From: Labour Struggles in South Africa The Forgotten Pages 1903 - 1921 by Evangelos A. Mantzaris

South African social scientists have severely neglected the existence, evolution, and activities of the early labour movement in general and the radical groups, associations and parties representing it, in particular. Although scholars such as Simons and Simons, Ticktin, Sheridan Jones and Katz, 1have attempted to improve our knowledge of such organisations, and the standard books by Roux, Cope and Hamson 2are as useful as ever, fresh research and insight are urgently needed in order to stimulate discussion and add new dimensions to our knowledge of the early radical and labour movement. It is hoped that this chapter will at least add new information to and throw more light on one of the most important radical groups following the Labour Party split in 1914, namely the Cape Town based Industrial Socialist League, which in 1920 adopted the name of South African Communist Party. We will examine the beginnings, evolution and amalgamation of these groups into as all-SA Communist Party because, as will be shown, they bore the same organisational, political and ideological principles and ideas.


The 1914 Labour Party split, which led to the formation of the International Socialist League (hereinafter referred to as the ISL -Jhb) was a turning point in the history of the South African radical movement, firstly because the splinter group so formed started organising, on a regular basis, the working class in the Transvaal along class and not race lines (the Labour Party policy) and propagating working-class solidarity amongst the urban proletariat; and, secondly, because it was the first radical organisation in South Africa to base its tactics and strategy on broad Marxist lines. It would be inaccurate to claim that its social base agreed on every aspect of the strategy adopted by the leadership, due to the non-homogeneity of the social, political and ideological backgrounds of its members, 3but this is a fact which concerns the historian of this particular organisation. Nevertheless, its political and ideological homogeneity was certainly much tighter than that of radical groups of the same mould, such as the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) of Cape Town, operating in South Africa at that time. The SDF, pioneer of the South African radical movement, included in its ranks a wide variety of revolutionary and reformist ideologues who, since its establishment in 1902, had been propagating their socialist doctrines amongst the different sections of Cape Town's working class. 4This organisation never joined forces with the ISL - Jhb although their relations were fraternal. The propaganda character of the SDF and the ideological divisions within its ranks did not permit an early amalgamation with the ISL - Jhb, and although during the war their anti-war stands were similar, their tactics and strategies seemed to make their unification impossible. The idealistic position and political strategy of the SDF disillusioned a large number of its members who thought that direct involvement with the trade union movement in the Cape, and the organising of strikes and industrial unity across colour lines, would be the most effective weapon in the struggle against capital. The Industrial Socialist League (hereinafter referred to as the ISL - CT) was not only the creation of a disillusioned handful of disappointed members of the SDF. It was something more: It was a response by certain sections of the working class to unemployment, appalling working conditions, starvation wages and the high cost of living. While the cost of living had climbed dramatically during the war years (the price index had risen from 1. 000 to 2.249), 5wages remained unchanged and in many cases dropped. 6In Cape Town particularly, the comparisons of prices of basic foodstuffs during and after the war were extremely disturbing. Bread had gone up by 50 per cent, butter by 60 to 70 per cent, potatoes by 80 to 100 per cent, sugar by 80 per cent. 7Household sundries had gone up by 80 per cent per month and the same applied to clothing, boots and shoes. 8The monthly expenditure of a family had risen approximately 45 per cent in the period 1916 - 1918. 9These factors had created a militant feeling amongst the Cape Town working class, and it was obvious that organisations such as the SDF, the Labour Party, and the African Political Organisations could not provide the capitalists with a genuine working-class challenge. The ideological and political differences with the SDF which became evident in the 1916 split of McManus and Evans of the 'war-on-war' issue, 10the continuous policy of neglecting grassroots trade union activities and the concentration on 'propaganda tactics', forced the more militant elements of the Cape Town workers' movements to join forces with the dissatisfied radical group which split from the SDF. The SDF leadership tactics changed dramatically after W Harrison realised that a large section of this very leadership was planning to form a new organisation. A manifesto on the lines of that of the Bolshevik party, which was endorsed by the Jewish Socialist Society and the Peace and Arbitration Society, but ignored by the Labour Party and the APO, was issued before the May Day celebration." However, this did not solve the problems which existed and in mid-May the splinter group headed by A. Z. Herman, Joe Pick, Davidoff, Wrafter and Dryburgh, was established as the Industrial Socialist League. 12


Historians and other social scientists dealing with the early South African radical movement 13refer to the ISL-CT as a small propaganda group without real significance and contribution to the ongoing struggle between labour and capital. Was the organisation so small and politically insignificant? This part of the paper deals with the social base of the organisation, adding new material and dimensions to the problem under examination.

From the first moment of its existence the ISL-CT tried to incorporate within its ranks the militant elements of all population groups, with particular emphasis on the artisan sections of the 'white' and 'coloured' groups and the highly exploited African working class in the docks and factories. 14It was actually the persistence of the organisation in its agitation amongst black workers which forced the Commissioner of Police to comment that:

"The equality of the coloured and native worker is everywhere insisted upon, but is not pushed so strongly in the Transvaal as in the Cape" 15

In the same mould, the said Commissioner had already warned the Department of Justice that the successful agitation by the Bolshevik organisation in the country, especially amongst the black workers, suggested that drastic steps should be taken in order to deal with the evil of Bolshevism "growing seriously in the Union". 16The league acquired premises in the heart of District Six where most workers were living; its open-air and door-to-door propaganda started bearing fruit within months of its inception. Although their first attempt to organise a trade union ended "as a rout", because the police were waiting for them outside the factory, 17their determination and continuous propaganda amongst 'native' and 'coloured' workers succeeded in many ways. These sections of the working population were hit hardest by the unemployment following the first World War; and the pessimistic remarks of the informers to their Commissioner that". considerable numbers of coloured and native people have been attending meetings [of the ISL-CT] in District Six where the movement is reported to be growing in numbers and importance," 18suggest that the increased agitation of the organisation amongst the urban black working class had borne fruit.

