Monday, May 17, 2010

From Israel to the Pacific

There have been some long discussion threads on this blog - Richard Taylor's objections to kickboxing sparked a firestorm a couple of years ago, my criticisms of the Celtic New Zealand crowd have often brought pseudo-historians out of the woodwork and into the comments boxes, and a recent 'debate' over the 9/11 'Truth' movement somehow racked up a couple of hundred contributions - but few threads have been as varied and thoughtful as the one which unfolded underneath last week's post about Tuhoe and the Pakeha left.

I want to apologise for my improvised and often tipsy responses to the many fascinating responses my post drew - I went to an unprecedented number of art launches last week, and made sure I took good advantage of the free booze.

I want particularly to apologise to Wellington anarchist and anti-racist activist Asher Goldman for having taken so long to reply to his careful discussion of the history of Zionism and its possible relevance to contemporary Polynesian nationalisms (you can find Asher's contribution about halfway down the comments thread).

I have argued that the nationalist movements which won independence for Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands from the New Zealand state were in certain important ways progressive, and that Tuhoe nationalism might well have similarly progressive features, if it gets a colonial state off the back of an indigenous people. Asher argues (if I understand him rightly) that the example of Zionism and the state it created shows that all forms of nationalism, including Polynesian nationalisms, are reactionary, because they simply replace one set of oppressors and exploiters with another. Along with his fellow anarchist Fydd, who contributed a thoughtful analysis of Tuhoe experiments with capitalism to last week's discussion, Asher believes that the creation of a nation state is a spur to the development of capitalism. As an indigenous 'comprador' bourgeoisie replaces an old colonial elite, the same people who were oppressed by the old order are dispossessed of their land, proletarianised, and exploited. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Whilst I don't have Asher's knowledge of the history of Zionism, I find the thread of his argument about the history of that movement credible. I disagree, though, with Asher over the relevance of the history of Zionism and the depredations of the Israeli state to Polynesian societies like Samoa and Tuhoe Country. I don't see that there is a parallel between the content of Zionism and the content of Polynesian nationalisms, and I don't agree that national independence has always tended to strengthen capitalism in the Pacific.

I can't see how the sad trajectory of Zionism, which began as a voice of a horribly oppressed European minority and became the ideology of a brutal neo-colonial state, has any obvious lessons for Polynesians who use nationalist slogans. It seems to me that Zionism was always very different from the nationalism of, say, the Samoans, because it proposed founding a nation on land possessed by another people. The Mau movement used the slogan Samoa mo Samoa (Samoa for the Samoans), and fought to remove colonial administrators; the Zionist movement may have used the slogan 'A land without people for a people without land', but it was actually advocating, rather than opposing, colonialism.

I think that the Highland Scots who settled in certain areas of Australia and New Zealand - Gippsland, Waipu, and the McKenzie Country, for examples - in the nineteenth century offer a better local parallel to the story of Zionist colonialism. The Highlanders had been driven off their land by the English and lowland Scots, because their largely pre-capitalist, tribal way of life contradicted the logic of the market. The British bourgeoisie wanted to destroy crofting communities, with their long and intricate histories and cultures, and replace them with sheep farms and deer parks.

The Highlanders were undoubtedly an oppressed group, but when they reached their own 'lands without people' they often turned oppressor. In Gippsland, for instance, they waged a war of extermination against local Aboriginal peoples which is only now being documented in all its horror. Although the Highlanders-turned-colonists did not form their own state, nor even, in most places, retain their cultural distinctiveness, their journey from oppressed to oppressor surely parallels that of Zionist Jews.

Asher rightly notes the speedy emergence of class divisions in Israel, where the Jewish bourgeoisie that controls the state uses nationalist and anti-Arab rhetoric to disguise its exploitation of working class Jews. I don't see, though, that there are many parrallels between post-independence economic development in Israel and the sort of development that has been seen in Polynesian nations like Samoa after independence.

The expulsion of vast numbers of Palestinians from the new state of Israel in 1947 and 1948 gave capitalism a boost there. Large areas of land which had once been held under customary title by Palestinian tribes suddenly fell into the hands of Israeli capitalists. This land was often converted to freehold title, and sold to Jewish settlers. In Samoa, Niue and the Cooks, though, independence from the New Zealand state meant the retention of land held under customary title. Samoa's Mau movement had been formed largely because of the attempts of New Zealand colonial administrators to weaken customary title and break up blocks of collectively-owned land. The slogan 'Samoa mo Samoa' reflected the Mau's determination to resist the encroachment of capitalist property relations. When Samoa was finally granted independence, the Samoans inserted a clause in their constitution protecting land under customary title. Samoan independence represented the defeat of the plans of New Zealand imperialists to foist capitalist development on the society they saw as their rightful possession.

