The document below is a detailed report of the disagreement expressed by a leading member of the Greek section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the Workers International League. To the reader who has no experience of the Fourth International it may seem extraordinarily intense and pedantic, but it is extremely important that this kind of discussion is understood.
The crisis of humanity, it is known, resolves itself into the crisis of revolutionary leadership for the working class. The task of building such a leadership must necessarily begin with the ideological struggle against the ideology of the ruling class. This can only be done by posing against it its opposite, the theory and practice of dialectical materialism, the science of social revolution. The fight between these two ideologies is therefore the class struggle itself.
It will be seen from the text that the Central Committee of the WIL, under the leadership of the ICFI, deployed every conceivable organisational means to facilitate the theoretical discussion, leaving no stone unturned. The result of such methods are in all cases the strengthening of the theoretical consciousness of the Party, not only the leaders, but of every member even though they only receive reports of the discussion. It is only through such struggle as this that the revolutionary leadership of the working class can be built.
Statement by the International Committee
of the Fourth International
News Line 4 May 1976 page 11
The Renegade Sklavos
Since the collapse of the military junta in Greece, the Workers International League of Greece, (WIL), section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, has made great strides in the building of the alternative working class revolutionary party.
They have attracted into the Trotskyist movement hundreds of workers, youth and students, as the Greek proletariat recovers from the treachery of the betrayals of the Stalinists.
The government of Karamanlis is and can only be a regime of crisis and instability, a Bonapartist regime dependent primarily upon the ability of the Stalinists to continue to “discipline” the working class and peasantry to bourgeois order.
There is no going back to the iron grip of the colonels’ junta without a new civil war to bloodily defeat the workers and peasants. There is no “democratic” way out of the economic and cultural problems of a backward and parasitic economy.
In the revolutionary struggles ahead, everything depends on building the revolutionary party, which prepares for the conquest of workers power. Opportunists of all kinds swing between sectarian and propagandist characterisations of the Karamanlis government as a continuation of the junta on the one hand (which would paralyse the movement) and pathetic democratic illusions on the other. The revolutionary party must fight all these tendencies outside and inside the movement and elaborate the strategy and tactics for power.
The leadership of the WIL has been constructed in the struggle to develop this strategy. This has meant a fight against a tendency to capitulate to the Stalinists (which called upon the split Stalinist factions to “unite”!) and against the characterisation of the Karamanlis government as “the junta”.
The leadership of the Greek section, after participating in the IC discussions which fought out these questions, is now engaged in organising and conducting a pre-National Conference discussion throughout the organisation. In the midst of this preparation, the Central Committee of the WIL was confronted on Friday 16 January with a letter from its secretary, Comrade L. Sklavos, [saying] that he was resigning both his secretaryship and his membership of the Central Committee, to which he had been elected at the last conference. This letter was delivered to a CC meeting called to continue the discussion on his own document, and from which he absented himself.
For two reasons which are inescapably correct, the CC of the WIL demanded that L Sklavos withdraw his resignation and continue as secretary and on the CC. First, the pre-conference discussion was opened, in that every question was open to full discussion in the Party; there was no possible need for any leading comrade to resign his position in order to fight for his line. Sklavos, like every other comrade must carry through to the conference the responsibilities for which he has been elected by the whole membership at the previous conference.
Second, Sklavos had already, in accordance with the decisions of the IC, (see below), submitted a lengthy document on Marxist philosophy, the discussion of which was only now beginning.
The pre-conference decision at the IC level gave Sklavos, as well as every other comrade, complete facilities for presenting any views whatsoever on political, philosophical and organisational questions.
Conference is the highest body of the WIL in accordance with the democratic centralist practice of Bolshevism. But L. Sklavos could not wait for the highest body of the Party to decide. He resigned from the leadership. And when requested on the following day to withdraw his resignation he completely refused.
The IC has already dealt extremely patiently with L. Sklavos’s contribution on questions of philosophy. When L. Sklavos first raised differences on these matters, (September 1975), the IC agreed (with L. Sklavos and the Greek section in support) on the following timetable: LS’s offer of submitting a document on 31 October was accepted; on this basis the IC and the CC of the WIL, meeting together, would begin the discussion in late November; this was to be the agreed and sole framework for the discussion; any subsequent steps must be by decision of the IC (Resolution of the IC 29.9.1975 appended). All signatories, (including L.Sklavos representing the Greek Section), committed themselves to oppose all splits and to facilitate the discussion.
Even though comrade LS broke these decisions, the IC persisted in arranging for the discussion. LS circulated and discussed his document with non-members of the IC and CC of the WIL and worked to organise a faction around himself before any further IC and CC discussion.
He submitted one half of his document (untranslated at that point) only just before the IC meeting of 14 December 1975. It was then resolved to arrange translation, with discussion to begin on 3 and 4 January between the IC and the CC of the WIL. The second half, however, did not arrive until 1 January. As soon as translation was complete, though not before any reply could be prepared, a comrade from the IC visited Greece, (15 January 1976), for discussion preliminary to the IC-WIL meeting.
Having already broken the agreement, LS now proceeded on a campaign of open disruption. The CC of the WIL, as well as the IC, had accepted the discussion of his views on philosophy, but he now (16 January, the day after the visit to Athens of an IC member) announced political differences with the IC, i.e. a new platform of attack on the IC, and resigned from his leadership positions.
