April 28, 1986
To: International Committee of the Fourth International and members of all sections
At its meeting of April 20th 1986, the Workers Revolutionary Party Central Committee decided that clarification of the issues in the split between the WRP and the ICFI is a political task of the greatest importance.
We therefore place the following points before you for consideration:
The expulsion of G. Healy from the WRP on October 19th 1985, and the events leading up to it, opened up a crisis in the WRP and the ICFI, the greatest crisis in the history of both organisations. The Redgrave-Torrance minority of the WRP, supported by the Greek and Spanish sections of the IC, opposed the expulsion of Healy and walked out of the IC without any discussion. This group lyingly denied the charges on which Healy was expelled and the fundamental issues of revolutionary morality that lay behind them.
The expulsion of Healy raised a number of fundamental issues for discussion inside the WRP and IC sections: the anti-Marxist nature of Healy’s “dialectics” and the criminal destruction of cadres in the name of “cadre training”; the inner life of the WRP and IC under Healy which was a rejection of democratic centralist principles, reflected in the bureaucratic domination of other IC sections by the WRP; the political degeneration of the WRP and IC leadership under Healy; the abandonment of the theory of permanent revolution, as reflected in WRP and IC perspectives documents; the consequent acts of treachery perpetrated in the name of Trotskyism such as support in “News Line” for the execution of 21 Iraqi CP members; the validity and motivation of the “Security and the Fourth International” investigation which was initiated by Healy under conditions where the political fight against Pabloite revisionism had virtually ceased.
At the WRP special conference of October 26th 1985, the IC supported the action of the WRP Central Committee in expelling G. Healy. The IC put its resolution on the crisis inside the WRP to the WRP Central Committee and special conference, and it was accepted. This resolution included a call for the WRP membership to be re-registered on the basis of “an explicit recognition of the political authority of the ICFI and the subordination of the British section to its decisions.”
This same resolution initiated an International Control Commission “to investigate, but not limited to, the corruption of G. Healy, the cover-up by the Political Committee, and the financial crisis of the WRP.” After having a verbal, but not written, report from this commission, the IC decided on December 16th 1985 to suspend the WRP pending the IC’s final report and the holding of an IC conference. The final report was not produced and the IC conference has not been held.
At its meeting of December 29th 1985, the WRP Central Committee opposed the IC decision to suspend the WRP. This opposition was again affirmed by the WRP Central Committee on January 12th 1986. A resolution was passed which remains an issue of contention between the WRP and the IC.
On January 26th 1986 the WRP Central Committee passed a resolution on the crisis in the WRP and IC, the purpose of which was to initiate an internal discussion in the IC and its sections (see particularly paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 of the resolution). This resolution remains an issue of contention between the IC and the WRP.
Following discussion inside the WRP, the WRP Central Committee at the same meeting revoked the terms of re-registration of membership in a resolution which remains an issue of contention between the WRP and the IC.
On January 27th 1986 the Workers League Central Committee met and passed a 35-point resolution en-titled: “A Letter to All Sections of the ICFI and Members of the WRP.” This resolution contained the first declaration of any organisation that a split in the ICFI was necessary. This was contained in point one which stated: “1. The two resolutions passed on January 26, 1986 by the Central Committee of the WRP are a declaration of split with the ICFI and an open renunciation of the history and principles of the Trotskyist movement.” It stated that those who had voted for the resolution were “renegades from Marxism who have capitulated to the pressures of British imperialism and are placing themselves in the service of the class enemy.” A further declaration of split was in point 33 which stated: “Yes, we are prepared to debate with Slaughter and Banda—in the same manner as we ‘debate’ with all enemies of Trotskyism, that is, publicly, in front of the entire workers’ movement.” This resolution remains an issue of contention between the Workers League and the WRP.
1. The essential issues in the split were those outlined above. Actions taken by the former minority faction of the WRP, and by the WRP Central Committee, after this date, were essentially consequences of the above-mentioned issues. (These actions included the decision of the minority faction on January 29th 1986, to split from the WRP at the 8th Congress, and measures taken by the Central Committee against the planned splitting action).
2. Discussion is possible and desirable between the WRP, the IC and its sections. This would be based on mutual recognition that the split took place on the issues outlined above.
Looking forward to your reply,
Simon Pirani, on behalf of the WRP Central Committee.
