Keeping Malayalee's Tamil names
Spartacist (German edition) Number 28
Edmund Samarakkody and the Legacy of the Ceylonese LSSP
The struggle for Trotskyism in South Asia
TRANSLATED FROM SPARTACIST, ENGLISH EDITION NO. 62, SPRING 2011
“The struggle to rebuild the Fourth International is likely to be difficult, protracted and, above all, uneven. But it stands as an indispensable and central task before those who want to achieve workers' power and fight the way to socialism for mankind. "
- “Declaration for Organizing an International Trotskyist Tendency”, July 1974, Spartacist, German edition No. 2, autumn 1974
A significant chapter in this difficult, protracted and uneven struggle is our relationship with the Revolutionary Workers Party (RWP) Edmund Samarakkodys in the 1970s. When Samarakkody died in January 1992, his revolutionary times had been behind him for a long time. But once he embodied - as a founding member of the Ceylonese Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) - a rare type of politician: a fighter who won Trotskyism in the late 1930s and not through domestic popular front politics or through the revisionist movement of Michel Pablo, who the Fourth International was destroyed, completely compromised and corrupted in 1951–53. When the international Spartacist tendency, today's International Communist League, outlined the prospects for revolutionary regrouping in its 1974 declaration, we paid particular attention to Samarakkode's RWP because it “emerged unsullied from the jumble of betrayals committed by the old LSSP hat ”, a betrayal that the Pabloite United Secretariat (VS) of Ernest Mandel and the pathetic“ International Committee ”(IK) of Gerry Healy promoted (ibid.).
For many years the LSSP led part of the labor movement in Ceylon, where it was at times the official parliamentary opposition. Its importance extended beyond the small island, as Ceylon was the springboard for socialist revolution throughout the region, especially for India. Indeed, in the cauldron of inter-imperialist war and anti-colonial struggle, the LSSP played a crucial role in forging the first authoritative Trotskyist organization in India. Samarakkody himself was imprisoned for revolutionary antiwar activity in Ceylon during World War II and later became a member of parliament. But the most outstanding political event of his life, both peak and ultimate limit, took place in 1964, when Samarakkody and his comrade Meryl Fernando voted in parliament to overthrow the capitalist coalition government led by the bourgeois-nationalist Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) - one Popular Front with the participation of the LSSP, which at that time had degenerated into blatant reformism. The main aim of the SLFP was to promote the dominant position of the Sinhala Buddhist majority on the island over the beleaguered national minority of the Tamils.
For us, Samarakkody embodied the best that there was in ancient Ceylon Trotskyism in terms of principledness - which it was rather lacking there. In the course of our discussions it became clear that he and his group had not broken with the parliamentary framework governing left-wing politics in Ceylon (renamed Sri Lanka in 1972 to emphasize the country's Sinhala “identity”). For example, it turned out that Samarakkody had distanced himself from his courageous vote against the 1964 Popular Front in the early 1970s. A merger with the RVP planned for the 1st International Conference of the iST in 1979 failed because Samarakkody made it clear that he wanted to continue his provincial activities on the left edge of the popular frontier swamp in Lanka and that he would not allow his organization to carry out precise checks and corrective mechanisms subordinate to international democratic centralism. We drew the following balance of our efforts to find sufficient programmatic agreement with the RVP that would have allowed it to form a joint international organization:
“Our long-standing fraternal relations with the Ceylonese comrades of the Samarakkody group were our most costly attempt to find the founding cadres of the new organization in the lap of the old‘ (James P. Cannon). The last decisive revolutionary act of this organization took place in 1964, precisely at the time of the establishment of the organizationally independent Spartacist tendency in the United States. Had we been able at this time to intervene energetically in the political discussion of the Ceylonese comrades, it is conceivable that they could have been won over to authentic Trotskyism. But the 40 or so American comrades who then made up our tendency would have had little authority in the eyes of former leaders of a mass party. "
- "Forward to the International Trotskyist League!" Spartacist, German edition No. 7/8, summer 1980
The iST / ICL comes from the Revolutionary Tendency of the early 1960s in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the USA. The RT formed as an opposition because the SWP was about to give up the fight for a Trotskyist party in Cuba. It is true that the SWP broke with Pablo in 1953 to form the anti-Pabloite International Committee - a bloc above all with the Healy group in Britain and the French group led by Pierre Lambert. However, in response to the Cuban Revolution, the SWP leadership adopted the same liquidation method as Pablo in 1960. This political tendency, formulated by Pablo in the years after the Second World War and then continued by his right-hand man Mandel, gave up the struggle for the forging of Trotskyist parties, which are essential for the victory of proletarian revolutions internationally, and instead acted as a pressure- Group for various petty-bourgeois, non-revolutionary forces (see "Origins of Pabloism", Spartacist, German edition No. 3, March 1975). The RT was bureaucratically expelled from the SWP at the end of 1963 after it had reunited with the Almond tendency and the VS formed.
Initially, RT was politically in solidarity with Healy and Lambert's IK for a number of years. We broke from the IC for good in 1967 when the Healy group came out in support of a classless "Arab Revolution" and a number of other anti-Marxist positions. Our 1979 conference report noted:
“The Samarakkody group is a concrete example of the observation that no national revolutionary current can pursue an authentic revolutionary course if it remains isolated for a long time from the struggle to build a world party. From the time we were founded as a tendency, the American core of the iST has struggled to break out of enforced national isolation. In the course of this long process we realized that the major international currents of ostensible Trotskyism are more or less programmatically moribund. "
– Spartacist, German edition No. 7/8, summer 1980
However, even after the break with Healy, we were aware that there were isolated groups that had not subscribed to the liquidation policy of Pabloism. We spent the longest time studying the Lambert Group, which had broken with Pablo in 1952 because it housed the largest cadre reservoir that still came from the Trotskyist movement in Trotsky's time. We hoped some of this cadre would break away from this organization's right-wing drifting course on essential issues. This was followed by our lengthy occupation with the Samarakkody group in Ceylon. But all these efforts to win over a layer of older Trotskyist cadres failed.
A significant part of our early history as an international trend took place on the small island of Ceylon. From 1971, when Samarakkody first contacted us, to 1979, when we gave up our fraternal relations with the RWP, but also in the following years, when a left-wing split from the RWP founded the Spartacist League / Lanka, we had sporadic, but temporary intensive contact with Samarakkody and his group. Samarakkodys "The Struggle for Trotskyism in Ceylon" [The Struggle for Trotskyism in Ceylon], published in Spartacist (English Edition No. 22, Winter 1973/74), was one of the documents recognized in our 1974 Declaration as part of the programmatic legacy of the iST; For a number of years our press also carried Samarakkody's articles on the situation in Sri Lanka. When put to the critical test to find a way to merge with our Trotskyist International, the RVP failed. In doing so, she showed the limits of her opposition to the class collaboration of the LSSP; she could not go any further to the left.
Describing Samarakkody's life is also describing the rise and fall of Ceylon Trotskyism. There are many details of the history of the LSSP that remain obscure. The internal life of the early LSSP is barely documented, much of it was identified informally within a small group of leaders. Much of the documentation, especially in Sinhala and Tamil, is currently inaccessible to us. Nonetheless, this story deserves serious research in order for a new generation of revolutionaries to revive Trotskyism in Lanka and India as part of the struggle to re-forge the Fourth International, the world party of socialist revolution.
