Socialist Voice (New Zealand)

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Socialist Voice is a socialist group in New Zealand which describes itself as "fighting against the exploitation and injustices that people face every day". It is active in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.[1] It is affiliated internationally with the Committee for a Workers' International, an international socialist organization headquartered in London, United Kingdom. The CWI section in America, which has the same name, has attracted some attention.[2]

The organisation was previously known as Socialist Alternative.

Political views

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International revolution

While Socialist Voice supports reforms that improve the living standards of working people, it opposes a strictly reformist attitude to social change. In an article titled "Socialist perspectives for Aotearoa / New Zealand",[3] first published on the Socialistworld.net, it wrote,"the problem is that the working class is lacking a leadership with the foresight to challenge the capitalist system itself – the real source of all the underlying problems."

Democratic socialism

Socialist Voice advocates socialist democracy as an alternative to both the degenerated workers' state of the former Soviet Union and the capitalist democratic model which it considers designed only to benefit the ruling class and disenfranchise working people. It argues that capitalism allows a small minority of wealthy elites at the top to manipulate the political system in their favour while working people are left out of any serious decision making process, whether at work or in government. A socialist society, it maintains, would reverse this relationship with working people running the economy, utilising the enormous wealth and productivity of society to enrich their own lives. In contrast it describes capitalist production in New Zealand as "weak and unstable" and that "The system is incapable of providing working families with a decent future. When workers begin to realise that there will be no return to past ‘good times’ this will further contribute to the instability that exists.[4]

It does not consider the former Soviet Union socialist, but rather a "tragic degeneration" of the Russian Revolution and the socialist tradition.[5] While it views the Russian Revolution positively as a mass democratic revolution of the working class in Russia, it is in complete opposition to the bureaucratic dictatorship that came about after the death of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin's subsequent reign of terror. It sees these not as an inevitable outcome of the Russian Revolution, but an expression of Russia's isolation and economic starvation and a result of the vacuum of workers' power from below. "This was not a healthy ground upon which socialism could be built. The whole basis of socialism is having enough to go around, but Russia didn't have that. In this context, the democratic structures in the Soviets (workers' assemblies) ceased to function.[5]

Challenging asset sales

Socialist Voice has opposed the sale of State Owned Assets (SOE) arguing that they should "be brought under public control, harnessed, and made socially useful as part of a planned economy".[3]

Maori liberation

Socialist Voice commented that many of the demonstrations against the sale of SOEs have been led by Maori who have a significant social weight relative to indigenous populations elsewhere. They claim that the position of Maori has been achieved through various forms of struggle including land wars, protests, and various legal struggles. The Maori and workers movements have always overlapped and Maori have often been integral to the workers movement including during the struggle for Bastion Point in the 70s and in solidarity struggles against apartheid in South Africa in the 80s. Socialist Voice believe "the working class are the only real guarantors of Maori national and democratic rights as well as their economic liberation. Our goal is to unify all sections of the working class in action to fight for a system based on respect of difference and in which all national and minority rights would be guaranteed".[3]

Women's oppression

Whilst women’s movements and struggles have made significant advances for women in both formal and real terms, full equality is not something that can be delivered within the constraints of a system that seeks to divide people. While arguing for and fighting for every reform possible socialists seek to link the fight for women’s liberation to the fight for socialism – a system that is based on real equality and economic justice.[3]

A new party for workers

Socialist Voice sees the collapse of Stalinism having led to the collapse of the Communist Party and the shift to the right of the Labour Party. They believe this crisis of working class representation is not specific to Aotearoa / New Zealand but is part of an international current and the working class desperately needs to create its own political representation so it can push back.[6]

References