David North
The Heritage We Defend

M. Banda Renounces Trotskyism

As far as Marxism and the struggle for socialism is concerned, Michael Banda, the general secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party, can no longer be counted among the living. With the publication of his “27 Reasons Why the International Committee Should Be Buried Forthwith and the Fourth International Built,” Banda has declared his irrevocable political break with Trotskyism and has severed all connections with the revolutionary movement under whose banner he had fought his entire adult life. Despite the many years he devoted to the Trotskyist movement, Banda’s fate is that he will be remembered for nothing so much as the manner in which he betrayed and deserted it—as the renegade who authored a libel against the Fourth International. After having spent thirty-eight years inside the Trotskyist movement, Banda presents the following indictment of the Fourth International:

Contrary to Trotsky what we have seen is an uninterrupted series of crises, splits, betrayals, treachery, stagnation and confusion—a process characterized by a total lack of strategy and perspective, a manifest failure in theory and practice to grasp the nature of the epoch and concretize and enrich Trotskyism as contemporary Marxism.

What we have seen… is an empirical and subjective idealist groping by self-styled groups of so-called Trotskyists for a means of short-circuiting the historical process, of looking for surrogates for the working class a la Pablo, of searching after the elusive spectre of the “natural Marxist” a la Cannon or replacing the theory of dialectical materialism with the reactionary subjective-idealist methodology and epistemology of Healy.

With it went the substitution of a self-perpetuating bureaucratic clique for the democratic-centralist party and replacing Trotsky’s conception of the FI by coteries of petty-bourgeois dilettantes, charlatans and fantasists masquerading as a “world party.” It is certainly no accident—in fact it proceeds logically and practically from this very conception of the IC in 1953—that not a single section of the IC—and this includes the Workers League of the United States—at any time in the last 32 years has been able to elaborate a viable perspective for the working class. Why?

To ask the question is to answer it. It must be stated emphatically, nay, categorically, that the FI was proclaimed but never built. Not even in Trotsky’s time was there a cadre capable of sustaining his monumental work.

Banda’s diatribe against the International Committee is built upon a glaring and obvious contradiction that he neither explains nor resolves. If all that issued from Trotsky’s “monumental work” was a pathetic band of disreputable impostors, then a question mark must be placed over the real historical value of his work.

A composer who wrote symphonies that no orchestra can perform, or a scientist whose theories are of interest only to quacks, would not merit an important place in the history of human culture. If the political line for which Trotsky fought produced nothing but disasters and attracted only con-men, traitors, idiots and cowards, it must then be acknowledged that something was fundamentally wrong with the underlying conception that led to the founding of the Fourth International.

Thus, Banda’s attack is not limited to the International Committee. He is challenging the political legitimacy of the Fourth International and the specific tendency known as Trotskyism. No less than sixteen of the twenty-seven “reasons” he gives for the need to destroy the International Committee are related to events which occurred before it was founded in 1953.

To give credence to Banda’s arguments means acknowledging that it is necessary to reconsider the whole place our international movement has traditionally assigned to Trotsky in the history of Marxism. But the very fact that Banda’s arguments must lead to the repudiation of Trotskyism undermines his attempt to discredit the ICFI. Precisely because Banda cannot attack the International Committee without renouncing the entire history of the Fourth International, he is inadvertently acknowledging that the ICFI does represent the continuity of Trotskyism.

While Banda, perhaps, believes that his fatuous theses constitute a novel contribution to Marxism, he is adding nothing to what has already been said by countless enemies of Trotskyism, most recently by Jack Barnes, the dubious leader of the police-ridden Socialist Workers Party. Barnes has publicly declared that Trotskyism and its theory of permanent revolution “does not contribute today to arming either ourselves or other revolutionists. … It is an obstacle to reknitting our political continuity with Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the first four congresses of the Communist International. It has been an obstacle in our movement to an objective reading of the masters of Marxism, in particular, the writings of Lenin.”[1]

