2017, North alleged in an open letter that changes to Google's ranking system and search engine (their project known as Project Owl) demoted left-wing outlets such as the WSWS, which describes itself as an "online newspaper of the international Trotskyist movement".[4] Google would not comment to The New York Times about the WSWS.[4] Contacted by the same source, North said: "I’m against censorship in any form. It’s up to people what they want to read."[4]

United States[edit]

Speaking about the 2016 United States presidential election, North told Neues Deutschland that Donald Trump "embodies a cross between all the criminal and immoral features and machinations of the real estate, finance, gambling and entertainment industries".[1]

Interviewed by journalist Chris Hedges in 2018, North stated that while middle class groups promoted identity politics as a response to social tensions and poverty, American workers were not racist and "have a deep belief in democratic rights".[36] North stated that the 20th century problems of war and fascism remained real threats in the 21st century.[36]

“Quarter Century of War”[edit]

North has opposed every US military intervention during his career, writing in his 2016 book, A Quarter Century of War, “The last quarter century of US-instigated wars must be studied as a chain of interconnected events. The strategic logic of the US drive for global hegemony extends beyond the neocolonial operations in the Middle East and Africa. The ongoing regional wars are component elements of the rapidly escalating confrontation of the United States with Russia and China.”[37]

North argued that the United States’ “ongoing struggle for world hegemony, which lies at the heart of the conflict with Russia and China, is bringing to the forefront latent and potentially explosive tension between the United States and its present-day imperialist allies, including – to name the most significant potential adversary – Germany.”[37]

North has also written that a “new and powerful mass international movement, based on a socialist program, and strategically guided by the principles of revolutionary class struggle,” is the only way “war is to be stopped and a global catastrophe averted.”[38]

Postmodernism and the “pseudo-left”[edit]

North is critical of the influence of the ideas of Postmodernism and the Frankfurt School on culture and political thought. In his 2015 book, The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left, North writes,

“during the past decade, the connection has become much clearer between the reactionary pseudo-left politics of the middle class and the theories of Nietzsche, Brzozowski, Sorel, De Man, the Frankfurt School and the many forms of extreme philosophical subjectivism and irrationalism propagated by postmodernists (Foucault, Laclau, Badiou et al.). Pseudo-left politics – centered on race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, and sexual preference – has come to play a critical role in suppressing opposition to capitalism, by rejecting class as the essential social category and emphasizing instead personal ‘identity’ and ‘lifestyle,’ and by legitimizing imperialist interventions and wars in the name of ‘human rights.’”[39]

Dissolution of the USSR[edit]

As early as 1987, David North argued that the policies of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union were leading to the restoration of capitalism. North stated that Gorbachev “did not represent the repudiation of Stalinism, but arises inexorably out of the putrefaction of the bureaucracy, which is preparing actively to renounce and reject those social conquests of the October Revolution—the establishment of state ownership and the monopoly of foreign trade—which it had previously not dared to attack[40]."

North published Perestroika Versus Socialism in 1989, according to him, to "explain the significance of perestroika and glasnost from the standpoint of the fundamental conflict between the Stalinist bureaucracy and the Soviet working class[41]." North further elaborated his position writing, "In direct contrast to the overwhelming mass of literature now being produced on the situation in the USSR, this book maintains that the policies of Gorbachev signify neither a break with Stalinism nor a new flowering of Soviet democracy. Rather, it contends that the present regime represents, in the most basic sense, the culmination of the Stalinist reaction against the revolutionary heritage of October 1917.[41]"

In November 1989, David North traveled to the Soviet Union, where he delivered a speech at the Moscow Historical Archival Institute, in which he argued that the policies of glasnost and perestroika being pursued by the Soviet government meant “capitalist restoration and a horrifying decline in the cultural and social level of the Soviet Union. The only alternative is international revolution[42].”

Russia and Ukraine[edit]

In an article co-authored by North in 2014, Vladimir Putin's regime in Russia is characterized as follows:

"Leading a regime that rests on an utterly corrupt elite—which has deposited a substantial portion of its ill-gotten riches in US and European banks—Putin relies on the reactionary mechanisms of military maneuvers and Great Russian chauvinism.[43]

North anticipated in his writings, such as a co-authored article titled "US imperialism, Ukraine and the danger of World War III" after the ouster of Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych government, that the developments in Ukraine would lead to war.[44] North further explained his position in 2022, writing, "The Putin regime is the reactionary resurrection of a bourgeois state that emerged out of the 1991 dissolution of the USSR. But the opposition of the International Committee to this regime, including its invasion of Ukraine, is from the socialist left, not the imperialist right."[45] North characterized the Russian invasion of Ukraine as "politically bankrupt and reactionary", but he also maintained, "The outbreak of war in Ukraine has long been foreseen. The relentless expansion of NATO in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union has always been directed toward war with Russia."[46][non-primary source needed]



