The ICFI Defends Trotskyism

A Letter to All Sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International and to the Members of the Workers Revolutionary Party

Resolution of the Workers League Central Committee

Dear Comrades:

1. The two resolutions passed on January 26, 1986 by the Central Committee of the Workers Revolutionary Party are a declaration of split with the International Committee of the Fourth International and an open renunciation of the history and principles of the Trotskyist movement. The twelve members of the Central Committee who voted for this resolution, along with Michael Banda who deserted his post in the midst of the crisis within his own organization, are renegades from Marxism who have capitulated to the pressures of British imperialism and are placing themselves in the service of the class enemy.

2. Exactly three months have passed since the expulsion of G. Healy and the split inside the WRP. During those three months, the International Committee has sought to overcome the national chauvinism that underlay the degeneration of the British leadership and establish a principled basis for maintaining fraternal relations with the Workers Revolutionary Party.

Events have now proven that it is impossible to establish such relations. It is now indisputable that the Healy-Slaughter-Banda regime was a political incubator for the development of the most opportunist and even anti-communist elements within the leadership and ranks of the WRP.

In the aftermath of the split between the two right-wing tendencies—one led by Healy and the other by Slaughter-Banda—the degeneration of both factions continues.

3. On October 25-26, 1985, the IC presented one condition to the then majority and minority (pro-Healy) factions within the WRP as the basis for maintaining fraternal relations: recognition of the authority of the International Committee as the leadership of the World Party of Socialist Revolution. This condition was presented in a resolution dated October 25, 1985. After a lengthy struggle, the majority declared its support for this resolution. The pro-Healy minority refused to consider it and split from the International Committee.

This resolution was decisive, for it defined the fundamental political and class issues raised by the crisis within the WRP—that is, the disloyal role played by the leadership of the British section within the International Committee, operating as a nationalist clique and systematically subordinating the real interests of the world movement to the pragmatically-defined needs of the WRP. The refusal of the Healy minority to accept this resolution confirmed that it would never work inside an international organization that it could not control and use for its own nationalist ends.

In accepting this resolution, therefore, the majority acknowledged that the defense of internationalism was the real principled basis of the struggle against the Healy minority and that the regeneration of the WRP was only possible through the loyal collaboration of the British section in the work of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Only by upholding the authority of the world party could the WRP leaders consciously fight the class pressures exerted by British imperialism upon their section—the class pressures which found their most grotesque expression in the degeneration of Healy himself.

From the first hours after the split, however, the majority sought to renege on the agreement. For the last three months Slaughter has worked systematically to mobilize the disoriented petty-bourgeois elements within the WRP against the International Committee. At the same time, he has acted ever more brazenly to move the WRP into the orbit of Stalinism, revisionism and middle class radicalism.

4. Now the Central Committee, on the eve of its 8th National Congress, has explicitly repudiated the Resolution of October 25th. It has declared that it does not accept the authority of the International Committee and, in violation of the same resolution, is recalling reregistration forms which made membership in the WRP contingent on acceptance of the authority of the ICFI.

This means that a purely nationalist criterion now defines membership within the WRP. Neither its leaders nor its ranks are to regard themselves as members of the World Party, subject to its international democratic centralist discipline.

5. At the same time, the WRP Central Committee has repudiated the history of the Fourth International, rejected the political legitimacy of the International Committee, and “instructed” the IC to prepare for a discussion with all those enemies of Trotskyism against which it has fought for more than three decades. In advance of this discussion, the WRP has already made clear that it is not bound by the decisions of the IC since, as one of the two resolutions states, no section can be “subordinated to an international discipline determined by the IC.”

6. The WRP demands, in effect, that the International Committee commit political suicide: “We are repudiating Trotskyism and proclaiming its death; therefore, the International Committee must acknowledge its own death as well. We are traitors, and we demand that you join us in our betrayal.” That is the ultimatum which the WRP Central Committee is presenting to the International Committee. To submit to it would be a betrayal of the whole history of the struggle for Trotskyism and a crime against the international working class. It must be repudiated unequivocally—not only by the ICFI but by the membership of the WRP at its upcoming 8th Congress.

7. The political betrayal of Banda and Slaughter, summed up in these two resolutions, provides an example of renegacy virtually without precedent in the entire history of the Trotskyist movement. Though they strenuously deny the existence of any revolutionary situation anywhere in the world—thus reproducing the fundamental errors of Healy’s method by turning his perspective of universal “revolutionary situations” inside out—the speed of their own degeneration is an expression of the enormous maturity of the political crisis of British and world capitalism and of the intensity of the class pressures now bearing down on the Marxist vanguard of the working class.

