Nazis, Communists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe: Political Extremism in America

By John George; Laird Wilcox | Go to book overview

8 Workers League

Jokingly referred to during its early years by 1960s and 1970s radical leftists as the "Wohlforth Family Circle," the Workers League (WL) has been numbered among America's small Trotskyist splinter groups. Tim Wohlforth, former Socialist Workers party (SWP) stalwart and member of its political committee, was the WL's principal founder. Often at odds with the SWP over its policies, Wohlforth was removed from the National Committee in 1963 for leading a minority faction and left the party in 1964. In 1966, when the Workers League formed with only nine members, he was the first national secretary, 1 but he was let go in 1974 for "security reasons" after it was discovered that a person with whom he had a long relationship was kin to a retired CIA man. Rejoining the Socialist Workers party a few months later, Wohlforth didn't last long. 2

WL was closely associated with a British Marxist group, Gerry Healy's Socialist Labor League/Workers Revolutionary party. Like WL, it remained small and marginalized. Wohlforth made several trips to England to coordinate their activities.

The Workers Lague plodded on under the leadership of David North, publishing the Bulletin (formerly Bulletin of International Socialism), and opposing many other far-left groups, especially other Trotskyists. 3 The Workers League (like the Spartacist League) never has been a fan of Cuba and Fidel Castro. This, in fact, was one of Tim Wohlforth's principal points of contention with fellow Trots when he served on the Socialist Workers party national committee; the SWP has never wavered in heaping praise on that nation and its leader.

Another point on which the Workers League has differed with other Trotskyists and former Trotskyists ( SWP members) is the view, held for more than a decade, that American, indeed Western, capitalism is in its death throes. (This is reminiscent of July 1964 when a Progressive Labor party leader in New York told us there would be a violent revolution in America before the year ended.) And they have never considered such Marxists-Leninists as Castro, Daniel Ortega, Tomas Borge, etc. to be true revolutionists--only "bourgeois nationalists." But for some reason the WL people have admired and supported Libya's Muammar Kaddafi, a position highly unlikely to attract many fellow Americans to their cause. Add to this such unfounded charges as the one first made in 1970 that the SWP is a tool of the FBI4 and it is easy to see why the Workers League probably never has had more than three hundred members.

In 1988 Wohlforth requested his FBI files and was subsequently informed that his files contained "approximately 8,049 pages." In June 1991 he received 802 pages. To his amazement he learned that he had been included on the FBI's

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