Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History


Searchlight South Africa

Dear Comrades

Recently, a small group decided to launch Searchlight South Africa, focused on South Africa. We felt that despite the vast number of books, pamphlets, and journals devoted to South Africa, and the many articles that filled newspapers and journals generally, a specific Marxist perspective was lacking.

We had to confront the fact that there are journals that claim to do precisely what we now aim to do. This is not the place to offer a critical appraisal of those publications. We find ourselves in general agreement with some of them, but wish to provide a more analytical approach; others drive us to distraction with their dreary contents, their poor analytical methodology, or their stifling approach. These cannot help the working class movement in South Africa in its struggles against capital and the oppressive state machine.

Of course we have definite ideas of what we wish to present. We want to develop positions on the political economy of South Africa, and hope to present ideas on the situation in the country as it unfolds. We have specific positions on socialism, on internationalism, and on nationalism, but we are not so arrogant as to believe that we have all the answers. Our journal will open its pages to debate, and we hope to draw an ever wider circle of readers into our discussions.

We aim to include sections on the current political situation, on the economy, and on factory and township organisations. There will also, be theoretical articles on the nature of capitalism in South Africa, and an appraisal of political trends, past and present. There will he an archives section containing documents from the left, starting with items written by David Ivon Jones in 1917-22,and at a later date articles from Spark (1935-39), and so on. There will be historical essays (including an appreciation of Claire Goodlatte – the ‘Red Nun’ of Cape Town, an analysis of some of the events of the 1950s, and so on), transcripts of taped interviews with South Africans involved in struggles from 1930-50, and selected book reviews.

We do not wish to confine the journal to matters political. We hope to cover developments in literature. in theatre, and associated topics. But this will depend on the contributions we receive. Nor do we want to confine ourselves to South Africa – even if this is our main focus. Events in the surrounding states, and further afield in Africa will be covered, and items of interest to socialists will be considered. We are in the hands of our potential contributors, and will gladly consider suggestions made to us.

The size of the journal will be approximately 100 pages of A5 size. The price will be £3.50 per issue, and the subscription for four issues in Britain will be £12 to individuals, £24 to institutions. Overseas prices will be £16 (or £28 to institutions) to cover the cost of postage. At this stage we have three main requests: Firstly we need articles, or ideas for the same. Secondly we need subscribers, and hope you will not baulk at sending us money for a journal which has yet to see the light of day. We also face the costs involved in launching the journal, and we anticipate losses in sending copies to South Africa and surrounding states for which money might not always be received. So thirdly we appeal for donations from friends who believe that this is a project they can support. If you do send us money, anything over and above the subscription price will be gratefully accepted as a donation towards this launching, making cheques to Searchlight South Africa. If you contribute from abroad, please ensure that it is in sterling.

With warmest greetings
Baruch Hirson

Updated by ETOL: 1.7.2003