June 19, 1986
To WRP Central Committee
Dear comrade Pirani,
The ICFI has received your letter, dated April 28, 1986, asking for a discussion between the WRP and the ICFI and discussed it at its last meeting.
The ICFI completely rejects the evaluation of the split that you make in your letter. In our opinion, the split with the WRP was an irrevocable break and of a historical character. The ICFI has completed an analysis of the political line of the WRP since its formation in 1973 until its collapse in the summer and autumn of 1985 and we will send you a copy as soon as it is printed. We are looking forward to your response.
Regarding your demand for a discussion, we consider this as completely unserious and nothing more than a shabby factional maneuver.
Just one month before you wrote your letter, on March 29, we were informed through the pages of Workers Press that the WRP Congress had decided to “sever all organizational links with the ICFI and its national sections.” The Congress resolution branded the ICFI as “reactionary” and “anticommunist” and called for its dissolution. Now you invite us to a discussion “on behalf of the WRP Central Committee.” How do you explain this?
In fact, you have already answered this question in your internal document, “Contribution on International Perspectives” dated May 2, 1986. While in your hypocritical letter to the “ICFI and members of all sections” you claim “that clarification of the issues in the split between the WRP and the ICFI is a political task of the greatest importance,” you show your real face in the document reserved for your fellow renegades. The aim of the discussion with the ICFI, you write, is to “intervene to try and make it fall down in a way more advantageous to everyone.” We cannot see the slightest reason why we should assist you in achieving this aim.
Despite your claim to have broken with Healy, you follow his political line in your attempt to make the ICFI “fall down.” From October 1982 the efforts of the WRP leadership to liquidate the ICFI were concentrated on isolating the Workers League (which due to the Voorhis Act is not a section) from the ICFI. The anti-internationalism of Healy, Banda and Slaughter was epitomized by the fact that they united against the Workers League once its leadership had dared to criticize Healy’s so-called dialectics and to “interfere with his cadre.”
Now you propose in your internal document to “work in the IC sections for them to break from North” (who is the national secretary of the Workers League). That you even dare to write such a thing after ten years of Healy’s cynical misuse of the ICFI proves that you have learnt absolutely nothing.
Also Chris Bailey’s document “In Defense of Thought,” that you sent to the German section, proves that your claim for discussion is completely unserious. Bailey sets out to prove in the best tradition of the Stalin School of Falsification that Dave North was in fact never opposing Healy. This is just a continuation of Healy’s old trick, to use pseudodialectical mumbo jumbo to obscure the real political questions.
North’s opposition to Healy in 1982 and 1984—the first and only principled one until Healy’s expulsion—is and remains a matter of historical record. It remains to Bailey to explain what he was doing at the time and why North was able to understand and fight Healy’s rejection of Marxism, while he, the defender of pure thought, was not.
For the ICFI,
Peter Schwarz, secretary
July 21, 1986
To: Peter Schwarz, secretary of the International Committee of the Fourth International
Copies to all sections
Dear Comrade Schwarz,
Thank you for your letter of June 19th, which was discussed at our last Central Committee meeting. May I make the following points in reply:
Firstly, our call for a discussion to clarify the issues in the recent split is not a “shabby factional manoeuver” as you describe it. The expulsion of G. Healy and the split with his supporters raised not only the question of the degeneration of the WRP and its leadership, but fundamental historical problems of the Fourth International. The position of the Workers Revolutionary Party is that these problems must be discussed as openly and as fully as possible, with yourselves as well as others.
It is important to point out that at no stage did we seek to prevent this discussion. The attempt to prevent discussion was made by the Workers League (US) in its resolution of January 27th this year.
Secondly, you ask why the WRP Central Committee is asking for a discussion with you after a Congress resolution was passed which described the ICFI as “reactionary” and “anti-communist.”
As you know, this resolution was passed at the WRP Eighth Congress in February when the supporters of Mike Banda, who have since then split with the party, were attempting to foist their liquidationist positions on the party.
They did this firstly by prematurely publishing M. Banda’s document “Twenty Seven Reasons” in the “Workers Press,” together with various demagogic denunciations of the ICFI. It was under conditions where this struggle with this tendency was only just unfolding that the resolution “Dissolve the ICFI” was put before the congress, without prior discussion in the party, and passed by a small majority, with the majority of central committee members voting against.
The third session of the Eighth Congress, held on June 21st-22nd, revoked that resolution, as part of a resolution, “Perspectives for an International Discussion,” a copy of which I enclose.
