Compiled by Warren McGregor (TAAC, ZACF)
What was the ISL and what were its aims?
The International Socialist League (ISL) was a revolutionary syndicalist political organisation founded in Johannesburg in 1915. Many founders were militants who had broken from the South African Labour Party (SALP) over its support for the British Imperial war effort in World War I. They were opposed to capitalist war and imperialism.
The ISL aimed to organise “One Big Union” of the entire South African working class to fight for the overthrow of capitalism and the taking over of society by the working class, for the working class.
What did the ISL say about race?
Key to this project in the South African context was the breaking of the racial divisions within the working class. This required raising the specific demands of black workers for equality with white workers, in order to practically unite all workers and to enable them to work together toward “their common emancipation from wage slavery.”