Appendix I

The British Revolutionary Communist Party

Continued from left column

to add theoretical understanding to the fight against Pabloism—and Pablo’s bureaucratic treat­ment of them certainly foreshadowed the organ­iza­tional methods he was to use again on the French PCI, and attempt to use on the American SWP. It is suggestive that, explaining the “impasse” of the RCP in 1950, Ted Grant pointed first of all to the “capitu­lation to Tito-Stalinism inter­na­tionally.” Among the factors which permitted the rise of Stalinist-ruled, bureau­crat­ically deformed workers states in the postwar period, he listed:

The fact that the revolution in China and Yugo­slavia could be developed in a distorted and debased character is due to the world factors of

(a) The crisis of world capitalism.

(b) The existence of a strong, deformed workers state adjacent to these countries and powerfully influencing the workers’ movement.

(c) The weakness of the Marxist current of the IVth Inter­na­tional.

These factors have resulted in an unparalleled development which could not have been foreseen by any of the Marxist teachers: the extension of Sta­linism as a social phenomenon over half Europe, over the Chinese sub-continent and with the pos­si­bil­ity of spreading over the whole of Asia.

This poses new theoretical problems to be worked out by the Marxist movement. Under conditions of isolation and of paucity of forces, new historical factors could not but result in a theoretical crisis of the movement, posing the problem of its very existence and survival.191

These comments could have been the beginning of wisdom, and they foreshadow in many respects the Spartacist analysis of the formation of a deformed workers state in Cuba a decade later. But by then the ravages of Pabloism had destroyed the Fourth Inter­national.

186 “Stenogram of Discussion in the Political Com­mit­tee of the Socialist Workers Party on the Buffer Countries,” SWP Internal Bulletin, Vol. XI, No. 5, October 1949, 23. Back

187 Ernest Germain (Mandel), “The Yugo­slav Question, the Question of the Soviet Buffer Zone, and Their Implications for Marxist Theory” (October 1949), SWP Inter­na­tional Information Bulletin, January 1950, 15. Back

188Genesis of Pabloism.Back

189 “RCP Amendments to the Thesis on Russia and Eastern Europe.” Back

190 Bill Hunter, “The I.S. and Eastern Europe,” 8. A photocopy of an original from the archives of Sam Bornstein is in the holdings of the Prometheus Research Library. Back

191 Unsigned (Ted Grant), “Statement to the BSFI [British Section of the Fourth International]” (n.d., ca. summer 1950). A photocopy of this document is in the collection of the Prometheus Research Library. Back

In digging up the history of the discussion in the Fourth Inter­na­tional about Yugo­slavia and East Europe, we have discovered that the positions of the Haston/Grant RCP were not only ignored, they were systematically distorted. Thus Morris Stein claimed, during the continuation of the discussion on East Europe in the SWP leadership, that “To the RCP, Stalinist control of state power also amounts to an automatic social change but they term it a workers’ state.”186 Ernest Germain (Mandel) likewise claimed that, for the RCP, “Since from all evidence the bourgeoisie of the buffer countries no longer controls the state apparatus which has now fallen into the hands of the logically follows that the state has ceased being a bourgeois state.”187

Following this same characterization we have ourselves written that:

...the analysis of the British Haston-Grant RCP majority, borrowed by the SWP’s Los Angeles Vern-Ryan grouping, achieved the beginning (but only the beginning) of wisdom in recognizing that in the immediate post-war period an examination of native property forms would hardly suffice since the state power in Eastern Europe was a foreign occupying army, the Red Army.188

Yet the RCP’s amendments at the FI’s Second World Congress (which were never published by the SWP) did not say that the countries of East Europe became deformed workers states with the Red Army victory in 1945 (as Vern-Ryan did), but rather that this was a process still under way in 1948. As the basis for the overthrow of capitalist rule, the amend­ments listed not only the preponderance of Soviet military force, but also “the balance of forces between the workers and Stalinist forces and the residues of the ruling class.”189 Moreover, Bill Hunter’s May 1949 document, written for the RCP majority, noted it was the change in the inter­na­tional sit­ua­tion—namely, the onset of the Cold War—that led Stalin to change his policy from coddling the East European bourgeoisies to expro­pri­ating them:

True, for a period there existed Stalinist coalitions with the bourgeoisie, or with the shadow of the bour­geoisie.... In the first period following the war, the shadow of the bourgeoisie could have gained and was gaining substance. Given a dif­fer­ent relationship of forces inter­na­tionally, devel­op­ments could have been entirely different to those which actually took place. However, because it could not afford to share the power, and because of its struggle against world imperialism, the bureauc­racy, calling on the pressure of the masses, shattered the bourgeoisie completely. 190

It is indeed unfortunate that the RCP’s writings on East Europe and Yugo­slavia were ignored, dis­missed and largely suppressed. The Haston/Grant grouping was characterized by impressionism, ear­lier supporting the rightist Goldman/Morrow oppo­si­tion in 1945-46 and later liquidating into the Labour Party. Moreover, a political tendency is more than just its stated program—and there is much we don’t know about the actual functioning of the Haston/Grant-led RCP. But the struggle in the Fourth Inter­na­tional might have followed a dif­fer­ent course had their voices been around in 1951-53