Heiko Khoo expelled from the International Marxist Tendency

It’s not often that I’m intrigued by bicker and chatter, but today I was keen to see what all the fuss was about regarding a conversation that was taking place on facebook around a chap called Heiko Khoo, who has been kicked out of the International Marxist Tendency for apparently releasing internally sensitive information he shouldn’t have during a lecture he gave among non-insiders.

The International Marxist Tendency (IMT) for those who don’t know are an international Trotskyist movement whose chief intellectuals are Alan Woods and Lal Khan. Its history goes back to Ted Grant who was a leader of the militant wing inside the Labour Party until a split occured with those who wanted to continue to operate from inside the Labour Party parting ways with the side that eventually went off to form the Socialist Party in 1992.

On the occasions I’ve seen Alan Woods speak he has always been very adamant of his work from within the Labour Party, and his utilisation of entryism, as well as being scornful of his dismissal (he told an audience at the Venezuelan embassy that he had been removed from the party in the Blair era). This has informed my interest in the dismissal of Khoo.

For those who don’t know, Khoo is a prolific speaker at speaker’s corner and long time Marxist activist who witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall. He writes the blog China Reporting which the last post on it (here) is said to be the one which has got him into hot water with the leaders of the IMT.

According to him on his facebook page, he:

exposed the inability of the leadership to research and investigate the facts and explain developments from a Marxist standpoint […] The inability of the leadership to respond to Marxist analysis led them to begin a campaign against me over a year ago which has finally culminated in my explusion.

He also posted a circular which was sent yesterday to the IMT hierachy which reads

The following was passed at the IEC on Thursday and is enclosed for the information of all comrades. IEC Resolution on the Expulsion of HK
For many months, the International has been subjected to a systematic campaign of harassment and intimidation, organized by Heiko Khoo.This campaign, allegedly intended to “inform” the membership of the International, is in fact based on an avalanche of lies, insults,slander and disinformation. It is calculated to create the maximumconfusion, disrupt our work and demoralize comrades. These attacks on the International have been deliberately introducedinto the public domain, where they are being used by our enemies, toblacken the name of the International. The only effect of this campaign has been to cause resignations,damage the work in a number of sections and assist our enemies.In the face of gross, deliberate and repeated provocations, theInternational has shown extraordinary patience and restraint. But allthings have their limit. We have made repeated requests to Heiko Khoo to desist from his disruptive actions. He has had every opportunity to make use of thedemocratic channels of the organization to put forward his ideas. But he has not used these channels and all our appeals have been cynically ignored.These actions show a complete contempt for the most elementary norms of revolutionary morality ad discipline. The exact motivation behind Heiko Khoo’s activities remains obscure.But we can say that they constitute a deliberate and systematic sabotage of the work of the revolutionary tendency. Whether Heiko Khoo is conscious or not, such activities are indistinguishable from the work of a provocateur who seeks to destroythe organization from within. The International has the right to defend itself against sabotage andprovocation. We therefore resolve that Heiko Khoo is expelled from ourranks with immediate effect. 4 March, 2010

The conversation which has developed is mostly sympathetic epiphets and chatter about the international, but one fellow activist who is determined not to let this go is Sofia Papakonstantinou who mentions that

you got expelled because you put the IMT on danger not becuz you had different ideas. As you may know, the IMT has its own democratically elected organs. By opening up internal affairs to people -non members of the IMIT/ perhaps even against IMT- you are endangering the work of some sections. Your actions are tantamount to sabotage of the work of … See Morethe International -instead of constructive criticism channelled through the elected bodies of the organisation!

so Khoo possibly committed a breach of trust by posting confidential information on facebook. Though his defence is that he is a voluntary member and not obliged to abide by the IMT rules regarding “strictly confidential” material.

One of the replies by Papakonstantinou to Khoo’s protests at this stage was to say that non-members had the opportunity to voice their opinions at the annual World Congress, which was intercepted by a chap called Mike Cutler, who asked:

what sort of workers democracy is there going to be, when right from the start, workers and members of the founding organization get to whisper their voices and problems ONCE a year to the few in charge.

