The ICFI Defends Trotskyism

In Defense of Security and the Fourth International

To the Members of the Workers Revolutionary Party:

In recent weeks, a campaign has been initiated by the majority of the WRP Central Committee to discredit the decade-long investigation of the International Committee into the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Leon Trotsky and the infiltration of the Fourth International by agents of world imperialism and its Stalinist lackeys.

This campaign is part of a wider attack on the entire history of the International Committee, from which the WRP leadership has decided to split. The Slaughter-Banda leadership has already established contact with revisionist groups in Europe and the United States and will be working openly for a regroupment with Pabloite and well as Stalinist organizations as soon as the break with the IC is completed.

The attack on Security and the Fourth International is being orchestrated by Slaughter and Banda for the following reasons:

First, it serves their immediate factional needs to slander all those sections of the International Committee which are refusing to go along with the political renegacy of Banda and Slaughter.

Second, the repudiation of Security and the Fourth International is an essential prerequisite for a rapprochement with the revisionists.

During the past four months, it has become all too clear that the nationalist degeneration of the Healy-Banda-Slaughter leadership created conditions in which the ranks of the WRP were all but totally isolated from the political work of the International Committee. The membership was deprived of basic education in the history of the struggle against Pabloite revisionism, and, with the exception of annual rallies held to commemorate the assassination of Trotsky, was told very little about the results of the Security and the Fourth International investigation.

This is a major reason why a large number of members are susceptible to the lies told by Slaughter, T. Banda and others that the investigation was simply Healy’s “brainchild,” the product of his so-called “paranoia.”

While we are able to understand, for the reasons given above, why some members might be confused about Security and the Fourth International, there is no confusion whatsoever on the part of either Slaughter or Mike Banda. They are intimately familiar with all aspects of Security and the Fourth International. Indeed, their involvement in this work began well before the Workers League was drawn into the investigation. Both Banda and Slaughter participated in dozens of meetings in which the evidence gathered in the course of the investigation was analyzed and its political significance assessed.

Slaughter, who drafted most of the early political statements related to Security and the Fourth International, restated as recently as October 1985, during his last trip to the United States, his strong conviction that the investigation was correct and necessary.

In its resolution of January 26, 1986, the WRP Central Committee attacks the Gelfand case for setting a “dangerous precedent in calling on the state to determine the membership of a working class political organization”—although Banda and Slaughter know that the legal foundation of the lawsuit was the official finding that the government takeover of a socialist political organization “is a drastic interference with the associational rights of its adherents and cannot pass constitutional muster.” Moreover, it ignores the facts uncovered as a result of the case:

• That Sylvia Franklin was a GPU agent (refuting all the revisionists, particularly those who assembled in Friends Hall on January 14, 1977 on the “Platform of Shame”), and that Hansen and the SWP leadership had lied to the entire workers’ movement.

• That the defense of Sylvia Franklin was motivated by the fact that the man who exposed her publicly—Louis Budenz—had also named Joseph Hansen as a GPU agent. This fact was uncovered at the Gelfand trial in March 1983.

• That Hansen’s meetings with the FBI in 1940, following the assassination of Leon Trotsky, were totally unknown to the leadership of the SWP. Among those whose sworn statements refuted Hansen were key leaders of the SWP during that period: Felix Morrow, Morris Stein, and Farrell Dobbs (now deceased).

In the course of the case, the SWP collaborated directly with Mark Zborowski—the GPU agent who helped organize the assassination of Leon Sedov, Erwin Wolf, Ignace Reiss and Rudolf Klement—to prevent Gelfand’s attorneys from obtaining his sworn deposition. In the end, the court ruled to stop Zborowski’s deposition on the grounds that his testimony might identify agents inside the SWP, in violation of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

The WRP Central Committee resolution advises the Workers League to approach the SWP “to find a means to resolve this outside the courts...” This is an extraordinary suggestion, given the fact that the SWP and all Pabloite organizations all over the world refused between 1975 (when the IC initiated its Security investigation) and 1979 (the beginning of the Gelfand case) all appeals by the International Committee for the formation of a parity committee or commission of inquiry to study the evidence assembled by the International Committee.

Most of those appeals for an objective examination of the evidence were drafted by Slaughter and Banda.

It should be especially noted that the evidence assembled in the course of the Gelfand case established conclusively the fraudulent character of the so-called “verdict” published by the SWP in September 1976 and reprinted in the scurrilous pamphlet, Healy’s Big Lie. It was proved, on the basis of sworn testimony, that none of the 168 individuals who signed the “verdict,” denouncing the charges against Hansen as a “shameless frame-up,” were shown any factual or documentary material refuting the charges against Hansen (which, at that time, were still confined to allegations relating to his cover-up of GPU activity against the Fourth International). Indeed, the SWP member chiefly responsible for circulating the “verdict” and obtaining signatures and statements denouncing the investigation, the late George Weissman, testified that he knew nothing about the factual content of the charges made by the International Committee and had never discussed them with Hansen.

