From: South Africa's Radical Tradition, a documentary history, Volume Two 1943 - 1964, by Allison Drew

Document 25 - Letter from E. R. Roux to John Gomas, 23 July 1956

Botany Dept



23 July 1956

Dear John,

It would be peculiar if I had the same point of view to-day as I had in Moscow in 1928. I was a loyal Party member then - I left the Party in 1936. Surely I must have changed my viewpoint in the interval.

I am sorry that Time Longer than Rope is out of print. I have only my own annotated copy which I don't want to part with. If you try People's bookshop, Church St., Cape Town, they may be able to get you a second-hand copy; failing which somebody ought to be able to lend you one. Try Brian Bunting.

I think you are mistaken in suggesting that the whites in the movement generally speaking used it for their own personal aggrandisement. As good Stalinists they used it for the greater glory of the Soviet - everything else came second. I left the C.P. because I did not approve of the Moscow line. You stayed in a long time after I got out.

In spite of criticism I admit that the best African leaders - as the defiance campaign showed - were those trained by the Party.

Solly and his aides were never really good interracialists. Trade unionism often corrupts -I don't think there is any particular virtue in a black skin or a white one. But a white one exempts you from racial oppression in this country. I have usually kept out of black organisations myself because a white skin gives one an unfair influence.

Nevertheless I do feel that there is a place for an organisation without colour bar in which all races can meet on equal terms. That was the ideal of the C.P. Unfortunately the Party had ideas and practices in other respects, of which one did not approve.

I do not think democracy, progress and peace will inevitably come into being when the blacks achieve power. Corruption, reaction and oppression will not necessarily evaporate. Nevertheless, one must work for a black government, for until that is achieved the evils mentioned will be inevitable. A black government could not racially oppress a black majority.

Apart from these reservations I think I have for a long time followed the advice set forth in your letter to the G.C.P.

With kind regards

Yours sincerely


P.S. Sorry I was too busy to post this last week. My best wishes. ER.

P.S. I still wear the suit you made me. Still my "best" suit.