September 1966 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Socialist party is opposed to Apartheid, just as to any other policy or movement based on colour prejudice. We think racism is foolish, unscientific and against the interests of the working class. We can see that the South African government's slogan of Apartheid ("separation") is really a hypocritical screen for haasskap (white domination), and that all manner of atrocities and hatreds flourish under the Verwoerd tyranny.
Our attack on apartheid is quite distinct from the attacks made on it by other organisations such as the Labour Party, Communist Party, Christian Action, etc. We do not support the “anti-apartheid" movement.
Socialism will be a world wide democratic community without private or government ownership of the means of production and will mean the end of Apartheid, together with a lot of other major human problems like wars, slumps and poverty.
To detach ourselves from other organisations who attach apartheid is no sectarian quibble: the most that members of the anti-Apartheid Movement can suggest to replace Apartheid is something rather like we have in Britain today. In other words, they want to swap one system of oppression for another. The only “equality" they want for the races of South Africa consists of the equal "privileges" of wage-slavery.
The best interests of industrial capitalism in South Africa call for the abandonment of Apartheid policies and the putting into effect of social reforms aimed at integrating Africans into the labour force as better trained exploitable wage workers. However, in view of the historical background of South Africa, capitalism has to adjust itself to a political situation that expresses the deeply entrenched prejudice that exists.
The contradictions between Apartheid and developing capitalism manifest themselves in hundreds of ways. Year by year the number of black Africans living in the “white" towns rises. Government policy is to strengthen tribalism: town life smashes tribalism. Without black African custom many "white" shops would have to close. Employers are increasingly annoyed at not being able to choose their own African workers: they have to recruit them through labour bureaus. The African workers' unions are not recognised by the government, but increasingly they are by the employers. Because of an acute shortage of labour, especially skilled labour, the system of job-reservation is being ignored “temporarily" in numerous cases
Soil erosion is a massive problem in South Africa, especially on the 13 per cent of the land occupied by Africans. To bring in adequate conservation measures, at least a quarter of the Africans on the reserves ought to leave, but government policy is to cram even more in.
Verwoerd wants to develop a series of “Bantustans" or “heartlands’ for Africans alone, and these provinces are supposed to evolve towards self-government. But it is commonly accepted even in $outh Africa that only one of these, the Transkei, will ever have more than nominal existence. The fact that a third of the African population lives on white-owned farms shows the ludicrousness of the Bantustan policy—but the government must try to carry this policy through to preserve the myth that the ethnic groups are being gradually separated, whereas in fact, African migration to urban areas continues.
The contradictions are there—and growing. But they are to some extent cushioned by the present boom. As long as the rate of profit is as high as it is in South Africa today, industrialists will be merely irritated by job reservation, etc., and will hang on to the apron-strings of the farming interests and the Verwoerd government. With greater pressures on profit margins, however, the apartheid statutes which help to maintain an exclusive, high-priced white labour supply, would become a more serious threat to industrial prosperity. The capitalist class would then become more aggressively dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction is already being expressed in these sections of the South African press which support industrial capitalism. The financial column of The Johnnesburg Star, (29.6.66) said:
“South Africa is being drawn inexorably into a decisive choice between the demands of economic necessity and the dictates of ’idealistic principles,’Any large-scale anti-state action by the South African people (riots, mass strikes, etc.) would cause a drop in foreign investment in South Africa, disrupt the stability of society and call for far greater expenditure on repressive forces.
“An obvious and surely inevitable step will be the more efficient use of the country's vast labour force, a major proportion of which is at present not only not being effectively used but is not being properly trained for the future.
“And if South Africa is to retain its present competitive position in world markets and to build up internal demand for its products it must train its total labour force and raise the earnings of the thousands of workers who become more productive.”
The attitude of the British capitalist towards South Africa is conditioned on the one hand by the fact that South Africa is Britain’s third best customer, and that two-thirds of all pays lip service to a repugnance for apartheid in its everyday relations with South Africa, it is business as usual.
Only the Socialist looks beyond all this, to a world where exploitation of man by man has gone. The Socialist Party of Great Britain is with the working class of South Africa in their struggle for democracy, for the vote and for the right to strike. But more than that, we work for the day when black, white, coloured and Indian workers in South Africa will unite with workers all over the world to remove wage-slavery and establish Socialism.