Today, the neo-colonialists of the IMF and Australasia want to destroy the legacy of the Mau by breaking up the collectively owned land and doing away with customary title. They argue that Samoa must become a much more capitalist country if it wants to survive in the twenty-first century. In other Polynesian nations like Tonga and the Cooks the IMF and Australasian imperialists preach the same message.

I agree with the Pacific radicals who have rejected the arguments of the IMF, Canberra, and Wellington, and called for an alternative form of development rooted in the retention of collectively-owned land and resources. I think that the elderly Marx's famous letter to Vera Zasulich, which suggests that pre-capitalist forms like the peasant commune can be the basis for socialist development in Russia, offers interesting parrallels with the writings of Pacific intellectuals like the late Futa Helu, who argued that his fellow Tongans had to 'put the horse before the cart', and use traditional, collectivist forms of social organisation as the basis for a type of economic development that reflected the needs of the community, not the needs of the market.

In the post which began last week's debate, I warned about the tendency of the Pakeha left to interpret the complex history of the Pacific using inappropriate foreign models. It seems to me that Asher's attempt to to suggest a parallel between Zionism and the national liberation movements of Polynesia is a good example of this tendency.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

that photo at the top of your post shows 'mau police'


if the mau were a genuine freedom movement why did they need POLICE?

2:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps anarchists are against ALL nations.

so anarchists don't support samoa for the samoans or iraq for the iraqis any more than us for the americans or south africa for the whites...

for more info see

2:17 pm  
Blogger Asher said...

Hi Maps

Interesting post - I don't have time to reply right now but will try to get to it sometime in the next day or two....

In the meantime, you may be interested to read a pamphlet that sums up my views on nationalism and national liberation pretty well - Against Nationalism by the Anarchist Federation (UK). It's available on their website at

3:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:53 pm  
Anonymous Nestor Notabilis said...

I think (4) meant tractor. It would be a better one word comment anyhow, as in 'tractor on bro, awesome post'.

4:48 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Or maybe he's a member of the Tractor Liberation Front?

5:33 pm  
Anonymous Nestor Notabilis said...

"He", maps? I noted a distinctly feminine tone to that word.

(note: the word verification they are making me submit, below, is "prehori". What the hell is that supposed to mean, google?)

6:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'anarchists don't support samoa for the samoans'

OK. But who do these seven or so anarchists think should own Samoa then?


6:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s far easier for “anonymous” to spout vile/evil comments because they don’t have to own up to them. I’ve noticed that people are often more willing to post nasty things when they remain anonymous. That’s why I post my name…and website with any comments that I make. I’m “man enough” to own up to what I say and believe in.

7:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really cool discussion at the Herald after Paul Moon came out for Tuhoe's claim to Te Urewera last week...

yeah comrades...not a redneck in sight! Most of the Herald readers can see that wrongs were done to Tuhoe and that they deserve why can;t anarchists?

Maybe anarchists need to learn from socialist groups and distinguish between THE RIGHT to self-determination and support for self-determination. I can support someone's RIGHT to do something without saying I would to that same thing in their position. A fine distinction but an important one which was acknowledged by the Socialist Action League in the


7:52 pm  
Blogger Dave Brown said...

On the Russian Commune as a model for going straight from primitive communism to communism in the Pacific wikipedia is adequate:

"Writing with the advantage of nearly twenty additional years of closer observation of the rural communes in Russia, V. I. Lenin was able to conclude that the rural commune could not be the agent socialist development in Russia, exactly because increasing numbers of Russian peasants within the rural communes were being separated from the means of production within the rural commune.[39] Within the Russian rural commune, land was the "means of production". Ideally, all peasants in the rural commune would own or have access to an equal share of the land operated by the commune. Lenin's close analysis of the communes concludes that not all peasants within the rural commune had equal access to land. Indeed, at the time that Lenin wrote his book (1899), there was already a drastic difference between the amount of land cultivated by some rich kulak peasants as opposed to other poorer peasants within the rural commune.[40] Furthermore, this condition was not static. Rather the "differentiation of the peasantry within the rural commune was an ongoing process. More and more small peasants within the rural commune were becoming unable to support themselves on the small amount of land they had access to within the rural commune.

Inevitably, many poor peasants within the rural communes across Russia were actually "landless". As the years went by many more of the small peasants within the rural communes were becoming landless as the process of "differentiation of the peasantry" allowed the rich peasants to become richer and the poor peasants became poorer.

Some of the landless peasants were required to seek employment from the richer "kulak" peasants within the rural commune. These landless peasants would be considered a part of the rural proletariat. Other landless peasants would leave the commune altogether and join the urban proletariat. Whichever way the landless peasant went, Lenin points out that this development is totally familiar to us as nothing more or less than the familiar process of the ruin and "proletariatization" of the small peasantry, by the complete separation of that small "landless" peasantry from the means of production.[41]"

8:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anarchists say ALL states are imperialist...

