In this issue of Fourth International, we reprint the major documents of the struggle within the International Committee which culminated in February 1986 with the desertion of the Workers Revolutionary Party. These documents were originally published in the internal bulletins of those sections representing the majority of the International Committee, and were thoroughly discussed among the entire membership.
In our previous issue, we published the International Committee’s exhaustive analysis of the degeneration of the Healy-Banda-Slaughter leadership of the Workers Revolutionary Party. This statement, “How the WRP Betrayed Trotskyism: 1973-1985,” established that the collapse of the Workers Revolutionary Party in the autumn of last year was the product of opportunism. Based on a meticulous analysis of the political line of the WRP over more than a decade, the International Committee proved that Healy, Banda and Slaughter had, from the early 1970s, abandoned the struggle against Pabloite revisionism, rejected proletarian internationalism, and repudiated the theory of Permanent Revolution. On this basis, the statement established, the WRP had systematically betrayed the working class internationally and in Britain, and worked consciously to destroy the International Committee.
It has come as no surprise to the International Committee that this document has been greeted by all factions of the renegades with a stony silence. Neither the two competing factions of the WRP led by Healy and Slaughter, nor the so-called Communist Forum of Michael Banda, have acknowledged its existence. Their mutual silence is just one expression of their own inability to provide any Marxist analysis of the fate of the organization over which they presided jointly for so many years. Even more damning, neither Healy, Slaughter nor Banda have yet produced a coherent explanation of their supposed differences on questions of program and perspectives. This is one case where sound and fury have, indeed, signified nothing. For all the organizational bloodletting, none of them have explained, from the standpoint of the strategy and tactics of the world socialist revolution, why they split. The reason for this is that their essential differences are not with each other, but with the International Committee.
When the old clique leadership was confronted with a massive organizational crisis inside the WRP which could no longer be controlled, Banda and Slaughter broke with Healy on an utterly unprincipled basis—cynically using the middle-class slogan of “revolutionary morality” (initially introduced by Bill Hunter) to avoid any analysis of the real source of the political crisis. Prior to September 1985, Banda and Slaughter collaborated with Healy to impose a right-wing opportunist line upon the International Committee and to bureaucratically suppress and destroy all those who sought to defend Trotskyism. From the moment Banda and Slaughter realized that a decisive majority on the International Committee would not accept a phony bureaucratic settlement of the crisis inside the WRP and was determined to restore the program and principles of Trotskyism within the British section, they worked feverishly to split the WRP from the ICFI.
The documents reprinted in this issue comprise a comprehensive record of the struggle waged by the International Committee and its sympathizing section in the United States, the Workers League, against the political betrayals of the WRP. It demonstrates irrefutably that this struggle has been based on a defense of Trotskyist principles and program. On the other hand, the position of the WRP, before and after 1985, has been characterized by a virulent hostility to these same principles. Despite what appears at first glance to be a massive upheaval in the WRP, its political trajectory today is not substantially different from what it was prior to the split. For years the WRP leadership sought to conceal its abandonment of Trotskyism by bolstering the prestige of Healy, which had been originally based on his identification with the revolutionary principles he had defended against the Pabloite-SWP reunification of 1963. On the eve of the explosion inside the WRP, there existed no fundamental difference between its line and that of the Pabloites. The collapse of the Healy regime broke up the old ruling clique of Healy, Banda and Slaughter; but it did not produce a change in the revisionist orientation of any of its constituent elements.
Among the most outrageous lies circulated by Banda and Slaughter to justify their decision to split from the International Committee was that the ICFI did not really want to fight Healy and was only reluctantly drawn into the battle after it had been initiated by a group of conspirators from within Healy’s apparatus. This myth became the basis for the Banda-Slaughter line that the ICFI sections and the Workers League did not want to break from their own “Healyism.” These slanders are refuted by the historical record represented by the documents in this volume.
The editors believe that the documentary record speaks for itself, but we offer this brief introductory outline to assist the reader. Between 1982 and 1984, an extensive critique of the opportunist line of the WRP and the subjective idealist distortion of materialist dialectics upon which it was based was presented by David North, the national secretary of the Workers League. The fact that there exists no written reply on the part of the WRP to these criticisms proves that North withdrew them only because the leadership of the British section, which still dominated the International Committee, threatened to immediately sever all organizational relations with the Workers League. After first informing North in October 1982 that they agreed with his critique of Healy’s writings on dialectics, Banda and Slaughter almost immediately came to an agreement with Healy to suppress further discussion of the differences on philosophy and their clear political implications.
