Fourth International (March 1987)

The Tamil Struggle and the Treachery of Healy, Banda and Slaughter

The renegade G. Healy has wasted no time in utilizing the recent state attack on the Revolutionary Communist League, the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, to declare his support for the suppression of Trotskyism.

While the UNP government, driven to desperation by the magnificent solidarity campaign by the sections of the ICFI, resorted to an international campaign of lies and slander against the RCL, Healy decided to join the UNP campaign in his own way, by publishing in his News Line a lying claim that the RCL is an “expelled” organization from the ICFI.

This treacherous attempt by Healy to isolate the RCL failed miserably as the sections of the ICFI and the Workers League of the USA mobilized considerable support throughout the world working class and secured the release of the three imprisoned RCL members from the jails of the UNP government. It is the unanimous opinion of the members and supporters of the RCL—and this is shared by every other section of the IC as well—that the kind of campaign mounted by the IC sections would never have taken place had the IC not broken the reactionary grip of Healy and his cronies, Banda and Slaughter, on the world movement.

Healy’s attempt to sabotage the international solidarity campaign in defense of the RCL is not accidental. It is a direct continuation of his attack on Trotskyism which led to the break of the ICFI from his chauvinist, petty bourgeois group of British centrists. As the recent document by the ICFI on the political degeneration of the WRP in Britain has made absolutely clear, from the early 1970s, the Healy, Banda and Slaughter leadership of the WRP consciously opposed the development of the world Trotskyist movement which they correctly feared would disrupt the WRP’s totally opportunist relations with sections of the national bourgeoisie in the Middle East and the trade union bureaucracy in Britain.

Healy’s lying notice of the “expulsion” of the RCL from the ICFI, even though it appears unimportant, speaks volumes about the anti-Trotskyist nature of his group. This is the first time since the ICFI’s split with Healy’s petty bourgeois clique that they have mentioned anything about the Trotskyist movement in Sri Lanka in the News Line (July 11, 1986). And it is only to declare that they have no cothinkers in this country!

Placed within the context of the role played by the Sri Lankan working class in the history of the Trotskyist movement and particularly in the history of the struggle between Trotskyism and Pabloite revisionism, Healy’s notice is nothing but a very belated announcement that he had given up on the struggle for Trotskyism some long time back. Moreover, only a thoroughgoing nationalist would have acted like Healy, in condemning the RCL, but without even bothering to advance an alternative line on policy and program for the Sri Lankan working class against the line of the “expelled” RCL. In fact, what is the program that Healy’s WRP is offering for the working class in Sri Lanka, and for that matter in any other country? None at all. That is the real measure of Healy’s “internationalism.”

Healy’s apologist, the petty bourgeois Greek sophist Savas Michael, has already answered the above question by attacking the question itself. According to this philistine, to defend and develop the program and principles of Trotskyism would be a “reactionary return to the practices of the period of defeats and isolation of the Trotskyist movement.” As the IC has recently noted, S. Michael attacks as “reactionary” those practices developed by the Fourth International during the period when it was directly led and guided by Trotsky himself.

This rejection of the struggle for program and principles of Trotskyism as the basis for the development of proletarian parties to win working class power is the outcome of their rejection of the revolutionary role of the international working class itself. In fact, from the early 1970s, Healy, Banda and Slaughter in their opportunist adaptation to various reactionary forces raised the rejection of the Trotskyist program to the level of a new “principle.”

Contrary to their claims, the Healy clique is not interested at all in building a world party of the socialist revolution. They are a right-wing centrist group looking for allies among the forces hostile to the working class throughout the world to sustain their outfit in Britain.

In this context, it is necessary to expose a long-running fraud being perpetuated by Healy and the now disintegrating factions of the old WRP in posing as the most ardent defenders of the Tamil national liberation struggle in Sri Lanka. Nothing is further from the truth.

Healy’s attack on the RCL, which is the only working class party in Sri Lanka fighting to mobilize the working class to secure the right of the Tamil nation to self-determination, brings to the fore the real contempt Healy has for a perspective based on the revolutionary mobilization of the working class.

In fact, Healy and Banda’s supposed defense of the Tamil nation is not based on any principles at all. Having been the most ardent opponents of the Tamils’ right to self-determination prior to the development of the national liberation war, they jumped on its bandwagon for their own opportunist reasons after it achieved considerable support among the masses. This about-face was made not in order to provide a perspective for the Sri Lankan working class, but in order to attack any orientation towards the working classes in India and Sri Lanka. It is now clear from the political analysis made by the ICFI on the political line of the WRP from 1973 onwards that Healy and Banda’s opposition to the RCL was centered on the question of the role of the working class in fulfilling the tasks of the unfinished democratic revolution.

In analyzing the great Pabloite betrayal in Sri Lanka in 1964, in which the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), as the section of the United Secretariat of Mandel and Hansen, entered into a coalition government with the bourgeois Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the RCL traced the political roots of this crime to the acceptance by the LSSP leaders of the political legitimacy of the Sri Lankan state created in 1948, in terms of the democratic revolution.

Having in 1947 opposed the formation of the so-called independent state as a conspiracy hatched by the British imperialists and their local agents against the people, the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party, the then section of the Fourth International, quickly abandoned this conception in 1950. Their reunification with the nationalist and opportunist wing of the LSSP led by N.M. Perera in 1950 was carried out on the implicit assumption that the 1948 independence was somehow a legitimate substitute for a genuine completion of the democratic revolution through the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Thus, the LSSP leaders betrayed the theory of the permanent revolution which pointed out: “While the traditional view was that the road to the dictatorship of the proletariat led through a long period of democracy, the theory of the permanent revolution established that for backward countries, the road to democracy passed through the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution, New Park Publications, 1971, p. 8)

Even though the reunification program of the LSSP in 1950 accepted the right of nations to self-determination, it turned out to be a verbal concession given to the workers in the BSP by the centrists in the leadership. In real life, however, the unified LSSP proceeded by accepting the framework of the 1948 settlement. All unfinished problems of the democratic revolution were now treated as demands which could be fulfilled by reforming the existing state, not through its destruction by a revolution led by the working class.

Thus in the 1968-72 period the RCL, as the Sri Lankan section of the ICFI, in its struggle against the betrayal of the theory of the permanent revolution by the revisionists, raised for the first time since 1950 the question of the Tamils’ right to self-determination as part of the revolutionary program of the working class. This became all the more necessary because after the 1964 betrayal, the Tamil minority was completely alienated from the working class by the treacherous support given by the LSSP and the Stalinists to the chauvinist policies of the SLFP.

When the LSSP-CP-SLFP coalition government intensified the attacks against the Tamil nation, the RCL campaigned in the working class to uphold the right of the Tamil nation to self-determination in the struggle to unite the Sinhalese and Tamil working class and to overthrow bourgeois rule. After the proscription which had been imposed on the RCL press in 1971 was lifted, the Kamkarumavatha and Tholilalarpathai, the Sinhalese and Tamil language organs of the party, were launched in June 1972. The papers elaborated the policy of the working class towards the national rights of the Tamils in their second issue:

“The Tamil minority in the northern part of the country who were being oppressed by imperialism and the great national chauvinism of the Sinhala nation are today faced with the problems of defending their democratic rights.

“As Lenin pointed out, Marxists must give unconditional support to the struggles of all the oppressed nationalities. The national question and the agrarian question remain in this country as two major unfinished tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution. The problems of the Tamil nation subjected to national oppression can only be solved by the working class through the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

“However, the major parties of the working class are today directly linked up with the capitalist class against the Tamil minority.

“... Because of this betrayal, the capitalist Tamil parties are today attempting to take the mass discontent in the North under their wing. The Federal Party in the entire past period had carried a compromisist line in relation to the national question. Because of the deepening crisis of capitalism, their policy is in major crisis.

“Just as the Tamil Congress Party entered the capitalist government in the past, today the Federal Party is turning to a policy of collaboration. The compromisist Tamil capitalist leaders are incapable of conducting a struggle for the basic democratic right of self-determination of the Tamil nation. Reacting to this bankruptcy, sections of the Tamil petty bourgeois youth are now taking the path of suicidal political adventures.

“We Marxists recognize the right of the Tamil nation to self-determination. At the same time, we emphasize that this right can only be won by mobilizing the Sinhalese and Tamil workers for the establishment of a workers’ and peasants’ government based on socialist policies and recognizing this very same right.” {Kamkarumavatha, June 24, 1972)

This political line came directly into conflict with Healy and his self-professed expert in the theory of the permanent revolution, Michael Banda. At an ICFI meeting held in London in the early summer of 1972, in which the author of the present article also participated, the leadership of the British section (the Socialist Labour League) vehemently opposed the RCL’s support for the right of self-determination of the Tamil nation. This discussion on self-determination proved only one thing: even as early as 1972, i.e., some time before their abject capitulation to the national bourgeois regimes in the Middle East and the Near East, Healy, Banda and Slaughter had reduced the defense of the masses in the semicolonial countries to a completely false policy of soliciting support for the backward bourgeois states in the name of the struggle against imperialism.

