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Published by Gerald J Downing

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Published by: Gerald J Downing on Apr 12, 2009
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‘Alas the storm is come again! My best bet is to creep underneath his gabardine; there is no othershelter hereabouts: misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. I will here shroud till the dregsof the storm be past.”
Shakespeare; The Tempest, Act 2 Scene 2.
Or how the WRP leaders found shelter beneath Moreno’s gabardine.
The extraordinary reaction to Chris Bailey’s report on his US trip did not initially get support from theentire CC. There were many doubters and even five votes against the majority axis of the academics andthe aspiring trade union bureaucrats at the January 1987 CC meeting. However the die was now cast andthe opposition of Pirani, Poulsen and the doubts of others soon disappeared when it became clear thatSlaughter meant business with his new alliances and a split might result from any serious opposition.Leon Perez was installed in the Party HQ with full access to all Party facilities. Bailey’s internal report onhis US trip was handed over to him, as was my document, ‘For a Reassessment of our History and aDeveloping of the Transitional Programme and of Marxism’, written on 23 January 1987.
In it I attacked what I saw as the errors of the call for the International Conference:‘The call for the International Conference is seriously flawed1 and avoids a reassessment of our history andwill exclude political groups, a serious discussion with whom would force such reassessment. It musttherefore be amended in a number of areas. The necessity for doing this is clear when we look at the positions of the two tendencies our leadership is now so enamoured with - the Varga group and Moreno’sUT. Varga’s group regards as fundamental Trotskyism and the prime reason for splitting with the ‘La Verite’group that Stalinism is not a part of the workers’ movement...Moreno’s attitude to Stalinism, on the other hand, is to form a ‘People’s Front with them (the term stinks toevery Trotskyist), to greet them as revolutionary socialists and to present them as co- leaders of therevolution. Both these positions are equally wrong, yet these tendencies are politically preferred to theInternational Group, the Socialist Group and the Workers Power. None of these hold such wrong positionson this most vital question for Trotskyists. Again as Bill Hunter points out Moreno’s conception of aninternational is one in which Trotskyism may be a minority current. Who may the majority be Castroites,Sandanistas, Stalinists?”I also correctly identified Varga as an unregenerate Lambertist in that document:“Varga’s theory of the International Committee continuity is, of course, the Lambertist line and he showsthe same preference for social democracy before Stalinism ... His position on the united front and on jointwork with other groups in his own country -only to win their best members - is classic sectarianism; puttingthe interests of the party before the class. Varga has made no reassessment of the splits of 1953, 1963 or 1971...”These two documents were also handed over to the Vargaites before the Party could see them. HenceforthPerez attended all CCs and any other meetings he wished and no further basis was available for internaldiscussion on Bailey’s report. When it was apparent that Perez was now effectively running the WIW andBailey, the Secretary of the International Commission, was being treated with such contempt, he stormedout of the CC.1
As already noted Dave Temple dismissed Bailey’s report on the violent conduct of Perez in the US with thetypical narrow, nationalistic outlook of the TI’ bureaucracy; it was something which happened “halfwayaround the world” he said. Bob Archer accused Bailey of opposing Perez because he was a foreigner!Hunter made great play of Bailey’s walk out of the CC, yet had no regard for the manner in which the wordof Perez who had just appeared on the scene was taken, and Bailey, a party member for some 23 years,effectively branded a liar for honestly reporting the numerous accounts of physical assaults from USTrotskyists. The parallel with the way the reports of Healy’s thuggery were dismissed by Partyfunctionaries was obvious for all that wanted to see.On 24
February I wrote the ‘Reassessment and Development not a Political Mule’ document raising someof the appalling positions of the Morenoites:“...If this does not demolish Cde Slaughter’s (defence of the) ‘united front’ what of its call of 1-1-‘87 for anelectoral alliance with ‘all the political forces who declare themselves anti-imperialist, anti- oligargic or of the left, in particular the Partido Intransigente, the Nueve Iquerda (New Left), the Movemento Todos por laPatria (the Movement of Everybody for the Fatherland!), Workers Party as well as those sections of theruling Radical Party and the Peronists who are ready to confront the ‘plans of dependency’ of their leadership... The theory underpinning all this is expounded by their historian Ernesto Gonzales in ‘What isPeronism? P83 where he states ‘The recognition that we were in a nationalist - bourgeois front has no other significance than confirming in words what we were doing in practice. Nor did we put any confidence in itsleadership, although our newspaper recognised we were under the discipline of General Peron”.I quoted from their Internal Bulletin ‘What is to be Done’:“’The building of a mass international, therefore at this moment, will take place through the building of national workers and revolutionary mass parties. These parties will possibly not be Trotskyists nor willTrotskyists be in a majority within them except under exceptional circumstances. They will be semi-Trotskyist organisations that tend towards Trotskyism, although they don’t go all the way’. What kind of a political mule is this?”This got no real answer, but then as I was almost the only one in the WRP who sought out the politics of theMAS at the time, I could safely be ignored as a crackpot.
