Workers World Party

Workers World Party
First Secretary Larry Holmes
Founded 1959 (1959)
Headquarters 147 W. 24th St. 2nd Fl.
New York City, New York 10011
Newspaper Workers World
Youth wing Fight Imperialism, Stand Together
Ideology Marxism-Leninism
Political position Far-left
Colors      Red

The Workers World Party (WWP) is a Marxist–Leninist political party in the United States.[1] It was founded in 1959 by a group led by Sam Marcy of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).[2] Marcy and his followers split from the SWP in 1958 over a series of long-standing differences, among them their support for Henry A. Wallace's Progressive Party in 1948, the positive view they held of the Chinese Revolution led by Mao Zedong, and their defense of the 1956 Soviet intervention in Hungary, all of which the SWP opposed.

The WWP describes itself as a party that has since its founding "supported the struggles of all oppressed peoples". It has recognized the right of nations to self-determination, including the nationally oppressed peoples inside the United States. It supports affirmative action as necessary in the fight for equality and it opposes all forms of racism and religious bigotry. The WWP and its affiliate Youth Against War and Fascism (YAWF) were noted for their consistent defense of the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the Puerto Rican Independence movement. The WWP was also an early advocate of gay rights and remains especially active in this area. The WWP has published Workers World since 1959. The newspaper has been a weekly since 1974.


The WWP had its origins in the Global Class War Tendency, led by Sam Marcy and Vincent Copeland, within the SWP. This group crystallized during the 1948 presidential election when they urged the SWP to back Henry Wallace's Progressive Party campaign, rather than field their own candidates. Throughout the 1950s, the Global Class War Tendency expressed positions at odds with official SWP policy, categorizing the Korean War as a class, rather than imperialist, conflict; support of the People's Republic of China as a workers' state, if not necessarily supporting the Mao Zedong leadership; and supporting the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution by the Soviet Union in 1956.[3]

The Global Class War Tendency left the SWP in early 1959. Although they would later abandon Trotskyism, in their International Workers Day issue (no. 3) of their new periodical the group proclaimed: "We are THE Trotskyists. We stand 100% with all the principled positions of Leon Trotsky, the most revolutionary communist since Lenin". The nascent group appears to have organized as the Workers World Party by February 1960.[4] At its inception, the WWP was concentrated among the working class in Buffalo, Youngstown, Seattle and New York. A youth organization, first known as the Anti-Fascist Youth Committee and later as Youth Against War and Fascism (YAWF), was created in April 1962.[5]

From the beginning, the WWP and YAWF concentrated their energies on street demonstrations. Early campaigns focused on support of Patrice Lumumba, opposition to the House Un-American Activities Committee and against racial discrimination in housing. They conducted the first protest against American involvement in Vietnam on August 2, 1962.[6] Their opposition to the war also included the tactics of "draft resistance" and "GI resistance". After organizing demonstrations at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in support of a soldier being tried for possessing anti-war literature, they founded the American Servicemen's Union, intended to be a mass organization of American soldiers. However, the group was completely dominated by the WWP and YAWF.[7]

During the late 1960s and 1970s, the party threw itself into protests for a number of other causes, including "defen[se] of the heroic black uprisings in Watts, Newark, Detroit, Harlem" and women's liberation. During the Attica Prison riot, the rioters requested YAWF member Tom Soto to present their grievances for them. The WWP was most successful in organizing demonstrations in support of desegregation "busing" in the Boston schools in 1975. Nearly 30,000 people attended the Boston March Against Racism which they had organized. During the 1970s, they also attempted to begin work inside organized labor, but apparently were not very successful.[8]

In 1980, the WWP began to participate in electoral politics, naming a presidential ticket as well as candidates for New York Senate, congressional and state legislature seats. In California, they ran their candidate Deidre Griswold in the primary for the Peace and Freedom Party nomination. They came in last with 1,232 votes out of 9,092. In 1984, the WWP supported Jesse Jackson's bid for the Democratic nomination, but when he lost in the primaries they nominated their own presidential ticket, along with a handful of congressional and legislative nominees.[9]

Activities and organizational structure

The WWP has organized, directed or participated in many coalition organizations for various causes, typically anti-imperialist in nature. The International Action Center, which counts many WWP members as leading activists, founded the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) coalition shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and has run both the All People's Congress (APC) and the International Action Center (IAC) for many years. The APC and the IAC in particular share a large degree of overlap in their memberships with cadre in the WWP. In 2004, a youth group close to the WWP called Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) was founded.