At the opening of the Socialist Hall in January 1919, a large number of 'Cape Malays' and 'coloured trade unionists' applauded loudly when their trade union leaders wholeheartedly supported Bolshevism in their speeches. 19A move initiated by Herman and Pick to form an alliance with the conservative section of the 'coloured' population led by Dr Abdurahman of the APO, who in the first phase of the existence of the ISL-CT seemed to be very sympathetic and even "associated" with it, 20failed to materialise. A very significant portion of the 'coloured' trade union leadership, however, was directly associated with the movement. Some of the most prominent union leaders (Brown, Gamiet, Kies) addressed meetings of the League, 21and at least two of them subsequently joined the ranks of the radical movement in the early twenties. 22A.Z. Herman and M. Walt were organisers of the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (Harbour Branch), 23destined to become one of the largest in the history of the South African labour movement of the period. Several other white trade unionists were involved in that union. 24The leading figure behind it, C. Kadalie, seemed to be on good terms with white radicals and "in constant negotiations and communication, and conducting propaganda with them, identifying himself with the revolutionary movement", 25although some studies are sceptical of the extent to which this connection and contact were actually true. 26

During the period of the harmonious and close co-operation between the two leading Cape Town based radical groups (the SDF and the ISL-CT), their joint ventures were well supported by the city's workers, including large numbers of blacks. 27This meant that the primary aim of the league, undertaken from the first day of its existence, to organise workers of all colours under the revolutionary banner, was heading towards satisfactory results. Police were always on the spot when the league was leading 'coloured' and 'white' strikes, 28but this did not disturb the leaders at all. Their actual participation in the continuous struggle in the labour field will be examined later, but it is interesting to mention two more instances showing the growing influence of the organisation amongst 'coloured' and 'black' workers. Their involvement in the 1919 black workers' strike seemed to cause widespread fear amongst the higher ranks of Cape Town's CID because the League was heavily pressurised not to attempt to push the black workers to violence, 29while the activities of their propagandists in the countryside started to bear fruit when it was announced that an organisation led by 'Cape Coloured people' in the locality of Prince Albert had "...been imbued with the Bolshevik dangerous principles". 30It seems that Solomon Buirski, a traveller-agitator of the league, was largely responsible for the propaganda of the organisation amongst the rural black workers. 31Further evidence that the organisation had a considerable following in the countryside is the circulation of its newspaper there. 32Additionally, from the beginning, the League and established fraternal relations with the Cape Town branch of the Industrial Workers of Africa (IWA), a very active black organisation with a very strong syndicalist outlook.

New members were enrolling daily in the city and the League was busy amongst them organising meetings and trying to "combat the gross ignorance amongst the many". 33

It has been shown that writers who claim that the League's membership and following was exclusively white are disproved by historical evidence; however, it cannot be denied that the majority of members were whites. The most militant and dynamic element within the organisation was predominantly Jewish. Before examining in further detail the significance of the Jewish element within the organisation, it should be understood that the ISL-CT cannot be treated as an exclusively Jewish organisation. It was not a Jewish organisation in the mould of "The Friends of the Russian Freedom' or the 'Poilei Zion'. The differences between such groups are obvious: their political objectives differed (hence they adopted different tactics and strategies), their social base was different (do not forget that Jewish organisations were closed to other sections of the population, even the 'Jewish-speaking branch' of the ISL-Jhb), and their political and ideological appeal to the broader spectrum of the wider social structure would be determined by their class or 'ethnic' allegiances.

Cape Town was relatively unaffected by the industrialisation which occurred in the Witwatersrand area after the First World War. This industrial revolution, bearing enormous historical significance due to the new forms of exploitation and, hence, of political and economic struggle, had no significant effect on Cape Town where, traditionally, the small factory workshops and family concerns were the predominant capitalist enterprises. Some of the best established of these enterprises were owned by English or German Jews who arrived as immigrants between 1870 and 1900, establishing themselves as the wealthiest part of the community in exclusive areas such as Oranjezicht and Tamboers Kloof. 34

English Jews dominated the import-export and wholesale businesses in town during the first twenty years of this century. 35The social division of labour changed radically in a period of five to ten years, revising dramatically the social composition of Jews in Cape Town. This was due to two main reasons: the movement of a large number of Jews forced to emigrate from the Transvaal during the Anglo-Boer war which brought to the city a large number of skilled and semi-skilled artisans who found themselves living in the working-class areas of the town; 36and the mass migration following the pogroms in Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, 37which had the same effect as the former movements. These new immigrants went to work in small factories doing manual labour in exchange for meagre weekly or monthly wages, and their situation did not improve greatly even after the First World War. Although economic and occupational mobility amongst South African Jews in general, and Cape Town Jews in particular, was evident there were still large numbers of unemployed and needy people in the community. In some cases the situation appeared to be dramatic. In 1918, for example, the Cape Town Jewish Philanthropic Society had helped financially five hundred persons, including heads of families, children and pensioners 38and, during the same year, the Cape Town Jewish Ladies' Association had dealt with three hundred cases of poor people involving an expenditure of 323 pounds. 39The two organisations continued their assistance during the following years, while a third one, the Cape Town Jewish Sick Relief Society, spent 37 pound per month on prescriptions, and more for financing 1 235 visits to doctors by sick needy Jews. 40During the next ten years, these organisations kept up the work of helping hundreds of Jews. 41

There were 21 242 Jews in Cape Town in 1921, 11 396 males and 9 846 females. 42There are no official figures showing the occupational distribution of the economically active, so the researcher has to rely heavily on sources such as naturalisation papers or city directories. The former present major difficulties, mainly due to the factor of social mobility (the stated occupation of the applicant was that of his old country). Though directories have shortcomings, when "used carefully and with imagination they provide as good an approximation of the past as we are likely to find". 43The division of labour appearing below is based on an exhaustive scrutiny of the two existing city occupational directories. 44

General Dealers and Merchants 17.3
Tailors, cutters, drapers, milliners, etc. 15,5
Outfitters 2,4
Shoemakers 6.0
Import-Export, commercial agents, insurance 8,2
Liquor industry 1,7
Watchmakers, jewelers 4,0
Butchers 2,4
Cabinet-makers and others furniture workers 3,9
Furniture dealers 2,5
Engineers, mechanics, plumbers, blacksmiths, etc 5,5
Bakers 1,2
Hairdressers 2,8
Hotels and boarding-houses 4,7
Clerks, shop assistants 3,0
Professional (doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc) 7,4
Building industry workers (carpenters, painters) 4,0
Manufactures 1,7
*Travellers, hawkers 1,9
Auctioneers 0,9
Printers 1,2
Tobacconists 1,4
* The number of people associated with this trade was possibly much higher, but many of them did not appear in the directories.
Though not all economically active Jews appear in the table, and there is no clear distinction between self-employed and productive artisans, overall, this table indicates trends of the occupational distribution of the economically active Jewish population.

