Workers Revolutionary Party
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The Workers Revolutionary Party is a British Trotskyist party founded in 1973 by Gerry Healy. It was perhaps best known in the 1970s and 80s as the political home of actors Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, as well as some more minor British celebrities.
Healy was expelled from the party in 1989 following allegations of party members being physically assaulted and raped, and indecent ties between the party and Arab dictators. Specifically, in 1983 the BBC found that the party had taken £1.5 million from Colonel Gadaffi's government and that its paper, Newsline, had written approvingly of Saddam Hussein. In October 2011 the party's website declared that Gadaffi "died a hero".
“”Idealist and metaphysical thinking tends to describe contradiction in a formal way – as a word form without a content. In his book In Defence of Marxism Trotsky emphasised that Hegel in his Logic "established a series of laws", amongst them "development through contradiction".
He explained that because Hegel wrote before Darwin and before Marx "… he operated with ideological shadows as to the ultimate reality. Marx demonstrated that the movement of these ideological shadows reflected nothing more than the movement of material bodies".Lenin further emphasised this when he wrote "I am in general trying to read Hegel materialistically: Hegel is materialism which has been stood on its head (according to Engels) – that is to say, I cast aside for the most part God, the Absolute, the Pure Idea, etc."
Chris Bailey observed:
“”The work of the "theoreticians" in the party meant that the WRP, if it consistently carried out the theory it was based on, could literally live "in a world of its own". This was inadequate for the purpose, however. Healy wanted us to live "in a world of his own". There remained one more refinement, that ultimate monstrosity, "the practice of cognition". This still retained the earlier features (denial of facts, "training" to see what wasn’t there etc). It contained, however, an added refinement. It was not only wrong, but complete gobbledygook. That was, in fact, its essential feature. It was not meant to be understood. Having used the "theoreticians" up to this point, Healy now produced a continuation of their work which only he could claim to understand. It was most ungrateful of him and no doubt upset them a good deal, but they continued to try to prove their worth by praising his work in this "field" as often as possible
Another commentator observes:
“”Throw away your Hegel (and your Lenin) and follow Banda, therefore, into the wilds of philosophy and such gems of clarity as this: "Dialectical thought concepts are now entering matter through us via the self impulse of the universal movement of matter. As this takes place we arrive at the moment of actuality which is causality. Lenin explains that 'The unfolding of the sum total of the moments of Actuality NB equals the moments of dialectical cognition' (Lenin, Collected Works Vol 38, p. 158). At this dialectical moment of causality, the cause (essence) cancels itself into the effect abstract thought already posited in us as a part of a previous dialectical process). This is the only way to grasp the dialectical relationship between man and nature". (emphasis added). On such a passage – which closely reproduces one in Healy’s Notes – we can only be brutally frank. In our opinion it is simply gobbledygook. It has nothing to with ‘grasping the dialectical relationship between man and nature’ or with the struggle for an understanding of Marxism within the revolutionary party. It simply strings together – without the slightest explanation – a series of categories from several hundred pages of Hegel’s Science of Logic. Being culled from a piecemeal and opportunist reading of Lenin’s Philosophical Notebooks it gets them hopelessly confused. If Banda – or Healy, who has so far made no public reply in writing – think they can explain with reasonable clarity (and brevity) what they mean by, for example, ‘the cause (essence) cancelling itself into the effect (abstract thought already posited in us)’, our columns are open to them. In our view the only purpose of such passages is to establish on a bogus theoretical basis the authority of the WRP leadership which, in the field of programme and practice in the national and international workers movement, is now completely bankrupt.
The cult of WRP
The extreme left took itself very seriously in 1970s and 1980s Britain (although nobody else did, much). Nowhere was this more apparent than in the WRP which demanded cult-like commitment from its members. Journalist and former teenage member Gary Younge wrote:
“”Commitment to the party was total. If Britain was about to explode into revolution then it followed that a revolutionary party had to be ready and waiting in the wings. And if the party was to be ready then its members had to be at battle stations at all times, with no excuses and definitely no time off for good behaviour. It meant that everything — births, deaths, marriages, exams, you name it — had to take second place to the preparations under way for the glorious and imminent day when we would not so much inherit the earth as nationalise it, collectivise it and then forbid anyone from inheriting anything ever again. "The needs of the individual must be subordinated to the needs of the party," chimed the mantra.
- Mike Harman (September 2, 2007). "Revolution betrayed - the Workers Revolutionary Party and Iraq". http://libcom.org/library/revolution-betrayed-wrp-iraq.
- Sean Matgamna (July 2, 2003). "The upside-down 'witch-hunt'". http://www.workersliberty.org/node/1054.
- "NATO MURDERS GADAFFI". October 21, 2011. http://www.wrp.org.uk/news/6880.
- Left-wing news and discussion — Healyism
- Behind the Smokescreen: An analysis of the sectarian politics of the Workers Revolutionary Party Marxists Internet Archive
- "Memoirs of a teenage Trot". The Guardian. February 18, 2000. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2000/feb/19/books.guardianreview1.