Keerthi Balasuriya, the general secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League, the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee, died suddenly at the age of 39 in Colombo on December 18, 1987 of a coronary thrombosis.
The International Committee was represented at the funeral of Comrade Balasuriya by David North, the national secretary of the Workers League. On December 27, Comrade North addressed a meeting of the Kandy, Galle and Chilaw branches of the RCL. He spoke on the significance of Comrade Keerthi’s life and the perspectives of the International Committee. What follows below is a transcription of his remarks.
Comrades: As Comrade Wije explained, the central committee decided not to hold an aggregate meeting so soon after the funeral. The party must be extremely conscious about its security in light of the political conditions which presently exist in Sri Lanka. The occupation of Jaffna by the Indian troops is directed against the working class in the North as well as the South. The RCL and the Indian Socialist Labour League are the only parties which oppose the Indian-Sri Lankan Accord. The bourgeoisie knows very well that its interests are threatened by the policies of our party. Therefore, without having had the time to make sufficient security arrangements, it would be wiser to postpone an aggregate meeting of the entire membership.
Moreover, the work of the political and central committees spanned three days and we only completed our meetings this afternoon. Extremely important decisions were taken and I am sure that they will soon be made known to the entire membership.
It is natural that comrades are still shocked by the suddenness of Comrade Keerthi’s death. When I learned of what had happened last Friday morning, I could hardly believe what I had heard. I felt as if I had received a blow to my head. I had spoken to Keerthi just a few days earlier. He had mentioned the threat made by the JVP against our comrades in Kandy. He was concerned about the situation and he wanted the IC to be informed. Moreover, less than a month had passed since I had seen Keerthi. During the fifth plenum of the International Committee, I had spent two weeks working side by side with him.
A large part of that time was spent in the struggle against Healy. Just as the fifth plenum was beginning, we learned that Healy had been an official guest of the Soviet bureaucracy at its celebrations of the seventieth anniversary of the October Revolution. On November 15, Vanessa Redgrave staged a play honoring Mikhail Gorbachev and the Stalinist bureaucracy. The play presented Gorbachev as the representative of the traditions of the October Revolution. We decided to temporarily put aside our scheduled work to deal with this sinister farce. The International Committee prepared an intervention exposing Redgrave and Healy as political agents of the Soviet bureaucracy and condemning their betrayals.
When this work was completed, we turned to writing a resolution on the political tasks of the Revolutionary Communist League in Sri Lanka. This was to be the last document Comrade Keerthi and I worked on together. When we completed it, we felt a deep sense of satisfaction; and we celebrated the conclusion of our work at a dinner with Comrade Hyland and another leading member of the International Communist Party in Leeds. Comrade Keerthi was extremely enthusiastic that evening. He felt that the International Committee had made an enormous advance, and he was looking forward to the next stage of our work.
After the meal, Comrade Keerthi and I returned to the house at which he was staying and we drafted a letter concerning the security of the RCL. Comrade Keerthi knew that the RCL faced a very difficult struggle in the coming period and that it was decisive to turn to the working class. He knew that the perspectives of the RCL had been vindicated by the Indian occupation in the North. After the IC plenum, he traveled to Germany to speak to Tamil exiles. One meeting was attended by 70 Tamils and it was an enormous success. The perspectives of the RCL had won enthusiastic support from most of those attending the meeting. Keerthi was convinced that a turning point had been reached in the work of the RCL and the International Committee.
Many comrades have told me since I arrived here that during the last weeks of Keerthi’s life, upon his return to Colombo, he was full of plans for the future. However, before he could put these plans into practice, Keerthi was struck with a heart attack. There can be no underestimating the impact of his death; but the achievements of the last two years must be appreciated. Had Comrade Keerthi died before October 1985, before he had been given the opportunity to play such a decisive role in the struggle against the WRP renegades, the situation in the RCL and the International Committee would be very different from what it is today.