Jewish workers' solidarity in Cape Town goes as far back as 1898, when they established a workers' club, 45and their unionist activities go as far back as 1902 and 1903, when they were operating a tailors' society, a baker's association, a carpenters' society and a cooperative bakery. 46As indicated elsewhere, 47Bundist ideology had a strong impact on Cape Town Jewish workers up to a certain period. As historical circumstances called for new forms of struggles. Cape Town Bundists were absorbed into the existing revolutionary groups in town. Many of the members of the leadership of ISL-CT (Davidoff, C D Fox, Walt) were Bundist in Cape Town and other towns of the Union, 48while the vast majority of the leadership consisted of Jews of Russian origin (A.Z. Berman, Joseph Pick, Solomon Buirski, Barnett Sieff, Joe Fish, amongst others). 49It is an undoubted fact that the Bolshevik revolution in Russia had created a hopeful mood amongst the Socialist movements functioning in South Africa. 50

It was obvious that the League would not allow these sympathetic feelings towards Socialism to disappear. While systematically opposed to close cooperation with any political party or grouping on a regular basis, its members were participating actively in such diverse groups as "The Jewish Amateurs' (a Yiddish cultural theatre company giving regular performances at the Railways' Institute), 51and the Parliamentary Debating Society which was a body including a large number of Jews (A.Z. Berman and Joe Pick were very active within it). 52The organisation also wisely used to full advantage the coming to South Africa of two Russian 'emissaries', Lapitsky and Sosnovic. These mysterious visitors, who were seen by some people as officials of the Bolshevik government 53and by others as plain charlatans, 54attracted huge crowds in Cape Town. 55Their largest meeting was attended by 'Russians only', who paid admission to hear Lapitsky glorifying the Socialists regime and accusing the Allies of intervening in the internal affairs of the country, and Berman calling on the Cape Town population to join the movement ignoring 'the Menshevik menace' (presumably the Labour Party) and to fight for a Socialist South Africa. 56Up to 2 000 people participated in the regular anti-Ally meetings mainly concentrating on Russian and presumably Jewish affairs. 57

Speeches by prominent Jewish figures of the Labour movement were used not only as an 'educational platform' but also as a medium of Socialist propaganda amongst the Jewish community. M Kentridge, a prominent Labour Party MLA, was one of the regular speakers at such meetings. 58Additionally, Jewish cultural societies in the Cape with a number of League supporters were giving prominence to the leading members of the organisation by inviting them to address large audiences in Yiddish. 59The Jewish Socialist Society (Poilei Zion), a group of Zionist Socialist activists trying to operate between Zionism and Internationalism, 60active in Cape Town since 1918, was one of the major 'blood-donors' to the League. Most of its members, led by Joe Pick, 61joined the organisation en masse at the end of 1920 when the Cape Town Jewish branch was established. 62This amalgamation followed the split in 1920 between the Left Poilei Zion and the Poilei Zion, the former being more internationally inclined by seeking affiliation to the Comintem. 63

Police records of the period are contradictory in nature. Although stating that the vast majority of the League's following and membership was composed of 'Russian Jews 64, they also mention that "the League cannot be said to be making progress... and it is certainly not popular in the responsible section of the Jewish Community" 65

Parents of young Jewish Communists had closed their homes to children inclined towards 'internationalism', and Buirski was not allowed to enter the synagogues. 66The situation obviously disturbed the peace amongst the Jewish community in Cape Town, especially after some very strong attacks on Bolshevism published in the 'responsible' press of the city. 67The leaders of the Jewish community were afraid that fresh anti-semitism would speard in town, and their fears were soon to be realised. Strong anti-semitic letters appeared, especially in the Cape Times, accusing all Jews of being Bolsheviks, and stating that the headquarters of the 'red menace' were at 20 Plein Street (the city offices of the ISL-CT). 68The letters following the attack were numerous, 69but the Jewish public hit back with a stream of replies, denying the 'accusations' and maintaining that its position within the South African society in general and Cape Town in particular was one of 'good citizen', 'loyal subject of the Commonwealth', etc. 70Many of the Jewish correspondents used not only strongly anti-Socialist rhetoric but mainly anti-Jewish Socialist rhetoric, thus accepting that a large number of Jews were a part of the Socialist movement. One of them, expressing his views on the Jews of the league, wrote: "... they are looked upon by every right thinking Jews as the scum of their community and are treated with the contempt they deserve..." 71

M. Walt, a leading member of the League, himself a Jew, and a highly qualified professional (he was an accountant), regarded the letters attacking the League as a Jewish organisation and the entire Jewish population in Cape Town as Bolshevik, as an orchestrated attack by a handful of Jew-baiters, and nothing else. 72But this assault on the League may have borne results after a while. During late 1919 to mid-1920, the circulation of the Bolshevik fell from 2 500 to 1 000 copies per week, perhaps as a result of a falling-off of membership and following because of the increase in its price. 73

The leadership of the League consisted of an amalgam of middle-class individuals: a teacher, A. Z. Berman, who also owned a forage depot; 74 a shop owner B. Sieff 75, an accountant M. Walt 76, an actor, S. H. Davidoff; 77five travellers, S. Buirski, the Lopes Brothers (who later became restaurant owners), I. Noeik and Percy Thomas; 78and skilled productive artisans and workers, an upholsterer, I. J. Reitstein, 79four tailors, D. L., J. and W. Dryburgh, and C.F. Glass, 80two tobacco workers, C.D. Fox and Joseph Pick, 81and one shoemaker, Abraham Baskin. 82Additionally, the ideological backgrounds of its leadership members were far from similar and homogeneous. Davidoff was an anarchist, Walt and Pick Bundist and Jewish Socialist respectively. Glass, Berman and the Lopes brothers pure syndicalists, and there were even some ex-members of the conspirators' movement in Russia "who used to speak in whispers, because they felt still nervous of being overheard". 83The heterogeneous nature of class and ideological-political backgrounds of the leadership and membership of the organisation proved to be the major determinants of its strategy and tactics.


Although the organisation from its creation treated Soviet Russia as the society of the future and the Bolshevik revolution as the prime example of workers' emancipation, 84and the leaders of the revolution were idolised, 85it would hardly be true to claim that it used similar tactics and strategies towards emancipating South African Workers. It is clear that the tactics and strategies adopted were, in the minds of the organisation's leaders, Bolshevik from A to Z. But this is highly debatable. One needs only study the existing primary and secondary material to discover why the nature of the organisation was based not on Bolshevik but on vaguely defined syndicalist slogans and actions. In his accounts, Johns failed to draw a clear picture of the organisation's ideology and political practice. 86