Citing the example of Biafra, where the imperialists utilized the treachery of the native ruling classes to instigate one section of the population against another in order to keep Nigeria under the tutelage of monopolies, Banda advanced the proposition that support for the right of the Tamils for self-determination, also, would help the plans of the imperialists to carve up Sri Lanka.

In that period, as there was no immediate ground to verify the correctness or otherwise of the policy of the RCL in the class struggle—since the national liberation struggle was in its incipient forms, mainly consisting of youth engaged in heroic acts of individual terrorism—the RCL leadership bowed to the experience and the political authority of the SLL leadership and reluctantly withdrew their position. Thanks to this callous attitude of Healy, Banda and Slaughter toward the program of Trotskyism, the RCL, throughout the period 1972-1979—the years in which it returned to its old position—was working without the most important programmatic weapon in the struggle against the dominant bourgeois ideology.

The argument advanced by Banda in complete agreement with Healy and Slaughter against the right of self-determination was, however, very revealing. Even though the really treacherous nature of the Healy-Banda line was not fully evident at the time, later it proved that they were bent on revising the theory of the permanent revolution all along the line. In Banda’s view, any demand to uphold the right of self-determination of minority nations in the newly formed “independent” states would play into the hands of imperialism for the ostensible reason that such demands would disrupt the tenuous unity forged among various nationalities in the backward countries in the course of the struggle against imperialism.

They did not limit this position to the Tamil national liberation struggle. Healy, Banda and Slaughter applied it as a universal theory to support varieties of bourgeois states in the backward countries.

Although they changed their position towards the Tamil struggle in 1979 for the most opportunist reasons, as we shall demonstrate, the WRP leadership never abandoned their line as advocated by Banda in 1972. In 1979 they used this same argument to attack the Socialist Labour League of Australia, the Australian section of the ICFI, for its support to the national liberation struggle of the East Timorese against the Indonesian junta. In this case, Banda also argued that the Indonesian state created under Sukarno’s leadership represented a historic step forward in the antiimperialist struggle, the disruption of which would only serve the imperialists. Thus, according to Banda, Suharto’s junta, backed to the hilt by US imperialism, played a progressive role in suppressing the uprising of the East Timorese.

This position implicitly accepted the bourgeois states created in the aftermath of the Second World War as formations representing more or less the democratic aspirations of the masses oppressed by imperialism. Thus, Healy, Banda and Slaughter supplemented the LSSP’s flimsy “theory” of the politically democratic nature of the capitalist state of Sri Lanka.

The position of the WRP inexorably leads to complete capitulation to the national bourgeoisie and through it to imperialism because its theory was based entirely on the supposed necessity to keep these bourgeois state structures intact. And since these state structures, without exception, are based on the domination of one nationality—whose bourgeoisie, allied with imperialism, uses brute force to keep the other nationalities in subjugation—the defense of these state structures amounts to the defense of imperialism itself.

Moreover, Banda’s defense of these state structures disarms the only force capable of uniting all the oppressed sections of the nationalities against imperialism, the working class. Applied to the backward bourgeois states, which Lenin described as nationally heterogeneous states (“the nationally heterogeneous state represents backwardness,” in Lenin’s view, for capitalism has not developed to the extent of assimilating all the nationalities into a single unit; and the limited development of capitalism also forces these nationalities to collaborate in economic activity serving a single national market), this means soliciting support for upholding the privileges of one nationality against the others. This means disrupting the actual unity of the working class of different nationalities by intensifying national friction.

For example in Sri Lanka only the Sinhala nation possesses the privilege of forming a state, while the Tamils are deprived of this right by the sheer use of racist violence. Marxists do not begin, as Banda does, by defending the framework of a bourgeois state in a backward country and subordinating the uncompleted tasks of the democratic revolution to the defense of this state against disruption.

The second question does not arise, for Marxists are only interested in advancing the proletarian class struggle to overthrow all kinds of bourgeois states and for the establishment of workers’ republics throughout the world. They do not bemoan the separation of nationalities into nation states, for the simple reason that the achievement of national equality would bring down the barriers which bar the working classes of the oppressed nations from entering the path of class struggle against their own national bourgeoisie. It would enable workers to join the path of class struggle against their own national bourgeoisie, and to join the international army of the working class for the world socialist revolution.

Let us cite, for example, the way Lenin posed this question in his classic study of “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination”:

“In Russia, the creation of an independent national state remains, for the time being, the privilege of the Great-Russian nation alone. We, the Great-Russian proletarians, who defend no privileges whatever, do not defend this privilege either. We are fighting on the ground of a definite state; we unite the workers of all nations living in this state; we cannot vouch for any particular path of national development, we are marching to our class goal along all possible paths.

“However, we cannot move towards that goal unless we combat all nationalism, and uphold the equality of the various nations. Whether the Ukraine, for example, is destined to form an independent state is a matter that will be determined by a thousand unpredictable factors. Without attempting idle ‘guesses,’ we firmly uphold something that is beyond doubt: the right of the Ukraine to form such a state. We respect this right; we do not uphold the privileges of Great-Russians with regard to Ukrainians; we educate the masses in the spirit of recognition of that right, in the spirit of rejecting state privileges for any nation.

“In the leaps which all nations have made in the period of bourgeois revolutions, clashes and struggles over the right of a national state are possible and probable. We proletarians declare in advance that we are opposed to Great-Russian privileges, and this is what guides our entire propaganda and agitation.

“In her quest for ‘practicality,’ Rosa Luxemburg lost sight of the principal practical task both of the Great-Russian proletariat and of the proletariat of other nationalities: that of day-by-day agitation and propaganda against all state and national privileges, and for the right, the equal right of all nations, to their national state. This (at present) is our principal task in the national question, for only in this way can we defend the interest of democracy and the alliance of all proletarians of all nations on an equal footing.

“This propaganda may be ‘unpractical’ from the point of view of the Great-Russian oppressors as well as from the point of view of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations (both demand a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and accuse the social democrats of being ‘vague’). In reality it is this propaganda, and this propaganda alone, that ensures the genuinely democratic, the genuinely socialist education of the masses. This is the only propaganda to ensure the greatest chances of national peace in Russia, should she remain a multinational state, and the most peaceful (and for the proletarian class struggle, harmless) division into separate national states, should the question of such a division arise.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 20, pp. 413-14)

The “great chances for national peace” in Sri Lanka were virtually destroyed by the treacherous policies followed by the Stalinists and, above all, by the LSSP from the 1950s in collaboration with the Pabloite traitors who attacked the Fourth International. And let us make it clear that Healy, Banda and Slaughter by attacking the principled political line of the RCL on the national question, are also responsible, to a similar degree, for the disorientation of the working class and the forces that rebelled against the betrayal of 1964. The political damage wrought by this position was overcome by the RCL after paying a price, when it returned to the path of “really democratic and really socialist education of the masses.”

In 1979 when the Tamil national liberation struggle achieved international prominence and made its political impact felt in London, Healy and Banda, without even bothering to analyze their politically-fatal policy toward the Tamil struggle, suddenly began a flirtation with it.

In a letter of political apology sent out to the RCL, Banda admitted that by ignoring the vast importance of the national question in Sri Lanka, he had underestimated the magnitude of the betrayal carried out by the LSSP.

But these orthodox sounding phrases were only a cover for Healy’s and Banda’s total rejection of the revolutionary role of the working class, particularly in relation to the unfinished tasks of the democratic revolution.

Thus, in real life, the WRP leadership was now turning to substitute the Tamil national liberation struggle for the proletarian revolution and the successful building of a Trotskyist party in Sri Lanka and India.

Healy, Banda and Slaughter never analyzed the theoretical, political and class roots of the blunder they committed in 1972. It is difficult to say whether they ever considered their position as a blunder, despite the fact that it affected the work of the ICFI in a very decisive area of the class struggle. They had by 1979 completely departed from principled politics to enter the well-trodden path of opportunism, where the political line is determined solely by the criterion of expediency. And the line they followed after 1979 became an even more treacherous trap for the workers and peasants.

By 1979, Healy, Banda and Slaughter had agreed among themselves to consciously oppose any discussion in the ICFI on the program and principles of Trotskyism and attacked all attempts to raise such questions as a continuation of “propagandism,” which they considered tantamount to a gross betrayal of the dialectical materialist method! Healy, with the support of C. Slaughter, developed a thoroughgoing idealist distortion of materialist dialectics precisely to obscure class criteria in relation to politics.

The manner in which they betrayed the Tamil struggle and the working class in Sri Lanka is no less treacherous than the betrayals they carried out elsewhere, which are now documented by the ICFI in its analysis of the political degeneration of the WRP.