We have suffered a great loss. We cannot replace Keerthi. But we will go forward to the world revolution. What he has left behind is a world movement that has grown enormously in its theoretical and political stature. Therefore, we must examine more closely the struggle of the last two years. Only in the recent period has its full implications become clear. There is no question but that the split of 1985-86 will be looked upon as a historic episode in the struggle for Marxism. The actual issue which we confronted in that struggle was whether or not there was to be a conscious, international, revolutionary working class movement. The entire future of Marxism and the Fourth International was at stake. By October 1985, the situation that existed was the following: those in the leadership of the WRP had repudiated every essential principle of Marxism. They had not simply departed from the Marxian program on one or two points. They had repudiated Marxism all down the line. They no longer accepted even the basic premise of Marxism—that socialism can be achieved only through the revolutionary action of the international proletariat. In fact, the WRP leaders denied that the working class had any specific historic role to play in the realization of socialism. They had abandoned the working class entirely and turned their attention to other class forces.
Only if we recognize that the leaders of the WRP had come to represent different class forces can we understand the nature of the struggle that unfolded inside the International Committee. Nearly three years ago, at the notorious Tenth Congress of the ICFI in January 1985, the WRP sought the expulsion of the Revolutionary Communist League from the International Committee. Banda vehemently denounced the RCL, cited letters from Sri Lanka which attacked the RCL, without telling the delegates that they had been written by anti-Tamil racists, and then indicated that the WRP was cultivating its own political relations in Sri Lanka with the LTTE, behind the back of the Revolutionary Communist League. Healy and Banda spoke of the RCL with complete contempt, and proudly declared that they were ready to sever relations with it.
Just one year earlier, the Workers League was told that if it persisted in raising its differences with the Workers Revolutionary Party, it would no longer be permitted to collaborate with the International Committee. All political relations would be severed. They were so determined to maintain the isolation of the Workers League that we could not even send the Bulletin to the Revolutionary Communist League. When I asked Banda for the address of the RCL in 1984, he refused to give it to me. What actually existed in the International Committee prior to October 1985 was a petty-bourgeois dictatorship based on the opportunist line of the WRP.
In the split, the class issues were clearly defined. It was necessary to renew the struggle for the principles for which Trotsky had fought in the formation of the Fourth International. We can only understand the significance of this struggle if it is placed in the context of the objective development of the class struggle.
In recent months, the International Committee has written about the phenomenon which we call “renunciationism.” It is a tendency that has manifested itself at every level of the international labor movement. At the level of the social democratic and trade union bureaucracies, renunciationism has taken the form of a repudiation of their own reformist programs. In former days, the reformists used to argue that they had found a more “reasonable” and “rational” path to socialism than that advocated by the “dogmatic” adherents of Marxism, that is, by the Trotskyists. They argued that socialism need not be realized by violent revolution. Rather, they claimed, capitalism was slowly evolving in the direction of socialism, and that parliamentarism was the most suitable political expression of this benevolent process. But during the past decade the reformists have given up the ghost. They no longer believe in, let alone fight for, social reforms. They have reconciled themselves to the existence of ever worsening mass misery. As for socialism, the reformists no longer speak of it at all. Instead, they openly collaborate with the capitalists in destroying whatever remains of the reform programs of the past and they insist that the working class must make whatever sacrifices are necessary to preserve the profit system.
As for the Stalinists, they used to claim that they represent the traditions of the October Revolution. Now, the Soviet bureaucracy is renouncing any residual, even symbolic, connection to the perspective of socialist revolution. Gorbachev virtually declares that socialism has failed and makes little effort to conceal his opinion that its claims to superiority over capitalism have been decisively disproven. On the future of socialism, the Soviet bureaucrats are the most shameless defeatists.