We could, without difficulty, reproduce hundreds of quotations written by both Slaughter and Banda which explicitly reply to the very positions which they now advance. But they are not simply altering their views on certain isolated though important aspects of program. They are now overthrowing the entire content of their political and intellectual lives! As they both approach the seventh decade of their existence, they present us with the miserable spectacle of repudiating everything they have ever said or done.

What is involved here is not the correction of political errors; it is complete political and moral disintegration. Banda and Slaughter, leading a pack of stampeding petty-bourgeois within the WRP, are taking the easy way out. Rather than making a principled correction of the political errors of the past decade, they seek to justify their own betrayals by blaming the Trotskyist movement itself. There is nothing original in this position: they are simply following in the footsteps of all those middle-class Souvarine-style skeptics of the past who always discovered in every political crisis and setback a new opportunity to proclaim the failure of Marxism.

8. The resolutions explicitly repudiate the entire history of the struggle for Marxism since 1940—declaring, in effect, that through the assassination of Trotsky the Stalinist bureaucracy achieved its political victory over the Fourth International.

According to the resolutions of the Central Committee, the entire history of the Fourth International over the last 46 years has been an exercise in futility and repeated betrayals. All those who died to build the Fourth International—from the martyrs who perished during World War II right through to Tom Henehan in the United States and R. Piyadasa in Sri Lanka—wasted their lives fighting under a false banner.

9. In fact, the claim that the Fourth International died with Trotsky is a repudiation of Trotsky’s decision to found the Fourth International. It was the position of the Stalinists that Trotsky’s personality was the real axis of the Fourth International and that it could not survive his death.

Banda and Slaughter agree. Their resolution states: “After the founding of the FI, the first devastating blow was the assassination of Trotsky. Then came the liquidation of the IEC during the war and its reconstruction under the leadership of the SWP. Under the impact of contradictory developments of the class struggle, particularly in the metropolitan capitalist countries after the war, one leadership after another capitulated: Haston, Pablo, the SWP leadership, Healy and the IC leadership.”

This argument has been made many times before, and always by centrists moving rapidly to the right. In the case of Banda and Slaughter, it is revived to justify their own political cowardice and degeneration. Wallowing in self-pity, they blame history for dealing them a bad set of cards.

At any rate, their version of history is a brazen falsification.

10. A characteristic of all petty-bourgeois tendencies in the process of breaking with Marxism, as Trotsky explained, is disrespect for the traditions of their organization. Slaughter and Banda have now discovered “in the liquidation of the IEC during the war” one of the fatal flaws of the Fourth International. (Presumably this explains why Slaughter and Banda collaborated with Healy to suppress discussion within the International Committee over differences on questions of theory and program 40 years later!)

Is that all they have to say about the struggle of the Fourth International during World War II? What about the work of the Trotskyists in France, where Marc Bourhis and Pierre Gueguen were shot by the Gestapo in October 1941; or of Marcel Hic, the secretary of the PCI, who was sent to Buchenwald and then Dora, where he was murdered; or of Leon Lesoil, A. Leon, Paul Widelin, all murdered by the Nazis.

Nor do Banda and Slaughter mention the publication of Arbeiter und Soldat, the only organ of revolutionary Marxism in German that was distributed by the Trotskyists among the German soldiers.

Whatever their political limitations, these fighters and others all over the world defended the program of the Fourth International and assured its survival despite savage persecution by the fascists, Stalinists and “democratic” imperialists.

11. Having dispensed with the struggles of the Fourth International during the Second World War, Slaughter and Banda make short work of the entire post-war history of our movement: “one leadership after another capitulated ...” The entire history of the struggle against Pabloism is rejected along with the history and political authority of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Thirty-three years after he fought against the pro-Stalinist tendency represented by Pablo, whose goal was the political and organizational liquidation of the Trotskyist movement, Banda now rejects the historical implications of the “Open Letter” written by Cannon in 1953. Twenty-five years after writing that “It is time to draw to a close the period in which Pabloite revisionism was regarded as a trend within Trotskyism” (emphasis in the original), Slaughter demands that the International Committee seek a discussion “on the history and the tasks of the Fourth International” with “all those, all over the world, who are for the Transitional Program...”

For the International Committee to participate in the organization of such an unprincipled pigsty would be an act of unspeakable treachery. Slaughter and Banda now prefer to forget the direct results of the 1963 reunification of the Socialist Workers Party with the Pabloites which they, along with Healy, opposed in 1963: the entrance of the LSSP into the capitalist coalition government of Bandaranaike in 1964—an historic betrayal of Trotskyism which led directly to the massacre of 15,000 peasant youth in the JVP uprising in Sri Lanka in 1971.

