The ICFI Defends Trotskyism

Letter from Tony Banda to the Workers League Central Committee

Dear Comrades of the Central Committee,

In reading your letter dated 11.12.85 in reply to Cde. Cliff Slaughter’s dated 26.11.85, my attention has been drawn to a specific section of that document, namely the last paragraph on page 49.

My “nom de guerre” is Tony Banda, presently a member of the Central Committee of the Workers Revolutionary Party, of 35 years membership in the British Section of the Fourth International, and previous to that two years in the Ceylon Section of the FI, namely the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India (Ceylon Section) and the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party. Prior to that, I was a participant in the anti-imperialist movement in the same country for approximately three years.

You speak in the passage cited above of your “great concern at every expression of indifference and hostility towards the International Committee” and the obligation of Marxists to “examine the class forces that are working through comrades—whether they recognise them or not.”

Perhaps the structure of this sentence leaves something to be desired? But I really cannot see how a Marxist can be expected to examine something he cannot “recognise” (cognise?). More words a la Healy?

You have heard—from whom you do not say—that Comrade Tony Banda declared that the WRP should break with the Socialist Labour League of Australia “rather than listen to its criticism.”

Let’s start with this one. (And, while you are about it, I might add that there is another version of this “incident” which is already in circulation in Britain. That is the one for the benefit of the public put out by a group of ex-Party members who seem to have had an ear in our Central Committee meeting where this statement was allegedly made by me.)

Healy will be pleased to hear, no doubt, that the IC has at last got Banda on the run. No mean achievement that, considering what he was doing round about October 10, 1985! It must be observed, however, that we have as yet not had so much as a squeak out of him concerning the inner Party struggle in the WRP. Strange, don’t you think?

First, in the interests of accuracy: what Banda did in fact state, in the face of a report from the IC representative on the deliberate censorship of all discussion in the News Line appearing in the columns of the SLL press was, “Break, break from them, the two-faced bastards! Take them on, take them on now!” (Pardon the expletives.)

It might be that your informant feared to upset your aural sensibilities, seeing as you are the new Guru designate, but that your IC and its so-called Commission is two-faced, there can be no doubt as subsequent events have proved. But I can assure you that we—all those who have passed through the fire of the explosion that blasted Healy out of the Party—have no stomach for Healy or Healyism in any shape or form, not for him or his whelps, natural or otherwise. And we have finished with mincing our words. It’s no thanks to confusion and dissimulation. We overthrew the tyranny of the idea incarnate in Healy and his henchmen, past and present. I want to assure you that now he’s out of the way, it’s safe for you to come out and play.

More than that, we have acquired the ability to sniff out a Healyite dunghill at any range—whether its [sic]90 grands worth at 3,000 miles, or 25 grands worth at 10,000.

You express concern that Tony Banda was not called to order (“order” did you say?) and “rebuked” by the Secretary of the IC. That, if I might say so, comrades, is our prerogative and you might as well know who’s master in this house. Healy’s days and practices at our Central Committee meetings are over for ever and will never, ever return in any guise.

We are accused of wanting to “get rid of IC sections” whilst “seeking to ingratiate ourselves with the revisionists and Stalinists.” We are “pleased,” you say, “to discuss with these enemies of Trotskyism”! And then: “... but refuse to make available to the WRP members the critical documents produced by sections of the IC.”

This I find extremely interesting coming from you, who through your minions, have suppressed virtually the entire discussion on Healyism—the greatest explosion within our International since its founding, and certainly unparalleled in the history of four Internationals—from the pages of your IC press. This is like the thief in the crowded bazaar crying, “Stop, thief” to distract attention from his own misdeeds. Up north Mr. Holier-Than-Thou makes his getaway with 90 grand, while his apprentice/accomplice makes off with another 25 grand down south. Is this your revolutionary morality? Is this your kind of internationalism?

Please name the documents you claim have been refused availability to our members and the circumstances of their suppression. Would you count amongst these, three very brief notes signed in your own inimitable hand and dated 26th October 1982, 7th February 1983 and 21st June 1983? I for one, look forward to anything you may care to produce,

although I must confess it’s not easy to reduce hog’s bristles to mince meat.

I cannot, myself, judge what Comrade Slaughter’s estimation of the WRP cadre is or might be. But I can assure you that this cadre is the most experienced, and toughest and most resourceful cadre in the International and as it begins its recovery from the afflictions of Healyism, it stands ever more resolutely in the face of the cowardly revisionism that continues to grip the IC.

Comrades of the Workers League, we will examine everything, right back to Trotsky and right up to now, to Security and the Fourth International, the brainchild of G. Healy, to its very latest chapter—and there will be the strictest accounting in every sense of the word.

For too long we have had to tack an empirical, pragmatic course with Cannon, Pablo, Healy and his IC. Pablo did, after all have 21 sections or at least the nucleus of them, with very promising cadres at that, in 1950, only five years after the war. The Vietnamese section in France—emigrant workers—had no representation at the Third World Congress, although numerically they were the largest single group present. But do you know what their place was at that Congress? In the basement kitchen, as serving scullions for the conference delegates!

Well, we are now nearly 35 years on and down to six miserable sections, having recently lost no less than a quarter of our forces. Frankly, don’t you think that the situation merits a little more sobriety, even humility, a little concentration of the mind on the life and death issues posed by the split in the IC?

You have already shot your bolt with the suspension (whatever that may mean) of the founding section of the IC. This is obviously your scenario for the next move—picking off the “ringleaders.” Or is it simply that you think that now you have Tony Banda in the crosshairs of your sights you imagine you have three in the bag—Mike Banda, Cliff Slaughter and Tony Banda? Sorry to disappoint you, but there are plenty more of us and, as Custer observed, “they’ll keeps a-coming”—every one a cadre—until they have your political scalps.


Tony Banda


I enclose for your delectation a cheap print of the celebrated painting by Ilya Repin—the reply of Zaporozhe cossacks to the Sultan. He thought he could lay claim to the suzerainty over the sturdy colonists of the southern steppe. The picture will, I hope, convey to you just how we feel about your arrogant, ignorant, strutting demand for a total Pablo-Healy subservience to the diktats of Healy’s rump IC.