The Degeneration of the Revolutionary Internationalist League/ITC

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26/11/2017 by socialistfight

By Gerry Downing

RIL-1Tony Gard, Naveed Malik, Karen Doyle, Amanda Egbe, and Nick de Marco protest outside Bow Street April 15, 1996  Michael Stephens – PA Images / 

In March 1989 Gerry Downing joined the Revolutionary Internationalist League (RIL), the British section of the International Trotskyist Committee, which also included the Revolutionary Workers League (USA) and the Revolutionary Workers League (Italy) and comrades in Denmark. Its origin was in the Workers Socialist League, whose founders, Alan Thornett, Tony Richardson and John Lister, had split from the WRP in 1974, affirming the Transitional Programme and denouncing its catastrophism. The ITC forerunners correctly split from the WSL of Sean Matgamna and Alan Thornett on the Malvinas war.

Matgmana’s group supported British Imperialism in the basis that the British colonists in the islands had a right to self-determination, a position they later developed in support of the Loyalists in the north of Ireland and the Zionists in Israel/Palestine. They split from Thornett’s supporters on that basis. A small British group and the whole of the non-British sections of the International group, the Trotskyist International Liaison Committee (TILC), split on the basis that they were for the defeat of the British fleet in defence of semi-colonial Argentina against imperialist Britain, secretly allied with the USA in that war, it later emerged. Of course, only “British” Trotskyists could defend their own ruling class or refuse to call for their defeat in this unprincipled manner.

The worst in this regard was Ted Grant’s Militant group, and Matgmana’s followers were frequently accused of being “as bad as Ted Grant” an accusation they furiously denied. Matgmana’s AWL is now clearly to the right on the question of imperialism of both Garntite successor organisations, the Socialist Party/Committee for a Workers International (SP/CWI) and the Socialist Appeal/International Marxist Tendency (SA/IMT). And Thornett’s group became the British section of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI) via various splits and fusions, who took an ultra-chauvinist line on the NATO attack on Libya in 2011 via the notorious pro-imperialist chauvinist Gilbert Achcar and the French New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA). [1] In the competition for the most pro-imperialist position between all the pro-imperialist left in Britain, the AWL, CWI, IMT, SWP, Workers Power/LFI, RCIT and USFI the latter, via Achcar won that accolade.

It was this political stance in 1982 and the critique of Healy’s catastrophism and assertion of the Transitional Method maintained from the WSL that attracted GD to the RIL. However, the ITC, whilst claiming to be an orthodox Trotskyist group, began to orientate more and more towards what they described as the ‘specially oppressed social groups’ on whose radicalisation they placed great stress; Black Liberation and work among the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered communities.

White males, those active in trade unions, anti-fascist and Irish work etc. apart from the central leaders, were made to feel increasingly unwelcome and sneered at. The ITC pioneered aspects of the US petty bourgeois doctrine of intersectionality. The basis document on this was the 1981-84 document, The Specially Oppressed and the Proletarian Vanguard which claimed a privileged position in revolutionary politics and a unique leadership ability for the ‘specially oppressed’.

The opening paragraphs of the document set out its main premise:

“One of the central tasks of the revolutionary organization is to link the struggles of the specially oppressed with the struggle of the working class for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. The strategic alliance of the workers and oppressed is essential to the victory of the proletarian revolution. And this victory is the historical prerequisite for the creation of the material basis for the complete elimination of all forms of special social oppression: an economy with so great an abundance of goods that no divisive struggle over scarce necessities takes place and the material possibility for the full and free development of every individual is secured.

However, the cogency and the inspiring character of this Marxist vision of joint struggle culminating in joint emancipation are not sufficient to forge this crucial alliance of the oppressed and the working class. In capitalist reality, both the organized working class and the oppressed groups find themselves politically, and socially divided from each other and among themselves, even though the working class itself is made up in large part of the specially oppressed and even though the majority of the specially oppressed are workers (proletarian or semiproletarian, exploited toilers).” [2]

This is an anti-Marxist premise which could only end in political degeneration and opportunism. In fact, all human oppression and alienation, since the global victory of the capitalist class a century and a half ago, is a product of the social relations of the capitalist mode of production. Only the working class can overthrow that, acting as one international political force with the internationalist perspective for world revolution. Despite the apparent bow to Marxism in the second sentence of the opening paragraph, “historical prerequisite for the creation of the material basis … an economy with so great an abundance of goods” the central and leading role of the working class is constantly denied in this document.

