From International Socialism, No.14, Autumn 1963, pp.39-40.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Jonathan Cape. 25s.
Readers must be on their guard against accepting at their face value any of the political judgements contained in this book. The history of South Africa has been changed dramatically by the Pan-African Congress in a way that the African National Congress had not succeeded in doing during the fifty years of its existence. And yet the book is full of contempt for Robert Sobukwe and the other leaders of the PAC.
The author fails to make any evaluation of the new political and economic forces that have emerged in South Africa since Sharpeville. The reason is clear. The author became interested in the ANC because it was permeated with middle-class attitudes and led by professional members of the African middle-class. He describes himself as a socialist, but was unable to appreciate the authentic socialist voice with which Sobukwe spoke of the programme of the PAC. The PAC refused in particular to collaborate with the leaders of the Indian National Congress on the grounds that it represented only the interests of the powerful and influential Indian middle-class. It declared unequivocally its willingness to work with the exploited Indian peasants and working-class. Its repudiation of the Congress movement showed political maturity, for the Congress movement was dominated by the Stalinists of the old Communist Party, who were as corrupt and autocratic and as willing to sacrifice the revolutionary masses of South Africa at the dictates of Moscow as all the other Communist Parties of the West.
The author’s refusal to acknowledge this makes this book very dangerous reading for those who are new to South African politics. His emotional outbursts against the cruelties of apartheid must not blind readers to the essentially reactionary character of his political analyses. But worst of all is the author’s lack of faith in the power of the liberation movement in South Africa. He says: ‘Rebellion can succeed only with intervention of some sort from abroad’. The poor, exploited and ‘rightless’ people of South Africa will finally only achieve their liberation through their own efforts, by developing, expanding and strengthening the movement begun by the Pan-African Congress; not by waiting for deliverance by UNO or any group of African States.
Last updated on 24 March 2010