Banda and his fellow renegades in the WRP view the International Committee as an obstacle to the “reknitting” of their “continuity” with … what? That, they do not care to say, as yet. While Barnes came out openly and declared that the Fourth International must give way to a new “mass Leninist International”—that is, a class-collaborationist amalgam of petty-bourgeois nationalist, neo-Stalinist, agrarian populist and revisionist organizations—Banda has not yet identified the species of the political animal he is in the process of creating. Instead, he has devoted himself to enumerating twenty-seven reasons why the International Committee, the sole Trotskyist tendency that is historically based on the struggle to defend the perspective of permanent revolution against Stalinism and Pabloite revisionism, should be destroyed. But despite the title of his article, he does not offer one reason why the Fourth International should be built.

Only those who either wish to delude themselves or are consciously preparing their own desertion from the Fourth International will claim that Banda’s document represents a “legitimate” contribution to a discussion on the history of the Trotskyist movement. Marxists who defend revolutionary principles will find nothing “legitimate” in Banda’s document. Those who wish to join the Pabloites and openly adapt themselves to Stalinism and Maoism are free to do so. But the International Committee of the Fourth International is not interested in discussing with skeptical and politically-diseased petty-bourgeois renegades who have seized on Banda’s opus as a pretext to justify their break with Marxism. The ICFI is a revolutionary party which strives to organize the working class and the oppressed masses for the overthrow of the capitalist system, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building of a socialist society. Why should we welcome as “legitimate” the lies of a renegade who consciously falsifies the history of our movement and publicly calls for its destruction?

Some attempt to justify their own backsliding by claiming that the betrayals of the WRP under the leadership of Healy necessitate a questioning of “everything.” This is the characteristic response of middle-class elements who lack firm roots in the workers’ movement. But the quest for objective truth never proceeds through such a sterile repudiation of the heritage of past conquests. No serious person would suggest that the death of a patient as a result of a physician’s negligence is a valid argument against medical science. Unfortunately, in the sphere of revolutionary politics, there is no shortage of skeptics who are eager to discover within each crisis of the Fourth International the failure of Trotskyism. But should we be impressed by the arguments of “revolutionaries” who completely lose their political bearings beneath the impact of a crisis within their organization? Such people cannot teach the working class anything, for the indiscriminate “questioning” proposed by the skeptics usually ends up with their personal desertion from the revolutionary movement.

In the aftermath of the split within the WRP, Banda and Slaughter, who along with Healy bear the major responsibility for their party’s degeneration, have been engaged in a frenzied campaign to overthrow every principle and tradition of the International Committee of the Fourth International. They derive an almost perverse satisfaction from denigrating the Fourth International, and, like repentant sinners at a revival meeting, gleefully proclaim before one and all that they have wasted their lives. This orgy of self-indulgent and shameless debasement is called a “public discussion.” The political irony of this disgusting spectacle is that it is being organized in the name of an on-going struggle against “Healyism.”

What a monumental fraud! The personal degeneration of Healy is not the source of the wholesale repudiation of revolutionary principles that is now sweeping through the ranks of the Banda-Slaughter faction of the Workers Revolutionary Party. After all, Banda and Slaughter are not only grown men in their fifties; they are also, let us remember, experienced politicians who worked in the leadership of the ICFI for decades. They did not change their political views and historical conceptions simply because they “suddenly” discovered (if one is prepared to take their word for it) Healy’s sexual misconduct.

Drastic changes in the political orientation of men such as Banda and Slaughter are the product of a complex interaction between the changing conditions of the class struggle and the unresolved contradictions in their own political development, and that of the leadership of which they were a part. In the WRP, where a principled struggle among leaders and members had been replaced with clique relations in the leading committees, and where theoretical and political compromises were made in the name of preserving the unity and prestige of the leadership, the capacity to formulate a revolutionary response to the historic interests of the proletariat was steadily undermined. The party leadership gradually became the sounding board for class forces hostile to the workers.