All alliances that the working class must make along the way to political power in a workers’ state are tactical and NOT strategic as the document asserts above. “Joint struggle culminating in joint emancipation” asserts an equal relationship in the class struggle and in the revolutionary party for the working class and the ‘specially oppressed’ and is a fundamentally false premise. That was the content of the political struggle waged by Lenin and Trotsky via the April Theses in 1917 and the theory Permanent Revolution as developed globally by Trotsky after the disaster of the massacre of the Shanghai Soviet in 1927. Only the organised working class, under revolutionary leadership, can bring the whole of capitalist economy and society to a halt economically and politically and only they can overthrow capitalism IN ALLIANCE with and leading all the oppressed. There cannot be an equality in this relationship; this assertion is a fundamental misunderstanding of the materialist basis of capitalist society.

These can never be a “democratic dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry”, no two-stage revolution. The theory of the specially oppressed as elaborated in this document is directly analogous with the political position Menshevism and of Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin before April 1917 and the first two and others at the point of the revolution itself in October 1917. The specially oppressed is the equivalent of the Russian peasantry, whose “strategic alliance” they believed was necessary to make the October Revolution. It was the dictatorship of the proletariat IN ALLIANCE with the peasantry that made October 1917 and not the equal relationship of the “strategic alliance” implied above and in the entire document. The RWL alliance between the ‘specially oppressed’ with their car workers broke down in the split with the ITO in 1991 because the perspective of the Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Specially Oppressed which was operated by Leland Sanderson and Shanta Driver in the USA and Tony Gard and Alex Olowade in Britain was just nonsense.

RIL-2Tony Gard from the Movement for Justice (by any means necessary) speaks about Yarls Wood and other detention centres at the London2Calais Refugee Summit on the 24th October 2015.

Tony Gard from the Movement for Justice (by any means necessary) spoke about Yarls Wood and other detention centres on the 24th October 2015. [3] In the course of the address he referred to Fredrick Douglass as one of the central character the MfJ study in educationals. Speak the Plain Truth tells us:

“MfJ had regular Sunday meetings which had two distinct parts: In the first part we were encouraged to relate our personal experiences of ‘struggle’ to the book, The narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass. Many of those present were LGBT asylum seekers and so had to prepare for their asylum cases. MfJ leadership often stated that reading the book was preparation for writing one’s own narrative of personal struggle, i.e. a personal statement. We read the Narrative very very slowly and in a lot of detail, and people were always encouraged to speak about personal experiences, and they would. These were often very personal and traumatic experiences, discussed in a room of relative strangers and included accounts of being raped/beaten or watching a gay partner being killed or of being held in detention. This put us all in a highly vulnerable psychological state, making us more vulnerable to suggestion.” [4]

Douglass is certainly an inspirational fighter against slavery and “by any means necessary” too. But he is a no revolutionary socialist. Karl Marx advocated struggle along the same lines:

“One sees, therefore, that the war of the Southern Confederacy is in the true sense of the word a war of conquest for the spread and perpetuation of slavery …The present struggle between the South and North is, therefore, nothing but a struggle between two social systems, the system of slavery and the system of free labour. The struggle has broken out because the two systems can no longer live peacefully side by side on the North American continent. It can only be ended by the victory of one system or the other.” [5]

This is Frederick Douglass:

“Words are now useful only as they stimulate to blows. The office of speech now is only to point out when, where, and how to strike to the best advantage. There is no time to delay. The tide is at its flood that leads on to fortune. From East to West, from North to South, the sky is written all over, “Now or never.” Liberty won by white men would lose half its luster. “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow.” “Better even die free, than to live slaves.” [6]

The clear difference was that Marx made a tactical orientation to the Republican Northern states whereas Douglass made a strategic alliance and never yielded it. Marx’s orientation was in the context of the struggle to end all human oppression by the victory of the socialist revolution, Douglass’s orientation was to use this alliance to ingratiate himself into the realms of the Northern American colonialists and imperialists. And that’s the world of a difference.

