The Development of Capitalism in New Zealand: Towards a Marxist Analysis

John Macrae and David Bedggood

First published in Red Papers No 3, Summer 1978/79


In this paper we present the outline of a Marxist analysis of the development of capitalism in New Zealand. Given the circumstances under which we are working, it is obvious that much that will be covered requires further research and further thought. Nevertheless, it reflects a point in the evolution of our thinking. It also repre­sents therefore as much a project of research as a definite statement of progress.

We shall show that N.Z.'s "national development" has been determined by its role as a semi-colony (white-settler colony or "colony proper" as distinct from colony) within the world-wide division of labour under capitalism. In taking this approach, we are engaged in theoretical class struggle against bourgeois conceptions of the causes of "development" which focus on there appearances and 'isolated instances' which are taken to represent the total social reality.

The method employed is that of Marx and Lenin, together with some reformulations and extensions of their work, which seeks to understand the working of the Capitalist Mode of Production (CMP) in terms of certain "laws of Motion" which operate not in any vulgar deterministic sense, but as a complex "structural causality" determined under spec­ific historical conditions of class struggle. Adopting this method, we intend to demonstrate its power in explaining the development of capit­alism in N. Z. as a complex inter-relation of economic, political and ideological causes which are determined in the "last instance" by the historic expansion of the CMP into the lands of white-settlement in the nineteenth century.

Rest of Part 1, and Parts 2, 3 and 4 can be found at