The story is long and hard to follow, especially given the fact that one instinctively imagines there is more to this than meets the eye. Of interest nonetheless, to see such a notable dismissal of an idividual from an organisation which prides itself on operating from within an established political party (an incumbent party at that) which differs somewhat to its own outlook; one would imagine that difference of opinion can be harnessed responsiby for an organisation like this (time will tell whether the dismissal was to do with leadership criticism or sensitive information – though the absence of a motion of evidence is rather peculiar), especially given the theoretical principles to which this organisation is supposedly founded upon.

I have been contacted by Mr Khoo who had this to say:

“One small error, I said as I am now expelled I have no reason to abide by their determination of what is confidential.”

exposed the inability of the leadership to research and investigate the facts and explain developments from a Marxist standpoint.


17 Responses to Heiko Khoo expelled from the International Marxist Tendency

  1. Dave Semple says:

    Word on the ground is that the IMT is collapsing from the inside out. Which is surprising; you’d think a group of Marxists inside Labour would have quickly turned themselves into a focal point for resistance to New Labour. The IMT never did this.

    I’m not sure what they have against Khoo, or what he did to get expelled – though questioning the divine mandate of Alan Woods is probably enough.

    • Yes I’m surprised too Dave, but furthermore other words on the street suggest things are strengthening (things were always quite in Italy for example) and owing to the divide in south america between populist and hard leftist elements, the IMT are wooing the Chavistas all around, not to mention the existing “success” (loose use) in Pakistan. It’s just not replicable here, and given the conditions you state within the Labour Party, John McDonnell would be better to maintain some distance (I could never see the synergy anyway to be honest).

      I posted the news about Khoo because it looks like it symbolises the undoing.

  2. Dave Semple says:

    Not quite sure what you mean by ‘strengthening’.

    In all the places you mention, the IMT are facing significant divisions – in some cases between the opinion of activists on the ground and the IMT international secretariat. There have been Open Letters and all sorts of speculation – but given the traditional secrecy of the IMT, it appears that there is a real split developing.

    When this happened in the SWP, recently, on the surface it was about hacked emails, an overbearing organiser or too and a bunch of stuff about party democracy tacked on for good measure. The reality, I think, is that the strains of zigzagging on political positions were telling and being exacerbated in a period of rising pressure on the working class and socialist activists.

    The only serious question is whether or not this is what is going on in the International Marxist Tendency.

    I haven’t looked at the issues being disputed in Italy, Pakistan, Venezuela or Iran – or if the ‘factions’ are even moving in the same direction, and I haven’t compared this to the role of the IMT IS, and the positions it has taken over the last ten years. This would take a while, and since the IMT, like other groups, tends to couch its internal disputes in language seemingly unrelated to the real meat of any dispute, I suspect it would be unrewarding in view of the time required.

    My instinct tells me, however, that as with the SWP, it is a question of tactics, and the IMT are reaping the rewards of contradictory political positions – of pushing for continued work inside the former mass parties, only to be forced by events to move away – as in Italy or Germany – or to face factions which take the logic of Woods’ position to its logical conclusion and justify all sorts of comrpromises to stay within the party in question.

    This sort of thing tends, in my experience, to lead to expulsions and public exchanges only when the internal democracy is fragile and one faction doesn’t want to deal with the problems of an organised opposition. And, judging by the egotism evident in Woods’ writing, this isn’t hard to guess at in the case of the IMT.

    I could be totally wrong about all of this – it’s based on hints, fragments of history and guesswork all fed through a cynicism born from filtering out the natural pomposity of socialist intellectuals and grandiose claims of their groupuscules. That said, I don’t think the IMT is doing very well right now.

    • the relative success was supposedly owing to the large section in Spain, the increase in other Spanish speaking countries (namely in Latin America), and until 2 years ago a member of parliament in Pakistan. There has been a great split in Spain, some splits in the camp allied to Chavez (for, one has to credit, the noble reason of the anti-Ahmadinejad line in Socialist Appeal), and a dispute with the Pakistani national assembly member Manzoor Ahmed. This CPGB article explains all, but as it also says, the dispute in Pakistan might not equate to much, since that is it’s most successful area, though it is true that there are some cracks. Whether this is to do with the attitude towards China, Iran or Venezuela only time will tell, but if I’m honest I think as the Iran position shows, it might not be to do with reaping “contradictory political positions” but how best to work with workers groups and entryists in countries where support for theocrats (Iran), failed workers states (China) or blind anti-Americanism (increasingly, Venezuela) is prominent.

