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

End Piece and References

The defeat of the 1913 strike didn't have the same devastating effect as in 1890 or 1951. Many militants began organising in the countryside. Indeed much of the gelignite stolen in Auckland was put to good use in the gum diggings of Northland. Many Wobblies became active in the Shearers and other rural unions, and the employers once again began to complain that they still needed to "finish the job". Early in 1914 Tom Barker moved to Sydney to "fan the flames of discontent". This is literally what happened. Charlie Reeve and J.B.King were among twelve I.W.W leaders accused of arson and conspiracy in 1916. They all received extremely harsh sentences but were released in 1920. Bill Murdoch went on to become an organiser of the One Big Union movement in Auckland in the 1920s, and a militant in the Auckland Watersiders Union.

From the turn of the century up until 1914 were the years of insurgent labour. The First World War ripped the guts out of the militant labour movement. The rise of social democracy on the one hand and Bolshevism on the other, effectively divided the movement and I believe, destroyed it. We have waited seventy years for the Bolshevik myth to be finally destroyed. The myth of state socialism was exposed by the anarchists of the First International in the 1870's. Until recently many labour historians considered the crowning achievement of the workers movement to be the formation of a labour party. The 1980's should have killed that idea.

When I started to research this pamphlet I knew nothing of the early libertarian movement and thought, like most that it didn't rarely exist in this country. How wrong I was.

Appeal: to Maoris
This is a message to you to explain the reason the workers of New Zealand are striking and to show that this strike concerns you. The top bosses of the shipping companies and the Government mean to destroy the unions of New Zealand workers, so that they can succeed in lowering the wages of the workers. The newspapers are concealing the most important point. These bosses are looking for people to act as policeman to fight us. Not one of you should participate in these treacherous dealings. This is disgusting work. We and you are workers together and we all suffer from the same affliction. It was these bosses who confiscated your land, they who shot your ancestors in days gone by. This thieving gang is your enemy - people without feelings. You are our dear friends. And so, we must always hold fast to our mutual love. All workers should be of one mind regarding this battle. Therefore do not help our mutual enemies. We are all workers together, We are ever one tribe - the tribe of workers.
(Industrial Unionist
Nov 29th 1913)


As I have already said in the introduction much of the information for this pamphlet has come from secondary sources. I am particularly indebted to the late Bert Roth for all his help and his many excellent articles in such magazines as Here and Now and Monthly Review. Bert wrote several books on the labour movement all well worth reading.

Erik Ollsen's "Red Feds" is the best book dealing with the period up to 1914, well its the only one.

Other books include


Frank Prebble

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Last modified: August 16, 1999

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