Thirdly, the Central Committee has asked me to clarify the formal relationship between the WRP and the ICFI. We were suspended from the ICFI in December last year, on the basis of the Interim Control Commission report into the WRP. We have not been informed whether the Control Commission has completed its work or whether any further action has been taken regarding our membership of the ICFI; neither have we been informed of any meetings.
We have received your document on the degeneration of the WRP, and we will be discussing it.
S. Pirani, on behalf of the WRP Central Cttee
August 28, 1986
To the WRP Central Committee
Dear comrade Pirani
This letter serves to confirm the receipt of your letter dated July 21, 1986. I will submit it to the next ICFI meeting which will formally consider the points which you make. Allow me, however, to make some preliminary observations.
In your letter you claim that the WRP is not responsible for the split with the ICFI and that it “did at no stage seek to prevent” a discussion. Rather, you allege, “the attempt to prevent discussion was made by the Workers League (US) in its resolution of January 27 this year.” This is not true, and the fact that you make this allegation represents a dishonest attempt to cover up for the fact that your unprincipled bloc since October 1985 with the openly anti-Trotskyist Banda faction against the ICFI has blown up in your faces. The very fact that you have been forced to repudiate your Eighth Congress resolution is a devastating indictment of all the actions which were taken by the WRP as it prepared and carried through its split from the International Committee.
Nevertheless, you seem intent on persisting in your mythical version of the split: i.e., that it was caused by the opposition of the Workers League—especially on the part of Comrade North—to discussion on the history of the ICFI. In fact, the split was caused by the WRP’s public repudiation of the political authority of the ICFI and its rejection of a principled discussion of political differences within the ICFI. Prior to the ICFI meeting of December 16-17, 1985, the WRP Central Committee adopted a resolution which presented the following ultimatum to the International Committee: “That the differences within the IC be kept within the ranks of the movement. That public discussion by party members and nonmembers in meetings and newspapers be continued.”
In other words, the WRP demanded the right to establish political relations with tendencies outside of and hostile to the International Committee. On the other hand, the ICFI could not publicly criticize the WRP. This was nothing less than an attempt to perpetuate and formalize the subordination of the ICFI to the nationalist interests of the WRP as it had existed under Healy. The position taken by the WRP was a mockery of internationalism and democratic centralism. Without first submitting documents to the ICFI and opening up discussion with those who were then your international cothinkers, the WRP simply announced that it was entering into discussions with whomever it wanted on the history and politics of the International Committee.
At the same meeting of the ICFI, you, Comrade Pirani, along with Cliff Slaughter and Tom Kemp, refused to vote in favor of a resolution which called upon the WRP to reaffirm its political adherence to the principled foundations of Trotskyism, derived from the First Four Congresses of the Third International; the Platform of the Left Opposition; the Transitional Program; the “Open Letter”; and the documents of the struggles against the SWP-Pabloite reunification. Neither you, Slaughter nor Kemp offered any political explanation for your rejection of this resolution.
On January 26, 1986, the WRP Central Committee majority, of which you were a part, voted for a resolution which unilaterally declared that “the IC cannot claim political authority as an international leadership. Neither can sections be subordinated to an international discipline determined by the IC.” A second resolution passed by the WRP CC majority also unilaterally annulled the IC resolution of October 25, 1985 which restricted membership of the WRP only to those who accepted the political authority of the International Committee. Slaughter had voted for this resolution on the ICFI and you, Comrade Pirani, were among those who voted for it when it was passed with overwhelming support at the WRP Special Conference of October 26-27, 1985. However, in order to stack your scheduled Eighth Congress with an anti-IC majority, you changed the terms of registration just two weeks before the congress was to begin. It was in this politically filthy manner that the WRP consummated its split with the International Committee.
Now let us examine the content of the Workers League Central Committee letter of January 27, 1986, which was directed “to all sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International and to the members of the Workers Revolutionary Party.” It was written in response to the resolutions that had been passed by the WRP Central Committee on the previous day. It was an eleventh-hour appeal to the WRP membership to prevent the authors and supporters of these resolutions from carrying through the split which they had decided upon.
