Brenner/Andersen, Gurus

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Fri Jul 12 21:36:42 MDT 2002


Jurriaan writes:

> Personally, I learnt about Marxism most of all from discussion and action
> with my friend Geoff Pearce, a scrawny workingclass rebel with false teeth
> and glasses in New Zealand who didn't have such a lot going for him, but
> who made a hell of a life, completing a Phd , going to world conferences
> and setting up a new trade union among other things. To my grief he died
> just when things started to look up in his work, but what a guy ! I still
> remember the day that Geoff said, "I think we need a real guru, somebody
> who really knows about this stuff". We decided to write to Ernest Mandel,
> who subsequently agreed to examine Geoff's Phd thesis on New Zealand
> capitalism.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill after this.

Jurriaan and Geoff's group did a lot of very good work in NZ, including
pioneering studies on the transformation of the Labour Party from a
'bourgeois workers party' into a middle class liberal party and on the
history/development of NZ capitalism.

It would have been much better to have continued this work, than decide
the group needed a guru abroad (or a guru anywhere in fact).  Since the
FI's politics also happened to be to the right of the Pearce/Bendien
group, the result was to drag a promising group away from a genuine
attempt to apply and develop revolutionary Marxist ideas in NZ,
including in relation to the LP, off into the orbit of a current which
was immersing itself in social democracy in Europe.

The search for gurus always ends in tears.

P.

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