[Marxism] Accumulaton in New Zealand

dave brownz davebrownz at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 22 02:59:13 MST 2007


Phil:
New Zealand as a "relatively backward semi-colonial economy"?
Mm, this would explain why throughout its history NZ has had one of the
highest standards of living in the world - indeed in the 1950s, NZ had
the highest standard of living in the world.
Home ownership rates in NZ throughout the 20th century were at the top
of the world figures and cars per person we're also right up there.

Dave:
So the what defines imperialism is high wages and high home ownership?
These do not result from a labour aristocracy living off super-profits, since we agree that rich farmers do not pass on their wealth as high wages. This leave ‘high wages’ as the result of protectionism and the relatively backward labour intensive manufacturing typical of a semicolony. 

Phil:
NZ, from within a couple of decades of being established, was exporting
capital to the Pacific and the NZ ruling class was envisioning itself as
the ruling elite over a Pacific empire centred on NZ.  The NZ ruling
class attempted to grab as much of the South Pacific as they could, but
ran into the problem that the Brits, French, Germans and American rivals
were bigger.

Dave:
Nobody doubts NZ puny imperialist pretentions at the start of the 20th century.
Maybe if the NZ ruling class had mangaged to grab more of the Pacific they
might have created a weak imperialist state, but they didn’t. 

Phil:
Dave confuses the fact that NZ is a *relatively small* imperialist - so
obviously we don't export amounts of finance capital on par with most of
the other imperialists - with being a semi-colony.

Dave:
Phil misses out one important point here. The comparison is not between
NZ superprofits and those of Australia and US, but NZ superprofits compared
to Australian and US superprofits extracted from NZ. That is, net profits or
capital accumulation. 
Some NZ DFI does allow the repatriation of superprofits, but this is tiny in 
comparison with the surplus exported from NZ by Australian and US banks 
and MNCs. The big trend today is the flood of Australian and US private 
equity funds that are buying up what is left of NZ companies. 

Phil:
So, here we have a country with essentially the same history of
capitalist development, and same relationship with Britain, as Canada
and Australia. We have no national oppression of NZ as a whole by Britain and no
independence struggle - in fact we got bourgeois representative
institutions without any fight and on an even broader basis than
Britain. We have no peasantry, let alone an impoverished, landless peasantry;
instead we have the most advanced and productive capitalist agriculture
in the world, indeed so much so that tiny wee NZ dominates dairying
globally.

Dave:
True,  NZ is not a colony of Britain (or the US), but a semi-colony.  
A semi-colony is economically oppressed, not politically oppressed. 
The NZ state serves the interests of imperialist capital first, national
capital second. NZ has a barely functioning stock exchange. The talk
today is how to convert state owned corporation shareholdings into tradeable
shares, which will in turn be snapped up by imperialist finance capital.
NZ is rapidly becoming totally foreign owned and much of what remains of its
national capitalist class has exported itself to London, Sydney, Singapore 
or New York. The richest man in NZ, Graeme Hart got his start by buying
the Government Printer during the privatisations of the 1980s. He moved
on to buy the Australian firm, Burns Philp. Then he took over the largest
NZ forestry firm, Carter Holt Harvey, delisted it, and now looks on  NZ as
a state of Australia from his pad in Sydney.

Phil:
The economic relationship with Britain fostered rather than hindered the
economic development of NZ, for instance through guaranteed (good)
prices not the super-exploitation of low-price agricultural commodities
one finds in exploited colonies and post-independence semi-colonies.  

Dave:
To prove that this ‘economic development’ created a NZ imperialist state 
you have to prove that NZ retained most of its accumulated profits (through
‘good’ prices) and then due to the TRPF exported the excess as capital of NZ imperialist firms, as opposed to having most of its surplus extracted into foreign  
imperialist coffers from agricultural rent due to highly productive agriculture. 
Unless you try to do this there’s no point continuing this conversation. 

Phil: 
Oh, plus we had our own capitalist banks throughout our history, until
the 1980s Labour government's economic reforms.  (Dave, strangely,
thinks Labour is a workers' party.)  The shift in banking ownership in the 
past two decades, along with the increase in 'foreign' ownership generally
does not mean NZ has been a semi-colony for 170 years; it reflects merely 
what happens when a small imperialist country opens itself up to 
larger imperialist players.

Dave:
They werent ‘my’ capitalist banks. The BNZ was founded in the 1880s 
and owned in London. It was rescued by the state shortly after. The reserve '
bank and later the BNZ was nationalised by the Labour Government. But Walter Nash (finance minister) still had to go to London to get the City’s approval of  Labour’s economic policy. (Of course that proves that Labour way back then was
not a ‘workers’ party). But that still left the National Bank owned by a British bank, the bank of NSW owned by guess who, and the ANZ (Australia and NZ Bank). 
So exactly when did you say that NZ banks were taken over by foreigners? 

Phil:
Amusingly, Dave's view that NZ is a semi-colony of countries like
Australia is reflected in the views of some redneck Queenslanders who in
recent years have been complaining that Queensland has become a colony
of NZ!

Dave:
That’s only because a lot of  racist kiwi expatriates find themselves more
comfortable in Queensland than in NZ where the Maori question makes 
them fear colonisation by ‘blacks’. With wages at least a third lower than Australia there are plenty of Maori and Pacific Islanders queing up for jobs in Australia so this racist bolthole may yet become a white, supremacist ghetto. 
Amusing indeed. 

Phil:
Anyway, if NZ really were a semi-colony, it seems odd that Dave isn't
trying to build a national liberation movement or supporting NZ
nationalism as having a 'progressive' (anti-imperialist) component.  So,
in fact, Dave's practice is different from his "theory".

Dave:
NZ nationalism is racist but not imperialist. In the event of a US or 
Australian invasion of NZ (for beachfront properties or ranches)
we would be defensist.  We would not give up our baches or local beer 
without a fight. However, in putting up a resistance we would not
put our future in the hands of the NZ ruling class, since they have proven that 
they will sell the America’s Cup to Switzerland and our best young
men to the NRL or to Adidas. 
Only a resistance solidly located in the hearts and minds of the working 
class will allow NZ to both keep hold of its prized economic and cultural 
icons, but also let us do so in a Socialist Aotearoa which is part of a 
Socialist Austral-Asian rugby league.


 	
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