Origins of the LSSP
As a founding member of the LSSP, Samarakkody belonged to a class of militant fighters who could more easily claim to be the founding fathers of their country than the corrupt pro-imperialist capitalists to whom the British handed power in 1948. Born in 1912 into a wealthy and aristocratic Sinhala family from the lowlands, he was politically active in the early 1930s in the rise of anti-colonial sentiment and joined the Colombo South Youth League. Young Ceylonese returning from overseas studies introduced ideas of internationalism, socialism and revolutionary change to the Youth Leagues. One such youth was Philip Gunawardena, who had come into contact with various left currents abroad, including the Trotskyist International Left Opposition. Many of these young men and women came from a class of the recently prosperous rural bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie; Samarakkody himself became a lawyer in Ceylon and worked as a lawyer until his death.
The Youth Leagues grew rapidly thanks to their anti-imperialist agitation in the Suriya Mal movement (named after a local flower), a protest against Poppy Day commemorations for British WWI veterans, and social aid activities in impoverished villages during a malaria epidemic in 1934/35. In 1932/33 the young militants rebelled against the treacherous role of established union leader AE Goonesinha, who had become increasingly communal - they won the leadership of a strike of 1,400 workers, mainly Malayali workers from the Indian state of Kerala, at the Wellawatte Weaving and Spinning Mills, the largest textile mill on the island.
Samarakkody was one of about 20 leftists who founded the LSSP in December 1935 under Gunawardena's leadership. A variety of influences played a role in these talented and energetic young men and women: Stalinism, Trotskyism, Harold Laski's “socialist” reformism shaped by the Labor Party, and Mahatma Gandhi's Indian National Congress.
The LSSP came into being against the backdrop of an all-round leadership vacuum on the island. The local bourgeoisie was weak and corrupt. The tame Ceylon National Congress was only a pale reflection of its Indian counterpart. Especially after the reforms proposed by the British Donoughmore Constitutional Commission were introduced in 1931, the Ceylonese bourgeoisie worked enthusiastically with the British imperialists and accepted ministerial posts in the new Council of State, a "parliamentary" appendage of the colonial administration. The militant labor movement of the 1920s was dispersed by the Great Depression of 1929-1935 and its leaders, like Goonesinha, had definitely opted for class collaboration with the bosses and racism against workers of Indian origin.
A character from a short story by Romesh Gunesekera gives an idea of the situation:
“In those days, I was equally dismayed by our political leadership: at the time, it seemed so impetuous to me. I wish we were in India where there was so much more fighting going on. Some struggle, some idealism. Gandhi, Bose. You see - people who did something for their country. Ceylon, on the other hand, seemed to be full of lackeys. Everyone wanted to be the chief lackey in the governor's house. How could they It wasn't until the Left came up in thirty-five that we began to see a real future. They went out to the villages during the malaria to help our people. And people appreciated that. When the elections finally came, they responded accordingly. I participated. "
- Romesh Gunesekera, "Ullswater", Monkfish Moon (The New Press, New York, 1992)
The LSSP was founded as a broad-based party that fought for independence, reform and socialism (Sama Samaja, from Sinhala for "society of equality"). It was modernizing and secular, albeit with a weakness in relation to the Buddhist renewal movement, an early response to British rule. The party's influence grew rapidly, and soon enough it was the recognized leader in the struggle for national independence. In 1936 Gunawardena and his LSSP colleague N. M. Perera were elected to the State Council. Although they often sounded like liberal Social Democrats, they were reviled as the "Honors MPs for Russia or the Communist MPs for Ruanwella and Avissawella" by an angry right-wing adversary, Samarakkody's older brother Siripala (quoted in George Lerski, Origins of Trotskyism in Ceylon [Origins of Trotskyism in Ceylon], Hoover Institution, Stanford, California, 1968). The LSSP managed to build a mass union base, especially in Colombo. Samarakkody was active in the LSSP-led strikes and union organizing campaigns and was arrested in Colombo in 1937 for these activities.
As in Bolivia and Indochina, political consciousness of the working class emerged so late in Ceylon that Stalinism no longer appeared attractive to militant anti-colonialist fighters. In 1935 the Stalinized Communist International (KI) adopted the “Popular Front” policy, a new label for the old social democratic program of class collaboration with an allegedly progressive wing of the bourgeoisie. The application of this policy to colonial countries envisaged building “national united fronts” with the native bourgeoisie. The "anti-imperialist united front" was originally announced at the IV. World Congress of the KI in 1922. This confused slogan, which is implicitly based on a stage theory of the revolution, was finally synonymous in 1927 with the dissolution of the Chinese Communist Party into the bourgeois-nationalist Guomindang and the betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution. Taking up this slogan again in the name of the Popular Front with a “democratic” wing of the bourgeoisie was an overt policy of class collaboration. And when Stalin formed his war alliance with the imperialist allies after the Nazis' invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, it became evident that this was intended to subordinate the working class not only to the corrupt local capitalists, but also to the “democratic” imperialist overlords. Hence, in a number of colonial and semi-colonial countries, the vanguard of the proletariat became Trotskyist, at least in name.
The contradiction of the LSSP
At the center of this development towards Trotskyism was the so-called "T group" in the LSSP. Initiated by Gunawardena, this was an informal network that showed features of both a political tendency and a clique of Young Turks. The appearance of Trotsky Betrayed Revolution 1937 in English had a significant influence on the educated leaders of the T group who could read the book. In December 1939, the Executive Committee of the LSSP accepted the motion with 29 votes to 5: “Since the Third International has not acted in the interests of the international revolutionary movement of the working class, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party declares that although it is in solidarity with the Soviet Union, the first workers state, but has no confidence in the Third International ”(quoted in Origins of Trotskyism in Ceylon).At the next meeting of the Executive Committee, all who opposed this line were expelled with the stroke of a pen; no one tried to carry the struggle into membership.
The LSSP's commitment to Trotskyism was largely nominal and never went very deep. What was missing was a lively struggle that could have welded together a revolutionary cadre in opposition to the nationalists and reformists, for whom Trotskyism was only superficially useful as a kind of talisman against the support of the local colonial power. But authentic Trotskyism and the theory of permanent revolution actually provided the revolutionary answers for a party confronted with the national-democratic tasks of colonial liberation and the task of leading the class struggle of the workers to victory.
A central question was (and is) the national oppression of the largely Hindu Tamil people, the most important of the national, ethnic and religious minorities on this predominantly Sinhala and Buddhist island. (Other minorities were Christians, Muslims and Burghers, the latter descendants of mixed marriages with European colonists.) The Tamils, who are linguistically and culturally linked to the people of Tamil Nadu in southern India, divided into two different groups. The Ceylonese Tamils - concentrated in the Jaffna Peninsula and the northeast region including Trincomalee and also in Colombo - had been established on the island for many centuries, and the British favored them for posts in colonial administration. The so-called Indian Tamils had been brought over from India since the late 19th century to do hard backbreaking work with poor pay on the highly profitable, British-owned tea plantations. The Tamil plantation workers, at a strategic point, had a threefold meaning: as a key producer for the economy, as an essential element in the fight against Sinhala chauvinism and as a potential bridge to the Indian revolution.