As there is between Marx and Lincoln as we see from the letter to Horace Greeley quoted in the appendix below:

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

Photograph of Horace GreeleyHorace Greeley Library of Congress

Below is an extract from Chapter 4 of the 2007 work Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World by Fionnghuala Sweeney. I have retained the original footnotes numbers in the new footnotes. The extract, although it is written in obscure, sociological academic language – I have references the words I didn’t understand or only partially understood myself – gives a very rounded estimation of the politics and character of Douglas. I have appended the American National Biography Online, Frederick Douglass, to fill out the career of Douglass post Civil War.

Douglass did a five-month tour of Ireland in 1945, just as the Great Famine began. He stayed in the great houses of the Protestant Ascendency. Shamefully on 18 November 2015, a statue was unveiled to him in the grounds of University College Cork, founded in 1845 for the sons of that Ascendency. His writings reflected the prejudices of his hosts and evinced extreme hostility to their victims. There was a payback for that over in New York in particular in the Draft Riots of July 1863.  The rioters were mainly Irish working class and unemployed such as portrayed in the Gangs of New York movie. It began because of resentment at the rule that allowed rich people to pay $300 (equivalent to $9,157 in 2017) to dodge the draft by employing a substitute. The offices of the New York Times were stormed, unsuccessfully.

However, it quickly turned into a race riot, attacking all black people, with some appalling atrocities committed. 120 people were killed. Such was the hatred of the English over the famine that they transferred it to their northern WASP co-religionists in New England (“the Atlantic World”) and thence to the Black freed slaves, who competed with them for the scraps from the tables of that elite whom they saw as the favourites of their oppressors.

It was that dynamic that Douglass pandered to and assisted in promoting in no small degree with his grovelling defence of the Protestant Ascendancy by justifying the act of genocide that was the Great Famine. No Irish nationalist politician could do that, not even the despicable ‘Great Liberator’ Daniel O’Connell, an unprincipled populist opportunist himself like Douglass. All English based political parties were wiped out in Ireland after the famine, apart from a few redoubts like Trinity College Dublin and Dún Laoghaire, because of their promotion of it.

Image result for Frederick Douglass statue in CorkThis statue of Frederick Douglass was unveiled in University College Cork on 18 November 2015. It is a disgrace to honour a man who had such contempt to the starving Irish in the Great Famine, blaming it all on their drunkenness.

There is no doubt that Douglass was a charlatan and pro-imperialist bigot of the first order. His concern was centrally his own advancement, to join the ranks of the bourgeois elite. The absolutely disgusting attitudes he displayed to Ireland and its starving peasantry during the Great Famine of 1945-52 puts him beyond the bounds, not only of revolutionary socialist society but even of liberal humanitarian capitalist society.

He thinks a million Irish peasants starved to death in those years because they were filthy, lazy Catholic drunkards. “I hardly need to say that, in speaking of Ireland, I shall be influenced by prejudice in favour of America”, he explains in the beginning and then goes on the tell of his meeting of an obviously starving man whom he consigns to the grave with contempt as a drunkard who was the author of his own misfortune. The social conditions observed by Douglass could not be explained by any structural or political evil such as that represented by slavery in the United States. Instead, they are given a moral explanation. The immediate, and it may be the main cause or the extreme poverty and beggary in Ireland,’ Douglass was to write, is intemperance. This may be seen,’ he concludes, ‘in the fact that most beggars drink whiskey’:

“I was informed that he had been a very intemperate man, and that on one occasion he was drunk, and lying in the street. While in this state of insensibility, a hog with its fangs tore off his nose and part of his face! I looked under the cloth, and saw the horrible spectacle of a living man with the face of a skeleton. The temperance cause has done much – is doing much – but there is much more to do, and, as yet comparatively few to do it. A great part of the Roman Catholic clergy do nothing about it, while the Protestants may be said to hate the cause.”