The significance of Healy’s personal abuse of authority in triggering the inner-party crisis is, from a historical perspective, of an entirely secondary character. While it became the pretext for the eruption inside the WRP, his personal degeneration and descent into the most despicable forms of opportunism were part of the overall crisis of the leadership and its capitulation to the pressures of hostile class forces. Banda’s “27 Reasons” and the increasingly hysterical attacks on the IC by the WRP renegades have developed organically out of the unrestrained growth of anti-Trotskyism and chauvinism within the WRP over the past decade.

The Banda-Slaughter faction represents only the most right-wing of the anti-Trotskyist elements which were politically nourished by Healy and used against the International Committee during the last ten years. Except for an important section of workers and youth whose opposition to Healy’s abuses stemmed from genuine Trotskyist convictions—the very forces against whom Healy, Slaughter and Banda conspired throughout the summer of 1985 and who, after the October split, were to consistently defend proletarian internationalism—there were no differences of a principled character between the Healy and Banda-Slaughter factions. Prior to the split on October 26, 1985, neither faction had produced a single analysis of the roots of the party crisis. Just one week after the split between Healy and the Banda-Slaughter faction, Banda wrote that no differences of either a programmatic or tactical character were involved in the struggle. The split, he declared, was merely over the character of relations between the sexes inside the WRP! Yet within two months Banda produced his “27 Reasons,” which constitutes a total repudiation of the entire historically-developed program of the International Committee.

The ideas were not conjured up in Banda’s head in the weeks after the split. They are an articulation of right-wing liquidationist positions that had long been incubating in the leadership of the Workers Revolutionary Party. As he himself admits: “My only regret is that I didn’t write this 10 years ago.” This statement confirms that during the past decade, the leadership of the WRP was moving inexorably toward a break with the International Committee, as the party drifted further and further away from its Trotskyist foundations and toward opportunism. During that entire period, Banda, Healy and Slaughter functioned as an unprincipled clique within the International Committee, systematically subordinating the struggle to build a world party to the immediate practical needs of the WRP in Britain. They brazenly lied to their international “comrades,” presented false political reports, suppressed political criticisms and plundered the resources of IC sections. No two men worked harder to build up Healy’s personal prestige in the world movement, that is, to cover up the opportunist degeneration of the WRP, than Banda and Slaughter.

Liquidationism is a social, not an individual, phenomenon: the product of the intense pressure of imperialism on the workers’ movement. In his “27 Reasons” Banda is speaking not only for himself, but for an entire layer of middle-class radicals and intellectuals within the WRP who have given up on Trotskyism, the working class and the social revolution. Banda’s document is merely the finished form assumed by the revisionist positions which had been steadily gathering strength inside the WRP for more than 10 years prior to the split. Any serious study of the political line of the WRP over the past decade would demonstrate that its crisis is bound up with the systematic retreat from the principles and program that had been defended by the British Trotskyists between 1961 and 1966, when they had been in the forefront of the fight against Pabloite revisionism.

In its struggle against the unprincipled reunification of the SWP and the International Secretariat of Pablo and Mandel in 1963, the SLL made an imperishable contribution to the building of the Fourth International. The documents produced by its leadership struck hammer blows against the opportunism of the revisionists, and exposed the political significance of their capitulation to petty-bourgeois nationalism. The SLL’s defense of the historic perspective of Trotskyism laid the basis for the education of a new generation of proletarian revolutionaries all over the world. In the aftermath of this historic struggle, the SLL realized substantial political gains. Fighting for Marxism on the crest of a rising wave of proletarian class struggle within Britain and Europe, buoyed by the radicalization of broad sections of the middle class inspired by the revolutionary struggle against US intervention in Vietnam, the British Trotskyists won the leadership of the Labour Party Young Socialists, built a powerful youth movement, and established a daily newspaper in 1969.