The Chinese bureaucracy has gone even further than its Kremlin counterparts in reopening the country to capitalist relations. It is deliberately encouraging the growth of private property in the countryside. The development of social differentiation is increasingly noticeable in the countryside as a class of kulak peasants becomes ever more visible. At the same time, there is a functioning stock exchange in Shanghai, and the Chinese bureaucracy has also signed an agreement with British imperialism guaranteeing the defense of capitalist property in Hong Kong after the territory is formally returned to China. In other words, the Chinese bureaucracy is promising to serve as a guardian of capitalist property and, therefore, of its superexploitation of wage labor.
It was reported last October that there was heavy investment by the Chinese government in the Hong Kong stock exchange in the days following the Wall Street crash. The Beijing bureaucrats were doing everything in their power to assist the Hong Kong and international bourgeoisie. There was yet another reason for their concern. It was also reported that substantial funds held by the Chinese regime had previously been invested in the Hong Kong exchange, and the political heirs of Mao Tse-tung were frightened by the political consequences of the revelation that they had squandered the resources of the Chinese proletariat through speculation in the stock exchange.
The policy of the Soviet bureaucracy is now defined as perestroika. Illustrating this policy, Gorbachev came to the United States and behaved like a preening petty-bourgeois lackey of imperialism. At one point, while sitting in the White House, the planning center of imperialism’s worldwide crimes, this reactionary philistine began singing alongside of Reagan and broke into a disgusting rendition of “Moscow Nights.” During the same tour, Gorbachev entertained the business magnates of US imperialism and pleaded with them to invest their money in the USSR. The American bourgeoisie treated him with the type of affection they usually show for one of their pampered pet poodles. He never spoke once of either socialism or the working class.
His new book, Perestroika, is a best seller that has been published by Harper & Row, one of the most prestigious capitalist publishing houses in the United States. One has only to read this book to find irrefutable evidence that Gorbachev is a man who has absolutely no ideological connection to either Marxism or socialism. In fact, it would not be very difficult to demonstrate, on the basis of this book, that Gorbachev is a fool. The most important sections of the book are those where he openly renounces the class struggle. He proclaims that class distinctions are irrelevant in the present period, and that these ancient antagonisms have been superseded by the so-called common interests uniting all humanity. He states that the existence of nuclear weapons means that the universal interests of survival take precedence over social conflict, and he brazenly attempts to attribute to Lenin the gospel of brotherhood among all men, regardless of their class position. Let me read the exact passage. Referring to Lenin, he writes, “More than once he spoke about the priority of interests common to all humanity over class interests.”
Gorbachev goes on to say that war is not the inevitable product of imperialism, and he even takes Clausewitz to task for having issued his world famous dictum that war is a continuation of politics by other means. Not so, say this Stalinist philistine. This dictum, writes Gorbachev, “now belongs to the libraries.” And he goes on to give us the following pearl of wisdom, worthy of a hypocritical priest: “For the first time in history, basing international politics on moral and ethical norms that are common to all humankind, as well as humanizing interstate relations, has become a vital requirement.”
What are these “moral and ethical norms” that tower over all class interests? Such phrases amount to contemptible lies, whose sole purpose is to throw dust into the eyes of the working class. In practice, Gorbachev’s espousal of such “moral and ethical norms” means policing the working class so that it does not disrupt the collaboration of the bureaucracy and the imperialists. It means endorsing the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord. It means offering the imperialists assistance in the Persian Gulf. It means cutting off the export of oil to Nicaragua in order to crush opposition to imperialism in Central America.
The moral norms of capitalism are exposed in the commission of horrific crimes against the toiling masses all over the world. The bourgeoisie itself has become so inured to its own bloody methods that most of its crimes hardly raise an eyebrow in the world press. Virtually every known form of capitalist barbarism has become a routine fact of life. It would be impossible to determine exactly the daily toll of victims that are reaped by capitalism each day, whether by death squads and mercenaries, or by more “natural” means, such as famines, industrial poisonings and, above all, the commonplace exploitation of human labor power.
Now, let us turn our attention to the centrists and all the renegades from the Fourth International. The old associates of Pabloism have virtually liquidated themselves out of existence. They function virtually exclusively as pathetic appendages of social democratic, Stalinist and various petty-bourgeois radical organizations.