As the RCL returned to champion the right of the Tamil nation for self-determination and to mobilize the working class against the betrayal of the LSSP and the Stalinists who supported the pogromist policies of the Sri Lankan bourgeoisie, a leading cadre of the RCL, Comrade R.P. Piyadasa, was brutally murdered by the United National Party-organized thugs in 1979.

In the same period, a group of Sinhala chauvinists, who had nestled inside the RCL, thanks to the political courtesy of Healy, Banda and Slaughter, deserted the league without any discussion or struggle and started attacking it on the most vicious racist terms. This group, gathered around Dharmawimala Ranasingha, Chandra-tileke Bulathsinghala and Sepala Wijesekera, found temporary shelter under the wings of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP), an organization notorious for their anti-Trotskyism and opportunism. The RCL press publicly attacked them and asked whose political agents they were.

Instinctively recognizing the WRP leadership’s total disregard for political principles, the Ranasingha group petitioned Healy and Banda, hurling the most vulgar accusations against the leadership of the RCL. They had the gall to assert that by its support for the Tamil liberation struggle, the RCL had liquidated the party among the Sinhalese workers!

In a letter written to Banda in 1980, these renegades blamed the RCL and the Tamil organizations for the anti-Tamil riots of the 1977-80 period. In their view the RCL together with Tamil liberation organizations had “provoked” the “legitimate hatred” of the Sinhalese by raising the question of a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka.

Any bourgeois democrat, let alone a revolutionary Marxist, would have summarily denounced this band of chauvinist scoundrels and helped the RCL to deepen its struggle against the moods of chauvinism in the sections of the working class itself. But not the WRP leadership!

Instead, hoping to cultivate a most opportunist relationship with the Tamil bourgeoisie, the WRP leaders decided that the RCL must be destroyed. Healy and Banda wanted no struggle undertaken by the Sri Lankan working class in defense of the right of self-determination. Accordingly, Banda, under the instructions from Healy, insisted that the RCL withdraw the public attack on the group of chauvinist renegades and enter into negotiations with them to bring them back into the party. The RCL refused to withdraw the public attack but informed the renegades of the suggestion of Healy and Banda, which they contemptuously rejected. What they wanted was not a “discussion,” but the destruction of the RCL on behalf of their racist masters.

These thoroughly unprincipled and opportunist interventions by Healy and Banda encouraged the revisionists and the racists, while spreading skepticism in the ranks of the RCL in a very crucial period of the struggle to safeguard the political independence of the working class from the chauvinists. They also put the RCL in an embarrassing position, as the Ranasingha group claimed that they had the support of the WRP leadership in their campaign against the RCL. Even when the renegades were thrown out of the Ceylon Teachers Union for their utterly racist campaigns, the RCL could say nothing because Healy and Banda were in alliance with them!

In the 1982-83 period, the Sinhala bourgeoisie unleashed an unprecedented campaign of racist hate which eventually led to the horrendous anti-Tamil pogroms of July 1983. The counterrevolutionary pressure of the bourgeoisie on the working class was so acute that the LSSP-CP leaderships totally deserted the political scene, allowing racists to build up anti-Tamil campaigns without any hindrance or challenge. The total rout of these treacherous leaderships was felt in the working class by the fact that the LSSP, for the first time in its history, refused to even stand candidates in the working class center of Colombo in the municipal elections of 1983, held just on the eve of the pogroms.

By then, Healy’s and Banda’s political protege, Ranasingha Dharmawimala, had traveled full circle to become a leading anti-Tamil campaigner in the Island group of newspapers, who openly propagated the necessity to physically attack the Tamils.

Beginning from November 1982 right up to the anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983, he became a consistent writer to the Sinhalese journal of the Island group named Divaina. All the pieces he contributed incited racist violence against the Tamils.

On November 7, 1982, the Divaina published his first article under the title, “The Eelam is a dream of the Tamil capitalists,” which ran for a full page. On November 14, another full-page diatribe was entitled, “Shylock, Stalin and the Eelam”; on January 30, another full page on “Sinhala Buddhist heritage in Jaffna”; on January 23, “Can the Sinhala Buddhist heritage be destroyed in the North?”; and on March 23, “The Sinhala King who was welcomed by a South Indian Kingdom.” These titles themselves suffice to clarify the nature of the campaign this man was conducting through the bourgeois press.

But neither Healy nor Banda have ever disassociated themselves from this group, who used the political authority of the WRP to launch a “Trotskyist” anti-Tamil campaign in support of the Sinhala bourgeoisie. The political admiration of Healy and Banda for this group knew no bounds.

Fully two years after the exposure of the Ranasingha group as an appendage of the bourgeoisie, Healy and Banda still used the “reports” sent by this group on the supposed liquidationism of the RCL leadership to move for the expulsion of the RCL from the IC at its Tenth Congress in 1985! (This move was not carried out.)

Despite the criminal political and organizational sabotage being done by Healy, Banda and Slaughter, the RCL singlehandedly bore the brunt of the counterrevolutionary pressure generated by the Sri Lankan bourgeoisie to drown the working class in a rampant wave of chauvinist hysteria.

Notwithstanding the adverse conditions created by the betrayals of the LSSP and the CP, the RCL mounted a struggle inside the working class for proletarian internationalism to safeguard the independence of the working class.

Despite the meager material resources at its command, the RCL successfully appealed to the working class not to allow the treachery of the LSSP and CP, in deserting the political fight against the UNP and the SLFP, to go unnoticed, and won the support of workers to stand a slate of RCL candidates in the Colombo municipal elections. (Under the new draconian electoral laws passed by the UNP government, any group contesting were forced to stand a full slate of candidates. Thus, the RCL had to stand 60 candidates and deposit an exorbitant sum of money.)

Just a few weeks prior to the July anti-Tamil pogroms, the RCL mounted mass agitation throughout the working class in Colombo for the defense of the Tamil nation’s right to secede and form its own Eelam state and for a workers’ and peasants’ government based on a socialist program. It stood for the overthrow of the UNP government.

Immediately after the local government elections, the UNP government carried out a massive mobilization of the armed forces into the northern and eastern provinces and launched the racist war. The RCL was the only political party in the Sri Lankan working class which called upon the workers to rise up against the war. In a statement issued on June 17, 1983, under the title “Answer the UNP’s racist war with class war,” the RCL not only demanded the withdrawal of the armies from the North, it developed a clear revolutionary defeatist position toward the war waged by the Sri Lankanbourgeoisie against the Tamils. Underscoring the principles involved with this line, the RCL statement declared:

“The Sinhalese-speaking working class and the oppressed masses who are subjected to the exploitation of the imperialists and the national bourgeoisie have no war against the Tamil nation of the North and East....

“It is precisely the working class which can emerge as the leadership of national unity and national harmony by securing the right of self-determination of the Tamil nation of the North and East.

“The tendencies for the unity and equality among the nations is the result of the worldwide development of the productive forces, but the bourgeoisie, who utilize these productive forces for narrow barbaric profit motives, have now transformed themselves from the position of its developers into its destroyers.

“Amidst the massive unemployment, lack of resources and economic devastation which results from the bankruptcy of the productive system, they (the capitalist class) have come forward to create racial discrimination and racial clashes at every point of serious crisis.

“The Tamil Eelam national liberation struggle in the North and East is aimed at these discriminatory reactionary clashes. Therefore the national struggle launched by the Tamils in the North and East is a national struggle in form, but in essence it is international.

“What is raised by this struggle is the abolition of the bourgeois state which deteriorates to be a uniracial state, and to create conditions for national equality. This struggle cannot be suppressed because it is in line with the development of the productive forces on a world scale.

“At the same time, this can only be fulfilled by the working class, which alone is capable of releasing the productive forces from the grip of the bourgeoisie and developing them on a planned socialist basis.

“This is how the struggle in the North against national oppression is interlinked with the struggle of the working class to destroy the domination of private property over the productive forces and both these are unified as a struggle for socialist revolution.”

Because of this unflinching fight conducted by the RCL, it was subjected to a vicious press witchhunt and state attack on the eve of the anti-Tamil pogroms in July 1983.

The Island—part of the same group of newspapers to which D. Ranasingha had submitted his diatribes—on July 31 published a piece, obviously planted by the government, to incite state and racist mob violence against the RCL. The police then attempted to arrest Ananda Wakkumbura, the registered owner of the RCL newspapers, which were continuously exposing the gathering storm of state-organized racist violence against the Tamils, in an attempt to ban the RCL press.

The RCL immediately hit back at the state and press witchhunt by appealing to the Sri Lankan and the international working class to rally to the defense of the RCL and the principles for which it stood. The RCL Political Committee once again elaborated its attitude toward the racist war of the UNP government:

“This is a war situation. But as far as the Samasama-jist, Stalinist and centrist leaderships are concerned, no class analysis of this war is necessary and the working class should not take a class attitude towards the war.

