Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

V. G. Wilxcox

New Zealand Party’s Firm Stand


The problem of winning the masses in the more developed capitalist countries from the stranglehold of social democratic ideology is a major one for the world Communist movement – and of particular interest to us in New Zealand. On this we hold views based on long experience– our whole life has been involved in this struggle, though certainly, to date, nowhere has complete success been achieved by any Communist Party.

Revisionism in the world today, with a large socialist sector in existence, has again brought forward ideas that the ideological aspect in dealing with social democracy is unimportant, that social democracy contains a wide basic socialist outlook and that social democratic parties, because of their mass working class base, are not capitalist parties.

(This is also the basis of the new love for the Yugoslav revisionists that we find expressed so openly today).

Lenin once referred to New Zealand as the “paradise of the Second International.” Social democracy in policy first appeared in legislative form in our country away back in the 1890’s, in the policy then carried out by the then Liberal-Labour Governments. So we have a long history behind us as far as this question is concerned.

What immediately concerns us is that, in our opinion, theories that are basically revisionist have cast aside, as outdated or not applicable in the new conditions, the basic classic form as outlined by Marx and Lenin regarding the way to deal with Capitalism, imperialism and Socialism. And this has created a wide spread feeling in our world movement in approaching the vital question of social democracy, its theory and practice. It leads to the ignoring of the importance of the ideological side and starts to speak of social democracy as a genuine socialist trend or something that can be’ won, without any fundamental ideological change, into a useful ally in the struggle for Socialism.

This is not only dangerous, leading to the ignoring of the leading role of our Communist Parties as the party of the working-class, but inevitably opens the door for the infiltration of social democratic ideology in our own ranks. Then we become a “ginger” group of left-wing Labour, failing to see that left social democracy is still a form of bourgeois ideology and, on occasions, as useful to the class enemy. Sometimes it can be even more useful in betraying the workers’ interests than right social democracy because of its more militant words cloaking its reactionary deeds.

In regard to the nature of social democratic parties what Lenin said to the 2nd Congress of the Communist International remains true today. We will quote briefly: –

Indeed, the concept, ’the political organisation of the trade union movement’ or the ’political expression’ of this movement, is mistaken.

Of course, for the most part the Labour Party consists of workers, but it does not logically follow from this that every workers’ party which consists of workers is at the same time a political workers’ party; that depends upon who leads it, upon the content of its activities and of its political tactics. Only the latter determines whether it is really a political proletarian party.

From this point of view, the Labour Party is not a political workers’ party but a thoroughly bourgeois party, because, although it consists of workers, it is led by reactionaries, and the worst reactionaries at that. . . . – Lenin, speech on the British Labour Party at the 2nd Congress of the Communist International.

Yet today are not many in danger of leaving out the essential factor that a social democratic party is a capitalist party ideologically? Even the Programme of the C.P.S.U. appears to us to miss this point when it says: –

Historical experience has shown the bankruptcy of both the ideology and the policy of Social Democracy. Even when reformist parties come to power they limit themselves to partial reforms that do not affect the rule of the monopoly bourgeoisie. Anti-communism has brought social reformism to an ideological and political impasse. This is one of the main reasons for the crisis of Social Democracy. – From the Programme of the C.P.S.U.

It is not anti-communism that has brought social reformism to an ideological and political impasse. Anti-communism was but the logical outcome of an ideological outlook based on Capitalism.

In our view this leads to the danger of confusing the tactics of working with the masses under social democratic influence wherever possible with the aim of eliminating social democratic ideology from the minds of the working people and the introduction of once again a true working-class outlook, understanding the correctness of our Marxist-Leninist approach and logically followed by conscious mass support for our Communist Parties. If we don’t work in this way, our view is that the door is wide open for the entry of revisionism and the liquidation of our Communist Parties as Marxist-Leninist Parties.

We think that in developing more effective struggle in New Zealand around peace and against monopoly, along the lines of the 1957 Declaration and the 1960 Statement as applicable to the conditions of our country, the first stumbling block we reach is the hold of social democratic ideology on the minds of the workers. For us, the building of the united front of the working-class is the starting point. And here, at once, this ideology stands in the way. It leads to the acceptance of things as they are, the idea that it is hopeless to struggle, that all one has to do is rely on the labour leaders, who themselves are the tools of monopoly, as their policy clearly indicates. It leads to the concept that “the leaders will fix it,” that the masses are unimportant, that their full role is but to vote the right way once every three years.

