The ICFI Defends Trotskyism

Letter from Cliff Slaughter to Peter Schwarz

January 30, 1986

Dear Comrade,

I understand from your letter of December 1985 that the International Committee, in my absence, appointed you as Secretary. That is why it is to you that this letter is addressed. (I cannot comprehend the associated decision of which you informed me, that the suspension of the WRP does not necessitate removing me as secretary.)

I demand that you place before the forthcoming Special Conference of the IC (to be called before March 1st, to consider whether the WRP will still be considered a member or not) my resignation as Secretary, a responsibility to which I was reelected at the 10th Congress in January 1985. My reasons are as follows:

1. The perspectives and decisions of the 10th Congress have, in the struggle against Healy, his politics and his practices, been effectively condemned by objective developments. No communist can accept them.

2. The IC, instead of preparing a Congress with new perspectives documents and an analysis of the split in the WRP and the IC, has instead convened a Conference to try the WRP majority leadership. IC members have intervened as spokesmen for a minority in the WRP in order to further this attack.

3. The struggle to expose and expel Healy has shown irrefutably that communist principles were betrayed by the WRP and the IC, and that the claim to have upheld the continuity of the Fourth International was the opposite of the truth. Only the struggle to expose that falsehood can be the basis for continuity with Trotsky and the 1938 Founding Conference.

The international work of the IC and its sections, led by Healy, centered around three sectors: (a) Healy’s so-called “cadre-training” and “dialectical materialism”; (b) Relations with national liberation movements and bourgeois national governments in the Arab countries and Iran; and (c) “Security and the Fourth International.”

Each was the brainchild of Healy, his subjective idealism and opportunism. The three were inseparably connected one with another.

The politics of Healy cannot be understood, negated and overcome, without recognizing that and accepting responsibility for both what happened and what must be done to overcome it.

“Cadre-training” was nothing but exploitation and abuse of the hundreds of young men and women who joined the movement to be communists but were “trained” to become anti-theory, anti-Marxist functionaries and/or victims of Healy’s reactionary politics and physical abuses.

The “dialectics” developed by Healy was a subjectivist (not a Hegelian) and individualistic mystification in order to impose this relationship in a regime which became more and more brutal, obstructing any development of Marxism through communist relations between comrades and between the party and the working class.

The relations with the national liberation movements,

especially the PLO, were turned into little more than an unprincipled maneuver to get the IC-WRP close to the bourgeois-national governments in the Middle East. The material and political relations so established, a rejection of the basic Trotskyist tenets of the Permanent Revolution, led to outright betrayals of the working class.

The “Security and the Fourth International” investigations became a hopelessly extravagant and paranoid pursuit of the single question of exposing “agents” in the SWP of the United States, at the political and material cost of totally impoverishing the fight against revisionism which was and is vital to the regeneration of the Fourth International. The “investigation” was founded materially on the reactionary work of the IC-WRP policies in the Middle East. The real theoretical questions that fight involved were put aside in favor of resort (sic) the courts and a vastly expensive pursuit of clues to “agents.” These same theoretical questions were eliminated in Healy’s “dialectics,” in which hundreds were “trained” every year in all sections of the IC. Healy’s “infallibility” cult dominated all these spheres, with comrades deliberately isolated in one field of work or another, and subjected to rumor and spying by Healy’s closest associates and agents.

It is an insult to the intelligence, let alone to the communist movement and to Trotsky’s whole tradition and struggle, to suggest that some particular one of these sectors of the work of the IC under Healy is somehow pure and separate from the rest.

The IC must accept its responsibility in these matters, and individuals must also do so. It is for this reason that I place before the coming Conference and before the IC my resignation. It is, I believe, the task of every member of the International Committee to consider his own responsibility and his own position. The spectacle of those who have sat on this committee for years and who voted with Healy at the 10th Congress in 1985 now voting self-righteously to “suspend” and even expel the WRP is ludicrous, even disgusting, from the standpoint of communists. To face up to the objective truth in front of the working class is the first test of an honest communist. I insist that the IC make public in all sections my letter of resignation as its Secretary.

Yours fraternally,

C. Slaughter


In September, when the implications of the betrayals carried out under Healy’s leadership, without our having fought to stop those betrayals, I told the CC of the WRP that I must now resign as IC Secretary. It was Comrade North who said—and at the time I agreed—that my position as Secretary was important in completing the international struggle against Healy and what he represented, a struggle which at that time was shared by us. I now believe that that was a wrong decision, as proven by the experience of the struggle. It placed the preservation of a body calling itself the ICFI before the struggle to take through to the end the basic search for objective truth on which to refound Trotsky’s International.