Tim Wohlforth

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Tim Wohlforth

Tim Wohlforth

Socialist beginnings

Tim Wohlforth became a socialist in 1953, right at the height of McCarthyism and at the lowest ebb that the American socialist movement had ever experienced. He was a sophomore at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

I was won to socialism by the Shachtmanites, a group that made up in intellectual vitality for what they clearly lacked in members.
We were graced with two socialists — Scott Arden and Bogdan Denitch — from the newly formed Young Socialist League. Neither I nor anyone else at Oberlin College had ever heard of the group.
Bogdan Denitch painted a colorful and somewhat exaggerated picture of the YSL. He gave a most astounding interview to the college newspaper. He stated that the YSL’s membership was “under 30,000” and went into great detail about a “training school” the YSL ran to turn out machinists to invade industry and form socialist cells to challenge the conservative union bureaucracy. The newspaper painted the organization as if it were a big Red plot.
I found out the truth a couple of years later when I turned up in New York City and needed a job. Two older comrades, Herman Benson and Julius Jacobson, had a small machine shop. If you pleaded with them enough they would give you a fifteen-minute lesson in running an automatic screw machine. Their instruction was rather inadequate; luckily I never had to work in industry.

About a dozen students met with Arden and Denitch and decided to organize their own socialist club on campus, which they called the Eugene V. Debs Club, naming it after the famous early leader of American socialism…[1].

DSA member

In 1995 Tim Wohlforth, author of , "Die Prophet's Children: Travels on the American Left", was a member of Democratic Socialists of America .[2]

In recent times Tim Wohlforth has been a member of Bay Area Democratic Socialists of America[3]

"Rethinking the New Left"

The Platypus Affiliated Society "got its start down around the University of Chicago some years back. Since then, it's expanded to a small, North American group, still slightly wacky but often interesting". On November 9, 2010, Platypus hosted the public forum, "Rethinking the New Left," moderated by Spencer A. Leonard. The panel consisted of Osha Neumann, a former member of the New York anarchist group in the 1960s, Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers; Mark Rudd, former member and national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society, and later a member of the Weather Underground; Tim Wohlforth, founder and national secretary of the Young Socialist Alliance in 1959; and Alan Spector, a full-time organizer for SDS for more than five years in the 1960s.

According to Chicago Democratic Socialists of America's New Ground, No 133 Nov./Dec. 2010, "Wohlforth is a DSA member these days, and Mark Rudd ought to be if he isn't."


  1. [Tim Wohlforth’s 1994 political memoir, The Prophet’s Children — Travels on the American Left (Humanities Press)]
  2. Dem. Left, March/April 1995, page 22
  3. On the edge: political cults right and left By Dennis Tourish, Tim Wohlforth p 247