Socialist Equality Party (United States)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (United States)

The Pabloite Reunification and the Betrayal in Ceylon

In June 1963, the SWP and the European Pabloites held a Unification Congress and formed a new “United Secretariat.” What imparted to this congress its unprincipled and reactionary character, was its determined refusal to examine the issues that had led to the split of 1953. The repeated claim that the differences had receded into the past, that they were no longer relevant in the context of a “new world reality,” concealed the very real and dangerous implications of Pabloite politics. The refusal of the British Trotskyists to participate in the reactionary charade of a “Reunification” Congress, in which life-and-death questions were being excluded from discussion, was an act of great political courage.

Just what was at stake became clear within just one year. In June 1964, a leading section of the Pabloite International, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), accepted an invitation from Ceylonese Prime Minister Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike to join her new bourgeois coalition government. This was the first time in the history of the Fourth International that a Trotskyist party had participated in such a crass betrayal of socialist principles. This betrayal had been prepared over many years of political backsliding by the LSSP, but the Pabloites blocked discussion of its political degeneration. Now, just one year after reunification, the Pabloite International (with the critical assistance of the SWP) was serving as the midwife of a betrayal that led to a civil war that has ravaged Sri Lankan society and cost nearly 100,000 lives. The condemnation issued by the International Committee of the role played by Pabloism in the Ceylonese catastrophe has stood the test of time: “The entry of the LSSP members into the Bandaranaike coalition marks the end of a whole epoch of the evolution of the Fourth International. It is in direct service to imperialism, in the preparation of a defeat for the working class that revision in the world Trotskyist movement has found its expression.”[1]


The Heritage We Defend, op. cit., p. 402.