Subsequent events have completely vindicated the reaction of the WL Central Committee. It is now common knowledge that these two resolutions, drafted by Banda’s associate Dave Good, were entirely based on the political conclusions of the then WRP secretary’s “27 Reasons Why the ICFI Must Be Buried.” This anti-Trotskyist diatribe was at the time already in the hands of the WRP Central Committee anti-IC majority faction. But it was never shown to the International Committee, the WRP Central Committee minority or even to most members of the WRP rank and file. Instead, it was held until the eve of the scheduled Eighth Congress of the WRP when it was used as a provocation against the ICFI and the WRP minority.
The Workers League’s letter consisted mainly of a careful analysis of these two resolutions, of the events that had given rise to them, and of their political implications. Though the Workers League did not know of Banda’s then secret document, it correctly assessed the anti-Trotskyist outlook which underlay the WRP resolutions: “The resolutions explicitly repudiate the entire history of the struggle for Marxism since 1940—declaring, in effect, that through the assassination of Trotsky the Stalinist bureaucracy achieved its political victory over the Fourth International.”
The letter from the Workers League stated explicitly: “The Workers League is for a real discussion on the history and principles of Trotskyism, that is, one that will arm all our cadre for the revolutionary struggles now on the agenda and which will produce real theoretical and organizational gains for the Fourth International. But we will not begin a discussion on the history of the movement by placing a question mark over the fact of our existence.”
Finally it concluded with a call “on all members of the Workers Revolutionary Party to decisively repudiate the splitting resolutions of the central committee majority. For the future of the WRP, this is a life-and-death question. To accept these resolutions would be to ratify a complete break with the International Committee.”
In the aftermath of its split with Banda—an event that has never been publicly explained in the Workers Press—the WRP has been forced to admit that its anti-ICFI machinations were totally unprincipled: “We admit that Banda and his followers were only too pleased to hasten the split with North: they feared a discussion on their own rotten politics.” (“Perspectives for an International Discussion,” Workers Press, July 5, 1986)
Though they continue to blackguard the Workers League, this is a belated admission that its letter was entirely correct and far-sighted. In attempting to excuse the actions of the WRP, you write: “As you know, this resolution (which denounced the ICFI as ‘reactionary’ and ‘anticommunist’) was passed at the WRP Eighth Congress in February when the supporters of Mike Banda, who have since split with the party, were attempting to foist their liquidationist positions.”
Your present attempt to attribute all these crimes to the Banda group is ridiculous. You yourself wrote a lengthy denunciation of Comrade North and the International Committee and defended Banda’s actions on February 12, 1986 (“Open letter to all members of sections of the ICFI”). You even suggested that the letter of the Workers League had not really been discussed and voted on by its central committee. Even more important, however, were the roles of Hunter and Slaughter. They are not political virgins and knew exactly what Banda was up to. The building of temporary unprincipled blocs with the right wing against the Marxists is a well-known characteristic of petty bourgeois centrist formations. Let us remind you that in 1952-53 Pablo and Mandel made precisely such a bloc with the pro-Stalinist Cochran-Clarke and Lawrence tendencies in the United States and Britain in order to fight the orthodox Trotskyists. Within a few months, they were forced to split with these right wingers themselves. However, this later break in no way signified a return by Pablo and Mandel to Trotskyism.
Allow me to emphasize that Banda could never have played such a disruptive role had it not been for the calculated action of Slaughter, who cynically exploited Banda’s political instability from October on. It was Slaughter who initiated the attack on the International Committee with his denunciation of Comrade North’s speech to the WRP Special Conference on October 26, 1985, simply because he had explained to the membership the criminal role that had been played by Banda in the degeneration of the British section. And in case you have forgotten, it was Slaughter who paved the way for Banda’s denunciation of the ICFI with his November speech at Friends Hall. On December 2, 1985, I wrote the following to the WRP Central Committee:
“Having watched Comrade Slaughter’s actions during the last six weeks I am more and more convinced that he follows his own political course which he does not intend to discuss with anybody, thereby using the political confusion prevailing in the WRP after the expulsion of the Healy group to break it up. It is a course of liquidating the WRP into a ‘broad left,’ which would become indispensable for the bourgeoisie to control the working class, should a Labour or Labour coalition government come to power. In this way the conditions for a popular front type formation emerge.”
At the time you were among those who furiously protested my analysis of Slaughter’s speech. As late as February 12, 1986, you claimed that the allegation that Slaughter had questioned the entire history of the ICFI before an audience of revisionists was a “lie ... initiated by P. Schwarz....” This so-called lie has in the meantime become the official policy of the WRP. Everything we warned about has come to pass.