Samoa is just as much imperialist as America...

it just doesn't have the power right now

9:17 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Wikipedia is a dangerous source precisely because it sometimes too sure of itself, Dave. Teodor Shanin has used the data collected by the Soviet scholar Chayanov (who was eventually executed for troubles by Stalin) to argue that Lenin actually overstated the differentiation of the peasantry.

But let's assume your point for the sake of argument. You quote the following:

'Some of the landless peasants were required to seek employment from the richer "kulak" peasants within the rural commune. These landless peasants would be considered a part of the rural proletariat.'

In this situation, what are the landless peasants to do? Accept their historical destiny, according to the dogmas of mechanical Marxism, and wait patiently for their wages to fall below subsistence level, then head to the cities and live in a shantytown, hoping that their children might get jobs, form trade unions and, one day in the future, lead an urban socialist revolution?

Or might the landless organise to seize back the land which had been taken from the commune by the capitalist peasants, and then develop that land so that it offered them a living?

This second strategy has been followed by many landless peasants in Venezuela, who have organised occupations of land taken generations ago by peasant farmers who transformed themselves into a latifundia and have demanded that the state formalise their occupations.

Once the occupation has been turned into something permanent - either a collective farm, like the well-known Berbere Commune, or else a collection of small farms cohered by some sort of co-operative arrangement, then what sort of development strategy should be pursued? Surely it has to be one which takes into account the achievements of the pre-capitalist modes of production which still exist in Venezuela subordinated to capitalism?

To take one obvious example: the indigenous peoples who have in recent years won large areas of land back are, as far as I can see (or could see, when I was researching Venezuela couple of years back), using traditional kin relationships to organise their labour on this land. They have won new resources and have greater access to capital and modern technology, thanks to the state supporting them, but they seem to draw on forms of social organisation they built up in the pre-capitalist era, before their land was lost. I think this sort of practice is similar to what Marx envisaged in his letter to Zasulich.

10:07 pm  
Blogger maps said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:20 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Nestor: prehori, eh? Does that mean you're an advocate of the Celtic New Zealand theory?

Back to the subject of this thread (if there is one!): the statements by anarchists and the leaflet which Asher linked to reinforce my feeling that anarchism, for some of its advocates at least, tends to function by imagining an ideal world, or at least society, and then judging reality against that ideal. In the light cast by the ideal society, actually-existing reality loses its complexity and becames an undifferentiated mass. Every institution and social practice, except the relatively few, relatively small movements which operate along the lines suggested by anarchism, stands condemend in the light of the ideal.

According to the leaflet Asher cited, every state is by its very nature not only capitalist but imperialist. It does seem to me that, for the people who use such extraordinarily wide definitions, capitalism and imperialism have just become synonyms for 'bad things'. It is certainly hard to see how any analytic purchase can come from a concept of imperialism which embraces Niue and Samoa, as well as the USA.

Generally, theories of imperialism, in the 'classical' texts of Hobson, Hilferding and Lenin and in the work of contemporary analysts like Wallerstein, Perry Anderson, David Harvey, and others, have been intended to try to get a handle on the complexity of expanding capitalism by examining flows of capital, the relationship between exporters and importers of capital, the relationships between dependant states and dominant states, and so on. The aim has been for nuance and explanatory power.

There is no one Marxist or Marxist-influenced theory of imperialism, and this is a good thing, because rival theories can cast light on each other's oversights. David Harvey, for instance, has used his background in geography to illuminate the the way capitalism expands by consuming and transforming space (cf Samir Amin's African residence and research interests are reflected in his view of imperialism.

Despite their different strengths and failings, all of the major theorists of imperialism manage to provide us with analytic tools with which we can study the contemporary world. It's very hard to see how the same can be said of the conception of imperialism which embraces a country like Samoa. Samoa barely has a capitalist class, does not have anything resembling a share market, lacks a real military, and has such an extraordinarily decentralised government that it is a struggle to get the whole country to drive on the same side of the road (seriously!). And yet, by the definition offered here, Samoa is just as imperialist as the US, a nation which exports capital to and imports profits from the four corners of the world and has military bases in more than one hundred countries!

And the claim that Samoa is imperialist is far from the most absurd implication of the the leaflet to which Asher linked.

The leaflet claimed that ancient societies could be 'imperialist' because they invaded the territory of other societies, and held and economically exploited this territory. If this definition of imperialism is adhered to, then don't we have to say that, for instance, Maori iwi in, say, the seventeenth century were imperialist? And since the leaflet Asher links to equates imperialism with the state, presumably we have to consider that iwi were also states back then, as well?

