The Communist Party: Forging New Tools for an Old Cause

The following article is a resolution of the Communist Party Central Committee passed on 3 November 2020. While a longer read than most articles written for the Workers’ Star, it is an important read to understand the Communist Party’s modern Marxism for 21st century Aotearoa and our view on how we can win socialism.

With large changes happening in our world, accelerated due to the global pandemic and corresponding economic crisis, more than ever a genuine movement for peace and socialism is needed in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our Party has matured and developed greatly since its founding early last year, deepening both our understanding of the objective conditions in Aotearoa New Zealand and our position within the workers’ movement as a whole. We are larger and more active despite the challenges posed by the two lockdowns. As a result of both our collective efforts and individual merit, Communists have been elected as office-holders in several unions and other progressive organisations. 

As part of this process of development, and in recognition of the centenary of the Communist Party of New Zealand’s founding only five months away now, the Communist Party has voted to drop the “New” from our Party name to simply become the Communist Party of Aotearoa.

We have also worked hard to deepen our position as the inheritor of the Communist movement in Aotearoa New Zealand. We have met with former members and leaders of the Communist Party of New Zealand as well as the Socialist Unity Party to learn more about our history and really cement the Communist Party as its continuation. The Communist Party of Aotearoa is proud to now have members and supporters who trace their own participation back decades to either the CPNZ or the SUP. For the first time since the mid-1960’s, kiwi Marxist-Leninists are centred around a singular communist party, which gives the CPA extra responsibilities towards the near-100 year heritage of the Communist movement as well as its future development. 

We no longer contain ‘New’ in our name because the CPA is the Communist Party, no ifs or buts. All members of the Communist Party of Aotearoa recognise that if we do not keep holding the red flag first waved by the CPNZ high, nobody will. We are proud to be Communists building a modern Communist Party with a Marxist politics for 21st century Aotearoa.

The Communists and our modern Marxist politics are in favour of a strong and vibrant workers’ movement and Left. This goes beyond the Communist Party itself to trade unions, community and tenants unions, and campaign groups for democracy and social progress. If there’s one lesson history can teach the Left, one that we all know from organising for change in our workplaces, it is that working people are far better at standing up and organising for change when we are united and working together. 

The Communist Party of Aotearoa seeks a democratic road to socialism. This road is based on a broad anti-monopoly Left alliance in the workplace, the community, the streets, and ultimately, in the government. This anti-monopoly Left alliance would have the task of fighting the power of finance capital and opening the way to socialism.

The New Zealand economy is dominated overwhelmingly by monopolies in all sectors of industry and finance. As the primary instrument of bourgeois class rule, the NZ State has become dominated by the interests of these monopolies, contrary to those of the vast majority of the people of our country. This is what Marxists call state monopoly capitalism. Therefore the primary objective of our Party is the nationalisation and democratisation of these monopolies, which form the commanding heights of our economy. This is not nationalisation of the entire economy down to your local dairy, but the components that drive our economy, and therefore our country, forwards. This includes the banks, the electrical grid, energy production, telecommunications, IT, Air New Zealand, railways, and other key industries and services. Rather than being controlled by a boardroom either in New Zealand, or in many cases, overseas; these would be run by and for both the workers and our society as a whole through democratic nationalisation. It is only through this anti-monopoly strategy that full democracy, sovereignty and an end to imperialism can be achieved in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Lenin noted that any programme of nationalisation and curtailment of the privileges and power of capital, distinct from nationalisation that serves the interests of capital (eg planification), has no “middle ground”. In his words, “the objective process of development is such that it is impossible to advance from monopolies without advancing towards socialism.” 

An anti-monopoly alliance also links up the struggles in this country with those of the broad masses of people in the global south who are oppressed by NZ finance capital and its State. The anti-monopoly struggle is therefore essential to the movements for the end of poverty and colonialism throughout the world. It is also, in this globalised world, only with the support of other channels of both capital and goods, separate from the ultimate authority of Western European and North American monopoly capital, that an anti-monopoly policy can be executed without requiring near autarky. The most significant example of this alternate world economic flow is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where firm-level and government-level coordination can take place respecting both political and economic sovereignty. For example, under the BRI Belarusian state-owned enterprises in the IT sector have been able to partner with their Chinese counterparts to develop an independent and economically healthy Belarus. Similar partnerships could also diversify the New Zealand economy like never before, and reduce our dependence on the export of primary agricultural commodities.

History both internally and around the globe has shown the many opportunities and challenges of this strategy. In post-war Europe, these anti-monopoly governments came to power not just in Eastern European countries, but even in countries such as France, where banks and other commanding heights of the economy were nationalised and the French Communist minister of labour and social security, Ambroise Croizat, introduced the French social security system that still exists today.

Similar governments emerged in several countries in the 1970s and 1980s, most notably in Portugal after the April Revolution, in Chile under the famous Popular Unity government led by Salvador Allende, and in France under the Common Programme agreed by the Socialist and Communist Parties led by Mitterand and Marchais respectively. These three governments achieved great success in increasing social progress and democracy as the foundations for socialist transition. Yet all of these attempts at charting a different way to socialism were unsuccessful, defeated by coups either militarily or by renegade officials and civil servants. But even their failure highlights an important lesson for not just Communists, but all those on the Left looking to reign in the rule of finance capital. 

The capitalists of these countries saw that their number was up, and sought to bring down these governments by whatever means necessary. Thus a strong, class-oriented and principled Left with the support of the people is able to engender a crisis of capitalism and an opening to socialism – a revolutionary situation. Here the anti-monopoly Left movement and government must be able to rally working people to not only preserve these gains but also to push on for more and an entrenchment of the people’s democratic system.

