1960s >> 1964 >> no-714-february-1964

A Tale of Two Parties

Once upon a time there were two Communist Parties. One was in Great Britain and was called the Communist Party of Great Britain: CPGB for short. The other was in New Zealand and was called the Communist Party of New Zealand: CPNZ for short. Ordinary simple people could see no difference between the two parties. But one day while they were watching their flocks they saw three wise men coming from the East, from Peking. The wise men said there was a difference. One was “revisionist” or bad; the other was “revolutionary” or good. So the simple people tried to guess what this could be. They knew the CPGB was nationalistic for they had read in a pamphlet on the Common Market:

Members of Parliament should be told in no uncertain terms that they were not elected to sell out British trade interests and British independence.

But they knew that the CPNZ was nationalistic, too, for it said it stood for “New Zealand Socialism.” One of its pamphlets, What Will Socialist New Zealand be like? said.

  In every way our Socialism will start on a one hundred per cent. New Zealand basis. It will bear the trade mark of our very adaptable and resourceful people— “Well Made, New Zealand! ’’

and the simple people laughed when they read:

    We have produced athletes like Lovelock, Halberg and Snell, who can take on the world’s best and beat them hollow. Our All Blacks are feared throughout the Rugby world.

For a moment they thought that a “revolutionary” Party supported the All Blacks while a “revisionist” Party supported the British Lions. But the wise men said no.

Then they remembered that the CPGB wanted a Labour Party government and a few Communist Party M.P.’s. Perhaps this was the difference, they thought, perhaps the CPNZ is against its Labour Party. When they remembered that the leader of the Labour Party in New Zealand had once said, “there is no place today for what used to be known as the class struggle,” they were certain. The CPNZ must be “revolutionary” because it opposed the Labour Party. But they were wrong. For someone told them that in People’s Voice, the CPNZ’s journal, they had read:

Our policy is to work for the return of Communist M.P.’s to Parliament and in electorates where no Communists arc standing we will support the return of the Labour candidate to defeat the National candidate. (6.11.63).

Now they were at a loss. What could this difference be? And then they notice something. They noticed that whenever there was a recession the CPGB used to say that trade with Russia was the answer while the CPNZ used to say that trade with China was. At first they thought that there was nothing here. After all, they said, Great Britain is nearer to Russia than to China and New Zealand is nearer to China than to Russia. But then they found that Russia and China were quarreling and that the CPNZ again thought that China was best. Then they understood. What makes a Party “revolutionary” or “revisionist” is not whether it is internationalist or nationalist, not whether it opposes or supports the Labour Parties, but whether it supports China or not. How wise these wise men were, they thought. And the wise men agreed.

The Chairman of the wise men then said, “Yes, we are wise. We don’t care what the home policy of a Communist Party is so long as it backs our foreign policy. You see, we don’t really care about theory. We are just using it to win support for our foreign policy in Communist Parties which are hostile to us. I will be frank. Our dispute with Russia is not one of ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘revisionists.’ It is a sordid and cynical struggle between two States.” (Thunderous applause and cheers. Standing ovation).

The simple people went away a little wiser.

Adam Buick