< APPENDIX THREE Monad Man: The Curious Case of Technocracy’s Howard Scott (Plus an Apology to the Grand Dragon) | SMILING MAN FROM A DEAD PLANET: THE MYSTERY OF LYNDON LAROUCHE | APPENDIX TWO A Summer Romance: LaRouche and the Spartacist League (May-July 1966) >
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In his essay How the Workers League Decayed, Lyndon LaRouche makes a remarkable statement about the British Trotskyist leader Gerry Healy:
The Comintern method – also Healy's method – is to isolate and publicly degrade dangerous individuals, and once they are isolated and broken, assimilate them into one's machine as useful party hacks. (Anyone who takes seriously the Sunday-Supplement trash about Soviet "brainwashing" simply knows nothing about the real internal practices of organizations which have traditions traceable to the Comintern. Any experienced leader in the socialist movement knows exactly how "brainwashing" is accomplished.)
Needless to say, Healy was dealing with a person who knew all about that game.
What makes LaRouche's remarks particularly fascinating is that he used almost identical techniques to take control of the NCLC, although in LaRouche's case, he added Freudian psychological jargon into the mix. Time and again, LaRouche and Healy seemed to mimic, mirror and "bowdlerize" each other both theoretically and organizationally. At times the similarities between the two organizations seemed almost comic. In March 1973, the Workers League (WL) established its national office and Labor Publications, its print operation, at 540 West 29th St. in Manhattan. In late 1973, the NCLC launched its new national office at 231 West 29th Street, some three or four blocks away. A former member of the early SDS Labor Committee further recalled that in the summer of 1968 the group used the Workers League's offices at 243 East 10th Street on the corner of First Avenue to produce some SDS Labor Committee propaganda. Although in this appendix, it is not possible to delve fully into the complex history of the Healy organization, some remarkable similarities between the Healy group and LaRouche's NCLC cry out for comment.
1973: THE YEAR OF TRANSFORMATION
The NCLC began to undergo a profound change in orientation in the spring of 1973 that by the end of that year transformed the leftist sect into an apocalyptic cult. A somewhat similar process occurred inside Healy's SLL (Socialist Labour League) at almost the exact same time. In The Prophet's Children, Tim Wohlforth, former head of Healy's American organization, the Workers League -- successor to the old ACFI that LaRouche had joined in 1965 but failed to take over -- writes that
The year 1973 marked the beginning of the end. It was as much a turning point for the American Left, and for me personally, as 1968. . . . We in the Workers League were among the most disoriented of those on the left. We were deeply convinced that world capitalism was in its deepest crisis ever. This meant that "revolution" was more than an abstract notion or a moral idea. We felt we needed to prepare in a practical way for revolutionary events that would soon take place on American soil as well as throughout the world. Our little group would then flourish and become the leadership of the American working class.1
Fueled by such convictions, WL members became convinced that
The fate of humanity depended on the outcome of the battle. Therefore, quite logically, we felt that no personal sacrifice for the party was too great. These notions possessed us and shaped our very being. We became driven by them. The more our vision clashed with reality, the more frenzied we became. As time went by our views clashed increasingly with comrades' experiences in the real world. How did we explain this to the members? Since the ever-deepening crisis was taken as a given, we did not see the problems of our organization as objectively based. . . . We thought our problems were subjectively rooted.
The combination of the "ever-deepening crisis" with increasing doubts of members led to the installment of a new reign of psychological control inside the WL. Again from Wohlforth's memoir:
As we increased the pace of our activities, we stepped up the internal struggle within the organization. Each branch meeting was dominated by attacks against comrades who failed to sell sufficient tickets to an event or to sell papers or subscriptions, or who failed in some other fashion. The comrades were forced to confess their own middle-class weaknesses, even their purported hostility to the working class and to the party. A psychologically exhausted membership found itself under continuous attack. Believing in the party and in our ideals as we all did, each of us became preoccupied with our own internal demons. This kept most of us, at least for a while, from questioning the party's perspective. It was, as I can now see clearly, a highly effective method of brainwashing and thought control. We held on to and inspired a hardworking membership at the cost of becoming a political cult.
Wohlforth's statements mirror life inside the NCLC almost perfectly.
RYM AND YL
During this same time, the WL launched a massive project to recruit predominantly ghetto youth into a new organization, the Young Socialists (YS). By the spring of 1973, the WL had managed to attract some 350 youth to the YS founding conference held in New York. By the May 1974 conference, the YS had about 550 members, the overwhelming majority from ghetto backgrounds. A month or two after the first YS conference, LaRouche announced that the NCLC would now make a massive push to recruit ghetto youth into a new Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM). NCLC cadre were deployed to establish contacts with street gangs in places like Brooklyn in an attempt to "politicize" ghetto youth through lures that included martial arts classes. LaRouche clearly wanted to use these lumpen youth as cannon fodder against his political enemies.
The Healyites had the exact same idea. From the Spartacist League pamphlet Healyism Implodes (Spartacist, No. 36-37, Winter 1985-86):
the Wohlforthites wanted violence against us. Wohlforth was zealous in seeking the maximum of physical destruction for our people. . . . Later, they got some lumpen youth around them, mainly Hispanics and blacks. They programmed these kids for deadly violence against our people. They called us agents of the FBI and CIA and cops and tried to work these youth up to the point of murder. And at the same time Wohlforth was perfectly clear that when there were a few murders of our people, the kids who had done them would be immediately disavowed.