From then on, Slaughter attempted to mount an offensive against the Workers League based on spurious allegations that it failed to appreciate the significance of Hegel in the development of dialectical materialism. As soon became clear, his alliance with Healy and his factional activities were based on political positions that were essentially Pabloite. His letter to North in December 1983 attacked the “very heavy emphasis” placed by the Workers League on the struggle for the political independence of the American working class during the US invasion of Grenada, and claimed that such emphasis “will become a weapon in the hands of all those who retain the mark of pragmatism.” [See p.27] In a reply dated December 27, 1983, North warned that the position advanced by Slaughter “would lead, if accepted by the Workers League, straight toward outright opportunism.” He added:
“I must admit that I am disturbed by the very suggestion that an emphasis on the ‘political independence of the working class’ could be characterized as ‘very heavy’ within the International Committee—especially in relation to the report from a sympathizing section in a country in which the working class has not yet broken politically from the liberals. All the organizational, political and theoretical tasks of a Marxist party—above all, in the United States—are directed precisely toward the achievement of this political independence.
“...The whole fight against the SWP since 1961—not to mention the entire history of the struggle of Bolshevism—has hinged on this very issue. Far from embracing the concept of the political independence of the working class, it is under relentless attack by Stalinists and revisionists all over the world today. The neo-Stalinism of the SWP does not originate in the head of Mr. Barnes, but is a very definite response of US imperialism to the new stage of the capitalist crisis and the revolutionary upsurge of the world proletariat. In this way Pabloism serves as a medium for the transmission of imperialist pressures into the workers’ movement. As I have heard you insist so many times in the past, it is at precisely such a point that the International Committee must be on the alert for any trace of the revisionist outlook within its own ranks and at the same time intensify its political and theoretical assault against Pabloism. As you will certainly agree, this fight against Pabloism is by no means behind us.” [See pp.32-33]
There was no reply to this letter nor to that written by North to Mike Banda, the WRP’s general secretary, one month later. North reported that the Workers League was “deeply troubled by the growing signs of a political drift toward positions quite similar—both in conclusions and methodology—to those which we have historically associated with Pabloism.” [See p. 35] He called for “a renewal of our struggle against Pabloite revisionism—above all, against the manifestations of its outlook within our own sections” and declared that “The time has certainly come for the International Committee to issue its reply to the attacks of the SWP neo-Stalinists on the theory of Permanent Revolution and to demonstrate that it remains the indispensable scientific foundation for the building of the World Party of Socialist Revolution.” [See p.38]
On February 11, 1984, at a meeting of the International Committee (from which a number of sections had been arbitrarily excluded by the WRP), North explicitly warned the WRP that its political evolution mirrored the repudiation of Trotskyism by revisionist groups, spear-headed by the SWP, all over the world. He listed the most glaring examples of the WRP’s descent into the crassest opportunism.
There was no reasoned response to the criticisms of the Workers League; only the threat of an immediate split. However, insofar as the WRP had any defense to make of its abandonment of a Trotskyist program, it was made by Cliff Slaughter. In the resolution he prepared for the 10th Congress of the International Committee, Slaughter asserted that “in today’s historic conditions the lines drawn between a revolutionary party based on dialectical materialist training on the one hand, and groups formally adhering to Trotskyist program on the other, are lines between preparation for revolution and preparation to serve counterrevolution.”
This insidious formulation, aimed at blackguarding the Workers League and anyone else who defended a Trotskyist program as budding counterrevolutionaries, exposes the crucial role played by Slaughter as the high priest of the Healy cult—devising the theoretical line which justified all manner of revisionism by the WRP. Slaughter, who insisted in private correspondence with Healy on the need for a “no holds barred” struggle against the Workers League [See p.93], defended the old charlatan’s travesty of dialectics because it provided a smokescreen for the WRP’s relentless attack on Trotskyism and the International Committee.
The record of the conflict between the WRP and the Workers League from 1982 to 1984, despite its bureaucratic suppression by Healy, Banda and Slaughter, disclosed the fundamental political and theoretical differences within the International Committee and is essential for an evaluation of the development of the struggle in 1985-86.
The dirty scandal which erupted inside the WRP leadership on July 1, 1985—when Healy’s depraved sexual abuse of female cadre, some of them underage, was exposed with the arrival of a letter written by his long-time personal secretary—merely brought to the surface the extent of the political rot inside the highest bodies of the organization. For a period, Healy, Banda and Slaughter contrived to suppress the crisis by trying to head off efforts by party members—principally WRP Central Committee member Dave Hyland—to convene an investigation by the Control Commission. As late as August 17, 1985, the WRP leadership called a meeting of the International Committee to raise vast sums of money to overcome a financial crisis in the British organization—without saying a word about the scandal in the leadership.
