International Socialist League (South Africa)

  • Syndicalism
  • Labour economics

The International Socialist League of South Africa was a syndicalist group, influenced by the Industrial Workers of the World and Daniel De Leon.[1]

Formed in September 1915, it established branches across much of South Africa (excluding the Western Cape), and formed the first black African trade union in the country, the Industrial Workers of Africa, in September 1917. It also formed a number of other unions amongst people of color. While its founders were mainly drawn from the radical wing of the white working class, the movement would develop a substantial black African, Coloured and Indian membership.

A notable feature of the International Socialist League was that it insisted on the need for a specific political organisation with clear and unified policies, in addition to the syndicalist unions.

The International Socialist League merged into the Communist Party of South Africa at the latter's founding in June/July 1921, providing many notable early figures. The Industrial Workers of Africa, meanwhile, merged into the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union or ICU, in 1920, one reason that union was influenced by syndicalism. The ICU would play a major role in rural South Africa,[2] as well as spread into several neighbouring countries.[3]

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