New Zealand 2: Debating strategic shift to Eco-Socialism

“We must be activists, but not as part of a separate organisation. Rather, our activism should occur as part of existing red and green groups, anywhere there is sufficient overlap in practice to allow us to raise our ecosocialist ideas.”

Yesterday Kasama published  an essay from the discussions of the New Zealand Workers Party -- on the need for communist organization (including in times without specific political working class upsurges).

Here is a second posting from the thoughtful exchanges happening between revolutionaries in New Zealand.

In each case, there are efforts to examine the work and problems of existing organizations, and imagine radical shifts of politics and approach. This article summarizes a proposal for eco-socialism within NZ's Socialist Worker group. We will publish a larger essay by Grant Brookes separately.

This summation article first appeared on Climate and Capitalism (Jan 17)

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“Towards Ecosocialism” proposes major shift for New Zealand socialist group

New Zealand’s Socialist Workers Organization, which is connected with the UK Socialist Workers Party, is considering a proposal that the group abandon views described as “Trotskyist,” formally withdraw from the SWP’s international tendency, and declare itself part of the international ecosocialist movement.

If the proposal is adopted, instead of trying to build a small Bolshevik group, SWO members would “work for the creation of an internationally-linked Ecosocialist Network in Aotearoa, through non-sectarian participation in, and support for, existing red, green and other groups.”

The proposal is advanced in the document “Towards Ecosocialism,” submitted for pre-conference discussion by prominent SWO member Grant Brookes.  He writes:

This pre-conference contribution is an attempt to implement the first proposal – to extend and apply our ecosocialist analysis. It has implicitly espoused rejection of a label frozen in the last century – Trotskyism.

Secondly, we must link up with other ecosocialists internationally. Thirdly, we must be activists, but not as part of a separate organisation. Rather, our activism should occur as part of existing red and green groups (and Maori movements, trade unions, etc.) – in fact anywhere there is sufficient overlap in practice to allow us to raise our ecosocialist ideas.

This does not imply dissolution into these other groups. Extending and applying ecosocialism’s analysis, to arrive at new understanding, requires the ability of ecosocialist activists to share the lessons of practice, and collectively discuss our theory. But it does imply that ecosocialists have no need of a “central committee” to act as an “organising centre” for action. Nor do we need a “membership organisation”, bound by democratic centralism, to implement central committee decisions, conduct “interventions” or “carry a party line” inside the movement.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - Ian Anderson

    I think disavowing the frozen 20th Century label is useful, but dissolution (whether calling it that or not) is problematic.

    All I see offered as an alternative to separate red organisations is online networking. That's a very useful thing, but it doesn't play the same educating and cadre-building role. A lot of the time people I've come across who've mainly developed their 'socialist' ideas online, and not through a group in their area, have pretty warped/isolated ideas.

    There's also a strand of (theoretically) Broad = Good in SWNZ politics which comes through in Grant's article, even while rejecting other problematic aspects. Think it just allows for populist drift.

  • Guest - Ian Anderson

    Though the other point is Grant explicitly says elsewhere that he's not offering some universalised "theory of the party" that all groups should dissolve, just responding the specific situation of SW. On those terms we're in agreement.

  • Guest - RM

    Eco-socialism? What is that? A re-branding? Socialism is socialism and there is 1 class struggle. I'm glad labels are being dropped and dogma is being challenged, but isn't that the nature of dialectics anyway? You can't blame democratic centralism for the deformative ways its been used. Get rid of the central committee, make DC democratic. ......

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