There is strong evidence that various hunter gatherer peoples fought over land and conquered one another during prehistory. By the definition offered in the leaflet Asher cited, wouldn't we have to call these different hunter gatherer societies imperialist, and characterise their clashes as inter-imperialist wars?

I think I'll stick to the theories of imperialism offered by scholars like Harvey and Amin.

12:03 pm  
Anonymous Nestor Notabilis said...

Not me who wrote it, Dr H, but the Google/blogspot folk who made me enter it into the word verification box. Grand overarching conspiracy?

4:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

martin doutre is at it again - claims to have found ancient observatory watching country calendar...

4:42 pm  
Anonymous Edward said...

Every time a boulder shows up, it's because of fairy folk.

5:45 pm  
Anonymous omar said...

"In the light cast by the ideal society, actually-existing reality loses its complexity and becames an undifferentiated mass" and everything they see is capitalism.

It's a serious problem that anarchists go around stating, "Capitalism is a global system, and can only be abolished globally."

Instead of seeing a social relationship, or a mode of production these anarchists equate the whole global system as "capitalism". And it seems Tuhoe are either with the anarchists or the capitalists. There is nothing else. Either they are part of the system or they are seeking to destroy it.

I said it in the last comment thread that it seems that most of these opinions have been developed by anarchos sitting behind computer screens without reference to the real world. It's kind of like how loony Louden develops his global conspiracy theories. He doesn't see a mass of competing interests in societies, in the state. He just sees the global communist system.

I think so much of what goes on on the left is the development of ultra orthodox ultra revolutionary ultra theoretical (anarchafairy anyone?) type ideological positions that ultimately are so divorced from actually existing society that they only serve to render the theorist or activist utterly hopeless and disorientated.

I guess the debate centres around whether you believe that all self-determination is is "capitalism with the added nicety of an anti-colonialist face".

Tuhoe are most definetly trying to rebuild their economy by seeking to gain financial redress, devolution of govt services and control of their land. However the way they would operate this economy and autonomous territory would be democratic, and lands and economic activity would be undertaken in the common good, for the welfare of all tuhoe. If people think this is capitalism, then they don't understand what capitalism is.

6:46 pm  
Anonymous Nestor Notabilis said...

Ew, Omar, anarchafairy is so far from all that ultra head-in-the-clouds stuff. Just cos he can think on multi-dimensional fronts at the same time, doesn't make him divorced from reality, it just makes him divorced from the one-dimensional haters of capitalism. This 'reality' thing is a complex entity and so so-called theoretical thinking is really just searching for patterns of behaviour and other perspectives.

10:45 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Hi Omar,

I know 'how right you are old chap'-style comments are annoying, but how right you are, old chap, when you say that:

'these anarchists equate the whole global system as "capitalism". And it seems Tuhoe are either with the anarchists or the capitalists. There is nothing else. Either they are part of the system or they are seeking to destroy it.'

It's not only anarchists who can fall into this trap, though - I've noticed a similar tendency amongst some Marxists and social democrats. Dave refers us back to a text he wrote with John McCrae in the '70s in defence of his dismissal of the notion of the contemporary relevance of a Polynesian mode of production, but he forgets, apparently, that this very text talks about the existence of three modes of production, including something very close to a Polynesian mode of production, in New Zealand alone!
I think some of the subtlety that the left had in the '70s, when concepts like 'articulated modes of production' rolled of the tongues of activists drunk on Althusser and Gramsci, has been lost (although, to be fair, some of that stuff could be a bit pretentious, and a lot of fine work is being done today by scholars without being recognised and used by the activist left. Today's activists often seem to prefer wacko conspiracy theories and attitudinising to anything intellectual. I put it down to the influence of video games and texting...).

When empirical evidence for the continued existence of some non-capitalist mode of production is produced and flourished in debates like the ones on this blog, the partisans of the 'black and white', 'capitalist or revolutionary' analysis tend to slip into one or another variation of the 'there is no alternative' argument that is normally beloved of the neo-liberal right. We're told that attempts to preserve and develop pre-capitalist modes of production in places like Samoa are 'utopian', that we can't keep indigenous cultures 'in aspic', and that capitalism is in the process of finally laying waste to the last remnants of the non-capitalist world.

This sort of argument strikes me as odd, because it assumes that a) the people who partake of pre-capitalist modes of production have no agency, and are merely the passive victims of history and b) capitalism is some unstoppable juggernaut, rather than a blundering, crisis-ridden system that isn't doing all that well at boosting the productive forces in its First World heartland, let alone in Africa or Oceania or many parts of Asia.

I don't think these are trivial matters. Samir Amin has argued that hundreds of millions of people in Africa and in other peripheral parts of the world economic system will be in danger of starving later this century, because they are being removed from the pre-capitalist countryside and dumped in cities, or rather the shantytown fringes of cities, by IMF policies that are premised on the idea that they will quickly become proletarianised - eg, become wage earners and consumers.