However, the response of the SLL to these important gains revealed certain negative features. As the SLL grew in Britain, it increasingly tended to view the building of the Fourth International as merely an extension of its national activity. The idea that the development of the International Committee of the Fourth International flowed primarily from the organizational successes of the British section gradually took hold inside the SLL. In France, a similar nationalist orientation was developing, as the OCI—whose leaders had collaborated with the British in the founding of the ICFI and in the struggle against the 1963 reunification—savored its advances in the aftermath of the upheavals of May-June 1968. The centrist tendencies in the OCI, which the SLL had criticized as early as 1967, became even more pronounced as the French leadership accommodated itself to the opportunist outlook of the hundreds of petty-bourgeois student youth who joined the organization.

In 1971, the SLL resumed the political struggle with the OCI, but broke it off precipitously with a split which was carried through with hardly any political discussion in the ranks of the International Committee. While the criticisms of the OCI’s centrist line were undoubtedly correct, there were indications that not everything was entirely in order inside the leadership of the SLL. Since 1967, Banda had been advancing positions on the anti-imperialist struggles in the backward countries and in relation to the Chinese Cultural Revolution that were, at least in terms of method, quite close to those of the Pabloites. However, Healy assiduously avoided open conflict with Banda on these crucial political issues. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Healy’s haste in splitting with the OCI was at least partly motivated by a fear that a protracted struggle against centrism would have dangerous reverberations inside the Socialist Labour League, precisely when the upsurge of the class struggle in Britain was creating exceptional “opportunities” for party-building. Healy chose to ignore the historical precedents which demonstrated again and again that in a period of the upsurge of the working class, the struggle against all forms of opportunism and centrism inside the party assumes a life-and-death significance.

The SLL made big gains in the course of the anti-Tory movement of the working class, provoked by the introduction of anti-union legislation in 1971 by the government of Prime Minister Edward Heath, but at a serious price. The failure to theoretically clarify the issues which had led to the split with the OCI weakened the political foundations of the party. Hundreds of members, many from middle-class backgrounds, who flooded into the SLL, were given only rudimentary political education in the principles and history of the International Committee. The political line of the SLL during this period tended increasingly to adapt to the syndicalist consciousness of the militant workers. This was exemplified in the SLL’s decision to issue a program for the founding of the Workers Revolutionary Party that was not based on Trotskyism and its international perspective, but merely on the spontaneous trade union consciousness of the anti-Tory movement in Britain.

When the WRP was launched, in November 1973, its leaders anticipated a rapid development toward the socialist revolution in Britain. And not without cause: the breakup of the Bretton Woods system in August 1971 had produced worldwide inflation, and an enormous escalation of the class struggle. The dictatorships in Portugal and Greece collapsed in 1974. The Nixon administration became entangled in political scandals and was forced to resign. In Britain, the massive anti-Tory offensive of the working class culminated in the first months of 1974 in a miners’ strike that forced the resignation of the Heath government and brought the Labourites back to power.

However, in the aftermath of the electoral victories of the Labour Party in 1974, the WRP encountered new political problems stemming from the residual weight of reformism on the consciousness of the working class. The treacherous policies of the social democrats produced disorientation within the workers’ movement, not least inside the WRP itself. Healy was now forced to pay for his failure to develop the political struggle against the OCI. Among large sections of the WRP’s members inside the trade unions, recruited on the basis of little more than opposition to the Heath government, the return of Wilson produced a resurgence of reformist illusions. The ability of the WRP to counteract this trend was gravely undermined by the fact that the leader of the party’s work inside the trade unions, Alan Thornett, had been won over to the positions of the British supporters of the OCI. Without revealing his real organizational allegiances, and working with documents written by OCI supporters, Thornett came out against the WRP’s attack on the new Labour government. In this difficult situation, which could be tackled only with patience and political firmness, the leadership of Healy, Banda and Slaughter resorted to desperate organizational measures that led to the expulsion of Thornett and his supporters, again without serious political discussion inside the WRP, let alone the International Committee.