But in September and October, as news of the scandal became known to more and more members of the WRP, the sections of the International Committee gradually learned about the real state of affairs inside the British organization. With the entire clique leadership totally discredited, the International Committee alone possessed authority in the eyes of the WRP rank and file—especially as it learned for the first time of the suppressed political and theoretical criticisms which had been made by the Workers League over the previous three years. Lacking any platform of their own, Banda and Slaughter played for time by declaring their unconditional solidarity with the International Committee. In a written statement to all sections of the International Committee dated October 5, 1985, Slaughter declared that North had his “complete support and confidence, and that this support and confidence are shared by Comrade M. Banda.” [See p.48]
Claiming absolute loyalty to the International Committee and full agreement with the positions of North, Slaughter wrote: “We hope that you will subject what Comrade North has to say to a thorough and objective analysis, and then join us in summoning up every ounce of revolutionary energy and resource to face up to, and go beyond the stage the IC has reached.
“We have complete confidence that this will prove the most decisive and positive step in the history of the IC, and that together we can arm all our sections for a decisive turn to the working class and real gains in the building of the International Committee.” [See p.48]
At that time, a contrite Cliff Slaughter had not yet hit upon the idea that the whole IС was a degenerate Healyite organization. He readily acknowledged that the WRP had betrayed the ICFI and sought to subordinate it to the national interests of the British organization. He even offered, in the best parliamentary traditions, to resign from the secretaryship of the International Committee. When he returned to Britain, he delivered a report to the WRP Central Committee on October 12 which consisted largely of material which he plagiarized from the documents written by North between 1982 and 1984. He also told the Central Committee that “However bizarre and idiosyncratic the inner mechanics” of Healy’s degeneration, “the process itself has a definite and political character—Pabloite revisionism and the destruction of the cadres of the International Committee.”
The work of the International Committee in October 1985—the period when Healy was charged and expelled from the Workers Revolutionary Party—is described in detail in the letter of the Workers League Political Committee, dated December 11, 1985, to the WRP Central Committee [See pp.77-100]. This statement—whose factual accuracy was never challenged by the WRP—records the efforts of the ICFI to create the conditions for a discussion within the WRP between the contending factions and its opposition to precipitous organizational solutions. It shows the stark difference between the precision with which the ICFI assessed the crisis inside the WRP and the utter prostration of Banda and Slaughter—neither of whom were able to present any explanation for the collapse of their organization. It was during this period, when Slaughter and Banda realized that the ICFI would not accept a factional solution to the inner-party crisis that buried the essential political issues, that they made their first moves to split from the Internationa] Committee.
However, they were still too weak to move openly against the International Committee in front of the WRP membership. On October 25, after carefully reviewing irrefutable evidence of Healy’s willful abuse of cadre in the WRP and international movement, the ICFI passed a resolution for expulsion. Banda and Slaughter, representing the majority on the WRP Central Committee, voted for another resolution which called for “Thе re-registration of the membership of the WRP on the basis of an explicit recognition of the political authority of the ICFI and the subordination of the British section to its decisions.” [See p.50]
This meeting was boycotted by the Greek and Spanish sections of the ICFI which declared that there existed no authority within the ICFI except the personal dictates of Gerry Healy. One day later, the representatives of the pro-Healy minority split from the WRP and the ICFI.
The development of the struggle after October 25 is exhaustively documented in this volume and it need not be reviewed here in detail. The record shows that almost within hours of the split with Healy the WRP began moving to repudiate the Resolution of October 25 (which had been unanimously endorsed by the WRP Central Committee on October 26 and then passed with no votes against at the WRP Special Conference on October 27) and break with the International Committee. Just as Healy would not accept an International Committee not dominated and controlled by the British organization, neither would Banda and Slaughter. From the moment they realized that there could be no return to the status quo as it had existed before the explosion inside the WRP, that the International Committee would oppose the continuation of the opportunist line that had been pursued by the WRP before the split with Healy, that the IC would insist on a resumption of the struggle against Pabloite revisionism and the restoration of a Trotskyist program inside the WRP itself, and that the WRP would have to function as a disciplined organization within the International Committee on the basis of democratic centralism, Banda and Slaughter began working for a split.
