Class relations and the policies of the Communist Party of South Africa, 1921-1950
The Communist Party(CP) was formed in 1921, on the foundation created by the International Socialist League (ISL). An investigation of the theory and practice of the CP reveals the combination of a socialist commitment with an abstract theoretical perspective. The Party was obstructed, through its own idealised understanding of class relations, from pursuing its declared goals. This study investigates the rhythms of struggle and the dynamic development of the workers' movement. It examines the growing social weight and developing structural strength of black workers and the organisation and action which these generated. CP policies are examined in the light of these developments. Oppression which spans different classes created the underlying basis for a class alliance between the oppressed black petty bourgeoisie and exploited and oppressed black workers. The CP tended to conflate a co-incidence of different processes of radicalisation and different class interests. The Party broke from the white labour tradition out of which it had emerged; it pursued a policy of popular frontism for much of its history. This policy, and the conflation of different processes and class interests promoted an uncertainty within the Party as to its role. On this basis, the Party did not always identify underlying processes, and hence its uncertainty as to how to relate to the dynamic processes of radicalisation, organisation and action, and the ebbs and flows of the class struggle was promoted. In 1950, the Party responded to the threat of state banning, and, at a time when working class combativity was developing, it disbanded. In the period under study, the goal of working class leadership in an organised class alliance was not achieved.