Amin suggests that the capitalist system is simply not dynamic enough to absorb all these people, and that it would be far better to let them stay in the countryside, and try to find ways of growing the economy there. The hundreds of millions of people who have already moved to the fringes of Third World metropolises, to live in places like Sadr City or the hilltop barrios of Latin America, have become a sort of neo-peasantry, living on the edges of or even outside the capitalist system (a lot of residents of Sadr City apparently still keep lifestock!).

Peasants and pre-capitalist modes of production are not going away, no matter what IMF economists and many leftists might think.

11:57 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

The "theory" that Tuhoe shouldn't strive to have their own state or their equivalent of whatever "the (or a) state" is, is useful, but what has to be remembered that Marxism incorporates the scientific method or system of theory and practice where these interact constantly. Practice leads to theory and theory to practice in whatever order - so that any theory of peasants or workers taking land (or leading the revolution or [methodology / logistics etc of these] taking over factories etc) has to be "tested" in practice and if it doesn't "work" then it needs to be seen that those involved should be allowed to respond accordingly. Of course the left should support Tuhoe.

Maori and Polynesian societies, as Maps has noted, did have a more "socialistic" mode of living. They also had and have a hierarchy. Such hierarchies may be undesirable but they exist everywhere. Official Anarchists have to get real (practice) and see that there will always be structures, hierarchies (or some kind) etc. These may not take the extreme forms we know today, and indeed one aim of communism is - or in fact communism by definition is classless society and one in which over time the state "withers away". (So in fact

So Marxism is important of course but any 'progressive' changes will happen in ways that are outside the text book. It doesn't matter if these various movements or revolutions "fail" - they never fail (their failure is their success - that is - future persons learn from these failures / successes) - they are a part of this ongoing or process - the ongoing complex dialectic.

Samoa and other Pacific countries need nationalistic freedom before (or as much as) any further progress can be made substantially (but this will be determined by this constant process of theory to practice etc), and Tuhoe and Maori in general need to struggle for their rights as vigorously as possible.

If they aim for their own nation that is good. It is unlikely (and possibly undesirable) that a Tuhoe nation that is like a western nation will exist but the idea of it or some kind of independence etc is very exciting. In the struggle for it they will learn more and more about the reality -they will also move through practice to theory and back. We can also learn from their attitude, for example, to land.

But people mustn't be held back by the dead hand of theory (without this practice-theory-practice process). But theory theoretical debate such as this one is essential.

The success of the Chinese revolution / national struggle (in a large part) was because The Chinese Communist Party and leaders such as Chu Te didn't have fixations on "one correct path" (they disagreed - rightly - with USSR on this) and they depended hugely on peasant support. But this didn't rule out worker uprising and student and other involvement.

After 1950 and a lot of success slowly the forces of reaction "won" out but even that doesn't mean that revolution was a failure. (Nor were the French or the English or the American, Russian or other, revolutions / civil wars thus "failures". It was a part of the ongoing process or struggle.

12:20 am  
Blogger Richard said...

It is definitely not an either Capitalism or Communism or Anarchism with nothing in between.

12:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

richard taylor - for your information anarchists oppose ALL hierarchy.

you are obviously an authoritarian.

why do you think anarchists would want to work with people like you?

we work with ANTI-authoritarians.

no gods, no masters.

3:35 am  
Blogger Edward said...

I think that statement sums it up. I agree there is nothing wrong with opposing hierarchy, but I think it is a bit unfair to label Richard an authoritarian, and seems the usual polemics I hear from anarchists. Also, Richard makes a good point that some hierarchical form is inevitable in the practice of social organisation.

Is anarcho-anon opposed to differential treatment of elders for example, or kin structures between children and parents, adults and adolescents. What about the relationship between a criminal and society? What of those who's social role is to hold traditional knowledge, an elder if you will. What of specialist training in modern western societies? I've heard before from anarchists that University education for example is bourgeoisie because it involves hierarchy in so far as someone can become an expert. As it is impossible to be a specialist in everything, and experts are needed to pass on their knowledge to future generations and to progress the human intellectual tradition, how can science or scholarship progress without any form of systematic framework? Without an academic 'institution' (i.e. tradition or repository of knowledge) of some form, researchers would be in the dark.

These are real world problems that the rhetoric i've heard thus far from anarchists has been totally unable to satisfactorily address. Instead of shutting down constructive debate with childish polemics and in-group out-group mentality, why don't you try figuring these problems out?

11:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true authoritarian Edward.

3:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...




anarchy is freedom/goverment

3:38 pm  
Anonymous Nestor Notabilis said...

I smell some Anne Rand coming through in this anarcho stream-of conch-ishness... the sound of the open ocean, the platform on the ocean, the waves which chip at the sky. There is beauty in it.