This universal process of renunciationism found its expression inside the WRP. Let us look at what became of those who broke with the International Committee. In 1985, all of our present-day enemies still maintained that they were Trotskyists. Healy claimed that he was the victim of a CIA plot hatched by David North. But two years after the split, he turned up in Moscow as a special guest of the Stalinist bureaucracy, enthusiastically supporting Gorbachev’s relations with US imperialism. So it has not taken long for history to reveal who the real agent of American imperialism is. Healy’s policies directly conform to the interests defended by US imperialism. It is no secret to anyone that imperialism is supporting Gorbachev. When Yeltsin was sacked, the capitalist press all over the world expressed the fear that Gorbachev was weakening. Thatcher sent words of encouragement.
Slaughter still claims to be an opponent of Gorbachev, but he actually endorses the formation of political blocs with Stalinist parties on the basis of their counterrevolutionary popular front politics. In other words, his opposition to Gorbachev is, like everything else associated with Slaughter’s politics, a cynical fraud, a hypocritical cover for his implementation of reactionary anti-Trotskyist policies.
Then there is Banda. I have just received a copy of his latest document, which carries his diatribe against Trotsky to the most grotesque extremes. Like some deranged cultist, he now worships the memory of Joseph Stalin. He writes of “Stalin’s implacable will and unflinching leadership” and declares his unstinting support for the perspective of socialism in one country. Banda condemns “Trotsky’s obsession with the problems of privilege, corruption, the method of distribution of the surplus social product and the norms of distribution in Russia.” In other words, Banda has himself come to terms with the corruption and privileges of the Soviet bureaucracy and with the poverty and oppression of the Soviet working class.
Banda’s document is a summation of the entire renunciationist perspective of the petty-bourgeois renegades from Marxism. That is the meaning of his declaration, “We place no credence on the validity of the theory of the permanent revolution as a guide to the practice of revolutionaries in the colonial and semicolonial countries.” This is his public announcement that he completely repudiates the struggle to construct revolutionary parties of the proletariat in the backward and semicolonial countries. This is the significance of his infatuation with Maoism. This is a man who feels a deep and organic hatred of the working class, and who is consciously striving to organize the forces of the petty bourgeoisie against it. In fact, in Banda’s style of writing, his bombastic phraseology, one cannot help but form the image of a middle-class demagogue who is trying to incite a drunken mob. It’s as if he were shouting, “Look at these terrible Trotskyites. Wouldn’t it be best if we lynched them on the spot!”
Banda’s rantings are not the product of ideas that he developed only during the past two years. They have been festering in his brain for years, long before 1985. But as long as the WRP still controlled the International Committee, Banda and Healy did not have to openly articulate their real views. In fact, it served their interests to pose as defenders of Trotskyism while they carried out their right-wing politics. But when they lost control of the International Committee, they could not avoid stating what they really thought.
In November 1985, Banda returned to Colombo for what turned out to be an extended vacation. Keerthi went to see Banda in late December. Banda had just learned that the WRP had been suspended from the International Committee. He was outraged. Banda understood very well the significance of the suspension. The International Committee had through this action made clear that it would not tolerate the opportunist politics of the WRP and that the WRP would have to accept the discipline of the Trotskyist movement. At the time, many were upset with our action. Centrists like those in Peru’s Liga Comunista were shocked when they realized that the International Committee meant business and was not going to compromise with opportunism. And inside the WRP, the suspension put an end to the efforts of Slaughter and his associates to maneuver with the International Committee.
Keerthi arrived at Banda’s ancestral plantation in Kandy. The meeting lasted no more than three minutes. Banda threw a bundle of documents at him and began ranting that he would destroy the ICFI. He screamed, “When I go for a fight, I go for a funeral,” and warned Keerthi not to underestimate him. Keerthi did not underestimate Banda at all. He knew that Banda was capable of any treachery. After all, Banda was a hysterical petty bourgeois totally consumed with hatred of Trotskyism. When Keerthi reported this experience to the International Committee, we all knew that Banda was preparing to break completely with Trotskyism. And that break has led, in fact, to the rejection of the very perspective of proletarian revolution.