Let us add one further point: As you know, three members of the Revolutionary Communist League, Sri Lankan section of the ICFI, were arrested by the police on June 26 under the emergency laws of the Jayewardene dictatorship. An international campaign waged by the ICFI, which received support from trade unionists all over the world, led finally to their release on bail earlier this month.
There were two notable abstentions from the campaign to free these Trotskyist prisoners—both the Healyite tendency and your own issued no statement calling for the release of prisoners who until recently belonged to your own international party. We of the International Committee were appalled by your callousness, but we were not surprised. For all the noise and all the shouting, you have not even moved one inch from the anti-internationalism that prevailed in the WRP under Healy. The RCL learnt from bitter experience in 1979, after the assassination of Comrade Piyadasa, and in 1983, during the anti-Tamil pogrom and the arrest of a leading member, that it could expect no assistance from the WRP, which was utterly disinterested in the fate of Trotskyists in an underdeveloped country. This time, having broken from the chauvinist leadership of Healy, Banda and Slaughter, the ICFI was able to move swiftly in defense of its comrades. As for the WRP, even with Healy and Banda gone, it did nothing once again. Actions speak louder than words: your failure to defend members of the ICFI whose lives are in immediate danger makes a mockery of your claim that you “campaign for the liberation of all class-war prisoners” and discredits your call for a discussion with the ICFI. Do you perhaps think that such a discussion could be best conducted if the leaders of the Sri Lankan section were put behind bars?
Allow me to confess astonishment at your request that we “clarify the formal relationship between the WRP and the ICFI.” What relation do you think could exist after you expelled supporters of the ICFI from the WRP, encouraged an unprincipled faction to split from the Australian section, encouraged the Peruvian organization to break with the ICFI, denounced the International Committee as an “anticommunist” organization, publicly denounced Security and the Fourth International—without any previous presentation of the differences, let alone factual refutation of the charges (we are still waiting)—and aligned yourselves with the SWP against the Workers League?
Aside from these “minor” unpleasantries, the WRP has since February established relations with all sorts of revisionist organizations and is working actively with organizations that are totally hostile to existing sections of the International Committee. Slaughter is working with the Morenoites—one of the most unscrupulous and discredited Pabloite tendencies responsible for monstrous betrayals of the Latin American proletariat. He has recently promised to write an article on the split inside the WRP for the newspaper of the American supporters of this tendency—a group which seeks close collaboration with the rabidly pro-Moscow Communist Party USA as well as with the Democratic Socialists of America (which believes that socialism will be achieved through the capitalist Democratic Party).
However, there is a simple answer to your question: the split between the WRP and the ICFI is irrevocable. We consider the WRP to be a centrist organization that has betrayed Trotskyism. The ICFI recognizes only one section in Britain, which is the International Communist Party. As for Cliff Slaughter—who, as you know, resigned from his post as secretary of the ICFI a few days after he voted for the resolutions of January 26—he was officially expelled by the ICFI on June 9, 1986, during its first plenum.
Your question as to “whether the Control Commission has completed its work” also amazes us. You know as well as I do that the ICFI Control Commission was refused any access to any further information as soon as it had given its interim report. We were told by Wayne Poulson of the WRP security department that we had no further access to the WRP files until the WRP CC had taken a decision.
I protested against this arbitrary decision—in complete violation of the terms of the October 25 resolution of the ICFI which had been endorsed unanimously by the WRP Central Committee on October 26 and approved with no votes against at the Special Conference—in a letter to Slaughter dated December 22. I telephoned Slaughter on December 28 and he assured me that he would raise the matter on the central committee. I also raised the matter with you personally when you visited Germany at the beginning of January. We never received an answer.
The next communication from the WRP was sent by you on January 14, 1986, informing us that a resolution of your central committee, dated January 12, claimed “that the International Control Commission was improperly constituted” and rejected its findings. As under Healy, the WRP leadership was not ready to tolerate a control commission that wasn’t “controlled.” In retrospect it is evident that this sabotage of the international commission’s work was a crucial part of the WRP leadership’s preparations to split from the ICFI.
In light of what has been written above, I am sure you now understand why the ICFI has not informed the WRP of its meetings.