“Is this war ours? Yes, answer the Samasamajists, Stalinists and NSSP and JVP leaders. But they say that their disagreement is about the way the war is conducted.

“Is this our war? Not at all, we reply. We say that we should rise up against this war and that the working class should unite with the liberation struggle in the North to overthrow the UNP government and the capitalist system.

“The social and class aims of this reactionary military adventure are determined not by this or that incident taking place in the North or in other places, but by the whole objective situation faced by the class that conducts the war.

“The bonds that exist between this parasitic class and the imperialist banks and monopolies and the overall international situation are part and parcel of these objective conditions.

“This is why the RCL stresses that the sending of the armies to the North and East is connected to the total economic bankruptcy of the ruling class and the World Bank-UNP conspiracy and that it is a prelude to the most barbaric class war against the working class....

“The declaration of martial law in the North and the forcible incitement of racist provocations have become an absolute necessity for the UNP regime, precisely in order to impose a military and police dictatorship on the workers and peasants who are revolting against the economic destruction.

“This is the reason why the total opposition of the working class to this racist war, the struggle to withdraw the armies from the North, to release the political prisoners and come forward to defend the right of self-determination of the Tamil nation, become an inseparable part of the struggle against the World Bank conspiracy.”

When this statement reached London, the July pogrom had started and was in full swing. On August 10, 1983 the News Line carried the full statement from the RCL, together with an astonishing comment written by WRP General Secretary Michael Banda. It said:

“It is possible and even probable, that the police and the army have used the arbitrary and uncontrolled power granted to them under the emergency laws to kill our comrades and destroy our press.... But neither the lies and slanders of the capitalist media nor the torture and repression of the Sri Lankan state will silence the Trotskyist movement.”

It was astonishing because, having assumed that the RCL cadre was physically destroyed by the enormous escalation of racist violence, the WRP did absolutely nothing to raise even a finger in defense of the Sri Lankan Trotskyists. Not even a note of protest was handed over to the authorities. Assuming that they had at last gotten rid of the RCL, Banda went on to pay a tribute to the RCL line in the following manner:

“As Trotskyists we concede nothing either to the Sinhala or to the Tamil bourgeoisie, whose representatives in Sri Lanka have constantly opposed the armed struggle and have, according to the reports, repudiated the idea of a separate state of Eelam.

“Neither bourgeois group can resolve the national and linguistic question. They are bound to exacerbate them because their main concern is the exploitation and oppression of Tamil and Sinhala workers.

“The pogroms are a salutary reminder to the people of Sri Lanka—Tamils and Sinhalese alike—that the only alternative to an unending racial war is the overthrow of the bankrupt capitalist system by the working class headed by a party based on the internationalist and socialist policy of Trotskyism—the RCL.

“Only a socialist soviet republic of Sri Lanka can win the confidence and collaboration of all minorities and end forever the insecurity and agitation created by imperialist underdevelopment.”

The thoroughly hypocritical nature of this comment is beyond description. Every word of this statement was betrayed by the WRP leadership between 1983-85. Moreover, within a matter of 18 months after writing this comment, Healy, Banda and Slaughter moved for the expulsion of the RCL from the IC.

To carry out such gross betrayals, the WRP had to attack the Trotskyist conception of the program itself. Towards the end of 1984 Healy with the assistance of Slaughter established that any organization upholding Trotskyist program and principles had now been transformed into an instrument of the counterrevolution.

This position was explicitly advanced in the official document of the Tenth Congress of the ICFI, written by Slaughter. In answer to the criticisms that had been made of the WRP’s opportunist line, Slaughter declared: “The struggle in the International Committee had clarified the fact that in today’s historic conditions the lines drawn between a revolutionary party based on dialectical materialist training on the one hand and groups formally adhering to Trotskyist program on the other are lines between preparation for revolution and preparation to serve counterrevolution.”

According to the traitors of the WRP leadership, the fight for principles and program had become a real barrier to winning the working class to the revolutionary party in this “new period” of “mass radicalization.” Only those who have found the “correct method” (counterposed to the program) would lead the mass revolutionary parties. Thus Healy, Banda and Slaughter concluded the RCL’s inability to compete with the WRP in recruiting 200 members a day—at least on paper—signified its abandonment of the “correct method,” and that the RCL’s defense of the principles and program of Trotskyism was an utterly worthless exercise. In contrast, Healy and his crony Savas Michael of Greece, who literally sold principles for money and were profiting from these naked betrayals, possessed and perfected the “correct method” for building absolutely treacherous centrist dung heaps and integrating themselves in bourgeois establishments in their respective countries.

The real reason for this perfidious attack on the RCL was that the WRP leaders feared any defense of Trotskyism in the ICFI as an imminent threat to their opportunist relations with the sections of the national bourgeoisie in the semicolonial countries. However, from the time the US Trotskyists of the Workers League spearheaded the offensive against the WRP leaders’ betrayal of Trotskyism, it became an absolute necessity for Healy, Banda and Slaughter to destroy all the genuine Trotskyist forces within the ICFI, to prevent a Trotskyist rebellion from developing against their reactionary domination of the IC. Thus, the WRP leaders became politically hostile to the RCL and sought to destroy it in the period of 1983-85.

The July 1983 pogroms were concluded with an unprecedented constitutional attack on the Tamil nation and the working class. Towards the end of the riot, the government rushed through the parliament an amendment to the constitution, known as the sixth amendment, which made illegal any agitation for a separate state. This attack too was supported by the LSSP-CP leaders. Even though the RCL press was proscribed de facto through the establishment of a draconian censorship, it issued a pamphlet opposing this betrayal and called upon the working class to uphold the Tamils’ right to form a separate state. Entitled “How the Tamils were Betrayed,” this statement exposed the treachery of the LSSP-CP-NSSP leaders in the following manner:

“The sixth amendment to the constitution was to legitimize and legalize the counterrevolutionary essence of the July pogrom. By this amendment the Tamil nation was deprived of the universal democratic right of every oppressed nation to secede and form their own state. Not only that, this reactionary piece of legislation was the most vicious legal attack ever perpetrated on the Sri Lankan working class.

“It left the working class bereft of the basic democratic right to challenge the racist pogromist policy of the capitalist class.

“In essence the amendment legally banned the political separation of the working class from the capitalist class. The objective and import of this act is to blackmail all citizens of the state of Sri Lanka into being racists and to deprive all those who oppose national oppression and racism all civil rights.

“This reactionary law can be supported only by those capitalist parties and their agents who want to oppress the Tamil nation and keep the working class politically enslaved.

“The Stalinists, Samasamajists and trade union bureaucrats, whose profession is to sell the independence of the working class to the capitalist class, are now using this reactionary law to cover up their own betrayal.”

The statement then went on to unmask the treachery of the Stalinists who took the lead in developing a thoroughly chauvinist campaign against the Tamils’ right to self-determination by arguing that “a separate state is not geographically and politically feasible.”

“More a blackmail than an argument. Is it the problem now that the masses have failed to understand the importance of geographical and economic ties and the advantage of a big market and a big state, in a situation where all the conditions of national equality prevail?

“This is an insult to the Tamil nation. As Lenin explained repeatedly, the mass of the population understand through its day-to-day experience, the importance of such things.

“To raise these questions without their relationship to problems of national oppression and genocidal repression is not socialism, but a ‘theory’ to prop up brutal despotic rule. The Stalinists share this ‘theory’ with the UNP racists.

“The main question, as Lenin pointed out long ago, is the fact that: ‘They will, therefore, resort to secession only when national oppression and national friction make joint life absolutely intolerable and hinder any and all economic intercourse. In that case, the interests of capitalist development and of the freedom of the class struggle will be best served by secession.’ (‘The Right of Nations to Self-Determination,’ Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 423)

“Therefore the only criterion in this question is whether the national oppression and national friction has created conditions where joint life is impossible. ALL else is rubbish.

“The Stalinists and the revisionists have nothing to say on this decisive question. They imply that capitalism as a whole is not bad although this situation has arisen under the UNP government, and that there are certain ‘progressive forces’ within the capitalist class.

“They make efforts to create the illusion that the situation may not be as bad under a coalition government or in the context of a protest movement that may develop later and that there may be an alternative to secession.

“This is not mere wishful thinking. It is a wholesale betrayal of the working class. This method of ‘turning away from the acute problems of the day, to dream of unacute problems of the future’ is the method of most craven apologists of imperialism.

“For this phenomenon of national oppression stands in the way of the struggle of the working class against the capitalist class. There is no way forward for the working class to overthrow capitalism without overthrowing national oppression, i.e., without fighting for the right of self-determination for the Tamil nation.

“Under these circumstances, only the creation of a separate state will create the best possible conditions for the class struggle of the working class and the poor peasants to develop unhampered.