It was Slaughter, with the assistance of Bill Hunter and a number of university lecturers (G. Pilling, T. Kemp, and C. Smith), who played the major role in carrying this through. Capitalizing on the disorientation of the WRP membership, which was almost totally uneducated on the foundations of Trotskyism and knew nothing about the International Committee, Slaughter and others in the WRP apparatus initiated a hate campaign against the ICFI, which was built around the lie that there had been equal degeneration throughout the International Committee. This was nothing other than a reactionary diversion cynically employed to organize the split with the ICFI and begin regroupment with Pabloite, centrist and even Stalinist organizations in Britain and all over the world.
Without any prior discussion on the ICFI, Slaughter chose a public meeting in London’s Friends Hall on November 26, 1985, attended by hundreds of revisionists, to publicly attack the International Committee and call into question its Security and the Fourth International investigation into the penetration and takeover of the American SWP by the police agencies of US imperialism. The Friends Hall meeting showed clearly that the WRP was moving rapidly to regroup with all sorts of Pabloite, centrist and Stalinist forces. This was symbolized by Slaughter’s public handshake with a leading Stalinist and specialist in anti-Trotskyism, Monty Johnstone.
Prior to the Friends Hall meeting, Slaughter had never indicated the slightest disagreement with Security and the Fourth International and its findings. Indeed, just six weeks earlier he had emphatically defended it in front of the Central Committee of the Workers League. Slaughter had played a major role in the initiation of the investigation and was the featured speaker at the first public meeting held in the United States, in 1975, on this issue. He carefully followed the development of the investigation in all its stages. Slaughter was fully apprised of all the facts relating to Alan Gelfand’s lawsuit against the United States government and its agents inside the SWP. On the eve of the trial in March 1983, in official papers on file with the District Court in Los Angeles, he was even designated, with his agreement, as an potential “expert witness” on Gelfand’s behalf.
The attack on Security and the Fourth International was cynically utilized for two purposes: first, as a factional weapon against the Workers League under conditions in which a judicial decision on the Gelfand case was still pending; and second, to remove what few barriers remained between the WRP and revisionist organizations all over the world. For Slaughter, the burning historical and political questions arising from the assassination of Leon Trotsky in 1940—about which he himself had written at length—were an obstacle to his immediate political goals.
A witness to Slaughter’s performance at Friends Hall, Peter Schwarz of the German section of the ICFI, the Bund Sozialistischer Arbeiter (BSA), warned the WRP Central Committee:
“Having closely watched Comrade Slaughter’s actions during the last six weeks I am more and more convinced that he follows his own political course, which he does not intend to discuss with anybody, thereby using the political confusion prevailing in the WRP after the expulsion of the Healy group to break it up.
“It is a course of liquidating the WRP into a ‘broad left,’ which would become indispensable for the bourgeoisie to control the working class, should a Labour or Labour coalition government come to power. In this way the conditions for a popular front type formation emerge.
“This is not a repudiation of the political degeneration that took place under Healy’s leadership, but a continuation in another form.” [See p.74]
In December the interim report that had been prepared by an International Control Commission established that the WRP had entered, behind the back of the International Committee, into mercenary relations with reactionary and non-proletarian forces and was responsible for direct betrayals of the working class. Because these actions were based on an anti-Trotskyist line for which the entire leadership of the WRP was responsible, the International Committee voted, on December 16, 1985, to suspend the British section. In doing so, it made clear that the WRP’s membership would be restored if its leadership worked to “reassert the basic principles of internationalism within the WRP.”
The ICFI thus called on the British delegation—which consisted of Slaughter, Simon Pirani, Tom Kemp and Dave Hyland—to support a resolution reaffirming the WRP’s support for the programmatic foundations of Trotskyism, which the ICFI defined as “the decisions of the First Four Congresses of the Communist International (1919-1922); the Platform of the Left Opposition (1927); the Transitional Program (1938); the “Open Letter” (1953); and the documents of the struggle against the bogus SWP-Pabloite reunification (1961-63).” [See p. 102]
With the exception of Hyland, the leader of a minority tendency inside the WRP which supported the International Committee, the British delegates opposed this resolution. Slaughter, Pirani and Kemp flatly refused to give any explanation for their vote on this resolution, which, presumably, merely reaffirmed principles with which the WRP claimed to agree. But the political meaning of their action was clear: in repudiating the programmatic foundations of Trotskyism, they were declaring their solidarity with the whole Pabloite opportunist line that had been the content of the WRP’s policies prior to the split with Healy. The vote proved irrefutably that the Slaughter-Banda faction was continuing the same opportunist anti-Trotskyist course that had characterized the line of the WRP during the previous decade. That is why the split between the International Committee and the Workers Revolutionary Party became unavoidable.