12. The WRP Central Committee renegades proclaim that “the IC is neither the World Party nor even the nucleus of the World Party” and assert that the “IC cannot claim political authority as an international leadership.” On this basis, the renegades demand that the International Committee accept its own liquidation and regroup with all the Stalinist, revisionist and anti-Trotskyist petty-bourgeois radical riff-raff all over the world.

Neither Slaughter nor Banda are political novices and they know very well the political significance of their repudiation of the struggles of the Fourth International since 1940. As Slaughter wrote in relation to the OCI just 15 years ago and in response to far more cautious formulations: “Their ‘reconstruction’ of the Fourth International is a rallying of centrist elements to whom they hand, as a concession, the formula: the FI was destroyed by revisionism, it must be reconstructed. They know what the centrists will interpret this to mean: in an international ‘regroupment’ we will all begin at the same place, with no compulsions to learn the lessons of past revolutions and past betrayals.” (Trotskyism versus Revisionism, Volume 6, p. 77)

13. The Workers League will not have anything to do with the bogus discussion which the WRP renegades now propose. At a time when the Pabloites all over the world are openly repudiating Trotskyism and working hand-in-glove with Stalinism to prepare new forms of popular frontism, our only interest is in the destruction of these reactionary middle-class organizations.

Is the discussion proposed by the WRP to include the German Pabloite organization, which is involved in unity discussions with a group adhering to the views of the late Enver Hoxha? Or with the Australian SWP, whose leader Percy, having recently announced his rejection of the Fourth International, now declares: “Let’s recompose the left. Let’s make it easier for people to find their way to revolutionary politics.”

We must assume that included in the discussion envisaged by the WRP renegades would be the Spartacist League of Robertson, from which the Workers League broke decisively 20 years ago and whose degeneracy is illustrated in a statement on South Africa which appears in the most recent issue of their bi-weekly newspaper (January 17, 1986):

“As the black unrest continues, an Afrikaner Hitler can emerge, winning over a decisive section of the white populace. The black townships are already set up for civil war, surrounded by an empty ‘free fire’ zone. A South African Hitler could seal them off, blow up the sewer lines, demolish the hospitals, cut off electricity, food and water ... and wait. After about 18 months the resulting hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dead would secure ‘social peace’ for a generation.”

So demoralized are these middle class forces, to whom the WRP renegades are now turning, that they even oppose trade boycotts directed against South Africa:

“If black Africans will suffer more than privileged whites from economic sanctions and disinvestment, how can this weaken, much less bring down, the apartheid system?”

14. Moreover, the WRP renegades’ reference to agreement on the Transitional Program as a basis for discussion is a cynical fraud. The Transitional Program denounces centrism, which it defines as “left appendages” of Stalinism and Social Democracy.

They wish, nevertheless, to base themselves on the Transitional Program? We suggest that Banda and Slaughter ponder the following passage:

“Instead of learning from the past, they ‘reject’ it. Some discover the inconsistency of Marxism, others announce the downfall of Bolshevism. There are those who put responsibility upon revolutionary doctrine for the mistakes and crimes of those who betrayed it. ...A good many prophets of ‘new morals’ are preparing to regenerate the labor movement with the help of ethical homeopathy. The majority of these apostles have succeeded in becoming themselves moral invalids before arriving on the field of battle. Thus, under the aspect of ‘new ways,’ old recipes, long since buried in the archives of pre-Marxian socialism, are offered to the proletariat.”

15. With the political dishonesty that typifies petty-bourgeois renegades from Marxism, Banda and Slaughter offer an “internal” discussion within the IC before approaching the revisionists. What type of “internal” discussion is possible when the revisionist line of the WRP is vomited twice every week all over the pages of the Workers Press? The renegades have already publicly declared in the Workers Press of January 22, 1986 that:

“The WRP’s degeneration was an integral part of the degeneration of the International Committee of the Fourth International. A thorough and scrupulously objective (sic) analysis of every aspect of the history of the Fourth International from the time of Trotsky’s death is required. This is the indispensable pre-requisite for the regeneration of the Party.”

The same article denounces, along with Healy’s distortion of dialectics (abetted for 15 years by Slaughter) and the unprincipled relations with bourgeois national movements (but not regimes), the “abandonment of any real fight against revisionism in the Fourth International for a purely forensic pursuit of suspected agents in the SWP of the United States.” This public attack on Security and the Fourth International, while the Gelfand case is still in the courts, exposes the true worth of the WRP’s talk of an internal discussion.