“We do not stand for ‘socialism in one country’ like the Stalinists. The secession of the Tamil nation and the establishment of a separate state is the basis for unity in struggle against capitalism between the Tamilspeaking and the Sinhala-speaking working class.

“To support national oppression as the Stalinists do is a cynical anti-historical counterrevolutionary act, forcibly hindering the capitalist development in the North and thereby preventing the polarization of a working class fighting for socialism and ensuring the grip of the native capitalist class on the workers and the poor peasants of the North.

“The defense of the state frontiers established through violence and privileges by the imperialists with the support of the national bourgeoisie in 1948 is directly linked to the policies of ‘detente’ and ‘peaceful coexistence’ conducted by the Soviet bureaucracy with imperialism.”

The statement concluded by elaborating the tasks of the working class: “The task of the working class in the present war is to rise against the capitalist class, expropriate them and their imperialist backers, disband the armies and secure the right of the Tamil nation to self-determination. ”

While the LSSP, Stalinists and the NSSP tried to hold back the Sri Lankan working class from coming to the defense of the Tamils, the genocidal attacks against the Tamils created a wave of mass protests throughout the Indian working class and the many oppressed nationalities in India. Fearing that the escalation of the Tamil struggle would bring to the fore all the unresolved problems of the democratic revolution in India, the Indian bourgeoisie with the help of the capitalist parties in Tamil Nadu started a series of maneuvers to impose a betrayal on the Tamil liberation movement.

The Indian bourgeoisie never supported the right of the Tamil nation to self-determination. But they could not prevent the Tamil militants from entering India to settle down to launch their liberation struggle against the Sri Lankan state. Utilizing this state of affairs, the Indian capitalist class began applying pressure on the liberation movement to reach for an undignified compromise with the Sinhala bourgeoisie. The Tamil bourgeoisie in the North of Sri Lanka then started to exploit the liberation war to bargain for its class privileges.

Thus, the liberation war inevitably posed the question of questions in the imperialist epoch: the tasks of the democratic revolution can be successfully undertaken only under the leadership of the working class and can be completed only with the proletarian methods of class struggle. This made all the more imperative the building of proletarian revolutionary parties in Sri Lanka and India to break the counterrevolutionary grip of the Stalinists, reformists (LSSP) and centrists on the working class. While posing themselves as the supporters of the Tamil struggle—only by praising it from a distance—Healy, Banda, and Slaughter did everything they could to sabotage this struggle.

In the aftermath of the July pogroms, the RCL raised these absolutely necessary programmatic questions and fought to strengthen the struggle for a Trotskyist party in India.

The RCL analyzed the policy of the Indian bourgeoisie toward the Tamil national liberation struggle in the following manner:

“The UNP government was only able to hang on because the Indian government came to its rescue—forced to intervene to take the responsibility to ‘settle’ the national question within the framework of a capitalist subcontinent. The CP and the LSSP also rushed to its support....

“The Indian government will not intervene to secure the rights of the Tamils. But they are pretending to do so, creating illusions among the Tamils.

“Fearing the eruption of mass struggles, the Indian bourgeoisie is hell-bent on pressuring both the Tamils and the UNP to reach a compromise. The Tamil United Liberation Front leaders are not willing to talk to Jayewardene, but Indira Gandhi has promised to convene a round table conference of TULF, UNP and others.

“There is every likelihood that the TULF leaders will take part in these ‘talks’ and both the Gandhi regime and the TULF will press for autonomy for the northern part of Sri Lanka.

“This may become another bloody trap for the Tamils....” (News Line, August 24, 1983)

Throughout this period, Healy and Banda continuously opposed the RCL’s work in India, claiming that it represented a diversion. Healy’s and Banda’s hostility for this work reached the level of hysteria when they refused even to discuss the perspective draft submitted by the RCL on the building of a section of the ICFI in India. Healy, Banda and Slaughter were very consciously working to keep the Tamil liberation struggle isolated from the Sri Lankan and the Indian working class, so that they could do a deal with a section of the Tamil bourgeoisie, and prevent it from developing into a proletarian revolution. This can be established without any doubt by examining the record of the WRP after the first “All Parties Conference” held in December 1983.

In December, the TULF, LSSP, CP and the UNP held their first All Parties Conference in Colombo. The RCL denounced this conference as a fraud and appealed to the workers in India not to place the slightest trust in the Indian bourgeoisie, but to take the struggle for the right of the Tamil nation to self-determination into their hands. These fraudulent talks came to an abrupt end when sections of the UNP together with the SLFP mobilized a racist campaign and forced Jayewardene to intensify the war. This fact again proved that without overthrowing the national bourgeoisie and expropriating them, no “peace” could be reached. The importance of the Tamil bourgeoisie is that they are totally opposed to any working class struggle against the UNP government. The liberation groups waging the armed struggle never considered it as a perspective.

The collapse of talks directly led to the establishment of a ministry of war (the ministry for national security) and large scale attacks on the population of the North and East. In March-April 1984, the UNP government declared a “war zone” in Jaffna peninsula. The army carried out a huge military campaign killing more than 200 civilians. In order to apply pressure on the liberation forces, the Indian government and the LSSP and CP leaders remained completely silent. The RCL exposed the magnitude of the repression and intensified the campaign in the working class for the ending of the racist war. On April 26, 1984 the RCL issued a lengthy statement which not only detailed the genocidal activities of the army, but more importantly raised the most important questions on policy and perspectives.

“Where do the TULF and Stalinist leaders, who boasted that they could safeguard the Tamils in the unitary state, stand now? They now support every step in the war waged by the UNP government against the North. In doing so, they have initiated a crude witchhunt against the liberation movement.

“We unconditionally defend the right of the Tamil national liberation movement to take every step to defend the Tamil nation from the attacks launched by the government through the imposition of military rule. We categorically state that only those who help the executioner can oppose their right to find allies and obtain all the material resources they need from any quarter of the world....

“While the genocide in Jaffna is spreading, the Stalinists spread these lies (that the liberation organizations are funded by US imperialism) to paralyze the working class movement and came forward to praise the ‘victory’ achieved by the minister for national security, Lalith Atulathmudali, in keeping the Indian capitalist government neutral over this issue: ‘this is why we can praise him unreservedly today at a time when he is doing a thorough job fulfilling a nationally important task.’ (Editorial of Stalinist daily, Attha, April 21)

“ ... This completely chauvinist policy of the Stalinists also gives a helping hand to the sacrifice of the Tamils of the North to the communalist DMK movement in Tamil Nadu, South India, and to strengthen the grip of anti-working class forces among the masses in the North.

“The working class and the trade union movement as a whole should rise up to smash this Stalinist betrayal by demanding that the armed forces be withdrawn from the North and demanding the right of self-determination of the Tamil nation. Once again this raises the urgent necessity of building the leadership of the Fourth International in the working class against Stalinism. Just as the advanced sections of the working class cannot ignore this struggle against Stalinism, the liberation movement in the North too cannot evade this responsibility.

“The April events in Jaffna have brought the national liberation movement in the North to a turning point. The military repression in the North is carried out by the UNP government under the pretext that large sections of the masses in the North desire a solution through discussions and that the atmosphere for this should be created. Credibility for this colossal fraud is provided by the TULF leadership.

“From 1947, this bourgeois leadership placed its faith in the Sinhala capitalist class and it is now hoping that the Indian capitalist class will intervene on their behalf.

“The Indian government has not even condemned the massacres.... The Indian government, caught in the grip of the economic crisis and hammered by the national liberation and the working class struggles, will not come to the aid of the oppressed Tamil nation.

“The corollary to the cowardly policy of crawling behind the Sinhalese capitalist class, on the one hand, and the Indian capitalist class, on the other, is to ignore the explosive objective contradiction between the Sinhalese capitalist class and the working class and leads to the condemnation of the Sri Lankan working class as racists.

“The other aspect of this bankrupt policy is the attempted subordination of the Tamil national liberation struggle to the communalist intrigues of the bourgeois DMK in Tamil Nadu. Neither the Gandhi government nor the state government of M.G. Ramachandran nor the opposition DMK of Karunanidhi has accepted the right of self-determination of the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka. Quite contrary to this, the DMK capitalists are exerting maximum pressure on the liberation movement to rob it of the right to take independent decisions.

“Given the opportunity, they seek to transform the national liberation struggle of the Tamils into a Tamil-Sinhala war. The aim of this effort is to establish the privileged position of the Tamil bourgeoisie as against the privileged position of the Sinhala bourgeoisie....

“We urge the fighters of the liberation movement to turn to the working class of Sri Lanka and India in opposition to the efforts by the bourgeois leadership to derail the movement. The turn to the working class is inevitably a struggle for proletarian internationalism in opposition to counterrevolutionary Stalinism and revisionism, which keep the working class in chains. Today, only Trotskyism, represented by the ICFI, carries forward this struggle. The RCL, the Sri Lankan section of the ICFI, is dedicated to this struggle. We urge the workers and the youth in the North and the South to come forward to build the RCL.”