Whether Wohlforth, as the Spartacist pamphlet suggests, was actually planning murder remains an unproven statement but clearly the WL wanted to inflict both physical and psychological terror on its political opponents, the same goal LaRouche had sought with RYM.2
THE CRISIS ATMOSPHERE
Like the NCLC, the Healy group was not initially organized as a strict party formation but (as its name indicates) the Socialist Labour League (SLL).3 On November 4, 1973, the SLL "transformed" itself into a new vanguard formation, the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP). The WRP was launched in an atmosphere of extreme crisis in which party cadre were told that England was facing the threat of an imminent fascist coup. From Gerry Healy: A Revolutionary Life:
The WRP was launched during a stormy period in Britain and internationally — the Arab-Israeli war, with the resultant tripling of oil prices, the three-day week, runaway inflation, and clear signs that the state-within-the-state was plotting along the lines of organizing a coup in the event of a breakdown of "law and order." As miners took strike action in support of their pay claims, troops and armored vehicles appeared at Heathrow airport for the first time. Bourgeois-democratic forms of rule were no longer considered adequate by sections of the ruling class. These years marked the beginning of a sustained period of state penetration of the labour movement and left-wing organizations with the aim of destabilizing and undermining their work.4
This same notion of the "state-within-the-state" plotting a coup emerged about a month later inside the NCLC with the proclamation of "the Rockefeller plan for worldwide fascism." The atmosphere of fear and paranoia was then heightened ten-fold during the "Chris White affair." In January 1974, LaRouche decided that as a result of the pressures of an oncoming capitalist economic collapse, a military coup was already underway in England itself. The coup plotters, in their first move, had ordered the military takeover of Heathrow airport. Because of the coming crackdown, he ordered that all NCLC members then living in England must flee that country immediately.
After its founding, the WRP fell almost immediately into delusions of grandiosity. At one Central Committee meeting of the new party, Wohlforth reports that "Healy proposed that the party recruit three thousand new members in the next ten days, and the proposal was passed without discussion!" Again, an almost identical process occurred inside the NCLC when the group sometime in late 1973 or early 1974 was reborn as the "US Labor Party" (USLP). It too now took on delusional dimensions when the tiny group became convinced that its candidate for the mayor of New York (the first candidate it had ever run for such a post) was sure to win! In 1974 reports began appearing in the Labor Committee paper New Solidarity trumpeting amazing USLP victories across America that had only been denied due to massive "vote fraud."
PARALLEL ECONOMIC THEORIES OF CRISIS
The NCLC and the SLL/WL had highly similar economic theories as well. From Gerry Healy: A Revolutionary Life:
By the end of the 1971 [SLL summer educational] camp, the United States had been compelled to end the convertibility of dollars for gold and to scrap the exchange rate fixed parities system established at Bretton Woods. All the tendencies towards uncontrollable inflation, trade war and slump were unleashed without restraint. It was the end of a period of class compromise which had dominated the major economies since the war. A convulsive period of history opened up internationally.
In December , the ICFI, which had consistently rejected theories of a fundamental change in the nature of capitalism during the boom, explained in a draft perspective for its Fourth Conference, "The Bretton Woods agreement of 1944, the new institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the inflationary Keynesian policies pursued in the advanced capitalist countries, were possible not because of some new-found strength of the capitalist system, but only because of the control of the working class's strength by the Stalinists, assisted by the reformists and the trade union bureaucracy. Now the intensified contradictions of capitalism have finally broken through these relations, which constituted essentially a retreat before the working class, and the class issues must inevitably be fought out. The dollar crisis can only mean a succession of struggles for power by the working class of the capitalist countries.5
Like LaRouche, the Healyites traced the capitalist crisis back to the 1950s. From the Healyite book Trotskyism Versus Revisionism:"The late 1950s represents a decisive turning point. It was in this period that the American balance of payments deficit began to assume considerable proportions and arouse increasing fear about the stability and future of the dollar. . . ."6 Healy even had a variant of LaRouche's Third Stage of Imperialism line. Again from Trotskyism versus Revisionism:"The early 1960s saw some attempt to solve the emerging crisis at the expense of the colonial and semi-colonial countries." Like LaRouche, Healy also abandoned the notion that such moves could solve the impending collapse:
Far from capitalism having achieved a new lease on life, performed another "industrial revolution," advanced the productive forces and become "neo-capitalism," its continued existence has posed even more urgently the alternative, "socialism or barbarism." August 1971 was a shattering verification of the Marxist struggle against revisionism; it created conditions where this alternative – socialism or barbarism – will be fought out.(21)
Especially since the August 1971 measures of President Nixon on behalf of the American ruling class, the stage has been set for the outbreak of a revolutionary struggle. (XI)
The NCLC employed more or less exactly the same "Socialism or Barbarism" line and based the coming showdown between capital and labor on the crisis in the world economy triggered by the 15 August 1971 abandonment of the gold standard. LaRouche was so exited by this news that he called a special meeting in New York to discuss its ramifications for world revolution.
The Healyites continued to hold to this view of immanent capitalist collapse long after 1971. From the WRP's official perspectives document drafted for the group's Sixth Congress in 1983: "The contradictions of world imperialism have completely and irreversibly torn apart the world capitalist economy. This has precipitated a crisis of over-production and indebtedness which is plunging the world into the most devastating slump in history and is pushing the capitalist banking system towards imminent collapse."
ATTACK ON THE COMMUNIST PARTIES
Confronted with imminent economic collapse, the capitalists would try to break the working class revolt. And who would be the main betrayers of the revolutionary struggle, the secret agents of capitalist treachery? Healy and LaRouche were in complete agreement: the Stalinists, of course! Therefore the Stalinists had to be destroyed to avoid world fascism. From Trotskyism versus Revisionism:
The "democratic" path is not a "parliamentary, peaceful road to socialism," as the Stalinists claim, but a phase during which the elements of civil war are prepared. . . . Behind the face of "advanced democracy," brutal suppression is planned. This contradiction is the dominant feature in the class struggle throughout Europe, and even more in America.
But the Stalinist bureaucracy and its Communist Parties, together with the trade union apparatuses and the social democrats and centrists of all types in the labor movement, are not spent forces. They are active and deadly agents of counter-revolution. [My emphasis - HH] Their betrayals are an essential instrument of the preparations of the imperialists.(23)
LaRouche used a form of this argument to ideologically justify "Operation Mop-Up."
Healy's group also had a fascinating shift similar to the NCLC in its approach to social democracy. After denouncing detente and the German SPD-led government's "Brandt-Brezhnev" deal in 1972 as a "sell out of the working class," the NCLC tried to recruit inside the German youth network of the SPD (the Jusos) with little success. The NCLC later went so far as to have its German unit put up wall-posters with Brandt dressed in Nazi regalia. In 1974-75, the NCLC took yet another strange turn and embraced the hard-line CP elements leading the Portuguese Revolution as well as Tito, while the NCLC press even ran articles supporting the Comintern's "Third Period" attack on social democracy during the late 1920s.
