Socialist Equality Party (UK)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Britain)

Security and the Fourth International

170. Most revealing was the response of the Pabloites to the events surrounding the political desertion, in late August 1974, of Tim Wohlforth from his post as national secretary of the Workers League. Wohlforth had been suspended after it emerged that he had concealed from the International Committee the fact that his companion, Nancy Fields—who had been elevated into the national leadership of the Workers League—had close family connections with high-ranking personnel in the CIA. As the Workers League began an investigation into Fields’s background, Wohlforth resigned, publicly attacked the International Committee, and rejoined the SWP. Hansen made a vitriolic denunciation of Healy, describing the treatment of Wohlforth as an example of his “paranoia”.

171. Hansen’s belittling of the need for security in the revolutionary socialist movement was extraordinary. As he was well aware, the Trotskyist movement had paid a devastating price for its infiltration by agents of the Stalinist bureaucracy. He had been a witness to the assassination of Trotsky by Mercader, and had authorised the entry of the GPU agent into Trotsky’s home. Moreover, Hansen’s defence of Wohlforth’s negligence came at a time, following the resignation of Richard Nixon, when evidence was emerging of massive state spying and the infiltration of radical and socialist organisations. Documents would later reveal that the SWP had been a target for the FBI, which had sent hundreds of agents and informers into the organisation between 1961 and 1975.

172. The International Committee determined that the attacks by Hansen and Wohlforth were best answered by reviewing the historical experience of the Fourth International in relation to security. In 1975, it launched the Security and the Fourth International investigation into the circumstances surrounding Trotsky’s murder. The investigation uncovered a 37-year conspiracy to suppress information about the assassination and the infiltration of police and Stalinist agents into the Fourth International. Documents revealed that following Trotsky’s killing, Hansen had established secret relations with high-level US agents. A lawsuit by SWP member Alan Gelfand against the US government, alleging state control of the SWP, forced the release of further documents confirming that Hansen had been a GPU agent inside the SWP, before he was turned by the FBI.

173. The response of the USec and other opportunist organisations to these findings was universally hostile. Ignoring all the evidence, they defended Hansen and other proven agents against what they described as “Healy’s Big Lie”. The International Committee’s request to the Pabloite groups to establish a parity commission, consisting of equal numbers from each organisation, to examine the evidence, went unanswered. Instead, on January 14, 1977, opponents of the International Committee assembled a “Platform of Shame” in London to attack the findings as a witch-hunt. Signatories to a statement denouncing the investigation included leading Pabloites Ernest Mandel, Tariq Ali, Ken Coates, Charlie van Gelderen, Pat Jordan and Bob Pennington.