Socialist Equality Party (UK)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Britain)

The East European “buffer states”

71. What characterised the Morrow/Haston/Grant opposition was not its concern to identify the problems confronting the revolutionary party at the war’s end and to work them through. Rather, these difficulties became the pretext for its adaptation to the very political mechanisms through which capitalism was being restabilised.

72. The Fourth International had refused to rush to a definition of the East European buffer states. Up until 1948, the Stalinist bureaucracy had shown no interest in changing the property relations of those countries occupied by the Red Army. Its goal had been limited to using them as a military buffer against imperialism. This only changed in response to the aggressive actions of the US in the lead-up to the Cold War. Even so, the Fourth International insisted that the criteria for making an evaluation of the changes could not rest on the local results of Stalinist policy, but had to include an appraisal of its role on the world arena:

“From the world point of view, the reforms realised by the Soviet bureaucracy in the sense of the assimilation of the buffer zone to the USSR weigh incomparably less in the balance than the blows dealt by the Soviet bureaucracy in the buffer zone, against the consciousness of the world working class.”[1]

73. In contrast, Grant insisted that the Stalinist apparatus had established workers’ states in Eastern Europe by first mobilising the working class, only to then install a form of “proletarian bonapartism”. Grant’s designation of the East European regimes was to provide a general means of adapting to non-proletarian forces, which were declared to be a substitute for the revolutionary actions of the working class. This was extended to cover virtually anywhere there was extensive state nationalisation established through peasant-based wars under petty-bourgeois or Stalinist leaderships.

74. It was during the conflict with the Morrow/Haston/Grant faction that Healy first emerged as an international political figure. Since the fight over unification, he had worked closely with Cannon and the SWP, and now took up the struggle to defend the position of the Fourth International within the British movement. For this, he was denounced in the most overtly chauvinistic terms. Cannon pointedly referred to the Haston faction’s treatment of Healy, when he asked Morrow/Goldman:

“Do you know what kind of regime your pals in England have? They have a minority led by Healy whose crimes consisted in the fact that he supported the unity line of the International Secretariat, that he broke with the sectarian nationalism of the WIL and became a real internationalist, rejected their nationalistic taint, and has been sympathetic in general to the Socialist Workers Party political position. Do you know what this regime calls Healy? A quisling of the Socialist Workers Party; that is, an agent of an enemy country.”[2]


Cited in The Heritage We DefendA Contribution to the History of the Fourth International, David North (1988), Labor Publications, pp. 158-159.


Cited in Gerry Healy and His Place in the History of the Fourth International, David North (1991), Labor Publications, p.13.