In late 1973-74, the SLL created the WRP and – like the NCLC – began warning that the Heath government was preparing to impose a military dictatorship in Britain. Yet when the Labour Party returned to power again under Wilson in 1974-75, the WRP, instead of advocating some kind of critical support for Labour against the alleged coup plotters, took an ultra-leftist line. In July 1975, it issued a call for the downfall of the Labour government.7
INTERNAL GROUP DYNAMICS
In its Healyism Implodes pamphlet, the Spartacist League gives a remarkable picture of life inside Healy-land that again echoes life inside the NCLC:
There was the systematic destruction of cadres: abusing them and then holding them up to scorn as weaklings, breaking down their self-respect by extorting false confessions, using their loyalty to the professed ideals of socialism to make them complicit in crimes against their comrades and the comrades of other groups. The use of these techniques was calculating, as was also the two-pronged effort to deprive the members of the ability to think, by innovations of "dialectics" and "security."
"Dialectics": those hopelessly idealistic lectures of incomprehensible anti-dialectical garbage that nobody could understand except Healy8 . . . . And on the other side, "security." It has long been the Healyite norm that if you fell from favor, you would be denounced as a CIA agent or the intimate companion of such a creature. This is precisely what happened to Tim Wohlforth, Healy's hapless toady and American servant. . . .
The methodology is: "Watch out, they're everywhere – and only your glorious leader can detect them." "You say you have a difference? – Which are you, FBI, GPU or both?" This is the way to keep people subliminally terrified – calculated paranoia. And just as Healy is the world's greatest dialectician so is he also the WRP's James Jesus Angleton. "Security" and "dialectics" are a system for control of the WRP membership. . .. The purpose is to create a strong structure, one in which anything can happen, as, indeed, "anything" did. The Healyite organization is about the most authoritative structure you can have short of wielding state power as a Stalinist. Other such phenomenons are the Moonies and Jonestown.
In a Healyite organization, the day after the election, you walk in and you say, "Well, comrades, the crisis intensifies and you've been semi-traitors for the way you've dogged it. Now you've got to go to work." That's an absolutely normal Healyite technique. Instead of "Well, comrades, take some vacation now." . . . In a Healyite organization, it would be: "Turn over your vacation money and work twice as hard."
Again, this critique can be applied virtually word for word to the post-1973 NCLC.
BREAKING LEADING MEMBERS
Healy, again like LaRouche, particularly specialized in publicly humiliating and breaking his top cadre. At a Central Committee meeting that Wohlforth attended, Healy suddenly turned on Cliff Slaughter, the SLL's longtime number two man and a leading party theorist. Healy announced he wanted to make a motion "to expel Cliff Slaughter" because "he has been acting consciously to destroy our movement and to aid the class enemy at a critical juncture in the crisis of capitalism," a fact that made "Slaughter's treachery all the more intolerable." Healy then had a party loyalist denounce Slaughter for not supplying enough youth for deployment in a specific area. "Then all and sundry spoke up to rake Cliff over the coals," Wohlforth recalls. Next, "Gerry went into Cliff's personal life" and showed that Slaughter's decision to devote more of his personal time to be with his wife because she was thought to be feeling unwell proved that he put his personal problems above the party, class, and revolution. Slaughter then apologized to the Central Committee (Healy) for his weakness in not leaving his wife and criticized himself for not being strong enough to do so!
Wohlforth recalled that Slaughter now "spoke with a hollow voice, as a shattered man, and without real conviction. I got the impression that this kind of torture had become relatively routine for him; that the scene I was witnessing had been replayed over and over again." Wohlforth later found out that "leading party loyalists," indeed the most loyal members in the group, had themselves been physically assaulted by Healy personally:
Healy's attacks on his members did not stop at the verbal level. Perhaps because he had used up his abusive vocabulary without producing the desired results, he progressed to physical attack. I was totally unaware that such things were going on at the time and was deeply shocked when I learned about the attacks after I broke with Healy in 1974. But the evidence is incontrovertible and comes from several sources. There is this report from the group of trade unionists around Alan Thornett (who also broke with Healy in 1974).9
The incident involved one of the leaders of the group, Tony Richardson. In 1974, two former SLL/WRP members, Robin Blick and Mark Jenkins, entered into an alliance with Pierre Lambert's French Trotskyist party, the Organisation Communiste Internationalists (OCI). Lambert, a former ally of the SLL/WRP, had broken off all relations with the SLL/WRP after Lambert had decided that Healy was psychotic.10 Blick and Jenkins then secretly contacted other Healy supporters – including Thornett – for the purpose of deposing Healy. Blick and Jenkins further ridiculed the party's "stress on the depths of the capitalist crisis and its warnings off the dangers of a military coup in 1973-74."11 Thornett agreed with their analysis, as did Tony Richardson, another WRP cadre. Tim Wohlforth reports that Richardson was then
called to Clapham [Healy's HQ] for "discussions" at 9:00 pm on Tuesday evening . . . in Healy's flat. Alex Mitchell was present and so was Aileen Jennings. At his interview considerable physical violence was used on him. . . . These methods were only used on the most loyal members. No doubt Healy reserved such treatment for his most loyal members out of fear that those less committed to him would do the sensible thing and resign from the party on the spot and take a protest to the membership and to others in the leftist public.
I received further evidence from Robin Blick and Mark Jenkins, both members of Healy's group for many years. They had both, on separate occasions, been beaten by Healy. One of these occasions occurred in Healy's tent late at night at one of the summer camps. . . . More recent evidence comes from the leadership of the WRP, Mike Banda and Cliff Slaughter, who expelled Healy in the fall of 1985. They report, "Victims of Healy's behavior came forward to tell us their own appalling stories of his brutality."
THOUGHT CONTROL AND "CRISIS"
Wohlforth's answers to how all this could have happened are equally illuminating:
The SLL/WRP members deeply believed that revolutionary events could happen in their lifetime. Individual members might have doubted Healy's hyperbole about the imminence of the revolution, but on the whole, they all – I should say we all – accepted the general outlook. We all wished so much to be a part of history, the triumph of good over evil, as we saw it. We believed that the SLL/WRP was the chosen instrument to make that revolution successful, and therefore it was extremely important for us to be part of that party.