    • Michael Hureaux says:

      I think it’s fascinating that while, on the one hand, you view us as a group of people with grandiose ideas as to our importance, that you spend so much time dithering over our internal affairs. I think your perception of our ego problems is in fact a projection of your own, and that if you really understood things as well as you think you do, you wouldn’t be bothered by any of this to begin with.

      • if you really understood things as well as you think you do, you wouldn’t be bothered by any of this to begin with.

        I think perhaps you’re dying to tell me more

      • Dave Semple says:

        So much time, Michael? Really? I read this article, I’m on a few mailing lists and I know an IMT member or two. Hardly a lot of time.

        I’m not bothered. In split or unity, the IMT is utterly irrelevant where I’m based. I am curious – as I am about all groups on the Left.

        By the by, my comment about self-importance is directed at a large swathe of the far Left (of which I am a part) and the claims and counter-claims to be responsible for one event or another. The Socialist Party (of which I’m a member) and the SWP did it over the recent Sussex events.

        I wouldn’t say this has anything to do with my ego, more to do with a desire to retain some sense of proportion when talking about where “we”, the Marxist Left, are. Which, I’m sure you’ll admit, is important when it comes to assessing next steps and tactics.

        But your pissy little nark here tells me a lot about you…

      • But I think is Dave is right for taking an interest (as brief an interest as it may be) in the affairs of the IMT in this country Michael, because though they play a small part (they have a following who mainly operate in London, other socialist parties/organisations are more actively in the rest of the UK) their undoing does have a knock on effect on left wing politics, particularly far left politics here. As I mention in the original entry, the IMT is the product of a particular split within tendencies who wanted to operate within what is essentially Britian’s bourgeoise workers party (I have some problems with this term – there are obvious problems with the term anyway – but to get a brief feel fr what it is) and those who wanted to operate outside the militant arm of that party (the Socialist Party, with whom Dave is a member, was born out of the split, but with the decision to operate outside the bourgeoise workers party).

        With the obvious (aforementioned) problems of the IMT, and the frustration aimed at the leadership, we see an illustration of the undoing of a certain type of far left strategy, and this undoing is not simply limited to UK of course, Venezuela and Pakistan is where this undoing will be most servere.

        So this is why I have taken an interest in the IMT internal affairs (as well as having IMT acquaintances and being a frequent attendee of Hands of Venezuela events), and possibly why Dave is also interested. Nothing to do with ego problems of my own – which I think lowered your argument, made you come across rather foolish and half hearted.

  3. Michael Hureaux says:

    The problem you have with the IMT is a difference with a marxist cadre which operates a certain way. If you’re not a member of the tendency, it’s no skin off your nose. There’s a difference between what the IMT does and the sort of mass “left” politics you want to pursue, and that’s fine. If what you want to pursue as sympathizers who at one time saw something that attracted you to the IMT, and those strategies makes more sense to you, go do those things.. If the IMT is mistaken, we’ll be swept away by real events. In the meantime, we see our right to govern our own affairs as essential to the wellbeing of our tendency as combatants for a world run by the working class majority. We can live with the error if we’ve made an error. If we’re wasting people’s time, we’ll have to answer for that, won’t we? But we believe we have chosen a course right for ourselves and our well being, and since you all aren’t active members, it doesn’t affect you, does it? And that’s all I’m going to say about this.

    • I don’t entirely understand the defense you are putting up; perhaps you are not understanding my point that whether it is the chosen way in which we as individuals choose to pursue our political beliefs or not, the current undoing of the IMT will affect far left politics in this country, and some conclusions will be offered on whether the split in the Labour party’s militant arm was correct or not. I see this as a big deal. But then you’re asking us, as those who aren’t active members of the IMT, to shut our eyes because it doesn’t affect us. Surely you can see how this is foolish, can’t you?