4:27 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I just realised I made a contradiction. I "done a mistake". I cant really say that the Left "of course should" support Tuhoe. I can assume that. Clearly as this is the theoretical debate going on now.

I talked with (a person today who I feel is intelligent, and reasonably open minded - I don't know her politics as such (I presume more or less liberal) - she is psychologist and older than I - that is quite oldish - and Pakeha) she said that one of the things she agreed about re Key and National was Key's decision to not sign the Ureweras over to Tuhoe.

So I suppose we need to debate that in a less emotional way (I mean those of us who are Pakeha -well it is clearly easier to do so in that case) and work out what we are supporting etc.

I think Tuhoe and Maori see this issue as far deeper than owning or not owning a National Park.

There is real issue: how far can a Government (given that we don't right now have a Communist or Peoples Government or Anarchist or whatever) reasonably be expected to cede parts of NZ (or any country)? Would Tuhoe "ownership" be in the larger interests of all NZ citizens? One way to "solve " the contradiction would be for Tuhoe to simply seize power (in the Ureweras). But there are other ways as with Sea Shore issue. That is to by pass conventional parliamentary processes. Now I think that would or could become a part of a larger class struggle including lower working class NZrs and thus the issue would ultimately become total ownership of NZ by all...but that also presents problems and contradictions would not cease we with some kind of socialist system as we would still have cultural, ethnic and other contradictions.

This isn't a "bad" thing -there will always be such contradictions and dialectical complexities.
Thus again we would be moving from practice to theory and back - just as if workers seized factories and other aspects of the means of production.

But as I said there is no blue print for all this.

8:47 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

The problems I have with many Marxists and others is that they ignore many other aspects of human society - and forget or assume that we automatically will have "progress" -this seems to derive from a gauche (perhaps a post Enlightenment) view of science or "progress" - now while science (as we know it - maybe not not the deeper or wider view of it I have - where science joins (integrates with) to many other disciplines (as it is science is fraught - I am thinking also of Foucault's concerns here)) is good - it is vastly limited as it is in solving problems and creates as many as it "solves"...and indeed we almost have a Science Religion that automatically assumes that humans will progress forever in straight line diagonally up the Cartesian graph.

Meanwhile we are all still alive - or most of us are! Camus's point at the start of the 'Myth of Sisyphus' remains! [That's all I have read of it - too difficult the rest - but his "The Outsider" is great]* So regard to Tuhoe and Maori we need to (by we I mean a theoretical Marxist or ideal leftist - I'm not in this category - I'm an amateur! - so I mean Maps and Dave and some of the anarchistical (or Bakuninanical) people here etc); we need to work closely with Tuhoe and Maori (if they will teach us) and learn from Maori history etc But this doesn't mean automatic support of what they are doing at all times. But my feelings are for Tuhoe and Maori. Sometimes sheer intuition can be used.

Maps has (on this site) given us an excellent series of 'history lessons' on here about the background to European and Maori issues - and connected it clearly to culture here (Smithyman is only one example)larger Polynesia and the larger world (in particular Europe and India etc) via also E P Thompson.

We certainly cant dictate anything to Maori - and we can learn from them, their culture, and their history. Perhaps as much as any other histories and as much as reading our "theoretical books".

I still think that the anarchist who said I was authoritarian is wrong. I didn't mean there would always be police etc I mean that different "hierarchies" would form (in transition toward some kind of communism or "perfect (stateless?) state" (which will probably never exist but we will always perhaps struggle toward it!) I would expect our leaders to be those who were good or skilled in various areas - but I would expect or hope to see a peoples democracy of a true kind (not this farce of freedom and democracy the Yanks rave on about all the time (they institute it by bombing people) - no more parliaments and so on - no special privileges for Suits in Wellington or Washington etc) with the people controlling the means of production totally. So no one with say more than (say) $50,000 per annum -and ultimately everyone on the same wages and about the same amount of possessions - no huge space and energy wasting houses - and everyone with the same rights - ultimately no one "in power" - certainly no special privileges - alcohol and all drugs of a non medicinal value to be totally outlawed of course; no one to want to use such poison; no stars or heroes, and yes we don't need corrupt Prime Ministers or Presidents...leadership to be shared, and much else with a "no!" (no more "dark sarcasm in the class room")... but all that is not going to happen quickly for sure.

*Inevitably I have started trying to read it again!

8:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon from previous comments list

Maps, thanks for the homework, discussion, debate.
However I disagree with your intelligent rambling and worse find you may mis-lead other activists. Capitalism is a blundering, crisis-ridden juggernaut which only the working class revolution can derail.
Now I have read Marx’s letter to Vera Zasulich, and I see that Marx was dialectical in his analysis of the Russian peasantry in the above letter. He was clearly stating that they could either go in a progressive direction (communual) or fracture along accumulation / exploitation relationships. But Maps you are chosing the dubious revisionism of Marx in “Karl Marx and the Intellectual Origins of Dialectical Materialism” by James D. White, 1996. One reviewer puts it plainly: “He [White] gives no convincing theoretical justification for his thesis that these [results of Marx's investigations on Russia] imply that `true' Marxism is a form of romanticism” -my additions in brackets.
Maps “Peasants and pre-capitalist modes of production are not going away, no matter what IMF economists and many leftists might think.” –they might not be going away, but they are subjugated to capitalism. When ‘communual” Samoa supplies workers for the fruit picking in NZ, they serve capitalist fruit production, in the relationship to capital as a casual reserve army of labour. Pre-capitalist modes of production do not have to go away in so far as they support capitalist production.
And that is the guts of uneven and combined development -
Trotsky quote and continued below

11:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...the entire history of mankind is governed by the law of uneven development. Capitalism finds various sections of mankind at different stages of development, each with its profound internal contradictions. The extreme diversity in the levels attained, and the extraordinary unevenness in the rate of development of the different sections of mankind during the various epochs, serve as the starting point of capitalism. Capitalism gains mastery only gradually over the inherited unevenness, breaking and altering it, employing therein its own means and methods. In contrast to the economic systems which preceded it, capitalism inherently and constantly aims at economic expansion, at the penetration of new territories, the surmounting of economic differences, the conversion of self-sufficient provincial and national economies into a system of financial interrelationships. Thereby it brings about their rapprochement and equalizes the economic and cultural levels of the most progressive and the most backward countries. Without this main process, it would be impossible to conceive of the relative leveling out, first, of Europe with Great Britain, and then, of America with Europe; the industrialization of the colonies, the diminishing gap between India and Great Britain, and all the consequences arising from the enumerated processes upon which is based not only the program of the Communist International but also its very existence. By drawing the countries economically closer to one another and leveling out their stages of development, capitalism, however, operates by methods of its own, that is to say, by anarchistic methods which constantly undermine its own work, set one country against another, and one branch of industry against another, developing some parts of world economy while hampering and throwing back the development of others. Only the correlation of these two fundamental tendencies – both of which arise from the nature of capitalism – explains to us the living texture of the historical process. Imperialism, thanks to the universality, penetrability, and mobility and the break-neck speed of the formation of finance capital as the driving force of imperialism, lends vigor to both these tendencies. Imperialism links up incomparably more rapidly and more deeply the individual national and continental units into a single entity, bringing them into the closest and most vital dependence upon each other and rendering their economic methods, social forms, and levels of development more identical. At the same time, it attains this “goal” by such antagonistic methods, such tiger-leaps, and such raids upon backward countries and areas that the unification and leveling of world economy which it has effected, is upset by it even more violently and convulsively than in the preceding epochs." - Leon Trotsky

11:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above quote is also good since trotsky takes imperialism back to the finances capital motor that is driving it – not the fetishised “State” which Maps and the Anarchists see as “imperialism” (the state is a feature of imperialism – but if you haven’t read Capital or Lenin on Imperialism - the history of decolonisation might give you a clue that economic forces are also at play).
Sure capitalism, when it arrived in the pacific, did not have a ready and willing working class. Capital did not land fully formed. Indeed the English had to provide both Capital and Labour to create a sugar industry in Fiji – they brought indentured Indian workers.
Maps, you are picking and chosing which bits of Marx you like by over emphasizing the progressively communual; - that is not marxist. That is revisionism. If you only want to see the positive in “communual movements”, you risk leaving the labourers open to exploitation. Marx identified the working class as “the only decisively revolutionary class” (eg. Address to the communist league; 1850).
As well as supporting Tuhoe right to self-determination, we must build and maintain independent working class strength; and warn working class Tuhoe to beware the small capitalists in their midst / mist. Tuhoe need workers revolution and socialism: Waikemoana is not enough for the liberation of Tuhoe. We support Tuhoe occupation of Waikemoana including the Kaitawa Power Station which workers built. “Genesis” (State owned enterprise) generates a profit for their (capitalists) State. That would be a strategic occupation site – take back and run Kaitawa Power Station under worker and Tuhoe control : power to the people!
Equally we support Tuhoe occupation of state housing and rent strikes (e.g. in Glen Innes).