The American National Biography Online informs us that:

“Other black leaders increasingly criticized his alleged moderation on key race questions, his devotion to American individualism (most clearly seen in his oft-repeated lecture, “Self-Made Men”), and his unswerving loyalty to the Republican party. They openly attacked his failure to criticize the party’s abandonment of the Reconstruction experiment in 1877.

And he still regarded the Republican party as the likeliest vehicle for black advancement. He campaigned widely for Republican candidates during the 1870s and 1880s. Partisanship brought rewards. President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Douglass as the U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia (1877-1881), and President James A. Garfield named him the district’s recorder of deeds (1881-1886).

President Benjamin Harrison rewarded him with an appointment as U.S. minister to Haiti (1889-1891). In this capacity he became an unwitting agent of American expansionism in the Caribbean, unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate special shipping concessions for American business interests and the lease of land for a naval base at Môle St. Nicholas. He eventually resigned his post and returned home in disgust.”

We are expected to believe he really was an “unwitting agent” and that he “returned home in disgust” nursing his vast fortune amassed by his class and race treachery.

For a more truthful version of what happened in 1845-52 see: Nothing ‘natural’ about this disaster, published in the Irish Post February 24, 1996, Gerry Downing provides an overview of the recently published Thomas Davis lectures on the Irish Famine, which, he says, give the lie to historical revisionism.

 “In 1846, the Whig (Liberal) government of Lord John Russell came to power when the Tories, under Sir Robert Peel, split over the repeal of the Corn Laws. These laws had seen the import of corn from Ireland rise from 16 percent in 1790 to 80 percent in 1830 (p 20) to feed the new English industrial working class. As soon as the ‘protectionists’ were defeated, the owners of Irish estates understood that a new source of income from different capitalist methods of farming was necessary. Lord Palmerston informed the cabinet of the necessity for this new system:

“It is useless to disguise the truth that any great improvement in the social system of Ireland must be founded upon an extensive change in the present state of agrarian occupation, and this change necessarily implies a long, continued and systematic ejection of smallholders and cottiers.” (p 163).

It is reported that a shudder went through the entire cabinet at this coldly-delivered sentence of death.”

“The highest mortality rate in the period between September 1846 and September 1847 was 19 per cent in the parish of Goleen (my own parish) and 18 per cent in (neighbouring) Drinagh, with half the deaths occurring in March and April of Black ’47, by far the worst year.”  [1]

In History Ireland magazine (1997, issue 5, pp. 32-36), Christine Kinealy, a Great Hunger scholar, lecturer, and Drew University professor, relates her findings:

“Almost 4,000 vessels carried food from Ireland to the ports of Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and London during 1847, when 400,000 Irish men, women and children died of starvation and related diseases. The food was shipped under military guard from the most famine-stricken parts of Ireland; Ballina, Ballyshannon, Bantry, Dingle, Killala, Kilrush, Limerick, Sligo, Tralee and Westport. A wide variety of commodities left Ireland during 1847, including peas, beans, onions, rabbits, salmon, oysters, herring, lard, honey, tongues, animal skins, rags, shoes, soap, glue and seed. The most shocking export figures concern butter. Butter was shipped in firkins, each one holding 9 gallons. In the first nine months of 1847, 56,557 firkins were exported from Ireland to Bristol, and 34,852 firkins were shipped to Liverpool. That works out to be 822,681 gallons of butter exported to England from Ireland during nine months of the worst year of the Famine.” [7] [8]

Marx correctly identified the issues in the Civil War:

“The present struggle between the South and North is, therefore, nothing but a struggle between two social systems, the system of slavery and the system of free labor. The struggle has broken out because the two systems can no longer live peacefully side by side on the North American continent. It can only be ended by the victory of one system or the other.” [9]

Frederick Douglass reached the same conclusion:

