Socialist Equality Party (United States)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (United States)

Wohlforth’s Break with the Workers League

The world capitalist crisis and the escalation of class conflict brought to the surface political problems in the Workers League. The growth of the League in the late 1960s and early 1970s had been based to a great extent on the radicalization of student and minority youth. But the political climate on university campuses substantially changed as the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam began and the draft was ended. The Workers League was confronted with the challenge of turning to the working class. This required not only expanded practical activities, but also a comprehensive Marxist analysis of the objective situation and the assimilation, by a relatively inexperienced party cadre, of the lessons of the ICFI’s struggle against Pabloite revisionism. Instead, the work of the party assumed, under Wohlforth’s direction, a largely activist character, without a clear political perspective. Wohlforth’s political and personal behavior exhibited disturbing signs of disorientation. Egged on by a new personal companion, Nancy Fields, Wohlforth’s interventions in the party assumed a frenzied, unprincipled and destructive character. Within the space of one year, 1973-74, the Workers League lost more than one-half of its membership.

The crisis in the Workers League came to a head in late August 1974. The International Committee learned that Nancy Fields—who, without any experience or qualifications, had been elevated into the leadership by Wohlforth and had become his inseparable companion—had close family connections with high-ranking personnel in the Central Intelligence Agency. It then emerged that Wohlforth, though aware of these family relations, had concealed this information from all other members of the Workers League Central Committee. Nor had Wohlforth informed the International Committee of Nancy Field’s background, even though he personally selected her to accompany him to an ICFI conference in May 1974. Several delegates attending that conference came from countries with repressive regimes, which required that political work be carried out in conditions of illegality. The Workers League Central Committee voted to remove Wohlforth as national secretary and, pending an investigation into her background, suspend Fields from membership.[1] One month later, Wohlforth resigned from the Workers League. Soon thereafter, he publicly denounced the International Committee and—repudiating all that he had written over the previous 14 years—rejoined the Socialist Workers Party. Eventually, Wohlforth would abandon socialist politics entirely, denounce the Trotskyist movement as a “cult,” and, in the late 1990s, call for American military action in the Balkans (in an article entitled “Give War a Chance”).


The report issued by the ICFI stated that “from the age of 12 until the completion of her university education, Nancy Fields was brought up, educated and financially supported by her aunt and uncle, Albert and Gigs Morris. Albert Morris is head of the CIA's computer operation in Washington as well as being a large stockholder in IBM. He was a member of the OSS, forerunner of the CIA, and worked in Poland as an agent of imperialism. During the 1960s, a frequent house guest at their home in Maine was Richard Helms, ex-director of the CIA and now US Ambassador in Iran.” [Documents of Security and the Fourth International (New York: Labor Publications, 1985), p. 15.]