As long as these mostly lower-caste and female workers remained quiet, isolated in the mountains and had neither political nor union rights, they were not seen as a threat. But as soon as they began to assert themselves, they were confronted with the class-based fear of the bourgeoisie, combined with chauvinistic prejudices based on the Sinhalese majority's notion of being a beleaguered minority in the region as a whole.
The LSSP mostly adhered to a class unity policy against ethnic division, and throughout this period LSSP assemblies have been attacked by communal goondas (thugs). Undoubtedly, its increasing influence in the working class played a role in preventing outbreaks of communal violence, as in the anti-Muslim riots in 1915. Nevertheless, the LSSP was evidently not immune to the prevailing Sinhala prejudice: for example, in September 1937 it introduced a motion to the State Council that should ban Indian labor immigration. In contrast to Lenin's Bolsheviks, the LSSP did not see the struggle against national oppression as a driving force for the proletarian revolution. The party failed to build a mass base among the strategically important Tamil plantation workers, and the impact of this failure was exacerbated by the dictated split from the Stalinists in 1939, which allowed them to work in key areas of work such as: B. among the Tamils of the lower castes on the Jaffna Peninsula to keep the lead.
Nonetheless, in late 1939 and early 1940 the LSSP played a leading role in the outbreak of an unprecedented wave of plantation workers in Uva Province; Samarakkody was one of the main organizers. In May 1940 the LSSP organized a huge rally in Badulla. The rally, held despite a ban by the authorities, provided overwhelming evidence of strength. This promising work came to an abrupt end as the British colonial rulers cracked down on them during the war. Nothing stood in the way of the growth of exclusively Indo-Tamil groups, especially the Ceylonese-Indian Congress (which became the Ceylonese Workers' Congress in 1950), and so they were able to gain control of this historic key sector of the proletariat. The later presentation of this work by the LSSP itself is instructive:
“The party's militant leadership made a deep impression on the plantation workers. But the party was never able to profit from this benevolence, firstly because the party immediately suffered severe repression, which led to the fact that the area of trade union work on the plantations fell under the control of the Ceylonese-Indian Congress; and secondly because even after the war the government measures against workers of Indian origin - quite understandable under these circumstances - the Ceylonese-Indian congress in the Arms drove. "
- Leslie Goonewardene, A Short History of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party [A Brief History of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party] (LSSP brochure, Colombo, 1960)
There is more to this fatalistic shrug than the fact that shortly after this description the parliamentary degeneration of the LSSP culminated in accession to a capitalist Popular Front government. Even in its early years, the LSSP saw no contradiction in the fact that Jack Kotelawala, one of its main organizers among the tea plantation workers, later held the post of legal advisor to the Ceylon Estates Employers Federation, where he then appeared in court against the workers. What would have happened if, instead of relying on people with good personal incomes, the LSSP had employed some of the best plantation workers' militants as full-time party organizers while thoroughly training them in revolutionary Marxism? Unfortunately, the LSSP's working methods were far from such Bolshevik practice.
From its inception, the LSSP has shown profound contradictions. As Charles Wesley Ervin wrote in a 1988 article on the genesis of Ceylon and Indian Trotskyism: “The LSSP was born with a split personality. Its leaders were well-educated leftists, but the LSSP was deliberately intended to be a very broad, 'soft' socialist party, more nationalist than Marxist ”(“ Trotskyism in India - Part One: Origins Through World War II (1935–45) ”[ Trotskyism in India - Part One: Origins to the End of World War II], Revolutionary History, Winter 1988/89). In a follow-up article, Ervin described Philip Gunawardena and Perera as "opportunistic swindlers" and "slippery revisionists" ("Trotskyism in India, 1942-48", Revolutionary History Vol. 6, No. 4, 1997).
When Ervin wrote these articles he still had some sympathy for revolutionary Trotskyism. But since then he has moved to the right and joined the "death of communism" left, such as the circles of the British Labor-friendly newspaper Revolutionary History, and, like them, glorifies the “politics of the possible”. In a recent book, Ervin raves about Gunawardena as "the driving force behind the creation and spectacular growth of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), some of the few Trotskyist parties to have had mass following over a long period of time" (Tomorrow Is Ours: The Trotskyist Movement in India and Ceylon 1935–48 [The future is ours: The Trotskyist Movement in India and Ceylon 1935-48], Social Scientists ’Association, Colombo, 2006). Ervin acknowledges that "in retrospect, much of the early LSSP might look 'Menshevik' or 'reformist'," and excuses this programmatic and organizational Menshevism with the assertion: "Context is crucial. The LSSP was really the first political party that was ever founded in sleepy Ceylon. "(Ibid.)
Ervin's first article came much closer to the truth. In his book he wrote that Gunawardena “showed solidarity with Trotsky” in the early 1930s after a period in the British Communist Party (ibid.). But the early LSSP, under Gunawardena's leadership, carefully avoided taking any position on the burning issues of world revolution posed by Trotsky's struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy. The resolution adopted at the first annual LSSP conference in December 1936, insofar as it dealt with international issues at all, only called for solidarity with the republican forces who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, without a single word on the crucial question of the Losing Popular Front.
Instead of fighting for programmatic clarity, Gunawardena wanted to use shortcuts to build a large party on the small island more quickly. He promoted the LSSP as follows: "Our party is not a communist party ... It is a party that is far less militant and less demanding" (quoted in Origins of Trotskyism in Ceylon). As a model he took the loosely organized Congress Socialist Party (CSP) J. P. Narayans, which was an organic part of Gandhi's bourgeois Congress Party in India. Gunawardena had befriended Narayan as a student in the United States, and the newly formed LSSP developed fraternal relationships with the CSP. Despite its nominal commitment to Trotskyism in late 1939, the LSSP did not begin to resolve its internal contradictions until it began to struggle to build a Trotskyist organization in India, a profoundly internationalizing experience. And at every decisive step, Gunawardena was an obstacle on the way to forging such a party.
The heroic period: the BLPI
The LSSP opposed World War II from the start, which it characterized as imperialist, and its work among the tea plantation workers was concrete evidence that it would continue the class struggle and the struggle for national independence no matter what that meant for British war mobilization . The British regarded Ceylon with its tea and rubber production and the strategically important port of Trincomalee as a vital base. The Trotskyists called for the imperialist war to be turned into a civil war and directed revolutionary anti-war propaganda against the great British garrisons in Ceylon and India. Faced with the LSSP's staunch opposition to the war and its role in the Uva plantation strikes, the British authorities suppressed the socialists and shut down the LSSP press. While Leslie Goonewardene was ordered by the party to evade arrest, the rest of the leadership - Philip Gunawardena, Perera, and Colvin R. de Silva - let the arrest pass passively, perhaps in the simple anticipation of glorious battles in court. On June 18, 1940, a few days after the German army marched into Paris, the three were thrown in prison. The same fate befell Samarakkody the next day, who had returned to Colombo to organize demonstrations in their defense. His arrest, along with the most famous party leaders, was probably due to his prominent role in the plantation strikes.
