Fourth International (March 1987)

Banda Group Embraces Stalinism

A prominent ex-leader of the Workers Revolutionary Party, Dave Good, who played a central role in the events surrounding the WRP’s break with the International Committee and its denunciation of the Security and the Fourth International investigation, has publicly declared that he is no longer a Trotskyist.

In a statement reported in the October 25 issue of Workers Press, the weekly organ of the WRP renegades, Good asserts:

“The development of the Yugoslav and Chinese revolutions, together with the establishing of Workers States in Eastern Europe by the occupying Soviet Forces, led to a terminal crisis of the Trotskyist movement. It could not overcome the fact that the basis for its existence had been proven false....

“Ho Chi Minh, Va Nguyen Giap, Pham Van Dong, fought as communists. The achievements of the Vietnamese masses under the leadership of their revolutionary vanguard, the Communist Party of Vietnam, testified to this—they led the overthrow of French and US imperialism as well as its native lackeys....

“Today a correct orientation must be based on a critical assimilation of revolutionary theory developed in the heat of revolutionary struggles as they unfolded. It is for this reason that I no longer consider myself a Trotskyist.

“The Trotskyist movement is the most vociferous advocate of revolution, but due to its theoretical bankruptcy, its transformation of revolutionary theory into a dogma, it has become an opponent of revolutions as they actually occur.

“As a consequence, it sees nothing to learn from the successes of the international proletariat, writing off its conscious articulation by the revolutionary vanguard as ‘counterrevolution’.”

Good now belongs to the “Communist Forum,” a pro-Stalinist outfit set up by Mr. Michael Banda, the former general secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party, after he was expelled several months ago following a bitter organizational struggle within its leadership over control of the WRP’s assets.

The position advanced by Good, which is based on Banda’s views, shows that the WRP’s break with the ICFI was spearheaded by the most reactionary anti-Trotskyist and anti-working class elements within this centrist organization. This development has come as something of an embarrassment to the Workers Press, which acknowledges that Good’s repudiation of Trotskyism and his embrace of Stalinism “confirms the logic of Mike Banda’s position.... Only its speed is surprising.”

But if the Workers Press feigns surprise at the speed of Good’s and Banda’s open break with Trotskyism, it is only because the WRP leaders would like to cover up the fact that they carried out the split with the ICFI on the basis of Banda’s anti-Trotskyist positions. While the Workers Press editor writes that Good’s attack on Trotskyism “confirms the logic of Mike Banda’s position,” that “position” was spelled out in the very documents that served as the political platform of the WRP’s break with the International Committee.

It was none other than Dave Good who drafted the two WRP Central Committee resolutions of January 26, 1986 which repudiated the political authority of the International Committee and declared that the WRP would no longer accept its discipline.

Two weeks later, on the eve of the scheduled Eighth Congress of the WRP, the Workers Press published on its front page a vitriolic attack on the ICFI written by Good. He singled out Security and the Fourth International—the International Committee’s investigation of Stalinist and imperialist penetration of the American Socialist Workers Party—for the most wild attack. The same issue carried the text of Banda’s notorious libel against the Trotskyist movement, “27 Reasons Why the International Committee Should Be Buried Forthwith and the Fourth International Built.”

This document and Good’s article provided the basis for the illegal and unconstitutional action to bar all members of an official party minority which supported the International Committee from the Eighth Congress, which opened on February 8, 1986. Police were called by the WRP to prevent members of the minority from entering the congress venue.

In carrying out this provocation against the International Committee, Good worked hand in glove with Cliff Slaughter. Working deliberately to manufacture an atmosphere of factional hysteria against the ICFI, Slaughter voted for Good’s resolutions (as did Bill Hunter). In the aftermath of the February split, Good drafted a resolution calling for the dissolution of the “anticommunist” International Committee that was passed at a recall session of the WRP’s Eighth Congress in March. While the principal WRP spokesman, Simon Pirani, now claims that this resolution was “foisted” upon the organization, it was Slaughter who had championed the labelling of the International Committee and its supporters in Britain as “anticommunist.”

Once the split with the ICFI had been carried through, the alliance of anti-Trotskyist renegades in the WRP leadership broke up into a very dirty brawl over who would keep control over the party assets. The champions of “revolutionary morality” were soon accusing each other of forgery, theft, counterfeiting, loansharking, etc. This led to the expulsion of Banda and others without any public explanation being given by the WRP. The claim that the “speed” of the Bandaites’ evolution is “surprising” is a cynical attempt to divert attention from the fact that the WRP leadership, trying to cover up the right-wing basis of their split from the International Committee, consciously tried to conceal the virulently anti-Trotskyist positions of the Banda faction. That is why no public statement was made on Good’s resignation from the WRP, which occurred last May 16. In other words, the Workers Press sat on Good’s letter of resignation for five months and then calls the “speed” of the Bandaites’ evolution “surprising”!

The Banda group has now issued several documents which are of interest principally because they establish how Slaughter welcomed the attacks of Banda and Good on the history of the International Committee in order to carry through the split.

