Northite Blood Money
“Lenin received German gold.” “Leon Trotsky was an agent of the Mikado.” “Spartacist — Finger Man for the FBI.” The first slander was supplied by self-proclaimed “socialists” and other elements in 1917 Russia who wanted to continue the imperialist carnage of World War I, the second by J.V. Stalin and the last by David North’s Workers League. In the 8 February issue of the Workers League’s press the Bulletin we read: “As American bombs are dropping on Baghdad, Workers Vanguard uses rhetoric indistinguishable from that of the Bush administration…. It willingly places itself on the ‘left’ flank of the bourgeois media propaganda blitz which seeks to demonize Saddam Hussein and whip up hatred for the Iraqi people.”
At least when the pro-war forces in imperial Russia lyingly accused Lenin of being a German agent they attempted to give a political façade to this slander by pointing to Lenin’s opposition to Russian imperialism and to the war. But for the Workers League to accuse the Spartacist League of trying to undermine the defense of Iraq while U.S. imperialism was raining down death on Baghdad is such a shameless lie that it would make the tsarist writers of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” blush.
In our banners at antiwar demonstrations, in the headlines of Workers Vanguard, in our speeches to protesters — the Spartacist League forthrightly fought for the defeat of U.S. imperialism and military defense of Iraq (without failing to note the crimes of Hussein’s regime against the Iraqi toiling masses). We sought to mobilize the social power of the working class in labor political strikes against the war. And what of the Workers League? As American bombs rained down on Baghdad, North’s outfit campaigned for a “democratic” referendum on the war! At the red-white-and-blue “antiwar” demonstration in Washington, D.C. on January 26, the Northites marched under a banner reading: “Stop War Against Laos — Let the People Vote on War.” This is worse than the most abject social-pacifism, appealing to the imperialist butchers to give a more “democratic” cover to their genocidal war against the Iraqi people. At the time, the American “people,” in their overwhelming majority, supported Bush’s war!
Crime and Dividends
What really has the Workers League frothing at the mouth is the one subject truly close to their hearts — lucre, as filthy as it comes. Earlier this year we Ian a short article entitled “Healyites Got Blood Money” (WV No. 517, 4 January), which detailed how the late Gerry Healy’s “International Committee” was on the take from a number of Near East despotic regimes, including Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And we pointed to the Healyites’ criminal cheering for the 1978 execution of Iraqi Communist Party members.
The Workers League headed by David North — the current representative of unadulterated Healyism here on earth — is squealing like stuck pigs. The Bulletin decries our exposure of their direct and immediate ancestors for being on the payroll of virtually every sheik and military bonapartist in the region as an attempt “to provide the FBI with a pretext to frame up the Workers League.”
The Northites certainly have an elastic view of their own history — similar to their relation to any question of Marxist principle or proletarian morality. We nailed the Workers League as “shameless apologists for white terror in Iraq” more than a decade ago. At the time Hussein was a client of U.S. imperialism, which was providing him with military aid and intelligence. (As we have reported, the first anti-Communist bloodbath carried out by the Ba’ath used hit lists supplied by the CIA.) In our most recent article we also noted that at the same time Healy et al. were raking in thousands from those other clients of American imperialism, the Kuwaiti emirs!
The Workers League probably has plenty to fear for the crimes they have committed, but getting in trouble with the FBI is at the bottom of the list (if they are on any FBI list at all). After all, the Healyites were working the same side of the street as U.S. intelligence! In 1979, North’s Bulletin reprinted articles from Healy’s News Line hailing the execution of 21 Iraqi Communist Party members by Hussein’s government. The Bulletin (30 March 1979) even reprinted from News Line an Iraqi communiqué, under the grotesque headline, “Where the Iraqi Communist Party Went Wrong.”
According to the 1985 International Committee Control Commission report — which the Bulletin tries to hide behind as proof of their “innocence” — the Healyites got close to £20,000 from Iraq in the late 1970s. And this figure can only be the tip of the iceberg, given that the IC “investigation” into their organization’s financial dealings in the Near East was carried out by the guilty themselves.