Now the top LSSP leaders were cut off from the State Council and their legal careers, and the party was, on the whole, being steered into healthier channels. Even if it was somewhat arbitrary and arbitrary, accounts were settled with the Stalinists who had made it clear after 1941 that they would sacrifice the struggle for the colonial liberation of Stalin's alliance with “democratic” imperialism. Under the conditions of illegality, the LSSP developed in the direction of greater programmatic sharpness. This development was owed to a new management layer that showed itself to be up to the responsibility. The party had hitherto been too dependent on its leaders and lacked the organization necessary for revolutionary activity, especially under illegality.
In view of the repression on the island and the massive increase in nationalist agitation in India, on the other side of the Palk Strait, the LSSP forced the conclusion that the revolution in Ceylon is an integral part of the revolution in India. At its conference in 1941, the LSSP announced its transformation into a Bolshevik cadre organization, at the same time it presented the perspective of an active struggle for the building of a Trotskyist party in India. The LSSP had already taken practical steps to achieve this. As early as the end of 1940, the LSSP, in consultation with a small Trotskyist group in Calcutta, had sent Bernard Soysa to India. Others followed, including de Silva, Perera and Gunawardena, who escaped on fishing boats to Madras after the legendary prison break on April 7, 1942; they were later arrested again and sent back to Ceylon. Samarakkody stayed behind and worked underground. He was arrested again and sentenced, along with Perera and Gunawardena, to six months' imprisonment in 1944.
Together with their Indian comrades, the exiled LSSP cadres worked to unite a number of isolated Trotskyist circles into an all-Indian organization. The Bolshevik Leninist Party of India (BLPI) was formally established in May 1942, with functioning groups in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh) and the LSSP as their group in Ceylon. The draft program of the BLPI (not formally ratified until 1944) advocated revolutionary defeatism against all imperialist warring parties in World War II and at the same time called for the unconditional military defense of the degenerate workers' state of the Soviet Union. (The draft program appears as an appendix in Ervin's book; parts of the program were originally included in the Fourth International The SWP published March, April and October 1942.) He gave concrete expression to the Trotskyist perspective of permanent revolution by describing the Congress Party as "the classical party of the Indian capitalist class" and "the Kuomintang [likening] the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27 resulted in betrayal and defeat ”. The BLPI noted that the CSP and other petty bourgeois groups in or under the influence of the Congress Party (MN Roy's Radical Democratic Party and the forward bloc of radical nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose) “have repeatedly misused themselves by the bourgeoisie as a shield against the masses let "and emphasized:
“The leadership of the peasantry in the coming petty-bourgeois-democratic agrarian revolution, which is immediately on the agenda, can therefore only come from the industrial proletariat ... The revolutionary alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry can only mean that the proletariat fights the peasants' struggle leads and, in the event of a revolutionary victory, the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship with the support of the peasantry. "
– Draft Program of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India [Draft program of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India] (Brochure of the LSSP [R], Colombo, 1970)
Only a few months after its founding, the BLPI had the opportunity to intervene in a mass struggle with this program. On August 9, 1942, the morning after Gandhi called for a mass nonviolent campaign in front of a huge crowd in Bombay to force the British to quit India, he and the other top leaders of the Congress Party were arrested and imprisoned . The arrests sparked an immediate riot that quickly spread. The Communist Party (CPI) and the supporters of Roy, who supported British imperialism in its "war on fascism", stood directly against the "Quit India" movement, while Bose teamed up with Germany and Japan. The Trotskyists immediately mobilized their small forces to highlight the crucial role of the proletariat in the struggle for independence and socialist revolution (see "The 'Quit India' Movement 50 Years On: Stalinist Alliance with Churchill Betrayed Indian Revolution") Movement 50 years later: Stalinist alliance with Churchill betrayed the Indian revolution], Workers hammer Nos. 131 and 132, September / October and November / December 1992; reprinted in Workers Vanguard No. 970, December 3, 2010).
From August 9th, the BLPI issued a series of leaflets to mobilize workers on a class basis and warn them against any reliance on bourgeois and petty-bourgeois misleaders. While Gandhi & Co. were in prison, the Congress Socialists broke up as an independent movement to take over the leadership of the Congress Party.The CSP insisted that the peasants and the urban petty bourgeoisie should carry out guerrilla actions against the British armed forces, telling workers to simply leave the factories and return to their home villages. As a BLPI document noted in 1944, the role of the CSP in the August struggle "had fully and in action demonstrated that it is simply incapable of transgressing the boundaries of a bourgeois" policy of pressure "and that, albeit in name 'Socialist', in reality only doing Congress politics ”(“ The Present Political Situation in India ”), August 4, 1944, reprinted in Fourth International, October 1945).
The difficult war years in India were the heroic times of the Ceylonese Trotskyists. Many BLPI activists were arrested, including through Stalinist denunciation in July 1943. But the small BLPI represented a revolutionary-proletarian pole in the struggle against British imperialism. The Trotskyists were driven underground; but they succeeded in producing a high-quality theoretical newspaper, Permanent revolution, the first edition of which in January 1943 contained Trotsky's July 1939 article "An Open Letter to the Workers of India" (also published under the title "India Faced With Imperialist War") imperialist war]). The BLPI built a base among sections of the proletariat and gained significant influence in some militant unions in Madras and elsewhere.
The 1942 split and the struggle against liquidation
The establishment of the BLPI caused a split among the Ceylonese Trotskyists into a self-proclaimed “workers opposition” under Gunawardena and Perera and the Bolshevik-Leninist faction of younger leaders like Doric de Souza and Samarakkody. The split was formally completed in 1945 with the exclusion of Gunawardena and Perera. Although the dispute was described as a “tactical” one, it clearly corresponded to the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks of 1903. Samarakkody later remarked: “The attempt by the Marxist wing to reorganize the party programmatically and organizationally along Bolshevik lines called the opposition of the reformist wing around Philip Gunawardena / N. M. Perera and led to the split in 1942 ”(“ The Struggle for Trotskyism in Ceylon ”).
Gunawardena and Perera rebelled against the perspective of a tough, disciplined, internationalist organization. As Ervin wrote in his earlier article on the BLPI: “The opportunist wing of the old LSSP rebelled, which in fact led to a split… Basically it was a struggle over what kind of party would lead the Indian struggle for independence - a proletarian revolutionary or a petty-bourgeois radical? "(Revolutionary History, Winter 1988/89). The workers' opposition railed against allegedly sectarian, petty-bourgeois intellectuals who were out to "transform the party from a living and growing being with deep roots in the masses into a restricted conspiratorial sect" (quoted in "Trotskyism in India, 1942-48" ). Basically Gunawardena wanted to bring the LSSP back to when it resembled the CSP, with a vaguely socialist and anti-imperialist program and politically untrained “mass” membership - and he wanted to keep the reins in his own hands. One should not forget that Gunawardena used physical violence against his opponents within the party at least twice or attacked them slanderously as a police spy, which was completely out of thin air; this was particularly directed against Doric de Souza, a central underground organizer of the Bolshevik-Leninists.
