The ICFI Defends Trotskyism

Letter from Peter Schwarz to the Central Committee of the Workers Revolutionary Party

Dear Comrades!

Having attended the London meeting on the expulsion of G. Healy on November 26 I am writing to you, because I am deeply disturbed by the contribution Comrade Slaughter made on that meeting. In my opinion it amounts to nothing less but a complete rejection of the history and traditions of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Made in front of the entire coterie of British revisionism by the secretary of the ICFI, I cannot help but take this speech as a clear indication that Comrade Slaughter wants to split with the ICFI altogether and rejoin the revisionist and Stalinist swamp.

Comrade Slaughter was present at the 1971 Youth Rally in Essen, when the OCI rejected an amendment proposed by the SLL and publicly sided with organisations hostile to the ICFI. This led directly to the split with the OCI. But this looks now like a minor incident compared to Comrade Slaughter’s speech on November 26, which questioned the entire history of our movement in front of an assembly of its worst enemies.

I urgently ask the Central Committee of the WRP to demand that Comrade Slaughter states where he is going. Is he saying, that the ICFI, and the ICFI only, no longer represents the historical continuity of Trotskyism because of Healy’s degeneration? Is he going to break with Trotskyism?

25 years ago, on January 2, 1961, Comrade Slaughter wrote: “It is because of the magnitude of the opportunities opening up before Trotskyism, and therefore the necessity for political and theoretical clarity, that we urgently require a drawing of the lines against revisionism in all its forms. It is time to draw to a close the period in which Pabloite revisionism was regarded as a trend within Trotskyism. Unless this is done we cannot prepare for the revolutionary struggles now beginning.” (Trotskyism vs. Revisionism, Vol. 3, p. 49) Does he now, after one quarter of a century has passed, say that these conclusions were wrong?

Everything he said on the November 26 meeting certainly points in that direction.

He put publicly a question mark on the investigation “Security and the Fourth International.” He has no right whatsoever to do this. If he has any doubts on it, the only place to raise them is the ICFI itself.

In fact, Comrade Slaughter is acquainted with every bit of evidence produced during that investigation and has himself written extensively on it. Now he claims that we have only produced circumstantial evidence. But he knows full well that circumstantial evidence is not less powerful than direct evidence. Or did he expect Hansen to leave a letter behind, admitting that he was an agent?

Where is Comrade Slaughter going? Does he intend to side with those who defend Hansen’s meetings with the FBI, who cover up for the GPU agent Sylvia Franklin, who refused to condemn the murder of Comrade Tom Henehan and in fact were accomplices to it? Is he going to join those, who despite their empty talk about “workers democracy” refused to answer one single item of the enormous amount of evidence we produced during the last ten years?

Even as recently as on its last meeting on November 5 Comrade Slaughter has not even hinted to the ICFI that he had any doubts on the validity of the findings on “Security and the Fourth International.” But now he does it publicly at the very same venue where the revisionists had their shameful meeting on January 14, 1977.

I was deeply troubled to hear that before the meeting Comrade Slaughter shook hands with Monty Johnstone, a completely discredited Stalinist, who then, when he was allowed to speak to the meeting, promptly expressed his “great respect for Comrade Cliff.” Comrade Slaughter, who broke with Stalinism in 1957, knows the implications of these actions very well. What separates us from Stalinism are not just some political or historical differences, it is a river of blood.

I cannot find a friendlier expression than to say that Comrade Slaughter spit in Friends Meeting House on our entire history. He explained that the founding of the ICFI in 1953 was a “right decision taken for accidental reasons,” and I was ashamed that I had then to listen to an OCI-related group pointing out to him that the split with Pabloism was correct.

His final remark was that the split with the OCI has again to be investigated. This as well cannot be accepted. While it is certainly true that not all the necessary lessons were drawn for the training of our cadre when we split and that the opportunity to build a section in France was missed, there can be no doubt that the OCI represents a completely degenerated revisionist group. Having read the latest issues of their paper Information Ouvrieres, I can assure you that their present political line is so right wing, that even the line of the POUM during the Spanish civil war looks positively revolutionary compared to it.

Also Comrade Slaughter’s repeated remarks that there was “no virtue” to stay in the party while it degenerated under Healy’s leadership must be completely rejected. This is an attack on all those who despite Healy’s degeneration defended the historical, political and organisational gains of the ICFI and is an open invitation to every renegade to rejoin in order to liquidate these gains.

I entirely reject Comrade Slaughter’s remark, when speaking on Healy’s corrupt practices, that “these practices went on in any other section of the IC.” This is a foul slander with no foundation whatsoever.

I was also alarmed to see that Comrade Dany Sylveire, who was chairing the meeting, did not call on WRP members who wanted to speak, while welcoming every revisionist.

The kind of meeting held in Friends Meeting House has a definite political character. Comrade Slaughter is not new to politics and knows the class nature of this meeting and its political implications very well. What would the reaction of the WRP be, if any other section of the ICFI publicly discussed with revisionists, Stalinists or members of the Green movement?

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. As before, none of these things are discussed in the ICFI. The WRP establishes its own relationships and presents them to the IC after the fact.

I therefore call urgently on the CC of the WRP to instruct Comrade Slaughter to put his political position openly before the next ICFI meeting, scheduled for December 16, 17. I also call on you to repudiate the positions put forward on the meeting on November 26 and to confirm your agreement with our history of struggle against revisionism, as contained in the seven volumes of Trotskyism vs. Revisionism.

I would like to remind you of the ICFI resolution of October 25, which was adopted unanimously by the Central Committee of the WRP and which said: “Involved in the struggle against the anti-party Healyite renegades are all the achievements made in the decades-long struggle to build the Trotskyist movement in Britain and internationally. None of these gains would have been made without the protracted and difficult struggle against Stalinism and Pabloite revisionism in which the leadership of the WRP and its predecessor the Socialist Labour League played the decisive role. All the sections of the ICFI were formed as a result of the struggle by the British comrades against the attempt of Pabloite revisionism to liquidate Trotskyism.”

The defence of the ICFI, its history and principles is—despite many differences on minor questions which undoubtedly exist—the most fundamental question of all and the only basis on which the present crisis can be overcome.

The ICFI statement on the expulsion of Healy stated: “In expelling Healy the ICFI has no intention of denying the political contributions which he made in the past, particularly in the struggle against Pabloite revisionism in the 1950s and the 1960s. In fact, the expulsion is the end product of his rejection of Trotskyist principles upon which these past struggles were based and his descent into the most vulgar forms of opportunism.”

And we warned: “Those like Healy who abandon the principles on which they once fought and who refuse to subordinate themselves to the ICFI in the building of its national sections must inevitably degenerate under the pressure of the class enemy. There can be no exception to this historical law.”

After having expelled Healy and the Pabloite degeneration he represents, we certainly don’t intend to liquidate the struggle against Pabloism and all the revisionist sects ourselves.

I am writing this letter to you as an IC delegate. I have discussed it in the Central Committee of our section, which fully approves its content.

Yours fraternally,

Peter Schwarz

cc: to all IC delegates