16. We are, however, not at all surprised that these renegades should repudiate Security and the Fourth International and the Gelfand Case, impudently demanding that the Workers League approach the Socialist Workers Party in order to resolve the case. The International Committee’s exposure of Pabloite complicity in covering up the crimes of Stalinism and imperialism against the Fourth International is an obstacle to the movement of the renegades towards these anti-Trotskyist forces.

There is a profound political logic behind this hatred of Security and the Fourth International which was once noted by none other than Professor T. Kemp in his book Marx’s Capital’ Today, published in 1982:

“The same Mandel, as leader of the United Secretariat, covers up for the agents of the Stalinist GPU inside the Trotskyist movement in the United States who opened the way for Trotsky’s murder. He has resolutely opposed the inquiry called for by the International Committee of the Fourth International. He prefers to prepare the way for a reconciliation with the Euro-Stalinists in some new and still more treacherous Popular Front.” (New Park, p. 187)

And now Mandel is joined by this same T. Kemp along with Banda and Slaughter—for the same political reasons. No discussion with the Stalinists and revisionists can get under way in Britain until the WRP renegades repudiate Security and the Fourth International.

Contradicting what they themselves have written on Security and the Fourth International over the last 10 years, they now join those who defended Hansen’s ties to the FBI, who protected GPU agent Sylvia Franklin, and who directly collaborated with GPU murderer Mark Zborowski. As Jack Barnes, the new found ally of Slaughter and Banda, declared in 1982, “It is my job to protect the rights of American citizens. ... Mr. Zborowski has the same rights as any other citizen in this country.”

Just a few weeks short of the 80th anniversary of Leon Sedov’s birth and the 48th anniversary of his death, Banda and Slaughter joined hands with those who collaborate with his killer. They now claim that the Gelfand case “has set an extremely damaging precedent in calling on the state to determine the membership of a working class organization.” That is exactly the line used by the SWP to distort the real political and legal foundations of the case.

As Banda and Slaughter know, the legal basis of the Gelfand case is that the US Government has no right to infiltrate its agents into a socialist political party, take control of its leadership, and expel members who seek to expose the agents. Like countless civil rights cases waged by the American labor movement over decades, this case invokes basic constitutionally-protected democratic rights against state attack.

17. Why, though, do the renegades feel such a great compulsion to declare their opposition to the IC publicly, prior to any discussion within the movement? Because they are not speaking to the International Committee at all; rather, they are concerned above all with obtaining the approval of the middle class; they are justifying themselves “as intellectuals,” demonstrating to the radical snobs with whom they now hob-nob that they have broken with “sectarianism”—by which they mean not Healy’s gross political blunders but rather the theoretical irreconcilability of Trotskyism.

The renegacy of Banda and Slaughter constitutes the latest chapter in the political, theoretical and moral disintegration of the right-wing petty-bourgeois nationalist Healy clique in the leadership of the WRP. For more than a decade, Banda and Slaughter worked to suppress discussion within both the WRP and the International Committee, boost Healy’s authority and cover up the degeneration of the Workers Revolutionary Party. Not only did they cover up for Healy’s grotesque abuse of authority (sexual misconduct, etc.) of which they were fully informed, they lied continuously to the International Committee about the real state of affairs inside the British section.

They now claim that the betrayal by Healy was at the same time a betrayal by the International Committee. But this slander requires that they ignore the actual development of the political struggle within the IC. When the Workers League raised differences between 1982-84 with the WRP’s abandonment of the theory of Permanent Revolution and its opportunist political line in Britain as well as with Healy’s subjective idealist philosophy, it was Banda and Slaughter who led the fight to protect Healy and isolate the Workers League within the International Committee.

18. The intensification of the class struggle, expressed most acutely in the year-long miners’ strike, exposed the political bankruptcy of the WRP leadership and led to the explosion which shattered the Healy-Banda-Slaughter clique. Under pressure from the proletarian forces within the WRP, attempts by Banda and Slaughter to protect Healy failed and the unprincipled factional warfare on the WRP Political Committee got out of control.

Banda and Slaughter then moved for the expulsion of Healy and his supporters as quickly as possible in order to suppress a real analysis of the degeneration of the Workers Revolutionary Party and their own role in it. As for Healy and his supporters, they, too, opposed any discussion within the International Committee of the political crisis in the WRP.