On February 2, 1986, just six days before calling on the police to exclude a properly constituted minority from entering the Eighth Congress, Slaughter wrote a letter to the supporters of Banda, urging them to put aside all organizational differences in the interests of a unified fight against the International Committee:

“It will be criminally short sighted to do anything but concentrate all our energies on this qualitative point of development in the central political struggle—even if we were in agreement about the ‘problem’ at the centre (and we are not).”

During that same period, Slaughter welcomed the publication of Banda’s “27 Reasons” as a weapon against the International Committee. As his erstwhile ally Good now writes:

“On January 15th a group of budding ‘Banda-ites’ travelled from Liverpool and Reading to support a beleaguered Slaughter and Kemp. The party’s largest area, London, could not assist you—they couldn’t even fight the Healyites in Kent. North’s minions in Yorkshire thought they had been invaded. Us ‘Banda-ites’ were in the forefront of the fight against ICFI restorationism, as I’m sure that you will recall. When we arrived you showed us ‘a very important document that I have just received from Mike Banda’—‘27 Reasons.’ It was sent down to London for publication. A week later you used some of the points in Banda’s document against Rippert (the leader of the German section of the ICFI] at a further aggregate in Yorkshire, which we ‘invaded’ again. You were in favor of ‘27 Reasons’ being published in Workers Press. You wrote to me on March 11th:

“‘The discussion on Mike B’s document must continue, and I am not going to take it up here. I will say that Mike struck a blow against North’s ludicrous claim for continuity, and centralised authority. I agree with Mike that the FI was proclaimed but never built. I believe that Mike does not say how and why it should now be built, but I am sure he will. The 1953 split has to be reexamined. The break with Pabloism was absolutely necessary, and overdue. But its theoretical roots were never uncovered, and so the lessons of it could not be learned.’

“Of course you have thrown out of the window the question of objectivity in the discussion. You saw ‘27 Reasons’ as a useful blast against North, presumably because it contained an element of truth. Or was any blast against North useful, regardless of its correctness?”

As this accounts confirms, Slaughter entered into an alliance with the most reactionary anti-Trotskyist elements inside the WRP in order to organize the break with the International Committee.

All those who enthusiastically welcomed Banda’s “27 Reasons” as some sort of “contribution” to a “discussion” on the history of the International Committee have been unmasked as accomplices in an attempt to break up the ICFI in the interests of Stalinism, which, as is now unmistakably clear, is the political position of the Banda-Good faction.

The evolution of Banda and Good is a powerful vindication of the principled stand taken by the Workers League and the ICFI against the renegades. Upon receiving the text of the WRP’s resolution of January 26, 1986, the Workers League’s Central Committee immediately recognized that it had been written by conscious enemies of Marxism and political agents of the class enemy. In a resolution dated January 27, 1986, the Workers League denounced the authors of the WRP resolution and those who supported it as renegades from Trotskyism. It called on all members of the WRP to repudiate the break with Trotskyism implicit in these resolutions. Every word written by the Workers League has been confirmed.

Of course, the Workers Press avoids any reference to Good’s leading role in preparing the split with the International Committee. Instead, to divert attention, the Workers Press resorts to an outright lie:

“While Healy (and North) orchestrated a campaign to show that it was the Trotskyist movement that was responsible for Trotsky’s murder in 1940—since nearly every one of its leaders was a GPU/CIA agent—they, with Banda, lied about the real history of this movement elsewhere in the world.”

This statement shows the complete desperation of Slaughter, who will stop at nothing to attack Trotskyism. In the course of its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Trotsky, the International Committee focused on the role of three people:

Mark Zborowski was a GPU plant in the Paris center of the Fourth International who played a key role in the murder of two of Trotsky’s leading political secretaries, Erwin Wolf and Rudolf Element, Trotsky’s son, Leon Sedov, and the anti-Stalinist defector from the GPU, Ignace Reiss. The evidence of his guilt consists of voluminous records, which includes Zborowski’s own testimony before the US Senate and during his trials as a Soviet agent.

Sylvia Franklin was the GPU agent who infiltrated the national office of the SWP where she worked as the personal secretary of James P. Cannon between 1938 and 1947. Conclusive proof of her role as a Stalinist agent was established with the 1983 release of her confession in front of a US grand jury in June 1958.

And, finally, there is Joseph Hansen. The International Committee produced irrefutable evidence of Hansen’s links with both the FBI and GPU. In 1983, eight years after the beginning of the Security and the Fourth International investigation, the SWP finally admitted a fact that had been concealed for decades: that Joseph Hansen had been named as a GPU agent by the man who first exposed Sylvia Franklin—the ex-Stalinist agent who turned government informer, Louis Budenz. Moreover, the evidence uncovered in the course of the Gelfand case proved that Hansen systematically lied about the nature of his contacts with the FBI, which were carried out in secret without the knowledge of any member of the SWP.

Slaughter knows very well that Hansen, Franklin and Zborowski were all agents but he is willing to defend them against the International Committee, just as he was prepared to make opportunist use of the antiTrotskyist Stalinist rantings of Banda and Good.

If there are still members of the WRP who retain any political loyalty to Trotskyism, they will draw the lessons of the evolution of Banda and Good and recognize the completely reactionary character of Slaughter’s unprincipled politics.