The manner in which the split was carried out in January-February 1986—with the Slaughter-Banda faction repudiating the resolution of October 25, violating the constitutional rights of an official minority, and calling the police to bar the supporters of the International Committee from the scheduled Eighth Congress of the WRP—exposed the real class content of Slaughter’s and Hunter’s “revolutionary morality” and expressed the completeness of the WRP’s programmatic break with Trotskyism and its desertion to the camp of revisionism.
The political platform upon which the split was carried out was supplied by Michael Banda, whose document “27 Reasons Why the International Committee Should Be Buried and the Fourth International Built” represented the most vicious denunciation of Trotskyism ever written by an individual associated with the Fourth International. Even as he was writing this document, Banda was in Sri Lanka renewing political relations with the arch-opportunist Colvin De Silva, one of the architects of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party’s 1963 entry into a bourgeois coalition government. Banda’s diatribe was followed by publication of a resolution, “Dissolve the IС,” which characterized the International Committee as an “anticommunist” organization.
Subsequently, Banda split from the WRP to form a neo-Stalinist discussion group called the “Communist Forum.” Not a single public statement explaining the split has ever been issued by the Workers Revolutionary Party.
Slaughter, Pirani and Hunter would later try to distance themselves from the smell left behind by Banda by claiming that his “27 Reasons” as well as a front-page denunciation of the International Committee and David North was printed in the February 7, 1986 edition of their Workers Press without the authorization of the WRP Central Committee. In any Marxist organization, such a breach of discipline would be immediate grounds for expulsion. But it was not Banda and his supporters who were expelled. Rather, Slaughter, Hunter and Pirani collaborated with Banda to bar a legitimate minority from the WRP Eighth Congress and then expel them from the party.
The role of Hunter deserves special mention, inasmuch as his lame critique of Banda’s diatribe has recently made him something of a literary lion in revisionist circles. His “Michael Banda and the Bad Man Theory of History” is agreeable to the Pabloites because his disagreement with Banda is confined only to events which occurred before 1953; that is, he makes no defense whatsoever of the International Committee and its struggle against revisionism. This was, of course, no oversight. As we have pointed out, he was one of the prime movers of the “revolutionary morality” campaign—and attempted, in a particularly banal manner, to claim that it constituted the “axis” of the Transitional Program: “Every comrade who was incensed at Healy’s activity and participated in his expulsion was answering the question: What sort of leader does the working class and its revolutionary vanguard need?” This is the language of a petty-bourgeois democrat, not a revolutionary Marxist.
Writing rhapsodically about the development of the WRP between October 1985 and February 1986—as it was completing its break from Trotskyism—Hunter wrote: “A great development in thinking is taking place in our Party as a result of the reality of struggle. It is the split which has brought every comrade to thinking on basic problems.”
It is now possible to evaluate the outcome of this “great development” of thought.
Since the split with the International Committee, the WRP has transformed its Workers Press into a public bulletin board in which every revisionist and Stalinist group is welcome to post their anti-Trotskyist notices. No attack on Trotskyism is too grotesque to be rejected. Every week carries a new denunciation. In the July 26 issue, there is a letter from one Geoff Barr, who, in the course of a wild misrepresentation of the well-known difference between Lenin and Trotsky on the trade union question in the Soviet Union, claims: “The position of the WRP under Healy was closer to Trotsky’s in the 1920-21 trades unions debate than to Lenin’s.”
In its August 2 issue, the pages of the Workers Press were thrown open to a Stalinist group, members of the British Communist Party, who publish a rag called The Leninist. These reactionaries took the opportunity to denounce Trotskyism for its “manifest irrelevancy”—a product of its refusal to recognize that the Stalinist parties all over the world are the revolutionary vanguard of the working class. Denouncing Trotsky’s break with the Comintern in 1933, The Leninist declared:
“The new orientation toward the construction of a ‘Fourth International’ was in fact a defeatist desertion of the advanced section of the proletariat, organized then, as now, mainly within the communist parties.”
The letter went on to leave unanswered the question “Whether the killing of Trotskyists is justifiable or not...”
On the opposite page of the same issue, there was a letter from one Tom Cowen, who wrote:
“It is the illusory concept that Trotskyism is a Revolutionary Marxist tendency that has decapitated the revolutionary working class leadership and turned potential class leaders into tail-ending the agents of capital and abettors of the leadership crisis.”
In the issue of August 23, Cyril Smith—one of Healy’s long-time academic toadies and another born-again “revolutionary moralist”—openly attacked Trotsky’s conception of the political revolution. In an article commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, Smith had this to say about the position taken by the International Committee in 1956:
“...I think we were limited by our resources, both theoretical and material, to defending the positions of Trotsky of two decades earlier.