The most damaging result of this split was the strengthening of a far more dangerous tendency within the WRP, consisting of middle-class elements who, in the wake of Wilson’s victory and the general dampening in the level of industrial struggle, quickly became impatient with the working class and rejected the need for a tenacious struggle within its mass organizations.

Adapting to these middle-class forces, who by the mid-1970s were a numerically dominant force within the party leadership, the WRP began to move sharply away from the working class. This assumed the form in 1975 of an ultraleft perspective that called for the immediate bringing down of Wilson’s Labour government, which, in effect, meant abandoning any real struggle against both the Labour Party right wing and its centrist apologists. The incorrect political line served to isolate the party from the working class, and led, as usually happens, to an opportunist practice which supplemented the ultraleft policy. The Workers Press was converted into a centrist type of “popular” paper, News Line.

Simultaneously, an impressionistic response to the defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam in 1975 encouraged speculation about the revolutionary potential of Stalinism and the nationalist movements in the backward countries. The search for alliances with bourgeois nationalists in the Middle East assumed an unprincipled character, which eventually degenerated into an opportunist and mercenary relationship. While the resources acquired through these relations temporarily solved the most pressing organizational problems, the theory of permanent revolution was reduced to a dead letter, and the whole historically established conception of the political independence of the working class and its revolutionary role was systematically undermined. Flowing from this, the essential world strategy of the Trotskyist movement—the building of sections of the Fourth International to resolve the crisis of revolutionary leadership—was abandoned in favor of that long-incubating nationalist perspective, which saw the construction of the International Committee as nothing more than a by-product of the material growth and successes of the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain.

By the late 1970s, the right-centrist character of the WRP’s practice could no longer be reconciled with the formal lip-service it paid to Trotskyist principles. The education of the cadre was concentrated almost exclusively on a subjective idealist vulgarization of dialectical materialism championed by Healy. What he called the “practice of cognition” was actually a systematic justification of his own pragmatic intuition which, if correctly emulated, would supposedly enable party members to “speedily” arrive at useful practices without any specific scientific analysis of the lawful development of the class struggle. In one party document, Healy promised to train party members in “what is best described as the unconscious use of the dialectical method”—an extraordinary distortion of Marxism that Trotsky had ridiculed forty years earlier in his celebrated rebuttal of Max Shachtman’s defense of James Burnham.

It was not accidental that Healy could commit such crude theoretical blunders which went unchallenged within the leadership of the WRP. In the name of a struggle against “propagandism,” the study of Trotsky’s writings was ridiculed. As a specific object of theoretical work, the struggle against revisionism was all but abandoned. Political differences inside the WRP were either suppressed or papered over as Healy maneuvered within a party leadership that consisted largely of middle-class elements with no experience in the class struggle.

Thus, the victory of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, and the establishment of the most right-wing Tory government since the end of World War II, found the WRP unprepared politically and theoretically. While formally preserving its ultraleft line—refusing to place any demands on the Labour Party and insisting that Thatcher could only be replaced by a Workers Revolutionary Government led by the WRP—its interventions within the labor movement assumed a thoroughly opportunist character. In virtually every major strike, the WRP defended the right-wing trade union leadership, such as Bill Sirs of the steel workers’ union. When the left-talkers in the Labour Party, led by Ken Livingstone, gained control of the Greater London Council, the WRP became their apologists, going so far as to oppose strikes by transport workers on the grounds that the reformist-led GLC’s budget could not afford a wage increase! One by one, the theoretical conquests of the Fourth International and the most basic concepts of Marxist tactics in the class struggle were abandoned. In response to the British invasion of the Malvinas, the WRP first adopted a pacifist line. Later, confronted with a faction fight within the Communist Party over control of its newspaper, the WRP campaigned enthusiastically on behalf of the Euro-Stalinist faction in the CPGB apparatus, arguing, incredibly, that its control over the Morning Star, the daily Stalinist rag, must be defended as a product of the October Revolution!