Peter Schwarz, ICFI secretary
October 12, 1986
Having reviewed the documents of the split with the WRP as well as the subsequent correspondence with your committee, the International Committee of the Fourth International has voted unanimously to reject any discussion with the Workers Revolutionary Party.
We base this decision not only on the abominable methods which your organization currently employs, but on the entire political record. An objective examination of the struggle’s development since 1982, when the Workers League first raised its differences with the WRP, leads to only one conclusion: the WRP has broken with all the foundations of Trotskyism. It has been transformed into an organization working quite consciously and openly for the creation of a petty bourgeois centrist alliance against Trotskyism.
The ferocious opposition of G. Healy to a discussion and the deplorable role played by Banda and Slaughter in 1982-1984 were no accident. It was a direct product of the WRP’s long abandonment of the struggle against Pabloite revisionism.
For this very reason, elements like yourself, who came into the movement in the 1970s, remained totally ignorant of its history and its international life. Rather than familiarize yourself with the principles upon which the ICFI was founded, you make a virtue out of this ignorance, “reject” its history and today caution your members not to use the words “Pabloism” or “revisionist” as you draw politically closer to the degenerated elements grouped around the United Secretariat.
This “method” is best exemplified in your own latest piece, “For a discussion on the history of Chinese Trotskyism,” published in the October 4 edition of Workers Press. While you use the fate of the Chinese Trotskyists as a pretext for another factional attack on the IC, combined with an overture to the United Secretariat, you completely ignore the fact that the IC was built in a fight against the Pabloites’ capitulation to Maoism. Your sudden concern for the Chinese Trotskyists, moreover, did not stop you from using Banda’s pro-Maoist document to split with the IC or from more recently aligning yourself with the Peruvian Liga Comunista, which also broke from the IC on the basis of documents which dismissed the Chinese Trotskyists with contempt.
For over a decade, as we have documented, the WRP acted to politically and organizationally strangle every section of the IC and to ruthlessly repress any struggle for Trotskyism. We have shown how the WRP moved in to suppress the Revolutionary Communist League’s struggle for the perspective of permanent revolution in Sri Lanka as far back as 1971.
But you have never shown any interest in the damage which your organization inflicted on the sections of the ICFI. This petty bourgeois nationalist contempt for anyone outside of Britain was the hallmark of Healy’s degeneration and remains a pillar of your organization’s politics today.
We have watched you making your back-room settlements, with the Redgraves, Banda, etc.; but never have any of you made the slightest move to honor the pledge of your own central committee to repay money taken a little over a year ago when the WRP stole from the German section virtually all of its funds and took another $50,000 from the Australians. This is not to mention the hundreds of thousands of pounds extracted from every section over the past decade on the basis of a cynical exploitation of their internationalist principles.
Despite everything, we tried to work with you to create the conditions for reestablishing fraternal relations and international collaboration in order to overcome the horrifying crisis in which the WRP found itself in October 1985.
Whatever disorientation existed in the ranks of the WRP, we in the ICFI placed the greatest value on every one of our British comrades. We were motivated by genuine internationalism in our approach to this struggle to overcome the nationalist and opportunist degeneration which had taken place under the leadership of Healy, Banda and Slaughter. This was the principled basis for the resolution passed unanimously by the ICFI on October 25, 1985.
It soon became clear, however, that you had signed this resolution solely for reasons of immediate political expediency in the faction fight raging in your own organization. As soon as your realized that the IC intended not to subordinate itself to your factional ends but to fight for the political principles which had been raised in opposition to the entire WRP leadership in 1982 (the same principles upon which the British Trotskyists had themselves fought in the 1950s and 1960s) you moved swiftly towards a split.
This was initiated with a hate campaign against the Workers League combined with Cliff Slaughter’s elaboration of the cynical and absurd theory of “equal degeneration.” Then came the Friends Hall meeting of November 26,1985 where Cliff Slaughter shook the hand of Monty Johnstone, British Stalinism’s arch anti-Trotskyist, and attacked the movement in front of all its revisionist and Stalinist enemies.
When I warned you that this policy was leading inexorably towards a regroupment with these same revisionists, you and Slaughter both denounced my “lying letter.” Now this regroupment has become the publicly stated policy of your organization.
Then in its meeting on December 16-17, the IC voted to suspend the WRP as a section. This decision was necessary because only drastic action could possibly demonstrate to the WRP that it could not continue down this same anti-Trotskyist path without producing a catastrophe.