The Bulletin doesn’t deny that it cheered the murder of Communist worker militants in Iraq. It simply whines that the Workers League didn’t know Healy’s Workers Revolutionary Party got paid for this and other crimes. This, it is claimed, was done “without the agreement or knowledge of the International Committee.” For the Northites to claim that they didn’t know is about as believable as Bush and Reagan’s protests that they were “out of the loop” while another criminal by the name of North, first name Oliver, was running the Contragate arms-and-drugs scam out of the White House basement.
Healy’s financial ties to Arab regimes were a notorious scandal on the left. From the time the WRP started up its daily News Line in May 1976, it was clear that Healy’s organization was on the take from Muammar Qaddafi’s Libyan regime. Less than three months earlier, the WRP had folded its previous paper Workers Press following months of publicity pleading for funds for a press “Crisis Fund.” Then amidst great fanfare out comes a flashy new four-color daily full of articles extolling the Libyan dictator and “special reports” from Tripoli. Where did the money come from in this rags-to-riches story?
As early as May 1977, we ran an article entitled “Healyites, Messengers of Qaddafi,” which concluded that “even a cursory look at News Line’s yearlong pandering to the oil-rich Qaddafi forces the observation that there is indeed something very rotten in the state of Denmark.” Two years later we picketed Workers League meetings with signs reading “Workers League — Press Agents for Libyan Dictatorship!” and “Healyites: From Political Bandits on the Left to Pimps for Qaddafi.”
Then in 1980, Sean Matgamna, editor of the British Socialist Organiser, observed that the WRP must have been subsidized by “one or more Arab governments.” In a vengeful attempt to destroy Matgamna’s organization, the WRP (under the aegis of jet-setting actress Vanessa Redgrave) filed a libel suit against Matgamna for his scathing and eminently truthful expose of these unprincipled political bandits, gangsters and cultists. Interestingly, the one statement in Matgamna’s article which the suit did not take up was the central charge that the Healyites were being funded by bourgeois Arab regimes.
Now, the Bulletin writes that following the Control Commission investigation “the International Committee, with the support of the Workers League… denounced the WRP’s ‘pursuit of unprincipled relations with sections of the colonial bourgeoisie in return for money’.” But what did the Workers League find ”unprincipled”? Obviously not acting as press agents for Qaddafi (celebrating the ”Tenth Anniversary of the Libyan Revolution,” the WL sent a telegram to Qaddafi praising his “progressive socialist policies”) or cheering the execution of Iraqi Communists. North’s “defense” is that Healy did it for money, while the Workers League did it for free! But did they?
Who Got the Money?
After the IC Control Commission had delivered its report, in 1986 Cliff Slaughter, another of Healy’s former lieutenants, wrote a letter to all WRP members asking
“Is it only the WRP which received financial assistance from one or other Middle Eastern bourgeois national governments? Which other sections did so? “Is it not a fact that the Australian section did receive a sum of (tens of thousand [sic] of dollars) in 1983?…Slaughter’s accusations against North’s cover-up for his colleague Nick Beams, leader of the Australian Socialist Labour League, have the ring of (self-serving) truth. A month after Slaughter’s letter was circulated, the Central Committee of the SLL seems to have felt constrained to censure Beams for failure to report receipt of money from Arab regimes to the IC. Further information came from former SLL leader Phil Sandford, who revealed how another leading Australian Healyite was slapped down by Healy for attempting to poach on his Iraqi preserve to get $100,000 for a printing press (see “Some Political Bandits at the End,” Spartacist No. 43-44, Summer 1989). Sandford reports that their relations with Libya were much more lucrative.
“Is it not true that Cde Beams failed to report the matter to the IC or to the WRP delegates, but that he did report it to at least some of the delegates who supported the WRP suspension and certainly to Comrade North? That is what happened. “Finally: is it not true that Comrade North and Beams agreed the matter should not be raised at the IC because they considered it did not constitute a ‘class betrayal’? How did they differentiate between the class betrayal of the WRP in this matter — on which was based the argument for suspending the WRP from the IC without charges and without a hearing — and the actions taken on behalf of the SLL (Australia)?”