When this statement was reproduced in the News Line of May 23, 1984, the entire section in bold type was left out in line with Healy’s groveling capitulation before the sections of the national bourgeoisie. (The full statement was, however, published by the Australian Trotskyists in the May 29 issue of the Workers News.) By now Healy, Banda and Slaughter, having completely written off the role of the working class, were demanding the liquidation of the fight for an independent proletarian perspective in Sri Lanka and India.

As Healy, Banda and Slaughter were preparing to carry out an even more treacherous attack on the RCL, the UNP government confronted the campaign of the RCL by again arresting Ananda Wakkumbura, who was legally responsible for the RCL newspapers, on May 18, 1984, for violating the sixth amendment to the constitution, and kept him in detention for 14 days in Mutwal police station in Colombo. This attack proved one thing: notwithstanding Healy, Banda and Slaughter, the Sri Lankan ruling class had correctly feared the revolutionary capacity of the working class in this country: once the treacherous political hold of the LSSP, CP and the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) leaders was broken, it would rise up to smash the racist capitalist state.

This particular arrest aroused a lot of anxiety in Tamil Nadu too, for this was the first time that the Sri Lankan government attempted to use its sixth amendment to the constitution against a political organization in court action. If the RCL was tried on that basis it meant that the UNP government had decided to ban the TULF as well. (Ultimately Wakkumbura was not charged; he is still pending charges.)

The RCL explained the enormous political significance of this arrest to the WRP leadership and accordingly, prepared to face the challenge by politically explaining to the working class the decisive issues involved. On June 14, 1984 the News Line then published a brief statement in the name of the ICFI. This statement concluded:

“We call on European, American, Australian and Asian trade unionists and progressives to campaign for Comrade Ananda Wakkumbura’s release and the cessation of all repression of the Tamils and the withdrawal of all armed forces from the Tamil areas.”

However, the WRP itself did absolutely nothing to mobilize any support in defense of the RCL. But the worst was to come. The RCL Central Committee elaborated a defense policy anticipating court action as well. It hurled back the charge against it, i.e., working for the “division of the country” at the face of the UNP accusers themselves:

“It is the Sinhala capitalist class and the UNP government, and not the RCL, the working class and the Tamil nation who have brought the relations between the Sinhala and Tamil nations to the breaking point and now take measures to not only fragment nations, but also dismember them. If there is going to be a real investigation into the fragmentation and annihilation of nations, let them hurl the charge against their own faces and not ours!

“Ever since the guise of independence was used to cover agreement with imperialism in 1948, the same repressive communalist policy has been carried out by the Sinhala capitalist class and all the governments. This national oppression commenced with the abolition of the citizenship rights of hundreds of thousands of plantation workers by an act of parliament in 1947. It has included the forcible creation of Sinhala colonies in the North, the rejection of parity status for the Sinhala and Tamil languages and racist discrimination in all fields such as education and employment. Now with the deepening of the world capitalist crisis, it has been upgraded into large scale genocide, destruction of property and total military repression against the Tamil nation.”

This statement then went on to uphold the RCL’s policy in support of the right of Tamils to self-determination:

“The fight of the Tamil nation to free itself from the violence of the racist dictatorship has inevitably taken the form of a struggle for national independence, while the fight for the working class to cast away this racist dictatorship takes the form of socialist struggle to nationalize capitalist property under workers’ control, rising against the attacks on living conditions, jobs and services. These are objectively unified struggles.”

It also elaborated a line to fight the treachery of the LSSP and CP leaders:

“To defeat the UNP drive to dismember nations and destroy the organizations of the working class, it is absolutely necessary to mobilize the trade unions and the political parties of the working class and demand the withdrawal of troops from the North, freedom for all political prisoners, and national rights for the Tamil nation.

“This is the policy of the RCL which alone points the way forward for the working class today. The Stalinist leaders of the CP and the leaders of the LSSP have provided the breathing space for the UNP government to hunt down the oppressed Tamil nation of the North and the movement of the workers and peasants under the allegation of ‘dividing the country’....

“These leaders have opposed the basic democratic right of the Tamil nation to determine its own fate and directly participated in the UNP effort to impose the domination of the Sinhala nation on Tamils and the working class. Why this policy? What democratic principle deprives the Tamils the right to determine their fate and bestows on the Sinhalese the ‘right’ to impose their domination on the Tamils?...

“By utilizing the abject surrender of this leadership before the bourgeois state, the UNP government has managed to deepen the repression against the Tamils, intensify the attack against the worker-peasant masses and keep the militants of the workers’ movement under arrest at will.

“The working class of Sri Lanka achieved important social and political gains in the struggle against British imperialism and also in the postindependence period through a struggle to be politically independent of the bourgeoisie. The basic feature of this struggle was the fight waged by the working class under the leadership of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India (BLPI) and the LSSP against the racist policies of the capitalist class.

“The struggle waged by the LSSP against disenfranchisement of the plantation workers, for the language rights of the Tamils, against discrimination in education and employment and also against the ‘Sinhala only’ policy of the capitalist class stood right at the center of the struggle to mobilize the working class and the Tamil people in unity against the government. The unity that came out in the 1953 Hartal (general strike) was a result of this.

“What had been established by the LSSP in that period as the policy of the working class on the relations between nations? ‘It is necessary at this stage to stress that this question cannot properly be decided by a mere counting of hands. It would not be a method of democracy at all merely to count heads and discover numerical majorities in order to decide problems of race relations within a country or a nation. It is precisely democracy to replace numerical majorities with racial equality in such matters.’ (‘On the State Language Question—A Declaration of the LSSP,’ 1955, p.4)

“ ... The LSSP leaders betrayed every one of these principles and policies in the 1960s. The LSSP’s sneaking into a coalition with the capitalist SLFP in 1964... helped strengthen the national bourgeoisie on the national question....

“The decisive question is to build the alternative Marxist revolutionary leadership against the betrayals and evasions of these leaderships. The RCL fights to build this leadership.

“What has emerged as decisive and unavoidable in this struggle is the necessity to mobilize the working class to break the reactionary alliance these leaders are maintaining with the capitalist parties and the state. There is no time to waste. We call upon all sections of the working class to demand the LSSP, CP and the CWC leaderships break all relations with the government and the capitalist parties and call a national delegates conference of all sections of the working class.

“At such a conference they should be compelled to demand the withdrawal of the armies from the North, guarantee the national rights of the Tamils, to repeal the sixth amendment to the constitution and also to offer a socialist policy to defend basic services, jobs and living conditions. This struggle is essential to prepare the conditions to drive out the UNP racist dictatorship through the independent actions of the working class and to rally the working class to a revolutionary program and revolutionary leadership. It is only in this way that the reformist leaderships can be replaced by a revolutionary leadership, which fights for a workers’ and peasants’ government.” (Published in Workers News, Australia, June 30, 1984)

The News Line published a notice indicating that the WRP had received this document and it also said that News Line would carry it in future issues. However, the WRP never published it; nor did they give any reason for this refusal. The RCL did not know whether the WRP disagreed with the line contained in it or not. As a point of information it should be mentioned here, the WRP leadership never made any criticism of or contribution to numerous documents submitted by the RCL to the WRP between 1983-85. But Healy with the assistance of Banda lied to the Tenth Congress of the IC that the RCL had failed to collaborate with the WRP during this entire period.

What transpired afterwards showed that Healy, Banda and Slaughter were completely in opposition to the RCL’s orientation to the working class. They were in fact developing a thoroughgoing hatred towards any perspective aimed at the working class internationally. Let us also remember, it is in this period that C. Slaughter attacked the Workers League for their “heavy emphasis on the political independence of the US working class.” Healy and Banda then decided to launch a witchhunting slanderous attack on the RCL and sent an emissary to Sri Lanka ostensibly to help the RCL to fight state repression.

Healy’s pathetic emissary, having arrived in Sri Lanka, set about attacking the RCL’s tactical line of placing political demands on the LSSP, CP, CWC leaderships, claiming that these leaderships were already exposed. It is important to remember that this was the time Healy, Banda and Slaughter attempted to cover up their right-wing centrist adaptation to the trade union bureaucracy in Britain by hiding behind an orgy of ultra-left phrasemongering. In order to serve their masters in the trade union bureaucracy—who paid the WRP leadership handsomely—Healy, Banda and Slaughter were working might and main to revise the Marxist tactic of placing demands on the treacherous leaders in order to expose them.

Further, Healy’s emissary filed a secret report which said that there was no fundamental difference between the RCL and the LSSP, CP, and JVP in their attitude towards the bourgeois state. Reports of this sort containing such obvious lies had to be secret by necessity, lest the advanced workers would react to such claims in some undemocratic fashion!