Gunawardena et al. wanted the Trotskyists in India to join the petty-bourgeois radical Congress Socialist Party. As long as the proletarian avant-garde strictly maintained its programmatic independence from the bourgeois nationalists, the work of a small core of Leninist revolutionaries within a bourgeois-nationalist mass formation in a colonial or semi-colonial country was not excluded in principle under certain circumstances. Trotsky firmly rejected the liquidation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) joining the Guomindang (GMD), which from 1923 subordinated the proletarian vanguard to the bourgeois nationalists. But he was not principally against the CCP's original partial entry into the GMD in 1922; He made this clear in a letter to Harold Isaacs dated November 1, 1937, in which he wrote a section from Isaacs' draft for The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution [The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution] (1938) criticized:
"They claim that even if the Chinese leaders were against entry, they did not rely on principles, but only on their belief that the Guomindang was at an end". This claim is repeated at least twice. In this case I do not think it is right to contrast principles and facts. In earlier times, when the bourgeois parties were able to lead masses of working people, it was the duty of a revolutionary to join them. Marx and Engels z. B. joined the Democratic Party in 1848 (whether rightly or wrongly is a question of concrete analysis). , The Guomindang is incapable of leading revolutionary masses. From the revolutionary point of view, this party is at the end. That is why we are against entry. ‘- Such an argument could be of fundamental importance.
I can go further: in 1922 it was not a crime in itself to join the Guomindang, perhaps not even a mistake, especially in the south, and provided that there were numerous workers in the ranks of the Guomindang at that time while the The young Communist Party was weak and consisted almost entirely of intellectuals. (Was that true in 1922?) In that case, joining the Socialist Party would have been an episode on the road to independence that had certain analogies to your joining the Socialist Party. It depends on what intention was pursued with the entry and what then the policy looked like. "
- Trotsky Writings Vol. 2.2, Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990
The BLPI clearly advocated class independence of the proletariat from all wings of the congressional bourgeoisie and rejected the CSP's call for entire trade union federations and the peasant unions (Kisan Sabhas) to be attached to the congress party. The 1942 BLPI program stated: “It would mean death for the independence of the proletarian movement to view the Congress Party as a 'National United Front' or to harbor any illusions that one can either wrest the Congress Party from the bourgeoisie or successfully unmask its bourgeois leadership while remaining loyal to the Congress Party "(Draft programs, a. a. O.). At the same time, the program found:
"Of course, this does not release the Bolshevik-Leninists from the task of doing factional work within the Congress Party (always under strict party discipline, of course) as long as there are still revolutionary and semi-revolutionary elements in this organization that can possibly be won over."
But this goal contradicted the ideas of Gunawardena, who certainly did not intend a short-term entry to win potential revolutionaries in the CSP to Trotskyism. As noted, he has always been intrigued by the idea of a CSP as a “broad” socialist organization nested in the Congress Party. He considered the efforts to forge a tough Trotskyist organization in India in 1942 to be the work of “revolutionary romantics,” as he later said when the question of liquidation into the CSP came up again (“Bolshevik-Leninists Should Enter Immediately the Socialist Party of India [CSP] “[Bolshevik-Leninists should join the Socialist Party of India immediately], Internal bulletin the LSSP, Vol. 1, No. 2, March 1947; quoted in Tomorrow Is Ours).
In 1943 Gunawardena and Perera argued that the BLPI should join forces with the CSP as part of "an elaborate plan to bring about a large-scale regrouping of congressional socialists and other nationalist parties that have played a prominent role in the Quit India" struggle to bring ”, as Ervin wrote in one of his earlier articles (“ Trotskyism in India, 1942-48 ”). Ervin continues: "Your opportunist proposal was formulated as a 'tactic', a scam that these shrewd revisionists were to use again and again over the next few decades."
Here, too, the later Ervin contradicts his earlier writings in order to assist Gunawardena and Perera by incorrectly comparing their opportunist proposal with the entry of the American Trotskyists into the Socialist Party in 1936/37. The aim of this entryism was to intervene in a class of workers and young people moving to the left and to win them over to the fight for a revolutionary party, not to let the Trotskyists perish in an unprincipled left-wing nationalist union in a capitalist party. In his book, Ervin derisively describes the Bolshevik-Leninists as "purists" for opposing Gunawardena's opportunistic maneuvering with a pro-imperialist union bureaucrat in Ceylon in 1945. He then claims:
“The BLPI directed biting propaganda against the congressional socialists and emphasized their opposition. The socialists wanted to fight, but refused to break with the "bourgeois" Congress party. But these pointed remarks from afar achieved little. Had the Trotskyists worked in the Congress Socialist Party, as Philip Gunawardena had always urged, they might have succeeded in influencing a large part of the Congress left. "
– Tomorrow Is Ours
It would have meant the end of Indian Trotskyism if the small and largely unstable BLPI had been dissolved into the Congress Party / CSP. This became painfully evident in 1948, when the BLPI, despite initial widespread resistance on the ground, carried out a comprehensive entry into J. P. Narayan's Socialist Party, which had been founded after the CSP had finally left the Congress Party, which was now the ruling party of an independent India. The Indian Trotskyists, denied the right to form an organized internal opposition by the socialist leaders, became fully assimilated into Indian social democracy over the next few years.
Indeed, the CSP had long demonstrated that it would not tolerate any organized opposition to the Congress Party within its ranks. When the Stalinist KPI, which had joined the CSP in 1936, won over a considerable number of members and entire CSP local groups, an anti-communist witch hunt was started; all of these members were eventually purged from the party in 1940. Former American Bukharin supporter Bertram Wolfe recalls how Yusuf Meherally, a CSP leader he knew, declared that he ordered the purge of the CPI members because they “had established themselves as a hostile conspiracy within our movement. They maintained their own faction, slandered our movement and our leaders ”(quoted in Wolfe, Strange Communists I Have Known [Strange Communists I Knew], George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, 1966). Meherally recounted how he had told the KPI leaders: "You have proven yourselves unworthy of membership in the Congress Party and you have proven yourselves unworthy of Gandhi's moral principles" (cited above). It is a deliberate illusion to believe that the CSP leadership has allowed a small Trotskyist Entrism faction to have a principled struggle on the ground more revolutionary To lead opposition to the Congress Party, the CSP leadership and the Indian bourgeoisie.
Post-war opportunism and reunion
After the imperialist war, most of the Ceylonese Trotskyists returned to the island. The connection with India was gradually abandoned. Weakened by the departure of the Ceylonese cadres and pushed to liquidatorial entry by the rising Pabloite leadership in the International Secretariat of the Fourth International, the BLPI disbanded in Narayan's Socialist Party after the triumphant victory of a pro-entry faction concentrated in Bombay. In the published by the LSSP Short history it is alleged that the organizational link between the Ceylonese and Indian Trotskyists "lost all meaning" after the transfer of power in India in 1947 and Ceylon in 1948. This is a shameless denial of the necessary interrelationship between the socialist revolution in India and Ceylon.