The first months of the organisation's existence were full of propaganda, agitation, and involvement in every aspect of the struggle. Trade unionism was the first target. At one of the first mass meetings to introduce the programme and policies of the organisation, the leaders attacked trade unionism as a primitive and useless tool of struggle, advocating the absolute necessity for strong industrial organisation. 87The distinction between craft and industrial unionism caused many headaches for the leaders and strategists of the early South African Labour Movement, but not for those of the ISL-CT. They had made up their minds once and for all in favour of industrial unionism (and their deviations from the principle were not serious). At the same meeting, members of the League who were eligible for membership of an industrial organisation were urged to take out such membership, provided that the organisation's constitution would be approved by the League. 88The same principles were advocated in a series of open mass meetings in Adderley Street and District Six, 89and in lectures, mainly delivered by A. Z. Herman. 90At first, the open-door meetings were peaceful, attracting large numbers of members and sympathisers. 91but soon the ugly moments seen in Johannesburg in 1916 and later, caused by the hooligan riots and mobs of returned soldiers, were repeated in Cape Town. Under police surveillance, the returned soldiers and hooligans had brutalised old people, disrupted meetings and generally caused havoc. 92In Cape Town, however, it was not Greek or German shopkeepers, but socialists. 93It was during this period that the League launched the Bolshevik, its official organ, taking both the CID and the public of Cape Town by complete surprise. 94The former did not let the publication go unchallenged. It took severe measures to ensure that the already disturbing influence of the group would cease. It seized the paper immediately and Joe Pick, A. Z. Berman and N. Lopes, together with two printers, were served with summonses on two charges of publishing as unregistered paper, a purely technical charge. At the end of the three-day trial the leaders were released, 95sister organisations having contributed financially towards the cost of lawyers, etc. 96It was several months before the organisation could publish the second issue of the newspaper, due mainly to lack of funds. 97The newspaper proved to be a useful means of communication and propaganda amongst the working-class element of Cape Town.

The political and tactical objectives of the organisation in connection with labour's ongoing struggles, unique in their nature, were very similar to those of the Johannesburg-based Communist League led by Andrew Dunbar who was a major exponent of syndicalism in South Africa. 98The ISL-CT was highly critical of the 'old-fashioned' trade unions and the Cape Federation of Trade Unions was a very regular target of attack, although many prominent members of the League participated openly in its functions (A. Z. Herman, M. Lopes amongst others). 99The Federation was usually the scapegoat for every labour and strike defeat. 100It was accused of inconsistency, resulting mainly from its advocasy of continuous support for craft unions (bakers, milliners, musicians, etc), and the consequent neglect of the unions of industrial (i.e. productive) workers. 101The League strongly advocated the abolition of all trade unions in the Cape Peninsula and hoped to use their financial backing in order to establish and support the 'Big Industrial Union of the Proletariat', which would subsequently lead to the abolition of the capitalist evil. 102

The emphasis on non-collaborationist policies was manifested once again when the organisation called on Archie Crawford, the official State Labour delegate to the International Industrial Conference in Washington in 1919, not to undertake the journey, accusing him at the same time of being a 'Labour crook'. 103This rigid attitude towards trade unions and their leaders came under consideration from the leadership of the organisation in two instances: firstly, when their official organ congratulated the most important craft union the Cape Commercial Employees' Association (the Shop Assistant's Union) for adopting what was classified as 'the Socialist alternative' when it advocated the amalgamation of all assistants' unions in South Africa. 104The move was not a revolutionary or socialist one, and the union was the most conservative in the country, 105hence the surprise of all Cape Town trade unionists on the congratulations. This is, however, a good example of how the organisation was channelling its propaganda amongst the unionised workers, and an example of flexible tactical manoeuvring. The second instance was the participation of the leaders of the organisation in the Second Annual Congress of the Cape Trade Unions, covered extensively in the town's 'bourgeois press'. 106The participation of the ISL-CT leadership in the Congress helped in passing resolutions asking for the emancipation of the working class, socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The problems of tactics and strategy towards this aim were discussed, too, but as there were differences of opinion amongst revolutionaries and reformists, no unanimous decision was taken. The constitution of the Federation was changed radically, the main point of departure being the creation of 'purely industrial unions' in the place of the existing trade unions. Leading members of the organisation were elected to the new Council, which had far greater powers than its predecessor. 107The participation of the League in the Congress came as a blow of the 'trade unionist leadership' in Cape Town who had witnessed with concern the continuous effort of the organisation to stop any sectional strike by advocating the united action. By mercilessly accusing the Cape Federation and the 'aging Labour leaders' of inconsistency and advocating the united action of 'all unions' into the 'Big Union' of the whole working class,108the League, using tactically the platform of the Congress, pressed for radical resolutions, which were passed, but bore no significance for the future of the movement, as history has shown.

The organisation of the workers into large industrial trade unions was seen as a means of their obtaining economic power. 109This axiom, however, as well as those of the 'Big Trade Union' and direct action, constituted the A to Z of the ideology and political practice of syndicalism as followed by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in America, 110and in theories expounded by writers such as George Sorel and Emma Goldman. The methods used by the ISL-CT were a direct transformation of the anarcho-syndicalist tactics used by the American IWW and its adversaries. By undermining the existing 'capitalist institutions' (Parliament, police, church, etc.) and by educating and developing a workers' consciousness through lectures and open-air meetings, 111while at the same time ignoring every aspect of political parliamentary action, the organisation was aiming at the establishment of "the efficient workers' organisation, the One Big Union which will put an end to the class struggle". 112The education of the workers and their children was one of the most important (if not the most important) factors within the League's policy. Night schools for adults had started in 1918, a socialist bookshop was opened, and the children's Sunday school was the Kindergarten of what came to be known as the Young Socialist Society, the youth wing of the League. 113The propaganda expounded at open-air meetings, mainly in the working-class districts, 114was usually followed by political practice. The League formed, by its own efforts and finances, the Jam and Sweet Workers Union, 115and moral and financial support were given to all strikes during the period. Propaganda expenses came to 101.7. Id pound for a year, and general expenses amounted to 315.15.4d pound. Donations came from members, collections in public meetings, and subscriptions and a substantial amount from the Jewish Socialist Society. 116During the first year, 173 meetings were held, of which three were broken up completely by angry mobs. Forty-three meetings were held at the foot of Adderley Street, 31 in Hanover Street, eight in Salt River, 23 at the Salt River Works during lunchtimes, 16 in Claremont and 14 in Riebeek Square. 117The capitalist class regarded the League's industrial activities with anxiety and the municipality withdrew permits for a number of outdoor meetings. 118

Although by January 1920 the League's executive had decided to affiliate with the Third International, 119thus accepting the Bolshevik tactics and strategy, the vague syndicalist practices did not alter. The organisation changed its name to the Communist Party of South Africa 120following a special general meeting for that purpose, 121and after a lengthy discussion a slight reformulation of tactics was decided upon, based on the 'Soviet model'.122