Aotearoa New Zealand will only be able to break away from capitalism and build a socialist future out of the present we find ourselves in through this kind of alliance – a broad, anti-monopoly Left alliance that is able to fight, and win genuine victories for social progress and democracy. This requires organising on all levels: from our workplaces to nation-wide politics. This mass movement for change creates an opening for full-scale transformation towards socialism.

This recognition of the importance of popular mobilisation, and an anti-monopoly Left movement towards socialism centered around working people themselves, not Parliament, arrives at the second keystone of the Communist Party of Aotearoa’s viewpoint: working people’s democratic self-management in both production and community spheres. 

This forms the basis of the Communist Party’s viewpoint of both our future socialist society and the socialist movement here and now. As Marx and Engels wrote in The German Ideology, “we call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the now existing premise”. 

Unlike never before, local communities face the full assault of neoliberal state monopoly capitalism. During the period of Keynesian state monopoly capitalism from Savage to Muldoon, local communities had ample access to public services from a tram network to state houses. These rights were won through community organising, but were able to be fulfilled by the state. While a democratic and popular consciousness could be achieved, the objective conditions for an anti-monopoly nature of community organisation on a mass scale were not present.

While neoliberal state monopoly capitalism has seen the state remain involved in providing these services, it does so as a mediator for private companies and the market to deliver these services. This ranges from the new social housing providers to the monopoly companies that now run our public transport system, such as Australian company Kinetic, which owns around 180 different public transport services across Australia and New Zealand with 3,800 buses and 4,000 workers.  Kinetic is itself owned by Canadian finance capital firm, OPTrust. Even amenities such as water are corporatised through groups such as WaterCare in Auckland. Electricity and telecommunications have also been privatised in a gradual process.

This gives the struggle of communities for people’s democratic self-management a firm connection to and role within the anti-monopoly alliance. Community democracy and self-management means more than just the autonomy of the community to set its own character, it decides how our economic and political systems function, and in whose interests they serve. Communists are supporting, and will always support, the development of community unionism and the creation of community self-management through neighbourhood people’s committees as an integral part of democratic and anti-monopoly development in Aotearoa. 

Working people’s democratic self-management is also key to the solution of the national question and realising tino rangatiratanga. Capitalism, since the rise of colonisation has seen the traditional Māori communal mode of production and its associated way of life as public enemies, with Māori expected to first be farm labourers, and since the 1950s, urban proletarians.  The intense competition of our market economy is resisted by many Māori people, whose tradition is based on their historic collective approach to all matters. This tradition is a firm basis for a modernised collective approach to economic and financial management as part of the general struggle against monopoly domination. 

This is working people’s democratic self-management as it appears within the context of both class and the national question – in more familiar terms, that of upholding and exercising tino rangatiratanga. Marae, papakāinga and ohu production collectives provide an integral base to any socialist transformation of our country. Following from this, taonga such as the foreshore and seabed can and should remain in Māori collective ownership. Socialism and communal ownership is not limited to democratic nationalisation and there are a variety of forms of socialist ownership.

In this way, Māori economic development can contribute to meeting the needs of the masses of the Māori people (primarily for employment and social support) rather than merely funding the rapid expansion and enrichment of the Māori bourgeoisie (the bourgeois version of racial equality). Especially with the increased productive forces and means of labour unavailable before the industrial revolution, Māori communities such as whanau, hapu and iwi can have a socio-economic position previously off-limits for both technical and then political reasons. 

This collective approach towards tino rangatiratanga, and working people’s democratic self-management more broadly within the anti-monopoly strategy, forms an essential part of the solution to the environmental crisis.  Monopolies in our primary industries, particularly in dairy, form the greatest force behind both the defilement of the whenua and moana, and NZ’s contribution to global climate change. With the realities of this crisis now undeniable, the monopolists have moved to portraying the issue as one of personal consumption, rather than of the conscious activities of a small handful of corporations. Through the nationalisation and democratisation (which can happen without nationalisation) of these corporations, we can begin to meaningfully resolve, once and for all, the rift that exists between man and nature.

As is understood by most people, the problems affecting our environment are simultaneously local and global. Therefore the struggle against imperialism is also one for the defence of the natural world. Previous ‘Defence’ Minister Ron Mark introduced the “‘Strategic Defence Policy Statement’, which elevated the priority for our Defence Force to be able to respond in the Pacific “to the same level as New Zealand’s territory.” This strategy for New Zealand’s imperialist domination of the entire Pacific is not just a travesty for the national sovereignty of the peoples of this region, but a crime against nature. 

Since the rise of mercantile capitalism, foreign policy and relations between peoples around the world have been increasingly driven by capital. It sparks war for expansion of capital’s control and leads boardroom decisions in London or the big American cities to direct the development of our own economy, often without our say in the matter, as we saw in the 1980s. Underpinning and uniting both of these objectives is the anti-monopoly strategy, led by the working class and its allies. Therefore anti-monopoly struggle both transforms our socio-economic life domestically and also how we relate to the rest of the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Communist Party of Aotearoa, anti-monopoly struggle or working people’s democratic self-management, there are many ways of getting in touch and getting involved. If this piqued your curiosity, feel free to email us for more information or useful Marxist literature. We encourage anyone who agrees with our positions discussed above to join the Communist Party of Aotearoa and participate in your local city section. As we discussed above, however, this anti-monopoly Left movement does not just involve the Communist Party acting alone. Become actively involved in your trade union, the Aotearoa Community Union and other progressive and class-oriented organisations, as these mass organisations play an important role in drawing working people into the political and economic fight for a better life and a new world. 

Approved unanimously
3 November 2020
Wellington