“We struggled to force the new world of the 1950s into the theoretical framework of the 1930s...
“We were always too easily satisfied with having the theory that was ‘correct’ in Trotsky’s day, instead of doing what he himself had done, fighting at every stage to take this theory forward.”
The August 30 issue of Workers Press welcomed another letter from Tom Cowen, who, with unsurpassed ignorance, declared that Trotsky “mistook the Russian bureaucracy with all its weaknesses as the true substance of the Soviet system.”
“Trotsky did not penetrate below this surface and recognize that the Soviet people, the human embodiment of the Socialist system being developed, constituted the true substance of the system.”
Advocating capitulation to Stalinism, Cowen asserted:
“The great weakness flowing from the Trotskyist analysis of the counterrevolutionary nature of Stalinism, is that it deprives the movement of a world revolutionary perspective, in the struggle for revolution of a backward, isolated country such as Bolivia, Ceylon, etc. particularly during a period of revolutionary ebb on the world scene.
“Who can doubt that the revolutions in the Caribbean would have been defeated shortly after birth but for Soviet aid? One cannot mark time waiting for world revolution; one cannot always exist in isolation.
“This lack of perspective for close ties with the Soviets leads Trotskyism to hesitation, vacillation and finally to unity with dubious ‘left’ elements and world social democracy as an international base and protective cloak from world imperialism. The results we know only too well, as demonstrated in Ceylon and Bolivia.”
These are not merely the views of the nonentity Tom Cowen. He is simply a convenient vehicle utilized by those in the leadership of the WRP who want pro-Stalinist propaganda published inside the Workers Press. This flows from the fact that the WRP leadership has rejected in toto the struggle against Pabloite revisionism. Healy’s rejection in practice of the theory of Permanent Revolution has now been officially ratified by the WRP leadership. Blaming the corruption and betrayals of Healy on Trotskyism itself, Simon Pirani wrote in the July 12 issue of Workers Press, “At the root of the problem was the movement’s political degeneration: the theory of Permanent Revolution, formulated by Trotsky out of the experience of the Russian Revolution to show how struggles for democratic and national aims flow into the international socialist revolution, was referred to in articles and speeches but never developed to answer the problems of the post-second-world war era.
“The developments in the class struggle—particularly the expansion of Stalinism in eastern Europe, the Chinese revolution and the various national liberation struggles—did not fit neatly in to the formulas worked out by Lenin and Trotsky.”
Aside from the standard philistine reference to things not fitting “neatly” into the formulas of Lenin and Trotsky—neither of these great Marxists viewed their theoretical conceptions as “formulas” into which reality was to be “fit,” neatly or otherwise—Pirani’s definition of the theory of Permanent Revolution is patently false. It does not merely explain how “democratic and national aims flow into the international socialist revolution.” Rather, it establishes that within the backward country itself the democratic program of the bourgeois revolution cannot be completed except through the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Pirani’s misrepresentation of the theory of Permanent Revolution serves to justify a political line in relation to bourgeois nationalists which is, in all essentials, identical to that championed by Healy. Where Healy adapted to bourgeois nationalism in the Middle East, Pirani adapts to Irish Republicanism, using almost exactly the sophistical formulations previously utilized by Healy to cover his betrayals:
“I am not trying to speak for Sinn Fein or the IRA: they can do that themselves.
“Besides they have a different view of the national struggle and of socialism from ours; they are not Marxists and don’t claim to be.”
What Pirani does not say is whether the views of the IRA advance the interests of the working class or not; whether their views can lead the national struggle to victory or not.
The final triumph of the intellectual exertions of the WRP since the split with the International Committee was celebrated in the September 13 issue of Workers Press, which featured the following pronouncement by Cyril Smith:
“(i) I think that the term ‘revisionist,’ once a term with scientific significance for Marxists, has now become just a term of abuse.
“(ii) We should stop using the designation Pabloite’ in talking about the organisations associated with the United Secretariat. It can only foul up the discussion.
“(iii) The characterization of Cuba as some kind of bourgeois state (we never realy explained just what kind) is nonsense.”
