“Where WE Stand” – IndSL, Cape Town, February 1920

The interests of the Working Class and of the Employing Class are diametrically opposed. There can be no peace as long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the all the toilers come together on the industrial field, and take and hold what they produce by their labour, through an economic organisation of the working class, without affiliation to any political party. The rapid gathering of wealth in and the centring of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands make the Trades Unions unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class, because the Trades Unions foster a state of things which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. The Trades Unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

These sad conditions can be only be changed, and the interests of the working class upheld by an organisation formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry – or in all industries if necessary – cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

 Our Objects

The abolition of the wage system and the establishment of a Socialist Commonwealth based on the principle of self-governing industries, in which the workers will work and control the instruments of production, distribution and exchange for the benefit of the entire community.

 Our Methods and Principles

1. – By propagating by every means in our power, the principles of Industrial Unionism.

2.- By advising and assisting the working class in the establishment of such forms of industrial organisation as will enable them not only to improve their present condition but eventually take over complete control of all industries.

3. – The League is strictly anti-political and anti-militarist.

Source: The Bolshevik, February 1920


About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I have long been involved in union education, and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented or published 100s of papers conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 4 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and produced five books. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. My books includd include 'Politics at a Distance from the State: Radical and African Perspectives' (2018, co-edited with Kirk Helliker), 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' and 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014).