There was an additional factor. Gerry Healy had convinced us that being born to the middle class was a form of original sin. . . . If some party project did not go too well, we were easily convinced that the fault lay in our own middle-class weakness . . . . Therefore, when attacked, we assumed – at least to some extent – that we were guilty. While most comrades no doubt felt deep inside themselves that Healy was exaggerating their crime, they accepted some criminal responsibility.
Wohlforth says he believes,
There was a definite method in Healy's madness. It was a kind of preventive medicine against faction formations or any other form of challenge to Healy's personal rule. Comrades were kept inwardly turned, separated from each another, concentrating on their own purported weaknesses and thus blind to those of the leadership. Those comrades who could not adapt to Healy's methods found themselves forced out of the party individually before they could organize an opposition. Should a comrade wish to form an opposition, he would soon find out that he had already confessed to sufficient "crimes" to give Healy the ammunition he needed to isolate the person. This trick worked well, as Healy had no opposition from 1960 until 1974.
This, then, was "the Comintern method" par excellence, one that Healy may have first picked up in his years as a member of the British Communist Party before becoming a Trotskyist. Healy even deliberately created situations of artificial crises to manipulate members. At his first SLL summer camp in 1966, Wohlforth recalls that it was surrounded by guards "who patrolled twenty-four hours a day." One night,
We were all awakened at midnight and summoned by the guards to the main tent. There we were, bleary-eyed, with Gerry Healy on the podium, face bright red and sporting his sternest expression. . . .[Because of a fight between two working class youths at the camp] there could be a police raid at any moment. Sussex was Tory turf. The revolutionary party itself was on the line. The crisis of capitalism was deepening, and never had the revolutionary party been so needed or its opportunities so bright. So we stood there wet, shivering, with visions of revolution and counterrevolution flowing through our heads while guards meticulously searched each tent and everybody's bags for weapons. Finally, off to bed we went, to be awakened at 6 am by a guard pounding on the tent pole shouting, "Wakey, wakey."
After attending a series of such camps, Wohlforth
soon learned that there was always a crisis at the camp. In Healy's mind, a camp without some sort of crisis was a failure. Healy once told me privately that the purpose of these crises was to bring out the real contradictions within the camp. "If one doesn't develop naturally, then I create one," he said .... In this fashion each comrade is made to feel the urgency of his or her tasks. . . . It was, of course, a trick with mirrors, an illusion created in the hothouse atmosphere of a camp under tent and aided by the slight delirium that comes with lack of sleep.
At the same time, Wohlforth recalled, Healy – much like LaRouche – had an uncanny ability to make you personally feel that you were engaged in a tremendous struggle:
Healy could touch you. He could make you feel almost physically the socialist dream. The only other left-wing politician I met who had that same effect was Jim Cannon. Those of us who were Healy's followers for so many years did his bidding not because he terrorized us – certainly not at the beginning – but because he inspired us. Healy's ability to commit great crimes sprang from the strength of his personality.
In the summer of 1974 Gerry Healy purged Tim Wohlforth from the leadership of the Workers League. The events leading up to the Wohlforth purge are again eerily similar to events that transpired inside the Labor Committee. The crisis began in the spring of 1973 when the WL began a series of lectures on the history of the group's origins. As part of the class, the WL permitted attendance from other groupings, including James Robertson's Spartacist League. In June 1973, Wohlforth was invited to England for a week of discussions. He soon learned that Healy was in a rage because members of the Spartacist League had been permitted to attend the classes. Healy warned Wohlforth that letting the Spartacists in was an indication that the WL was returning to the "sick" campus radical milieu of its past instead of conducting Young Socialist "youth work" in the ghetto. The atmosphere was so menacing and the attacks so intense that Wohlforth reports, "I actually felt physical fear, fear for my life."
The night before he was scheduled to fly back to the U.S., Wohlforth was subjected to "a one-way shouting match" with Healy that went on till 2:30 in the morning. He was then told that all relations were broken and that he was out of the movement. Then at 5:30 a.m., "I was awakened for one last meeting with Healy, at which I was told I would be given one last chance." Most of all, Wohlforth was told that he had to break with "centrist" elements inside the WL. When Wohlforth returned to the U.S., he "immediately launched a campaign against the 'centrist' layer of the organization" while the WL increased its "YS" ghetto organizing to a hysterical pitch.12 As a result of the frenetic activity combined with the "campaign against centrism," many long-time leading WL members began dropping out in late 1973 and early 1974.13
Next, in August 1974, Wohlforth received yet another summons to come to England. A group of former WL members had contacted Healy to protest against Wohlforth's frenetic policies, policies that Wohlforth says had been carried out under Healy's direct orders. Now Healy attacked Wohlforth yet again and claimed all the YS work was a mistake and "a retreat from the working class." Healy next added this bombshell:
The liquidation of the movement over the past year was the work of the CIA! After all, as he [Healy] saw it, the Workers League was breaking up. The CIA would like to see the League break up. Therefore, the CIA must be at work. The task, therefore, was to discover the CIA agent in the leadership.
Healy knew that Wohlforth's then girlfriend, Nancy Fields, had an uncle who had been in both the OSS and CIA because she had been best friends with Wohlforth's former wife and told her so. Wohlforth's former wife was one of the WL members who had left the organization in the late 1973/early 1974 period. However, neither she nor any of the other WL dissidents accused Nancy Fields of being a CIA agent. That was an invention by Healy to make Wohlforth (not Healy) accept responsibility for the policy failures of the past year as well as to demonstrate his loyalty to Healy by breaking up with Nancy Fields. Wohlforth's meeting with Healy in England took place just a week or so before the WL summer camp scheduled to be held in Canada and Wohlforth had to fly back to North America to prepare for it.
The day the camp opened, Healy – who had flown over from England – refused to attend the first day of the gathering. Instead, he sent his lieutenant Cliff Slaughter to "check out whether it was possible for Healy to attend the camp without risking his life," Wohlforth was told. When Healy finally did arrive at the camp, he first asked Wohlforth if the place had been swept for listening devices. When Wohlforth replied that he didn't have the equipment for such an elaborate operation, Healy chuckled and said, "Still a game with you, my boy. You don't take things seriously yet, do you? Still campus politics."
