Chris Trotter fires with both barrels at Phil Goff. This is significant as Chris endorsed Labour in 2008 and was seen wearing a Labour rosette.
LISTENING to Radio New Zealand-National’s “Focus on Politics” yesterday evening, I was incensed and depressed, but I can’t honestly say surprised, to hear Phil Goff dismiss Labour’s founding objective – “the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange” as “nineteenth century history.”
It got worse, with Phil adding ideological insult to historical injury by declaring that the modern Labour Party believed “a well-functioning market system is the most effective and efficient way of organising an economy”. Yes, he was willing to “recognise market failure”, but only to the extent of ensuring “an adequate level of regulation”. …
Let’s begin with his glib dismissal of the “socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange” as “nineteenth century history”.
It was, in fact, only at the Labour Party conference of June 1951 that the socialisation clause was deleted from Labour’s aims and objectives.The dropping of the socialisation clause did not, however, mean that the Labour Party constitution was purged of any and all references to its socialist beliefs and objectives. Even today, the Party’s constitution declares, as one of its foundation principles: “Co-operation, rather than competition, should be the main governing factor in economic relations, in order that a just distribution of wealth can be ensured.”And among its objectives one can still read of Labour’s determination: “To ensure the just distribution of the production and services of the nation for the benefit of all the people.”, and “To educate the public in the principles and objectives of democratic socialism and economic and social co-operation.”
It looks like Trotter knows the Labour Party constitution better than Goff.
A capitalist economy, unmodified by the ameliorating reforms of a politically organised working class, will always fail to deliver for the overwhelming majority of the population. That’s because capitalism is intended to advantage the few at the expense of the many, and can only lead to the political domination of society by “elites at the top”.To guarantee that the economy works more effectively for the majority, it is necessary to challenge the idea that private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange leads to a fair and equitable society. It has been Labour’s historical mission to lead that challenge, and to play a decisive role in the struggle against capitalist ideology.
The history of the past century has made me extremely wary of mounting that challenge primarily by the application of political violence and repression. My preference is for the principled and peaceful promotion of social-democratic ideas throughout the population – for making socialists of conviction rather than socialists by compulsion.
Certainly, that means the journey will be slow, and there will be occasional reverses, but it most emphatically does not mean that we can ever afford to give up the challenge; put an end to the journey.
If it is your view, Phil, that the quest for democratic socialism should be dismissed as something belonging to “nineteenth century history”, then I say: “The hell with you!”
And, to the members of the NZ Labour Party I say: “Find yourselves a new leader.”