This website is a first and a modest effort to store, preserve and make available through the internet the tenets and philosophy of an important segment of the liberatory movement in South Africa, namely that of the Unity Movement, founded in 1943 as the Non European Unity Movement.
A glance at the inventory of written material by the segments of the liberatory movement will reveal a dearth of it. The South African liberatory movement has been particularly marked by an absence or shortage of well researched and thought out documents. Most of the political intelligentsia were either tied to the apron strings of the liberals and spouted “sweet-reasonableness” in relations with the oppressors. Those on the left had been converted into foreign affairs agents of Stalinist Russia. Not a word of originality could be found from this sector. They were only capable of acting once the line was first worked out in Moscow.
The only ray of light in this dismal and bleak environment emanated from members of the Spartacus Club which also functioned as the Workers Party of South Africa. These organizations comprised dedicated revolutionaries steeped in Marxism and scientific socialism. From this group emanated the first serious and scientific study of politics of South Africa. Confirmation of serious research and study is to be found in the historic document simply called “The Draft Thesis of the Workers’ Party of South Africa”. The thesis was forwarded to Leon Trotsky, deposed co-leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Trotsky was always a merciless taskmaster and critic when it came to politics. Yet this is how he describes the thesis:
“The thesis was written without doubt on the basis of a serious study of both the economic and political conditions of South Africa as well as the literature of Marxism and Leninism, particularly that of the Bolshevik-Leninists. A serious scientific approach to all questions is one of the most important conditions for the success of a revolutionary organization. The example of our South African friends again confirms the fact that in the present epoch only the Bolshevik-Leninists, i.e. the consistent proletarian revolutionists take a serious attitude to theory, analyse the realities and are learning themselves before they teach others.*
The intellectuals who emerged as fully fledged revolutionaries from the Workers’ Party of South Africa and its publication, “The Spark” trained successive layers of intellectuals as serious freedom fighters. One has only to compare the political writings of other organizations with that of the Unity Movement leadership to see how amateurish the others have been in their conception of the nature of South African society, of who the enemy is and the nature of the enemy, an entity which is utterly impervious to pleadings, logic, reason, compassion. Ignorance of this elementary understanding of the nature of oppression, of capitalism, of imperialism and herrenvolkism accounts for the endless petitions, deputations and calls for a change of heart from the oppressors.
The absence of serious study, research and analysis is reflected in the paucity of political writings of bodies like the ANC, PAC and Black Consciousness.
Turn to the leadership of the Unity Movement and you will find it replete with meticulously researched and groundbreaking information on a whole range of topics. Its history is studded with gems of political thought born out of scholarship and deep thought:
The above will more than suffice in showing the quality of the contribution made by intellectuals who constituted the leadership of the Unity Movement. Their thoughts and their teachings are reflected in their writings. These writings, however, are only a small part of the writings of leadership of the Unity Movement at the various levels of leadership.
We fervently believe that the writings of the various leadership levels and not only the acclaimed political literature have to be stored, preserved and made available to the future scholars and researchers.
Very often the serious freedom fighter has had to plough a lonely furrow because people were misled into believing in short cuts and easy solutions. The serious politico has had to work out his/her thoughts and commit them to writing justifying a position contrary to a populist one.
Writing one’s political thoughts against an oppressive ruling class often ran heavy risks. More often than not, the freedom fighter faced administrative reprisals (banning orders, house arrest orders,
facing banishment from an urban area etc) for no other reason than that person was suspected of writing what the rulers called ”subversive material”. To read about a banning order or house arrest order is one thing. To live under such reprisals is something quite different.
The documents and publications are also published on this website as a dedication to the effort made and the risks run. All done to educate, to politicize and to strengthen the struggle through knowledge, understanding and enlightenment.
* L.Trotsky: “Remarks on the Draft Thesis of the Workers’ Party of South Africa –30th April 1935