The Logan Dossier
The Logan Dossier
Documentary Evidence and Testimony in the
August 1979 Trial and Expulsion of Bill Logan
from the international Spartacist tendency for Crimes Against
Communist Morality and Elementary Human Decency
I. The Logan Dossier
This bulletin documents the facts and findings leading to the expulsion of Bill Logan from the international Spartacist tendency, now International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), at our first delegated International Conference in August 1979. Logan had been national chairman of the Spartacist League of Australia and New Zealand (now Spartacist League/Australia) during its formative period, 1972-77, national chairman of the Spartacist League/Britain at the time of its founding in 1978 and a member of the International Executive Committee (IEC), the leading body of the iSt/ICL. Logan was investigated by an International Control Commission, tried and found guilty of crimes against communist morality during his tenure as SL/ANZ national chairman and shown to be a “proven, massive liar and a sexual sociopath who manipulated the private lives of comrades for reasons of power politics and his own aberrant appetites and compulsions in the guise of Marxism” (“Motion and Vote on the Findings of the Trial Body”). By a unanimous vote, the conference delegates resolved that Logan had no place in the iSt and “cannot be and should never have been a member of a working-class organization.”
Following Logan’s expulsion, we took the unusual step of publicly releasing three internal bulletins titled “On the Logan Regime” (International Discussion Bulletin No. 10, Parts I and II, January 1979; Part III [International Information Bulletin No. 16], November 1983). The first and second of these deal with the fight against Logan’s abusive regime in the SL/B and some initial re-examination of the Logan period in the Australian section. The third contains materials related to the SL/ANZ charges and the trial, including the reports from the trial body to the conference and excerpts of the floor discussion. Some of the material in this bulletin was originally assembled for inclusion in one or more additional bulletins at the time, but has remained unpublished until now. Other materials in this bulletin were retrieved from our party archives or transcribed from the tape recordings of the trial proceedings.
What Logan did to the Australian comrades first emerged at a national gathering of the SL/ANZ in January 1979. A couple of months before that, in October 1978, Logan had been ousted as national chairman of the SL/B, resigning from the post after a sharp political confrontation. During his 18 months in Britain, Logan had shown himself to be unfit to lead the section. He was duplicitous in his dealings with the iSt center, the Interim Secretariat (I.S.—now International Secretariat), and with his peers on the IEC; abusive in his treatment particularly of women comrades, and heavy-handed in his response to criticism or disagreement from SL/B members. At the time, the Logan regime in Britain was seen as a bureaucratic aberration, the result of an insecure, trigger-happy leader who was in over his head. Logan remained on the IEC and, at considerable party expense, he and his wife and collaborator, Adaire Hannah, were transferred to New York to work in the I.S.
No one could then imagine that a leading member of our communist organization could be the monstrous sociopath Logan was soon proved to be. Logan’s abusive practices were constrained in the SL/B by its frequent contact with the international leadership and its core of mature cadre. The SL/ANZ, on the other hand, was a distant section with relatively inexperienced young comrades. But the fight in Britain unlocked and catalyzed a process of re-examination by the SL/ANZ membership. This came to a head at the SL/ANZ national gathering, as comrades began revealing to each other and to the visiting I.S. representative, Reuben Samuels, painful experiences they had long kept to themselves for fear of being “disloyal.” The SL/ANZ conference saw an outpouring of traumatic recollections and accusations.
Those accusations were subsequently codified in a resolution of the SL/ANZ Central Committee (see “Charges from the SL/ANZ Central Committee”). An International Control Commission (ICC) was appointed by the IEC. It was charged with amassing and weighing the evidence and was constituted as a trial body to pursue further testimony and reach a verdict in the case. This trial body was made up of comrades from throughout the international who were highly regarded for their integrity and had had no significant previous involvement with Logan. It was chaired by comrade Martha Phillips (Piper) from the SL/U.S., who was murdered in Moscow in 1992 while fighting to cohere a Trotskyist nucleus in the face of the counterrevolutionary tide that destroyed the Soviet Union. The trial body included other comrades from the SL/U.S. and from the Canadian and German sections of the iSt. Also serving on the trial body was the veteran Sri Lankan Trotskyist Edmund Samarakkody, whose organization had until then been engaged in fraternal relations with the iSt for some time. Comrades Toni R. and Rachel W. served as recording secretary and support counsel, respectively, for the Commission. Comrade Dave Reynolds of the SL/ANZ Central Committee acted as prosecutor on behalf of the Australian complainants.
In the months before the trial, over three dozen statements and documents totaling hundreds of pages were submitted by SL/ANZ members and other comrades offering detailed testimony of Logan’s acts, and by Logan and Hannah in his defense. More than 30 witnesses testified in person at the trial, which took place over a period of four days immediately preceding the formal opening of the International Conference. Several hundred pages of documentary evidence from the period of the Logan/Hannah regime—minutes, memoranda, political correspondence and extracts of some personal correspondence—were also available to the Control Commission. Logan had the right to cross-examine witnesses and dispute the documentary evidence. The findings of the trial body were then reported to the conference and were the subject of an extensive discussion involving two reporters and more than 40 speakers.
We publish here essential documents submitted as written testimony to the trial body as well as certain correspondence and other materials from the period of the Logan regime in Australia demonstrating how it flouted existing Spartacist norms and corroborating the testimony. Additionally, we are including substantial extracts of the transcripts of the proceedings of the trial body, where such testimony does not largely replicate the written materials. It should be stressed, as it was at the outset of the trial by comrade Martha P., that in a Leninist party trial written and oral testimony are given equal weight. For the sake of convenience, the current bulletin includes some items previously published in IIB No. 16: the SL/ANZ CC resolution detailing the charges, Dave R.’s summary presentation to the trial body and the ICC motion expelling Logan adopted by the International Conference.
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As Marx understood when he put aside other critical work for the better part of a year in 1860 in order to expose the dubious and slanderous Herr Vogt, necessary tasks of political sanitation cannot long be avoided without paying a price. In the years after his expulsion Logan resurfaced in New Zealand and managed to insinuate himself back into the left internationally, in good part through the instrumentality of a clot of embittered ex-members of ours in North America who in October 1982 declared themselves an “External Tendency of the iSt” (ET—renamed Bolshevik Tendency, BT, in 1985). In its October 1982 founding “Declaration of an External Tendency of the iSt,” the ET made Logan the poster boy for the launch of a vendetta against our party, portraying him as a scapegoat of our allegedly bureaucratic “regime.” Yet, to our knowledge, the ET/BT then maintained a public silence on Logan for more than eight years, until the sudden announcement in 1991 of its 1990 “fusion” with his New Zealand Permanent Revolution Group (PRG). At that point, not only did these political desperadoes publicly embrace Logan, they actually anointed him principal leader of their new “International Bolshevik Tendency.” As we will detail later, while pursuing its own brand of Stalinophobic, social-democratic politics, over the years the BT has engaged in all manner of provocation and slander against us in its drive to destroy our party.
This same Logan, while masquerading as an “international Bolshevik” leader, has simultaneously maintained a real-life practice in Wellington, New Zealand, as a professional “celebrant”—a New Age version of evangelical preacher and spiritual healer. As detailed below in the section titled “A Postscript on Bill Logan and the BT: Garbage Doesn’t Walk by Itself,” various public accounts by former members of the PRG and BT attest that Logan has continued some of the same kinds of practices for which we expelled him 28 years ago. For more on the question of the BT’s peculiar political physiognomy, we refer readers to the above-cited bulletins; several editions of Hate Trotskyism, Hate the Spartacist League, our bulletin series consisting mainly of reprints of anti-Spartacist polemics by our opponents; the ICL pamphlet, The International Bolshevik Tendency—What Is It? (August 1995) and numerous articles dealing with the BT in our indexed bound volumes of Workers Vanguard (see, for example, “Kneeling Before the Body of General Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham,” WV No. 827, 28 May 2004).
In publishing the documentary record of the Logan trial, we aim to make clear to a new generation of leftists that the likes of Logan have no place in the workers movement, to expose his opportunist “Bolshevik” Tendency for the suspect outfit it is and to demolish its lying smears and slanders against our party. Hopefully, the belated release of this bulletin will serve a broader purpose as well. In braying over the alleged “death of communism” in the years since the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991-92, the very same bourgeois propagandists who apologize for a system of imperialist mass murder denounce those who seek to liberate humanity from class exploitation as evil incarnate—power-hungry, corrupt, pathologically violent and hostile to all human sensibilities. As this record of our fight to rid the workers movement of Logan shows, such attributes are inimical to the very essence of authentic communism.
But the features that made Logan the repulsive creature he is are not unusual in bourgeois society. The accumulation of wealth and the administration of power necessary to maintain and perpetuate that privileged status often attract people who have qualities like Logan’s. The British ruling class, particularly in its Tory embodiment, has long been notorious in its appetite for blood sports, capital punishment (most recently mere hanging), corporal punishment in its schools and associated sado-masochistic sexual proclivities. All these things, taken together, serve an important social purpose. They outfit the rulers of the country and the late empire to properly administer their holdings, both in regard to the downtrodden and exploited, and in defense against imperialist rivals.
Logan was a product of this system in the small, neo-Victorian dominion of New Zealand. His political origins, amid the radicalization of the 1960s, lay in the right wing of New Zealand bourgeois politics, the then ruling National Party (see Bill Logan, “Never Exactly One of the Lads ,” ed. Michael King, One of the Boys? [Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann, 1988]). His social and educational background lay in New Zealand’s English-style “public school” (elite private school) culture, steeped in imperialist elitism and misogynist sadism. Numerous people have revolted against such backgrounds to become Communists, not least heroic Soviet spies like Kim Philby. But even as an avowed communist, Logan boasted of clinging to “the style of a New Zealand private schoolboy who was almost always a class captain, cub-scout sixer or school prefect” (“Personal Notes in Preparation for a Discussion re the Sharpe Problem,” 23 August 1978, “On the Logan Regime,” Part I). He relished the low cunning and quiet self-confidence that enabled him to play on the vulnerabilities of others.
We strive for a society in which all forms of social oppression, exploitation and degradation—the warped byproducts of material scarcity—will be things of the past. To this end, we seek to make the proletariat—though shaped by the deformities of capitalist class rule—conscious of its historic role as the gravedigger of the capitalist system, and of class society as a whole. Power politics, lying and sexual manipulation are antithetical to this purpose. The Leninist party demands a monopoly on the political activities of those who join our movement. All the more so do we draw a hard line against interference in comrades’ personal lives. Driven by considerations of power and control, Logan was a malicious puppet-master who was sadistically destructive of people’s personal lives—making people live together who did not want to do so, causing people who did want to live together to break up. There is no place for the likes of a William King Logan in our movement.
2. Summary of Facts and Findings
The materials contained in this bulletin demonstrate the truth of the charges leveled by the SL/ANZ Central Committee: To wit, that Logan was guilty of “repeated, conscious intervention into comrades’ personal lives as part of a pattern of calculated personal and sexual manipulation, passing off intimate managing of comrades’ personal lives as a legitimate and central function of the national chairman of the SLANZ” and of a “campaign to force Vicky A to get an abortion and failing that, to foster her child (1974), using personal, social and organisational pressure” (“Charges from the SL/ANZ Central Committee”). The charges cited specific instances of attempts to “bring about certain sexual configurations” or “to break up certain couples through organisational/personal pressure and administrative measures.” Logan was also charged with “bureaucratic conduct” and “systematic, self-serving dishonesty” in his dealings with both the SL/ANZ membership and the iSt center. The trial body found “the charges of the Australian complainants to be true and correct” (“Motion and Vote on the Findings of the Trial Body”).
Even in the course of a four-day trial, it was not possible to examine and cross-examine every witness to every one of the instances of sexual manipulation cited in the charges. This underlined the importance of accepting into evidence the written documentation submitted before the trial. The SL/ANZ CC’s charge that Logan was guilty of “a pattern of calculated personal and sexual manipulation” was proved, and it was shown to extend right back to the origins of the Logan regime in New Zealand, even before the formation of the Australian section. It was further shown that the abuses ceased in Australia when Logan and Hannah left, and began in Britain when they arrived there. Indeed, as comrades connected to the SL/B re-examined certain practices of the Logan regime in Britain in light of the allegations of the Australian comrades, it became clear that certain acts which had earlier been seen as aberrations were in fact a continuation of the “Australian methods” Logan had brought with him to Britain. The most notable of these was the attempt by Logan to use organizational pressure to prevent comrade Patrick of the SL/B from reuniting with his non-party wife in 1978 (see Trial Proceedings, pp. 74-76).
We expect our supporters to be known in their public political lives first and foremost for their programmatic positions, not for their lifestyles or social habits. It is none of the party’s business what sexual relationships or configurations comrades engage in—married or not, gay or straight, couples or threesomes or whatever—so long as such relationships are based on mutual consent. Our 1969 document, “Development and Tactics of the Spartacist League” states: “The SL seeks to regulate personal aspects of comrades’ lives only where those aspects themselves intrude decisively in the political or organizational life of the members, particularly in security matters” (“Basic Documents of the Spartacist League,” Marxist Bulletin No. 9). Logan willfully flouted this policy, using his position as national chairman to regulate and interfere in the most intimate aspects of comrades’ lives.
