GUEST BLOG: Dave Brownz – Rogercomic: the socialist Aotearoa that might have been…

Rogercomic is a comic published by the Socialist Alliance in Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1986.

It was an alliance of most to the left of the Labour Party that was formed to fight Rogernomics, but which dissolved around 1989 with the formation of New Labour.

The Fourth Labour Government, elected in 1984 faced a threatened capital strike unless the Government balanced the budget and introduced neo-liberal reforms. Roger Douglas was the monetarist Minister of Finance under Prime Minister, David Lange, both of whom feature largely in this story as the perpetrator and enabler of the radical right-wing reforms introduced between 1984 and 1990.

Rogercomic is an alternative history which develops what might have happened in Aotearoa if a socialist revolution had come to power and put the leaders of the treacherous Labour Party on trial for their attacks on workers and oppressed in the service of national can international capitalism.

For those who think that history is bunk and the lessons of the past are passe, they may find that this comic teaches them something new about Aotearoa.

It may also help convince them that the parliamentary road is permanently blocked to all those who need and want a better society and that the alternative socialist future is both necessary and possible if we are to have any hope in the survival of the human, and many other, species.

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Dave Brownz is TDBs Marxist blogger.


  1. 1000% Dave more power to this cause.

    It is high time we came out to reclaim our country from these sellouts!@@#$%^&*()_+@!#

  2. I can’t fucking stand Roger Douglas, but not to the level of gleefully fantasising about putting him through a Stalinist show trial.

    And that’s the thing with Marxism, isn’t it?

    When social democracy goes wrong, we get a little bit more market than we want in certain areas of society and the usual monotony of service cuts for the poor/tax cuts for the rich. But we can still get rid of it.

    When Marxism goes wrong, we get mass arrests, the gulag, the cultural revolution, starvation, and let’s not forget pretty stagnant wages and working conditions, huge workplace death rates. But it’s really, really hard to get rid of it.

    • Jones, Marxism is not infallible but it wasnt responsible for the Gulag. You can put that down to the fascists who killed the leadership of the German Spartacists and unleashed the army and paramilitaries with the help of the social democrats to put down waves of workers insurrections.

      Then they turned their attention to smashing the young Russian workers state by dispatching 13 armies to invade from every side. The degeneration of the revolution into death camps and show trials cannot be laid at the door of Marx but rather the capitalist counter-revolution.

      Social democracy cannot reform capitalism which is why the global class war is killing us by the thousand every day for more profit.

      Better off Red than Dead.

      • Labour camps were already in place under Lenin by 1919, well before Stalin’s craziness of the 30s. I can actually agree to a large extent about Stalin being less a communist and more a guy who used the revolutionary situation to make himself into a new Alexander I, but such conduct during Lenin’s period is something that Marxists do need to ask some searching questions about. It was well underway by the time the Polish war began, so it was underway when they launched what was intended to be the military campaign which would lead to world revolution.

    • “Marxism is really hard to get rid of”.But so is social democracy or capitalism .The capitalists use their wealth to control elections , they form controlling oligarchies, they control the media , they construct deep surveillance states, they have a vested interest in Imperialist wars , they have a trend towards militaristic police.They construct a prison industrial complex. They inherently become more and more unequal. Where in the world is there a “social democracy” that is not becoming more and more unequal? The fact is that there isn’t one. Not ONE! Look at the U.S to see your future.The edifice is teetering on the verge of collapse, and will do so hopefully without killing all of us in their death throes. Our only hope is to create a new society where GREED in all its manifestations is not the guiding construct !!

      • Well, here we are under capitalism and with the return of Social Democracy just an election away if we’re lucky, or another three years if we’re not. We’re debating ideas freely and legally on an alternative media platform with hundreds if not thousands of monthly readers without fear of harassment, exile, or arrest.

        How’d any system which grew out of a Marxist revolution go in that regard?

        • Thomas Peggetty in his book “Capitalism in the Twenty First Century” proved that all the social democracies he studied have had increasing inequality since 1970.[He examined all except Japan.”] This is going to happen in NZ regardless of who gets in. Its inherent in capitalism.Leading the charge over the cliff is the U.S. Have you not noticed how the middle and working classes in the U.S have had an ever falling standard of living,regardless of whom they voted in?? The population voted for Trump because they were desperate for a change of direction. We will be following them off the poverty cliff unless we change direction to socialism.Yes, we will be going on a pathway that none have trod before.But events will give us little choice.