  • North, David (1988). The heritage we defend: A contribution to the history of the Fourth International. Detroit, Mich: Labor Publications. ISBN 0-929087-00-3. (Preface via World Socialist Web Site)
  • North, David (1989). Perestroika versus socialism: Stalinism and the restoration of capitalism in the USSR. Detroit, Mich: Labor Publications. ISBN 0-929087-39-9. OCLC 21203230.
  • North, David (1991). Gerry Healy and his place in the history of the Fourth International. Detroit: Labor Publications. ISBN 978-0-929087-58-0.
  • North, David (2004). The crisis of American democracy: The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Oak Park, Mich. Bankstown, NSW: Mehring Books. ISBN 1-875639-36-5.
  • North, David (2007). Marxism, history & socialist consciousness. Oak Park, Mich: Mehring Books. ISBN 978-1-893638-03-7.
  • North, David (2007). Leon Trotsky & the Post-Soviet school of historical falsification. Oak Park, MI: Mehring Books. ISBN 978-1-893638-02-0.
  • North, David (2010). In defense of Leon Trotsky. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books. ISBN 978-1-893638-05-1.
  • The Russian Revolution and the Unfinished 20th Century (2014) ISBN 978-1-893638-40-2
  • North, David (2015). The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left: AMarxist Critique. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books. ISBN 978-1-893638-50-1.
  • North, David (2016). A Quarter Century of War: The US Drive for Global Hegemony 1990-2016. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books. ISBN 978-1-893638-69-3.
  • North, David (2021). The New York Times' 1619 Project and the racialist falsification of history: Essays and interviews. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books. ISBN 978-1-893638-93-8.

Lectures and other pamphlets[edit]

  • The USSR And Socialism: The Trotskyist Perspective (1989) ISBN 0-929087-45-3
  • Ten Years After The Split in the Workers Revolutionary Party: The WRP's Commemoration Of Healy's Expulsion (1995) ISBN 1-873045-02-6
  • In Defense of the Russian Revolution: A Reply to the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification (1995) ISBN 978-0-929087-72-6
  • Socialism, Historical Truth and the Crisis of Political Thought in the United States (1996) ISBN 978-0-929087-73-3
  • Workers League and the Founding of the Socialist Equality Party (1996) ISBN 978-0-929087-74-0
  • Equality, the Rights of Man and the Birth of Socialism (1996) ISBN 1-873045-32-8
  • Anti-Semitism, Fascism and the Holocaust: A critical review of Daniel Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners" (1997) ISBN 978-0-929087-75-7
  • A Tribute to Tom Henehan: 1951 to 1977 (1998) ISBN 978-0-929087-78-8
  • Ernest Mandel 1923–1995: A Critical Assessment of His Role in the History of the Fourth International (1997) ISBN 1-875639-14-4
  • Marxism and the Trade Unions (1998) ISBN 1-875639-29-2
  • Leon Trotsky and Fate of Socialism in 20th Century: A Reply to Professor Eric Hobsbawm (1998) ISBN 1-875639-22-5
  • Reform and Revolution in the Epoch of Imperialism (1998) ISBN 1-875639-28-4
  • After the Slaughter: Political Lessons of the Balkan War (1999) ISBN 1-875639-35-7
  • A Tribute to Vadim Rogovin (1999) ISBN 978-0-929087-50-4
  • The Economic Crisis & the Return of History (2011) ISBN 978-1-893638-14-3