RCL then submitted a lengthy perspectives resolution elaborating a political line based on the theory of the permanent revolution to the Tenth Congress of the IC in January 1985. This document dealt at length on the crisis of leadership of the working class in the Indian subcontinent and advanced a Trotskyist program to resolve it. This document was suppressed by the Healy-Banda-Slaughter leadership and it was not examined by the delegates (except for a few pages dealing with the program on Sri Lanka).

Later, after the expulsion of Healy and the split with his supporters, the RCL once again submitted this suppressed perspectives document to the WRP Central Committee as a part of the struggle waged by the ICFI to expose Healy’s and the WRP’s criminal betrayal of Trotskyism. Then, it became immediately clear that the bloc led by Banda-Slaughter and Pirani too was equally hostile even to conduct a discussion on the perspectives of Trotskyism. They were carrying forward the same treacherous attack on Trotskyism even more brazenly than Healy.

After the political explosion which took place in the WRP during July-October 1985 and Cliff Slaughter’s facile metamorphosis into a Don Quixote of moral rearmament and universal democracy, he opened up the pages of the WRP press to all kinds of anti-Trotskyist diatribes to denounce the Fourth International. But C. Slaughter’s democracy ended when it came to principled discussion on the theory and perspectives of Trotskyism. Thus, the Slaughter-Pirani faction refused to circulate the RCL material just as they refused to publish the material submitted by the Workers League unmasking Healy’s betrayal throughout the period 1982-84. As for morality, Slaughter and Pirani, with the complete support of M. Banda, called in the police to prevent the supporters of the IC from attending the scheduled Eighth Congress of the WRP in February this year.

Thus it is not accidental that the Slaughter-Pirani group, who after denouncing the ICFI used the state forces to attack the democratic rights of the members of the WRP, now silently supports the state attack on the RCL. Even as he carries out a systematic campaign to disrupt sections of the ICFI and keeps quiet when they face police and state repression, Slaughter pretends that he is for a discussion on the perspectives of Trotskyism. Cynically maneuvering to disrupt the ICFI, Slaughter wrote the following letter to the RCL after the WRP’s split with the ICFI in February 1986:

“Thank you for the RCL perspectives from your last congress (1985). Your ‘introduction’ is not correct. You say ‘the WRP delegation took steps to suppress this document,’ I must tell you that such were the unprincipled relations in the leadership of the Workers Revolutionary Party and the International Committee that the WRP delegation did not discuss the document or its circulation.

“Why do you wish to single out the ‘British delegation’ when you are well aware that the Workers League delegation and D. North in particular did not hesitate to support the political actions and proposals of Healy and the WRP delegates who followed him on all matters at the Tenth Congress, including the proposed (but not executed) expulsion of the RCL and the walkout on the penultimate day of the Congress.

“Your document is being circulated in the WRP.”

All morality is class morality. Twist and turn as he may, Slaughter cannot escape this. First of all, he is lying through his teeth. None of the internal bulletins of the WRP has carried the RCL’s perspectives resolution. And his attempt to blame the Workers League for the WRP’s skullduggery is, to put it charitably, nauseating. None of the delegates to the IC, including the fraternal delegates from the WL, saw the document submitted by the RCL just as the RCL was kept in the dark about the documents submitted by the Workers League during the 1982-84 period.

Moreover, the Workers League and the other sections of the IC were never allowed to politically collaborate during the domination of Healy-Banda-Slaughter in the IC. Let it be noted here that had the material submitted by the Workers League reached the RCL prior to October 1985, the RCL would have been in a much better position to understand the source of its problems with the WRP, and would have supported the political line developed by the Workers League.

The criminal nature of their policy became even more evident after the Tenth Congress. No doubt in order to secure material gains, the WRP traitors were adapting to every political weakness in the Tamil national liberation movement and were instigating them to attack the Sinhalese-speaking working class, denouncing the Sinhalese workers and peasants as stooges of the Jayewardene’s racist dictatorship. Coming from a group working in imperialist Britain, this definitely has a sinister connotation. Healy’s attempts to incite one section of the oppressed against the other reached the level of hysteria when a group of Tamils carried out an attack on the peasants in the Anuradhapura area of the North Central Province of the country. The News Line of May 16, 1985 gloated over this attack, and expressed the wish that more such attacks should be repeated:

“Sri Lankan armed forces yesterday launched a land and air search of jungles to capture Tamil liberation guerrillas who attacked the North Central provincial city of Anuradhapura on Thursday.

“The Tigers rode into the city on two buses, disguised as Sri Lankan soldiers, early on Thursday and fired at random through the streets. Five Buddhist temples were hit, according to the authorities.

“It was the first major attack on a predominately Sinhalese city by the Tigers, who also raided Anamaouwa in the North Western Province.

“Both these areas are strongholds of the racist Sinhala bourgeois regime of President Junius Jayewardene.

“The LTTE attack was in reprisal for a bloody provocation organized by the regime against the Tamil and Tamil Muslim communities in the Eastern Province.”

The News Line of May 17 again repeated: “It was the first major incursion into a predominately Sinhala pro-government stronghold.”

The attack made by the Tamil group could have been understood as resulting from a genuine sense of hatred of brutal military oppression. But certainly this could not be justified: a marauder who thought nothing of inciting one section of oppressed against the other for the reasons best known to himself. Thus, the most downtrodden peasants in the most backward areas of Sri Lanka, whose conditions never improved from the time of colonial domination, constitute, for the News Line, the “strongholds of the racist Sinhala bourgeois regime.” The completely cynical nature of this characterization is unmasked by the fact that only a few weeks prior to the above mentioned incidents, these oppressed had to bear the brunt of police repression as the students in the area mounted a huge protest against the killing of one of their colleagues by the police attack on a university.

Healy’s News Line was spouting the language of anti-Marxism, for the Marxists never blame the workers and peasants for racism. The RCL laid the blame for the attack on the reactionary war the Sinhala bourgeoisie had imposed on the workers and peasant masses and explained that until the state forces were withdrawn from the homeland of the Tamils, the lives of workers and peasants of both communities were in danger.

Even though the News Line utilized the Anuradhapura attack to advocate the reactionary conception of a Tamil-Sinhala war, the Tamil liberation organizations contemptuously rejected this line as a bloody trap for the Tamils. On May 17, 1985, the very same day that the News Line made its gloating remarks, four major liberation organizations, the LTTE, EPRIF, ERPS, and TELO, issued a statement in Madras condemning the attack on Anuradhapura. They declared:

“We, the undersigned liberation organizations in this joint statement, wish to deny categorically that any of our armed units was involved in the massacres of Sinhalese civilians at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

“While expressing our profound sympathy for the dead and injured, we vehemently condemn this act of senseless violence.

“We consider the innocent Sinhala masses as our compatriots, who are also subjected to ruthless repression and exploitation by the Sri Lankan fascist regime.

“Our sympathy and solidarity will always be with the working masses of the Sinhala nation who are our revolutionary allies in our struggle against the totalitarian Sri Lankan state.

“While we express our shock and revulsion over the killing of innocent Sinhala civilians, we wish to point out that the mounting state terrorism and the genocide is the causative factor for the emergence of this violent phenomenon.

“The Sri Lankan government adopted the notorious strategy of collective punishment as a response to the revolutionary armed struggle of the liberation movement and embarked on a campaign of ruthless reprisals on the civilian Tamil masses.

“Every guerrilla attack on the armed forces was answered with savage retaliation on the innocent Tamil civilians.

“This collective punishment which assumed its concrete form in the racial holocaust of July 1983 continues unabated until today with mass murders, massacres and massive destruction of Tamil property, coupled with the imposition of draconian laws that brought intolerable suffering to our people.

“This state terror and genocide assumed unparalleled ferocity in the last few days and the collective punishments became unbearable and emotions uncontrollable, which might have impelled some extremist elements to retaliate on the Sinhala civilians.

“Though we condemn such misguided violence, we accuse the Sri Lankan state for creating the very conditions for this escalating violence....

“We appeal to the Sinhala masses not to be drawn into the dangerous genocidal strategies of the government which can only result in further destruction of life and property of both the innocent Tamils and the Sinhalese people.”

In the light of this principled statement issued by Tamil liberation organizations, the policy of Healy and the WRP stands completely exposed as a counterrevolutionary provocation against both the Tamil and the Sinhalese workers alike. Discrediting Trotskyism in this manner, they worked consciously to create disunity in the ranks of the world working class in order that Healy and his imperialist masters could reap a political harvest by utilizing the ensuing disasters.

Why had the WRP resorted to such completely unprincipled and treacherous maneuvers? The reason is not far to seek. This is one of the most pernicious expressions of the WRP’s complete abandonment of the perspectives of the world socialist revolution. They had, by then, rejected the revolutionary capacity of the working class under the leadership of the Fourth International to put an end to capitalist barbarism, which in Sri Lanka took the concrete form of continuing a genocidal war against the oppressed Tamil nation. This also expressed the Healy-Banda-Slaughter leadership’s prostration before the betrayal carried out by the LSSP in 1964.