Healy, his British entourage, and Wohlforth then took off on a long walk, presumably to escape "bugging." As they strolled along near the guarded perimeter, Healy saw a lone fisherman at the far end of the lake outside the camp and asked Wohlforth, "RCMP or FBI? What do you think?" He then launched into an attack on Nancy Fields as a CIA agent, before telling Wohlforth, "This is the most serious breech in the history of our international movement! Now get me out of here! This place is not safe!"
At a midnight meeting a short time later, Healy had all the other members of the WL attack both Wohlforth and Nancy Field for all the failures of the past year of organizing. Wohlforth recalls that while the attacks were underway, Healy was "grinning in delight, and rubbing his hands together. The man was in his element. He was having fun. 'It's Christmas! Let's hear all of it.'" After all the WL members had finished venting their personal grievances at Wohlforth, Healy now intervened again:
"Let me ask you a simple question. Comrades, put yourselves in the enemy's shoes. Suppose you are sitting in a plush office in Langley, Virginia, at CIA headquarters. You want to see this movement destroyed, for you fear what will happen when the American working class finally has true revolutionary leadership. What is it that you would like to have happen within this movement?
"Yes, that's right! Exactly, precisely what has been happening! Isn't that curious now? Isn't that curious?" Healy was back in stride.
As Healy began to attack Nancy Fields, Wohlforth recalls that "an atmosphere of complete hysteria dominated the meeting." Healy said that the enemy was stepping up attacks on them and went on to warn them that "the future of humanity therefore depends upon us and how we respond to this threat. Security of the revolutionary movement has become key to the future of humanity."
As for Wohlforth himself, Healy commented: "Yes, he has been turned. He has permitted personal relations to blind him to revolutionary responsibilities. . . . He has threatened the security of our world movement. This cannot be tolerated."
Wohlforth replied, "I disagree with the entire proceedings," Healy rushed up to him "and shook his fists within an inch of my face, shouting: 'I will destroy you.' I became faint but I stood there." When Healy finally asked for a vote to remove Wohlforth (Healy's closest and most loyal American ally since 1961), all hands went up until, finally, in a scene that could have come from Darkness at Noon, both Wohlforth and his girlfriend, feeling shattered, raised their hands as well!14
Following Wohlforth's purge, Healy more or less cut the American WL off from the WRP and made it impossible to function as a mass organization. Following the 1974 meeting, Healy never again visited North America to meet with the WL's Central Committee. From 1974 to 1984 he wrote exactly two short letters to the new WL boss, David North. It seems, therefore, that Healy had deliberately intended to dismantle the WL as a political organization and that the Wohlforth purge was the cover that he used to carry it out. For the entire decade following 1974 to the WRP's implosion, the WL had approximately 90 members in the United States!
"DIRTY TRICKS" AGAINST JOSEPH HANSEN
Even though Healy had for all practical purposes shut down the WL in America as a serious political group, he still relied on its members, in coordination with the WRP, for one specific task — a series of legal assaults and "dirty tricks" aimed at the destruction of the SWP, and Joseph Hansen in particular. In August/September 1975, the WRP published Security and the Fourth International that singled out the SWP's Joseph Hansen, a former guard for Trotsky in Mexico in 1940 and who had then spent decades at a top leader of the SWP. Much like the NCLC, the Healyites said that Hansen was both an FBI and KGB agent.15 Nor did the campaign abet with Hansen's death in 1979.
Healy's wrath with the SWP – and Hansen in particular – originated in part out of the fact that after Tim Wohlforth finally left the Workers League, he wrote a lengthy document on the break with Healy that he sent out to various leftist organizations. The only response that Wohlforth received from any group was the SWP. Hansen personally ran the SWP's Intercontinental Press, and starting in March 1975 he began to publish sections of Wohlforth's document in it. Five months later, the Healyites launched Security and the Fourth International as their opening salvo of their counterattack. They began showing up at SWP events with their charges and they even initiated a lawsuit against the SWP. The Workers League organization in America devoted its waking existing to trying to destroy the SWP.
The Healyite onslaught had deeper roots as well. In 1975, the SWP's Farrell Dobbs retired from the party and appointed Jack Barnes as his successor. Healy seized on the fact that Hansen had more or less handpicked a group of students from Carleton College in Minnesota, who entered into the SWP through the ranks of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPFC), to become the new leadership of the organization. The group, headed by Jack Barnes, was dubbed the "Carleton Twelve" by the WRP. Healy said that the group had always been a CIA spy ring, and that Hansen deliberately placed them in positions of power. Hansen and Dobbs then used the Carleton College recruits to replace members of the top YSA leadership that had been first recruited by Murry Weiss in the late 1950s and whom Dobbs opposed. Jack Barnes, who succeeded to the leadership of the SWP, now became Dobbs' and Hansen's personal protegee.16
Ironically, the WL/WRP attack on Hansen and the SWP managed to to the impossible and unite the entire Trotskyist movement against Healy, including Hansen's old factional foe, Murry Weiss, who embraced the public rebuttal of Healy's claims.17 Just as LaRouche had managed to unify the rest of the Left against him with "Operation Mop-Up," the Healyites had now accomplished the same thing with their assault on Hansen and the SWP. Joseph Hansen, it so happened, had also been one of Healy's sharpest critics when it came to Healyite hooligan tactics in the Trotskyist movement. In 1966, after the Healyites beat up another Trotskyist named Earnest Tate, Hansen went into action. From Gerry Healy: A Revolutionary Life,
By 1966, he [Hansen] was orchestrating the lying refrain that was to become the theme of every opponent of the SLL – that Healy ran a violent organization which ruled with terror over a frightened membership. Hansen claimed that "for years rumors have circulated in the British labour movement about Healy's methods" and that "Healy's organization was the only one claiming to represent Trotskyism that had such an ugly reputation in the labour movement because of the continual tales about gross violations of the democratic rights of its own members." Hansen was behind the "Tate affair," which took place in November 1966. The American Ernest Tate staged a provocation outside the SLL London meeting called to mark the 10th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. The story was then circulated that Healy had ordered SLL members to beat up Tate!18
In 1973, when LaRouche launched "Operation Mop-Up," Hansen already had some two decades experience with LaRouche and had actively suppressed any organizing by LaRouche inside the SWP, no doubt with the full approval of Farrell Dobbs, longtime SWP party leader and Hansen's ally. Dobbs and Hansen had, in truth, been trying since 1957-58 to work out some kind of understanding with the American Communist Party after the 1956 Moscow revelations.19 However, even without the "regroupment" turn, Hansen knew the kind of fellow LaRouche was and that to allow LaRouche to "achieve left-hegemony" through Operation Mop-Up against the CPUSA could only mean that he would next turn his wrath on the SWP. It was the key decision of Dobbs and Hansen to mobilize young YSA/SWP cadre of which there were quite a few – the SWP was without question the largest left-wing group in America in the early 1970s – into "defense squads" to oppose attempted NCLC disruptions of leftist and CP meetings (most famously at Columbia University) that led the NCLC to call off Mop-Up as militarily unwinnable.