19. The position taken by the International Committee of the Fourth International on the crisis within the WRP was absolutely principled. It sought to organize a principled discussion of differences within the Workers Revolutionary Party. While endorsing the expulsion of Healy for his despicable abuse of authority, the IC refused to enter into any unprincipled alliance with any section of the WRP. In its resolution of October 25, 1985, the IC declared:

“At the root of the present crisis which erupted with the exposure of the corrupt practices of G. Healy and the attempt by the WRP Political Committee to cover them up, is the prolonged drift of the WRP leadership away from the strategical task of the building of the world party of socialist revolution towards an increasingly nationalist perspective and practice.”

The resolution further stated:

“The first step toward overcoming the crisis in the WRP is the recognition by its leadership and membership that it requires the closest collaboration with its co-thinkers in the ICFI.”

Therefore, the IC proposed:

“The reregistration 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.”

20. The pro-Healy minority, true to its opportunist and nationalist orientation, refused to even consider this resolution and split from the International Committee. As for the Banda-Slaughter group, realizing that it lacked any real authority before the WRP membership and thinking that it could later ignore the resolution once the split with Healy was consummated, it voted for the IC proposals. (Slaughter also needed time to mobilize the hysterical petty-bourgeois elements within the WRP and stampede them against the International Committee.)

The explicit recognition of the authority of the ICFI and the re-registration of all members of the WRP on this basis was the only basis for further collaboration between the ICFI and the WRP after October 26, 1985. At the Special Conference of the WRP on October 27, 1985, the membership voted, with no votes against, to accept the IC resolution of October 25, 1985.

21. But the Banda-Slaughter leadership of the WRP refused to carry out the mandate of its own membership. It made a deliberate decision to turn against the International Committee. At every point they refused to act as part of a world party, insisting on their right as a British organization to take whatever action they pleased without considering its international consequences.

The outcome of such decisions, taken in response to immediate national pressures, inevitably served the class interests of the bourgeoisie. This was clearly shown in Banda’s turn to the gutter Tory press, which demonstrated his utter incapacity to wage a principled political struggle. This was followed by the shutdown of the News Line as a daily paper without any consultation with the International Committee.

The culmination of this anti-Trotskyist rampage was the Friends Hall meeting of November 26, where Slaughter shook hands with the Stalinist Monty Johnstone and began questioning the entire history of the International Committee before an audience of revisionists.

From then on the repudiation of Marxism gathered speed. The News Line, and since December 21, the Workers Press, have become the sounding board for every form of revisionist assault on Marxism. Not even Engels has been spared the effect of the recantation of principles that is being organized under the middle class banner of “revolutionary morality.” We do not doubt that it will not be long before the moral crusaders will discover the burning need for a critical review of the “morality” of Trotsky’s suppression of the Kronstadt uprising.

22. The October 25 resolution also mandated the International Committee to conduct an investigation into all aspects of the political corruption of the WRP under the leadership of Healy. In the first stage of its investigation, the International Control Commission obtained documents that established that the WRP leadership, beginning in April 1976, established mercenary relations with sections of the Arab bourgeoisie and, literally, sold its principles for money. These unprincipled relations were concealed from the sections of the International Committee.

The IC Commission determined that the WRP leadership was responsible for a class betrayal and, pending a thorough-going analysis of the political source of this betrayal within the British section and a decisive change in the theory and practice of the organization to prevent further betrayals, the International Committee suspended the WRP from membership in the World Party.

23. This action enraged the WRP renegades: their resolution declares: “That since the IC has no political authority and is not a genuine international leadership, that it must acknowledge that the suspension of the British section was an organizational maneuver which it had no right to carry out, designed only to obscure the real issues arising out of the split with Healy and the class betrayal which the WRP and the IC carried out under his leadership.”

We dismiss this pompous denunciation with contempt: the authority of the IC does not depend upon the approval of the WRP. As for its lying attempt to besmirch the IC with responsibility for their betrayals, let us remind the renegades that the secret agreements with Arab bourgeois were signed on the stationery of the Workers Revolutionary Party. It was the politics of the WRP, not that of the IC, that were for sale.

The political and historical necessity of the suspension was clear: the International Committee was not going to provide the WRP with a political cover for its on-going degeneration and further betrayals of the British and international working class. It refused to accept the bankrupt claim that the degeneration of the WRP was, on the one-hand, simply the product of Healy’s personality, or, on the other, that it represented the decay of the ICFI as a whole.

As for the claim that the suspension was “designed only to obscure the real issue” involved in the split with Healy, let it be remembered that it was none other than Banda who wrote on November 2, 1985 that neither programmatic nor tactical issues were involved. “The split has taken place on the relation between the sexes in the party,” he wrote.

