Darien Fenton at the Fantastic Conference

Posted: September 4, 2012 by Admin in Events, Labour Party NZ, Marxism, New Zealand politics

by Don Franks

Socialist Aotearoa’s 2012 conference – “Revolution!” – took place in Auckland’s Trades Hall last weekend.

SA’s pre-conference publicity hoped that the gathering would be this year’s “premier conference of the radical left in Auckland. . . a chance to critically assess the key international and national struggles of the last year. . .  and to refresh our theory – Marxism, women’s liberation and socialist environmentalism.”

“For new members and supporter,s” promised the organisers, “this will be a fantastic introduction to the politics of Socialist Aotearoa.”

Having read the Socialist Aotearoa’s report I agree with the organiser’s own assessment of their work. The conference does indeed look to have been a fantastic introduction to the politics of Socialist Aotearoa.

Fantastic in the full meaning of the word, as in: “conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination, bizarre, grotesque”.


Socialist Aotearoa report that at their prime Saturday panel discussion of “Revolution!”: “Labour MP Darien Fenton also spoke at the closing session, calling for unity on the left to fight the Government”.

I’ll bet she did.

When out of office it has ever been the Labour Party’s practice to crank up the windy rhetoric, and, wherever possible pick up a few free foot soldiers to do some donkey work for them. A few activists with a track record of militancy lend Labour opposition stunts a little credibility. When Labour does manage to get back into office, left activists are swiftly disposed of.

When the young Mike Moore was first after a Labour seat many moons ago some of his minders worried about all the Young Socialists for Labour he had around him.  “Don’t worry, Mike knows what he’s doing,” said an older hand. Sure enough, the minute Mike got his seat, his young comrades all got the quick flick. Nobody in this world is less likely to score than a commo lobbying a sitting MP. Yet New Zealand leftists’ infatuation with parliament persists.

You can’t blame Fenton for doing her job and spending half an hour as a top table guest of Socialist Aotearoa. There is a bit there in it for her. Not for the revolutionaries.

When the Labour immigration and industrial relations spokesperson called for unity on the left you can be sure a few little things were left out of the equation. Such as left unity demanding workers’ freedom to strike, left unity demanding open borders, left unity against capitalism. On these and all other substantial class issues, Labour is on the same side of the fence as National.

Ever since it got going the New Zealand Labour party has been a consistently prop capitalist and implacably anti communist organisation. This anti-working class history is well summarized in the book by Daphna Whitmore and Philip Ferguson The Truth About Labour, a Bosses Party.

The “Revolution!” conference closing statement: ” acknowledged the need for Socialist Aotearoa members to continue the work in Aotearoa is Not for Sale, in Glen Innes, in the education sector and the union movement to fight the government”.

An official Labour party gathering could have said exactly the same.

Does this stuff really matter?

Yes it does. The longer workers vainly seek salvation from the Labour Party, the longer they put off the decision to reject capitalism and take a genuinely revolutionary road to liberation.

Socialist Aotearoa’s opportunist stupidity does nothing at all but prolong the agony.

  1. Excuse my ignorance of the extreme left-wing parties, but where does Socialist Aotearoa stand in relation to the former CPNZ/Socialist Workers Organisation, Socialist Unity Party etc?

  2. Don Franks says:

    Socialist Aotearoa was formed by one or two people who left Socialist Worker when that organisation put it’s all into the “neither left or right” RAM. The SW resignees were invited to join the Workers Party but preferred to set up their own group.

  3. Thanks Don. I personally would not be so brave as devote my time and energy in trying to turn the New Zealand Labour Party into a revolutionary party of the working class. I guess one can say “good luck to them” and all those others who have embarked upon such a mighty task