THE HUNT FOR PETRODOLLARS
In the mid-1970s, Healy (like LaRouche) began to spend a great deal of his time trying to make contacts with foreign governments, most prominently in the Arab world. As LaRouche began to embrace crude anti-Semitism, Healy drew close to Libya and Iraq. As the How the Workers Revolutionary Party Betrayed Trotskyism pamphlet reveals,
Healy himself became a remote figure who most members did not even know – and he knew very little about them. His trips to Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi and Tripoli were undoubtedly far more frequent than his visits to Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester and Cardiff. (p 37) In April 1976, the WRP signed a secret cooperation agreement with the Libyan government, which began funding the WRP.20 By 1978-79, the WRP and its publications like News Line functioned quite literally as paid propagandists for governments like Libya and, it appears, Iraq as well.21
The fight of the Palestinians against "Zionism" was declared "the highest point of the world revolution." Healy and his top lieutenants maintained constant contact with the PLO as well. In 1979, Healy, with Vanessa Redgrave in tow, went on a fund-raising tour in such unlikely hotbeds of Trotskyism as Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait. In an April 14, 1979 document that first came to public light after the 1985 crisis inside the WRP, Healy wrote that he had raised large sums of money "from leading Kuwaitis including generous cheques from the Crown Prince, the Governor of Ahmadi" and others.22 WRP ties to Iraq increased significantly after Saddam Hussein took full power in July 1979 and murdered Iraq's president, Al-Bakr.23
After the WRP collapsed, it was discovered that Arab governments had been giving the WRP lucrative printing contracts. As a result,
By the time of his demise, Healy had assembled an apparatus employing ninety-one people, a large web printing facility in the North, a mansion in Derbyshire used as a "Marxist college," six bookstores, flats opposite party headquarters in Clapham, and a £15,000 sports car for himself. All told, WRP resources were estimated to be worth in the neighborhood of £1,500,000. Yet the membership at the time of Healy's expulsion was no more than one thousand.24 Other estimates put the WRP's membership during the 1980s at about 600 at best.
HEALY'S "SECURITY STAFF"
If, in fact, LaRouche never did get any serious money from Arab governments, it might turn out that one reason was that Healy was a better salesman with more dirty tricks to offer to his Arab clients in Europe that LaRouche could offer. According to numerous reports, the WRP supplied Arab governments with the names of Middle Eastern dissident living in England and what they were up to. WRP members regularly showed up at leftist and Middle East related-meetings and kept tabs on the attendees. The WRP even publicly supported the execution of Iraqi Communists. In a February 2, 1979 article in News Line ("A Conspiracy Unmasked"), the paper reported with favor the news that 21 members of the Iraqi Communist Party members had been executed for "illegally forming cells in the armed forces." In response to reader protest, News Line ran a full page editorial statement on March 8, 1979, supporting the story. It went on to declare that the "Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party of Iraq has played a hundredfold more progressive role in the Middle East than Stalinism" and then added,
This is a straight case of Moscow trying to set up cells in the Iraqi armed forces for the purpose of undermining the regime. It must accept the consequences . . . . It is a principle with Trotskyists that we defend workers, whether they are Stalinists, revisionists or social democrats from the attacks of the capitalist state. But as the facts show, that has nothing to do with the incidents in Iraq.
Finally, when the Arab till finally ran dry during the 1985 crisis, the WRP took a decision right out of the NCLC play book in order to exploit its shrinking membership even more. At an August 17, 1985 meeting, the party extracted some £84,000 in pledges from members with the promise to repay all the loans!
"REDS IN THE BED": THE COLLAPSE OF THE WRP
The WRP finally collapsed in a dizzying wave of personal and political scandals that began to break out in the summer of 1985. The meltdown began with a July 1, 1985 letter from Aileen Jennings, Healy's most intimate companion for 19 years, to the WRP's Political Committee.25 In her letter, Jennings – who during her entire time with Healy had been married to another WRP loyalist – revealed that in the 19 years Healy had been sleeping with her, he had affairs with at least 26 other women, whom he cherry-picked from the ranks of WRP loyalists. At the time of the break with Healy, Jennings told her husband about the relationship as well as the fact that she had suffered serious spinal injuries which required hospital treatment after Healy broke a chair over her back.
In the wake of Jennings' letter, a series of astonishing revelations began to surface about the inner life of the WRP, a group best known to the public not for Healy but for its most famous member, the actress Vanessa Redgrave. Now the group (and particularly its most inner circle) was increasingly exposed as being little more than a semi-psychotic band of political criminals. As more and more party secrets began to pour out about the WRP's "inner elite," "the sexual aspect of Healy's degradation was placed at the center of the discussion, and [WRP leader Cliff] Slaughter introduced the theory that Healy and the minority were "near fascists."26
Summing up the SLL/WRP experience, Tim Wohlforth points out that
Healy drove his membership day and night, giving it no time to think critically. An extremely high level of activity is found typically in political cults. . . . It has a mind-altering effect similar to those induced by religious cults. The member becomes too tired to think critically about the group and its policies. He or she begins to seem to people outside the group like a zombie stumbling through life muttering political dogmas that are incomprehensible to the outside world. . . .