Before proceeding to summarize those cases that were a focus of substantial discussion and cross-examination at the trial, and that clearly demonstrate a pattern of crimes of moral turpitude, it is necessary to briefly identify the comrades cited in the charges and where they stood in the history of the early SL/ANZ. (While a number of them remain supporters or sympathizers of the ICL, many others cited in this bulletin no longer have any relationship with the SL/A or ICL.) The predecessor of the SL/ANZ, the Spartacist League of New Zealand, traced its origins to one Owen Gager, who in 1967 declared his solidarity with the SL/U.S. Declaration of Principles (see “Development of the Spartacist League,” New Zealand Spartacist League Revolutionary Communist Bulletin No. 1, August 1972). Logan was later drawn to Gager, and as Gager spun off in the direction of Pabloism (i.e., political liquidationism), the tiny Spartacist League consolidated in 1972 around Logan and his companion, Adaire Hannah. Joel S. was a young SL/U.S. cadre who was sent in September 1972 to assist in the work of the New Zealand group. Marie H. joined the SL around the same time, while two other members, Tony C. and Peter A., quit. Two more, David S. and Vicky A., had moved to Melbourne, Australia, where David was pursuing graduate studies. They carried out some effective political work there, establishing contact with the Spartacist center in New York, surveying the state of the Australian left and intersecting a number of interested youth, including Keith O., an oppositionist in the left-centrist Communist League (CL).
In late 1972, having himself just returned after months abroad, Logan sent Hannah off to Melbourne. In February 1973, Logan, Joel and Marie moved to Melbourne as well. Over the coming months, Keith O. and another former CLer named John E. joined the group, as did a number of other young Melbourne leftists, among them Phillipa (Pip) N., Tony N., Rob H. and Helen R. By year’s end, the bulk of what had become the SL/ANZ moved to Sydney to set up a center there, leaving behind a small local in Melbourne headed by Joel and including Pip, who had become his companion. Among the subsequent recruits cited in the trial materials were Dave G., Inga S., Bret S., Linda B., Toni S., Dawn M., Andrew G. and two oppositionists from the Communist Party, Steve H. and Doug F. (all but two of whom were recruited in Melbourne). In addition, a number of members transferred in from North America—Dave R. (Reynolds) in late ’73 and John S. (Sheridan) in early ’74 (followed in 1975-76 by Naoli C., Karen W. [Wyatt] and Len M.).
After the Sydney center was set up, there followed a dizzying series of personnel transfers orchestrated by Logan. In July 1974, Marie was sent to Melbourne, breaking up her personal relationship with Dave R., and Joel to Sydney, separating him from Pip. When Pip was permitted to rejoin Joel in Sydney toward year’s end, Keith O. was separated from his companion Helen R. in Sydney and transferred to Melbourne. After Marie had moved in with another Melbourne comrade, Rob H., he was ordered to Sydney. In June 1975, Logan devised and pushed through an intricate 14-point motion that mandated a whole range of transfers involving yet more separations of couples (see “Minutes of the SL/ANZ Fourth Central Committee [No. 3]” [Document 13]).
All of the instances of personal and sexual manipulation cited in the SL/ANZ charges are documented in the materials presented to the trial body and reproduced in this bulletin. This summary will concentrate overwhelmingly on the cases of Vicky A. and Marie H. The atrocities perpetrated against these two women communists by Logan show in the clearest terms that his violations of proletarian morality were not isolated acts but conscious and consistent practice. Such crimes against communist morality and its substrate elementary human decency were the grounds on which Logan was expelled from the iSt and found to be unfit for membership in any working-class organization.
The Case of Vicky A.
The treatment of Vicky A. set a pattern for the systematic abasement and self-abasement of (especially women) comrades that became a norm in the section. After examining the evidence in this case, the ICC concluded that “the charge regarding ex-comrade Vicky A. was understated by the Australian comrades, and that in this matter Logan is guilty of inhuman torture of a mother, rendered suicidal in his attempt to destroy and take away her baby” (“Motion and Vote on the Findings of the Trial Body”).
Joel S.’s “The 100 Percent Regime” (7 April 1979 [Document 20]) contains the first substantial account of the abuse meted out to Vicky: Logan and Hannah launched a campaign of political and organizational pressure to get Vicky to have an abortion from the moment Hannah first learned of her pregnancy after arriving in Melbourne. Following the child’s birth in July 1973, Joel adds, there was “continuous pressure...to foster the child out for adoption.” When Vicky finally agreed to have the child fostered out the following January, she was applauded for having been “won” to Bolshevism. In fact, she had been emotionally crippled and remained semi-reclusive and semi-functional for the next few years. As the question of the child’s permanent adoption came to a head in mid 1977, Vicky underwent a total emotional collapse and attempted suicide, leading to a period of hospitalization. She resigned from the organization and regained custody of her son.
Joel’s account is thoroughly confirmed in correspondence and reports from the period and in testimony submitted to the trial body. The evidence also clearly demonstrates that while other comrades—especially Joel S. and Vicky’s husband David S.—were drawn into the campaign against Vicky, it was Logan who called the shots. Not even Joel, then part of the Executive Committee, was privy to the whole sordid truth. Extracts from Logan and Hannah’s correspondence at the time include one from a letter by Hannah to the Executive Committee in New Zealand dated 8 January 1973 (see “Excerpts of Hannah-Logan Letters,” 1973-74 [Document 3]). In that letter, Hannah reported only that Vicky’s doctor had prescribed “medications to prevent the abortion and to sedate her” because she was “in severe discomfort.” In an earlier personal letter to Logan, dated 2 January 1973, Hannah said truthfully that she and David had told Vicky not to take the medications, despite the fact that Vicky was losing “clots of blood.” David testified that he was explicitly instructed to say this to Vicky (see Trial Proceedings, p. 32). Joel testified to the trial body that he was shown only Hannah’s letters to the Executive Committee (see Trial Proceedings, p. 52).
In the middle of this difficult pregnancy, Logan separated Vicky from her husband by sending him off for a lengthy trip to the U.S. The “Minutes of Melbourne Local Meeting,” 8 March 1973 (Document 4), report that this travel was “not in recognition of his activity in the local but a response to personnel problems.” Keith O. testified at the trial that this was seen at the time as a way of separating David from Vicky (see Trial Proceedings, p. 40). Karen W. testified that Logan and Hannah later told her that they had to send David away from his pregnant wife because she was trying to take him out of the party (see Trial Proceedings, p. 37). Logan and Hannah had also tried to get Vicky—ill, bleeding and often bedridden—to undertake such a trip in the hope she would thereby agree to abort the pregnancy (see Trial Proceedings, p. 32). David’s personal ambivalence about Vicky and the pregnancy was cynically manipulated by Logan/Hannah.
Logan and Hannah saw to it that Vicky was harassed, socially isolated and made to feel that her desire to have the baby was an anti-party act. She was punitively reduced to candidate membership and excluded from party meetings she had a right to attend (see Trial Proceedings, pp. 40-41). Marie testified that Logan and Hannah surreptitiously rifled through David’s letters to Vicky from New York (see Trial Proceedings, p. 45), and David testified that his letters largely went unanswered (see Trial Proceedings, p. 33). When David returned from the U.S. after the birth of the child, he found that Logan had arranged housing for him apart from Vicky and their child (see Trial Proceedings, p. 33). Logan then instructed him to pursue means of fostering out the child behind Vicky’s back (see Trial Proceedings, p. 34). Further evidence of Logan’s initiative in fostering out Vicky’s child comes in an extract of a 17 February 1974 letter to David from Libby S., a close friend of his in the SL/U.S. in New York (see “Excerpts of Letters by David S. and Libby,” January-February 1974 [Document 9]). Libby writes: “I was rather surprised to hear that she [Vicky] is giving up the child. You had never mentioned to me that you considered doing that. Was it her idea or yours, or mutual?” It was, obviously, neither Vicky’s nor David’s idea. In a 15 January 1974 personal letter to his non-party mother and sister, Logan describes his plans to foster Vicky’s baby, presenting this as a matter of party policy. He speaks of “the child” as one of “four major problems” facing the party and states openly: “With a slightly bigger organisation and a better division of labour we could deal with the babies of reasonably competent parents, though they’ll have to be strongly discouraged until we’re a mass party” (“Letter by Logan to ‘Dear Mum and Mary’,” 15 January 1974 [Document 8]).
While some of the paternalistic attitudes inculcated under Logan did not simply evaporate overnight after his departure in early 1977, the abusive behavior and cover-up stopped. The new sectional leadership responded with urgency to Vicky’s attempted suicide later that year, and candidly reported the situation to the I.S. This is clear from an exchange of correspondence that, though not cited at the trial, we include here. In a 30 November 1977 letter on behalf of the I.S. (Document 17), John Sharpe emphasized that the SL/ANZ leadership “should not urge, advise, or in any way counsel” Vicky on a course of action but “be supportive of whatever choice she does make” regarding the child and her party membership. Comrades in the I.S. and SL/ANZ also tried to fathom what might have brought Vicky to that state. Sharpe remarked, “I shudder at the thought that pressure to choose the organization is responsible for her present state.” David S., then part of the SL/ANZ leadership, wrote in his 14 December 1977 reply to the I.S.: “Certainly the longstanding wisdom in this organisation has been that politics and the kid have been counterposed for Vicky” (“Letter by David S. to Sharpe” [Document 18]).
Logan did not shudder at the thought at all. To the end, he remained coldly indifferent to the fate of this woman he had almost driven to suicide. Vicky’s attempted suicide goes unmentioned in Hannah’s 1979 account of the Vicky case. And Logan did not condescend to even mention Vicky in any of the pretrial documents signed solely by him. Instead he left it to his wife to bear the burden of the defense. Forced to address the Vicky case at the trial, Logan acknowledged that what was done to Vicky was an atrocity, while again shunting responsibility onto his absent wife. In fact, the trial body found that the responsibility rested centrally with Logan.
The Case of Marie H.
Marie H.’s document “Some Dirt on Logan” (12 July 1979 [Document 28]) demonstrates that Logan carried out a policy of interference in members’ personal/sexual lives going back to the earliest days of his regime. The document describes Logan’s role in breaking up Marie’s longstanding relationship with her non-party companion Ray when she joined in late 1972. Demonstrating that this was not an isolated incident, the document cites the (appended) November 1972 resignation letter of Peter A., who accused the Logan regime of likewise trying to break up his marriage to his non-party wife: “Despite talk about my not necessarily having to resolve my problem in the same way as Marie, you must be aware that this is what you are trying to make me do.” Marie adds that Logan later wielded the “Marie solution” to separate Steve H. and Inga S., when they joined the SL/ANZ in 1975, from their respective non-party lovers.
In early 1974, when Hannah left for a lengthy trip overseas, Logan orchestrated a threesome with Marie and Dave R. As a personal affair, this is a matter of indifference to the party. But for Logan, this was a way to politically “integrate”—i.e., assert his power over—these comrades, particularly the newly arrived Dave R. (see Trial Proceedings, p. 29). Marie writes: “Logan used it not just for his personal ends, but also politically—to ‘integrate the leadership’, and in fact the three of us were responsible for running a good part of the organisation at the time” (“Some Dirt on Logan”). Dave R. says further in his document “On the Logan Regime in Australia” (30 June 1979 [Document 25]):
“Personal relations among comrades sometimes have beneficial or harmful side-effects; it was a program for action. The triangle did not just happen, he set it up. When Marie went to Melbourne in 1974 she was supposed to ‘integrate’ Rob H. When Inga went to Melbourne Sheridan was told he should ‘integrate’ her.”
Logan also used the threesome politically as a weapon to “reintegrate” David S. following his return from the U.S. When David S., a member of the SL/ANZ Central Committee, voiced some criticisms of Hannah and Logan and reportedly raised concerns about cliquism in the leadership, Logan convened a PB meeting behind David’s back in order to go after him for fomenting an “anti-leadership clique” (see “Some Dirt on Logan”).
Hannah returned in May, furious to learn from Logan about his threesome with Dave R. and Marie. Two months later, Marie was packed off to Melbourne, though she was then living with Dave R. At a June 1974 Organisational Plenum Meeting (OPM—the substitute for a national conference in Logan’s SL/ANZ), Marie had been elected to the CC despite Logan and Hannah’s abstentions. The same meeting saw Joel put on notice for his supposed failures in Melbourne and the young Melbourne organizer, Rob H., denounced for an alleged lack of political commitment. Marie notes: “With one fell swoop Joel was chastised for ‘failing’ in Melbourne and split up with Phillipa, I was separated from Reynolds, and I was sent to ‘integrate’ Rob H. back into the organisation” (“Some Dirt on Logan”).
Marie did get together with Rob in Melbourne. But in early 1975, three or four months after they started living together, Logan transferred Rob to Sydney. The rationale for Rob’s transfer was that, having supposedly failed as the organizer of the small Melbourne branch, he was now necessary for the job of Central Office manager. Yet shortly after his arrival in Sydney, he was removed from that assignment (see Trial Proceedings, p. 18). At about the same time, Logan transferred John S., a more experienced comrade who had come to Sydney from the SL/U.S. the year before, to Melbourne. In April 1975, John S. and Marie became a couple, moving in together and even setting up a joint bank account. Logan then engineered the “14-point motion” that would, among other things, lead to Marie’s return to Sydney—and her breakup with John S. (see “Some Dirt on Logan”).
When Logan brought Marie back to Sydney, he hoped it would help ameliorate the personal crisis Dave R. was undergoing. After her arrival, Marie told Logan that she desperately missed John S. Logan repeatedly stressed to her the importance of maintaining Dave R.’s “equilibrium.” Logan acknowledged at the trial that in mid 1976 he had told Marie to remain with Dave R. a while longer (see Trial Proceedings, p. 11). Karen W. testified that Logan had also tried (unsuccessfully) to get her to replace Marie as Dave’s sexual partner (see “Statement by K. Wyatt [Karen W.],” 29 July 1979 [Document 39]).
Logan had likewise effectively mandated Inga to be Marie’s replacement with John S., who was expected to “integrate” this new member when she was transferred to Melbourne as a result of the same 14-point motion. Again, after they established a relationship and had been living together, Logan decreed that Inga had to return to Sydney. When Inga was transferred in September 1976, John took the unprecedented step (in Logan’s SL/ANZ) of demanding that he and Inga live in the same local (see John S., “‘Australian Methods’ and the Logan/Hannah Regime,” 22 June 1979 [Document 24]).