          • I would definitely agree with that downward trend in social democracies, because they have let markets creep into areas where they were traditionally kept at bay, and because they’ve allowed large employers to offshore. But given that most of the traditionally SD societies are in Europe, a large part of that comes down to EU rules flat out encouraging European manufacturers to flock to the former Eastern Bloc nations where wages are significantly lower. Additionally, these societies have been letting in an increasingly unsustainable amount of migrants who have received little encouragement to integrate or become employable, resulting in a gigantic inter-generational welfare bill which their systems were not intended to accommodate.

            I have noticed what you observe about the working and middle classes of the USA – but I guess I don’t see this observation as particularly relevant to a debate about social democracy vs. Marxism, because the USA has never been a social democracy (unless you’re feeling very generous towards FDR).

            If we find ourselves following the USA off the cliff, that will be because we’ve followed them down the path of crony capitalism, rather than the sensibly regulated capitalism of places like Denmark – which are far more comparable to NZ than the USA, because we have similar economic bases, similar population sizes, and traditionally a broadly similar outlook about where we want to be as a society.

            • Marx theory of labour, and those that promote it believe that surplus is generated by exploiting the free energy of labour.

              But as the Father of Physics, Sir Isaac Newton once said. Surplus is generated by exploiting the free energy stored in Fossil Fuels, Nature and fissile materials resulting in a process of wast heat (carbon in the atmosphere) that has already been over used.

              This fundamental flaw in economics effects all religious off springs of the discipline. And I wouldn’t question a physicist ability to perform maths. Why we go to economists to solve math problems is another conundrum I have not yet solved.

              With out radical reform in the energy sector factories will be stuck in the 20th century. Unable to deal with the challenges of the 21st century. And this is where we are now.

            • All you have stated in your first paragraph is equally true of what is happening in NZ at the moment.Call it what you like, the U.S. is only the most extreme example of Capitalism, the same system we have. And the 3 Scandanavian countries are not sensibly regulated .They have all got increasing levels of inequality, and have been doing so since 1970. It may surprise you to know that the most unequal developed country apart from The U.S. is Sweden ! And crony capitalism is gathering speed here as we speak.Haven’t you noticed our water being sold off? Our surveillance state is gathering momentum. How about our news media which is becoming more and more controlled by an unseen Oligarchy ,that just parrots the U.S Empire line, and is brainwashing the population to accept the Washington Narrative in all respects. Have you watched our TV news which is 90% about celebrities ,whether royalty, Hollywood , or sport. Bread and circuses! And then there are the super rich arriving here, like Peter Thiel, one of our Oligarchs in waiting. Look over our rich list and see your new masters! Hopefully John Key and Gareth Morgan and the other members of NZ’s One Percent will be kind to us peasants. One can be a boiled frog, or you can climb out of the pot! Your choice!

              • Sweden has worse inequality than China or North Korea? I’ve never been to China or NK, but I have been to Sweden and I cannot believe that a country where it’s illegal to rent someone a dwelling which drops below 20 degrees C at even the depths of winter is worse than anywhere with a system which sprang from revolutionary communism and rules through a one party state.

                Most of these things you list (water sold, expanded surveillance) are opposed by most of our parliamentary left. And when did the owned media of a one party state do any better than the MSM of today? Again, unlike those societies, we have alternative media platforms such as this excellent blog where we are able to legally and publicly debate other systems of government against one another.

                As for the bread and circuses aspect, yes there’s certainly no examples of 20th century communists doing anything like that! Oh, except…

                • You were making some sense for a while there Cemetery, but now you have lost it.I am referring to Western countries in my analysis,not China or North Korea. You cannot, regardless of the scientific evidence accept that your cherished Western “Democracies “are becoming less equal. You can lead a horse[or frog ]to water ,but you can’t make it drink.The evidence is there, but you don’t want to find it !!

                  • @historypete. Let me tell you. The differences between China and America today is far more subtle than you discribe. It’s a duopoly which isn’t command and control Stalin style, and it’s not free market forces Freedmen style. What we’ve got here is a con job.

                    Rather than doing what elected officials or ostensively payed to do, such as not walk NZ blindly into WW3.

                    As of yesterday America ran a 64.1 billion trade deficit edged a bit since last quarter. Turns out New Zealanders in general need guidence. Not more regulation or less regulation around China and America. And almost all that trade deficit is gift rapped by The People’s Party of China and handed to The Washington consensus. So the loony can frown at China all he wants. Not even POTUS has enough power to change market fundamentals.

                    We simply can not stop pumping money into the central bank Ponzi scheme. Dismantling the rigged contracts now would mean a repeat of 08, where those committing the fraud get bailed out.