“The American people and the Government at Washington may refuse to recognize it for a time; but the ‘inexorable logic of events’ will force it upon them in the end; that the war now being waged in this land is a war for and against slavery; and that it can never be effectively put down till one or the other of these vital forces is completely destroyed.” [10]

But that will not do at all as a perspective for today’s class struggle. Victory in the Civil war did not end racism and Black oppression. Barely 12 years after its conclusion, in 1877, Reconstruction was ended and Jim Crow returned with a vengeance in the Southern States with the support of the ‘revolutionary’ Republicans and the outright racist Democrats. We cannot support the Democrats against the Republicans in the USA today in the name of black rights or liberation, although their sides were reversed in 1865.

Image result for Thomas Jefferson Sally Hemings images

Tony Gard in that video mentioned above quoted from the American Constitution, whose principal author was Thomas Jefferson, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….” Tony quoted it with emotion, putting special emphasis on the Pursuit of Happiness as befits a liberal demagogue speaking to what he hoped was a politically naive audience he could mis-educate in this appalling manner. Jefferson owned about 175 slaves when he wrote that “all men are created equal”. One of his slaves, Sally Hemings, bore six children by him. That is proved by DNA evidence taken from the descendants of Jefferson and Hemmings. George Washington became a slave owner at age 11. More than 300 slaves lived on his Mount Vernon estate, and he owned 123 of them. [11]

Image result for George Washington  slave owner imagesSlaves on George Washington’s estate

Thomas Jefferson SlavesSlaves on Thomas Jefferson’s estate: All Men Are Born Equal, he hypocritically wrote in the American Constitution.

And that same constitution acknowledged slavery and allocated taxes and representation rights in the House and the Electoral College on the basis that slaves counted as three-fifths of a white person. ‘Indians’, of course, did not count at all. The Three-Fifths Compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution, which reads:

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

The compromise was eventually accepted by all sides because, whilst it increased the political representation of the southern states beyond its voters it also increased their taxation allocation. Of course, this is not just gross hypocrisy by Washington and Jefferson, this was the ideology of progressive bourgeois revolutionists in a slave-owning society.

Ideologically Karl Marx was the first to expose what was wrong with all bourgeois constitutions, even those without slaves; their central thesis was ‘a regime of rights’, and in 1843 Marx in On the Jewish Question attacked this idea in the French Constitution of 1793:

“It is puzzling enough that a people which is just beginning to liberate itself, to tear down all the barriers between its various sections, and to establish a political community, that such a people solemnly proclaims (Declaration of 1791) the rights of egoistic man separated from his fellow men and from the community, and that indeed it repeats this proclamation at a moment when only the most heroic devotion can save the nation, and is therefore imperatively called for, at a moment when the sacrifice of all the interest of civil society must be the order of the day, and egoism must be punished as a crime. (Declaration of the Rights of Man, etc., of 1793) This fact becomes still more puzzling when we see that the political emancipators go so far as to reduce citizenship, and the political community, to a mere means for maintaining these so-called rights of man, that, therefore, the citoyen is declared to be the servant of egotistic homme, that the sphere in which man acts as a communal being is degraded to a level below the sphere in which he acts as a partial being, and that, finally, it is not man as citoyen, but man as private individual [bourgeois] who is considered to be the essential and true man. [12]

Marx examines The Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) and passages from other constitutions to make his point. It equally applies to the UN Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. As Marx shows in On the Jewish Question these rights presuppose increasing inequality because they bifurcate human lives and psyches, the citizen equal before the law and in voting rights and as he really exists in society, alienated, oppressed and exploited:

“Where the political state has attained its true development, man – not only in thought, in consciousness, but in reality, in life – leads a twofold life, a heavenly and an earthly life: life in the political community, in which he considers himself a communal being, and life in civil society, in which he acts as a private individual, regards other men as a means, degrades himself into a means, and becomes the plaything of alien powers… the right of man to liberty is based not on the association of man with man, but on the separation of man from man. It is the right of this separation, the right of the restricted individual, withdrawn into himself.” [13]