Other Cases of Sexual Manipulation
In “The 100 Percent Regime,” Joel attests that when Logan transferred him to Sydney in July 1974, separating him from his wife, he and Pip had been living together for over a year. No one, not even Logan, questioned that they were a stable couple at the time. John S. observes that Logan—with the bourgeois hypocrisy characteristic of the former New Zealand schoolboy—recognized Joel and Pip as the only real couple other than the Logans because they, like the Logans, were officially married (see “‘Australian Methods’ and the Logan/Hannah Regime”). But Logan and Hannah did not believe that Joel and Pip should remain a couple. Dave R. reports in his document that at the June 1974 OPM that led to Joel’s transfer Hannah openly asserted that “Joel smothers Pip” (see “On the Logan Regime in Australia”). Logan confirms that Hannah saw the relationship as bad for Pip and acknowledges that he expressed that view as well (see Trial Proceedings, p. 16). Pip was finally allowed to move to Sydney to rejoin her husband in November 1974. But only seven months later, she was sent back to Melbourne.
Pip returned to Sydney a second time in November 1975. By then she had in fact become estranged from Joel and had started seeing David G., who had recently been recruited from the large Maoist milieu in Melbourne. Logan now intervened in a blatant attempt to break up the affair between Pip and David G. Logan told David that the affair hurt Joel and damaged his authority (see “Statement by Dave G.,” 8 July 1979 [Document 26]). Logan told Pip that David was simply using her (see “Joel-Pip-Dave G,” by Phillipa N., 10 July 1979 [Document 27]).
Logan hardly cared about maintaining Joel’s welfare and authority, which he had repeatedly tried to undermine. But he had other plans for David G. Naoli had just arrived in Australia. Logan told Marie at the time that he wanted Naoli to get together with David G. (see “On Naoli and Steve H’s Relationship—Comment by Logan,” by Marie H., 16 July 1979 [Document 36]). Logan was irate that Naoli had started seeing Steve H., an alternate CC member who was considered by Logan and Hannah to be too good for Naoli, whom they marked as a troublemaker. Logan viewed this as a bad relationship, as he told Joel, and Hannah criticized Steve for choosing to spend time with Naoli instead of attending the regular “leadership” social gatherings at the Logans’ apartment, to which Naoli was not invited (see “Statement by Steve H. on Naoli/Steve Relationship,” 12 July 1979 [Document 29]). Under this pressure from Logan and Hannah, Steve broke up with Naoli. After they’d broken up, Hannah used the occasion of an executive committee meeting of the Sydney local to denounce Naoli for her continued personal feelings toward Steve H. (see “Statement by Naoli C. on Naoli/Steve Relationship,” 15 July 1979 [Document 33]).
Other documented instances of sexual manipulation were not subjected to further examination during the trial. The transfer of Bret to Sydney in July 1975, leaving behind his girlfriend Linda B., who was then a non-member and still living with her parents, is documented in John S.’s “‘Australian Methods’ and the Logan/Hannah Regime” and Marie H.’s “Some Dirt on Logan.” Another case concerns Tony N., considered a regime stalwart by Logan, and his companion Dawn M. When Dawn started seeing Andrew G., Logan again intervened in a direct (unsuccessful) effort to break up that relationship (see “Statement by Andrew G,” 14 July 1979 [Document 30] and “Statement by Dawn M.,” 15 July 1979 [Document 31]).
In the case of Doug F. and Toni S., Logan was accused not simply of using the party’s authority to try to engineer a sexual relationship, as charged, but of encouraging a male comrade to physically assault a female comrade. When Doug confessed to Logan, the self-anointed “org. psychiatrist,” that Toni’s treatment of Doug “sometimes made me so mad I felt like hitting her,” Logan replied “that maybe it would be good for me if I did hit her” (“Statement on Cde. Logan’s Remarks re Myself and Toni,” by DF [Doug F.], undated [Document 40]). Doug adds in his statement, “I would never consider doing such a thing and only told him what I sometimes felt like doing—I was shocked that he could actually suggest that violence in such a personal quarrel was maybe legitimate.” Doug’s assertion was, of course, denied by Logan (see “Supplement on Doug F.,” by Logan, 6 August 1979 [Document 41]), but independently confirmed by comrade Naoli (see “Statement on Toni and Doug,” by Naoli C., 15 July 1979 [Document 34]), in whom Doug had confided at the time of the incident.
The documents (which had limited distribution at the time) give a sense of the degree of Logan’s depravity and how he zeroed in on and manipulated a comrade’s most vulnerable aspects. Doug was a shy young comrade who had long been Logan’s target. While pursuing his university studies and living in Melbourne, he was subjected to an unceasing campaign aimed at forcing him to move to Sydney—even though he was not yet a member—so that he could serve as Logan’s dogsbody (gofer). In Sydney, Logan continued to humiliate and ridicule Doug at every opportunity. For those familiar with Logan, Doug’s description of him rings particularly true. Logan used his authority as national chairman to dig out comrades’ most intimate personal secrets but, Doug writes, “Unlike a professional psychiatrist he evidently enjoyed and was titillated by this; and in a destructive and cynical manner betrayed the trust of comrades by revealing their secrets and disparaging them” (Document 40). Logan’s motives, writes Doug in his statement, were “definitely manipulatory, cynical and plain unsavoury.”
The trial revealed that Logan continued to use his organizational position to meddle in comrades’ personal lives during his tenure as national chairman of the British section. Comrade Robertson, who was the I.S. representative to the British section during the Logan period, testified that Logan tried to exploit Robertson’s political authority and his personal friendship with Patrick to prevent Patrick from reuniting with his non-party wife, Denise, who was willing to move to London from Ireland to get back together with her husband. Alan H., another member of the SL/B Central Committee at the time, testified that Logan tried as well to get him to thwart Patrick’s reunion with his wife. These facts are confirmed by Patrick, who further testified that Logan insisted that Patrick transfer to Birmingham when he told Logan that Denise was prepared to move to London (see Trial Proceedings, p. 76). Logan’s character was further revealed by the testimony of Robertson, Foster and others that Logan had offered his wife sexually to Robertson after Robertson requested his resignation as SL/B national chairman (see Trial Proceedings, pp. 80-81).
3. Summary Continued: Refuting Logan’s Lying Defense
In a nutshell, Logan’s defense boils down to three false and mutually contradictory assertions: 1) Logan did nothing wrong; 2) Logan did wrong but intended no harm, doing what he did out of ignorance, inexperience and bad advice; 3) Logan’s acts were harmful, but the rest of the SL/ANZ and international leaderships were complicit in or acquiesced to his actions. In looking at Logan’s documents and trial testimony, the reader will be struck by their circuitous and misleading character. This is deliberate, aimed at obscuring rather than clarifying. Logan relished playing the barrister, the upper crust of the English legal system, who “is not answerable for anything spoken by him relative to the cause in hand...even though it should reflect on the character of another and prove absolutely groundless” (Encyclopedia Britannica ).
The trial body found Logan to be a “proven massive liar,” a fact that must be kept in mind in explaining all the many instances in which the unsubstantiated recollections of Logan and his wife Hannah are contradicted by documentary evidence or the statements of many other witnesses. To take one example brought before the trial body, I.S. representatives Robertson and Barbara and SL/B Central Committee members Alastair and Alan H. all attest to an exchange at an SL/B meeting where Logan, in response to a direct question from Robertson, flatly denied having had any legal training. These comrades also attest that Logan subsequently admitted that he had had such training. Comrade Rachel W. also testifies that Logan had previously told her, during the 1976 defense campaign for threatened Chilean leftist Mario Muñoz, that he’d had two years’ legal schooling (see Trial Proceedings, pp. 77-78). In lying about even such relatively minor matters, Logan discredited his testimony as a whole.
Logan’s lying defense was exposed and refuted point by point in the course of the trial. But in later years, away from the scrutiny of his victims and accusers, Logan and his after-the-fact mouthpieces of the External Tendency/Bolshevik Tendency resurrected and embellished these lies into a grotesque inversion of reality. This began with the very emergence of the ET/BT, in its October 1982 founding “Declaration,” and continued with an article announcing the BT’s “fusion” with Logan (“We Go Forward!”, 1917, First Quarter 1991) and a subsequent screed titled “ICL vs. IBT” (Trotskyist Bulletin No. 5, February 1996).
The initial response of Logan and Hannah upon listening to the January 1979 Australian conference tapes was to reject out of hand the accusations of the SL/ANZ comrades. A written example of this is in a letter by Logan in which he dismissed the charges as “vague” or flying “directly in the face of overwhelming evidence” (“Letter by Logan to SL/ANZ,” 2 April 1979 [Document 19]). A 10 April 1979 letter by Bradley for the I.S. (Document 21) in response to Logan’s letter also documented Hannah’s verbal accusation, at a 26 February 1979 SL/U.S. East Coast Regional Meeting, that the basis of the charges against Logan, raised in the sobbing and broken voices of those Logan had tormented, was “that Robertson imputes—and the rest—consciousness of sexual manipulation”—i.e., that it was Robertson and not the comrades in Australia who had accused Logan of sexual manipulation. At the trial Logan denied any suggestion “by me or by Adaire that these were Robertson’s charges” (Trial Proceedings, p. 76). Yet, as we will see, Logan (through his BT mouthpiece) later explicitly denounced the charges as “never anything more than malicious invention on the part of Robertson and his acolytes” (“We Go Forward!”).
What are the malicious inventions—and who are the malicious inventors? In Hannah’s “A Reply to Comrade [Joel] S___: What Really Happened” (31 May 1979 [Document 22]), Hannah denied Joel’s account of Vicky’s treatment, absolving Logan of any responsibility and denying that Vicky was subjected to organizational pressure: “It is true that I was very hard on Vicky regarding the abortion question but it is simply a lie to claim that we did not accept her decision to have the child once the decision was final.” As we have seen, numerous comrades testified that Vicky’s decision to have the baby was not accepted by Logan and Hannah, as Logan and Hannah’s own correspondence from the time proves.
In her document, Hannah tries to blame the victim for her own torture, chastising Vicky for being a bad communist who lacked commitment and understanding and had faked her way into the party by claiming authorship of a leaflet she had not written alone. Vicky is also depicted as an irresponsible mother who had a baby to make up for failing in her marriage to David. David S. rejected the claim that Vicky became pregnant to take him out of the party and refuted the lie that Vicky had joined the Spartacist League under false pretenses, stating that Logan was well aware that Vicky, then a politically inexperienced non-member, had not drafted a leaflet on her own (see Trial Proceedings, p. 49). Keith O. attested to David and Vicky’s role in politically recruiting him to Spartacism (see Trial Proceedings, p. 40). Further evidence of Vicky’s political role in Melbourne before Hannah’s arrival is Vicky’s brief profile of the Australian left for the SL/U.S. center, included here though not cited at the trial (see “Letter by Vicky A. to SL/U.S.,” 22 November 1972 [Document 2]).
Logan accepted responsibility for the accounts presented in Hannah’s documents, stating, “I believe that they’re correct” (Trial Proceedings, p. 7). But Hannah’s denial of an organizational campaign to pressure Vicky to give up her baby had been so thoroughly disproved and discredited by the time of the trial that Logan did not dare defend it. He acknowledged that “excesses” were committed and even accepted that the abuse of Vicky was an “atrocity,” asserting, “I completely underestimated the atrocity” (Trial Proceedings, p. 50). But instead of accepting responsibility Logan blamed his wife for this atrocity and then complained about “being expected to defend Adaire here” (Trial Proceedings, p. 47)! He also implicitly blamed the iSt leadership, asserting that the facts in the Vicky case were known internationally, including through an International Control Commission convened in the case of SL/ANZ member John E. in 1974 (see Trial Proceedings, p. 46).
The John E. affair, as we will show, was a smokescreen. What the international leadership knew of the Vicky case was the account they got from Logan and Hannah. Logan and Hannah painted Vicky as an irresponsible member and mother who hadn’t wanted to get an abortion and then dumped her baby on the party, at which point Hannah and Logan selflessly threw themselves into the breach to care for the child until Vicky herself decided to give up the child. This was the impression conveyed by Logan in a letter to Jim Robertson requesting urgent funds for David S.’s travel: Logan complained about “the Dave and Vicky problem” and condemned Vicky for “gross untidyness, disorganisation of her time, lateness for meetings and uncomradeliness of tone” (Appendix to “The 100 Percent Regime,” “Letter by Logan to Robertson,” 6 March 1973). It was the account given to Robertson when Hannah visited New York in early 1974, as Robertson testifies (see Trial Proceedings, p. 65); it was essentially the same account given to Dave R. and others who came into the Australian section after the event (see “On the Logan Regime in Australia”), and it was rehashed by Hannah in her 31 May 1979 defense brief (“A Reply to Comrade [Joel] S___”).
In her 31 May 1979 document, Hannah likewise denied the charge that the Logan regime was responsible for repeatedly separating couples. Here, too, Hannah tries to blame the victim, claiming that Marie endorsed “comradely promiscuity” and “always tended to confuse the personal with the political and consequently it was sometimes very hard for the organisation to know exactly what she wanted personally.” In “Notes on Personal Relationships” (13 August 1979 [Document 42]) Logan likewise asserts that Marie was cavalier about her love affairs—she always claimed that “the current relationship she was in was not particularly important to her.” This line of argument smacks of the mentality of a fraternity jock or a vice squad cop—that “she asked for it”—as though Marie’s consenting sexual activities in any way explained or justified Logan’s vile manipulation of her sexuality. Logan exploited Marie’s dedication to the revolutionary cause.
