Saturday, August 08, 2015

As Seen By Others

The voice of socialism can be heard in New Zealand. Members of the World Socialist Party (New Zealand) in the past contributed to Wheels, the journal of the Drivers' Federation and the New Zealand Building Worker once reproduced an article called "Get Rid of Wages" and a couple of others. The December 1968 issue of the left-wing New Zealand Monthly Review inadvertently introduces its readers to the view that in North Vietnam there is state capitalism and not socialism.  "Apart from such political freaks as the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which advertises Vietcong, No! Mao, No! Che, No! Socialism, Yes! and bleats that North Vietnam is 'State Capitalism' . . ."

A history of the anarchist movement in New Zealand also makes a mention of the WSP(NZ):

“The Values Party was founded in 1972, making it the first nationwide green party in the world. It soon gained some popular support, especially from people who were disillusioned with both Labour and National…By about 1975, a “socialist faction” developed in Values…The influence of the socialist faction could be seen when Values talked of goals like workers’ control, participatory democracy, decentralisation and a more caring, sharing and co-operative community. Yet overall Values sought some watered down anarchistic reforms within the framework of capitalism and the state, aiming for a more humane and greener capitalism. For example, by workers’ control, it meant capitalist “co-operative community enterprises” where workers were allowed a little more say in the day-to-day running of the workplace through elected representatives to a management board…Values differed from libertarian socialism because libertarian socialists have traditionally aimed at the destruction of state power and the abolition of private property, the market and capitalist social relations. What is more, they have rejected representative, parliamentary democracy in favour of direct, participatory democracy. Perhaps this faction of Values was closer to a version of “utopian socialism” or mutualism than mainstream anarchism. Of all the political parties of the 1970s in Aotearoa, I believe a stronger case can be made that the Socialist Party of New Zealand, sister party of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, was closer to libertarian socialism than Values. The SPNZ viewed the working class as the revolutionary agent, aimed for the end of private property and money, rejected the Leninist vanguard party, and dismissed the “socialism” of the USSR and China as capitalist. However, I do not believe the SPNZ was libertarian socialist in orientation, as it believed, much like the radicals within Values, that parliament was a fruitful route for radical change. This statism, as well as its intellectualism, aloofness from activism and its tendency to be dogmatic, meant that few anarchists were attracted to the SPNZ.”

Members, would, of course, take issue with the misconception that they were aloof from activity. Many members were (and are) involved within the trade union movement. Although the WSP(NZ) are committed to capturing the state through the ballot and not by insurrection or the general strike, the description that it is “statist” is incorrect. The WSP(NZ) is just intent upon abolishing the State as any anarchist organization but differ on the means. It wishes to use the means wrested from the ruling class – the vote - against the State. As for being dogmatic, the WSP(NZ) would no doubt say it is principled rather than opportunistically following the band-wagon of public opinion and that approach could be mistaken for dogmatism. 


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