The time has long since passed when Slaughter and his associates could claim with a straight face that the exposure of Healy’s personal corruption—about which Slaughter, at any rate, was extremely well informed for years—provided anything more than the circumstantial setting for the explosion inside the WRP. The anti-Trotskyist opportunism that was nourished by Healy, Slaughter and Banda for more than a decade has now found its consummate expression in the unrestrained repudiation of every principle of revolutionary Marxism and the unabashed capitulation to revisionism.’ People like Smith do not even feel the obligation to explain the development of their own thinking. For more than two decades they opposed the Pabloite designation of Cuba as a workers’ state as a revision of Marxist teachings on the nature of the state. Now, Smith, an academic vagabond, dismisses all this as “nonsense.” Full stop. A man who operates on this level is a definite social type: the corrupt middle-class intellectual whose services are for sale. Not least among Healy’s crimes is that he allowed such people to remain in the WRP and even occupy influential positions. In return, they bolstered his prestige and defended him against criticism.
The personal role of Slaughter in these developments should be noted. Significantly, since the split with the International Committee, not a single article has appeared under Cliff Slaughter’s by-line. He has offered no political explanation for how he has come to reject theoretical positions with which he had been identified for 25 years. As recently as 1981, Slaughter wrote (in a book co-authored with Albert Dragstedt, a member of the Workers League):
“This petty-bourgeois democracy, totally subservient to the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state, is the class content of the Stalinist movement today, and it is on the same basis that ‘Marxists’ of the ‘New Left’ variety (including some who, like Ernest Mandel, still avow themselves adherents of Trotsky’s Fourth International) are now to be found in the same camp as the Stalinists on the question of the state and bourgeois democracy. The petty-bourgeois democratic current now ideologically dominant in the Stalinist parties, epitomised by Johnstone [Yes, the same Monty Johnstone whose hand was taken by Slaughter at Friends Hall] in the British Communist Party, has the closest relations with the followers of Mandel in the spurious ‘United Secretariat of the Fourth International.’ The ‘theoretical’ vehicle for this tendency in Britain is the New Left Review of Perry Anderson...
“Anderson, Blackburn and their friends find in the New Left Review a greater freedom’ for their rejection of Marxism than is provided by the programmatic and policy statements of Mandel’s ‘United Secretariat of the Fourth International.’ It is a division of labour. The political statements of the United Secretariat must, for reasons of tradition as well as sheer deception, pay lip-service to the classic positions of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky on the state and democracy. Anderson has no such restraints: his political allegiance to Mandel is kept out of sight and he is left to make the rejection of Marx and Lenin much more explicit and extreme than can at this stage be done by Man-del.” (State, Power & Bureaucracy, New Park Publications, pp. 14-15)
In another passage, Slaughter charged that Joseph Hansen had “already anticipated the petty-bourgeois democratic distortion of Marxism now enshrined” by the United Secretariat; and that “Hansen gives aid and comfort to the Stalinists, with their myth of a road to socialism through parliamentary majorities.” (Ibid., p. 19)
Will Slaughter now claim that these presumably mature judgments were forced upon him by Healy? Or perhaps Slaughter will declare that the exposure of Healy’s personal corruption has forced him to reconsider, in a more favorable light, Mandel’s attitude toward bourgeois democracy. If that is the case, Slaughter would not be the first to blame Marxism for the crimes of those who betrayed it and, on this fraudulent basis, desert openly to the camp of bourgeois democracy. Such a movement on Slaughter’s part has already been foreshadowed in his efforts to focus attention not on the political and theoretical aspects of the WRP’s degeneration but rather on the grotesque personal forms of Healy’s political decay (as in his letter to North, dated November 26, 1985, where he claimed that “the bullying and brutality of Healy personally was the form through which this class political and theoretical content was most crudely and perfectly expressed.”) [See pp.66]
As early as last December, the Workers League took issue with Slaughter’s claim that Healy’s supporters “are close to every fascist position on the rights of human individuals, rights which for them are reduced to nothing by the requirements of the party.” In reply, the Workers League warned: “If Comrade Slaughter re-reads this passage carefully, he will notice its strong similarities with the anti-communist rhetoric of bourgeois liberals. What does he mean by the ‘rights of human individuals’? The confused non-class terminology demonstrates—and here we are being generous—that he has not thought his analysis through to the end and is working on the level of superficial comparisons and analogies.” [See p. 90]
Needless to say, Slaughter never answered that political point nor any other raised by the International Committee. At any rate, we need not wait for Slaughter’s formal and public resumption of relations with the official Pabloite organizations to prove our contention that his alliance with Healy against the ICFI was not based on fear of Healy’s “bullying and brutality” but on agreement with his revisionist line. The proof is already provided in a study of the political line of the WRP before and after the split with Healy. In the meantime, Slaughter’s WRP passed a resolution at the third session of its notorious Eighth Congress in June, which insisted that “we should work out a definite attitude towards the revisionist United Secretariat of the FI...”