Hannah also asserts that Marie’s July 1974 transfer to Melbourne was only for a three-month period and therefore not responsible for her separation from Dave R. Logan’s document likewise claims that the transfer involved only a temporary “interruption” of their relationship. Every other SL/ANZ comrade—not least Marie and Dave—who testified on this case asserted that the transfer was indefinite. So does the 13 July 1974 SL/ANZ PB motion mandating the transfer, which states simply: “That Marie be posted to Melbourne and Joel to Sydney” (“SL/ANZ Political Bureau Minutes [No. 6],” 13 July 1974 [Document 10]). If Logan and Hannah saw Marie’s July 1974 transfer as temporary, why was there no move to bring Marie back to Sydney until a full year later? The evidence presented to the trial show Logan and Hannah’s accounts to be false on every substantial point in dispute.
According to Hannah, Marie was herself responsible for her July 1975 transfer back to Sydney, breaking up her relationship with John S., because she “requested the transfer to reestablish her relationship with Reynolds” (“A Reply to Comrade [Joel] S___,” emphasis in original). Hannah’s account was denied by Marie and Dave R. and was repudiated even by Logan as “incorrect” (see Trial Proceedings, p. 7). Hannah continues, “Marie remained with Reynolds until mid-1976 at which point she spoke to Bill about wanting to break off her relationship with Reynolds but was concerned that he might ‘crack’ as he was undergoing a personal/political crisis.” Logan himself admitted at the trial that he told Marie to stay in an unwanted relationship with Dave R. (see Trial Proceedings, p. 11). Logan’s admission here also gives the lie to the claim made moments earlier in his testimony, that he was simply “trying to give her [Marie] what she wanted in terms of who she wanted to live with” (Trial Proceedings, p. 7).
In regard to Joel and Pip, Hannah sneeringly asserts that “there were no dramatics by [Joel] S___, demanding his wife back” following their first separation in July 1974 (“A Reply to Comrade [Joel] S___”). Joel testifies that he repeatedly and futilely demanded to know when he could be reunited with Pip following his July 1974 transfer to Sydney. Logan implicitly confirms that this separation was seen as indefinite by describing Pip’s move to Sydney in November 1974 as a compassionate transfer (see Trial Proceedings, pp. 14-15)—i.e., a transfer enabling two comrades who wish to live together to do so. Hannah’s document states that by the time Pip was transferred away from Joel a second time “they had ended their relationship.” In her document, Pip states categorically, “Joel and I had not split up at this point” (“Joel-Pip-Dave G,” emphasis in original).
In the course of the trial, Logan was compelled to acknowledge, “Yes, I agree that couples were split up” (Trial Proceedings, p. 6). He also acknowledged that “people were hurt badly, their relationships were destroyed” (Trial Proceedings, p. 8), and allowed, “I do think now that it is a crime” (Trial Proceedings, p. 13). Moreover, the evidence is clear that Logan intended these breakups, as those couple relationships he pronounced “bad” were subject to direct organizational interference conceived and/or orchestrated by him (see Trial Proceedings, pp. 16-18).
The June 1975 14-point transfer motion (“Minutes of the Fourth Central Committee”) is illustrative of Logan’s methods. In his testimony, Logan said that Dave R. had expressed concern that “we are interfering too much in people’s personal lives.” But, adds Logan, “the worst year of this was 1974 until perhaps August or September,” after which the “situation did improve” (Trial Proceedings, p. 9). Yet well after that, in June 1975, Logan pushed through a further complex of transfers—leading to the separation of several couples and involving two non-members, Linda B. and Doug F.—ostensibly to fill a hole in the Central Office and a couple of minor Sydney local positions. In fact, the transfers solved nothing in that regard. But they did break up a number of relationships condemned by the Logans as bad. The transfers also qualitatively weakened the Melbourne branch, which was seen by Logan as a potential challenge to his control and had been praised in George Foster’s report to the I.S. two months earlier (see “Letter by Foster to Interim Secretariat,” 21 April 1975 [Document 12]). After Logan saw Foster’s report, it disappeared in the CO filing system and was not seen again in the SL/ANZ until 1979 (see Trial Proceedings, p. 61).
As comrade Robertson indicated in his testimony, the ICL leadership does not generally second-guess decisions by national leaderships on transfers and other such questions from a distance, and the I.S. certainly had no way of knowing that comrades had been politically coerced or blackmailed into leaving their lovers or spouses. But the I.S. did caution the SL/ANZ against weakening the Melbourne operation, noting that “it would seem a serious mistake not to keep strong forces there to help with recruiting/consolidation” (“Excerpt of Letter by Sharpe to SL/ANZ,” 15 October 1975 [Document 15]). Logan replied rather that Melbourne was “growing too fast” (“Letter by Logan to Robertson,” 10 January 1976 [Document 16]). In his testimony (see Trial Proceedings, p. 63), Robertson recalls questioning this contention that the Melbourne branch had to be cut back precisely because it was recruiting steadily. The 15 October 1975 I.S. letter also expressed concern about the “seemingly (from our point of view) endless personnel shuffles.” Logan justified his actions in the course of his lengthy 10 January 1976 letter to Robertson, while expressing hope that the “endless personnel shuffles” would soon come to an end. They did, but not until Logan left Australia.
At the trial, Logan tried to cop a plea, hiding behind his alleged inexperience and ignorance ad absurdum, claiming to be “cloudy” as to “what constituted a couple” (Trial Proceedings, p. 13) and “rudimentary” in his “conceptions of communist morality” (Trial Proceedings, p. 51). Alan H. of the SL/B put the lie to this evasion in his testimony when he explained why he refused to go along with Logan’s scheme to prevent Patrick from reuniting with his wife Denise in Britain: “Comrade Logan says that he doesn’t understand the norms. I was in the organization I think a matter of a few months at that point. It’s not a question of norms; it’s a question of human decency” (Trial Proceedings, p. 75). Logan’s “conception” of communist morality was the result not of ignorance but of pathology. This was a man whose “slogan” regarding his members was, “Sew up their cunts, cut off their balls” (“The 100 Percent Regime”). Logan “joked” in his letter to Robertson on the “David and Vicky problem”: “Have you ever thought of insisting that all members be put in chastity belts. The National Chairman should hold the keys” (Appendix to “The 100 Percent Regime”). It turned out that this was an expression not simply of sadistic public school “humor” but of Logan’s very real appetites and practices aimed at control over people’s sexuality. And it is for these practices that Logan was expelled.
The evidence presented at the 1979 trial, including Logan’s own admissions that Vicky had been subjected to an “atrocity” and that crimes had been committed in forcing couples to separate through organizational and political coercion, was simply swept under the rug by the ET/BT in its subsequent defense of Logan.
Though the ET in their 1982 founding “Declaration” posed as a disinterested party in the Logan case, this statement is redolent of Logan’s own pretrial documents of three years earlier. Where Logan had ridiculed the notion that he was an “evil genius,” the ET sneered at the idea of Logan as a “malevolent genius” (“Declaration,” p. 10). Logan claimed that his regime was not significantly different from those in other iSt sections and that he reported fully to the international leadership (see, for example, “Some Notes on the History of the Australian Section,” by Logan, 15 July 1979 [Document 35]). The ET echoed: “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” and “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” (“Declaration,” p. 10). Logan asserted that “the leadership now wants to get rid of the Logans” because “Logan is the founding national chairman of a couple of sections” and “when he moved from Australia to Europe he was found difficult to deal with” (“The Evil Genius or the Big Lie?” 3 June 1979). The ET charged that Robertson decided to get Logan in Britain because he had “acquired a substantial and independent base in the membership” (“Declaration,” p. 9).
This was a tacit charge that Robertson rigged bogus charges in order to frame up Logan. The BT returned to this in explicit form following its public bending of the knee to Logan in 1990: “The founders of the New Zealand Permanent Revolution Group, Bill Logan and Adaire Hannah, were the victims of the most hysterical witchhunt and sordid frame-up in the history of the iSt” (“We Go Forward!” p. 5). The BT continued (p. 6):
“The allegations made at the 1979 trial, that Logan was an evil genius who routinely interfered in the sexual lives of members to gratify his bizarre sadistic urges, were never anything more than malicious invention on the part of Robertson and his acolytes. In fact, nearly all the incidents cited as proof of Logan’s ‘moral turpitude’ were well known to the Spartacist leadership years before the anathema was pronounced at Colchester.”
Logan certainly did not argue that he was being subjected to a frame-up when he was in the dock. On the contrary. At the outset of the trial, chairman Martha P. explained to Logan why it was important to establish the impartiality of the trial body: “In one of your earlier documents you implied that this was a witchhunt” (Trial Proceedings, p. 5). Logan readily acknowledged the authenticity of the documentary evidence and the jurisdiction of the trial body. He stressed that it was “quite definitely a properly constituted body of highly respected comrades whom I have every trust will do everything in their power to come to a decision that they believe to be correct” (Trial Proceedings, p. 5). At the end of the trial, Logan again affirmed: “I believe that in the main the conduct of this trial has been exemplary” (“Summary to the Trial Body,” IIB No. 16). Was Logan lying then, or when his BT denounced the trial in 1991 as a “sordid frame-up” and “hysterical witchhunt”?!
The ET/BT and Logan partake of a Great Man Theory of history. As the trial materials attest, it was the comrades he had tormented in Australia who demanded Logan’s head. But Logan, as a truly Great Man, cannot conceive of having been humbled, humiliated and brought down by anything other than the whim of a “cult leader.”
In fact, by the time Logan was expelled, he had a “base” of two, his wife and his non-member mother. His mother, on Logan’s urging, had submitted a notarized affidavit to the party on his behalf. As for his wife, Logan didn’t even have her come to the trial. Logan claimed poverty and blamed the iSt—though both he and Hannah had paying, full-time jobs at the time, he had been given considerable funds for his travel by the organization and his mother had readily shelled out for Hannah’s travel in the past, including a round trip between New York and New Zealand only a few months before the trial. On several occasions in the days and weeks before the trial, the Logans had assured the international leadership that they were able to purchase airline tickets with their available funds and would both be present at the trial, including in a written statement signed by both (see “Letter by Hannah and Logan to International Secretariat,” 28 July 1979 [Document 38]). The international leadership first learned that Hannah would not be at the trial only after Logan had already arrived in London! Yet the BT later asserted that we prevented Hannah from testifying because we hadn’t paid her way (“We Go Forward!” p. 5). In fact, it was very convenient to Logan that his chief lieutenant, the blunt, outspoken Hannah, was not at the trial. This gave Logan wiggle room every time he was caught out in a lie or contradiction. He was able to burden his wife with sole responsibility for the atrocity perpetrated against Vicky, to distance himself from those arguments she’d raised in his defense that proved untenable and to accuse her of being “overly categorical” in her opposition to Joel and Pip’s personal relationship, implying that his wife was to blame for their separation (see Trial Proceedings, p. 16). At the trial, Robertson suggested that his testimony showing Logan to be a sexual monster, even to the extent of offering his wife up to others, was a reason Logan didn’t want Hannah present at the trial (see Trial Proceedings, p. 82).
It is notable that the ET’s 1982 whitewash “Declaration” on the Logan case, like Logan’s own documents in 1979, studiously avoided any reference to the Vicky case. Compelled to address this question in responding to our indictment of the Logan regime in our 1995 pamphlet The International Bolshevik Tendency—What Is It?, the BT echoed Logan’s trial testimony in raising the 1974 John E. Control Commission as an alibi for Logan in the Vicky case. The BT asserted:
“The allegation that Bill Logan ‘tried to force one woman comrade to have an abortion, and when that failed, to give the baby up for adoption’ is also a malicious invention. It is true that women in the SL/ANZ and the rest of the iSt at the time were pressured not to have children.
“The case of the comrade who had considered giving up her child was well known throughout the iSt for years before anyone considered that anything was amiss. It was known by an international control commission that met in August and September 1974 to investigate certain incidents involving John E___, a member of the SL/ANZ.
“Moreover, the father of the child was what was known as a ‘drinking buddy’ of Robertson and lived in the same house in North London with him for a number of months in 1976.”
—“ICL vs. IBT,” Trotskyist Bulletin No. 5, February 1996, p. 38
What was at issue in the Vicky case was not whether a woman comrade “had considered giving up her child”—how delicately put!—but that a comrade had been subjected to inhuman abuse, ordered not to take necessary medication, humiliated and punished for wanting a child, her husband instructed to act against her will and behind her back. What does it matter who David S. talked to or drank with? Until comrades at the January 1979 SL/ANZ conference began comparing personal experiences and putting together a picture of what Logan had done to them, David S. had no reason to see what happened to his wife during and after her pregnancy as anything other than a personal tragedy. As he stated at the trial in 1979, “I tended to entirely blame myself for the problems” (Trial Proceedings, p. 36).
The vague “certain incidents” cited by the BT had nothing to do with the Vicky case; John E. did not testify to the Control Commission regarding Vicky; and, furthermore, he had repudiated his criticisms of the Logan regime by the time he submitted anything in writing. The Control Commission was convened to investigate charges of indiscipline and lying by John E. while in the U.S. and Europe in 1974 and also to investigate allegations that Logan had taken unwarranted measures to obtain John E.’s personal correspondence with a girlfriend in the German section. John E. did raise grievances against the Logan regime. But the relationship between this confirmed liar and the Vicky case was tenuous and incidental. In the course of defending himself at a Sydney branch meeting against the charges of lying, cliquism and indiscipline stemming from his trip abroad, John E. accused the Logan leadership of “uncomradely” treatment of Vicky—but Vicky herself rejected this charge (see “On the Logan Regime in Australia”). In her testimony (Trial Proceedings, p. 45), Marie H. also refers to this incident and quotes what John E. later wrote about Vicky in his “An Open Letter to the I.S.: In Defense of Bolshevik Norms”:
“It illustrated to me that there was little attempt to ‘advise’, persuade or convince that comrade rationally, to have the child adopted. In other words, what I observed was uncomradely behaviour, shunning of comrade Vicky, and prolongation of her candidature status while I was in Melbourne and Sydney last year before my departure overseas.”
