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The New International, April 1938




From New International, Vol.4 No.4, April 1938, p.127.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


A friend, in New Zealand, sends, along with a standing order for copies of The New International, an interesting letter from the other side of the world, from which the following passages are taken:

AS YOU KNOW we have had a Labor Government since November 1935. It issues a weekly, a copy of which will reach you soon. It speaks for itself both politically and technically. The circulation (not officially revealed) is about 25,000 throughout the country reckoning on the very largest possible estimate. The Stalinists, feeble imitators of their European and English confrères, publish a footling weekly, a classic copy of which I enclose. The manifesto will interest you. It is entirely an overstatement of the “rallying of the bourgeoisie”. The fact is that the Nationalist Party, an amalgamation of town-country bourgeois traditional parties resulting from their defeat in 1935, has not yet recovered from the shock of its shattering rout at that election. Its policy speeches have been woefully weak, with nothing to substitute for the Labor Party’s reformism. One or two Freedom Associations, Constitutional Leagues, etc., have arisen “to protect the democratic rights of New Zealanders from the ravages of Socialism” but in our atmosphere and in a time of relatively good prices and “prosperity” they will cut little ice. But the Communist Party sounds the alarm! To arms, citizens, in defence of the (sorry our) Labor Government! Defend peace, freedom, democracy! Any damn thing that is so fatuous in the light of modern history that the radio-doped, gullible populace need not think out its class position. You know the stuff so well that I need not enlarge on the theme – international in its viciousness.

I am also sending you some Labor Party pamphlets which one of your comrades might like to read. They are social-democratic with essential differences based on our lop-sided economy and our distance from political affairs in the Old World ...

May I congratulate you on the first issue of The New International? ... Altogether I hope that you can maintain the standard and sufficient circulation to make it a permanent effort. This is all the more important as the revolutionary movement seems decisively to have shifted to the English-speaking world in general and the USA in particular. The “new” countries – US, Australia, South Africa and even NZ – will carry on the movement that has so regularly moved its center of gravity. That’s a theory of my own that is easily demonstrable from the facts of the last few years. The appearance of the NI is a piece of evidence not lightly to be dismissed ...

I mentioned above that no Fourth International movement exists here. The whole position is unreal to us. Problems seem so local. Trotsky vs. Stalin is academic. The fate of the USSR or the Roumanian Jews or the Spanish Popular Front seem equally so. We are sorry that the Spanish people have decided to end their peaceful civilization and that Japanese are being dirty dogs in China – but as long as these stupid people keep away from us and Britain keeps out of a scrap things are OK. Wool and butter prices are much more important. That is our mental and political outlook in this fair country. Biologically speaking this is the best country on earth. Not too hot nor too cold; healthy; low death rate; very low infant mortality; hardly a slum, etc., etc. Intellectually – well that’s another tale. Still a few people here understand the necessity of resolving theoretical issues as the only guide to one’s own practice.-The very few who take up your position (more or less) are, however, in close contact with each other and in prominent Trade Union positions. We hope that we may provide some sort of rallying ground in time of trouble as long as we can keep some sort of personal position in our respective Unions and in the wider Trade Union movement generally. This is slow, heart-breaking work in a Labor-in-power atmosphere where the workers are sworn friends of their traditional party and the more leftward workers have come under the influence of unprincipled Stalinism ...

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