by Geoff Fischer
Will the political institutions of capitalism survive the current economic
crisis? That is the question which many of us are being asked. The simple
answer is that those institutions (states or governing parties) which preside
over social systems in which wealth is evenly distributed are best fitted to
survive, while those which preside over divided, unequal societies face
So where does New Zealand stand? To answer that question we need to
understand the basis of the New Zealand state, which arose out of the
colonial project of the New Zealand Company in the early ninteenth century.
The New Zealand Company was a private immigration company founded for the
explicit purpose of establishing a class-based British-dominated colonial
society in the south seas. The colonial project has subsequently evolved into
the concept that goes by the name of "New Zealand Inc".
From quite early on the state (originally the imperial authorities in London,
and latterly the colonial government in Wellington) presented itself as a
moderating influence upon the colonial project. However there have been
crucial moments in history when the state has left off being moderate or
neutral, to overtly ally itself with the commercial interests of the New
The first and perhaps most brutal examples were the wars and confiscations of
the nineteenth century. Following these wars the colonial authorities (the
democratic representatives of the European settlers) assumed many of the
powers and responsibilities of the imperial authorities (the government in
London and the Governor-General in New Zealand). Having achieved its
commercial aims, the colonial state returned to a policy of ostensible
"moderation". Even when "New Zealand Inc" was once again politically
ascendent in the period from 1984 to 2000, the New Zealand state still wanted
to encourage the perception that it desired to mitigate the impacts of its
economic strategies upon Maori and the Pakeha working classes.
So over our history, the forces of race and class inequality backed by the
colonial state, have contended with the advocates of social egalitarianism and
racial harmony, represented in the people of the motu. As the present crisis
evolves, the colonial state can be expected to revert to a "hardline"
attitude. It can continue to borrow at interest from wealthy foreign lenders
in order to maintain middle class incomes, but in the long run that will only
aggravate the mis-distribution of wealth which is the fundamental cause of the
crisis. Therefore it is only a matter of time before severe "austerity"
measures must be imposed in New Zealand.
When considering our future course, we should bear in mind that "New Zealand"
is not a nation. It is a commercial enterprise, as it has been from the days
of the New Zealand Company. Like so many other commercial enterprises, "New
Zealand Inc" is based on exploitation, fraught with inequality and riven by
sectional interests. Its major shareholders live offshore, its board of
directors is consumed by arrogance, and it goes about its business without
regard to the most basic moral principles. This is an enterprise which may
well succumb to the crisis of capitalism
But the people of Aotearoa are a true nation. For far longer than the Realm of
New Zealand has existed, the people of the motu have stood together, showing
loyalty to their kin, kindness to the stranger, resilience in the face of
adversity and courage in times of danger. They have nothing to fear from the
crisis of capitalism. In the fullness of time they will bring an end to the
glorified nineteenth century immigration company that calls itself "New
Zealand Inc", repudiate the British claim to sovereignty, redistribute the
wealth of the nation, and re-establish the confederation of peoples of