“Ba Sebetsi Ba Afrika” – IWA, Johannesburg, 1917

Workers of the Bantu race:

Why do you live in slavery? Why are you not free as other men are free? Why are you kicked and spat upon by your masters? Why must you carry a pass before you can move anywhere? And if you are found without one, why are you thrown into prison? Why do you toil hard for little money? And again thrown into prison if you refuse to work? Why do they herd you like cattle into compounds?  WHY?

Because you are the toilers of the earth. Because the masters want you to labour for their profit. Because they pay the Government and Police to keep you as slaves to toil for them. Continue reading ““Ba Sebetsi Ba Afrika” – IWA, Johannesburg, 1917”

“International Socialism and the Native: no labour movement without the black proletariat” – ISL, Johannesburg, 1917

The Management Committee of the ISL has issued the following statement to the Branches as a basis of discussion at the Annual Conference. The MC recommends this statement of our attitude towards the native worker to be embodied in the League platform for 1918 propaganda. Comrades are invited to read it with a view to discussion, and amendment if they so desire, at the Conference of the League, which will be held in January 6th next.

The abolition of the Native Indenture, Passport and Compound Systems and the lifting of the Native Workers to the Political and Industrial Status of the White is an essential step towards the Emancipation of the Working-class in South Africa.

Society is divided into two classes: the working class, doing all the labour; and the idle class, living on the fruits of labour. Strictly speaking therefore there is no ‘Native Problem’. There is only a working class problem. But within the working class arises the problem of the native worker. In all countries the influx of cheap labour is used as a whip wherewith to beat the whole of the working class. Continue reading ““International Socialism and the Native: no labour movement without the black proletariat” – ISL, Johannesburg, 1917”

“Revolutionary Industrial Unionism” – ISL, Johannesburg, 1917

The International Socialist League puts forward its candidates for the provincial Council Elections not because it thinks that getting Socialists into public office will alone emancipate the workers, but because we believe that the industrial organisation of the workers should be supported by that of the political. On the other hand we wish to emphasize the point that the mere putting of representatives into public office is futile unless backed up by the economic power of that class. Economic organisation is the power of our class, but if we are to emancipate ourselves, we must organise in a different manner and on a different basis. The basis on which we must organise is that of Industrial Unionism.

Revolutionary Industrial Unionism – that is, the proposition that all wage-workers must come together in “organisation according to Industry”; the grouping of the workers, in each of the big divisions of industry as a whole into local, national, and international industrial unions, all to be interlocked, dove-tailed, welded into One Big Union of all wage workers; a big union bent on aggressively forging ahead, and compelling shorter hours, more wages and better conditions in and out of the workshops and as each advaunce [sic] is made, holding on grimly to the fresh gain with the determination to push still forward – gaining strength from each victory and learning by every temporary set-back – until the working class is able to take possession and control of the machinery, premises and materials of production right from the capitalists’ hands, and use that control to distribute the product entirely amongst the workers. Continue reading ““Revolutionary Industrial Unionism” – ISL, Johannesburg, 1917”