Now let us look at how Banda’s perspective has worked itself out in terms of concrete developments in the class struggle. In relation to the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, Banda has just written a letter, dated October 7, 1987, to Prabakaran and Balasingam. In it, he poses as a sympathizer of the LTTE. But the contents of this letter show that he is a supporter of the accord and expresses fear over its “precariousness.”
Banda informs the LTTE that his group is campaigning in England for a series of demands. But these demands do not include the withdrawal of the Indian Army. Instead, he specifically endorses the presence of the so-called Indian Peace Keeping Force, and entrusts the fate of the Tamil population to this instrument of mass terror.
In a particularly treacherous phrase, Banda advises the LTTE not to trust the ability of either the Sri Lankan or the Indian bourgeoisie to “definitively” solve the problems of the Tamil people. This suggests that the Indian and Sri Lankan bourgeoisie can offer at least a partial solution, and this amounts to a cynical cover-up of the real role of the Indian and Sri Lankan bourgeoisie. The only “solutions” being offered by the Indian and Sri Lankan capitalists to the problems of the Tamils are those which involve mass killings. There is a world of difference between saying that the bourgeoisie of India and Sri Lanka cannot “definitively” solve the problems of the Tamils and stating that these reactionary forces are, in fact, the worst enemies of the Tamils.
As for the policies of the Tamil Tigers, he says that they were correct not to surrender “all” of their weapons to the Indians—as if the petty-bourgeois leadership of the LTTE was correct in surrendering any of its weapons and in accepting the basic political framework of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord.
This letter proves that Banda is a political agent of imperialism and the Indian bourgeoisie. The cynicism of his “sympathy” is exposed by the fact that while writing letters of condolences to the LTTE, Banda is singing the praises of the Kremlin bureaucracy which happens to be denouncing the LTTE as a fascist organization!
Upon reading Banda’s letter to Prabakaran and Balasingam, one can fully appreciate the penetrating foresight of Comrade Keerthi’s 1971 exposure of Banda’s position on the Indian invasion of Bangladesh. As far back as 17 years ago, Keerthi already perceived Banda’s role as an agent of the Indian bourgeoisie, and issued a warning as to the reactionary implications of his defense of the actions taken by the regime of Indira Gandhi. Now we can understand why the WRP was determined to isolate Comrade Keerthi from the ICFI and destroy the Revolutionary Communist League.
In the present situation, the documents Comrade Keerthi wrote are of historical significance. If Keerthi were alive, one can imagine with what ferocity he would denounce Banda’s cynical letter to Prabakaran and Balasingam.
There is one final point that should be made about Banda’s letter. It completely vindicates the struggle waged by the ICFI over the past two years. Those from whom we broke are already implicated in bloody betrayals of the working class. Living in London, Banda can afford himself the luxury of writing letters of condolences to the LTTE. But if he were living in Colombo, Banda would be writing letters to Jayewardene, applauding his suppression of Tamil national rights and urging the use of state repression against the RCL.
This split reflects the depth of the crisis of world imperialism and means that the working class has arrived at a great historical turning point. We must understand the objective conditions which underlay the struggle inside the International Committee.
We must never forget the basic proposition of Marxism, that the political struggle arises out of the contradictions that exist in the economic base of society. There existed within the struggle of the ICFI an objective necessity, the content of which we have become ever more conscious. During the last half year, the International Committee has paid considerable attention to the development of its perspectives. This has entailed a study of the actual development of the crisis of world capitalism.
