Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

100 Years of Anarchism in New Zealand Celebrated Today

100 Years of Anarchism in New Zealand Celebrated Today

A Jewish tailor and fox terrier owner; a Wellington carpenter and staunch family-man—not your typical anarchist-cum-bomber stereotypes. Yet one hundred years ago today, Philip Josephs and Carl Mumme were two founding members of the Freedom Group—one of New Zealand's first anarchist collectives.

"Although the image of a cloak-and-dagger figure dressed in black springs to mind" notes Jared Davidson, author of Sewing Freedom: Philip Josephs, Transnationalism & Early New Zealand Anarchism, "anarchists such as Josephs and Mumme were everyday people. They were active in their trade unions, on the street corners, and in their communities." What set them apart, says Davidson, was "their critique of coercive relations, wage slavery, and a vision of a more equitable and humane world."

The Freedom Group was formed on 9 July 1913 at Philip Josephs' tailor shop, on the first floor of 4 Willis Street, Wellington. “A matter that should have an effect in clearing the somewhat misty atmosphere in this city is the movement to form an Anarchist Group in Wellington,” wrote the radical labour newspaper, the Maoriland Worker, “for it will provide those who accept the Anarchist philosophy with the place where they belong… we understand that this will be the first Anarchist group formed in the history of New Zealand.”

Little material exists on the Freedom Group and its members, but as Davidson argues, "the emergence of the Freedom Group in 1913 signified a real advance in New Zealand anarchist praxis." As well as importing popular pamphlets from the around the globe, the Freedom Group held regular discussion nights on a range of radical topics.

"So popular were these talks" writes Davidson, "they were soon moved from Willis Street to the larger Socialist Hall at Manners Street."

On one night in September 1913, 120 people attended an anarchist social event the likes of which had never been seen in New Zealand. Billed in the “form of an Anarchist-Communist society, where one is equal to another, where no criminals, no officials, and no authority exists,” attendees could enjoy short speeches, readings of prominent authors, recitations and musical entertainment, “enjoying for at least one evening the benefits of a perfectly free society.”

Freedom Group co-founder Josephs was also involved in the Great Strike of 1913—another centennial marked this year—by expressing "his views publicly from a platform in the vicinity of the Queen’s wharf.” Rumour has it that the Freedom Group also engaged in running scraps with special constables during the strike.

Josephs had been in constant contact with notable international figures such as Emma Goldman since 1904. Later, during the First World War, it was letters to Goldman and the distribution of anti-war literature that saw the home and office of Josephs raided by Police.

Carl Mumme, a German naturalised in 1896, also felt the wrath of the National Coalition Government. In May 1916 he was taken from his workplace and interned on Somes Island due to his anti-militarist views. The ex-Freedom Group speaker was finally released back to his wife and five children in October 1919—11 months after the war had ended.

According to Davidson, this and other anarchist activity shows that "the activism of Josephs and others like him, whether from the soapbox or through the mailbox, played a key role in the establishment of a distinct anarchist identity and culture in New Zealand and abroad—a culture that emerged and enveloped simultaneously around the globe." Not only did anarchist exist in New Zealand; they were a part of some of our most tumultuous industrial disputes, and conveyed a uniquely radical message to workers across the country.

"At the very least, the Freedom Group was obviously a visible and vibrant feature of Wellington’s working class counter-culture, and the facilitator of thought-provoking (maybe even politically changing) conversation."

The Freedom Group's struggle for social change—for a society based on people before profit—linked New Zealand to the global anarchist movement of the day. It also signaled the first of many anarchist collectives to play a vibrant part in the history of the New Zealand left.

http://sewingfreedom.org

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On Why Herd Immunity Isn’t A Valid Option, And What’s With Our Reluctance To Wear Masks?

Herd immunity has recently bounced back into the headlines as a tool for managing Covid-19, and as a supposed alternative to lockdowns. In the US, a group of scientists was recently brought together in the town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts by a think tank funded by the Koch brothers. The assembled scientists signed the so called Barrington Declaration, which promotes herd immunity as a rational means of re-opening US public schools and the economy at large... More>>

 

Gordon Campbell: On National Being Shafted By Its Own Creation

As it licks its wounds, let’s hope the National Party can still find time to look back with some pride at what it has achieved in Epsom. The Act Party’s nationwide success on Saturday night has been a tribute to National’s foresight, and to its ... More>>

ALSO:

Green Party: 'Fruitful Discussions ... Further Discussions To Have'

The Green Party says there is a negotiation going on with the Labour Party, but there are more discussions to be had. More>>

ALSO:


Border: No Changes To Border Exemptions After Fishing Crew Test Covid-19 Positive

The cases were detected after routine day three testing but the immigration minister and air commodore agree there's no need to change border exemptions. More>>

PSA: Labour-Led Government Has Mandate For Transformation, Equality And Transparency

The Public Service Association welcomes the progressive electoral landslide New Zealand voters delivered on Saturday, and the union says its members look forward to implementing policies that reduce poverty and inequality, support affordable housing ... More>>

ALSO:


Stats NZ: New Report Shows Significant Changes To New Zealand’s Climate

Climate change is already happening in New Zealand and could have a profound impact on future generations of New Zealanders, a new report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ says. Our atmosphere and climate 2020 , released today, includes analysis ... More>>

ALSO:

Judith Collins: Obese People Must Take Responsibility For 'personal Choices'

National Party leader Judith Collins has described obesity as a weakness and says people should not 'blame systems for personal choices'. More>>

Māori Party: Poll Reveals Tamihere On Cusp Of Historic Māori Movement Election Victory

John Tamihere’s election campaign is on the rise and on track to return the Māori Party to parliament, a new Māori TV poll has revealed. The poll released on 11 October during the seventh and final Māori TV Maori Electoral campaign coverage has Tamihere ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Four-Year Terms Of Parliament, And On How The US Courts Are Dismantling Democracy

Last week, the issue of four-year parliamentary terms surfaced again. Infuriatingly, it is being discussed purely in terms of its convenience for political parties. They’d get so much more time to enact their policies, free of scrutiny or sanction by voters ... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels