Contrary to the entry in Wikipedia, the World Socialist Party of New Zealand (WSPNZ) has not yet disappeared. As it is often said, the news of the demise is premature.
Four ageing members remain and are striving to keep alive the tradition of Impossiblism which when it developed included many socialist luminaries such as Marx’s son-in-law, Paul Lafargue.
However, as things stand, with so few members, the odds are not favourable for its survival into the future. But also, as they say, while there is still breath, not all is lost and perhaps there can be a revival of a socialist organisation.
Formerly known as the Socialist Party of New Zealand and founded in 1930 although its roots go well back to the dawn of socialist ideas in these islands, the WSPNZ clings to existence in the age of the internet. A new website still at the design stage promises to be the gateway for the revival of its socialist ideas that are held to be unique and that are surprisingly modern in content despite their long history.
At one time, the WSPNZ did possess a presence and hold a certain amount of sway within New Zealand’s workers’ movement. A number of its members were significantly active within the trade unions. There were socialist stalwarts such as Ron Everson, a militant organiser in the great waterfront lockout and bitter strike of 1951.
It is perhaps true to think that politics is a young person’s game, full of idealism and hope for the future, but we witness from Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders that the wisdom of years should not be so easily dismissed. The WSPNZ has acquired the collective knowledge of decades of analysis. Its principles have withstood the test of time and circumstances and are held to remain valid to this day, despite all the claims to the contrary and all the efforts to refute its ideas.
Can it rebuild?
The WSPNZ expresses a unique political position and presents interpretations of Marxism, rarely heard these days since the rise and domination of the left-wing reformist and Bolshevik parties.
Although with just four members and appealing for new people to join, not every applicant will be accepted for membership, only those who understand and wish to seek socialism and only socialism. And there is a test, albeit a rudimentary basic one, not demanding an academic’s knowledge of Marxist theory, to ensure that only committed and confirmed socialists join.
In fact, when the WSPNZ was previously in a position to stand candidates and contest elections they insisted that they did not want the votes from those who were not in agreement with their goal of socialism and it would decline to present a platform of palliative reforms to attract voters. Now, when it could no longer offer its alternative the WSPNZ does not promote a vote for the lesser evil but advocates a spoilt ballot paper
The WSPNZ’s principled position differs, fundamentally, from every other political party, because it takes the attitude that it is necessary for the working people to understand the world they lived in. Fellow workers are faced with the problems of poverty and insecurity and can not remove these problems until it understands the cause of them. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the workers do not comprehend the capitalist system of society in which we live, and in which we are exploited. While our fellow workers continue to lack knowledge of the nature of the wages system, they will be forced to engage in never-ending struggles which merely maintain their subject status as wage-slaves.
But when that situation changes, they will act collectively and in unison to capture political control of Parliament. Those on the left who denounce Parliament as useless should note it controls the forces of repression, the coercive power of the armed forces and police which means any undemocratic defiance is suicidal and doomed to failure. Once in Parliament socialist delegates would be the instrument of a class conscious and informed socialist working class so there is no requirement for the role of any leadership.
As indicated by the adoption of “World” to its name the WSPNZ is a committed to the concept of world socialism being a constituent part of the World Socialist Movement (an aspiration for the time being and sadly not the reality) for the common ownership and of the means of production, opposing the various command economies of nationalisation of labour parties or the state-ownership of the former Soviet Union. The aim of the WSPNZ is the end of the private property exchange economy and all that goes with it such as buying and selling, prices and wages and money itself.
Some New Zealanders may now recognise a similarity with the Zeitgeist Movement and the Money Free Party who are now relatively active in New Zealand although they have discarded the language of Marx to appeal to more people. The last of the WSPNZ stay true to the party’s origins.
Wikipedia obituary of the WSPNZ may well prove right in the course of time but as long as one WSPNZ member lives, the goal of convincing others to take up and carry the baton of world socialism has not died.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to keep the World Socialist Party alive
The history of the SPNZ and later the WSPNZ can be read at this link