Image result for Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 images

As we wrote in 2009:

“The ideological content of the Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 was the struggle of the US to end all opposition to the global free market: fascism, the old colonial empires, communism (‘really existing socialism’) or world revolution (not the same thing). There were seven votes against the 1948 Declaration; South Africa and Saudi Arabia, for obvious repressive reasons, and the USSR and four satellites for two contradictory reasons. One was repressive, but the other was progressive; they objected to the Declaration because it contained no reference to collective rights like food, water, housing, health care, etc. The soviet societies claimed their legitimacy because they partially compensated for their repression by providing a measure of these welfare needs. Social justice versus greedy capitalist individualism was their propaganda stance. In the Cold War the ‘non-aligned’ movement tended to be dictatorial like Syria, Iraq or Nasser’s Egypt which talked a lot about Arab socialism and provide some welfare. The USSR provided a rational for patronising welfare and repression which had independent economic developmental prospects; it was grudgingly tolerated by the poor because it was better than outright repression with no welfare by such US supported and/or installed regimes as Mobuto’s Zaire or Pinochet’s Chile.”  [14]

Shanta Driver, BAWN leader, in full flow.

The RIL’s Lesbian and Gay Caucus

On typical incident concerned the RIL’s Lesbian and Gay Caucus who decided to discipline SM for having a consensual relationship with a black member. When the issue arose AO asked GD, a CC member, to leave the room while they dealt with the matter. He objected but left on AO’s insistence after an argument. Later Leland Sanderson, the RWL leader, instructed Tony Gard that GD had been wrongly excluded from the meeting (he retained some political conscience of the leading role of the working class in a revolutionary party), much to Alex Olowade’s disgust. The very favourable treatment afforded to Chris Brind, who had left Workers Power, stealing their computer which he sold, highlighted for GD the essence of the group. He was a gay man and was immediately subsidised with a US trip. Tony Gard apologised to GD for this or at least inquired if he was OK with it.  Alex also got frequent US trips paid for by Leland as did many other “specially oppressed” members. Brind left the group soon after and became a Labour councillor, voting through cuts with the rest of the reformist Labourites.

Another incident confirmed the changed character of the group. Soon after GD resigned from the RIL and before he joined the WIL, in late 1992, he was sacked from his bus driver’s job in Willesden with the support of the Local TGWU rep and the Company Convenor of Metroline’s 6 garages for opposing too effectively the 20% wage cut and 20% increase in hours London Transport was imposing at the time. GD had organised a meeting in a local pub in his defence to which Tony and Alex came. After the meeting a fight broke out in the street between a Black man and an Irish man. The fight spilled onto the road, the traffic stopped, and a crowd gathered. The Irishman was winning the battle and then the Black man drew a knife. “Cut him, cut him, cut him” shouted Alex in great excitement.

Fortunately, most were far more cultured than Alex and the mainly Black onlookers moved in to separate the pugilists now that a bit of entertainment had turned deadly and a fatality threatened which could destroy both lives. We had no idea what the fight was about but when a Black man fought a white man Alex was prepared to see justice in a seriously injured or dead white man, such was his cultural backwardness. He says he knew then he had made the right decision to leave and the current scandal involving the RIL and MfJ reinforces that judgement.

GD has been mentioned in the latest controversy over the revelations of Speak the Plain Truth because he was a member of the RIL in 1990 when he wrote the WRP Explosion and Tony Gard assisted GD in writing it. SM produced it on his photocopier at his own expense and we sold it at the Lutte Ouviere Fete that year. The RWL in the USA completed ignored it, did not advertise it in their newspaper and did not promote it in any way although it was a major effort. He was not ‘specially oppressed’ and all the white men with political experience were consciously marginalised and it is impossible to escape the conclusion that they were consciously driven out by Leland Sanderson and that the split with Peter Sollenberger, Franco Grisolia and the ITO in 1991 was also a conscious aim of Sanderson. After that split and their departure from the RIL, only NdM remained to challenge and he departed soon after also, citing the cultism of the RWL as his reason. He did embark on a very lucrative career in law after his departure, although he still seems to assist with the website.