The IC offered a clear way back, posing no barriers to the restoration of full membership for the WRP. All that was required was that you simply declare your adherence to the basic principles upon which the Trotskyist movement is based: the first four congresses of the Communist International, the Platform of the Left Opposition, the Transitional Program, the “Open Letter” and the documents of the struggle against the SWP-Pabloite reunification. This you and two other WRP delegates, Slaughter and Kemp, refused to do, voting against the resolution. From that moment on, it was clear that you had decided on a split.
On January 26, you repudiated the resolution passed on October 25 and approved by your own membership for the reorganization of the WRP along internationalist lines. You entered into what you now acknowledge was a totally unprincipled alliance with Banda. Finally, on February 8, you called the police to bar the entry of members of the minority supporting the ICFI from your Eighth Congress.
Since then, you have provoked a split by right-wing elements in the Australian Socialist Labour League.
You have denounced the Workers League publicly and solidarized yourselves with the Socialist Workers Party, an organization which in August was awarded a quarter of a million dollars from the most ferociously anti-communist government on the face of the earth, that of US imperialism.
You publicly denounce Security and the Fourth International, despite the fact that Slaughter played a leading role in initiating this campaign, is thoroughly familiar with the evidence which it uncovered and, on this basis, volunteered to testify on behalf of Alan Gelfand in his suit against the SWP and the FBI (there exist legal documents to prove this last point). Since you initiated your attacks on Security, you have yet to produce a single factual refutation to justify this outrageous breach of political confidence.
You are totally disinterested in the effects of your irresponsible actions, which have given the FBI-controlled SWP a new lease on life and threaten untold damage to the international workers’ movement.
In the pages of Workers Press, you regularly profess support for the struggles of the colonial peoples against imperialism. Have you forgotten that the SWP had as its official representative in Central America one Fausto Amador—a deserter from the Sandinista cause who became a notorious traitor and agent of the Somoza dictatorship? And have you forgotten that in the Angolan civil war the SWP waged an extended campaign against the victory of the MPLA liberation fighters and to defend the “right” of Jonas Savimbi’s and Holden Roberto’s mercenary forces to receive CIA cash? But we know that in the interests of “unity” with Jack Barnes and his fellow agents from Carleton College you are more than prepared to take the attitude of “let bygones be bygones” in relation to these imperialist crimes.
In your July 21 letter you make the ridiculous claim that the resolution you passed calling the ICFI “anticommunist” was “foisted on you” by Banda and his followers—that is, by the way, the most revealing confession of your political bankruptcy and the unprincipled character of your alliances. But who, may we ask, has “foisted” on you the statement of the Peruvian Liga Comunista, published in the September 20, 1986 issue of Workers Press'? This group follows precisely the same line as your allegedly Banda-inspired conference statement and Banda’s own “27 Reasons.”
You know very well that the charge included in the Liga Comunista statement that the “Workers League had adapted to the American imperialist state in adopting a pacifist position in relation to Yankee imperialism’s invasion of Grenada” is a vile slander, first engineered by Healy, Banda and Slaughter to silence the opposition raised by the Workers League to their opportunist line. Even Slaughter has admitted this in a telephone conversation with Savas Michael, a transcript of which has been published by the Healyites. The exact words of this hypocritical parson were: “We were looking for something to hit North with.”
But this does not stop you from recycling this lie for factional purposes. How do you expect us to have discussions with people whose concern for the truth is completely subordinated to their factional purposes? The lie, as Trotsky often pointed out, serves a social purpose. One year after the split the class lines which divide us couldn’t be clearer: both factions of the Workers Revolutionary Party and their various international affiliates (the Liga Comunista, Sandford Group, Greek WRP, Liga Obrera Comunista) represent, whatever the episodic and tactical differences which you have amongst yourselves as a result of immediate national pressures, organizations of the petty bourgeoisie.
We are convinced that the split with the WRP is an expression of an objective and historically necessary process through which the proletarian character of the ICFI was preserved. The International Committee has broken decisively with the petty bourgeoisie. This is the real meaning of the splits of the past year.
That we represent different class forces was demonstrated again in your response to the jailing of the members of the Revolutionary Communist League, Sri Lankan section of the ICFI. For nearly two months your organization maintained a criminal silence as the RCL members were arrested, imprisoned, released and rearrested. During this same period, the sections of the ICFI mounted an international campaign for their release. Only last month you decided to change your position. This came out of a decision to exploit even the imprisonment and threat to the very lives of Sri Lankan Trotskyists in order to further your factional maneuvers and deepen the attack on the RCL itself.