                  • Well Pete, it’s pretty simple. These Social Democracies aren’t becoming less equal because of their capitalist economies. They’re becoming less equal because the EU is incentivising industry to move (i.e. the economic incentive was politically created), and second as covered these countries, Sweden in particular, have admitted more migrants than they can handle (and place little obligation on them to get out there and assimilate), while still extending to them a very generous system of welfare and benefits which were designed for the small population of a prosperous country with low unemployment and a homogenous system of agreed social values around work and society. This is really biting them now.

                  • Also, China and NK aren’t considered ‘developed’? China produces most of the world’s consumer goods and is a giant of Marx-inspired 19th century model production focused heavy industry, and NK has nothing but Marx-inspired 19th century model, production focused heavy industry. If the two remaining nations with the economies most resembling the vision of Marx aren’t yet ‘developed’ after all this time, then there’s little more to say about the viability of that model.

                    • The study on equality I am talking about was only done on Western countries. The author was also unable to study Japan because of linguistic problems. We have had a frog ,a horse, and now an ostrich! Capitalists maximise profits ,and it was more profitable to move the manufacturing industries to Eastern Europe where wages were considerably less.Classic capitalistic behaviour! And the migrants are coming from the refugees created by the U.S. Empire and Nato capitalist Imperialism ie their continual regime change and invasions of middle East countries.I hope having your head in the sand is not painful?

                    • Yanks are just mad China penatrated the African Continant more than they did and in far less time. But what really pisses off the Washington consensus is the African nations engaging with Chinese interests, get to own the infrustructure, and not US interests.

                      Far be it for democratically elected leaders of Africa to decide how to split the economic benefits with the people they serve.

                    • It doesn’t matter where the influx comes from – it matters that a social democratic economy in a nation with a low population is a high wage economy with a high skills base. You can’t dump a bunch of people into that situation and expect them to hit the ground running. That’s why it is costing Sweden.

                      And again, the industries of Sweden had no reason to leave before the EU popped up and started actually asking them to do so. I have a friend who works for one of those companies. It was in Stockholm for many years – but they got an offer they couldn’t refuse. Why didn’t that happen before? No offer, no move. But there’s a political project which is incentivizing it.

                      I can see how you might think I’m wrong about some of this – but I’m amazed that you think the disasters which have occurred where revolutionary Marxism left its mark might be worth trying in the hope that this time it won’t be like every other time.

            • Jones, you miss the point. Social Democracy died in 1919 when it became part of the Republican Govt that repressed the German revolution.

              Ever since it exists only to do the bidding of the capitalists – locking workers onto the parliamentary road where they are immobilized ready for the fascist shocktroops.

              Again, Germany, 1933.

              And as I pointed out above, where workers do rise up in revolution, the SDs join the counter-revolutionary armies.

              SD cannot function under too-late capitalism where falling profits block reforms.

              Witness 4th Labour Government.

              That’s why ‘victory’ for SD in NZ in 1917 will be reactionary utopia.

              Once workers wake up to this, capitalism’s years will be numbered.

              Yes, indeed. Marxism is hard to eradicate because it represents the class interests of the disenfranchised proletariat as the gravedigger of a dying capitalism.

              • Oh indeed, when a Labour government appoints a guy who belongs to the Mount Pelerin society with a track record of publishing books which make clear he’s a liberal democrat, then that Labour government is not going to be doing social democracy, it will be doing liberal democracy.

  3. SIR Rogercomic if you please!! As in Sir John or Dame Gwynyth Balderdash.
    And if you can’t cope with that, it can be abbreviated with a syllabic camp sounding ‘essss’. As in ssssssJonky or ssssssRodja….or if re-erected: ssssssssBull.

  4. It’s good – but though Malthus was a rightie, Adam Smith wasn’t – his Theory of Moral Sentiments was behind a lot of the reforms that put England well ahead of the rest of Europe in progressive terms at that time. When you read Burke confessing to having been moved to tears by a theatrical performance in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, you are seeing a claim of virtue based in sensibility – the sensibility Smith recommended as a virtue – the sensibility that Douglas, Thatcher and Friedman utterly lacked.

  5. Cemetery: I totally agree that we cannot follow the path of Russia,China,North Korea, and Cuba. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat that morphed into a dictatorship of an elite is certainly not a prescription that I would sign up to. I am supportive of a totally democratic socialism that is absolutely more democratic than what we have now.The news media would need to be absolutely free and without bias. The economy would be run for the benefit of all , not just for a wealthy elite. No one would be very rich or very poor.There are finite resources available in any country, and a small group of individuals cannot be allowed to owned more than is reasonable.This of course would not be very attractive for John Key and Gareth Morgan , who would have to disgorge their millions. Peter Thiel would choke on his caviar. The inheritance of wealth would be a thing of the past.No more rich family dynasties. A meritocracy where individuals could earn more, but only within certain parameters. Does this sound so bad!?

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