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Workers’ International News, June 1938


The Manifesto in Afrikaans


From Workers’ International News, Vol.1 No.7, July 1938, p.8.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels has just been published in an Afrikaans translation with a Preface, in Afrikaans, by Leon Trotsky. In publishing this most famous of the Marxist classics in the language of the greater part of the white workers in South Africa, the Workers’ Party of South Africa has performed a service to internationalism.

Almost within the memory of the older generation of Afrikaans speaking workers British Imperialism has smashed its way into their world of “rural idiocy”, has transformed a backward semi-feudal land of ranches into an industrialised country criss-crossed with railways and motor roads, dotted with mines and factories, strung with telegraph wires. But the progressive mission of capitalism imperialism is obscured for them by the brutality with which finance capital established its dominion over the country, culminating in the Boer War with its farm burnings and concentration camps.

South Africa has become a link in the imperialist chain that girds the world around. The proud Boer has been humbled, the warlike Zulu has been conquered, the wily Basuto has been outwitted and today they labour submissively side by side in the gold mines to enrich conquering imperialism. They have become proletarianised. The Communist Manifesto is for them pregnant with meaning.

That is why the publication of the Manifesto is a significant step in the development of the Afrikaans speaking workers. That is why the organs of the “Liberal” imperialists in South Africa have raised an angry howl over its publication. The leading article of the Cape Times objects to it not so much because of the text which it describes as “vindictive dreariness” as on account of the preface by Trotsky, which is referred to the Department of Justice as subversive literature. On the other hand Die Burger, Nationalist mouthpiece hints darkly at foreign subsidies.

In contrast to the comments made by the capitalist papers the South African Stalinists maintain silence, totally at a loss to explain why the “agent of Hitler” writes the preface to a work which Hitler is casting into the bonfire of books in Germany and Austria.

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