Between 1982 and 1984, the Workers League attempted to engage the Workers Revolutionary Party in a discussion of both its political line and its theoretical method. It produced an extensive analysis of Healy’s distortion of dialectical materialism, as well as the WRP’s reversion to positions historically identified with Pabloite revisionism. The WRP reacted to these criticisms by threatening the Workers League with a split. From the standpoint of Marxism, this response meant that the degeneration of the WRP had reached a very advanced stage. This was confirmed by the actual development of the class struggle. In late 1983, the WRP uncritically endorsed the vacillating policies of the printing union leaders, and excused their betrayals on the grounds that nothing more should be expected of leaders “of politically moderate opinion,” forgetting everything that Trotsky had written about the British General Strike of 1926 and his scathing criticism of Purcell, Cook, and the Anglo-Russian Committee.

Each uncorrected error produced new and worse ones. The 1984–85 miners’ strike was the most critical working-class struggle in the entire postwar history of Britain. Once again, forgetting all that it had written about the OCI’s refusal to place political demands upon the leading parties of the French working class—the Communist Party and Socialist Party—during the 1968 General Strike (not to mention the prolific writings of Lenin and Trotsky on this very question), the WRP never placed a single demand on the Labour Party. This political abstentionism, based on the type of petty-bourgeois leftism that Healy and Banda had conscientiously fought throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, complemented an adaptation to the Scargill leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers. Scargill never called for general strike action by the TUC, or demanded that the Labour Party fight for new elections to bring down the Tories. He was careful to avoid a political clash with either the TUC or Labour Party bureaucracy. The WRP adapted to his syndicalist and centrist line.

Partly to justify its rejection of the struggle to expose the Labour Party but, even more, an expression of the WRP’s extreme disorientation, Healy proclaimed that Thatcher, during the first month of the miners’ strike, had been transformed into a Bonapartist dictator. Claiming that the strike would end either in a socialist revolution or a fascist dictatorship, the WRP excluded the possibility of another Labour government and categorically rejected any suggestion that the Labour Party should be compelled to fight for the bringing down of Thatcher in order to defend the miners. At a public rally in November 1984, Healy declared: “If the miners are defeated we will be illegal in Thatcher’s Britain. She not only intends to press ahead to destroy the trade unions, she is going to make the most revolutionary elements in the struggle opposed to her illegal.”

Having predicted that a return to work by the miners without a victory would signify a defeat of the working class, the consolidation of dictatorship and the probable illegalization of the WRP, the end of the strike shook the party to its very roots. The collapse of the simplistic perspective of “imminent revolution,” an infantile caricature of Marxism, unleashed a wave of pent-up petty-bourgeois skepticism throughout the party. The defeat of the miners convinced the middle class within the WRP that not only the perspective of Healy, but the entire historical heritage of Trotskyism, was wrong.

Against this background, in July 1985, a letter arrived at the party center, written by Healy’s personal secretary of more than twenty years, exposing his systematic abuse of female party members. For the next three months, the WRP Political Committee attempted to cover up the scandal. Principled efforts by a member of the Central Committee, Dave Hyland, to convene a control commission investigation, were opposed by Banda and Slaughter throughout the summer, and suppressed. In the midst of this sordid mess, a financial crisis that was rooted in the opportunist politics of the WRP, and which had been building up for several years, finally exploded. The leadership could no longer prevent the collapse of the whole rotten edifice. News of Healy’s personal activities found its way into the membership. Stripped of all political and moral authority, Healy could do nothing to control the ensuing anti-Trotskyist rampage which his entire political line over the previous decade had prepared. Indeed, he himself had lost all confidence in the historic perspective of the Fourth International and for that very reason had been unable to restrain his own demoralized abuse of authority.

In October 1985, the pent-up resentments of the middle class exploded inside the WRP. Disillusioned and bitter, fed up with years of hard work which had produced no rewards, dissatisfied with their personal situations, anxious to make up for lost time, and simply sick and tired of all talk of revolution, the subjective rage of these middle-class forces—led by a motley crew of semiretired university lecturers—was translated politically into liquidationism. Precisely because its source lay not only in the subjective errors of the WRP leadership, but more fundamentally in objective changes in class relations, the skepticism which swept through large sections of the party was the expression of a powerful social tendency within the Workers Revolutionary Party.