In the aftermath of World War II, it was necessary for the bourgeoisie to find some new basis for the restabilization of world capitalism. A new equilibrium was established. First, this entailed the bogus liberation of the colonies in which imperialism entrusted the defense of its economic interests to the corrupt national bourgeoisie. India is the model of the type of independence that was established in the postwar period. None of the essential tasks associated with the democratic revolution was carried through. Similar arrangements took place in the Middle East and Africa. By any objective standard, 40 years after the granting of independence to India, conditions are worse now than ever.
Alongside these measures in relation to the colonies, policies were adopted to overcome the economic autarchy that had existed in the 1930s and which had led to World War II. Among the major goals of imperialist policy in the postwar period was the expansion of world trade. A conscious effort was made to prevent the resurgence of the type of interimperialist antagonisms which had given rise to the two imperialist world wars. The linchpin of these arrangements to expand world trade was the American dollar. The bourgeoisie had learned something from Lenin, and were trying to find some way to refute his dictum that imperialism is the epoch of wars and revolutions. With the assistance of Stalinism and social democracy, who systematically betrayed the revolutionary struggles of the working class at the end of World War II, the imperialists were able to revive the world economy and expand world trade to an unprecedented degree. This was the central factor in the postwar boom. Statistics on world trade demonstrate that the extent of its growth was beyond anything ever seen before in the history of world capitalism.
Just 30 years ago, children growing up in the United States were told that the exports and imports were a relatively small factor in the American economy, and that the United States was able to thrive on its own vast domestic market. Of course, that was not really true, but the argument seemed at the level of appearance to have at least some credible foundation. When carried the label, “Made in Japan,” it was generally cheap and assumed to be of inferior quality. Now, it is American goods that have the reputation for being of inferior quality, while it is foreign goods that are associated with superior quality.
Trade figures show an enormous increase in American dependence on imports and exports. Especially noticeable has been the vast growth in trade across the Pacific. But the growth of world trade has intensified the contradictions of world capitalism. During the postwar period, a crucial characteristic of world economy has been the emergence of multinational corporations and transnational production on an unprecedented scale. A single commodity is quite often the product of production in a number of countries. The integration of the world market has meant the complete subordination of national economies to the reality of global production. For the working class, this has meant that in every country its wages are directly influenced by conditions that exist globally.
While capitalism has transformed the globe into a single economic workshop, the world economy remains fractured along national state boundaries. International production is, more than ever, in conflict with the system of nation-states based on private capitalist ownership of the productive forces. Even the bourgeoisie recognizes the necessity of internationally coordinated economies, but they cannot jump out of their own national skins. Nation-states are being driven into bitter conflicts, and this is expressed in the rising tide of trade disputes, between the United States and Japan, the United States and Canada, between Europe and Japan, between the European countries themselves, and so on.
How does this situation affect the working class? The conditions of life are regulated by the world economy. The old distinctions between the conditions of workers in oppressed and oppressor nations are losing their previous significance. The fact that an American capitalist can quickly move his production facilities to Singapore or Hong Kong, and throw his previously high-paid US work force onto the unemployment lines has profound implications for the living standards of American workers. An American industrialist tells his workers, “Why should I pay you $30 an hour in wages and benefits when I can relocate my operations in Asia?” Recently, the New York Times reported that a meeting of American capitalists had concluded that differences in the wages of American and Asian workers could not be tolerated. In the United States, the chauvinist trade union leaders seek to save American jobs by accepting the destruction of the existing wage levels and the drastic lowering of living standards.
Of course, the trade union bureaucrats have no answer to the crisis confronting the labor movement. Their outlook is utterly reactionary. Insofar as they have any perspective, it is one that is based on unlimited collaboration with the ruling class. They are the most desperate defenders of the national state, and they enthusiastically support the implementation of trade war measures against the capitalist rivals of the United States. They believe in the reactionary utopia of national economies insulated by national boundaries and massive tariff walls. The bureaucrats would really like to see another world war, through which they hope that the American ruling class will be able to reestablish the global preeminence of American capitalism. On the basis of this program, the bureaucrats promote every form of chauvinism and racism.