That is the situation that faces us in New Zealand.

As we see it, social democracy is a bourgeois ideological trend and an important pillar upholding the reactionary rule of imperialism, monopoly Capitalism. Lenin pointed out long ago that social democratic parties are a variant of bourgeois political parties.

In the day-to-day struggle of the working-class movement, as well as in the struggle to safeguard world peace, Communists must, in every possible way, carry out extensive joint activities with the social democrats and the masses of the workers under their influence. But, at the same time, the Marxist-Leninist Parties must draw a strict and clear ideological line of demarcation between themselves and the social democratic parties and make efforts to win over the honest working-class elements, so as to enable these elements to free themselves from the ideological influence of social democracy, to understand Marxism-Leninism and to wage consistent class struggle against Capitalism and for the victory of Socialism.

In New Zealand, social democratic ideology, as a variant of bourgeois ideology, is itself losing much of its hold in the ranks of the workers. We do not want to create illusions that among the masses a working-class ideological outlook is emerging, firmly based on struggle. This is not so, but the belief that the New Zealand Labour Party is going to solve their problems the next time it is elected is dying rapidly. Social democracy’s hold on the workers is tending to rely on the slim aspect that a majority of the industrial workers think it is a little better than the other capitalist parties.

We consider that this is a logical development in the era of the transition from Capitalism to Socialism, in the days of the decline of imperialism on a world scale. But we are concerned that this aspect is not brought out clearly on a world scale. Instead, illusions seem to be growing that the nature of social democracy is changing.

How did Lenin outline the rise of social democracy in the workers’ ranks, and to what did he attribute its cause? In essence he said that, from a world angle, out of the development of imperialism it became possible for Capitalism to create a “labour aristocracy” in the major industrial countries without seriously cutting into the rising profits and imperialist expansion at that time. And that, in fact, the resulting dampening down of the class struggle in the industrialised countries gave them a favourable balance sheet in any profit and loss account in that period.

We know that it was not Capitalism giving the masses of humanity a higher living standard as some capitalist apologists try to persuade us. No, this was the period of the most brutal and intensive exploitation of their rapidly expanding colonial empires. But, in countries where social democratic ideology now has a stronghold, there was room then to buy off the movement by flattery, by honours, by sinecure jobs for its leaders and for the most effective section of the workers, by higher living standards at the expense of the colonial peoples. This tactic of the ruling class spread right throughout what we now have come to term the “West” and to certain portions of the British Empire of those days, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Lenin, in “Under a Stolen Flag” expressed it thus: –

Take, for instance, the possession of colonies, the extension of colonial possessions. This was undoubtedly one of the features of the above-described epoch in a majority of large states.

What did it signify economically? It signified a certain accumulation of super-profits and special privileges of the bourgeoisie.

It signified further the possibility of receiving crumbs from this cake also for a small minority of petty-bourgeois, also of better situated employees, officials of the labour movement, etc.

That an insignificant minority of the working-class of England, for instance, was ’enjoying’ crumbs from colonial advantages is an established fact, as is recognised and indicated by Marx and Engels.

That phenomenon, however, which in former times was confined to England alone, became common to all the great capitalist countries of Europe when these countries began to possess colonies of large dimensions, and in general when the imperialist period of Capitalism grew and developed.

We have gone into this because it seems to us correct Marxism to say that if the basic cause of the rise of social democracy was as Lenin stated, it logically follows that now, with imperialism in decline, its scope for exploiting activities dwindling and with few new areas to move into, and with the consequent growing world crisis of imperialism, the material foundation of that ideology in the workers’ ranks is also disappearing.

This concept that it is a dying ideology must be grasped fully and its implications realised. Thus the leading role of our Parties in such countries will emerge clearly, and flexible tactics with firmness on principle become possible. If we do not have clarity, unnecessary concessions are made, illusions arise that essential united front work is an end in itself and, dropping all pretense of socialist objectives, that labour leaders are no longer tools of the bosses, whether conscious or unconscious.

We consider that there is today just that lack of clarity in our world movement. We look for a more profound analysis.

Unfortunately our delegation in Moscow did not receive any endorsement of the views thus expressed, although, at the conclusion, there was agreement that a more profound analysis of the situation in relation to social democracy today was called for and our participation in that analysis welcomed.