24. Moreover, the ICFI made it clear to the WRP and to Slaughter that it had identified the political renegacy implicit in the WRP’s rejection of internationalism. A second resolution, presented after the suspension, established the principled basis upon which the degeneration of the WRP could be halted and reversed. It simply called upon the WRP to accept, as the basis for the restoration of full membership in the International Committee, the historical continuity of Trotskyism embodied in the first four congresses of the Communist International and the Platform of the Left Opposition; the Transitional Program of 1938; the Open Letter of 1953 and the rejection of reunification with the Pabloites in 1963.

With the exception of Dave Hyland, the representatives of the British section, Slaughter, Kemp and Pirani, refused to support this resolution. This clearly demonstrated that the WRP majority had already decided to repudiate Trotskyism and that the degeneration of this leadership was irreversible.

25. In its class composition and in its program, the WRP renegades represent the groveling conservatism of the British petty-bourgeoisie which is especially characterized by its deeply-rooted class hatred of the proletariat.

The greatest indictment of Healy’s so-called “cadre-training” was his inability to train and integrate workers into the Party leadership. For years his regime was sustained by middle class elements, with whom he maintained the most unprincipled relations and upon whom he could always depend to defend him against the workers and political opponents within both the WRP and the International Committee.

It is these very middle class elements who now run the WRP. The “theoretical” lead is provided by the four professors: Slaughter (Bradford University), Kemp (Hull University), Smith (London School of Economics), and Pilling (Middlesex Polytechnic). None of these men are professional revolutionists; in their outlook and lifestyle, they resemble the Sunday socialists of the Second International, not the proletarian leaders demanded by the Fourth.

For them, the fight against Healy is not for the restoration of Trotskyist principles—it is for their liberation from any semblance of centralism. What was Pilling’s real grudge against Healy? This is laid bare in his recent article entitled, “Intellectuals isolated by the Healy method.”

As for Kemp, who assisted Healy in the frame-up of Alan Thornett in 1974, he has been in political retirement for years—serving, however, on the editorial board of the pro-Stalinist American academic journal, Science and Society, along with Herbert Aptheker, the notorious defender of the Moscow Trials. In his literary activities, Kemp is already practicing Popular Frontism.

26. The four professors, supported by a retinue of demoralized and cynical semi-careerists in what remains of Healy’s bloated apparatus, are the Burnhams of the WRP. They are not content with denouncing the International Committee and rejecting the history of the Fourth International. They are now openly repudiating even Lenin.

Professor Smith, who now admits that he helped falsify a Control Commission report in order to frame Thornett, has written a direct attack on What Is To Be Done?, declaring that “its theoretical formulations are not the ‘theoretical and practical base for the Bolshevik Party’” and claims that the struggles of 1902-03 are virtually without significance.

These views are not merely the property of Smith. Opposition to Leninist conceptions of organization and the struggle for Marxism within the working class has been written into a WRP document presented by Simon Pirani, the front-man for the four professors, whose arrogance is exceeded only by his ignorance. He declares: “Of all the damaging misconceptions of Bolshevism flaunted in the WRP the most dangerous one appears in the 6th Congress resolution: ‘One of the central premises of the revolutionary party and its press is the necessity to bring socialist consciousness into the working class from outside it’.”

This statement places Pirani on the side of all the social-democratic traitors who consider Lenin’s struggle against bourgeois ideology in the labor movement and the corresponding forms of organization required by this struggle highly “dangerous”—to their own plans for betraying the working class.

27. It is no longer possible for Banda and Slaughter to pretend that the split in the WRP last October was about the sexual abuses of Healy. It was only the first stage in the disintegration of the right-wing clique that had betrayed Trotskyism and sought to destroy the International Committee.

The WRP resolutions confirm the warnings made by the ICFI about the preparations of Slaughter for a complete break with Trotskyism. At the same time, they expose that the WRP majority’s acceptance of the October 25 resolution was merely a maneuver. As Slaughter-Banda now declare: “The CC endorsed the IC resolution on the 25th as a weapon against the Healyites.”

However, now that they have discovered that they cannot any longer subordinate the IC, as they did under Healy, to the nationalist aims of the WRP, the Slaughter-Banda petty-bourgeois clique that runs the Central Committee declare that they “discard” the resolution and are rescinding the re-registration forms.