Healy pushed the psychotic dimensions of cultism to their limits. This was most notable in two ways: paranoia and internal terror. He devoted tremendous resources to pursuit of his "Security and the Fourth International" campaign, claiming that his political opponents within the Trotskyist left were agents of the FBI and GPU. . . . This allowed Healy to alienate his party's membership from the rest of the left and thus to define the cult boundary. Healy perfected the art of carrying out verbal attacks upon all members, including leaders close to him, in an extremely emotional way. The smallest error was exaggerated beyond all proportion, and the victim, as well as the membership, were made to feel that this error had negatively affected the outcome of the revolutionary process in a fundamental way. Healy went beyond verbal abuse and engaged in physical assaults. Then he transformed his cult into a personal brothel.27
Looking back on the roots of Healy's success, including the fact that from 1960 to 1973 Healy managed to avoid any serious splits inside the SLL, Wohlforth comments
Healy learned how to turn the selfless idealism of his young middle-class recruits into a powerful weapon to control them. . . . One result of such attacks was that members, who in other circumstances might develop doubts about party policy and the internal regime, were forced out of the party before they could find like-minded members and form factions that could challenge the leadership.
Healy combined his own form of "criticism/self-criticism" with crisis mongering. The membership was inspired by predictions of the collapse of the capitalist system that would bring his small party swiftly to power. At the same time, Healy sought to frighten them with talk of an imminent threat of dictatorship and fascism. Healy produced a driven membership that worked for the party every waking hour in a frenzied manner. A sense of great urgency prevailed throughout the organization. Every minute counts when revolutionary upheaval is around the corner.28
Like LaRouche, Healy was determined to build his organization only to discover that growth threatened his control. Then with just as much determination, Healy would destroy what he had built, reducing his group to the immediate cult followers once again. Soon a new opportunity would arise and the process would begin all over again. The core group, which only slowly changed composition, was a cult around Healy with roots that went back to 1943.29
Time and again, patterns inside both the NCLC and SLL/WRP strangely mirror each other. With the inevitable downfall of LaRouche, will this pattern repeat itself yet again, both as tragedy and farce?
1 Unless otherwise indicated, all statements from Wohlforth are taken from his memoir, The Prophet's Children: Travels on the American Left (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1994).
2 Neither the WL nor the NCLC met with much success although the WL managed to build a larger group in the ghetto than the NCLC. As for the NCLC's experience with RYM. From ex-NCLC member Dan Jacobs, "A True History of Lyn Marcus [Lyndon LaRouche] and the Labor Committee" in Critical Practice, 1975:
The NCLC "RYM organizers" generally lumpenized themselves – to the point of donning leather jackets and talking in ghetto cadence – in order to approach gang youth. . . . No serious efforts were made to integrate the youthful recruits with other NCLC members — to say nothing of the working class contacts around the NCLC. The RYM organizers, far from confronting the "ghetto turf" mentality of the youths in a revolutionary way, dissolved themselves into it, with disastrous results. When the frame up arrests of RYM members came down late in 1973, NCLC responded sluggishly and incompetently, mobilizing a feeble and abortive defense effort – thus landing the framed-up RYM members in jail. Deep distrust towards their "Promethean" organizers began setting in among the few dozen RYM members.
Meanwhile, the regular NCLC members, most of whose contact with the RYM cadres came only in defensive training and ghetto rallies, began to look upon the RYM'ers as their military auxiliary — an attitude which the RYM members quickly began to sense. At a Septembers meeting of the NY NCLC membership, a RYM member, objecting that the constant ghetto rally mobilizations were pulling him out of school, bitterly complained, "RYM is the goons for the Labor Committee."
The upshot of the brewing NCLC-RYM antagonism was that, in early 1974, several RYM members turned overtly against the NCLC, attacking their office, stealing and robbing money, etc. And, instead of critically examining the total failure of the RYM organizing, NCLC, which was now well into its hysterical "mass brainwashing" phase, dismissed all the incidents as products of "CIA brainwashing."
3 For years the SLL was technically a grouping inside the British Labour Party.
4 Corinna Lotz and Paul Feldman, Gerry Healy: A Revolutionary Life (London: Lupus Books, 1994), 262.
5 Lotz and Feldman, 258.
6 Vol. 1, 1974, 15. In a 1/2/61 speech, Healy even declared,: "We are entering a period comparable in significance to 1914-1917 and it is as vital now as it was then to break sharply and clearly with all sorts of centrist tendencies within our ranks."
7 David North, Gerry Healy and his Place in the History of the Fourth International (Detroit: Labor Publications), 66.
8 In LaRouche's system, of course, one would substitute "Beyond Psychoanalysis" for "Dialectics" although the roots of LaRouche's approach can be traced back to his "Eric Fromm" presentation at an SWP forum in the early 1960s.
9 Alan Thornett was the most important WRP organizer in the trade union movement as well as the head of the union at the British Leyland plant at Cowley.
10 From The New Line, quoted by Wohlforth.
11 From How the Workers Revolutionary Party Betrayed Trotskyism: 1973-1985, Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International, 21.
12 This was also the time that members of the Spartacist League were also threatened, most likely as penance by Wohlforth for the crime of having let them attend the Spring 1973 WL lecture series.
13 A somewhat similar process happened around the same time with the NCLC.
14 After the camp, Wohlforth actually returned to the WL office. Now banned from national responsibilities, he tried to write a few articles for the paper until, finally, he stopped coming in because, as he put it, "I no longer believed."
15 The notion that someone could simultaneously be both an agent for the KGB and CIA was promoted by LaRouche, in particular, during the "Chris White Affair" and it is possible that Healy received inspiration for his attack on Hansen from this time.
16 Once Barnes assumed full power, he took the SWP further and further away from any identification with Trotsky except as a literary hero. Instead, he turned the full resources of the organization in the 1980s to an almost total identification with Fidel Castro and Cuba and declared that Trotskyism was no longer relevant as an ideology. As a result, by the early 1980s the SWP entered into a round of dizzying factional splits. Even members who had spent decades in the organization now left it in disgust. Wohlforth left the SWP in 1977, just two years after rejoining it, over the group's unabashed adoration of Fidel Castro; ironically, this was also the reason he left in 1964.
17 On January 14, 1977, a public meeting held at the Friends House in London of over a thousand people that included some of the top leaders in the Trotskyist movement, former guards and personal secretaries to Trotsky (as well as Trotsky's grandson) to refute Healy's attack on Hansen. The red flag for Healy came in a 7 April 1975 article by Joseph Hansen in Intercontinental Press that questioned whether or not the WRP had been heavily infiltrated by Special Branch. Tim Wohlforth's decision to rejoin the SWP only compounded the problem for Healy. Somewhat earlier Hansen, based on his conversations with Wohlforth about Healy after Wohlforth rejoined the SWP, wrote an article in which he described Gerry Healy as "paranoid."