But was North’s only role in this sordid affair to alibi for Beams? Not according to a letter from Healy lieutenant Tony Banda to the American Workers League Central Committee of 23 January 1986. Responding to accusations that leading members of the WRP, following the ouster of Healy, were refusing to make IC documents available to WRP members, Banda writes:
Only the Tip of the Iceberg…
Libya - £542,267
Kuwait - 156,500
Qatar - 50,000
Abu Dhabi - 25,000
PLO - 19,997
Iraq - 19,697
Unidentified or other sources - 261,702
Total : £1,075,163
(Reprinted in Workers News, April 1988)
Account of monies from Near East paymasters received by Healy’s WRP as reported by 1985 IC Control Commission — an “Investigation” carried out by the guilty.
”This I find extremely interesting coming from you, who through your minions, have suppressed virtually the entire discussion on Healyism…. This is like the thief in the crowded bazaar crying,’ Stop, thief’ to distract attention from his own misdeeds. Up north Mr. Holier-Than-Thou makes his getaway with 90 grand, while his apprentice/accomplice makes off with another 25 grand down south. Is this your revolutionary morality? Is this your kind of internationalism?”Tony Banda’s “we were all crooks” indictment of “Mr. Holier-Than-Thou” North captures the cynical quality of this falling-out among thieves.
— printed in Fourth International, Autumn 1986
It seems evident that when it looked like Healy was collecting all of the big payoffs from the Near East, the rest of his mob were driven into a shark-like feeding frenzy to get their share of the blood money. As we have noted many times, none of Healy’s epigones protested the vicious betrayals that were perpetrated by their organization in order to get money from Near East bourgeois governments. It was only when this revenue dried up that they moved in to depose Healy.
According to a financial report by Corin Redgrave, dated 8 October 1985, in 1984-85 “scarcely a single rent or rates demand was paid on time. Bailiffs took walking possession of the contents of the party’s printshop in Runcorn, the party bookshops, and on one occasion at least, the party headquarters at Clapham.” At first the WRP tried to blame the whole mess on their financial apparatus. But by the summer of 1985 it became clear that the whole stinking house that Healy had built was about to come crumbling down. Well-trained by their “founder-leader,” Healy’s longtime henchmen went, like sharks, for the kill.
North desperately wanted to declare himself as the new leader and wielded the IC Control Commission for his own cynical power play. Today, the Bulletin claims that the Workers League’s participation in this commission clears them of all crimes. Yet, curiously, they have chosen never to print the results of even this heavily censored and self-serving ”investigation” into the IC’s sordid financial wheeling and dealing.
The Commission’s report was completed in a big hurry, and this was not simply because Healy & Co. had allegedly spirited away the WRP’s financial records. No attempt was made to investigate allegations that other IC sections had been on the take. The names of implicated senior WRP members who had not left with Healy were deleted from the report. North used the “findings” to get the leftovers from Healy’s WRP out of his way. Slaughter’s rump WRP was suspended from membership and North anointed himself king of the remaining Healyite dung heap.
The Workers League tries to palm, themselves off as Trotskyists and from time to time, when it suits their purposes, they can sound quite orthodox. We recognized them for what they were twenty years ago when we publicly exposed the Healyites as “political bandits” whose positions were tailored to their own opportunistic and unsavory advantage. In their further degeneration they became outright bandits, and far worse.
Talk about fingermen: for a fistful of petrodollars, the Healyites took pictures of protesters at an anti-Hussein demo in London and turned them over to the Iraqi embassy! For cash they cheered the murder of Iraqi CP members. One of Healy’s main bagmen in Baghdad was none other than Alex Mitchell, who together with North co-authored “Security and the Fourth International” — the sinister campaign to smear the leadership of the American Socialist Workers Party as agents of the FBI and the GPU!
While Mitchell today plies his pen for the capitalist press in Australia, North continues to use his for new installment of “Security.” After spending a fortune trying to get the capitalist courts rule that the SWP was being run FBI agents in the notorious case of provocateur Alan Gelfand, the Northites waged an international campaign as fingermen for the American imperialist state’s prosecution of a young SWP Mark Curtis — who is now behind bars sentenced to 25 years in jail on trumped! up rape charges. But why would the cope jail one of their own agents? And why does the Workers League profess to be worried about the FBI going after them? On the face of it, the U.S. government ought to be satisfied with their work. As for the Arab dictators, sheiks and colonels that the Healyites shook down for cash — doubtless on the claim that the IC was an organization with “mass” influence which could help them out — they might rightly feel duped, not to mention vindictive.