This is the entirety of John E.’s account of the mistreatment of Vicky in his 21-page “Open Letter.” And even this brief allusion was not available to the International Control Commission. The commission submitted its report on 1 September 1974. John E. did not submit his “Open Letter” until the following month, 11 October 1974. Moreover, by the time he submitted it, he had repudiated its contents, as he stated in a postscript to his document dated 23 September 1974: “The bulk of this letter was drafted around the middle of August. Since that time, I have realised that my actions and reactions taken after my return were wrong. Thus, most of my document is outdated and does not represent the positions I hold” (“Postscript and Addendum by John E. to ‘Open Letter to I.S.’,” 23 September [received 11 October] and amended 15 October 1974 [Document 11]). This is the BT school of falsification: a retracted document submitted by a confessed liar after the International Control Commission had met is the BT’s proof positive that what Logan did to Vicky “was well known throughout the iSt for years”!
Knowing that most of our members, much less a broader audience, would know nothing about the obscure John E. incident, the BT seized on it as a blank check to spew its lies. The 1982 ET “Declaration” claimed:
“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. Not only did Logan and Foster force [John] E___ 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!”
—“Declaration,” p. 10
The ET here tried to directly implicate George Foster, a central leader of the SL/U.S. and iSt/ICL, in covering up for Logan, only to make clear 14 years later that it was all a lie, lamely confessing in its 1996 “ICL vs. IBT” pamphlet: “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” (“ICL vs. IBT,” p. 40).
The Keith O. case had nothing to do with Vicky or much of anything else involved in the John E. case. At a 1975 discussion on SL/ANZ Central Committee elections, Keith O. criticized Logan for a tendency to wheel and deal. Logan set out to smash him, lining up the membership and the international leadership with the claim that Keith had accused the national chairman of being a liar and then using this to draw comrade Foster, the first I.S. representative to visit Australia, into the campaign against Keith. The Keith O. case was addressed at the trial, and Foster took full responsibility for allowing himself to be hoodwinked by Logan (see Trial Proceedings, pp. 57-58). Far from proving the BT’s case that the international leadership was somehow complicit in Logan’s sadistic practices, the Keith O. incident was evidence of Logan’s lying, manipulative methods. So much for the BT’s understanding of “accuracy”!
In its after-the-fact defense of Logan, the BT says: “In pressuring women in the Australian group not to get pregnant, the SL/ANZ leadership was merely applying a policy that originated in the SL/US” (“ICL vs. IBT,” p. 38). No such defense was raised by Logan at the trial—and for good reason, because it was too brazen a lie to try at the time. We communists recognize that having and caring for a child imposes a burden on a member of a small revolutionary organization. But organizational intervention by the party leadership in such intimate decisions is impermissible and reprehensible. The policy in the SL/U.S., as Logan and his pawns well know, was codified in a 1972 document (“Letter by Nancy R. on Communists and Children,” 4 April 1972 [Document 1]) that stated unambiguously: “The SL does not ‘demand such a sacrifice as having no children.’ Most party members do discourage it, but the official position of the party is that having children is a personal decision” (emphasis in original). This statement, reprinted here, appeared in SL/U.S. Internal Discussion Bulletin No. 20 (November 1972), which had on its cover: “Comradely Greetings to the Delegates of the Third National Conference of the SL/US (and to comrades Bill, Adaire, Joel and Gene who are away).” Responding to a misplaced concern by a prospective recruit over whether parents can function as disciplined communists, Nancy explained: “I can think of no examples among the parent-comrades in the SL (there are several) myself included, who are parents first and communists second.... If a comrade (with a child) is carrying out the work required of party membership his contribution is as meaningful as anyone else’s.” Nancy added, “It’s not the party’s job to monitor personal relationships.”
But Logan made it part of his job as national chairman. Logan consciously and willfully contradicted existing Spartacist norms on the question of members with children. If Logan was merely applying a policy that originated in the SL/U.S., why were the Logan regime’s written rules in this regard totally at odds with those of the SL/U.S.? SL/U.S. financial guidelines stipulated: “For assessment purposes, a member’s NET INCOME shall be arrived at by dividing total family net income by the number of persons dependent upon the income of the member’s family or spending unit” (“Detailed Sustaining Pledge Regulations Adopted by the Central Committee to Implement Organizational Rule III-13,” 1 September 1969). The corresponding clause crafted in the 1973 “Memorandum from the [SL/ANZ] Central Committee on Finance” (18 June, 13 August, 26 August 1973 [Document 6]) stated the opposite: “No member shall be able to claim as a dependent for financial purposes any child conceived after joining the organisation. (This rule will not apply retroactively.)” Another provision in the Memorandum stipulated: “The organisation will pay comrades reasonable expenses for sterilisation.” When Karen W. arrived in 1976, she was horrified to learn that such rules had existed; new rules were adopted after her arrival (see “Six Days in October,” 15 October 1978, “On the Logan Regime” Part I).
Already in its 1982 statement, the ET tried to airbrush away the charges of sexual manipulation against Logan, claiming that it was simply an “innovation”—a fiction—conjured up by the “bureaucratic” SL/U.S. regime: “One of the new innovations of the clone trial was the use of the spectacularly non-specific charge of ‘sexual manipulation’. This designation was subsequently to play a major role in the trial of Logan” (“Declaration,” p. 6). In citing this supposed precedent, the ET lifted a page straight out of Logan’s “Some Notes on the History of the Australian Section,” which chastises the SL/U.S. leadership for being “heavy-handed” in its treatment of the “clones.” Logan and the BT sought to relativize the crime of sexual manipulation. And to do so, they spew out one lie after another.
First of all, there was no “clone trial.” There was a political fight in 1978 against some young male comrades, centered in the editorial staff of our youth paper Young Spartacus, who were identical in their petty-bourgeois disdain for manual labor and party administrative work. This they left to the earnest young women comrades who actually kept the youth organization running and who were treated by the clones with contempt as little more than untutored drones and sexual servants. Their backward attitudes notwithstanding, the cloned youth were not in a position to manipulate comrades’ personal lives, sexual or otherwise, nor were they charged with such. (For a full account of the “cloned youth” fight, see “SYL Launches Recruitment Drive” and “Forging a Youth Cadre: The ‘Cloned Youth’ Fight and Youth-Party Relations,” Young Spartacus No. 73, May 1979.)
The BT returned to this theme in its 1996 pamphlet: “Most of the alleged ‘crimes’ involved activities which were well known within the organization, and were standard operating procedure throughout the Spartacist tendency at the time. The frenzied work schedules and constant organizational crises, combined with frequent personnel transfers, naturally exacerbated the difficult personal situations of members of the SL/ANZ” (“ICL vs. IBT,” p. 44). “Naturally”! Again, this lie that Logan’s practices were “standard operating procedure” in the iSt is directly refuted by Logan’s own statements in the trial record. Logan acknowledged that what was done to comrades’ sexual relationships in Australia was “a crime,” and that it was not standard operating procedure in the iSt (see Trial Proceedings, p. 13). Logan did not object when comrade Martha P., chairman of the trial body (and the mother of a young son), remarked: “In the rest of the tendency it is a policy, and you knew that, that couples could transfer together, that they could request that—that there’s something called compassionate transfers. And yet in your section, and it was your section in Australia, there was this atmosphere where the comrades did not feel free to say what was the basic decent thing that anyone has a right to say: ‘I wish to live with so-and-so. I wish to be together’” (Trial Proceedings, p. 13). Moments later, Logan was challenged by Dave R.: “What was it about Australia or the Australian section which produced such a unique and unusual uncertainty about personal relationships and disinterest in remaining parts of couples? Didn’t it have something to do with the way that the organization was run?” Logan replied, “I believe it did” (Trial Proceedings, p. 17).
The uniquely warped and abusive character of Logan’s regimes was attested to at the time by none other than future BT leading light Cathy Nason. A delegate from the Canadian section at the 1979 International Conference, Nason spoke during the discussion on the Logan trial findings. These are her remarks in full:
“I really don’t have that much to say. I worked under the Logan regime in London for a year and a half and to this day I feel very badly burned by my experiences here. And I didn’t testify at the trial body at all but I know from my own experience working with Logan that he did lie on several occasions to me. In fact, not really to me but about me, consciously and deliberately. I became pregnant when I was in London and arranged to have an abortion. I informed comrade Adaire of this and the rumor was spread throughout the tendency that I was pregnant and planning to have a child. My spouse at the time told me, you know, not to tell Adaire. And I said: No, she was my organizer, I should tell her. And I, I paid for it. And when I went back to Canada everybody thought I was still pregnant. While we were in London we were led to believe that we were working under this super-Spartacist regime. No—no—no other section functioned like it did under Bill and Adaire. And I think that’s certainly true.”
In their 1991 “We Go Forward!” (p. 5), the BT squeamishly acknowledges that “a number of current members of the IBT, then iSt members, believed the substances of the charges against Logan” while others “viewed the whole affair as a falling out among bureaucrats”—i.e., they were either dupes or cynics. But Nason raised her own charges against Logan based on her own experience with him. Was she lying then or in the 1991 BT whitewash?
Precisely because Logan’s practices were antithetical to everything we stand for, he hid them from the rest of the international under a mound of lies and half-truths. But there were a number of juridical and procedural questions regarding members’ rights where the Logan regime in Australia explicitly contradicted SL policy. For example, it is a norm in our party that elections to party bodies, unlike votes on political questions, are conducted by secret ballot. Not under Logan. At one of the first meetings of the SL in Australia, the position was stated: “We note that [sic] the S.L.U.S. practice of a closed ballot for this position and will keep it in mind in the in the [sic] light of future developments in the organisation. In the meantime it is of greater importance to maintain the general principle of open ballots” (“Minutes of Melbourne Local Meeting,” 18 March 1973 [Document 5]). As Marie H. testified at the trial, Logan also enforced a policy of “compulsory rounds,” in which all members were required to speak whether or not they raised their hands (see Trial Proceedings, p. 45).
Likewise, the Logan regime rejected SL/U.S. practice regarding personal correspondence among comrades. In its 1982 “Declaration,” the ET claims that certain “‘norms’ were introduced [by Robertson] to monitor the opinions of the members. In 1974 all private political correspondence between members of different national sections had to be shown to the leadership” (“Declaration,” p. 6). In fact, there is and has always been a right to private correspondence in our party. Members are indeed expected to show political portions of personal correspondence to their local leadership—no more, no less—so that other comrades can be given the opportunity to correct or disagree with such statements before they are accepted as gospel in distant locals and sections. The “norm” cited by the BT was introduced by Logan and in conscious opposition to SL/U.S. guidelines. A 16 December 1973 SL/ANZ PB motion states: “We note that section leaderships have the right of access to non-factional correspondence of members where it is important to the functioning of the organisation” (“SL/ANZ Political Bureau Minutes [Meeting No. 4]”, 16 December 1973 [Document 7]). In a 17 February 1974 personal letter to David S., Libby S. in New York remarked:
“By the way on the SLANZ motion about correspondence. I believe that the Trotskyist movement has always recognised the right to privileged personal correspondence, including political correspondence. The question arises, well, why wouldn’t someone want to make available sections of their correspondence that is political to the party? A refusal to do so lays one open to charges of cliquism, and it is really not possible to make a series of rules that make cliquism impossible; it really is a question of consciousness and party loyalty—hard to legislate.”
—“Excerpts of Letters by David S. and Libby,” January-February 1974
In March 1974, the International Department of the SL/U.S. passed the following motion regulating correspondence, subsequently ratified by the SL/U.S. PB:
“The international group notes that violation of the right of comrades in a common international tendency to communicate privately is a breach of international discipline; that for comrades not part of a common faction internationally to undertake a secret correspondence behind the backs of local or section leadership is a violation of procedure which, if persisted in, is suggestive of cliquism rather than inexperience. Comrades who do show such correspondence to their local committee are under no further obligation to their local or section. If the local committee disagrees in fact or interpretation with such correspondence, it has the full right to circulate within the international movement contrary opinions and assertions.”
In fact, the question of whether Logan had violated the right of comrades to communicate privately was one of the questions investigated by the 1974 International Control Commission in the John E. case.
Finally, the ET/BT invokes the role of Edmund Samarakkody, who had a minority position on the trial body, to absolve Logan and brand the iSt. In its 1982 statement, the ET wrote: “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” (“Declaration,” p. 10). The 1996 pamphlet “ICL vs. IBT” (p. 42) likewise wielded this argument, quoting Samarakkody at length.
Samarakkody was not quite the witness for the defense the BT would have him be. He stressed that Logan had been given a fair trial and duly found guilty of crimes against proletarian morality that warranted expulsion. He concluded his minority report to the conference:
“I have not exonerated Logan, that monster. I have placed this monstrosity in the proper context. You can totally disagree with me, you can tear this and put it into the wastepaper basket. But please do not think that I functioned in the trial body as the attorney of that monster.”
—“Report of the Trial Body (Minority),” IIB No. 16, November 1983
Nonetheless, Samarakkody did in effect function as Logan’s attorney. Samarakkody argued that the SL/ANZ CC was collectively guilty and that the iSt leadership was also responsible because it had not caught the criminal earlier—in other words, the iSt should not expel this monster now because we had not expelled him before!