We have been informed that in recent weeks, some members have been reading the SWP pamphlet, Healy’s Big Lie, and claiming that it “refutes” Security and the Fourth International. This opinion can only be viewed as another example of the astonishing ignorance that is to be found among sections of the WRP. The substance of the 146-page legal brief submitted by Gelfand in June 1982 in opposition to the SWP’s motion for summary judgment (for the dismissal of the case) was a detailed factual refutation of virtually every claim made by Hansen in the articles included in Healy’s Big Lie. The SWP made no attempt to answer this legal brief. At trial, SWP leaders were pressed to cite the passages in Healy’s Big Lie that supposedly answered the charges against Hansen. They could not.

At the risk of interfering with the budding romance between the Banda-Slaughter renegades and the SWP, let us cite just a few passages from the trial testimony of one of its leaders in order to show just how well the SWP answered the “slander campaign.”

The following passages come from the testimony of SWP leader Larry Seigle on March 4, 1983, under questioning by Gelfand’s attorney John Burton.

Q: Is there a policy about unknown contacts between Socialist Workers Party members and the government wherein Socialist Workers Party members furnish information, internal information about the SWP to the government? Is there a policy in your party about that, Mr. Seigle?

A: Unknown to whom?

Q: Let’s say unknown to the political committee.

A: It would depend.

Q: On what would that depend?

A: On the circumstances.

Q: Do you have any idea whether or not Mr. Hansen met with Mr. Sackett (FBI Special Agent in charge of New York) in 1940 as asked of you by Mr. Gelfand?

A: I have no independent knowledge about it.

Q: Did you ever ask Mr. Hansen whether he met with Mr. Sackett in 1940?

A: No.

Q: Did you ever ask Mr. Barnes whether Mr. Hansen met with Mr. Sackett?

A: No, I didn’t care.

Q: You didn’t care whether Mr. Hansen was meeting with the special agent in charge of the New York City office of the FBI?

A: That particular detail, I didn’t care about. The essential answers were provided in Healy’s Big Lie. I wasn’t interested in anything more about it.

Q: But was that answer provided in Healy’s Big Lie?

SWP ATTORNEY: Objection. The document speaks for itself.

THE COURT: Well if he knows, he may answer.

A: Your Honor, I don’t know until I read the whole thing if that particular detail is answered.

Slaughter claims that there is no evidence that Hansen is an agent. Very well, we await his explanation to the documents related to Hansen’s trips to the US Embassy in Mexico City and his requests for confidential contacts with the US government. We look forward to hearing his explanation for the lies about Sylvia Franklin. He should also be pressed to explain the significance of Budenz’s identification of Hansen as a GPU agent.

If he attempts to answer these questions at all, he can do nothing more than repeat the old discredited lies of Hansen and the SWP leaders.

As for Banda, how does he reconcile his present vilification of Security and the Fourth International with the analysis he wrote 10 years ago of the SWP’s position on the Angolan revolution, which carried the suggestive title, SWP: Apologist and Defender of Imperialism. This statement, which Banda wrote in the name of the International Committee, was a scathing denunciation of the SWP’s opposition to the MPLA and its support for the CIA-South African-backed forces of the FNLA and UNITA. For those members of the WRP who perhaps do not remember the background of this polemic, Banda’s statement was written after the SWP National Committee had specifically justified Holden Roberto’s acceptance of CIA money and demanded that the MPLA call off its struggle against the Angolan agents of imperialism. In concluding his analysis Banda declared:

“The SWP’s veiled support for the CIA-financed organizations and their overt hostility to the MPLA is in-

separably tied up with the gross betrayal of Trotskyism which is expressed in the refusal of SWP leaders Novack and Hansen to answer any of the charges made against them by the International Committee of the Fourth International on the question of security and the Fourth International. Their consistent refusal to do anything to rid the movement of the stigma of GPU intrigue and provocation today renders them just as vulnerable to the pressure of the CIA.

“This group’s degeneration into chauvinism and anti-communism is now almost complete with its abandonment of the national liberation struggle in Angola. This reveals a group of middle class skeptics which is being rapidly transformed—like the late Shachtman—into a counterrevolutionary agency of the State Department.”

The fact that Banda is now prepared to denounce Security and the Fourth International and call upon the Workers League to approach the SWP is a measure of his own appalling political degeneration over the last decade. Both he and Slaughter have so completely abandoned themselves to opportunism that they change principled positions virtually overnight in order to suit their immediate factional ends. But they are not merely changing their minds. They are changing their class positions.