This is a repudiation of the agreement with the IC and a violation of the WRP Special Conference decision. Just five days before this resolution was placed before the Central Committee, Simon Pirani, in a letter to all party members, dated January 21, 1986, restated the conditions of membership:

“4. Registration of Membership: It was agreed that the re-registration, on the terms agreed between the ICFI, the WRP Central Committee and the Special Congress of October 26 will cease on Sunday, February 2nd, 1986. All registration forms must be returned to me at the Party Centre by that date.

“The list of membership compiled on the basis of the forms returned will be used in checking the eligibility of Congress delegates.”

Those terms have now been overthrown. In announcing the withdrawal of the registration form, the Central Committee resolution “instructs branches to submit full lists of membership by February 2 to the center. These lists must be the basis for the election of delegates to the 8th Congress of the WRP in accordance with our constitution.”

What a mockery of democratic centralism! The Central Committee renegades brazenly violate the decisions of the Special Conference on the registration of Party membership and cynically justify their action with a reference to the constitution. Slaughter and the renegades are employing the same corrupt organizational practices used commonly by the Labour Party right wing against its opponents.

In order to assure themselves of a majority, delegates will be elected on the basis of phony membership lists containing the names of people who refused to accept membership in the WRP on the basis of accepting the authority of the International Committee of the Fourth International. In other words, it will be a bogus congress packed with anti-Trotskyists.

28. The main argument employed by the WRP to justify its repudiation of the resolution of October 25, exposes both its abysmal ignorance of the actual political work of the ICFI as well as its rejection of the most essential internationalist principles fought for by Trotsky. The WRP renegades advance against the authority of the ICFI the very arguments used by the centrists of the 1930s against the founding of the Fourth International. The WRP Resolution states:

“There is historical precedent for the reregistration and even the reorganization under different leadership of a section of the Comintern. But then they were forming a new international with the authority of having just made a successful revolution. The present ICFI has not led any struggle in the working class in any of the few countries it is organizing.”

On what “successful revolution” did Trotsky base the founding of the Fourth International? This statement shows very clearly that underlying the attack on the International Committee is the renegades’ rejection of the Fourth International itself. Their reference to the Transitional Program is thus thoroughly dishonest. The idea that the authority of an international party is derived from a “successful revolution” is that of skeptics and self-seeking functionaries. Trotsky replied to this exact point in July 1939:

“The Fourth International is developing as a grouping of new and fresh elements on the basis of a common program growing out of the entire past experience, incessantly checked and rendered more precise. In the selection of its cadres the Fourth International has great advantages over the Third. These advantages flow precisely from the difficult conditions of struggle in the epoch of reaction. The Third International took shape swiftly because many ‘Lefts’ easily and readily adhered to the victorious revolution. The Fourth International takes form under the blows of defeats and persecutions. The ideological bond created under such conditions is extraordinarily firm.”

29. Lenin, moreover, began his work for the building of the Third International before the Russian Revolution. Without the ruthless struggle of the Zimmerwald Left, which was only a tiny minority in 1915, against all concessions to centrism, there could have been no seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in 1917.

Let us stress yet another point: Lenin did not respond to the historic betrayal of Social Democracy by proclaiming the death of Marxism. He defended all that was progressive in the work of the Second International and cited these very achievements against those who had abandoned the political and theoretical positions established over many decades. Lenin always proceeded from the objective laws of the class struggle and the historical tasks confronting the international proletariat in the imperialist epoch. The victory in 1917 created more favorable conditions for the building of the Third International, but it was not the historic basis for its formation.

As for authority, this is derived from the struggle for Marxist principles within the international workers’ movement. (Slaughter and Banda have forgotten that such struggles were once the basis for the authority of the British Trotskyists.)

Marxists do not base their international strategy on successful revolutions from which they hope to acquire political authority. As Trotsky wrote in 1930, explaining the formation of the International Left Opposition: “If the Communist Left throughout the world consisted of only five individuals, they would have nonetheless been obliged to build an international organization simultaneously with the building of one or more national organizations.” (Writings of Leon Trotsky 1930, Pathfinder, p. 285)

30. As for the claim that the ICFI “has not led any struggle in the working class,” this petty lie clearly exposes the real political orientation of the renegades. The day-to-day struggles of the sections of the International Committee no longer interest them. In the early 1960s the American SWP discovered Castro and proclaimed him a “revolutionist of action.” This was the way they prepared their liquidation into the corrupt milieu of middle-class radicalism.

Allowing for the specific conditions existing in Britain, the WRP renegades are heading in the same direction. What they consider “struggles” will prove to be nothing more than their liquidation into the old middle-class protest politics that the SLL fought in the 1960s, adapted to the present-day needs of emerging Popular Frontism.