This is in complete conflict with democratic centralism which demands that such differences must first be fought out in the leading committees of which the comrade concerned is a member. In a pre-conference discussion, such a comrade may take views into the Party as a whole, but such action does not require his resignation. It view of this, the CC of the WIL demanded that LS withdraw his resignation. This action was absolutely correct. They made this appeal to LS even despite the fact that on the evening following his resignation, he had mobilised a factional grouping together with non-party disruptive elements and engineered a provocation in one of the Party’s offices.
When LS was requested to resume his leadership positions, he was also asked to give an undertaking not to violate the constitution or to disrupt the work of the Party. On this condition he was guaranteed every right to fight for his positions up to and including the conference. The first concern of the CC was absolutely correctly, to exclude all provocations and organisational disputes so that the political discussions could proceed.
At this point LS and his supporters were forced either to accept discipline and face the full political and theoretical issues up to the conference, or to attempt full-scale disruption. They chose the latter course, engineering a provocation on the same evening. On this breach of the constitution and deliberate disruption the CC was compelled to act. It did so, with all responsibility and expelled LS and his closest supporters who organised the disruption.
In the following two days the whole membership, at specially convened branch meetings, endorsed the actions of the CC. Despite their actions those who politically supported LS have been given every right to bring their case to the CC if they sign the undertakings previously placed before LS. Those who do not do this, of course, have the right to appeal to the Party conference against their expulsion.
The IC meeting on 25 January 1976 fully endorses and supports the resolute action of the Central Committee of the Greek section. Only a leadership which fights for democratic centralism will be able to carry out the revolutionary tasks posed by the crisis in Greece.
The IC fought over many years to correct the serious political errors of LS, and in the centres of these struggles the Greek leadership was built. When LS developed his philosophical differences, denying the conflict of opposites as the source of development, he took a source which was calculated to destroy all that had been built in Greece. Eclecticism is substituted for dialectics.
In essentials he wanted a theoretical rationalisation for opportunist adaptation to the national political milieu, dominated as always by “democratic” opportunism. For this it was necessary, just as it was for Wohlforth and Hansen in the United States and Thornett in England, to build up a smokescreen of lies and slanders about the “intervention” and “bureaucratic” dictatorship of the IC and the WRP leadership. LS’s resignation and disruption was designed to do exactly this. His conduct was a continuation of his previous opposition to publishing in Greece the material of the IC on Wohlforth.
All sections of the IC, already forewarned by the work on Security and the Fourth International, which followed the struggle against Wohlforth, are warned to be vigilant and completely firm against all such disruptions.
They are not accidental. On the contrary they are characteristic of the period in which we now fight. Trotskyism has been successfully wrested from the hands of agents and those who capitulated to agents through theoretical neglect, political adaptation and organisational softness. The middle class propagandists who want Trotskyism tied to the coat-tails of the reformists and Stalinists, grow more and more hysterical and resort to sheer provocations because they hate being politically defeated; they are caught like rats in a trap.
For this reason no one should be surprised if this handful of enemies of the IC came together quickly, even though in the past they have made the most bitter denunciations of each other. Wohlforth joins Hansen, despite the most vitriolic political exchanges between the two. Thornett publishes and sympathises with the “treatment” of Wohlforth, re-discovered friend of the SWP. [The American revisionist party – Ed]. LS in Greece turns to Thornett to build up his position against the IC, even though the burden of his “philosophy” document is that the IC does not go far enough in denouncing the renegade Thornett on basic questions of materialism.
What unites all these gentlemen is this: The maturing of the world revolution leaves less and less space between the IC, the world revolutionary party on the one hand, and the demands of the ruling class that this leadership be broken up on the other. It is an inexorable logic which drives those who disrupt the party in Greece and attack the IC in Britain and the US. The IC appeals to any comrades in Greece who have been confused by the actions of Sklavos to return to the WIL and participate in the pre-conference discussion, in which all political positions will be discussed.
January 25, 1976
RESOLUTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE
1. The International Committee, meeting on 12 September 1975, hearing a report from the international cadre school, and in particular, the situation in the Greek delegation. Comrade Sklavos said he had differences of opinion on the running of the educational work at the school. He said he had differences with the positions put forward on Marxist method by the IC comrades responsible for the school. He asked for a discussion. This was agreed at once.
The IC proposed to prepare and organise the discussion on these questions in the following way. The differences are at a level of the IC and the discussions must be regulated by the IC itself. Comrade Sklavos will submit to the IC by 31 October a written document for the IC Internal Discussion Bulletin, and will have the right also to present his differences verbally at the meetings of the IC. The first of these will be held jointly with the Central committee of the Greek Section during the second half of November 1975.
The IC will reproduce and circulate to all sections, including the Greek section, copies for discussion, and make arrangements with the sections for translation into other languages. The IC will prepare and circulate a reply to Comrade Sklavos’s document. This discussion in the IC sections must be organised and conducted as a fundamental discussion. From this date in the Greek section, it must in no way whatsoever be the vehicle of any factional divisions or irresponsible talk of “splits”. Both sides pledge themselves to work together immediately against any such developments should they occur. The leadership and the membership must ensure that the unity and the work of the section are in no way impaired by the discussion and the differences revealed by it.
The IC, together with Comrade Sklavos and the Greek delegation to the international cadre school, accept this procedure and framework for the discussion. Any further step in the discussion must be a decision of the IC.
Signed 27.9.1975 by representatives of sections of the
International Committee of the Fourth International
including L. Sklavos, (Greece).
2. The International Committee resolves to begin immediately the translation of the document outlining Cde. Slavos’s differences with the majority if the IC. This document will be circulated for discussion among IC members and CC of the WIL of Greece only and will be discussed on 3 and 4 January at the meeting of the IC and CC of the WIL.
Agreed unanimously 14.12.1975