The ICFI Defends Trotskyism

Michael Banda, A Renegade from Trotskyism

Keerthi Balasuriya, National Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist League (Sri Lanka)

Mr. Michael Banda, general secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party of Britain and a renegade from Trotskyism, who recently betrayed the International Committee of the Fourth International, has been invited by prominent LSSP leader Hector Abeywardene to rejoin the LSSP.

This will not come as a surprise to the Trotskyists throughout the world who fought to defend the ICFI, the world party of socialist revolution, from the most virulent liquidationist attack ever levelled against it by the renegade leaders of the former WRP, both the Healy and Banda-Slaughter factions.

It is entirely in order that H. Abeywardene, one of the prominent liquidationists in the old LSSP, who was responsible for the liquidation of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India (then the section of the Fourth International in India) into Jayaprakash Narayan’s Praja Socialist Party after the Second World War, and who publicly declared that the biggest “mistake” of the LSSP was ever to have joined the FI, should now be in solidarity with M. Banda, who has denounced as futile the founding of the FI itself and its history, including the history of the ICFI from 1953.

This invitation was extended to Banda when he recently visited the LSSP headquarters. Having deserted his own organization at the height of a grave political crisis, Banda is currently in Sri Lanka hobnobbing with all the diseased anti-Trotskyist elements, hoping to assemble a menagerie of renegades against the ICFI under the false label of “defenders of the Transitional Program.”

Banda’s response to the LSSP invitation has been that only the lack of Sri Lankan citizenship stands in his way. He agreed, however, to meet the LSSP boss Colvin R. Da Silva, to continue with “discussions.”

Banda’s rendezvous with these treacherous enemies of the working class, against whom he fought since 1953, will confirm him as an unregenerate apostate, rarely witnessed in the history of the working-class movement.

M. Banda, who had been a member of the BLPI (Ceylon unit) during the late 1940s, and subsequently the LSSP (Ceylon section of the FI), migrated to Britain in 1950 along with his brother Tony Banda. Having joined the Trotskyist movement in Britain, he was instrumental in forming the ICFI in order to insure the continuity of Trotskyism against the attempt made by Michel Pablo and his group to liquidate the Trotskyist movement into Stalinism in 1953.

During the very period Banda was fighting to defeat this pro-Stalinist tendency in the FI, Pablo organized a group inside the LSSP, led by K.P. Silva, L.W. Panditha, and T.B.

Subasingha, to liquidate the LSSP into the thoroughly discredited, meager ranks of Sri Lankan Stalinism. It is important to remember at that stage the Stalinists in Sri Lanka were numerically, and in their political influence, decisively inferior to the LSSP.

While the LSSP leaders correctly expelled the pro-Stalinist Pablo gang from their ranks, they refused to support the ICFI to fight this tendency internationally.

The worst opportunism and nationalism of the LSSP leaders came into the open when they lined up with the same Pablo-Mandel group who organized the pro-Stalinist split in the LSSP, after Pablo gave them an undertaking not to interfere in the internal affairs of the LSSP.

At that time, the British Trotskyists, including Banda, correctly warned the LSSP that their collaboration with Pablo would pave the way for the total destruction of the LSSP as a proletarian party. This warning was vindicated in no time.

The LSSP’s lineup with Pablo’s revisionist secretariat meant that they could not conduct a political struggle against the very same class forces which produced a pro-Stalinist group in their own ranks.

Even though M. Banda now denounces the 1953 split, he knows full well that the thoroughly discredited Stalinist party in Sri Lanka could gain a semblance of credibility only with the theoretical and political cover provided by Pablo’s henchmen and the total retreat of the LSSP leaders from any struggle against this tendency.

While the Stalinists gained ground with this betrayal, the LSSP, now totally disarmed by the very same Pabloite outlook, degenerated into a second grade Stalinist party, vying with the Stalinists to tail-end the national bourgeois Sri Lanka Freedom Party of Bandaranaike.

(Banda, who decries the 1953 split, does so well knowing that the group at present in the leadership of the Communist Party, its general secretary, K.P. Silva, and its trade union leader, L.W. Panditha, is the very same group that was organized by Pablo in 1953 to split the LSSP.)

When the LSSP slid down the slope of degeneration after 1953 and increasingly turned toward the SLFP, the Socialist Labour League, the British section of the ICFI, of which Banda was a leader, broke off all political relations with Colvin R. Da Silva and Douric de Souza as far back as 1959.

As the British Trotskyist press, The Newsletter, of October 10, 1964, reported: “When Douric de Souza, presently a leader of the revisionists, came to London in 1959, we firmly drew attention to the policy of betrayal which they were following, and he broke off all political relations with us. We did the same with Colvin Da Silva too.