  4. Michael Hureaux says:

    You’re assuming that the IMT is “undone” because it isn’t falling into line with your perspective, which is one that assumes that the IMT assume a place wiithin what you call the “far left’ and submit its own ideas of independent political character to the inspection of people outside the IMT, and who have no interest in its focus or perspective. You’re assuming that the IMT has a far greater role to play if only if would do away with its old guard, members of which have personalities that you don’t care for as “authoritarian” etc. You guys have a peculiar sense of “anit authoritarianism” which insists on a unity that cannot exist with any true integrity. Splits and differences are how any real political trend gains weight and character. If we’re wrong to expel someone who doesn’t want to be part of what we’re doing, history will leave us behind. If the possibliites are as brilliant as you say they are on your part,what are you losing? If you have the linke to the masses and we don’t, what difference does it make if we’re not part of what you’re doing? The IMT will be just fine, as will the labor movement, with or without Heiko Khoo. Now, seriously, I have high school classes to teach, classes full of kids who can barely complete a paragraph, much less worry about Heiko Khoo or any of this. I’ve got to be done with this. Goodbye.

    • because it isn’t falling into line with your perspective, which is one that assumes that the IMT assume a place wiithin

      I almost stopped reading at this stage

      Then, I read this bit

      Now, seriously, I have high school classes to teach, classes full of kids who can barely complete a paragraph, much less worry about Heiko Khoo or any of this.

      Shut the door on the way out

  5. johnny odell says:

    i visit speakers corner about a dozen times a year and find mr khoo extremely interesting. Surely you cannot afford to lose such an interesting, courteous and highly educated man like him in your ranks. As a former bank employee on the their management`s lowest grade i can only agree with ninety percent of what he feels is the future of this rotten world.

    • that all depends on what you think of the International Marxist Tendency – but Khoo is an interesting person to listen to. Our politics are not directly aligned, but it does say something about politics on the left today, and organisations that are unable to allow dissent – or, as it were, antitheses.

  6. Kitty says:

    Heiko Khoo expelled from the International Marxist Tendency ? Raincoat Optimism adler@gigemail.net

  7. wole says:

    Heiko Khoo does have a history of doing things like this though, i knew him years ago and if he is still as he was then then he must still be his usually selfish self obsessed person he always was, i have never known khoo to do anything selfless and it appears he is still very much like that

  8. D,E says:

    For Questioning Doctrine, and Advocating change.

    John Peterson: Having read your public statements of your opinion of the WIL, I can only interpret this as your resignation from the WIL. But let’s be clear: no one has expelled you from the WIL, this has been entirely your decision. If you would like to discuss to clarify we should do so ASAP, within the next week. I have been trying for weeks to discuss with you and have looked for you on FB for the last few days and have not been able to connect with you. If you give me a land line or a payphone number I can call you. 6/30/2012

    My Response: No it hasn’t been my decision. Why would questioning and challenging be construed as a resignation?

    “Eclectics live by means of episodic thoughts and improvisations that originate under the impact of events. Marxist cadres capable of leading the proletarian revolution are trained only by the continual and successive working out of problems and disputes.” – Trotsky.

    “The Jesuits represented a militant organization, strictly centralized, aggressive, and dangerous not only to enemies but also to allies. In his psychology and method of action the Jesuit of the heroicperiod distinguished himself from an average priest as the warrior of a church from its shopkeeper. We have no reason to idealize either one or the other. But it is altogether unworthy to look upon a fanatic warrior with the eyes of an obtuse and slothful shopkeeper. … Opportunists are peaceful shopkeepers in socialist ideas while Bolsheviks are its inveterate warriors.” – Trotsky

    The petty-bourgeois moralist is the younger brother of the bourgeois pacifist who want to ‘humanize’ warfare by prohibiting the use of poison gases, the bombardment of unfortified cities, etc. Politically, such programs serve only to deflect the thoughts of the people from revolution as the only method of putting an end to war. – Trotsky

    For Questioning Doctrine, and Advocating change.