For a recent defense of Healy and the WRP's investigation of Hansen, see an interview with David North at https://www.wsws.org/trotsky/interview/part1.html. For the SWP rebuttal of Healy, see Healy's Big Lie, at https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/swp-us/education/1976-12-dec-Healys-Big-Lie-Slander-Campaign-vs-Hansen-EfS.pdf.
18 Lotz and Feldman, 237-38. Tate was attacked outside London's Caxton Hall on 17 November 1966 after he had been selling an SWP pamphlet highly critical of Healy entitled Healy "Reconstructs" the Fourth International at a meeting organized by Healy's Socialist Labour League.
19 From the ex-Healyite members' publication, How the Workers Revolutionary Party Betrayed Trotskyism 1973-1985: "Since 1957, when the SWP had launched the so-called "regroupment" campaign in the United States . . . the line of the SWP, even in its theoretical organ, grew softer and more conciliatory to the historical enemies of Trotskyism. By 1958, Hansen was publicly repudiating the political revolution against the Kremlin bureaucracy."
20 This secret agreement only became public in November 1985.
21 From How the Workers Revolutionary Party Betrayed Trotskyism: "By 1978-79, the WRP had become, in the most literal sense of the word, a paid agent of the Arab bourgeoisie, in which the News Line functioned as a propaganda organ justifying the crimes and betrayals of the regimes with which Healy had established unprincipled alliances."
22 According to an investigation of the WRP, the group only began getting "significant sums from Middle East sources" in 1979 although what the "insignificant" sums were before 1979 is not discussed. David North, Gerry Healy.
23 The WRP then "escalated its obscene adulation of Hussein's Bonapartist dictatorship," according to the pamphlet on the WRP issued by the ex-Healyites. Following the Iran-Iraq war, they report that the WRP also began to make overtures to Iran as well.
24 Wohlforth, The Prophet's Children, 298.
25 Tim Wohlforth said of Jenning, "She appeared to me incapable of even thinking differently from Healy."
26 From How the Workers Revolutionary Party Betrayed Trotskyism, 114. Cliff Slaughter wrote that the Healy clique "are close to every fascist position on the rights of human individuals, rights which for them are reduced to nothing by the requirements of the party." Cited in On the Edge, 169.
27 Tourish and Wohlforth, On the Edge, 172.
The Trotskyist movement was no stranger to bizarre political cults, probably the most bizarre being the "Posadists," who enjoyed small followings in both England and America outside their Latin American base. The sect was led by an Argentine-born shoemaker of Italian background whose “party name” was Juan Posadas. In the 1950s, Posadas represented the Paris-based “Fourth International” throughout Latin America. He then developed his own independent doctrines, the most important of which was his notion that not only was nuclear war between the United States and Russia inevitable but – come to think of it -- it really wasn’t all that bad. Although it was unfortunately true that nuclear war would provoke an inferno on the Earth, after its completion, socialism would emerge triumphant, probably taking only a few hours to achieve hegemony once the dazed survivors crawled out from under the radioactive rubble. Breaking with his erstwhile Paris comrades, Posadas established his own International whose members he would address regularly in hours-long speeches that would inevitably end with the cry: “Viva Posadas!” In the mid-1960s, Posadas angered the Cuban government when he claimed that Che Guevara never actually died in Bolivia, Che was ACTUALLY being held prisoner by the right-wing reactionary revisionist wing of the Cuban government. In a speech to a Tricontinental Conference meeting, Castro called Posadas “pestilential.”
Posadas’s most creative theory involved UFOs. In his 1968 opus, Les soucoupes volantes, le processus de la matière et de l'énergie, la science, la lutte de classes et révolutionnaire et le futur socialiste de l'humanité, Posadas noted that numerous reports of UFOs proved that a future civilization regularly visited earth. Nor was there anything un-Marxist about such a belief. After all, “dialectic concepts can permit the existence of UFOs and other life-forms.” Precisely because the UFO visitors had access to such incredibly advanced technology, it seemed virtually certain that the aliens (“two meters tall” and “fair haired and with transparent clothes”) could only have come from an advanced socialist society in some other part of the universe where the class struggle had been abolished. Posadas did entertain one alternate hypothesis: the UFOs were actually evolved humans of a sort from a distant socialist future who were visiting their ancestors. Thanks to advanced socialist evolution, humans as we know them would have mutated so radically that in the future they would take on new shapes and even reproduce asexually like amoebas. Whatever the exact home planet of the visitors, Posadas answered the question why the UFO visitors never stayed around very long this way: “Capitalism doesn’t interest the UFO pilots, which is why they do not return. Similarly, the Soviet bureaucracy as they don’t have perspective.” (Here it has to be admitted that Posadas might have been on to something.) However, things might dramatically change “at the moment of the collapse of the bourgeoisie and the General Strike.” Whatever the case, “We must call upon beings from other planets when they come to intervene, to collaborate with the inhabitants of the Earth to overcome misery. We must launch a call on them to use their resources to help us.” Posadas’ cargo-cult Trotskyism came weighted down such literary toe tappers as his 1976 work, The Crisis of Capitalism, The Decision of the World Communist Movement and the Socialist Solution: The Present Phase of the Political Revolution in China, The Living Thought of Trotsky on the 36th Anniversary of his Assassination and his 1977 follow up The Tour of Fidel Castro and Podgorny in Africa, the Permanent Revolution, and the World Objective Necessity of Socialism. (For more on Posadas, see Matt Salusbury, “Trots in Space,” Fortean Times, August 2003.)
28 Ibid., 161-62.
29 Ibid., 160.
< APPENDIX THREE Monad Man: The Curious Case of Technocracy’s Howard Scott (Plus an Apology to the Grand Dragon) | SMILING MAN FROM A DEAD PLANET: THE MYSTERY OF LYNDON LAROUCHE | APPENDIX TWO A Summer Romance: LaRouche and the Spartacist League (May-July 1966) >
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