A few extracts from the blog of a supporter/member victimised by the RIL/MfJ cult is sufficient.

Speak the Plain Truth, No. 2 October 1917:

After a year of being ‘trained’ by the RIL and learning about ‘correct politics’, during which I was encouraged to cut off my family, most of my friends ‘outside’ and sometimes within the MFJ, even my therapist (because ‘she’s a part of the bourgeois society, she’s a liberal and will never fight with you for what you really need to do’), I was then psychologically abused for deciding to begin having a personal life again and having romantic feelings for someone I met through MFJ, without consulting RIL first so they could permit me and/or give conditions.

After I had a conversation with that person about our romantic feelings, I disclosed to the RIL I am more than friends with someone and would like some help in navigating the political work. I was then led to believe, by initial responses of fake acceptance (and one exposing comment of ‘this was a mistake you talked to them first, you should have talked to RIL before, I’ll have something to say about it in the meeting’) that I would have a private conversation to help me navigate politics and personal life, but instead was put in a room and subjected to disciplinary ‘intervention’ where all my past trauma was weaponised against me, I was gaslit, [15] accused of action that ‘anywhere else would be a gross misconduct and I would be fired’, I was likened to my own abusers and teachers who sleep with students, my personal and sexual life was interrogated. After two hours of this ‘intervention’ I was exhausted from crying and reassuring them of my commitment to the politics.

I stood my ground about the right to a personal life between two consenting adults, insisted this meeting is wrong and all the RIL knows is that ‘there are romantic feelings’ so how I am being told abusing someone or sleeping with them, but to no avail. When the RIL ‘leaders’ were done shaming and tormenting me, then turning into sweet understanding mode yet telling me they think I should break up with that person and they will help me put a plan together so it ‘doesn’t destroy the politics’, I was then allowed to leave the room.

People who I thought were my friends betrayed me and my trust in most abusive disgusting way I have never seen before, because I ‘disobeyed’ their rules. After the meeting I received a call, not to check on my wellbeing, but to say, ‘I know you’re angry with the RIL but please make sure you don’t speak badly about us to the other person’. The person they claimed I abused for having mutual feelings with was not once contacted by the RIL to talk about the supposed concern. They were only contacted to ‘build a movement’ actions and this whole ‘intervention’ was never mentioned to them. In person, there was pretending nothing has happened. [16]

RIL/MFJ is an abusive cult and this charade stops now. Believe the survivors. Speak up and #SpeakPlainTruth if you are safe enough to do so. Work to make it safe for others to do so, if you can. This cannot be buried. If you want to share anything, anonymously or not, please contact: or DM on Twitter @UnfollowMFJ. [17]

Workers Power accurately described the political problems in 1987 which have now emerged so shockingly in the RIL/MfJ:

“This oppressed vanguard theory is carried into the RIL’s Action Programme for Lesbian and Gay Liberation … While we would agree with many of its demands they do not, unless they are actually linked with the struggle for revolutionary socialism, add up to liberation. Indeed, at one point the programme leans towards the Gough/USFI view that the fulfilment of democratic reforms via a Labour government, actually equals liberation:

“We must demand that the Labour Party implement the demands for lesbian and gay liberation in this programme, for civil rights at work in the fields of housing, health care and education.”

Civil rights do not equal liberation. And what of the revolutionary workers’ government, the smashing of the state, the socialisation of domestic labour? The programme makes no connection between the fight for these things, which the ITC claims to stand for, and the fight for lesbian and gay liberation.

