Introducing the WSP(NZ)

Formerly known as the Socialist Party of New Zealand and founded in 1930 although its roots go well back into the dawning of socialist ideas in these islands, the World Socialist Party (New Zealand) clings to existence in the age of the internet. A new website 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.

The World Socialist Party (New Zealand) holds that socialism is the only cure for the effects of capitalism. While capitalism continues so the workers must suffer from its effects and their condition become worse, so we ask the workers of New Zealand to join us in the work of propagating socialism and organising for the overthrow of capitalism. Socialism is the only solution to their problems.

At one time, the WSP(NZ) did possess a presence and hold a certain amount of sway within New Zealand’s workers’ movement.

On October 21, 1912, the Petone Marxian Club was founded. At its fifth meeting, it was moved: “That this club adopt the object and principles of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.” The resolution was adopted without dissent.

Although the Petone Marxian Club had a limited existence (it held a total of 61 meetings), it did sow the seeds for the further socialist organisation in New Zealand. A few former members of the Petone Marxian Club carried on with socialist propaganda, but with the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 they encountered severe restrictions on their activity.

On December 28, 19l8, a conference of socialists was held at Christchurch, at which it was moved: “That a Socialist Party of New Zealand be formed.” An amendment was then put, and carried: “That a Marxian Association be formed.” Having formed the Association, it was agreed that it adopt the Object and Declaration of Principles of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. To obtain membership, the following pledge had to be signed: “I hereby undertake to render political support to none other than a Marxian Revolutionist, endorsed by the New Zealand Marxian Association, at all elections of candidates for public office in New Zealand.”

 A number of those who helped found the NZMA were former members of the Socialist Party of Canada who, as opponents of the war, had fled that country. Others were mainly seamen and coalminers. There were soon branches in Petone, Christchurch, Millerton, Huntly, Wellington, Auckland and a number of mining centres on the South Island. A rancorous dispute over the support for the Soviet Union caused the demise of the NZMA in 1922.

 In 1930, a number of former members of the Petone Marxian Club and the New Zealand Marxian Association – formed the Socialist Party of New Zealand and again adopted the Object and Declaration of Principles of the SPGB., Branches were organised in Auckland, Petone, Wellington and elsewhere. Outdoor speaking began and debates held. The SPNZ managed in January 1934 to produce a short-lived journal, the Socialist Review. The SPNZ later added the word “World” to its name and it still continues the task of advocating socialism.

A number of its members were significantly active within the trade unions. There were socialist stalwarts such as Ron Everson, a union 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 that the wisdom of years should not be so easily dismissed. The WSP(NZ) 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 itself?

The WSP(NZ) 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 only a very few members and appealing for new people to join, not every applicant will be accepted for membership, as only those who understand and wish to seek socialism and only socialism will be approved for membership. And there is a basic test, not demanding an academic knowledge of Marxist theory, but sufficient understanding to ensure that only committed and confirmed socialists join.

 When the WSP(NZ)  previously contested elections and stood candidates it insisted upon votes only from those who were in agreement with their goal of socialism and not a platform of palliative reforms. Unable now to offer its alternative, the WSP(NZ) advocates spoiling one’s ballot paper

The WSP(NZ) holds a principled position fundamentally different 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 they realise the cause of them. Unfortunately,  the overwhelming majority of workers do not comprehend the capitalist system in which they are exploited. While our fellow workers continue to lack the knowledge of the nature of the wages system, they will be obliged to engage in never-ending struggles that merely maintain their subject status as wage-slaves. 

 The problems of capitalism have not been solved and only the abolition of the cause – the profit motive system – will do that. This is what theWSP(NZ) propose and for which they are organised.  It is that we can see a greater than ever need for a socialist organisation for the overthrow of capitalism. The childlike faith of the majority of the workers in the Labour Government is hard to understand. The New Zealand Labour Party in power has proved itself little different from capitalist Parties; in fact, it has simply advanced new methods of extracting more surplus value from the workers and is attempting to put them into operation. they have no mandate for socialism, while they do possess the mandate to administer capitalism. This can be done only in the interest of capital and the capitalist class. Prime Minister Ardern has passed palliative measures but none of it will in any way alter the fundamental position of the workers of New Zealand. They will still have to sell their labouring powers in order to live, the wages, or price of these, will be determined by the value of the necessities required to produce, develop, maintain and perpetuate the labouring power, or in the event of the inability of the employee to sell ones labour-power a worker will be forced to throw oneself upon the benevolence of the State to eke out an existence on sustenance.

The WSP(NZ) holds that socialism is the only cure for the effects of capitalism. While capitalism continues so the workers must suffer from its effects and their condition become worse, so we ask the workers of New Zealand to join us in the work of propagating socialism and organising for the overthrow of capitalism. Socialism is the only solution to their problems. Only then can we make rational decisions concerning production and our environment without the shackles of the market system.

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 WSP(NZ) is committed to the concept of world socialism being a constituent part of the World Socialist Movement 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 WSP(NZ) 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 recognise a similarity with The Zeitgeist Movement and the Money Free Party who have been relatively active in New Zealand politics although both have discarded the language of Marxism for a wider appeal. The WSP(NZ) remains true to the party’s origins and it members continue its rich traditions. 

The WSP(NZ) is not indifferent to the much suffering caused by the pandemic; indeed as members of the working class, we ourselves experienced, day by day, the indignities and demoralising effects of the consequences. What distinguishes us from other political organisations is that we insist that it is futile to concentrate on just a part of capitalism’s problems. The only effective policy is to campaign exclusively for its abolition and replacement with socialism.

Why not investigate the World Socialist Party (New Zealand), a global party to eliminate global problems. The WSP(NZ) aspires towards revolutionary world socialism. That is the message it sends and it won’t be distracted by squabbles within the capitalist class that doesn’t benefit us working people as a class.

Visit the new website and learn more