Workers Vanguard No. 99 (5 March 1976)
“Who Gave Healy His Security Clearance?”
WL Slander-Fest Picketed in NYC
NEW YORK, February 28 – “Who Gave Healy His Security Clearance?” The Spartacist League (SL), protesting its exclusion and demanding a stop to the Workers League (WL) slander campaign, picketed a WL “public” meeting on “How the GPU Killed Trotsky” held tonight at New York University. The meeting was the first in a nationwide series planned by the WL to propagate its scurrilous and totally empty charge that Socialist Workers Party (SWP) leaders Joseph Hansen and George Novack were “accomplices” of the Stalinist secret police in the 1940 assassination of Trotsky. The inspiration for the smear campaign emanates from the WL's sinister mentor, Gerry Healy of the British Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), who has evidently appointed himself the Vyshinsky of the WL/WRP's ersatz Moscow Trials..
Arriving at the meeting the 50 SL supporters found, as anticipated, that their entry was blocked by a WL goon-squad. The SLers proceeded to set up a picket line chanting “Trotsky Died Fighting Stalinist Lies, Healy's Slanders Must Not Get By!” SL signs demanded “Fight Hansen's Reformism Politically, Not with Stalinist Slanders,” "Workers League 'Method’ – Anti-Democratic Exclusions and the Big Lie” and "For the Rebirth of the Fourth International.”
The WL had cynically misled the socialist public about the meeting, which was advertised in the Village Voice as an apparent expose of the GPU's murder of Trotsky. Ads in the WL's Bulletin announced the real topic: “Joseph Hansen and George Novack, Accomplices of the GPU Unmasked.” The WL ranks had been closeted inside the auditorium early to prevent their exposure to the SL demonstration. But others got a taste of what the WL/WRP calls “Security and the Fourth International” as the paranoid WL interrogated everyone unknown to them to root out suspected “secret-Sparts.”
Inside the sanitized forum (in which no time was allotted for floor discussion in any case), Bulletin editor Jeff Sebastian and new WL national secretary David North proceeded to regurgitate endless fake-factual minutiae and insinuations about Trotsky's assassination designed to convince the naive that, incomprehensible though it all seems, it must prove something. In fact the WL has produced not one shred of evidence against Hansen or Novack. A leaflet distributed outside by the SL noted that “Hansen's current role as chief ideologue for the reformist program of the no-longer-revolutionary SWP in no ways alters this simple fact: the WL/WRP have produced exactly nothing to call into question this man's fundamental integrity as a Trotskyist in 1940.”
The featured speaker - one Harold Robins, former head of security at Trotsky's house in Coyoacan, Mexico – carefully avoided backing up the WL on allegations pivotal to the WL's slander barrage. At no time did Robins state or infer that Hansen or Novack were “accomplices of the GPU.” Nor did he echo the WL's insinuations about Robert Sheldon Harte, an SWP member and Coyoacan guard who was killed in an earlier GPU machine-gun raid on the house. Throughout his long and rambling remarks, Robins was clearly most concerned to protect himself from any charges of negligence. For Robins to lend himself to a campaign whose central thrust is to libel Hansen, apparently without endorsing the accusations against Hansen, demonstrates either criminal cynicism or incredible political malice – or perhaps both.
At the forum, North read from the SL leaflet which protested the Stalin-style slanders. He accused the SL of being the SWP's attorney. But it is no accident that the SWP turned down the SL's invitation to join a demonstration against the despicable vilification of the SWP's own leaders. It falls to the Spartacist League to defend the revolutionary history of the SWP, the party which at the time of Trotsky's death was the revolutionary U.S. section of the Fourth International.
The SL leaflet noted that the WL's mud-slinging is an attack not only against Hansen and Novack, “but at bottom against the revolutionary SWP of 1940, against Trotsky and the Fourth International. At the time of the assassination it was the Stalinists who charged that Trotsky had been killed by one of 'his own' in a falling out among thieves. The attempt to portray the FI as a morally degenerate gang was part and parcel of Stalin's central task: to discredit Trotsky and the FI as the legitimate continuators of the revolutionary tradition of Lenin. Now the WL has made itself an 'accomplice' of this despicable method.”