The evidence presented to the trial body made it clear that Bill Logan was the chief architect, initiator and perpetrator of all the unspeakable abuses perpetrated against the Australian comrades and the only one, moreover, who knew the whole story. It was Logan who pulled the strings in the campaign against Vicky, either indirectly when he was still in Wellington, New Zealand, or directly after he arrived in Melbourne. It was Logan who instructed Vicky’s husband to investigate fostering out the child behind her back. It was Logan who drafted the financial guidelines penalizing members for having children. It was Logan who initiated the threesome with Marie and Dave R. for purposes of control and manipulation. It was Logan who initiated the transfers leading to the separation of couples. It was Logan who urged Marie to remain with Dave R. against her wishes. Logan’s real collaborators were not his comrades on the SL/ANZ CC or the IEC, but his wife Adaire and (non-member) mother Suzette! Logan’s method made others within the SL/ANZ leadership at times complicit in various acts of the regime, but they were in fact his victims and not culpable for his actions. His wife, his chief accomplice, was also his victim. That is why Hannah, though deeply implicated in Logan’s abuses, was not charged and tried alongside him. After the trial, she was dropped from membership for cause, having failed to carry out party assignments and responsibilities for some period.
Logan cynically manipulated the loyalty and dedication of young communists. New members were encouraged to separate from non-party spouses and distance themselves from other prior relationships, and were expected to live in a communal party barracks. When the barracks were disbanded, Logan continued to assert control over where and with whom individual members lived. Those who transferred in from North America or, like David S., had visited the SL/U.S. were subjected to a process of “integration” or “reintegration”—repeatedly smashed through orchestrated “authority” fights, past failures held over their heads from the moment they arrived. Political criticism of or disagreement with Logan/Hannah was equated with an anti-party attitude, or with American arrogance in the case of North American comrades. Bolshevik organizational practices learned in the supposedly soft SL/U.S. were deemed inapplicable under “Australian conditions.”
Two particular incidents examined by the trial body showed how Logan’s manipulative methods served to intimidate the membership from criticizing the regime and to poison relations among leading comrades. One was the case of Keith O., cited above. The other was that of Naoli C. and Marie H.: shortly after Naoli’s arrival, Logan engineered a confrontation to pit Marie and Naoli against each other and create a permanent state of mutual mistrust (see “Statement on NC/MH Incident,” by Naoli C., 15 July 1979 [Document 32]; “Statement by Marie H. on Naoli/Marie,” 16 July 1979 [Document 37]). In general, horizontal lines of communication were cut off and the sharing of criticisms and concerns, including between spouses, was treated as incipient cliquism, while vertical lines of communication—exclusively to Logan and generally behind closed doors—were reinforced.
In regard to the international as well, Logan tried to impose his own monopoly over communication. Particularly in an era before fax machines and e-mail, effective international collaboration depended on regular and candid written reports. Logan discouraged comrades from engaging in personal correspondence with friends in other iSt sections, even reading their mail behind their backs. And his own infrequent reports to the international center were sparing and slanted, concentrating on his latest “personnel” obsession and withholding critical political information. (Logan’s failure to report his opportunist “fraternal relations” with a politically distant Turkish émigré group in Australia, cited in the SL/ANZ Central Committee charges, is an example.)
At one point or another, comrades who had some knowledge of the Logan regime had seen various problems, e.g., arbitrary and arrogant behavior toward members, the widespread sense of personal guilt and failure among the membership, inordinate supervision over comrades’ personal lives (see, for example, K. Wyatt [Karen W.], “Remarks on the Australian Regime,” 30 December 1978, “On the Logan Regime,” Part II). But these were based on partial, often personal impressions. So long as there was no way to generalize from these concerns and discern a pattern of manipulation directed against the entire membership, it would have been not only foolhardy but irresponsible to launch a seemingly apolitical regime fight. Our international party is built on the basis of programmatic agreement. Absent evident programmatic departures, our international leadership does not as a rule intervene in the day-to-day functioning of national sections. But when it became clear that Logan represented a malignant cancer that had to be burned out, that is what we did.
In a last line of defense, the BT’s German group intoned: “Logan never strove for personal advantages—as Edmund Samarakkody confirmed” (Bolschewik, January 2004; quoted in WV No. 827, 28 May 2004). Indeed, Logan was not out for material gain; when it came to his personal financial dealings with the organization, he was quite honest in accounting for his income and contributing an appropriate share to the party. But the range of unappetizing human desires is not exhausted by financial corruption and pecuniary gain. Jack the Ripper’s murder of prostitutes in London didn’t bring him any demonstrable “personal advantage” either!
More recently, the Spartacist League/Britain received a letter from a new BT recruit in London, Michael W., whom we had provided with our bulletins and articles documenting Logan’s abuses. In his 3 April 2007 letter, Michael W. wrote:
“The key question was whether Logan was totally and utterly removed from the leadership during his alleged malice. Further, that his deceitful conceit masked his duping of an entire section of the antecedent international. You could not provide a sufficient argument for that. You could not, in a dialectical manner, chart Logan’s descent into your alleged monsterism and banditry.... The point is, as I have just emphasised, HOW did he develop and take on the characteristics of the malevolence which you assert? You couldn’t answer that question.”
This is the brief of an aspiring barrister. Michael W. uses exaggerated and vague language like “monsterism and banditry” to describe Logan’s “alleged crimes” so as to make the very real and well-documented actions for which Logan was expelled from our organization appear less probable. Rather than addressing the concrete charges against Logan, Michael W. focuses on the question, “HOW did he develop and take on the characteristics of the malevolence which you assert?”
One can only answer that question by looking backward from the crimes Logan committed, in which there is a consistent pattern of hostility to women and the need for unchallenged authority. These two came together in the monstrous abuse of Vicky A., but were present throughout, as the motion mandating his expulsion put it, in the manipulation of “the private lives of comrades for reasons of power politics and his own aberrant appetites and compulsions in the guise of Marxism.” If one then looks at Logan’s upbringing, being an elite private school prefect and a homosexual in an intensely homophobic society, there are some answers to what made him what he was. The covert pursuit of sexual gratification itself conditioned the need for an unchallenged authoritarian regime, one built through practices learned as a young school prefect and later, no doubt, in his time in the New Zealand National Party.
In a 15 October 1978 report to the New York local of the SL/U.S. on the fight in Britain, comrade Robertson, then I.S. representative to the SL/B, spoke to how Logan had built his “regime” by playing on the internalization of oppression, particularly of young women as well as any considered to be of the “lower orders” by the viciously class-conscious and racist powers that be in British society. Robertson observed:
“Internalized oppression is an evil, evil thing. And I think it lay at the root of some of the bad regimes that we have uncovered here and there in our organization. Because it always takes two. It takes those who are insecure, become brutal or sadistic or pretentious, little Stalins. It also takes victims. And the victimization comes, generally, out of the playing upon internal insecurities and fear.”
—“Six Days in October,” “On the Logan Regime” Part I
In the case of Australia, such internal insecurities were magnified by comrades’ isolation and youthful inexperience, by a pervasively male-chauvinist “ocker” society and by the methods and policies imposed by the Logan regime.
In his memoir in One of the Boys?, Logan relates that he started to come to terms with his severely repressed homosexuality only after he returned to New Zealand following his expulsion from the iSt. In this essay, Logan assiduously suppresses the fact that he was ever actually a member of a Leninist organization, in order to make himself palatable to a liberal audience. Instead, he endlessly recounts how happy his childhood was, all in the service of promoting the “new” Logan, now out of the closet as a gay activist and all-round sensitive man. In Logan’s case, all the signs are there that his sexual orientation runs a distant third to considerations of power (a word that appears 12 times in some 20 pages of his memoir) and control (which appears four times).
Though Logan’s particular sadistic practices had a peculiar quality, as a general personality type Bill Logan is a common enough phenomenon. What is unusual is that he joined a communist organization and managed to acquire a position of leadership in a remote situation. He committed great injury to a large number of our members, cutting quite deeply into insecure, young psyches by manipulating comrades’ personal lives in the name of the higher good of communism.
Beginning in 1984, the charge of sexual manipulation that the ET had initially dismissed as “spectacularly non-specific” and a fictitious “innovation” (in the 1982 “Declaration,” p. 6) in order to amnesty Logan was now wielded by this same outfit as a lie to smear the iSt. In a 1984 letter to us, the ET asserted: “As many of your present and former members can testify, attempts to break up couples are a routine practise in the iSt’s periodic membership purges” (reprinted in Bulletin of the External Tendency of the iSt, May 1985, p. 36). The charges of sexual manipulation leveled against Logan were very specific, and thoroughly documented. The BT’s attempt to smear the ICL with these charges, as Logan and his pen-pushing pawns know, is a complete inversion of the facts, both spectacularly non-specific and spectacularly false.
We have been around as an independent Trotskyist tendency for more than four decades. For many years we published a unique journal, Women and Revolution, specifically devoted to the communist struggle for women’s emancipation, and we continue to feature W&R pages in our quadrilingual Spartacist and our sectional newspapers. We have published countless articles opposing any interference by the church, state or other agencies in the intimate affairs of mutually consenting individuals. The ET/BT does not even try to substantiate its scurrilous, lying charge that the iSt/ICL routinely attempts to break up couples—not even in the cases of the alleged “purges” of future BT leaders Logan/Hannah and Cathy Nason and Tom Riley. Yet wherever Logan went—whether in Australia or Britain or, more recently, New Zealand, according to various independent accounts—there were repeated instances of sadistic manipulation and abuse. Moreover, as we will see, Logan continues to publicly advertise his services as something akin to a spiritual snake oil salesman. That this man is the veritable high priest of a putatively Marxist organization should tell you just about all you need to know about the BT.
4. A Postscript on Bill Logan and the BT: Garbage Doesn’t Walk by Itself
If Bill Logan is a vicious sociopath who has no place in the workers movement, what does that say about the organization that has championed his defense from its inception? The title of our occasional bulletin series, Hate Trotskyism, Hate the Spartacist League, expresses a simple truth: the fake Marxists, who reject the program of international proletarian revolution, hate the ICL precisely because we are the contemporary embodiment of that program. But the BT has a particular and peculiar pathology all its own: a vicious gang of crazed “God that failed” renegades eager to serve the purposes of those who would like to destroy us.
In its 1991 article announcing the formation of an “International Bolshevik Tendency” through its “fusion” with Logan’s Permanent Revolution Group in New Zealand and a subsequent merger with the German Gruppe IV Internationale (GIVI), the BT reported that Logan’s expulsion from the iSt was a “major item in pre-fusion discussions” (“We Go Forward!” p. 5). At a time when the eyes of the world were fixed on East Europe and the Soviet Union, where cataclysmic social and political events were determining the fate of the world’s first and only victorious workers revolution, the self-styled Trotskyists of the BT made the case of an individual sociopath the focus of their international “regroupment.” Curiouser still was their proclamation (“We Go Forward!” p. 3):
“If our three groups had been unrelated phenomena, products of merely local processes or of chance, it is highly unlikely that we could have achieved this unity through a few months of intense political discussions. But the three organizations were always closely related. The program and many of the central cadres of each of the components of the fusion were shaped by a common international political history. There is a sense in which this regroupment merely gives organizational expression to a pre-existing programmatic reality.”
That “pre-existing programmatic reality” consisted of two unwavering components: Uphold Chairman Logan! Hate the Spartacist tendency! But the assertion that the three groups “were always closely related” was something of a revelation. When we, early on, pointed to the similarities between the ET and the GIVI, the ET responded with umbrage: “We are not now, nor have we ever been, politically or organizationally linked to the Gruppe IV Internationale, as you well know” (Bulletin of the External Tendency of the iSt, May 1984, p. 26). As for the PRG in New Zealand, neither the Logan group nor the ET/BT/GIVI had ever even seemingly acknowledged the other’s existence! Why would political groups shaped by a common history and pre-existing programmatic agreement hide such a fact from the public? This is a question best left to others to answer. For our part, we will repeat what we wrote in our 1987 SL/U.S. National Conference document:
“The tiny Bolshevik Tendency (formerly External Tendency) composed largely of embittered Reagan-years quitters from the SL is not so much an opponent as a sinister threat of provocation. The Bolshevik Tendency (BT) exhibits an apparent disinterest in questions of importance to the working class except to go after the SL.”
Even before his expulsion, Logan had tried to set up our party for defamation and worse. As we document in our publicly available bulletin “On the Logan Regime” Part III, the month before his trial Logan fabricated a scurrilous accusation that a leading comrade had threatened him with a “physical assault” (see “Letter to International Secretariat,” 18 July 1979). Years later, Logan admitted that he had spread this sinister lie outside our organization as well. In an obituary in the BT’s 1917 (1998) on Myra Tanner Weiss, a veteran of the early American Trotskyist movement, Logan is quoted openly admitting that he violated our democratic-centralist discipline while still a suspended member awaiting trial. Claiming to perceive “a threat to use physical violence against me after my expulsion,” Logan continued: “I broke the discipline of the Spartacist tendency. I looked up Myra in the telephone book, gave her a call, and made arrangements to have a talk with her.” Whether Logan was simply being provocative or undergoing paranoid delusions, projecting from his depraved grooving on inflicting misery on others, his imputations of violence could only serve to harm and defame us.
After his expulsion, Logan returned to New Zealand and began operating in the Wellington gay rights milieu. The October 1981 New Zealand Monthly Review published an article by him with the gross title, “Poofters [a derogatory term for gays] and Commies.” Over the next few years, he picked up a few followers from the fake-Trotskyist Socialist Action League and Socialist Alliance and proclaimed the Permanent Revolution Group. Notably, Logan never tried to set up operations in Australia.
In the meantime, a Logan fan club had emerged in North America. Only months after our 1979 international conference, U.S. imperialism seized on the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979 to launch Cold War II, a renewed anti-Soviet war drive. While most of the left internationally joined in the anti-Soviet hysteria, our response to the war pitting the left-nationalist Afghan government and its Soviet allies against CIA-funded Islamic fundamentalist cutthroats was forthrightly communist. We said: Hail Red Army in Afghanistan! Extend social gains of the October Revolution to Afghan peoples! The pressure of intense anti-Sovietism and accompanying domestic reaction, particularly in the U.S., took its toll on the reformist and centrist left, which moved sharply to the right. A number of those recruited to our party during the heyday of petty-bourgeois New Left radicalism quit—some remained friendly, others went off in their own directions, political or otherwise. But a small handful of quitters coagulated into clots of embittered anti-Spartacists in the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto and Germany.