The inflationary instability of the 1970s, and the incapacity of reformism to provide any solution to the general social crisis, had spawned a swing to the right within broad sections of the middle class. The elections of Thatcher in the UK in 1979, Reagan in the US in 1980, and Kohl in Germany in 1983 were the product of this right-wing development, which had a profound impact within the labor movements of all capitalist countries, especially Britain, where a large group of renegade right-wingers formed the Social Democratic Party and allied themselves openly with the Liberals against the working class.

The growth of unemployment; the dismantling of the old welfare state systems; the general lowering of wage levels; the ineffectiveness of strikes; the apparent weakening of the unions; the movement of sections of the middle class, under the influence of Reagan-Thatcher “supply-side” economics, away from reformism toward the right; their abandonment of 1960s-style social activism for hedonistic consumerism and self-gratification: these developments had a profound impact on the WRP. The middle-class forces within it had come to believe what they read in the newspapers: that capitalism had overcome its crisis; that automation had all but sapped the strength of the working class; that the development of computer technology and the exchange of information had created a new economic base for capitalism; that the industrial working class had been rendered obsolete; and that Marxism had become irrelevant. For years they had repeated again and again, without making any serious analysis of the changes in the economic conjuncture or the concrete development of the class struggle, that the social revolution in Britain was imminent. Now—and this is the heart of their perspective—they no longer believe in the possibility of revolution either in this century or in the opening decades of the next one.

Only people who no longer feel any responsibility toward the labor movement, who have broken with all the inner discipline that is derived from a scientifically-grounded confidence in the revolutionary role of the working class, could speak, write and act in the manner of Banda, Slaughter and their supporters. Their social base is not the working class, but those sections of the middle class whose illusions in the historical viability of capitalism have been rekindled by the “supply-side” economics of Reagan and Thatcher.

The real perspective of these liquidationists was spelled out in a document submitted by RM, a member of the Banda-Slaughter faction, to the WRP’s internal bulletin:

Realistically speaking in a capitalist society, to be an actual professional revolutionary, is an idealist position as it will only earn you a term of imprisonment, for terrorism or riot or conspiracy. The mass proletariat need a party based on socialist principles, but at this moment in time the party must work within the system, as if it doesn’t, it denies the real potential of the bourgeoisie and the state, in England especially as we have a great task to break and smash the bourgeoisie as it is the oldest bourgeoisie in the world.[2]

Far from representing a principled struggle against Healy, Banda’s “27 Reasons” is the final outcome of the WRP’s betrayal of the Fourth International. It is a twisted defense of the WRP’s opportunism, inasmuch as he places the blame for the political crimes of the Workers Revolutionary Party upon Trotskyism itself. Banda’s document makes no reference whatsoever to the political degeneration of the WRP since 1976. His call for the burial of the IC proceeds from a denunciation of the ICFI decision to suspend the WRP as its British section in December 1985. Apparently, Banda became convinced that the IC must be destroyed as soon as it took action against the political betrayals of the Workers Revolutionary Party. For Banda, whatever the WRP did was the outcome of the founding of the Fourth International and all responsibility for what has happened in Britain under his and Healy’s leadership must be laid on its doorstep. To prove his point, Banda abandoned his post as general secretary and retreated to his ancestral plantation in Sri Lanka, where, as an absentee theoretician, and in between friendly chats with Colvin De Silva of the LSSP, he set out to catalog all the banana peels upon which the Fourth International has slipped over the last forty-eight years, and thereby to justify his own renegacy and betrayal of the working class.


Jack Barnes, “Their Trotsky and Ours: Communist Continuity Today,” New International, vol. 1, no. 1, Fall 1983, p. 13.


WRP Internal Bulletin, no. 3, January 17,1986, p. 50.