On the Logan Show Trial




Appendix E i

The Question of Logan

Excerpted from “Declaration of an External Tendency of the iSt”, October 1982

The genesis of the fall of Logan is contained in the post-resignation statement of Schaefer in which he is reported to have suggested that if he and Y. Rad blocked on a question they would be “a real force within the tendency.” This was characterized as a proposal for a bloc against the international.

In the course of building the British section and winning the left wing of the WSL, Logan acquired a substantial and independent base in the membership. Unfortunately for Logan’s own ambitions however, in the iSt any authority which is not delegated from New York is seen as a potential threat to the leadership. Accordingly, Robertson set out to establish New York’s authority in the British section by undermining Logan’s. When he clashed with the IS over money and then failed to show sufficient enthusiasm for a slate proposal of Robertson, a pre-emptive strike was launched. After hesitating briefly, Logan acquiesced to his own removal as the British National Chairman and was sent to New York under a cloud.

After he was safely in New York the lid was removed in Australia and the membership came forward with genuinely agonized accounts of organizational abuse and atrocities at the hands of Logan. Robertson and Co. piously denied any knowledge of the nature of the Australian regime and organized the famous international trial which duly expelled Logan from the tendency as a sociopath guilty of “gross moral turpitude” who should never have been allowed in the workers’ movement.

Logan was undoubtedly guilty of running a grossly abusive regime—but the nature of the abuse in his Australian operation was only a linear extrapolation of the internal regime of Robertson’s American section. How else can one explain the fact that none of the SL/US cadres who lived under the Logan regime blew the whistle? In recent years the SL/US has produced a regime in Chicago which was formally characterized as Stalinist; regimes in Los Angeles and Detroit charged with serious abuses; while in the Bay Area, which is repeatedly held up as the model, Nelson threatened two leading comrades with a potentially lethal instrument.

In fact the revelations of life in the SL/ANZ came as no surprise to the bulk of the senior cadres of the tendency, as the Logans [sic] had made no particular secret of most of their actions. Foster and other leading comrades had visited the Australian section and talked to the members in the midst of these horrors without noticing anything amiss. In fact Logan, the malevolent genius, was even supposed to have duped poor gullible Foster into helping him get rid of [John E.], his only internal critic. {The 1982 declaration confused the 1974 case of [John E.] (who had departed by the time Foster visited Australia) with the 1975 case of Keith O. But although the identities are switched, the account of what took place is accurate—ed.} Not only did Logan and Foster force [John E.] {actually Keith O.—ed.} out but they also got him to sign a confession which was to be used against him if he ever opened his mouth about life in the Australian section!

During the Stalinist purge trials in Smolensk province there was a trial of the first secretary of the party in Belyi named Kovalev. During the trial “Questions from the floor pointed out that everyone approved of Kovalev at the time and asked why they [his accusers] had not said anything earlier. But one of Kovalev’s more sophisticated accusers claimed that he had been silent because Kovalev had, for four years, forbidden him to speak!” (Robert Conquest, The Great Terror, Page 334). And so it was in Australia—Logan was somehow supposed to have prevented his victims (with the exception of the unfortunate [John E.]) from communicating the “real story” to the visiting international leadership. The truth is, of course, that Logan was not operating so very far outside the norms of the tendency at all, so there was nothing to report, particularly little that wasn’t known anyway. This doubtless explains the ferocity which met the centrist Samarakkody’s observation that the international leadership should take some responsibility for the behaviour of its Australian section.

The reason that the Logan question is such a highly charged issue for the leadership is that it is in a certain sense a set of “emperor’s clothes”. Logan’s was indeed a brutish regime but no one of normal intelligence and not subject to the enormous internal pressure of the organization could take seriously the proposition that New York knew nothing about it.

Officially Logan was unanimously drummed out of the iSt and the workers’ movement but it is a curious fact that virtually every cadre who has left the organization since has at least expressed doubts about the question of iSt pre-knowledge of the grossly abusive organizational practices of the SL/ANZ under Logan. Many have also questioned whether Loganism was not just an extension of Spartacist internal norms. Probably there are many who remain in who also have their doubts, but know that to mention them is to commit political suicide in the iSt.

For its part the leadership seems fully aware that the Logan trial “forgot” something. In reflecting on the charges most of the cadres asked themselves the following dangerous question: how could a communist with a correct political program run an abusive, non-democratic regime? The SL leadership has traditionally attempted to handle this question by stridently asserting that any legitimate criticism of the regime must first be able to demonstrate how the organization has programmatically departed from Bolshevism. But how to explain Healy circa 1966, or Logan’s SL/ANZ?

The SL/US learned by its failure to rewrite Logan’s political history. Since then most of those who have been forced out have first been given a new political biography. In many cases, to “protect” the organization, the technique of confessions written by the leadership and signed by the future ex-comrade has even been employed.




Posted: February 2008