From: South Africa's Radical Tradition, a documentary history, Volume One 1907 - 1950, by Allison Drew

Document 41 - Letter from the Communist League of America to T.W. Thibedi, 30 May 1932


                                                                                                                                                      May 30, 1932.

T. W. Thibedi

P. O. Box 4143

Johannesburg, So. Africa.

Dear Comrade:-

We sincerely welcome the announcement of your decision contained in your letter of April 26th. This is the very first information which we have had about your group and naturally we are not yet well acquainted. We are therefore desirous of obtaining some information from you in order to be able to learn about your group and to reciprocate by likewise informing you about our position as fully as we are able.

Is your group newly constituted or has it been functioning for some time under its present name or under any other name? If you can, will you give us in brief outline information about the history, and development about your group. That we would appreciate very much and it would help facilitate our mutual acquaintance, understanding and possible harmony. If you can in this information also include a description of the kind and character of activities in which you have been engaged, adding also information about what influence, following and contact you may have.

Second:- Has your group formulated a program or platform on its views'? If you have such, will you kindly let us have a copy or give us the information of its main contents.

Third:- Have you any relations with the official Communist Party of Africa, the section which is affiliated to the Communist International, or does your party constitute that section? Are you or have you been affiliated to the Communist International?

Would you kindly clarify us on this point?

Lastly:- We assume that you know that the Communist International under the present Stalinist leadership has adopted a policy of self-determination for Negroes.We do not presume to express an opinion on what this policy would mean in So. Africa or apply to actual existing conditons there. But we do know that this policy will have some specific implication when applied to the actual existing conditions in the United States and we know are now considering a final formulation of our attitudes to this question as it presents itself here in the United States. Will you give us your views on the question?

As you have read some copies of the Militant we assume that you are fully informed that the Communist League of America (Opposition) represents the views of the Left Opposition. We do not know how well you are familiar with the history and development of the Left Opposition. That you will be able to learn from a continued reading of the Militant and from our literature. Being a faction of the Communist movement, representing the views of the Communist International under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky and concretely formulated in the first four Congresses, today, the Left Opposition considers its main objectives to be the struggle to influence the official Communist Parties sufficiently to return to these views of the Communist lnternational. In that struggle we come into an irreconcilable conflict with the present Stalinist bureaucracy and the policies it represents. Our League is made up, as are all the sections of the Left Opposition, in the main of members expelled from the official Communist Parties. But we recruit to our ranks all Communist workers we find having sympathy and in agreement with our Left Opposition platform. Since we are only one section of the International Left Opposition, we will later have some substantial proposals to make to you in regard to affiliation. Should we find that after a little mutual communication and clarification that we are in agreement,that you accept the Left Opposition platform, which we hope to already be the case, then we expect our proposal to you to be to affiliate directly to the Left Opposition as the Left Opposition in South Africa, affiliated to the International Left Opposition, and not directly to the Communist League of America.

Any subsequent and practical proposals to be worked out in this connection we can take up later if and when we find that we are in agreement. We will therefore submit copy of your letter to the International Secretariat of the Left Opposition which located in Berlin and we will attach a copy of this reply to your communication and similarly send the same material to Comrade Trotsky.

Meanwhile. however. we would appreciate if you would consider us the connecting link for this discussion and any proposals which you many have to make and which the International Secretariat will have to make until such time when this question is settled to mutual satisfaction. Naturally. we would also appreciate if you would keep in constant touch with us about your views.

We have already entered you on our mailing list to receive the Militant. Of this issue we have sent you only 50 copies, but we shall increase the future issues to 100 as you request. We will also send you along some advertising material which we have for the Militant. We do not possess much in this respect, neither do we at the present have any leaflets for mass distribution. But we have published considerable literature, a full description of which you will find in the Militant. Our books and pamphlets can already today be obtained by Vanguard Booksellers, 51a Van Brandes Street, Johannesburg, So.Africa. We will send you a complete set (one of each)of all our literature,expecting that you will be able to remit for it and should you desire to handle it direct, we shall be very glad to furnish it to you. We will send you bills and statements regularly, as, being a proletarian organization, poor in the financial sense, we would appreciate prompt remittances. We also sent you a few copies of the special Militant issue which you request and should you desire it, we shall try to gather a complete file of the Militant from the first issue published and send it to you, even though some of the numbers are very scarce.

We repeat, we sincerely welcome the fact that such a group exists in So. Africa and agree with you that no distinction is made in our ranks of Negro and white revolutionary workers, as no such distinction is made in any Communist revolutionary organization.

We welcome the fact that such a group exists in So. Africa, holding the views which we have expressed which we consider essential in the task of the proletarian revolution. With revolutionary greetings, we remain,

                                                                                                          For the Communist League of America,

                                                                                                                                                   Arne Swabeck