The organisation called for the urgent 'Sovietisation' of the unions, and emphasised its point by working within them. Its leading members continued to play important roles within the unions (F. Lopes was elected President of the Tramway Workers' Union), 123but at the same time its inability to realise the basic Bolshevik-Leninist notion of interdependence between the economic and political elements within the Labour movement generally and strikes in particular, 124was demonstrated by its rigid ideological and political sectarianism towards the other workers' movements. The Labour Party was dismissed as 'reformist', 125and the SDF and the "so-called Communists' (presumably the Johannesburg ISL) were described as irrelevant, because they were reluctant to realise the importance of the Third International as a counter-balance to the Congress of the League of Nations. 126Thus even a tactical alliance between the groups was ruled out because of the attitude of the League. In the meantime its everyday practice was concentrated on daily efforts towards the advancement of its propaganda and agitation methods. This led to the creation of a spontaneous struggle, subsequently leading to short-term economic or political gains, but doomed to fail in the process, primarily because the organisation failed to recognise the primary dialectical relation between day-to-day struggles and long-term objectives. The idea of 'Soviet power' propagated by the League in both stages of its existence 127was primarily stressing the importance of the burning questions of the day, supporting the continuation of a 'practical class struggle', 128fighting for immediate gains depending entirely upon the momentum of industrial militancy. 129The ethical values of an ideological 'purity' set up by the League had been substituted for a set of productive relations determined by the interdependence of political, economic and ideological struggles, thus leading to a complete underestimation of political struggles based on a long-and short-term plan of demands and action. The result was a struggle separated from reality, reminiscent of the 'heroic age of syndicalism' in France and England in the era following the Industrial Revolution. 130The syndicalist outlook of the League is further demonstrated by its stand taken from the day of its establishment until its absorption within the United Communist Party. While greeting the Bolshevik victories with poetic verses, the League tried hard not to absorb the lessons of the revolution it so much admired. Its sectarianism led to a neglect of alliances which could advance and contribute to the movement's strategy and widen its social base. By denouncing the Labour Party as 'political bosses', the League's leadership refused to be associated with the South African Labour Party's 'party election gimmicks', "our attitude towards democratic and labour parties is quite clear.... we are entirely opposed to them.... because they constitute a bulwark against Bolshevism... The difference between us and those parties is reform and revolution". 131But it was not only the reformists organisations that the League would not ally with, it was actually every party:

"The revolutionary socialist must be self-reliant and avoid all alliances with any other class or party as he would avoid a plague". 132

Following these negative attitudes towards alliances of any kind, the League and its ideologues made perfectly clear that their opposition to parliamentarism was not a principle but a tactical move, and nothing more. Their explanation was that parliament (although useful for the workers in the initial stages of capitalism) was now a tool in the hands of capitalists, machinery used by them to help in the production of surplus value, and a farce. 133Parliament could not be used as propaganda platform, either, because the capitalists had already destroyed It consciousness of the workers by turning them into 'vote machines'. 134Workers were urged to stay away from elections and participate in industrial struggles only. The capitalists' greed for more power and their new bargaining techniques through parliament on the one side and the emasculation of trade unions and their usage as a capitalist machine on the other, was the 'double attack' the League exercised. 135The tactical step of not participating in elections obviously caused serious strains in the fraternal relations of the League with the Johannesburg International Socialist League. M. Lopes, general secretary of the League, a leading theoretician and editor of the Bolshevik after A. Z. Berman's resignation, 136hit hard at the Johannesburg organisation, accusing it of trying to supersede the Labour Party as a parliamentary 'collaborator'. 137Although he accepted that many class-conscious workers were members of both organisations, he accused them of ideological confusion and political opportunism and called for an immediate creation of the Big Union and the subsequent socialist revolution. 138

The disregard for parliamentarism demonstrated by the strong action of the League against members who actively assisted political candidates, 139was shared by the Johannesburg branch of the organisation led by Andrew Dunbar. This organisation used very strong language against the International Socialist League at its meetings and it was the closest ally of the Cape Town group. 140The establishment of the Communist Party in Cape Town did not radically change that attitude. Although the dictatorship of the proletariat and the workers' Soviets was the main strategic aim of the organisation, abstention from participating in elections was still the A and Z principle. 141The formation of organisations of industrial workers and workers' committees ('the future Soviets'), united and determined, and across the colour line, and the formation of Communist groups in every trade, were the basic short-term objectives of the Party, whose constitution was adopted by the Industrial Socialist League of Cape Town and the Communist League of Johannesburg. 142

The new party constitutionally declared its solidarity with the 'coloured' and 'native' workers calling them to join the fight for the emancipation of the entire working class. 143As already mentioned, some prominent 'coloured' trade unionists had supported the movement from its inception, and the pen of Isaac Vermont was the first to analyse the appalling conditions under which black workers were working in Cape, to signify the mechanisms of the extraction of surplus value and exploitation, and to call for a unified workers' front. 144In the same manner, all leading figures of the movement had stressed unity as the predominant factor towards emancipation of workers, and that was one of the main factors for rejecting the proposed alliance with Labour Party, continually being denounced as a 'white workers' party'. 145The Industrial Union which would be formulated by all workers of different industries would be the strongest weapon against the 'capitalist civilisation', based on the exploitation of the cheap black labour force. 146

The abstention of the organisation from political parliamentary action caused its Cape Town contemporaries to accuse it of "advocating violence". 147It was high time for the organisation to make clear its position in regard to this important point. Its declaration that it had never advocated violence was supported by the argument that it would be a solidarity, class-consciousness and industrial organisation, which would lead the proletarian take-over of the means of production, and this would be accomplished without violence or bloodshed. 148

In later policy statements, it was made clear that the organisation had denounced violence, although knowing that capitalists were using the most repressive powers of all in order to suppress the workers' struggles. But, "the repudiation of violence, does not carry with it a repudiation of the use of force which is necessary for the overthrow of the present system". 149By force or pressure was meant the organisation of the workers in the industries and the general strike, another 'ideological weapon' directly 'borrowed' from anarcho-syndicalism. 150Stressing the usefulness of Leninism, on the other hand, the organisation made it clear that it would always be ready to re-evaluate its methods in accordance with a change in circumstances and the requirements of the struggle, although they maintained that direct action and industrial organisation were the most effective methods to be used by the workers. 151Seeing once again that the methods of struggle advocated by the group were based on an 'anti-parliamentarism' leading to a negative position towards the other labour and socialist organisations of the period, let us examine its validity and relevance to the ongoing struggles of workers.

Hitting at the 'constitutional methods' used by the Labour Party (which had 21 members in the House of Assembly at the time), accusing it of collaborating with the enemy, trying to exercise parliamentarism which "ought to be replaced by the Soviets" 152, this was the crux of the 'anti-political' philosophy of the organisation. At the same time, it disregarded the 'idiocy' of the Johannesburg ISL to participate in the elections, using historical examples inapplicable to South African circumstances 153to back its points. But were this position of anti-parliamentarism, anti-alliance, anti-everything of any help to the party? Rather, it pushed it to an extreme left position where "all politicians are but petty reformers, hence the perpetrators of the present system". 154Additionally, its anti-alliance tactics unavoidably led to its isolation, and the impossibility of uniting with the other organisations on occasions of certain common demands, strikes or other economic struggles.

