In mid September 2018 the Canterbury Socialist Society was officially founded in Christchurch. A constitution was ratified and an executive board was elected. Those in attendance have prepared the following statement to mark our formation as a Society:
As capitalism lurches from crisis to crisis, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, social ties are growing weaker, and working life is increasingly exhausting and insecure. Poverty, alienation and despair are now ubiquitous features of daily life. A burning question presents itself to the public consciousness: Is this the kind of society, the kind of world, we want? For a growing number, the answer is an emphatic no.
But this first question demands a second: If not capitalism, then which system? Our answer is this: Socialism.
We do not delude ourselves that the public en masse have yet reached the same conclusion as us. However, as capitalism continues in its tendency towards crisis, the political situation will become ever more fractious and violent. The original question therefore will become sharper and its resolution that much more urgent: Socialism or barbarism?
The socialist proposition is that capitalism is neither a desirable nor a permanent state of affairs. Like feudalism before it and tributary societies before that, the current mode of production will most likely be superceded. Capitalism contains irreconcilable contradictions, which periodically erupt in systemic crises. Capitalism, however, also lays the foundations for a different system. The extraordinary increase in productivity capitalism has been able to achieve through the development of science and technology has brought to life productive forces which previous economic epochs could only have dreamt of. Simultaneously, capitalism has revolutionised the social relations of production which inhibited the further development of former economic epochs. To paraphrase Karl Marx, capitalism has torn asunder the feudal ties that bound human beings to their “natural superiors”, thereby demystifying their relations to their fellow man. All it has left remaining is naked self-interest, the callous “cash payment”. No longer bound by religious, tribal, or even national ties, and equipped with all the trappings of modern technological civilisation humanity is now better placed than ever before to pursue a higher form of social organisation, one free of the forces of greed and domination, where production is managed collectively in the interests of all. This is the task of Socialism.
We consider Socialism to be achievable only through the collective action of the great mass of humanity, to take power and exercise it for the benefit of all by overcoming the contradictions of our current system. Currently, there is precious little social basis for such a movement. The recomposition of a base for the socialist movement will take time.
With this in mind we have set ourselves the task of keeping the historical consciousness of the socialist movement alive in our small corner of the world. The Canterbury Socialist Society intends to explore, promote and discuss the history, theory, and politics of Socialism through regular educational and social events.
The workers’ movement has its beginnings in pubs and cafes. It was in these establishments where ordinary people first decided that they, too, were fully human and not merely the property of their “natural superiors”. They hosted public educational events, debates, and formed membership funded organisations that asserted that politics was not only the purview of the wealthy. We advocate reviving this practice, using all the advantages we have now compared to centuries ago: easy access to information, high rates of literacy, and most importantly the freedom to associate without being dispersed in short order by constables.
We invite all those who share our point of view to join us.