AnarresTakver's Initiatives. P.O. Box 1078, Brunswick M.D.C, Victoria, 3056, Australia Previous Page TOC Next Page

"Trouble Makers" - Anarchism and Syndicalism.
The early years of the Libertarian Movement in Aotearoa / New Zealand

Philip Josephs and the Freedom Group


Our comrade, P. Josephs, of Wellington, New Zealand, has succeeded, almost single-handed, in building up an agency for the distribution of anarchist literature on quite a large scale. For six or seven years he carried it on in the usual way, by attending meetings and trying to interest individuals by conversation and the gift of an Anarchist paper or pamphlet, with very poor success. But thinking it time to try other methods, about twelve months ago he inserted an advertisement of pamphlets and books in the Maoriland Worker, the official organ of the New Zealand Federation of Labour, which has a large circulation. Immediately orders and inquiries began to flow in, the business increasing so quickly that he had not enough stock to keep up with it. This was soon remedied, and large advertisements brought still bigger business. Now he has issued a four page list of books and pamphlets on sale, the variety of which is a striking testimony to the interest he has aroused in Anarchism. Agencies have also been established in Canterbury, Otago, and Auckland.

At the present moment there is no Anarchist movement., as we understand the term, in New Zealand. But from articles and speeches reported in the Maoriland Worker from time to time the influence of Anarchist ideas can he easily traced, and it is certain that comrades will shortly he holding meetings and carrying on more active work. Credit is due to the editor of the Maoriland Worker for his sympathy and assistance; in fact although not an Anarchist, his opponents have charged him with advocating Anarchism in his paper.

Our comrade Josephs' initiative and energy have met with the success they deserved, and should be an object lesson to those who are sometimes only too ready to sit down and bemoan their own impotence.

Freedom Sept 1912

One member of the Wellington Socialist Party was the anarchist Philip Josephs. Josephs was a Russian Jew who worked as a tailor. In January 1905 he spoke in support of the Russian revolution and became a member of the party. For two years he ran their economics class and contributed to the "Commonweal". In an article entitled "Trade Unionism in New Zealand: Is it a failure", he describes the state of the workers movement and the effect of the arbitration act on unionism in general.

Josephs remained an active member of the party and helped revive the Anti-Militarist League in Wellington in 1912, and was elected secretary. He often advertised Freedom Press pamphlets in various publications including the Maoriland Worker. In July 1913 he along with others set up the anarchist Freedom Group. The Maoriland Worker reported on July 18th that

The Freedom Group appears to have lasted for at least a year so maybe they did have "street fights with the coppers", or perhaps this relates to an incident during the November General Strike. Philip Josephs remained active for a number of years. In 1915 he was arrested for possessing banned literature when the police raided his workshop. He apparently returned to Russia after the 1917 Revolution and was back in Aotearoa in the early 20's although we cannot be certain of this. A. G. Solomon was involved in the Russian Famine Relief Campaign in 1922 and an Army Intelligence document from 1927 suggests that Solomon and Josephs were the same person.

Another anarchist involved with the Wellington Socialist Party was Thomas Fauset McDonald. He arrived from Australia around 1906 and was involved with the Hutt Valley Socialist Society in early 1908. McDonald was a doctor specialising in tropical diseases. He had been active in the English movement in the 1890's and was a friend of Nettlau's. However McDonald was a racialist who published several articles and pamphlets outlining his ideas. He was condemned by his comrades in the Socialist Party in an editorial in the "Commonweal" in July 1907 when he became president of the White Race League.

Frank Prebble

For More info on Dr Fauset McDonald see:

Contact Takver with questions or comments about this web site.

Last modified: August 16, 1999

[ Top of Page ] [ Takver's Initiative ] [ Radical Tradition Contents ]
Previous Page Page Top TOC Next Page