Anti-parliamentarism, a movement originated in opposition to the parliamentarism of Social Democratic and Labour parties which saw participation in elections as the only means of political action, was seen by the ISL-CT and the CPSA as the only true policy.

The naive idea of socio-democrats that the capitalist society would be transformed into a socialist one through parliamentary action was scorned by the Cape Town socialists who at the same time were preaching the other extreme, that Parliament was useful for nothing, that unity was an empty shell, and that through direct action and the general strike the proletariat would be emancipated automatically. In April, 1921, M. Lopes, still a leading figure of the South African Communist Party, wrote, amongst other things, that:

"As secretary of the ISL and the CPSA, I have advocated abstention from parliamentary action, but I have read carefully the thesis of the International and have now decided that to obscure unity on the grounds of the parliamentary thesis is treason to the cause." 155

It was at the time of the forthcoming amalgamation of all communist groups in South Africa into one United Communist Party that the abovementioned declaration was made, 156and it seemed that the new adventure undertaken by the Cape Town Socialists would not be their last.


After the final amalgamation of radical groups into the 'United Communist Party of South Africa', the most militant 'anti-political' members of the organisation, who did not want to participate in 'parliamentary polities', formed a self-styled 'Communist Propaganda Group'. Davidoff, Pick, Glass, Reynolds and Brown were its members. 157The group continued the propaganda tactics of the League and the Party, releasing its most important document on May Day, 1921, under the title of 'The Defence Force'. It was headed 'Leaflet No. 1' and called on young South African soldiers to fight the class war against the only enemy, the capitalist class. 158The activities of the group continued until the end of 1921, when it merged with the United Communist Party. 159

This was the final dramatic episode in the four year history of the existence of the Industrial Socialist League and the Cape Town Communist Party. Incorporated within the 'United Communist Party of South Africa', its leaders, members and sympathisers would continue to fight, with the vision of the impossible revolution as the guiding force.

*The article first appeared in the "Studies in the History of Cape Town", Vol 4, 1981.

H. J. and R. E. Simons, Class and Colour in South Africa Harmondsworth, 1969; D. Ticktin, "The Origins of the South African Labour Party 1888 - 1910', unpublished Ph.D. thesis, UCT, 1973; Sheridan Jones, 'Marxism-Leninism in a Multiracial Environment: The origins and early history of the Communist Party of South Africa 1914 -1932', unpublished Ph.D dissertation. Harvard University, 1965; and 'The birth of the Communist Party of South Africa', The International Journal of African Historical Studies DC (3) 1976, pp.371 - 400; E. Katz A Labour Aristocracy, Johannesburg, 1976.

E. Roux, Time Longer than Rope, University of Wisconsin Press, 1966; and S. P. Bunting: A Political Biography, The African Bookman, 1944, R. K. Cope, Comrade Bill: The Life and Times of W. H. Andrews, Workers' Leader, Cape Town (no date); and Wilfred Harrison, Memoirs of a Socialist, Cape Town, 1949.

The ISL-Jhb's membership consisted of people with different political and ideological inclinations. The 'trade unionist faction' under Bill Andrews consisted of mine workers, carpenters, builders, etc., while a large section was composed of Jewish artisans, small shopkeepers and tailors. Many of them were ex-members of the 'Friends of the Russian Freedom', a body affiliated to the Jewish Bund; others were ex-anarchists affiliated to the Jewish anarchist group 'Progress'. See E. A. Mantzaris, ' A short History of Bundist activity in South Africa'; Die Zeit (in Yiddish); Leibi Feldman, Yidden in Johannesburg (in Yiddish), Johannesburg, 1956, p. 66 ff.

The best accounts of the history of the SDF during its early period are in Ticktin and Harrison, but the complete history of this important organisation needs to be written.

See S. van der Horst, Native Labour in South Africa, Oxford University Press, London, 1942; UG 14-26, Economic and Wages Commission Table VIII, 'Movement of Prices and Wages in the Union, 1910-25'.

On wages, see particularly UG 14-26 Table I, "Average weekly wages..."; see also UG 1 - 19, Cost of Living Commission, evidence by H. H. R. Eaton, p.2.

Cost of Living Commission, UG 55-18, Appendices C and C (1).

Op. cit.. Appendix C.

Calculations based on comparison between prices appearing in UG 55-78 and Smith's 'Cost of Living Committee', Johannesburg, 1916 (28 August). See also E. A. Mantzaris, 'Another victory for trade unionism: The 1918 Cape Town Musicians' strike', in this volume.

The split over the 'war question' became evident in a mass meeting of the SDF, when the 'war-on-war' majority led by Joe Pick fought against the 'pro-war' faction of McManus and Evans who subsequently resigned from the organisation. See The International, 22.9.1916, ' Cape Socialists Getting Militant'. See also Harrison, op. cit., pp. 50-58.

See The International, 26.4.1918, 'Cape Notes'.

On the formation of the organisation, see Harrison, op. cit., and Sheridan Jones, 'The Birth of the CPSA', p. 377.

Those mainly referred to in footnotes 1 and 2.

Report on Bolshevism in the Union of South Africa, Department of Justice File 267, 3.1064.18; letter from Commissioner of South African Police (SAP) to Justice Department, June 1st, 1920. Also subsequent issues of The Bolshevik, official organ of the ISL-CT.

Report on Bolshevism, op. cit., p. 102.

Justice, 267, 3.1064.18, letter from the Commissioner of Police to Secretary of Justice, dated 26th April 1919. See also E. A. Mantzaris, 'Syndicalism on the shopfloor: The Denver shop-stewards' strike, Transvaal, November-December, 1919'in this volume.

Simons and Simons, op. cit p.221.

Justice 267, 3.1064.18; letter from Commissioner of Police to Secretary of Justice, 29th July 1920.

Ibid., 'Bolshevism', pp. 205-209 (No signature, date, to any other indication. Possibly report of police spy directly to the Department).

Ibid., p. 207.

International, 24.1 1919, p. 2.

Justice 267, 'Bolshevism', p. 103.

Ibid., pp. 101 and 103.

Ibid., p.104.

Ibid. 3.1064.18, p. 70; Letter from Commissioner of SAP to Secretary of Justice, 30th September 1920.

We are referring to P. Wickins' Ph.D. thesis, "The ICWU of South Africa', UCT, Department of Economic History, 1973, especially pp.108, 94, 89.

Justice 267, 3.1064.18; Letter, 30th September 1920, p69.

Police File 3.524.17, pamphlet 17, pp. 180-181; letter from Cape Town Commissioner of Police to Secretary of the SAP, Pretoria, 28.1.1920.