“The Newsletter published a statement against the tendency of accommodation to a coalition government which was accumulating in the Ceylonese party.”

Today Banda reestablishes political relations with Colvin Da Silva and the rest of the LSSP leaders, who are immeasurably more degenerate than they were in 1959 and spits on the entirely principled stand taken by the British Trotskyists in 1959.

Notwithstanding Banda’s cynical lies about the role of the ICFI and his own role, and his claim that the IC never prepared for a split in the LSSP and only “gate-crashed” the LSSP conference in 1964, the British Trotskyists urged the revolutionary wing of the LSSP to prepare for a split in 1963.

In a statement published in July 1963, written by Banda himself, the ICFI characterized the LSSP leaders as a “bunch of petty bourgeois charlatans masquerading as Marxists.” Banda quoted from the “Transitional Program,” the founding document of the Fourth International, and compared it with the policies of the LSSP.

“‘There is not and there cannot be a place for it in any of the Peoples Fronts. It uncompromisingly gives battle to all political groupings tied to the apron strings of the bourgeoisie.’

“The ICFI firmly believes that hundreds of devoted communists in the LSSP will reaffirm the principles and the program of the FI successfully and wipe out revisionism and revisionists from its ranks.” (Labour Review, July 1963)

When the LSSP entered the coalition government of Bandaranaike, only the ICFI unequivocally called upon the revolutionaries to split with the coalition traitors, and ruthlessly fought to unmask them and their Pabloite mentors.

The United Secretariat of Mandel and Hansen were for a coalition government, and covered up their complicity with the equivocators.

As late as April 1964, the United Secretariat was urging the LSSP to enter a coalition with the SLFP along with the LSSP-CP-MEP United Left Front: “Any form of coalition government with such a party (i.e., the SLFP) as long as it remains the dominant majority within such a coalition, can only lead to the immobilization of the left in advance and its becoming itself a target for the growing resentment of the masses.” That was the position of the United Secretariat in 1964.

It was in the course of the historic struggle against this great betrayal that the Revolutionary Communist League was established as a section of the ICFI in Sri Lanka through the interventions of Gerry Healy, Mike and Tony Banda during the period of 1964-67.

The terrible results of the LSSP-Pabloite betrayal did not take long to show up. In 1970 the LSSP-CP-SLFP coalition came to power in order to carry out the most brutal attacks against the workers, peasants, youth and Tamil masses.

The LSSP leaders, whose company Banda is now seeking, presided over the massacre of 15,000 youth in crushing the JVP-led uprising.

Banda is also well aware of the fact that the LSSP leaders are directly responsible for the murder of Comrades Lakshman Weerakoon and L.G. Gunadasa, members of the RCL, which fought to mobilize the working class against the coalition government in 1971.

He is also well aware of the fact that the entire RCL press was proscribed with the support of the LSSP leaders, and the leadership of the RCL, including K. Balasuriya, Wilfred (Spike) Pereira, and A. Wakkumbura, were arrested.

In the midst of the monstrous repression carried out by the coalition government against the JVP and the Sri Lankan Trotskyists, Banda denounced the LSSP leaders as hirelings of imperialism.

The betrayal did not end there. Colvin Da Silva proceeded to take the lead in institutionalizing the oppression against the Tamil nation by redrafting the constitution, making Sinhalese the only state language and Buddhism the state religion.

From 1970 to 1977, Banda completely supported the fight undertaken by the RCL to mobilize the working class to break the coalition and expose the LSSP traitors.

Having broken from the ICFI today, he is establishing his peace with the LSSP traitors against the ICFI and the RCL. The reactionary class content of the liquidationist “theories” of Banda, which claim that there has been no Trotskyist movement from 1940 onwards, is now absolutely clear.

We emphatically state that his cynical “theories” are nothing but a flimsy cover for his adaptation to the most reactionary forces the Trotskyist movement has fought against, and from now on he will place all the intimate knowledge he gained in a leading post in the Trotskyist movement at the disposal of these enemies of the working class.

It is our duty to warn the working class and the national liberation movements in Sri Lanka, India, Britain and the world over, not to place the slightest trust in M. Banda, his collaborator C. Slaughter, and the bogus WRPs led by them and by G. Healy, between which there are no principled differences.

By politically reconciling with the LSSP leaders, the most ardent defenders of the unitary racist state, who unconditionally support the racist war of the Sinhalese bourgeoisie against the Tamil nation, M. Banda has betrayed the interests of the national liberation struggle. Any self-respecting revolutionary organization would consider the heinous actions of M. Banda sufficient grounds to throw him out of its ranks.

We are eagerly waiting to see what attitude C. Slaughter, D. Bruce and Co., the political cohorts of Banda, will now take.