The WWP has participated in presidential election campaigns since the 1980 election, though its effectiveness in this area is limited as it has not been able to get on the ballots of many states. The party also has run some campaigns for other offices. One of the most successful was in 1990, when Susan Farquhar got on the ballot as a Senate candidate in Michigan and received 1.3% of the vote. However, the party's best result was in the 1992 Ohio Senate election, when the WWP candidate received 6.7% of the vote, running against a Democrat and a Republican.[10]

The WWP and North Korea

The WWP has maintained a position of support for the government of North Korea. Through its Vietnam-era front organization, the American Servicemen's Union (ASU), the party endorsed a 1971 statement of support for that government. The statement was read on North Korea's international radio station by visiting ASU delegate Andy Stapp.[11] In 1994, Sam Marcy sent a letter to Kim Jong-il expressing his condolences on behalf of the WWP on the death of his father Kim Il-sung, calling him a great leader and comrade in the international communist movement.[12] Its more recent front groups, IAC and (formerly) International ANSWER, have also demonstrated in support of North Korea.[13]


When the WWP was playing a role in organizing anti-war protests before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, many newspapers and TV shows attacked the WWP specifically for supporting the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.[14][15][16]


In 1968, the WWP absorbed a small faction of the Spartacist League that had worked with it in the Coalition for an Anti-Imperialist Movement called the Revolutionary Communist League (Internationalist). This group left the WWP in 1971 as the New York Revolutionary Committee. The NYRC's newspaper provided rare details about the internal functioning of the group that have subsequently been used by scholars as a primary source. The NYRC later reconsitituted as the Revolutionary Communist League (Internationalist).[17]

In 2004, the WWP suffered its most serious split when the San Francisco branch and some other members left to form the Party for Socialism and Liberation.[18][19]

Presidential tickets

Year President Alternate in
some states
Vice President Votes Notes
1980 Deirdre Griswold Gavrielle Holmes 13,213
1984 Larry Holmes Gavrielle Holmes Gloria La Riva 17,983 Larry Holmes and Gavrielle Holmes respectively received 15,327 and 2,656 votes
1988 7,846
1992 Gloria La Riva Larry Holmes 181
1996 Monica Moorehead Gloria La Riva 29,083
2000 4,795
2004 John Parker Teresa Gutierrez 1,646 Includes 265 votes on the Liberty Union Party line in Vermont
2008 Endorsed Cynthia McKinney Endorsed Rosa Clemente 161,797 No nominee of their own; endorsed the Green Party of the United States
2016 Monica Moorehead Lamont Lilly 4,173


Notable members


  1. "What is WWP?". Workers World Party website. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  2. "Selected Works of Sam Marcy". Workers World. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  3. Alexander 1991, p. 911.
  4. Alexander 1973, p. 554.
  5. Alexander 1991, p. 912.
  6. Klehr, Harvey (1988). Far Left of Center.
  7. Alexander 1991, pp. 912-913.
  8. Alexander 1991, p. 913.
  9. Alexander 1991, p. 914.
  10. "Vote for U.S. Senate". Ballot Access News. January 1, 2003. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  11. "Workers World Party and Its Front Organizations" (April 1974) US House Committee on Internal Security
  12. Marcy, Sam (July 21, 1994). "Kim Il Sung - Anti-imperialist fighter, socialist hero".
  13. Carlson, Peter (December 15, 2002). "The Crusader: Ramsey Clark Was LBJ's Attorney General. Now He's Busy Denouncing U.S. 'War Crimes' in Places Like Iraq, N. Korea. How Did That Happen?". The Washington Post.
  14. Cooper, Marc (September 29, 2002). "A Smart Peace Movement is MIA". Los Angeles Times.
  15. Gitlin, Todd (October 14, 2002). "Who Will Lead?". Mother Jones magazine.
  16. Corn, David (November 1, 2002). "Behind the Placards: The odd and troubling origins of today's antiwar movement". LA Weekly.
  17. Alexander 1991, pp. 913, 941-3, 1049.
  18. Freedlander, David (13 October 2015). "Bernie Sanders Isn't Socialist Enough for Many Socialists". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  19. "Founding statement of the Party for Socialism and Liberation". Liberation School. 1 August 2004. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  20. "Election Results (1984–present)". Federal Elections Commission. "Election Results (1980)". Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.


Further reading

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