11:20 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Hi anon,

thanks for those interesting remarks, which I'll have to consider properly at an earlier hour than this! A couple of quick responses, though. James D White is a Scottish academic from a working class background who seems to have moved over his career towards a more critical perspective on Marx and on Bolshevism (he has done some fascinating work on the Bolshevik revolution, as well as on Marx, and he is the author of what is seemingly the only study of the Lithuanian revolution and the socialist state that existed there briefly in 1918-1920. The Lithuanian revolution is a very interesting one to look at, because it was run by left-wing communists - people who had the same ideas Bukharin was espousing at the time - who took a very hardcore view of the peasantry, insisting all agriculture be immediately collectivised etc)

I don't subscribe to all the views White expresses in his book - I found the philosophical discussions in the first part heavy going, for instance. I just find his arguments about the late Marx and Russia compelling. These arguments actually build on the insights of earlier scholars like Teodor Shanin, whose Late Marx and the Russian Road is a classic text. I described some of the scholarship on the late Marx in this post:

You talk about my 'picking and choosing' from Marx, but doesn't the size of Marx's body of writing and the presence of numerous contradictions in it make picking and choosing necessary? I doubt whether you would endorse Marx's views on 'non-historic nations' like the Czechs and several other Slavic peoples, for instance. I think we should see Marx's work as a toolbox, from which we can take different tools for different tasks, rather than a holy writ.
It's notable that in his '70s and early '80s writing on pre-capitalist modes of production in New Zealand Dave looks to the French structuralist anthropologists who junked the model of prehistory laid out by Engels (and implicitly Marx) in The Origins of... and instead tried to use the method of Marx's analysis of capitalism in Das Kapital to generate a new, more sophisticated approach to prehistory. Was that 'revisionism'?

I agree with you that capitalism can utilise subordinate mdoes of production. This is a point which I think Dave makes with reference to Maori, who could be paid less than Pakeha in the early twentieth century because they were growing their own food. My old PhD supervisor Ian Carter made the same point in his first book, which was a study of the last decades of the peasantry in northeast Scotland. He argued those peasants were allowed to exist into the 20th century because they helped break in land for capitalists. But I think there are situations where the pre-capitalist mode of production contradicts the interests of capitalism, causing conflict. I think the conflicts in places like Samoa over attempts to break up collective land are a clear sign of that. And I don't think these conflicts are going away. So what do we say when the Samoans protest against attempts to erode customary law and break up their collectively-owned land?

2:23 am  
Anonymous Edward said...

Anon, why am I authoritarian? Presumably because I believe in some form of state or centralisation? And, by the way, thanks for offering nothing to the discussion except for proving my point with yet more polarisation and unfettered rhetoric.

12:19 pm  
Blogger Jared Davidson said...

Sorry Maps this is off topic, but to Edward and Richard - unfortunately you've had a taste of the weakness of anarchism: an umbrella movement that can often include extremely different perspectives and outright craziness! Please don't equate the various anonymous comments with all anarchists: there are those of us out there who come from a historically different understanding of anarchism and who try to have half-decent analysis of the problems we face today. To reply to this:

"Is anarcho-anon opposed to differential treatment of elders for example, or kin structures between children and parents, adults and adolescents. What about the relationship between a criminal and society? What of those who's social role is to hold traditional knowledge, an elder if you will. What of specialist training in modern western societies? I've heard before from anarchists that University education for example is bourgeoisie because it involves hierarchy in so far as someone can become an expert. As it is impossible to be a specialist in everything, and experts are needed to pass on their knowledge to future generations and to progress the human intellectual tradition, how can science or scholarship progress without any form of systematic framework? Without an academic 'institution' (i.e. tradition or repository of knowledge) of some form, researchers would be in the dark."

Somewhere along the line the struggle against hierarchy and arbitrary authority has become conflated with the struggle against specialisation. This is not the case for the majority of anarchists. Rather, we would argue that expertise or knowledge should not endow that person with some kind of unquestionable authority. It's perfectly natural that some of us will have more skills and know-how than someone else, as is it perfectly natural that some of us make better 'leaders' than others. But that shouldn't enable that person to have unquestioned power over another. Rather, we should value all number of skills and diversity equally.

With regard to the repositories of knowledge (universities, libraries, archives etc etc), the problem often pointed at by anarchists is the way those sites of learning are structured and administrated. We would argue that there are more participatory and egalitarian ways to structure such places (and point to examples, such as the Modern School Movement, the social centres and free schools of the international anarcho-syndicalist movement, and how these sites were administered in moments of revolutionary change).

Again, unfortunately there is a kind of schoolyard anarchism (excuse the pin) which says 'institution: bad'. It's no wonder many of us of the revolutionary left affix 'communist' to anarchist or prefer 'libertarian marxist'.

Sorry to post off topic.

9:28 pm  
Blogger maps said...

I think that was quite on-topic Jared. Given the rambling nature of this thread, and of so many other threads on this blog, I don't know if the words 'off topic' have much purchase at the best of times!

10:01 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

yes - good points I agree in principle with most -

hierarchies and structures vs. egalitarianism and democracy in real action from beneath and so on...complex questions - see what happens in practice...

we all ramble

we are all off topic

I am one obvious example!

10:39 pm  
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12:41 am  

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