But this perspective is not accepted by the working class. The workers do not believe in it. But the workers do not see any way forward. Strike action produces no results. The multinational corporations have the ability to survive the shutdown of one of their US facilities for an almost unlimited period of time. They can move either to another location somewhere else in the country or even somewhere else in the world. Again and again this has happened. There has not been a really successful major strike in the United States since the struggle of the miners in 1977-78.
At the present time, wages are the lowest in more than a quarter-century. This means that the working class must find new ways of organizing its struggles against the capitalist class. The development of the world economy and its impact on the class struggle means that the working class must organize its struggles on an international scale.
The working class is the only social force which can resolve on a progressive basis the contradiction between the global development of the productive forces in an integrated world economy and the existence of the nation-state system to which capitalism is historically and organically linked. As Keerthi often explained, revolutions do not occur to solve small problems. They are necessary only to solve enormous historical problems. History creates revolutions when it confronts problems of social development that cannot be resolved in any other way. Capitalism and the nation-states which it called into being are a fetter on the development of the productive forces. This is the problem that history calls upon the working class to solve. It must end private ownership and brush aside all the state boundaries that impede the harmonious development of mankind’s productive forces. The working class is compelled to overcome all divisions within its international ranks that are based upon nationality, language, skin color or religion and unify its forces in order to put an end to capitalist anarchy.
The working class can only achieve this worldwide unification of its common struggle through the building of an organization that is totally independent of the bourgeoisie and intransigently hostile to its nation-state system. This is the historical role and function of the International Committee, a role for which it has prepared itself over decades of struggle. The fight of the International Committee is the conscious expression of an unconscious historical process. The International Committee of the Fourth International itself, which alone represents the principles and traditions of Trotskyism, is the conscious expression of the historic striving of the international proletariat to unify into a single indestructible force its worldwide fight for the reconstruction of the planet on a communist foundation.
During the last two years, the International Committee has forged an unprecedented level of international unity among its sections. Within this unity, the relationship between the Workers League and the Revolutionary Communist League was a decisive component. I have never known a comrade with whom I shared such a degree of political agreement as I did with Keerthi. The Workers League has the task of conducting its work within the boundaries of the most advanced imperialist country in the world. In all appearances, the United States is the exact opposite of Sri Lanka. The RCL conducts its work in a semicolonial country. How, then, are we to understand the extremely close relationship between the Workers League and the RCL? My conviction is that this relationship is a conscious expression of the emerging worldwide unity of the international working class in the coming socialist revolution.
We are on the eve of a new historic movement of the international working class. It is being brought forward as an objective force. Workers all over the world will come to understand that they speak a common language, derived from the unified experience of the international class struggle. Confronted with the same great historical problem, the workers in every country will be driven toward the same solution.
With this perspective, we are able to appreciate the significance of Keerthi’s life. No one represented more intransigently the political opposition of the proletariat in the backward countries to the entire postwar settlement imposed by imperialism with the connivance of the bourgeois nationalists and Stalinists, and later with the assistance of the Pabloite renegades. No one understood more clearly the independent historical role of the international working class. He fought unstintingly for the world socialist revolution.
Keerthi’s life had and will continue to have great historical significance. Despite his premature death, he will continue to live in the cadre of the International Committee. There can be no retreat from the internationalist principles for which he fought. The International Committee will fight for these principles all over the world. We must commemorate his life by building the world party of socialist revolution. We are sections of one indivisible party.
Internationalism is not a slogan for special occasions. The fate of every national section of the international proletariat, and therefore of our sections in different countries is indissolubly linked. The future evolution of the class struggle in Sri Lanka and throughout the Indian subcontinent is of profound importance to the working class in every other part of the world. You must follow the work of the Workers League as we follow the work of your section. We must continue to expand the scope of our international activity. On this basis, the International Committee of the Fourth International will attract millions of workers, and there will always be a special place for the memory of Comrade Keerthi in the hearts of those millions.