They left out of fear of a reactionary period and distaste for the SL/U.S.’s response to it: our work among the black masses to galvanize militant resistance to fascist provocation and racist terror; our political confrontations with the pro-imperialist union bureaucracy; and above all our Trotskyist defense of the USSR against imperialism (see “The ‘External Tendency’: From Cream Puffs to Food Poisoning,” WV No. 349, 2 March 1984). The Bay Area clot included a couple of small-time aspirants to union-bureaucratic influence—including one who had confessed to “lying to the party for years” before his quit—and a former member of our German section who once complained to a comrade that too little was made of Hitler’s repression of the Social Democrats as compared to what the Nazis did to the Jews. The Toronto clot included a couple of inveterate cliquists: Cathy Nason, who announced when she quit that she had always been a Menshevik, and her spouse Tom Riley, who said in his resignation letter, “I never really assimilated any Cannonism—instead on the org. question I have always tended to New Leftism.”
In October 1982, the Bay Area and Toronto clots issued their “Declaration of an External Tendency of the iSt,” though they had never formed an internal tendency nor mentioned—much less fought—what they subsequently claimed was the irreversible “degeneration” of our party. The German branch, which was mainly animated by resurgent (Green) German nationalism and attendant Stalinophobia, soon pronounced the iSt beyond reform and called itself the Gruppe IV Internationale. But the two groups could always be counted on to act in concert when it came to slanders and provocations against our organization, and they were as one in embodying the most retrograde excrescences crystallized under the pressure of anti-communist public opinion.
The newly emerged ET steered clear of an SL-initiated united-front labor/black mobilization that brought out 5,000 to stop a fascist provocation in Washington, D.C., on 27 November 1982. Centered on the support of the heavily black East Coast longshore union, it was the largest anti-fascist mobilization in the U.S. in decades and by far the largest action ever led by the SL/U.S. But the ET barely noticed this. Bay Area ET supporter Howard Keylor denounced our supporters in his union newsletter Militant Longshoreman (4 February 1983) for “increasingly directing their organizing activity away from the unions and towards the unemployed, particularly in the ghettos.” While the Bay Area ET urged us to immediately undertake a phony agitational campaign in the U.S. around a Canadian Chrysler strike, their comrades in Canada wrote us to vent against the choice of “Yuri Andropov Brigade” for one of the busloads going from New York to Washington for the anti-Klan mobilization. Naming a brigade after the then Soviet leader was a jibe at the large number of ex-members who joined the mobilization and a semi-jocular way to thumb our noses at Reagan’s anti-Soviet “Evil Empire” hysterics, but it threw the ET into paroxysms of Stalinophobia.
As for the GIVI, it emerged through a petition campaign in late 1982 against us and in defense of “workers [!] democracy” for one Uli Sandhaus (also known as Uli Sandler), a proto-fascist who had been excluded from one of our public forums in Germany. Sandhaus, who wallowed in Nazi memorabilia (including a swastika-emblazoned World War II helmet) and grooved on skinhead “oi” music, had earlier been expelled from our party for his racist proclivities. In 1984, Sandhaus oversaw a brutal physical attack carried out by a confederate against a supporter of our German section who had once been Sandhaus’ girlfriend, when they found her alone in a Berlin subway station.
Thus did the ET set out on its crusade to slander, defame and destroy the party that it still (hypocritically) upheld as “the only contemporary organizational embodiment of the program of Bolshevism” (“Declaration,” p. 2). Much of the ET’s founding statement reads like Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, the 1940 anti-Communist novel inspired by his disillusionment with Stalinism. But Koestler didn’t try to rehabilitate Hitler as a victim of Stalin! Yet as it entered the lists against the supposedly brutal and bureaucratic “Robertson regime,” the ET chose as its champion none other than the same William King Logan whom central founders of the ET had joined in expelling from the iSt three years earlier for acts of truly brutal sadism! In the years that followed, the number of lies and provocations against our party emanating from the ET/BT was simply astonishing for an organization that claimed on paper to stand for our principles and program.
In December 1983, as we were engaged in a legal fight against the FBI, which had targeted our organization as “violent,” the ET launched an international campaign falsely smearing us as engaging in physical violence. This was based on a blatant lie that ET supporter Bob Mandel had been assaulted by our comrades during a San Francisco strike support rally; Mandel himself later admitted that our comrades had not touched him (see ICL pamphlet, The International Bolshevik Tendency—What Is It?). In May 1985, the ET published a highly inventive piece of reptile journalism worthy of neo-con flack Ann Coulter. Titled “The Road to Jimstown,” this piece smeared our party as an “obedience cult” based on political intimidation and internal corruption (Bulletin of the External Tendency of the iSt, May 1985). The ET spun lurid tales that our central leader “had his own little coven of sexual groupies with its own bizarre initiation rituals.” This slander, dovetailing with Logan’s anti-sexual pathology, came as a ruling-class witchhunt was consigning daycare workers and other innocent victims to decades in prison for supposedly engaging in “Satanic” child abuse rituals.
Such garbage was just waiting for a suitable client, and in 1995 the Wall Street Journal decided to avail itself of the BT’s wares as it sought to undercut a growing international protest movement in defense of black death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, journalist, MOVE supporter and former Black Panther Party spokesman. The Journal (16 June 1995) used the BT as an authority for smears to depict the Partisan Defense Committee—the central organization that had been fighting for others to take up Jamal’s case—as associated with a crazed “cult,” writing: “The Spartacists are led by a man named James Robertson, prompting the International Bolshevik Tendency, a group of former Spartacists, to deride their old party as ‘Jimstown,’ a takeoff on Jonestown in Guyana, the jungle site of mass suicide.” This mouthpiece for the American ruling class certainly got the point of the BT’s lurid smear of our party as an “obedience cult” and its allusion to the notorious 1978 mass suicide by an evangelical religious cult. Two years before the Journal article appeared, charges of “cultism” had been used to justify the Clinton administration’s murderous assault on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, resulting in the incineration of some 100 men, women and children. Yet at a San Francisco Socialist Action meeting on Mumia’s case in May 2006, Howard Keylor shamelessly defended the BT’s slanders, declaring that it wasn’t their “fault” that the Wall Street Journal picked up the BT’s lies against us.
Supplying the Wall Street Journal with ammunition was not the BT’s only service to those who would like to see Mumia Abu-Jamal dead. Also in May 1985, the Philadelphia police in collusion with the FBI dropped a bomb on the radical back-to-nature MOVE commune, murdering eleven black people (five of them children) and incinerating a whole neighborhood. The New York Spartacist League sponsored a memorial meeting for the bombing victims, inviting MOVE supporters to attend and speak. In the very first issue of its new periodical 1917 (Winter 1986), the BT grotesquely complained about the “convivial atmosphere” at the memorial meeting because we did not politically attack MOVE and “SL speakers confined their remarks to denouncing the authors of the hideous massacre.” The BT, on the contrary, saw the occasion as the time to denounce a spokesman for the government’s victims and to go after the SL for not turning the memorial meeting into a political free-for-all against MOVE!
A more recent incident is a model of the BT school of slander and provocation in operation. Here is an organization with a record of dismissing our labor-centered mobilizations to defend the black masses, denouncing victims of the government’s racist terror and parroting FBI lies that the Black Panther Party brought on its own murderous victimization (see “BT Covers for COINTELPRO,” WV No. 437, 2 October 1987). Here is an “International” “Bolshevik” Tendency that opposes our call for an independent, socialist Kurdistan and sneers at virtually every other struggle against national and racial oppression. The BT’s New Zealand group barely acknowledges the question of Maori oppression. Its flagship Canadian group has achieved some notoriety for joining the outcry of “Maple Leaf” chauvinists in opposing the call for independence for Quebec, a litmus test for proletarian internationalists in the Canadian state. The BT’s German group grotesquely describes the German imperialist army of the Cold War era, the linchpin of the U.S.-led anti-Soviet NATO alliance, as a “defensive army” (Bolschewik, January 2007).
Yet in 2003 this selfsame BT denounced us for “vulgar chauvinism” (see “Polemics with the ICL: Kurdistan and the Struggle for National Liberation,” 12 June 2003, p. 4) and then used this slander at the Cliffite Socialist Workers Party’s annual “Marxism” gala in London to further incite the Cliffite goons and censors against our comrades (see “Bill Logan: From Krafft-Ebing to Mother Theresa? BT: Renegades for Hire,” WV No. 807, 1 August 2003). To fabricate this slander, the BT ripped an isolated 25-year-old phrase entirely out of context from the very 15 October 1978 presentation (cited above) in which Robertson denounced all manner of oppression and condemned Logan’s use of internalized oppression to torment and control minority and women comrades in particular. In the course of his report, Robertson criticized another leading comrade, Reuben Samuels, for absenting himself from the fight against Logan: “Criticism of Reuben: the whole time, where was Reuben? He was off in the library, studying about the Turds for his class. He wasn’t playing any role” (“Six Days in October,” in “On the Logan Regime” Part I). This is the entirety of what the BT quoted from Robertson’s speech. But Robertson continued: “George and I looked at each other and we said, ‘We don’t think it’s going to be exactly the kind of educational weekend that we had in mind...’. We’re going back next month to have the educational. Good educational.”
In bowdlerizing Robertson’s published comments for its smear job, the BT deliberately obliterated the sense of Robertson’s pointed criticism of Samuels in order to suit its malicious purpose. Samuels had been brought to Britain to give an educational on the Kurdish question at the urging of comrade Robertson and the rest of our international leadership, a task of particular importance at the time given the recruitment of Turkish comrades to our British section. But when Samuels got to London what was posed was not a class but a hard political fight to defend our party against Logan. Samuels acknowledged this in opening his comments on Robertson’s presentation by saying: “Well, finally by Wednesday Jim had extricated me from the British Museum, so I have a few observations to make” (“Six Days in October”). Samuels was indeed later flown back to Britain a second time to give his class on the fight against Kurdish oppression—some chauvinism!
More than a hundred opinionated, argumentative young communists of many different ethnic backgrounds (as well as some future BTers) heard Robertson’s presentation. They understood it for what it was: a powerful indictment of the all-sided oppression of capitalist class society, and a record of the struggle against a sick character who tried to destroy comrades. Twenty-five years after the event, the BT quoted a fragment from Robertson’s statement in a poison-pill “P.S.” attached to a letter to WV nominally on the Kurdish question. In our 2003 article “Bill Logan: From Krafft-Ebing to Mother Theresa? BT: Renegades for Hire,” the WV editors acknowledged their mistake in foolishly printing a version of the BT’s letter that excised the P.S. rather than exposing it for the contemptible lie that it is. In ripping apart the BT’s attempt to paint our membership as merely obedient tools, fools and perhaps racists themselves, we noted of the BT’s lies:
“They can’t manage to mention that the quotation from comrade Robertson that they pulled out and twisted beyond recognition comes from a bulletin titled ‘On the Logan Regime Part I.’ How come? Why has Logan become the equivalent of that empty space on retouched photos? What is the BT hiding?”
And this brings us back to the question of Bill Logan and the BT’s origins. Having launched itself, at least in part, around the question of Logan’s defense, the ET/BT then seemingly forgot the man’s name. Meanwhile, on 12 November 1983, the ET issued a statement titled “A Loss of Nerve and a Loss of Will,” denouncing our call “Marines Out of Lebanon, Now, Alive!” as “a cowardly, social-patriotic betrayal of the Trotskyist tradition of the iSt.” Five days later, on 17 November 1983, Bill Logan and Adaire Hannah issued their own statement titled “Spartacist Principles Betrayed,” claiming that our “social-pacifist position” on Lebanon “marks the international Spartacist tendency’s qualitative break from the programme of revolution.” Both statements cited our article’s reference to a passage from Trotsky’s Transitional Program as an attempt, allegedly, to use Trotsky as a cover for our alleged social-patriotism. Both drew an analogy between Lebanon and Northern Ireland. The Logan/Hannah statement ended with the slogans, “Rebuild the Spartacist Tendency! Break from the Robertson-Foster-Nelson Leadership!” A few months earlier (25 June 1983), the ET had published a statement titled: “Stop the Liquidation of the Trade Union Work! Break with the Robertson-Foster-Nelson Misleadership!”
The ET/Logan charged us with betrayal because we didn’t cheer the deaths of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut blown up by a car bomb—planted by persons and forces unknown amid a squalid, multi-sided communal civil war—as an act of “anti-imperialism.” Little did it matter that the Lebanon slogan—briefly raised to intersect a moment of popular revulsion with Reagan’s adventures abroad—was coupled with the call against Washington’s invasion of the Cuban-allied nationalist regime in Grenada, “U.S. Out of Grenada, Dead or Alive!” (WV No. 341, 4 November 1983). As we noted at the time, the ET’s vicarious bloodthirstiness was both a convenient posture against us and directly proportional to their distance from where the blood was being shed.
What is noteworthy here is that despite these near-simultaneous statements making identical political charges against us over Lebanon, despite the ET’s retrospective defense of Logan, the ET managed to avoid any explicit reference to Logan or his New Zealand group until its 1991 fusion announcement. (The BT has now posted the 17 November 1983 Logan/Hannah statement on its Web site—as a historical curiosity?—noting that these “former Spartacist cadres...independently drew similar conclusions to those of the External Tendency.”) Logan went unmentioned even in a five-page article on the SL/B in the first issue of the ET’s Bulletin (August 1983) claiming that the section’s “promising beginning” in 1977-78—i.e., under the Logan regime—had been wrecked through “seemingly endless rounds of ‘housecleaning’.” Yet the ET/BT continued to implicitly promote alibis for Logan and to tar the iSt with the practices for which he had been expelled. Finally, in 1991, Logan and the BT crow that they were always closely related. What is the BT hiding?