    “Eclectics live by means of episodic thoughts and improvisations that originate under the impact of events. Marxist cadres capable of leading the proletarian revolution are trained only by the continual and successive working out of problems and disputes.” – Trotsky

    “A revolution is “made” directly by a minority.” – Trotsky

    I advocated the forming of a new “Red Guard.” Paramilitary volunteer formations consisting majorly of factory workers and partially of soldiers. As Trotsky did. Red Guard units were created in March 1917 fused from a number of other militarized formations created during the February Revolution, such as “people’s militia,” ” the squads of self-defense,” “committees of public security,” and “workers’ squads.”


    “In its offensive against the state, the urban guerilla cannot resort to terrorism as a weapon.” – R.A.F
    I agree with this, which is why acts of personal terrorism are counter productive. However, while we and all like us sit and read, and debate. Across the globe the Extreme-right (some openly Fascist others less so) are gaining far more then us. While the Victory in France was a fantastic turn of events, the PS is France is not Marxist, and has no intention of following the path to true liberation. In other places, the left had over the past few years, spurts of discontent, but nothing more. At least nothing the Capitalist States can not handle. If we do not become flexible, we and others of the Left, will be bound in chains of dogma, which we created.

    In WW1, every nations military geniuses, their cadres of war. Spent years of their lives and then some studying all the texts, battles, strategies, etc. However, as soon as the first gun was fired, they realized all that they learned was no longer completely useful. The same thing is happening to all of us. If we don’t combine past events with modern tactics, we will fail at the critical moment. While the core principles of Marxism stay intact, our strategy of attack must be completely altered. “A gun not used, rust’s.”

    The Rulers have their Armies. The growing Fascist have their militants. Why should we not meet them with at least a semblance of a militarized force? We can’t beat them in open warfare, that is obvious. However, like I quoted from Micheal Collins, we can “make up our own rules.” and not play their game.

    In the US Civil War, the South was badly outnumbered and outgunned, however, with more innovative tactics of a defensive war, and forcing the North to fight on ground of HIS choosing, he was continuously victorious. All that ended in Gettysburg July 1-4 1863. On those day’s Lee changed his tactics, and tried a conventional strategy on ground not of his choosing. He failed badly, and continued to fail until the end in 1865.

    We must use new methods of militarization. Study Psychological tactics, new forms of propaganda, Enhanced Computer strategy’s, etc. Breaking windows, and kidnapping in most cases will only turn the masses against us. However, Like John Dillinger, if we gain the support of the masses through deeds of action, we can covertly play a shadow war. Dillinger was a thief and a killer, however, he gained the love of the people because he was fighting the same people that the masses hated.

    I really can’t go into any more details of the strategy’s I have had in mind. Not on Facebook. However, I will say one thing. The military is actually a weak point, not exploited. With proper psychological tactics, we could undermine their main line of defense against the people. Trotsky new this, and studied it extensively, for his day. Psy-Op is a weapon anyone or group can use; without harming innocents.

    We have one ace, and that is, we are all over the world. A united force, without a head to cut off, can work to dismantle the economic fabric of Capitalism world wide. As far as America, most of our factory’s and jobs are in other country’s, this is a pressure point. The Corporate Oligarchs that rule our governments almost never keep it in their home nation; also a pressure point.

    We, as strange as this may sound, have American law on our side, to begin at least. We have the Right of Revolution and the Right to a well armed Militia. The right has been using the latter for decades, why should we not exploit it? In it’s spirit, everything I’m talking about is not only feasible, but patriotic in it’s old sense.


    One of the first things I quoted was “In its offensive against the state, the urban guerrilla cannot resort to terrorism as a weapon.” The whole rant on “blowing things up” was clearly stated, that that is not what I meant in any way shape or form. Did you even bother to read what I said? Or are you already chained by dogma?

    I said among other things: “We must use new methods of militarization. Study Psychological tactics, new forms of propaganda, Enhanced Computer strategy’s.” This childish tirade about the ALF and Blowing things up is NO WHERE in what I said. You obviously couldn’t come-up with a rational defense, not that blank even tried, so you threw out a great deal of straw men arguments and red herrings.

