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David Ivon Jones

DI Jones, born in the Welsh industrial town of Aberystwyth in 1883, contracted TB at an early age and emigrated to New Zealand for health reasons. There he hunted rabbits for a living. He moved to the Transvaal in 1909, working as a clerk for the Victoria Falls Power Company. He lived in South Africa only until 1920, but left an indelible imprint. A great theorist and publicist, he joined the socialist movement and was elected general secretary of the Labour Party in 1914. He denounced the government`s pro-war policy, was one of the founders the War-on-War Movement, and in 1915 broke from the Labour Party to form the International Socialist League, of which he became the first Secretary-editor, responsible for producing the weekly newspaper, The International.

With remarkable insight, Jones hailed the February phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917 as `a bourgeois revolution, but arriving when the night of capitalism is far spent`. Wasting away with TB, Jones left South African in November 1920, never to return. While on his way to Moscow he wrote a long report on South Africa for the Communist International, stating that although Africans were no more than cheap sources of labour in the colonial system, they soon became good trade unionists and loyal agitators for their class. National interests could not be distinguished from class interests, and formed the basis of `a revolutionary nationalist movement in the fullest meaning of Lenin`s term`.

While in Moscow, DI Jones did a great deal of writing, and was one of the first people to translate some of Lenin`s work`s into English. In his last letter to Bill Andrews, written shortly before he died in Yalta on 13 April 1924, he argued that the struggle of South Africa took the form of a `colonial national movement of liberation`. The appropriate standards to apply were set out in the Theses on the National and Colonial Question. `We stand for Bolshevism, and in all minds Bolshevism stands for the native worker`, he proudly affirmed.

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SACP 65 Years in the Frontline Struggle