Apparently, even some among the hardened renegades of the BT couldn’t handle having Logan as their líder máximo. As Logan and his New Zealand protégé, M. Hayes, joined Riley on the editorial board of 1917 with the First Quarter 1991 issue, the Bay Area BT began publishing its own 1917 West (dated Spring 1992). In 1993, a couple of former Bay Area BTers, Riker and Smith, proclaimed themselves the Communist Workers Group (CWG) and published a collection of internal BT documents (Bureaucratic Centralism in the IBT) that are revealing of the “democratic” norms (more precisely lack thereof) in the “democratic-centralist” BT. (The SL/U.S. made the CWG pamphlet available as Hate Trotskyism, Hate the Spartacist League No. 8, “The Bolshevik Tendency: From the Snake Pit of Anti-Spartacism,” July 1993.) In its pamphlet, the CWG complained that Logan “these days is the most influential member of the IBT” and that “From day one of the BT/PRG fusion it was clear that Logan (and hence the rest of the PRG) was basically fusing with the Riley clique.”
While Riker, Smith and others in the BT eventually went their own ways, Riley has stuck to Logan through it all. Like Logan, Riley began his political career as a bourgeois conservative, hooking up in the late 1960s with the Young Progressive Conservatives in London, Ontario. He also shared with Logan a deep streak of anti-internationalist parochialism, arguing that the 1975 founding conference of the Trotskyist League of Canada had to be held on “Canadian soil” rather than in conjunction with an SL/U.S. gathering in the Midwest. In Britain, Riley served as Logan’s dutiful scribe, even though Logan treated him as a doormat. Riley is a prima donna who clearly enjoys the (extremely modest) international celebrity among sections of the pseudo-Trotskyist left that goes with being chief spokesman for the most practiced anti-Spartacists on the planet.
The BT’s politics, such as they are, are fully in keeping with its hoary “darkness at noon” depiction of our communist organization as a Stalin-style “gulag” and personality cult. We noted in our 1984 “Cream Puffs” polemic: “If the ET were more honest, they would admit that they hated it when we hailed the Soviet Red Army’s military intervention in Afghanistan.” Four years later, they finally openly renounced our “Hail Red Army!” slogan, arguing that it was “not a Trotskyist slogan, because what it tells workers is to trust the Stalinists, put your faith in the Stalinists, hail the Stalinists” (“BT Says Don’t Hail Red Army in Afghanistan,” WV No. 449, 25 March 1988). On the contrary, whatever the intentions of the venal bureaucrats in the Kremlin, the Red Army intervention offered the possibility of extending the gains of October to Afghanistan—especially the horribly oppressed women—and cut against the grain of the Stalinists’ nationalist dogma of “socialism in one country.” Hailing that military action was thus a necessary component in fighting for a political revolution to return the Soviet Union to the internationalist road of Lenin and Trotsky.
Social-democratic anti-Communism and a hostile obsession with us are intertwined and central to the BT’s existence. By its own admission, a “focal point” of the German group’s fusion with the tiny Gruppe Leo Trotzki in 2002 was shared hostility to any possibility of a revolutionary outcome to the upheaval in the East German (DDR) deformed workers state in 1989-90 and to the one organization that fought to realize this, the ICL (Bolschewik, January 2003). As hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets to demand a genuinely egalitarian socialist society, we mobilized our resources internationally in the effort to provide Trotskyist leadership in that incipient political revolution and to fight for revolutionary reunification—for a red Germany of workers councils. To this end, we organized the Spartakist Gruppen in the DDR and initiated a united-front protest on 3 January 1990 against the fascist desecration of a Soviet war memorial in East Berlin’s Treptow Park. That mobilization, premised on defense of the DDR and Soviet workers states, was taken up by the ruling Stalinist party and brought out a quarter of a million people.
The BT accepted the triumph of capitalist counterrevolution in advance, sneering in an article headlined “Robertsonites in Wonderland” that we had invented an “imaginary political revolution” (1917, Third Quarter 1991). Only those in thrall to the anti-Communist myth that “Stalinist totalitarianism” had rendered the workers in the bureaucratically deformed workers states mindless automatons incapable of struggle could so blithely dismiss any outcome other than capitalist restoration. The BT’s intervention into those revolutionary events was to whitewash the counterrevolutionary Social Democracy and to smear the ICL as a bureaucratic cult akin to the Stalinists and an “obstacle to revolution.” Yet the GIVI then changed its name to Gruppe Spartakus, a parody of the name by which our organization was widely known in East Germany. In the meantime, the GIVI had welcomed into its ranks as stalwart fighters against the “bureaucratic Spartacist regime” a couple of thieving East German hustlers who had defected from our organization with a car, money, mail and various other party assets (see Hate Trotskyism, Hate the Spartacist League No. 6, “From Malice to Provocation,” March 1991). When we exposed this pair to the workers movement for the dubious characters they were, the GIVI naturally assumed that they had to be nature’s noblemen just like Logan. The GIVI was soon screaming that this pair had robbed them too.
From the outset, the ET/BT’s social-democratic politics was strongly colored by trade-union opportunism, another quality it shared with Logan. Insofar as the ET’s 1982 “Declaration” dealt with politics in any significant way, it was to conciliate the AFL-CIO bureaucracy’s betrayal of the 1981 PATCO air traffic controllers strike. The SL had called for shutting down the airports through mass militant pickets and joint strike action of all the airline unions, particularly the Machinists. As a smokescreen for their criminal refusal to bring out other unions in solidarity with PATCO, the labor tops appealed to the public not to fly. This impotent line was echoed by the ET in its founding “Declaration” (p. 3): “As an elementary act of solidarity with the embattled strikers all labor militants should have refused to fly from the day the strike was launched.” Such softness for consumer boycotts dovetailed with Logan’s views in Australia, where he opposed the principle that “picket lines mean don’t cross” and instead fetishized consumer boycotts, claiming to stand on the unique traditions of the Australian labor movement.
Today, Riley’s Canadian operation echoes the Canadian trade-union bureaucracy in arguing that independence for the oppressed Québécois nation would be harmful to labor solidarity, hiding its chauvinist line behind arid appeals for “bi-national class struggle” (see “Bolshevik Tendency: Kneeling Before the Body of General Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham,” WV No. 827, 28 May 2004). The BT has the distinction of being the “socialists” officially invited to a Montreal “Canadian unity” rally on the eve of a 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty. It’s no accident the BT was invited to this “We love Canada” rally organized by top business leaders—because the BT’s leaflet on the referendum (issued only in English!) also called on Quebec workers to vote No to independence. When the BT’s only Québécois member quit, he protested their “de facto bloc with the Canadian bourgeoisie.”
Logan’s New Zealand group (which now calls itself the New Zealand IBT) is also, on the face of it, a typically parochial Labourite grouping. In 1989, the Loganites entered the newly formed social-democratic New Labour Party. Following its expulsion a year later, the PRG swore its continuing fealty to New Labour’s “principles and objectives” and rhapsodized about its “potential to be a voice of ordinary working people, of the oppressed and disadvantaged” (PRG leaflet, “Violence, Democracy & Jim Anderton MP,” 26 April 1990). According to a letter by one Phil Duncan to the British Weekly Worker (19 May 2005), which is posted on the BT’s Web site, Logan’s is “the only left group in NZ which in its entire existence has failed to recruit a single industrial worker, a single Maori, a single Pacific Islander.” We are not in a position to vouch for that, but it is a fact that in its 18 years of existence the Logan group has seemingly avoided producing a single significant statement on Maori oppression, even skirting this strategic question in a 14-page statement titled “The Struggle Against Unemployment” (March 1988; posted on BT Web site 24 June 2005). In 1996, the New Zealand Loganites joined a single-issue coalition based exclusively on opposition to French nuclear testing, a demand supported even by the NZ government (see “Strange Things Under Wellington’s Rocks,” Australasian Spartacist No. 157, Summer 1995-96).
In his 1953 “Factional Struggle and Party Leadership” (reprinted in Speeches to the Party ), Trotskyist leader James P. Cannon observes:
“A cult requires unthinking fools for the rank and file. But that is not all. In order for a cult to exist, it is not enough for a leader to have personal followers—every leader has personal influence more or less—but a cult leader has to be a cultist himself. He has to be a megalomaniac who gets revelations outside the realm of reality.”
That certainly describes Logan and his crew. In 1990, the very year that Logan was anointed leader of the International Bolshevik Tendency, he put out his shingle as a “professional celebrant,” the New Age version of an evangelical healer. Logan advertises his services on his Web site (bl.co.nz) as a professional “counsellor, narrative therapist and celebrant” who specializes in, among other things, “bereavement,” “betrayal,” “partnership break-up,” “sexuality issues” and “suicidal feelings.” The BT has avoided comment on our exposure of their leader’s current vocation. In our article “BT: A Walking Provocation” (WV No. 808, 29 August 2003), we reported that Logan’s Web site featured a link “to a ‘Folksong Index’ where you can listen to such ‘folk’ classics as ‘Deutschland Über Alles,’ ‘The Swastika Song’ and ‘Come All Ye that Hold True Communion with Southern Confederates Bold’!” The BT did not acknowledge this fact—but the “Swastika Song” etc. is no longer linked to Logan’s Web site. Logan, as he promises his potential clients, is quite an adept at “re-authoring your story so it fits better.”
But even now, Logan’s Web site tells the story well enough. The man who tried to force a young woman comrade to have an abortion and when that failed pressed her to put her child in a foster home now provides sample texts for funerals for babies. The man who aped all the attitudes of the long decayed British Empire to play on internalized oppression of working-class youth, women and those from the “colonies” now offers a “secular grace” worthy of a fat bourgeois sitting down to his dinner as he gushes with condescending thanks “to those who planted the crops...to those who gathered the harvest...to those who prepared it and those who served it.” The man who spoke the language of Her Majesty’s Parliament in objecting to any criticism of himself that might find its way into the membership as a breach in diplomacy now speaks of the “Anglican and Presbyterian influences of my childhood.” Far from being inspired by Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, Logan does not even look to the left wing of Protestantism during the English Revolution under Oliver Cromwell, but to the Presbyterian right wing and the monarchist Anglicans! Logan boasts, “I’ve done ceremonies for Hindus and atheists, Christians and Buddhists, followers of Khrishnamurthy and Christian Science.” Under the heading “Ceremony & Celebrancy,” Logan intones: “Ceremony is important to our lives, from the dinner table to a coronation or presidential inauguration”—perhaps he’s angling to be a “celebrant” at the coronation of the next HRH. A sadistic Colonel Blimp turned “all God’s children” missionary—to say this is one sick puppy is a vast understatement.
Nor has Logan changed his sadistic spots, as was made clear when the CWG published materials regarding Logan’s practices of “Communist Criticism” in his own New Zealand fief. In the minutes of a 19 January 1993 PRG membership meeting, Logan described this “Com Crit” as putting each member in the “hot seat” in turn, “to be the subject of three rounds of analysis.” After three days of such torment, an organizer with a child finally resigned, confessing in a 19 February 1993 report to not showing enough “vigour and consistency” because of changed “personal circumstances”—“I now have a demanding job and also a young baby—and so I have less time for politics” (reproduced in Hate Trotskyism, Hate the Spartacist League No. 8). A couple of years later, someone purporting to be a former member of the PRG posted a document on the Internet titled “Notes on Trotskyism as it is Played Out at the Far End of the Galaxy on Sheep Station Zero” (24 October 1995). We have no knowledge about the bona fides of the author, but his account of doors being “secured” until the PRG’s meetings were over, people being prevented from leaving the room during their “Com Crit” sessions and other “classic cult stuff” rang a bell distinctly reminiscent of the Logan that we expelled as a necessary act of self-protection for our organization and its members (see “Strange Things Under Wellington’s Rocks”).
The BT responsively slanders Robertson as a “cult leader” and our organization as an “obedience cult” in order to alibi their only-too-true preening cult leader, Bill Logan, and these slanders are in the service of the ruling class, as the Wall Street Journal article demonstrates. While allowing that perhaps Logan was brutal and extreme, the ET/BT tried to pass off his cruel, sadistic and truly cultist regime as simply an extension of our organizational practices. Such lies are the necessary invention of the petty-bourgeois scribblers who must ply their pens in defense of the unspeakable Logan. The truth must be turned inside out: black becomes white, the persecutors become the victims, the torturers become the tortured.
In 1987, we wrote of the BT:
“Ex-members of the socialist movement do sometimes bear malice toward the organizations that ‘failed’ them. But people who voluntarily leave even very bad organizations normally find that their grievances recede as they go on with their lives. Hostility doesn’t make a program and ex-membership in a party doesn’t provide a sufficient reason for publishing a newspaper or crossing North America and Europe year after year seeking others similarly inclined. The BT is manifestly an assemblage of garbage, a heap made up of worse than worn-out people, the worst of those who have departed from the SL, which we think is a pretty good revolutionary organization. But to take that refuse heap and make it move like a loathsome living thing requires something more, an animating principle like the electric charge Dr. Frankenstein used to imbue his monster with life.”
—“Garbage Doesn’t Walk By Itself—What Makes BT Run?” WV No. 428, 15 May 1987
We don’t know exactly what strange things are hidden under Wellington’s rocks. And we can’t say exactly how far back Dr. Frankenstein Logan and his BT creature go, or what their relationship is to the likes of the Wall Street Journal and other sworn enemies of the working-class movement. But we can say, as we did two decades ago in “ET: New Name, Same Game?” (WV No. 388, 4 October 1985): “Those who are guided by intense subjective malice as a political program are just asking to be someone’s tool, witting or unwitting (sometimes both).”
—International Secretariat of the International Executive Committee,
International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) August 2007