In Healy’s and Banda’s perspective there was no place for the working class in the oppressed countries. So complete was their contempt for the working class, that apart from soliciting support for the bourgeois states and upholding bourgeois nationalism in the backward countries, they saw no other way forward for the masses. Wherever the working class struggled to break the stranglehold of the national bourgeoisie, Healy and Banda viciously turned against them. This was epitomized by the WRP’s dastardly support for the execution of the members of the Iraqi CP by the Hussein regime. In this sense, the WRP’s political line in the semicolonial countries is no different from that of Stalinism.

The WRP became completely incapable of approaching the Tamil national liberation struggle, and for that matter any other liberation struggle, from the “angle of the class struggle of the workers.” (Lenin) Just as its predecessor, the SLL, worked to prevent the Bengali liberation struggle of 1972 from going beyond the establishment of the domination of the national bourgeoisie in the form of the Bangladesh state, today too, the WRP wants the mass struggle to be stopped within the limits imposed by the Tamil bourgeoisie. Neither Healy nor Banda ever understood the Leninist policy on the national question:

“Insofar as the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation fights the oppressor, we are always, in every case, and more strongly than anyone else, in favor; for we are the staunchest and the most confident enemies of oppression. But insofar as the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation stands for its own bourgeois nationalism we stand against. We fight against the privileges and violence of the oppressor nation and do not in any way condone the strivings for privileges on the part of the oppressed nation.” (Collected Works, Vol. 20, pp. 411-12)

The Healy, Banda and Slaughter policy is diametrically opposed to the above principle as outlined by Lenin. Under the guise of opposing the imperialist bourgeoisie in Britain, they condone not only the strivings for privileges, but also the protection of these privileges on the part of the national bourgeoisie of Iran, Iraq, Libya, etc. Imperialist rule is dependent on the exploitation of the working class by these national bourgeois classes, as much as their wretched role in creating disunity among the oppressed. Therefore, the WRP’s alliances with bourgeois nationalism become secondary agencies of imperialism itself. That is the classic role of centrism in the epoch of capitalism.

Before tobogganing into the abyss in July-October 1985, the WRP did not fail to provide a classic demonstration of the fate of centrism when confronted with a clash of class forces on a major scale. In June 1985 the Indian government imposed a ceasefire on the Tamil liberation fighters and forced them to a round table conference in Thimpu, Bhutan. When they resisted this blackmail, the Indian government cracked the whip and deported two Tamil leaders from India. Only the widespread class action by the Indian working class together with considerable opposition from the Sri Lankan working class could secure their return to India and help the Tamil organizations to reject the line of capitulation imposed on them by the ruling classes of Sri Lanka and India.

Healy and Banda, who had been urging the Tamils to attack the Sinhalese workers and peasants only a few weeks before, were caught unawares by this treacherous move by the Indian bourgeoisie and suddenly decided to make an about-face. In a pompous and politically illiterate double-page statement appearing in the News Line of August 26, 1985, which deliberately failed to mention even the existence of the RCL in Sri Lanka, the WRP had the following to say:

“They (the national liberation movements) must now turn to the Sinhala working class and peasants: to mobilize them against the bourgeois Sinhala-Buddhist state [not the capitalist state] and to the united Indian masses [whatever that may mean] against the bourgeois Hindu state.

“The aspirations of the national liberation struggles are essentially socialist in character and those aims cannot be achieved in isolation of their real social content.”

But how can the organizations created exclusively for the purpose of achieving Tamil national liberation mobilize the workers and peasants of India and Sri Lanka against the bourgeois states in their respective countries? That question was not answered by the statement. The fact that the WRP had no conception of mobilizing the working class for securing the Tamil right to self-determination was again revealed by the next passage of the statement which went on to explain “the real social content” of the struggle:

“That means shattering the caste and religious shackles that both nationalist bourgeoisies have exploited for centuries [!] to divide and rule and perpetuate vicious communal hatred.

“It is only by extending the nationalist struggle into a social struggle not only in Sri Lanka but throughout the Indian subcontinent, that the Sri Lankan Tamils can open the road to the salvation of their humanity as part of the growing resistance of oppressed peoples internationally against capitalist barbarisms.”

This all sounds very revolutionary. But stripped of the pseudoradical verbiage, it shows something quite different: the complete impotence of a bunch of petty bourgeois radicals who can do nothing but shout demagogic phrases when confronted with the serious questions of the class struggle.

The “real social content of the struggle is ... the shattering of the caste and religious shackles,” and not the expropriation of imperialist and bourgeois property!

What is the meaning of recommending to the Tamil liberation movements, who are already engaged in a war to shatter the shackles of national oppression, to engage in a struggle to shatter caste and religious shackles throughout the Indian subcontinent? How are they going to make the transition from one to the other? This is nothing but the old Stalinist nostrum peddled under a new label: first, the working class must be subordinated to the anti-feudal struggle, and only after dismantling all feudal shackles can there be any perspective of anticapitalist struggle. So the so-called turn to the working class has become the subordination of the working class to impotent bourgeois democrats and peasant radicals.

The WRP had long forgotten that caste, religious and national divisions are perpetuated by the native capitalists for the purpose of keeping the working class disunited in order to carry out ruthless exploitation in collaboration with imperialism and that these shackles can be successfully challenged only by means of the proletarian class struggle, i.e., the struggle to expropriate the bourgeoisie and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. To achieve that aim and to cut across the divisions created by the bourgeoisie, the working class has to uphold the right to self-determination of the oppressed nations. Thus, the fight for the oppressed nation’s right to self-determination, for the abolition of privileges for any particular language and religion, becomes part of the program of the revolutionary mobilization of the working class to overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish its own class rule.

But according to the WRP experts: “So long as the semicolonial bourgeois state is left unchallenged, so long also will the working class remain unable to lead the struggle for power....”

This extraordinary assertion brings out the complete political rottenness of the entire WRP leadership. According to them, before the working class can achieve the capability “to lead the struggle for power,” somebody else has to “challenge” the semicolonial bourgeois state. It is not at all clear from the statement who precisely is going to challenge the state and what this challenge politically constitutes. Does it mean the shattering of the state or what? If that is the case, then who will hold the state power until the working class achieves the capacity to “lead the struggle for power”?

Such are the sophisms introduced by Healy, Banda and Slaughter in order to confuse and derail the vanguard of the working class. Moreover Healy, Banda and Slaughter had “discovered” the root of the inability of the working class to lead the struggle for power, in the fact that there exists a bourgeois state! The key conception of the Transitional Program, the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletariat, is thus unceremoniously thrown out of the window.

As if this farrago of nonsense is not enough to discredit the name of Trotskyism, the WRP traitors went on to declare: “Only the ICFI and the WRP as its British section fights for this Trotskyist perspective of world socialist revolution and we invite the Sri Lankan Tamils and their fighters to urgently study our program.”

The statement did not make so much as an appeal to the Indian and Sri Lankan workers and very consciously avoided mentioning the RCL, the supposed sister party of the WRP (in 1985). That constituted Healy’s brand of “world socialist revolution” in which the working class and its Trotskyist vanguard had absolutely no role to play! The arrogance displayed by the clique which constituted the leadership of the WRP in their arbitrary transfers, dismissals and shifting about of class forces represented a social layer rapidly moving away from the working class to adapt to British imperialism, and who shared with the British bourgeoisie the attitude that the entire working class and peasant poor were at their beck and call.

As this examination of the historical record of Healy, Banda and Slaughter on the Tamil national liberation struggle makes clear, this pack of scoundrels masquerading as Trotskyists have systematically betrayed the Tamils and the Sinhalese workers alike. Above all they consciously worked, even though unsuccessfully, to destroy the only party in Sri Lanka which fought for the perspective of the theory of permanent revolution—the RCL.

From 1972 to 1986 they have shifted their position from upholding the authority of the semicolonial bourgeois state of Sri Lanka to lining up with a racist opposition against the Tamil national struggle in 1980 and from instigating Tamils against the Sinhalese workers to totally subordinating the workers in India, Sri Lanka and in the Tamil homeland of Eelam to the national bourgeoisie.

The perfidious role played by both the groups of the WRP—the Healy faction and the Slaughter-Pirani faction—in the recent state attack on the RCL stems from a history of class treachery, which was apprehended and fought against by the ICFI. We appeal to workers in Britain and the world over to reject the claims of these traitors that they somehow represent Trotskyism and the Fourth International.

The only Trotskyist party in Britain is the International Communist Party, which is the British section of the ICFI, formed out of the struggle against the betrayal of Trotskyism carried out by Healy, Banda and Slaughter. As far as the so-called Workers Revolutionary Parties led by Healy and Slaughter are concerned, they are nothing but secondary agencies of imperialism.