    As far as your lie, that I was equating ALF tactics, which I appose, let us really examine this. Unlike you, I have made very serious and dangerous enemy’s within the AR community in Florida. The ALF actually has a large network, besides the tens of thousands of supporters I see every day. I in no way say that it works, but to say they have no support is living in fantasy land, where most US Leftists reside. Also, in many circles of Liberals, while they openly don’t support the ALF, they gladly support the Urban Terrorism surrounding them. You can find a small example of that here, look for SMASH HLS Florida on Facebook, and that’s a drop in the bucket.

    You didn’t actually address a single point, however you did assert many I didn’t say, and responded to these phantoms.

    I find it amusing you still ignore the reality of the situation. Granted I’m older then you both, however this shouldn’t be a factor. The Revolution of 1917 WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. It was the right combination of Finances, stunning leadership and military intelligence (Lenin and Trotsky), A large number of defected military, and timing. When the revolution was actually happening, no one was looking up what to do, or debating. It was fluid and made-up as the circumstances arrived. Today the situation is as different as the English Revolution is.

    No matter how much you read, you will never gain the upper hand, because the US WIL is completely inflexible, and in a number of ways hypocritical.

    No one still addressed my opinion on the very premise of the ones and twos. I’ll just re-state it here. “As for the ones and twos, I found that appealing and sensible, until I realized it was gaining 1 or 2, and losing or expelling 2-3; overall. Not to mention the splits. You can do the math.”

    For the record, I don’t have a “Branch.” One was slowly forming until blank rudely and summarily expelled or removed two members in my state, one again leaving me alone. There has not been a phone conference for maybe over a year. There are in fact only a handful of Branches, all small and plagued by the idea of a “clique.” Also very common in US Leftists, especially the younger ones, who make their political action into a serious, but plain hobby with High School mentality’s.

    I do not claim this of the IMT as a whole; Vonk, Der Funke, The Struggle, etc, are all far and away superior to the US.

    “This is not tearing down the Berlin wall, where everyone is educated, and everyone wants to tear it down.”
    LMAO! The Majority of East Germans didn’t give the wall much attention. All those pretty pictures of thousands smashing through, and pulling down sections; that was the west side of the wall, and west Germans doing it. You can easily tell by the fact that ONLY the west side had graffiti. While a large group were gathered around the entrance, if you look at the pictures you will see that the eastern side is empty. While the DDR was flawed, the Germans today feel they lost more then they gained. Many of the dissident groups just wanted change, not re-unification. It wasn’t the protesters that pushed things over the edge either. The Stasi could have easily handled the major protest, with no trouble, Eric Milka said the SED just never gave them the green light. he said “If they were given the OK, the DDR would still exist today.” Maybe that would be a good thing, because with the fall of Stalinist Russia, some real reforms could have been made in the DDR. To this day, Eastern Germany sells Eastern products and merchandise, not found in the west. The FDJ is even still alive and active. However, these facts are suppressed by both embarrassed and weak Leftists, and Right Capitalists.

    “The leading fact here is that quality is always more important the quantity. We must improve ourselves, improve our means, improve everything-always- to win the day.”
    What hogwash. Nice talking point. By that logic we could have just 100 highly educated cadres, and we would “win the day.” Once again you are talking fantasy not reality.

    “This is not a cookbook we follow, and this is not a cookbook that we write.”
    That’s an Oxymoron. If you don’t follow the philosophical tenants and history of Marxism, then what are you going on about education being utmost? If you do not write, then you, by your own words, admit that you are stuck in a circle of outdated Dogma, unwilling to change, regardless of consequences.

    In my honest opinion, the WIL US at least, is not even close to what the young Comrade Grant envisioned; and absolutely nothing Marx, Lenin or Trotsky would want anything to do with. While Grant laid the foundations, I do not believe in his last years he realized his method was not working or making any impact whatsoever. Now that he has passed, we have stopped critical thinking and changing all together.

    Revolutions are messy, not Romantic. If your not willing to get in the mud, and fight the fight; you are an albatross around the neck of change. A revolution is change, one that not only requires sacrifice of the mind in study, but also of risk and danger.


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