The political basis of the split between the Bolshevik-Leninists and the reformist Gunawardena / Perera wing was not clarified and sharply emphasized. As early as 1946 there was an unsuccessful attempt at reunification, and in 1950, with the blessing of Pablo & Co., an unprincipled union of the Bolshevik-Leninists, now called the Bolshevik Samasamaja Party (BSP), came about with the LSSP. Early on in our relationship with Samarakkody we asked him: "What needs to be explained about the Ceylonese reunification of 1950 is the inability within the left Trotskyists to resist and maintain the previously openly principled course" (letter to Samarakkody, October 27, 1973, reprinted in Internal Discussion Bulletin iST No. 3, May 1974). We also noted that with the LSSP, "which acted within the confines of a purely national perspective and focused on the parliamentary arena," it went downhill from then on, from tacit reformism to ever more blatant class collaboration, and finally to the Popular Front government in 1964 end up.
Certainly, the BSP itself was influenced by parliamentarism, and for those leftists the possibility of becoming MPs will probably have played a role in their reintegration into the LSSP. Samarakkody himself was elected to parliament in 1952. In the LSSP there was a behavior whereby the left could say anything they wanted, while the right wing, around the parliamentary leaders, dictated politics in every major decision. The LSSP left, who appeared to the masses as revolutionaries, were really of great value to the reformists in this division of labor. But in the end the left could only act as a pressure group against the right-wing leadership core.
A wave of workers' struggles between 1945 and 1947 formed the context of the post-war independence movement. With the specter of urban and plantation workers fighting in front of their eyes, the capitalists screamed at the "Indian threat" and the "red threat". In 1946 a series of strikes forced concessions to be promised, but a general strike in May / June 1947 was violently suppressed. Although the United National Party (UNP) won the most seats in the 1947 elections, the LSSP (with ten seats) and the Bolshevik-Leninists (with five seats) did surprisingly well. Samarakkody was supposed to face UNP leader D. S. Senanayake in Mirigama, a "relative" by marrying his brother Siripala into Senanayake's respected large landowner-capitalist family. In the supposedly safe constituency of Senanayakes, Samarakkody made the future prime minister tremble, because he received almost 11,000 votes, compared to Senanayakes a good 26,000 votes.
In his article in Spartacist Samarakkody mentioned the most revealing fact that the LSSP leaders Perera and Gunawardena had refused in 1946, along with the Bolshevik-Leninists, to oppose the British-approved Soulbury Constitution. Although this formally granted independence, it left key British institutions such as the Trincomalee naval base and the monarchy, represented by the British-appointed Governor General, intact. Certainly, in retrospect, the Soulbury Constitution seems less significant than the cruel, anti-working class and anti-Tamil legislation that was passed by the government, with the support of Tamil bourgeois politicians, immediately after independence. The vast majority of the nearly one million Tamils of Indian origin who made up a significant portion of the plantation workers were disenfranchised and their citizenship revoked. The largest and most powerful section of the working class, whose super-exploitation made the welfare state measures of the capitalists possible in the first place in those years, for example in education and medicine, was degraded to stateless people without voting rights.While the LSSP and BSP MPs in parliament eloquently spoke out against these measures, calling them racist and anti-worker, there is little to no evidence that they did much more.
The document of the unification conference of BSP and LSSP in 1950 made no mention of the plantation workers or the deprivation of their citizenship. But the alliance with the Bolshevik-Leninists was too much for Gunawardena, it led to a significant split in the direction of petty-bourgeois Sinhala populism. The following year, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike split from the UNP and founded the bourgeois Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which emphasized Sinhala chauvinism and "anti-imperialist" rhetoric. Even in the eyes of Tamil plantation workers, Bandaranaike could not possibly be considered a “lesser evil”, let alone in the eyes of principled Marxists. But the LSSP turned to Bandaranaike and offered not to run in the elections in May 1952, where the other party would put up candidates (no-contest agreement). Pablo's International Secretariat made no objection to this, even though it was already a crime against the proletarian revolution.
In 1953/54 the international movement did not serve the Ceylonese Trotskyists well either. Initially, the LSSP leadership rejected Pablo's line in 1952, in which he concretely worked out the perspective of long-term entry into the prevailing Stalinist and social democratic parties in Western Europe. In a letter to Leslie Goonewardene (February 23, 1954), James P. Cannon, founder of Trotskyism in the United States, wrote: “The LSSP needs - more than any other party, dare I say - an international leadership that supports its Trotskyist orthodoxy and can strengthen "(printed in Education for Socialists the SWP, "Towards a History of the Fourth International, Part 3: International Committee Documents 1951–1954", Vol. 4). But after their belated declaration of war on Pablo's revisionism in 1953, Cannon and the SWP majority did not wage a hard struggle throughout the International. Instead, the International Committee headed by Cannon boycotted the Fourth World Congress organized by the Pabloites. The result was that the fluctuating LSSP was not polarized, but continued to swim in the Pablo's fairway. We later noted: “If in 1953 a hard anti-revisionist struggle for principles had been waged in the Ceylonese section, then perhaps a hard revolutionary organization could have been created with an independent claim to Trotskyist continuity, thus preventing the name of Trotskyism from being associated with fundamental betrayal the LSSP would have been linked "(" Origins of Pabloism ", Spartacist, German edition No. 3, March 1975).
Pablo's liquidation perspective found resonance in the LSSP and encouraged a group that then split off with a considerable minority of membership and eventually ended up partly in the Communist Party, partly in Gunawardena's increasingly communalist group, or immediately in the SLFP. This tendency wanted a "democratic government, which in the worst case would have meant a government of Bandaranaike, at best a Sama-Samaja majority government" (quoted in "The Struggle for Trotskyism in Ceylon"). Samarakkody continued: “Indeed, in this open factional struggle, all the fundamental questions of Trotskyism emerged: the program, the application of the theory of permanent revolution, the character of the Ceylonese revolution, the role of the 'national' bourgeoisie, questions of strategy and tactics, the Leninist party conception. "
And just as the factional struggle broke out openly, the events in Ceylon demonstrated before all eyes that the LSSP leadership was incapable of directing a revolutionary uprising in the direction of a proletarian power struggle. With the end of the economic boom brought about by the outbreak of the Korean War - the war had led to a sharp rise in world prices for rubber and other raw materials - the UNP launched new attacks on the working masses by driving up prices and subsidizing the government Rice allotment cut. The LSSP called for a one-day strike, the Hartal (general strike) of August 12, 1953. The strike received massive support from all ethnic groups, including workers on the plantations where LSSP unions were still active. Colombo was paralyzed, road and rail transport in the entire south and west came to a standstill, and women workers with red flags stopped trains in the city of Moratuwa near Colombo. The Cabinet was forced to hold its meetings on a British warship, the HMS Newfoundlandto hold.
But the LSSP was totally unprepared to do anything beyond a day of extra-parliamentary pressure. When the government realized this, it recovered and struck back, crushing the poorly organized, fragmented pockets of resistance. Nine people were killed and, although the prime minister was eventually forced to resign, capitalist rule was restored.
The LSSP had demonstrated its utter ineptitude. This laid the basis for the triumph of the SLFP's populist, "anti-imperialist" chauvinism in the 1956 elections and paved the way for pogroms against Tamils in 1958. Samarakkody later named some of the impressive Hartal teachings that confirmed the program of permanent revolution:
"1. ... The Hartal showed that the masses under a revolutionary leadership can very quickly overcome their parliamentary illusions and take the path of mass struggle that leads to revolution.
2. The masses did not divide the Ceylonese Revolution into two stages, a) an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal stage and b) the anti-capitalist stage ...