Chris Bailey wrote a document on all this on 19 February. However its entire drift was to re-assert the principle that we must re-assess the past and not abandon this, as Slaughter was now doing. He drew noconclusions himself from his own re-assessing and thereby handed the political initiative to Slaughter. Itwas as if he was conceding he had no political right to fight for leadership and no confidence in himself todo so.This judgement, of course, is with the benefit of hindsight and l am more than aware that the I had noconception yet of forging a new leadership opposed the old one, but I did fight on the political issues,without seeing that a victory had to include a defeat of and a split with the old leadership. I can only say inmy defence that I had not at all grasped the nature of the corruption of the old WRP leaders at the time.Bailey’s document ‘A Reply to Comrade cliff Slaughter makes this point:“Comrade Slaughter is avoiding such a reassessment. He says:‘Pabloism was the instrument of pressure from the Stalinist bureaucracy within the Trotskyist movement. Itwas Stalinism (not imperialism? GD) which was compelled to destroy the Fourth International. This means,to be sure that there are not Trotskyist parties in every country and no International’. But was it justPabloism that was the ‘instrument of pressure’, Comrade Slaughter? Did not the IC play a role in makingsure there was not Trotskyist parties in every country and no international?2
Is not that exactly what we confronted when we overthrew Healy? Can we simply carry on with areasserting of principles and forget the past? Do we not have to trace the roots of the IC failure in itshistory?”It is perhaps apt to note here that Bailey relates that during one of those acrimonious Political Committeemeetings at the start of ~87 (Chris Bailey and Dave Bruce were on the PC as was Richard Goldstein)Slaughter broke down and wept, confessed that he thought his usefulness was at an end and that he shouldretire and allow the new leadership to take over. Bailey should have twisted the knife while it was in!There were many sources of information on Moreno available to members, ranging from the documentswritten by John Lister and others, representing the Trotskyist International Liaison Committee (TILC), (the body of international co-thinkers drawn together by the progressive nature of the 1974 struggle against theWRP waged by the Thornett group) in the late 1970’s to the Spartacists ‘Moreno Truth Kit’, articles anddocuments from Workers Power sources, volumes of material from the Argentinean Partido Obrera andmany others. Most WRP members just did not want to know what Moreno represented politically, it wassufficient that the academics put a veneer of Marxism over him, just as they did for Healy, and it wasswallowed, hook, line and sinker.
A bizarre incident happened around that time. At the CC meeting at the end of January 1 denouncedMoreno’s political positions in the strongest terms and drew much hostility from the meeting. I had just satdown when a rumour began to circulate; ‘He’s dead’! People began to look at me with even greater hostility. Then Bill Hunter arose to tell the meeting that Moreno was dead but could not bring himself tosay it through his tears. And this for a man he had only met twice in his life, once in 1958 and the other time in 1986! Needless to say he would have cheerfully shot me dead at the time.The Workers Press produced a lying obituary, which never mentioned any of the controversial aspects of Moreno’s career. It was as if the WRP wrote an obituary for Mandel and never mentioned
Pabloism. Pirani
actually defended it by saying that he would do just that for Mandel. It was clear now that no examinationwas contemplated of Morenoite politics or positions.
One of the big issues that gave some credence to the supposed left turn of the Morenoites was the performance of their supporters in the Simon Bolivar Brigade (SBB or SBIB, the ‘I’ is for ‘International’)during the Nicaragua civil war and after and the critical analysis of the whole affair made by the MorenoiteColombian section, the PST. This leftism, however, was a defence of the more left positions the USec(which then included the Morenoites) had had before 1979. In 1979 the USec began to oppose theconstruction of a section in Nicaragua, leaving the SBB high and dry and open to state repression.The Sandanistas expelled the SBB from Nicaragua on 20 August 1979, with the support of the USec (andthe WRP) also). This was one of the reasons Moreno split with the USec. The Lambertist and theMorenoites exploited this treachery to give a gloss to their unprincipled, and short lived fusion. However some correct transitional demands were made but the demand that could lead to state power for the workingclass, the governmental slogan, was wrong and confused It demanded ‘A Sandinista Government withoutthe Bourgeoisie’, implying that the Sandinistas were some type of Mensheviks. Unfortunately theSandinistas were simply petty bourgeois and when the capitalists did indeed leave the government (having been invited in by the Sandinistas) the regime moved, not to expropriate the capitalists but to curb theworkers and the revolution. Moreover the San was a group acting under the pressure of a revolution, whoseinspiration did not reach Buenos Aires to alter the revisionism of the LIT in any substantial way.The Belgium LOR, section of the LTT, comprehensibly exposed the accounts of their military exploits and political positions that Leon Perez wrote in Workers Press during the first half of 1987 as a tissue of lies, ina long document they wrote on the question In Autumn 1987; The Simon Bolivar Brigade: Questions for Comrade L Perez. These are just some of the main issues they take up. Perez claimed that the SBB were:3

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