Aside from the factional and unprincipled motivations of Banda and Slaughter, we must acknowledge the fact that there are many comrades within the WRP who, as a result of the betrayals of the old leadership, have been prevented from familiarizing themselves with—let alone making a systematic study of—Security and the Fourth International. Many know little, if anything at all, about the political circumstances which gave rise to the investigation. Even before the International Committee began its investigation, a whole series of events had taken place within the Pabloite movement internationally which raised serious questions about the role of state agencies inside the revisionist organizations:

• The Gery Lawless affair, in which a leading member of the IMG achieved notoriety by publicly attributing a bombing to the IRA. He became known in the press as “The Man Who Tipped Off Scotland Yard.”

• The Kevin Gately inquiry, in which an unidentified IMG member—who remained anonymous with the agreement of the organization’s leadership—supplied Lord Justice Scarman with information which contradicted the previous testimony of IMG members and led to the absolving of the police of responsibility for Gately’s death.

• The case of Max Wechsler, the minutes secretary of the executive committee of the Australian Pabloites, who revealed that he worked for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO).

• The case of Bala Tampoe, the Sri Lankan Pabloite leader, who travelled to the United States and met with US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara on a junket financed by the CIA-controlled Asia Foundation.

During the period when the above incidents came to light (1974-75) the fall-out from the Watergate scandal in Washington led to the exposure of massive government infiltration of the US Socialist Workers Party, involving scores of “black-bag” operations and hundreds of agents and informants.

It was against this background that Hansen made his extraordinary intervention in defense of Tim Wohlforth in March 1975. Wohlforth, as some members of the WRP may recall, deserted the Workers League after the International Committee and the Workers League’s Central Committee voted to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate his failure to report the family connections of Nancy Fields, his personal companion, to high-level CIA operatives.

In a fit of subjective rage, the immediate form assumed by his movement to the right, Wohlforth denounced the International Committee, repudiated 14 years of struggle against Pabloite revisionism, and rejoined the SWP. In turn, Hansen denounced Healy’s actions in relation to Wohlforth as “paranoia.”

One week later, in the April 7, 1975 edition of Intercontinental Press, in an article entitled “Red Lion Square—where were the heroes of the WRP?”, it was Hansen who first raised the question of agents!

“Has the WRP been infiltrated by agents of the Special Branch? What are the identities of those in the WRP who suggested that the best course was to have nothing to do with the demonstration against fascism in Red Lion Square?”

As Slaughter no doubt prefers to forget, he replied to this statement on May 29, 1975, immediately after the Sixth Congress of the International Committee of the Fourth International. He proposed the formation of a parity commission consisting of an equal number of members from the IC and the United Secretariat to investigate the questions raised by Hansen and other matters related to the security of the movement. The letter stated that “G. Healy will present himself for questioning before the joint committee if Joseph Hansen will do so as well.” Hansen, as Slaughter knows, rejected this proposal.

Slaughter renewed the proposal in a letter dated June 21, 1975. Hansen never replied to it.

On October 23, 1975, Slaughter wrote a letter in which he took up Hansen’s evasions:

“Security is not only an organizational question, but above all a fundamental political question of the struggle of the world party of socialist revolution against the capitalist state, against the intelligence and repressive agencies of the imperialist powers, and against the Stalinist bureaucracy, the main counter-revolutionary force in the world arena, dedicated since its inception to the liquidation of the Fourth International.

“The training of revolutionary cadres for the revolutionary struggles of today cannot be carried out without a relentless fight to establish the historical continuity of Trotsky’s life and death battle against the Stalinist bureaucracy.

“When Hansen lyingly accuses the Workers Revolutionary Party of being led by police agents and provocateurs, but then rejects a security investigation which would hit decisively at the Stalinists and their agents in the movement, what role is he playing? Why has he hitherto insisted on covering up the great historical questions concerning the murder of the founder of the Fourth International and his closest collaborators? What is the responsibility of those, like Hansen, who have criminally neglected these questions and now refuse to take them up?”

Perhaps Slaughter will argue that he wrote those lines under Healy’s direction and that he did not believe them at the time. But if, indeed, Slaughter wants us to accept that he has simply functioned as a gun for hire and professional liar for the last 30 years of his life, there is no reason to grant any credibility to his present positions. For our part, however, we have a far higher estimate of Slaughter’s past and his political contributions to the building of the International Committee. In repudiating this past, he is abandoning all that was principled in his many years of struggle for Trotskyism.

In this pamphlet, we are presenting to the members of the Workers Revolutionary Party a small part of the record of Security and the Fourth International—especially those documents which relate to the origins of this historic campaign. We regret that it is necessary to repeat now to members of the British section what we were telling members of the SWP in the United States more than a decade ago. But throughout the history of the revolutionary movement, there have been times of political crisis when it has been necessary to defend against attack all the old conquests of Marxism. This must now be done within the oldest and founding section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

David North