Ibid. p. 180.

Justice 267, 3.1064.18, 'Bolshevism', no date, obviously spy's report on Bolshevik activities.

Ibid., Part 1, Letter from Commissioner of SAP, Cape Town, to Secretary of Justice, 30.9.1920. See also B. Weibren, Reminiscences, Part XV, Forward, 28.1.1944.

See Bolshevik, Vol. 1, No. 7, April 1920, p. 1, "The May Number'.

See International, 25th July 1919.

See Max Geffen 'Cape Town Jewry 1902 - 1910' in G. Saron and L. Hotz, The Jews in South Africa: A History, Oxford University Press, 1955, p. 47.

See The SA Jewish Year Book 1929, The SA Jewish Historical Society, Johannesburg, 1929, especially biographies of S. Albow, D. Davidowitz, M. Eilenberg, S. Flax and J. Ginnes.

Max Geffen, op.cit.

See the classic works of L. Greeberg, The Jews in Russia, Vols. 1 & 2, Jewish Publications Society of USA; and, for South Africa, C. Gershater 'From Lithuania to South Africa' in Saron and Hotz, op. cit., pp. 59-84.

See especially SA Jewish Chronicle, 8.3.1918.

Ibid., 15.3.1918.

Ibid., 13.12.1918.

Ibid., 14.3.1919, 27.2.1920, 5.3.1920, 28.5.1920, 8.4.1921. The Poverty amongst Cape Town Jews had prompted Goldsmith, editor of the SA Jewish Chronicle, to write a passionate article challenging the wealthy part of the community to come to the aid of the needy, either directly or through the medium of the charitable organisations. See SA Jewish Chronicle, 19.8.1921, editorial.

Republic of South Africa: Census for 1921, divisions amongst religious groups; also pp. 12 - 18.

See T. Kessner, The Golden Door: Italian and Jewish Immigrant Mobility in New York City 1880 - 1915, Oxford University Press, 1977, p. XV.

Juta's Directory of Cape Town, 1919 - 1921, Juta and Company, Cape Town; and Braby's Cape Town Directory, 1919 - 1924, Durban, 1919-1924. Both directories include the Cape Town suburbs.

See S. A. Rochlin, They helped to shape the future; an account of Jewish participation in the early Socialist and Progressive movements in South Africa' in SA Jewish Frontier, September 1946. Also Geffen, op. cit.

On those activities see E. A., Mantzaris, 'Craft unionism or revolution? The early Jewish trade union movement in Cape Town', unpublished paper, UCT, 1981; and T. Adler, 'History of the Jewish Workers' Club', in T. Adler (ed.) Perspectives on SA, Johannesburg, 1977. "Also Jewish Trade Unions in Cape Town" in this volume.

E. A. Mantzaris, 'A short History of Bundist activity', op.cit

Letter by M. Kaplan of Pretoria to Central Committee of the Bund in Switzerland, 4.8.1908, in Bund Archives of Jewish Labour Movement, New York.

Justice, 267, 3.1064.18, part 1, Report of the Commissioner of the SAP, to Justice Secretary, 1stJune 1920.

See especially Roux, S. P. Bunting, p. 45; Adler, op. cit. 51. See 'Our Cape Town Letter' in SA Jewish Chronicle, 7th May 1920, where most of the names appearing as members of the Society are leading members of the ISL-CT.

See SA Jewish Chronicle, 21st May 1920.

See Harrison, pp. 65-72, 'Emissaries from Russia'.

Weinbren, 'Reminiscences', Forward, 21st January 1944, Part XIV.

See Justice, 267, 3.1064.18, Bolshevism Memorandum III, Cape Town, 17.4.1919, p. 2.

One of the rare occasions when the ISL-CT shared a platform with the SDF, Dr Forsyth's Peace and Arbitration Society, and the Jewish Socialist Society, op. cit., p. 1.

See International, 24th January 1919, p. 2, 'Cape Notes'. 22

Justice, 267, 3.1064.18, Letter from Commissioner of Police to Secretary for Justice, 27.8.1920.

A. Z. Herman was one of the regular speakers to the Jewish (Yiddish) Literary and Dramatic Society which had its gatherings at the Zionist Hall. See the Cape Times (CT) 3.8.1918.

On Poilei Zion, see mainly G. Shimoni, "The Jewish Community and the Zionist movement in South Africa 1910 - 1948', D. Phil, thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1974.

See International, 29.11.1918; also CT, 20.7.1918.

Bolshevik, Vol. 2, No. 4, February 1921.

See Gideon Shimoni, Jews and Zionism: The South African Experience 1910 - 1967, and Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1980, p.390, footnotes 11.

Police, 180, 3.524.17, pamphlet 7, Secretary of SAP to Secretary of Justice, 28.1.1920.

Justice, 269, 3.1964.18, Commissioner of Police to Secretary of Justice, 21.2.1921, p. 194.

Ibid., pp. 194-195.

The attacks on Bolshevism were spearheaded by the Cape Times, see especially 26th March 1918, 11th, 13th, 16th, 18th August, 28th October 1918 and 2nd February 1919.

See CT, 6th December 1918, letter signed by 'South African'.

See Cape Times letters by 'Anti-Bolshevik', 13th December 1918, 'Salt River', 14th December 1918, and 'Britisher', 13th December 1918.

See letters in Cape Times from 'A Russian Jew', 6th December 1918, J. Hams, 19th December 1918, M. Pogrund (Principal of Hebrew Public School, Cape Town), 13th December 1918, "A polish Jew', 6th December 1918, etc.

Letter by 'Russian Jew' written in Wynberg, 4th December 1918, in Cape Times, 6th December 1918.

See his letter in the Cape Times, 12th December 1918, for an illuminating analysis of anti-semitism and socialism. See also Len Turok's letter. Cape Times, 13th December 1918.

Justice, 267, 3.1064.18, Commissioner of SAP to Secretary of Justice, 29.7.1920.

Police, 180, 3.524.17, pamphlet 6, Letter to Secretary of SAP, 28.1.1920.

Braby's Directory and Juta's Directory. He is listed as a cafe owner of 119 Long Street. In periods of economic difficulties his cafe was used as headquarters of the Party, Justice, 269, 3.1064.18, letters of Commissioner, SAP, to Secretary of Justice, 4.10.1921, 31.10.1921.

Justice, 267, 3.1064.18, Letter from Commissioner of SAP to Secretary of Justice, 30.10.1920.

See Harrison, pp. 36 -38. Also Justice, 269, 3.1064.18, Letter from SAP Commissioner to Secretary of Justice, 21.2.1921, op. cit., letter 5.1.1922, The Police were particularly afraid of his activities, see Justice, 3.524.17, part 6, pp. 40 and 53.