It should be added that despite his public silence Slaughter has not been inactive. Quite the opposite: he has been travelling all over the world—most recently completing a trip to the United States—attempting to create an international association of centrist organizations with which to attack the International Committee. Among those with whom he is collaborating most closely—again, without producing a single public statement explaining the political basis upon which he has developed this alliance—is the extreme right-wing Pabloite tendency led by Nahuel Moreno, whose capitulation to Peronism played a major role in the betrayal of the Argentine working class in the period leading up to the establishment of the bloody military dictatorship. The American supporters of Moreno, with whom Slaughter has recently conducted political discussions, function openly as members of the petty-bourgeois Peace and Freedom Party. Their major activity is centered on organizing electoral blocs with Social Democrats and Stalinists within the precincts of this capitalist party. Slaughter’s relations with what amounts to nothing less than the left wing of the Democratic Party show the real political content of his hatred of the Workers League and his longstanding objection to its “very heavy emphasis” on the political independence of the American working class.
After the Peruvian Liga Comunista repudiated the theory of Permanent Revolution, broke with the International Committee [See pp. 190-194], and dissolved its own organization, Slaughter rushed to Lima to organize an electoral alliance between the anti-ICFI renegades and the Morenoites on a purely petty-bourgeois democratic program.
All of these developments irrefutably prove that the political evolution of the Slaughter faction represents a continuation and qualitative deepening of the degeneration that sparked the collapse of the WRP between July and October 1985.
Of necessity, the bulk of the material in this volume deals with the struggle against the Slaughter-Banda tendency. We save, for a future volume, a more extensive analysis of the evolution of what remains of Healy’s tendency. Such an analysis will confirm that the warnings made by the ICFI over the unprincipled desertion of the Greek Workers Internationalist League, led by Savas Michael [See p. 57] have already been confirmed. Since its theatrical transformation into the “Workers Revolutionary Party,” the Greek Healyites have moved to the right at break-neck speed. The ICFI had warned that the political motivation underlying Michael’s alliance with Healy and his refusal to fight for his positions loyally within the world party was a desire to establish his freedom to maneuver in Greece without having to answer to the international Trotskyist movement.
Since November 1985 Michael has exploited the Greek WRP’s “national” independence in order to direct the organization toward popular-front style electoral coalitions with the Stalinists, centrists and petty-bourgeois radical organizations. A four-month campaign to form such a front in the port city of Piraeus, on a minimal nonsocialist program, collapsed when the Stalinists reached a private agreement with a group of ex-PASOK trade union bureaucrats and centrists whom the WRP had been ardently wooing. This escapade would be almost humorous if it did not involve the fate of the Greek working class.
This volume is a collection of all the principal documents of the struggle waged by the International Committee against the WRP’s betrayal of Trotskyism. It places before all those who genuinely desire to build the Fourth International the real record of the struggle against the betrayal of Trotskyism by the Workers Revolutionary Party. This record testifies to the historical fact that there did exist within the ICFI, despite the cynicism and criminal treachery of Healy, Banda and Slaughter, a Trotskyist nucleus which these imposters could not destroy. The criticisms made by the Workers League in 1982-84 did not fall from the sky and the fact that a majority of the ICFI rallied in the autumn of 1985 to defend the historical conquests of Trotskyism was not an accident. That such a Trotskyist nucleus existed can be explained only by the fact that the founding of the International Committee in 1953 and the struggle led by the Socialist Labour League (forerunner of the WRP) between 1961-63 against the unprincipled reunification of the American SWP with the Pabloite International Secretariat did create a powerful theoretical and political foundation for the development of the World Party of Socialist Revolution. It is this heritage that the ICFI defends and builds upon.
A final editorial note: We have included the main documents of the WRP, with the exception of Banda’s “27 Reasons” and the related piece by Hunter. This editorial decision is based on the fact that to include the 26 chapters of the reply (“The Heritage We Defend”) which have been published in the press of the ICFI sections since last April would have doubled the size of the present volume. Moreover, that reply, whose size is in direct proportion to the number of lies it has to answer, is still not complete. The editors have no objection to reprinting the full text of Banda’s and Hunter’s articles. But when we are obliged to print the lies of anti-Trotskyist renegades, we believe that our readers should have the opportunity to study their refutation. This volume does reproduce the IC’s reply of March 1986 to that portion of Banda’s diatribe which was devoted to an attack on Security and the Fourth International. Inasmuch as what Banda had to say on this matter is fully and accurately quoted in North’s article [See pp. 172-189], there can be no suggestion or accusation that Banda’s views were misrepresented.