The ICFI Defends Trotskyism

“Nothing to hide...or fear”

The bogus News Line put out by the Healy-Redgrave rump group carries an editorial in its issue of Wednesday, December 4 dealing with the public meeting held by the Workers Revolutionary Party at Friends Meeting House on Tuesday, November 26.

The WRP called this meeting to explain the circumstances in which Gerry Healy, the former leader of the Party, had been expelled from the movement.

Healy was expelled for systematic sexual abuse of female comrades in the Party, for the use of physical violence against Party members and for slander against David North, leader of the American Workers League, a sympathizing section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Healy had accused North of being a CIA agent. This accusation was later withdrawn unreservedly by the Political Committee of the Workers Revolutionary Party.

Some members of the rump claim that these charges against Healy were lies, despite the fact that neither they nor anybody else in the Party denied them before the split and despite the fact that Healy himself gave a written undertaking to the Political Committee that he would cease these practices. This undertaking was subsequently broken.

Other of Healy’s apologists maintain that his sexual abuse and resort to violence were “personal” matters, the result of some eccentricity on Healy’s part.

They were nothing of the sort. Morals just as much as politics are an expression of the class struggle.

These gross abuses by Healy of his position of leadership and authority in the movement were symptomatic of a deep political degeneration in the party.

These matters are of concern not just for the Workers Revolutionary Party. They are issues vital to the future of the whole working class in Britain and internationally.

The Transitional Program—the founding document of our movement written by Trotsky in 1938—states that “The world political situation as a whole is characterized by a historical crisis of leadership of the proletariat.”

Healy’s degeneration cannot but be of the utmost importance for the whole of the world movement, given his position of central leadership in that movement over several decades.

The Workers Revolutionary Party now has a historical responsibility to the working class as a whole to reveal all aspects of the party’s crisis and to begin to make an honest objective assessment of its material roots. It is a responsibility we intend to discharge.

So when comrade Cliff Slaughter said at the meeting “We are at the beginning of an objective analysis, and all those who wish to really learn the lessons can certainly participate” that is precisely the point we are at.

It is no accident that Mitchell should take such exception to this statement.

Since he was charged, Healy has disappeared. He not only refuses to face the Workers Revolutionary Party. He cannot appear in public. He cannot make a public statement answering the charges made against him. He is not even available to his own rump organization.

This is because he knows that the charges are true in every particular.

Mitchell claims to be outraged at Alan Thornett’s presence at our meeting. Thornett was expelled from the Workers Revolutionary Party in 1974.

Like many before and since, he was framed by Healy and expelled bureaucratically.

His “crime” was to raise a series of political differences with Healy inside the Party. These differences were never honestly discussed and evaluated in the movement and no real political capital was accumulated from the experience. (See the letter in the News Line December 3 from comrade Cyril Smith who was chairman of the fraudulent control commission which engineered Thornett’s expulsion.)

Thornett, like Robin Blick and Mark Jenkins and all those who were victims of Healy’s arbitrary and anti-communist methods, has every right to take part in the public discussion of the history of the movement which we are now organizing.

This in no way implies that we have political agreement with any of those concerned. It is a cheap slur, typical of the Healy method, that Mitchell should imply that this is the case.

Monty Johnstone was also present at the meeting. Johnstone is a notorious Stalinist, in the past an enthusiastic defender of the Moscow Trials and the methods of Stalin. In telling us this Mitchell tells us nothing new.

But what he fails to mention is that the Communist Party is a part of the working-class movement. It was established in 1920-1921 as a member of the Third International. Its subsequent degeneration into a counter-revolutionary instrument was part of the crisis which eventually destroyed the International as a revolutionary force.

Trotsky stood always for the fullest discussion in public about the unfolding struggle against Stalinism. The question of Stalinism, like that of every form of revisionist attack against Marxism, is the property not just of Trotskyism but of the whole working class.

We have absolutely nothing to fear from the most open and wide-ranging discussion with Stalinism. Indeed we have everything to gain. For it is only on the basis of such a discussion of all the political and historical questions involved that we can really educate the movement and clarify the best elements coming forward in the struggle for socialism.

This was not Healy’s method. He always prided himself on having led the struggle against revisionism. Like most of his other claims this was a sham. Spying, frame-ups, expulsion and slander increasingly replaced any principled struggle or discussion within the working class movement. These methods virtually reduced the party to an opportunist sect. Healy’s methods also explain why the theoretical and political level of the party fell to its present abysmally low level.

Two days after our meeting the Healy-Mitchell renegades held their own meeting at the Conway hall. On their platform was Lambeth Labour councillor Bill Bowring.

Until he went into hiding, Healy was by no means averse to such appearances and in the recent past shared many platforms with Labour Party members such as Ken Livingstone and Ted Knight.

Healy also spoke at the June 30 rally at Alexandra Pavilion with Mike Power of SOGAT, a prominent Communist Party member in the printing industry.

Not only this. It was Healy, enthusiastically backed by Mitchell, who defended the right of the Euro-Stalinists to maintain control of the Morning Star.

Since August 1914 social democracy has been a consistently counter-revolutionary force in the working class movement. It has been responsible for the death of countless revolutionary fighters and for the defeat of the working class in struggles in many parts of the world.

It has willingly collaborated with Stalinism in inflicting such defeats.

In the light of his comments on Johnstone how does Mitchell explain Bowring’s appearance? Or Healy’s past appearances? Of course he can have no consistent explanation.

The Workers Revolutionary Party is in no way in principle against participation on common platforms with either social democrats or Stalinists.

These are tactical matters, part of the struggle of the revolutionary party to find a road to the masses under conditions when they still remain tied to their old leaderships.

So we retract nothing about our public meeting. We intend to carry out a systematic investigation of every aspect of the movement’s history, from the time of Trotsky’s death onwards.

We believe that this will strengthen the whole movement immeasurably and lay the basis for repairing the great damage inflicted on the party by Healy’s methods. We again repeat: any comrade who wishes honestly and truthfully to take part in this discussion is invited to do so either in writing or by other means.

Unlike Healy and his clique, we have nothing to hide and nothing to fear.