See Weinbren, Reminiscences, Part XV. Also Justice, 267, 3.1064.18, letter from SAP Commissioner to Secretary of Justice, 27.1.1921, 13.7.1920.

Justice, 269, 3.1064.18, letter from SAP Commissioner to Secretary of Justice, 30.10.1920.

Justice, 269, 3.1064.18, letter from SAP Commissioner to Secretary of Justice, 5.1.1922.

Braby's Directory and Juta's Directory. I am indebted to Martin Nicol for information on Pick.

See references in footnote 46.

See Weinbren, op. cit. The ideological classification of the leaders is based on Harrison, Weinbren and the Justice and Police files referred to in this article.

See the article 'Hail! Russia of the Soviets' in Bolshevik, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1920. Also International, 21.10.1918.

See Harry Haynes, 'Defiance not Defence', in Bolshevik, Vol. 1, No. 11, September 1920.

See footnote 1.

International, 5th July 1918, 'Cape Notes'.


Ibid.. 27th September 1918.

Ibid., also 21st October 1918.

Ibid. 24th January 1919, 7th March 1919.

Ibid. 23rd May 1919.

See A, Hunter, "The anti-German riots in Johannesburg', unpublished Honours dissertation. History department, UCT, 1980; International, 7th May and 23rd May 1917, 'The mob law'; and The Argus, Daily Mail, and The Star, May 1917.

International, 23rd May 1919, p.4.

Ibid. 27th June 1919.

Ibid., 13th June 1919.

The second issue of the Bolshevik appeared in November 1919.

See subsequent letters included in the Justice files 267 and 269, 3.1064.18. Most issues of Bolshevik give the name of the Communist League as a fraternal organisation. See also Johns, "The Birth of the CP', p. 383.

See Bolshevik, 2, 6th April 1921.

See pamphlet. The Bankruptcy of trades' Unionism, which appeared during the period November-December 1920 (private collection).


'Why more production?', pamphlet published in Cape Town in January 1919, now in private collection.

Trade Union Notes', in Bolshevik, 1, 2, November 1919, p. 2.

See Bolshevik. 1, 3, December 1919.

The same article in the Bolshevik recognised that the said trade union was both conservative and reactionary.

Both the Cape Times and the Cape Argus covered the proceedings of the Congress daily and even devoted editorials to the findings, discussions and resolutions passed, without mentioning the predominance of the Socialist delegates. In March 1921, the organisation participated in the Third Congress of the Cape Town Federation of Trade Unions when its leading member, A.Z. Berman, moved a number of 'revolutionary' resolutions such as affiliation to the Third Union International (carried by 37 votes to 22), open abstention from political parliamentarism, etc. The militant elements were the dominant figures of the Third Congress once again. See Justice 267, 3.1064.18, Letter from Commissioner of Police to Secretary of Justice, 29th April 1921, and Bolshevik, 2, 6, April 1921, p. 3.

See 'What can a Labour Government do?' in Bolshevik, 2,4, February 1921.

See 'Prepare for the world revolution' in Bolshevik, 2,4, February 1921.


The term is borrowed from B. Pribicovic, The Shop-Steward Movement and Workers' Control (Oxford, 1959), p. 17.

Emma Goldman, op. cit pp. 3-4.

On syndicalism in England see Pribicovic; E. Burdick, 'Syndicalism and industrial unionism in England until 1918', unpublished D. Phil. thesis, Oxford University, 1950; and, for France, B. H. Moss, The Origins of the French Labour Movement 1830-1914: The Socialism of Skilled workers, (University of California Press, 1976).

See Bolshevik, 1, 2, 1919, p. 3.

See 'Reform or revolution' in Bolshevik, 1, 3, December 1919, p. 4.

Bolshevik, 1,4, January 1920, 'On political action', p. 3.


Ibid. p. 4; and Bolshevik, 1, 8, May 1920, p. 6,'The last days'.

Justice, 267, part 1, 3.1064.18, Letter from Commissioner of SAP to Secretary for Justice, 30th November 1920.

See 'Democracy and revolution' in Bolshevik, 2, 1, November 1920; "The coming of socialism', Bolshevik, 1, 12, October 1920; and 'Parliament and mass action', Bolshevik, 1,11.

Bolshevik, 1, 11.

Two members were expelled during 1919 when found helping 'political' candidates during the elections. See 'A year's activity' (1919-1920), as reported in Bolshevik, 1, 8, May 1920, p. 3.

The strong attacks by Dunbar against the ISL-Jhb are reported in detail in Justice 267 and 269, 3.1064.18. See also Johns, op. cit.

'Communist Party of SA: Principles and methods', programme of the Party published in Bolshevik, 1, 12, October 1920, p. 1.



I. Vermont, 'Socialism and the coloured folk', in Bolshevik, 1, 6, March 1920, pp. 2-3.

See 'Socialism and the Labour Party', M. Lopes in Bolshevik, 1,7, April 1920. pp. 2-3.

Harry Heynes 'White workers awake', in Bolshevik, 1,9, June 1920, p. 2.

'The Cape' as quoted in Bolshevik, 1, 3, December 1919, p.2.


'Socialism versus violence', in Bolshevik, 1,4, January 1920, pp. 2-3.

According to E. Goldman there are three main methods used by syndicalism: direction action, sabotage and general strike. The ISL-CT strongly advocated the first and third. See Goldman, op. cit pp. 8-9.

Bolshevik, 1, 4, pp. 2-3.

'Labour Parties and Labour Fakirs', in Bolshevik, 1,12, October 1920.

The historical experience of Italy was used to demonstrate the 'destructive failures' and consequences of parliamentary action and participation in the 'election machine', Bolshevik, 1, 10, July 1920, p. 3.

E. Goldman, 'Socialism: Caught in the political trap', unpublished typescript in the New York Public Library's manuscript collection.

'Unity and parliamentary action', in International, 1st June 1921. (Emphasis mine).

On the day the article appeared, the Cape Town Communist Party and its Jewish branch met to discuss the amalgamation. They joined the United Communist Party immediately after the meeting. See International, 8, 15th and 22nd April 1921. Also Johns, 'Birth of the CP', p. 389. Johns' article and thesis cover with sufficient - though not exhaustive - detail the process leading to the establishment of the 'New Communist Party of South Africa'.

Justice, 269, 3.1064.18, Letter from the Commissioner of SAP to Secretary of Justice, 30th May 1921; and Johns, op. cit.

Justice, 3.524.17, part 6, Cape Town, 2nd June 1921. 159. Justice, 269, 3.1064.17, Letter from Commissioner of SAP to Secretary of Justice, 5th January 1922. Also Johns, 'Birth of the CP', p. 396, note 71.  Johns, The Birth of the Communist Party of South Africa, op cit. 28