No sooner had you made your belated public appeal for the release of the RCL members than you publicly condemned the ICFI and its British section, the International Communist Party, for failing to subordinate our campaign to that of the Viraj Mendis Defense Committee. The fact that you can equate the class war prisoners of the RCL, a party which battles the Jayewardene dictatorship every day as the vanguard of the working class, with Mendis, who is fighting an immigration case in order to stay out of Sri Lanka, speaks volumes on your own factional blindness and petty bourgeois orientation.
Of course we defend the right of Mendis and all immigrant students to study in England or wherever else they like. But to tie this case to the struggle of the RCL could only discredit our party in front of the Sri Lankan working class, which has no choice but to stay and fight Jayewardene’s regime. In any case, we have noted with no surprise that the latest issues of the Workers Press have dropped any mention of the repression against our Sri Lankan section, indicating to us that you no longer find the case useful for your immediate factional needs.
As we told you last January, we are not interested in maneuvering with you. If you had wanted a real discussion in the IC you could have had it at any time before you carried out your split. Instead, you worked very deliberately to prevent one from taking place. Since the split, the work of the International Committee has exposed the completely fraudulent nature of your charge that the IC didn’t want a discussion. Amid all of its other work, the IC has produced more theoretical documents in the last year than the WRP did over the previous 20. Since last October, the ICFI has published in the Fourth International and the papers of its sections several hundred pages of detailed analyses of the history of the Trotskyist movement, the degeneration of the WRP, the split and the subsequent evolution of the different tendencies. You, on the other hand, have not even bothered to answer these analyses much less produce your own. Instead, you print nothing but unsubstantiated slanders against the IC and free publicity for its revisionist enemies.
You have turned the pages of Workers Press and of your so-called internal bulletins into the garbage heap through which every anticommunist group is now rummaging for ammunition to be used against the ICFI. This finds its clearest expression in the Spartacist group’s Workers Vanguard which carries an article in its September 26 issue written in a gutter language and designed to create a pogrom atmosphere for physical attacks on the Workers League. It is based entirely upon and quotes approvingly from your publications. We have passed through the bitter experience of seeing people with whom our party had collaborated for decades betray every political confidence to the movement’s worst enemies. It is an experience none of us will ever forget or forgive.
The split with the WRP and the renegades in Greece, Spain, and Peru and the pathetic Sandford clique in Australia has made it possible to restore political unity in the International Committee on the basis of Trotskyist principles. The days when an active concern for the accuracy of our programmatic conceptions could be described as “counterrevolutionary”—as it was by Slaughter in his notorious Tenth Congress Resolution—are over. Nor are the ICFI meetings now scheduled to accommodate the petty-bourgeois lifestyle of its former secretary. The plenums of the IC are now working meetings, giving attention to the programmatic and political questions arising in the workers’ movement in the countries where our sections function. We see no place in such a meeting for the type of “discussion” which you propose, that is, on how best to liquidate revolutionary Marxism.
You have never learned the lesson of G. Healy’s degeneration. Because of his abandonment of Trotskyist principles, the first big class struggle in Britain caused an explosion within his organization that blew it to pieces. We say with absolutely no fear of contradiction that what happened to Healy is nothing compared with the fate that awaits your organization. The coming class battles will indeed “not leave one stone upon another” in your WRP.
One final point. We have just learned of your intention to sell off the archives and documents of the movement to the highest bidder at public auction. This despicable action epitomizes what you are. All the documents in your possession are, historically speaking, the heritage of the International Committee. Now, without regard to the history of the movement, you are prepared to sell its records in order to make a fast buck. If we hadn’t removed it from your premises, Trotsky’s death mask would be among the items on the auction block. The Trotskyist movement has had to close ranks before against renegades and deserters, but never has it seen an uncontrollable urge by an organization to publicly debase itself and spit on its own past. We remain confident, however, that whatever remains in your organization of the honest elements who joined the WRP to fight for Trotskyism will break with your thoroughly centrist and dishonest politics, apply for membership in the International Communist Party and rally to the banner of the International Committee of the Fourth International.
This concludes our correspondence,
Peter Schwarz Secretary ICFI