"Towards Ecosocialism" proposes major shift for New Zealand socialist group

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“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.”

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:

It appears self-evident to me that the capitalist collapse analysis and orientation towards socialist struggles in Latin America, which Socialist Worker has arrived at independently and collectively endorsed, places our organisation clearly in the orbit of International Ecosocialism.

But it also appears that the ramifications of this political position have not yet been expressed in organisational form. In many respects, the major task of Socialist Worker National Conference 2012 is to formalise the organisational structure needed for Socialist Worker members to advance our ecosocialism today.

It would appear sensible to consider, at the outset, the proposals of other ecosocialists for achieving this.

The title of Ian Angus’ talk in Melbourne was How to Make an Ecosocialist Revolution. It contained a number of proposals for “what is to be done”:

“1. Ecosocialists will extend and apply ecosocialism’s analysis and program. This might seem obvious, but it’s very important. In the past century, many Marxists tried to freeze Marxism. After the death of Marx, or Engels, or Lenin, or Trotsky, or Mao – each group had its own cut-off point – their Marxism stopped developing… A key task for ecosocialists everywhere is to take the beginning points that ecosocialism offers today, and to build on them using the method of Marxism, the best scientific work of our time, and the lessons we learn in struggles for change. Then we must apply our new understanding in a wide variety of places and circumstances. This hard to do, because it requires us to think, to understand our situations and respond appropriately and creatively, not just repeat the same old slogans.”

“2. Ecosocialists will be pluralist and open. Another lesson we can learn from the 20th century is that monolithic socialist grouplets do not turn into mass movements. They stagnate and decay, they argue and they split, but they don’t change the world. So I want to emphasize that I am not urging you to rush out and found yet another sect. Ecosocialism is not a separate organisation, it is a movement to win existing red and green groups and individuals to an ecosocialist perspective”

“3. Ecosocialists will be internationalist and anti-imperialist…

“4. Finally, and most important, ecosocialists must be activists…”

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.

Read the full article here.



  • Another New Zealand socialist group, the Workers Party, has joined the discussion of the issues raised in Brookes’ article. See the exchange between WP and SWO members on the WP website.

  • What do we have left? Ecosocialist politics, hopefully. Any organization is only justified insofar as it helps Praxis; and without those politics of mass involvement, any party structure is at best a hollow, meaningless shell and at worst a vampiric idol to which comrades sacrifice the best years of their lives.

  • “This does not imply dissolution into these other groups.”

    How does it not? Take away the “membership organization”, the “central committee”, and the “party line”, and what do you have left?

    How is this different from liquidationism?