Moreover, this slander against the IC serves only to underscore the class gulf between the renegades and us. While the WRP leadership, saturated with middle-class actors, journalists and professors, was turning more and more toward unprincipled relations with Arab bourgeois regimes, the sections of the ICFI were fighting to root themselves in the working class.

The other sections of the IC can speak for themselves. The Workers League is justifiably proud of its record in the class struggle within the United States. Tom Henehan did not die while leading the life of a middle-class academic. The present composition of our membership and the party’s Central Committee, which includes veterans of major class battles won to Trotskyism through the interventions of the Workers League, is the most powerful illustration of the irreconcilable difference between the class line of our party and that of the WRP leadership.

Nor are the class lines drawn only between the IC as a whole and the WRP leadership. We count among the achievements of the International Committee of the Fourth International the many great accomplishments of the Workers Revolutionary Party and its predecessor, the Socialist Labour League. The degeneration of Healy, Banda, and Slaughter does not detract from their past contributions nor does it wipe out the sacrifices made by the cadre of the British section. Among an important section of this cadre the struggle for Trotskyism in Britain continues, and we in the Workers League are proud to be their comrades.

31. The real political objectives of Banda and Slaughter are now exposed. Along with Healy, they are centrally responsible for the crisis within the WRP and the disorientation of large sections of its membership. But since October they have worked consciously to exploit that crisis and the confusion within the ranks to destroy the WRP as a Trotskyist organization and break with the International Committee.

Their activities since October have been a continuation of their degeneration over the past decade and confirm that they have broken completely with Trotskyism. In breaking with the International Committee, they are moving desperately to remove all political control over their turn to the right. That is why there can be no political compromise with the Banda-Slaughter renegades.

We call on all members of the Workers Revolutionary Party to decisively repudiate the splitting resolutions of the Central Committee majority. For the future of the WRP, this is a life and death question. To accept these resolutions would be to ratify a complete break with the International Committee. Every WRP member must think this question through carefully: Did you break with Healy in order to wind up with Ernest Mandel and FBI agent Barnes?

At the same time, we warn the IC against the efforts of Slaughter to paralyze the work of its sections. His behind-the-scenes activities are exposed by a letter, which we are enclosing, sent by Slaughter to a member of the Workers League, proposing a secret meeting with a comrade who is not even a member of our Central Committee nor a representative of a declared minority tendency. This proves that the renegades are working to split all the sections of the International Committee.

32. The Workers League sends its warmest revolutionary greetings to those three courageous Trotskyists on the Central Committee of the Workers Revolutionary Party who voted against the Banda-Slaughter resolutions, continuing their steadfast defense of revolutionary Marxist principles and the historic interests of the English and international working class. We are confident that all the Trotskyists inside the WRP will now rally in defense of the International Committee of the Fourth International, complete the fight against all sections of the Healy-Slaughter-Banda gang, and carry forward the continuity of the struggle for Trotskyism in Britain.

33. The Workers League is for a real discussion on the history and principles of Trotskyism, that is, one that will arm all our cadres for the revolutionary struggles now on the agenda and which will produce real theoretical and organizational gains for the Fourth International. But we will not begin a discussion on the history of the movement by placing a question mark over the fact of our existence.

To discuss on the basis demanded by the renegades is to agree in advance to the political, theoretical and organizational disintegration of the Party. Yes, we are prepared to debate with Slaughter and Banda—in the same manner as we “debate” with all enemies of Trotskyism, that is, publicly, in front of the entire workers’ movement.

34. It is now clear that for many years the development of the International Committee was held back by a nationalist clique leadership that disoriented young sections and exploited their devotion to internationalism. Since September the International Committee has ended the domination of the Healy-Slaughter-Banda clique and has demonstrated the strength of the Trotskyist principles upon which the work of its sections outside Britain are based.

The ongoing struggle of the International Committee is the real political answer to the metaphysical claims of “equal degeneration.” The great gain of the struggle over the last four months is that the International Committee has cut through all the attempts to confuse and disorient the cadre with scandals and gossip and exposed the nationalist opportunism that underlay the degeneration of the WRP.

35. Unlike Banda, Slaughter and Healy, the sections of the ICFI will not turn their backs on the past struggles for Trotskyism in which these ex-leaders once played outstanding roles. We will never forget the lessons which they taught us and in which they once believed. But let the dead bury their dead. The betrayal of the WRP renegades has not destroyed the ICFI. Without them and against them, the struggle for Trotskyism, for the development and expansion of the International Committee of the Fourth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution, goes forward.


Workers League Central Committee

Approved unanimously