4. The alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry, fundamental to the Ceylonese revolution, was established through struggle. The struggle showed that it was not necessary for the proletariat to enter into a political alliance with a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois party in order to win over the peasants. "
- "The Struggle for Trotskyism in Ceylon"
The SLFP and "Sinhala Only"
But the leadership of the LSSP was on a different course. In the 1950s, the main focus of Sinhala chauvinism finally turned to the Tamils. (Most of the Malayalis had already returned to India in the 1940s, and since many Burgher were now emigrating, it became less and less plausible to scapegoat them.) In 1955, the SLFP (as in the previous year Gunawardena) declared Sinhala to be Sinhala single official language. This slogan “Sinhala only”, sometimes given an egalitarian tinge against the English-speaking elite, actually targeted the Tamils. In the same year the LSSP cemented its agreement with the SLFP not to put up competing candidates in elections. While the LSSP formally stuck to its characterization of the SLFP as a bourgeois party, it emphasized the allegedly “progressive” sides of the SLFP and the need to defeat the UNP. When the People’s United Front (MEP) led by the SLFP, to which the Gunawardena group also belonged, achieved a clear majority, the LSSP, which was now the main opposition party, offered the new government its “willingness to cooperate”.
Several factors came together to prevent this Popular Front surrender from flourishing. Despite its pathetic stance towards Bandaranaike, the LSSP continued to adhere to its policy of equality between the Sinhala and Tamil languages; In 1955/56 their public gatherings were attacked by communal thugs. One of the first official acts of the SLFP was the submission of a "Sinhala only" law. The LSSP opposed this law, but more from the standpoint of vaguely anti-imperialist unity - a "common bond of Ceylonese consciousness," as Leslie Goonewardene put it in 1960 (A Short History of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party) - than that of a tribune of the people with a class struggle program. Concerned about the gradual waning of its influence among the petty-bourgeois Sinhala electorate, the LSSP failed to orientate itself on and exploit the opportunities created by the government's toxic anti-Tamil policies. While the LSSP's Lanka Estate Workers Union grew significantly, when the Communist Party adopted the “Sinhala Only” policy in 1960, its disaffected Tamil supporters turned not to the LSSP but to local and nationalist Tamil politics.
In addition, the organized working class quickly lost its illusions in the new “socialist” government, and a wave of strikes broke out. The LSSP abandoned its collaboration with the government and Bandaranaike whipped up communal hysteria that culminated in May 1958 in anti-Tamil riots and a ten-month state of emergency under the Public Safety Act. After the elimination of parliament, the LSSP was hardly active as a party. Significantly, she limited her main resistance to the Emergency Act to a parliamentary gesture, a protest by nine LSSP MPs (including Samarakkody) in February 1959, who were then forcibly removed from parliament by the police.
In 1957, Samarakkody and a few other Central Committee members who collectively opposed the "willingness to cooperate" policy declared:
“Whatever the party's intention, in the eyes of the masses, offering a 'willingness to cooperate' provided the key to understanding the party's fundamental stance towards the government. This offer of cooperation to the capitalist government was wrong. The party could and should have offered support for the government's progressive measures, but at the same time should have categorically demonstrated the capitalist character of the MEP government. "
- quoted in "The Struggle for Trotskyism in Ceylon"
The opposition group also argued:
“The party's goal in relation to the MEP government is a revolutionary overthrow of this government, i. H. by the method of mass insurrection. The masses are not ready now (today) to overthrow the government. But given the government's inability to solve the burning problems facing the population, given the ever-worsening discord within the MEP and demoralization within their own ranks, given the growing fighting spirit of the working class, the situation can change very quickly, and it is now It is possible at any time for the masses to raise the slogan 'Down with the MEP government'. In order to build a bridge from their current state of consciousness to the stage where they are ready to raise the call for the overthrow of the government, the party will propose the central agitational slogan: 'We don't want the capitalist MEP government, we want one Workers' and Peasants' Government '. "
- cited ibid.
Samarakkody assessed the 1957 opposition as follows: “There is no doubt that this group failed to get to the roots of reformism in the party. It only drew attention to a few aspects of party politics. Nevertheless, the orientation of this group promised possibilities for the growth of a really revolutionary tendency. "(Ibid.)
After the assassination of Bandaranaike in September 1959 by a disgruntled ultra-chauvinist Buddhist monk who had previously supported the SLFP regime, the LSSP had high hopes of coming to power in parliament. But in the March 1960 elections, the LSSP stagnated at ten seats and the SLFP missed a majority. Two months later, Perera’s reformist wing finally won the LSSP for coalition with the SLFP, and an agreement not to run against each other was signed. The LSSP no longer spoke of equality for the Tamil language. And then Bandaranaike's widow Sirimavo (commonly known as Mrs. B) obtained a clear majority in a second election in July 1960 and no longer needed any coalition partners. The LSSP voted for the throne speech, the political inaugural speech of the ruling party before parliament, and portrayed its policy as support "as long as the government serves the needs of the mass movement for socialism in accordance with its socialist confessions" (A Short History of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party). Those left-wing MPs, including Samarakkody, who voted against the speech from the throne were reprimanded by the LSSP.
In response to this open support of a bourgeois government, the Pabloite International Secretariat gave the LSSP only a mild public reprimand for the election agreement and approval of the speech from the throne. The American SWP, at that time still affiliated with the International Committee, stated in a letter to the LSSP that the “policy of working towards the formation of an SLFP government is, for us, completely at odds with the course of independent political action by the working class” and “a Form of 'Popular Front Policy' ”(letter from Tom Kerry to the LSSP, May 17, 1960). When the SWP refused to publicly condemn this betrayal, James Robertson, future co-founder of the Revolutionary Tendency, protested in a letter to the SWP Political Committee (August 8, 1960) against the party's public silence (see “No to Public Silence about betrayal of the LSSP ”, p. 26). Healy, notwithstanding his later big tantrum about his opposition to the LSSP betrayal, urged the SWP to "proceed cautiously - which you have rightly insisted on in the past" (letter to Joe Hansen, Aug. 14, 1960). Finally, months later, the Militant (October 3, 1960) a diaper-soft pro forma statement in which the LSSP was scolded for its support of the SLFP.
The implementation of the Popular Front
It is important to understand the background to the formation of a coalition government in 1964. In 1961 and 1962, mass struggles broke out among the Tamil minority in defense of their language and democratic rights, led by the bourgeois Federal Party. The SLFP government sent the army to crush the protests. Samarakkody himself worked with Tamil MPs to condemn the military action, but his party did nothing. The LSSP's abandonment of any defense of minority rights was evident in the collapse of Tamil union support for the LSSP in the plantations and elsewhere.
Now new waves of workers' strikes broke out. The bridge between the extra-parliamentary workers' struggles and the safe waters of parliament was the United Left Front (ULF) with the Communist Party and the Gunawardena Group (which is now MEP called). The ULF was clearly a Sinhala-chauvinist popular front. Whatever the class character of Gunawardena's group when it broke off in 1950, the MEP was now a fanatical communalist petty-bourgeois party; Gunawardena insisted that no Tamil organizations should be invited to the joint May Day rally of the LSSP, KP and MEP in 1963. Samarakkody and a minority of the LSSP Central Committee opposed the ULF and rightly remarked that it was only a preliminary stage to a coalition with the SLFP. But widespread concerns within the party about coalition have been eroded over time.