  1. ^ a b Vesper, Karlen (January 2, 2018). "Socialism is coming back". Neues Deutschland. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Saccarelli, Emanuele (2017). "Book review: The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left: A Marxist Critique by David North". Critical Sociology. 43 (4–5): 799–802. doi:10.1177/0896920517699161. S2CID 151862205.
  3. ^ a b Socialist Equality Party holds founding Congress
  4. ^ a b c d Wakabayashi, Daisuke (September 26, 2017). "As Google Fights Fake News, Voices on the Margins Raise Alarm". New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Crisis in American Democracy..."
  6. ^ Preface to a D. North lecture "Marxism and the Trade Unions"
  7. ^ Woutas, Aidan (October 23, 2018). "Chairman of the Socialist Equality Party talks future of ideology, populism". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  8. ^ Ltd, TheGridNet. "Leon Trotsky commemoration on Prinkipo receives widespread responses at wsws.org". The İstanbul Grid. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  9. ^ "Letter to the Editor: A Letter to President Berger-Sweeney from David W. Green '71". September 13, 2020.
  10. ^ "The Trinity Tripod".
  11. ^ "The Israeli state's fascist ideology and the genocide in Gaza". World Socialist Web Site. December 19, 2023. Retrieved April 25, 2024.
  12. ^ North, David; Mckay, Bruce (1972). Where Wallace Really Stands (PDF). Labor Publications.
  13. ^ McLaughlin, Martin (1985). The Gelfand Case: A Legal History of the Exposure of U.S. Government Agents in the Leadership of the Socialist Workers Party. Mehring Books. ISBN 978-0-929087-02-3.
  14. ^ GERRY HEALY A Revolutionary Life.
  15. ^ GERRY HEALY A Revolutionary Life.
  16. ^ "Class War at Phelps Dodge – Mehring Books". Retrieved January 23, 2024.
  17. ^ Aulette, Judy; Mills, Trudy (1988). "Something Old, Something New: Auxiliary Work in the 1983-1986 Copper Strike". Feminist Studies. 14 (2): 251–268. doi:10.2307/3180152. hdl:2027/spo.0499697.0014.204. ISSN 0046-3663. JSTOR 3180152.
  18. ^ "WSWS interviews Jorge O'Leary, leader of 1983–86 Phelps Dodge miners strike". World Socialist Web Site. April 17, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2024.
  19. ^ "British Trotskyism: Trotskyist Writers: Gerry Healy: The Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy". www.marxists.org. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  20. ^ "Barnes". www.gerryhealy.net. Retrieved January 24, 2024.
  21. ^ "History of the Fourth International — the heritage of Marxism". iskra-research.org. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  22. ^ "Trotskyists split over purged chief". The Observer. October 27, 1985.
  23. ^ "Internal bulletins". mrc-catalogue.warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved September 12, 2023.
  24. ^ Bureau, Editorial (May 29, 2019). ""The Heritage We Defend" By David North". British Herald. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  25. ^ North, David. "How Robert Service Earned the Ire of Trotskyists Like Me: How Robert Service Earned the Ire of Trotskyists Like Me". WSJ.
  26. ^ Walsh, David (September 17, 2019). "The International Committee's response to the "End of History": The March 1992 Plenum of the ICFI". World Socialist Web Site.
  27. ^ North, David (August 30, 1988). "Political Report to the Workers League 13th National Congress".
  28. ^ North, David. "The Workers League and the Founding of the Socialist Equality Party".
  29. ^ "Northite Pirates Run for Cyberspace" (PDF). Workers Vanguard. March 27, 1998.
  30. ^ International Committee of the Fourth International (2020). The Fourth International and the Perspective of World Socialist Revolution. Mehring Books. pp. 30–31. ISBN 9781893638907.
  31. ^ "The decade of socialist revolution begins". World Socialist Web Site. January 3, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2024.
  32. ^ "The Israeli state's fascist ideology and the genocide in Gaza". World Socialist Web Site. December 18, 2023. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  33. ^ "Recordings by Ignatz Waghalter | Now available to stream and purchase at Naxos". www.naxos.com. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  34. ^ "Ignatz Waghalter's conception of art". YouTube. April 11, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  35. ^ a b Thorpe, Charles (2017). "Radical Intellectuals, History, and the Soviet Union". Journal of Historical Sociology. 30: 86–91. doi:10.1111/johs.12146.
  36. ^ a b Hedges, Chris (February 5, 2018). "The Bankruptcy of the American Left". Truthdig. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  37. ^ a b North, David (2016). A Quarter Century of War: The US Drive for Global Hegemony 1990-2016. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books. p. xix. ISBN 978-1-893638-69-3.
  38. ^ North, David (2016). A Quarter Century of War: The US Drive for Global Hegemony 1990-2016. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books. pp. xxi–xxii. ISBN 978-1-893638-69-3.
  39. ^ North, David (2015). The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left: A Marxist Critique. Oak Park, Michigan: Mehring Books. ISBN 978-1-893638-50-1.
  40. ^ North, David (August 23, 1987). "Trotskyism versus Stalinism". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved January 28, 2024.
  41. ^ a b North, David (1989). Perestroika Versus Socialism: Stalinism and the Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR. Detroit, Michigan: Labor Publications. p. vii. ISBN 0-929087-39-9.
  42. ^ North, David (1990). The USSR and Socialism: The Trotskyist Perspective. Detroit, Michigan: Labor Publications. p. 11. ISBN 0-929087-45-3.
  43. ^ "The crisis in Ukraine and the historical consequences of the dissolution of the Soviet Union". World Socialist Web Site. March 7, 2014.
  44. ^ "US imperialism, Ukraine and the danger of World War III". World Socialist Web Site. March 5, 2014.
  45. ^ North, David (June 30, 2022). "Letter to a Young Trotskyist in Russia". World Socialist Web Site.
  46. ^ North, David (April 18, 2022). "The Challenge of May Day 2022: For the International Unity of the Working Class against Capitalism, National Chauvinism and War!". World Socialist Web Site.

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