As against the ITC’s view we believe that an action programme that links the struggle for democratic rights and civil liberties, the struggle for sexual liberation and the struggle for socialism is needed. Around it lesbians and gay men must organise on a class basis, with the clear objective of winning the working class as a whole to their cause.” [18]

That being said at least one comrade in the RIL was still able in 1995 to correctly to analyse the degeneration of Workers Power. The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford reposted their article, Critique of Workers Power: The Roots of Degeneration in May 2012 with the following comment:

“One general feature has become steadily more pronounced (in Workers Power) however, the adaptation to the feeling among sections of liberal western opinion that ‘our’ governments must ’do something’ – a sentiment that plays directly into the hands of imperialism. So now we have the ludicrous position of the LRCI [forerunner of Workers Power/ LFI] trying to sound revolutionary, and calling for the UN and NATO out of the Balkans and condemning the bombing, while at the same time demanding that ‘our’ government sends arms to the Bosnian forces and opens the borders to Islamic ‘volunteers’ going to fight with them. In other words, Workers Power does not want the imperialists to fight in the Balkans; they just want them to get their clients and proxies to do the fighting! – [Much like their appraisal of Libya today].

“The VOAG doesn’t necessarily endorse all the positions of the RIL and doesn’t know the differences between these groups. What is of interest to the VOAG is the RIL’s 1995 critique of Workers Power (re-published below), which the VOAG supports. The document is as relevant today as it was in 1995 and explores the roots of Workers Power’s present trajectory, recent splits, and current politics. I have to warn the reader that this is a rather long document, but should be of great importance to members of Workers Power and anyone interested in their politics. So, grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable, it’ll be worth the effort.”

Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford, May 15, 2012 [19]

Gerry Downing resigned from the RIL in late 1992 and, whilst entering discussions with the Workers Internationalist League (WIL), British section of the Leninist Trotskyist League (LTT) in 1993 and applied to join the International Socialist Group, British section of the USFI.


Letter to Horace Greeley

Written during the heart of the Civil War, this is one of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous letters. Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, had just addressed an editorial to Lincoln called “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” making demands and implying that Lincoln’s administration lacked direction and resolve.President Lincoln wrote his reply when a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation already lay in his desk drawer. His response revealed his concentration on preserving the Union. The letter, which received acclaim in the North, stands as a classic statement of Lincoln’s constitutional responsibilities. A few years after the president’s death, Greeley wrote an assessment of Lincoln. He stated that Lincoln did not actually respond to his editorial but used it instead as a platform to prepare the public for his “altered position” on emancipation.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:
Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

A. Lincoln.


[1] Socialist Fight, Plain Tales from the Hills of the pro-imperialist left, 18-12-15,, A tool of imperialism: France’s New Anti-Capitalist Party backs war on Libya, By Alex Lantier, 25 March 2011,

[2] ITC, 1981, revised 1984, The Specially Oppressed and the Proletarian Vanguard,

[3] Tony Gard from the Movement for Justice (by any means necessary) speaks about Yarls Wood and other detention centres at the London2Calais Refugee Summit on the 24th October 2015.

[4] Speak the Plain Truth, 15. Apologies. November 5, 2017,

[5] Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels 1861, Writings on the U.S. Civil War,

[6] Frederick Douglass, Men of Color, To Arms! March 2 1863,


[8] Gerry Downing, Frederick Douglass’s lies on Ireland,

[9] Karl Marx, Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism

[10]John Lockwood, Charles Lockwood, April 11, 2011, page 53, The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days That Shook the Union, Oxford University Press.

[11] Kristine Phillips The Washington Post, August 16, 2017, Historians: No, Mr. President, Washington and Jefferson are not the same as Confederate generals,

[12] Marx, On the Jewish Question, Autumn 1843

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ret Maruat, Socialist Fight Issue No. 2 Summer 2009 Universal rights and Imperialism’s neo-liberalism offensive,

[15] To cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation, in reference to the 1944 movie Gaslight, in which an abusive husband secretly and repeatedly dims and brightens the gaslights in the house while accusing his wife of imagining the flickering.

[16] Speak the Plain Truth, 2. The abuse of power in MFJ & RIL, October 19, 2017,

[17] Speak the Plain Truth, 15. Apologies, November 5, 2017,

[18] League for the Fifth International/Workers Power, LGBT – False strategies for liberation, 01/03/1987

[19] Revolutionary Internationalist League’s 1995 Critique of, Workers Power: The Roots of Degeneration

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