Faced with the drifting away of her supporters, with coup attempts by the army, Tamil mobilizations and now also mass struggles of the working class, Mrs. B absolutely needed allies. When 40,000 people gathered in Colombo on March 21, 1964, the bourgeois press was already reporting talks between Perera and the SLFP. At a special conference of the LSSP on 6./7. June the right wing under Perera received a large majority in favor of joining the SLFP government. A minority resolution submitted by 14 Central Committee members stated:
“Accepting posts in Mrs. Bandaranaike's government, either alone or with other parties in the United Left Front, would be to ally with the SLFP government to stave off the rising wave of discontent among workers and the masses, and the working class too to participate in their policy of maintaining capitalism in Ceylon within the framework of the capitalist constitution.
The accession of the LSSP leaders to the SLFP government will lead to open class collaboration, disorientation of the masses, division of the working class and the abandonment of the perspective of struggle, which in turn will lead to the disruption of the proletarian movement and the elimination of the independent revolutionary axis of the left.In the end, the forces of capitalist reaction are neither weakened nor stopped, but ultimately strengthened. "
- reprinted in (the healyistic) Fourth International, Summer 1964
After their defeat, most of the 159 delegates who rejected the coalition left the party, founded the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (Revolutionary), and declared that the LSSP's decision "represented a complete break with the fundamental principles of Trotskyism" (Education for Socialists, "Towards a History of the Fourth International, Part 6: Revolutionary Marxism vs. Class Collaboration in Sri Lanka").
The LSSP (R), now replacing the LSSP as the Ceylonese section of the VS, retained two MPs, Samarakkody and Meryl Fernando. After further withdrawals, the coalition no longer had a parliamentary majority. On December 3, 1964, she failed with one vote on an amendment to the speech from the throne introduced by an independent right wing (and former LSSP member), W. Dahanayake. This stated that "the people have no confidence in the government because it has failed to solve the problems of the population, such as unemployment, high cost of living and rents" (quoted in T. Perera, Revolutionary Trails - Edmund Samarakkody: A Political Profile [Revolutionary Ways - Edmund Samarakkody: A Political Profile], Social Scientists ’Association, Colombo, 2006). Samarakkody and Fernando voted for the amendment. In a statement issued by Samarakkody, the LSSP (R) stated that it “does not cry a single tear after the government” (reprinted in M. Banda, Ceylon: The Logic of Coalition Politics [Ceylon: The logic of coalition politics]).
The LSSP (R) was not a homogeneous group. A pro-coalition tendency under V. Karalasingham soon returned to the LSSP. In addition, it quickly became apparent that Ceylon Mercantile Union (CMU) boss Bala Tampoe wanted the LSSP (R) to be an appendage to his grossly opportunistic union activities. Tampoe later boasted, “Even though I was a member of the LSSP, I never allowed the LSSP to control the Mercantile Union. I am proud to have kept the union out of political entanglements "(Sunday Times, Colombo, October 22, 1995). Also in the LSSP (R) were supporters of the British Healy group, who carried out unprincipled maneuvers with both Karalasingham and Tampoe until the Healy people then left and started their own organization.
His main battle led Samarakkody against Tampoe. After Tampoe took over CMU from AE Goonesinha in 1948, he was appointed head of the union for life despite some “democratic” trappings, which led to the popular joke that it was easier to change the country's constitution than that of the CMU . Tampoe's demeanor reached scandalous proportions: he refused joint actions with other unions, even maintained confidential contact with the class enemy during important class battles and made visits to imperialist government officials. Disgusted by this, Samarakkody led a split in 1968. His appeal to the United Secretariat to be recognized as an official section was dismissed. We then worked with Samarakkodys RWP to publicize Tampoe's inexcusable activities (see "The Case of Bala Tampoe" and "USec Covers Up Tampoe Scandal"), Spartacist, English edition No. 21 and No. 22, autumn 1972 and winter 1973/74).
Samarakkody walked as far to the left as he could within the confines of the United Secretariat. The apparently orthodox criticism of SWP spokesman Joseph Hansen's then guerrilla policy-oriented line of the US majority addressed Samarakkody a little, and he declared in a document for the US World Congress of 1969: “It is time for the entire International thinks about whether our tactics over the past three decades have not brought us to a strategy that is alien to our movement ”(“ Strategy and Tactics of Our Movement in the Backward Countries ”), undated). After Samarakkody was expelled from the US, he continued his critical review:
“During the first two years, the revolutionary tendency had the task of drawing a clean balance from the experiences of the LSSP and the LSSP (R). It had to cleanse itself of the dross of Pabloism, which replaced dialectical materialism with empiricism and pragmatism and dropped the task of building the revolutionary party in favor of participation in and 'integration' into the so-called living mass movement - and so they fell Pabloists in parliamentarism and syndicalism. The Revolutionary Workers Party [RWP] can only reject the policies of both wings of the VS - the ultra-left opportunist mixture of Mandel, Livio [Maitan], [Pierre] Frank as well as the opportunist group Hansen-Novack. "
- "The Struggle for Trotskyism in Ceylon"
Discussions with Samarakkody
Samarakkody first wrote to us in 1971 - it was a significant development for us. Ceylon played a significant role in the history of the Trotskyist movement, including as a springboard for revolution across the Indian subcontinent. Samarakkody and Fernando were old, tried and tested cadres with something to show for. Cadres embody the accumulated capital of long experience, and Trotsky himself, for example, tried for many years in the struggle for the Fourth International to win people like Henk Sneevliet, a veteran of the communist movement. And on another level, Samarakkody was as important to us as Healy, Lambert and the Bolivian Guillermo Lora. We continued to look for elements in and around the United Secretariat, as well as in other allegedly Trotskyist formations on the assumption that individual groups might not be firmly committed to Pabloite centrism or Hansen's reformism. The necessary review then led us to the conclusion that all these wings, splits and fragments as a revolutionary force, claiming the mantle of the Fourth International, had been settled and that in the process of building it was necessary to start over, which meant the regrouping of revolutionary cadres from these organizations through a process of divisions and mergers.
Furthermore, we were aware that after Trotsky's death, Cannon and the American SWP had made a mistake by not accepting the challenge of international leadership and instead waiting for someone else to do so. Consequently, we tried to find out whether there was a principled basis for us to fight together with the RVP to reforge the Fourth International. To do this, of course, we also had to determine to what extent those old Ceylonese Trotskyists who had split off because of the betrayal of 1964 had actually succeeded in overcoming the “old”, “good” LSSP. Discussions developed, among other things, about our propaganda group perspective, the popular front and the national question.
Through hard experience we had learned that a group cannot be judged from a distance based on its written propaganda alone. The Healyists, for example, published a number of excellent documents in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but it was only through contact with them that we discovered that behind those fine words lurked a bad history of political banditry and gangsterism. In contrast, Samarakkody's vote against the Popular Front in 1964 was an affirmation of revolutionary principles that could be verified. But it took very expensive visits to Sri Lanka - perhaps half a dozen in as many years - before we could even get a feel for the prospects and the work of the RVP.
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