Created By: Radical Wellington Walking Tour
The Socialist Party, and the socialist movement more widely in the 1910s and 1920s, was concerned with more than just the reform of existing society. Its members hoped to overthrow capitalism and create a new system of mutual cooperation and industrial democracy. To build this they hoped to get involved in the ‘education of desire’, winning workers to the socialist vision and changing their lives in the process. Fellowship, cultural work and literature played a crucial role in this. And, in the days before TV, radio, or mass entertainment, much more life in Wellington was lived publicly and communally than it is now. Socialist Hall, then, was a site for companionship with like-minded people as much as a space for political organising. And, as a sober alternative to the pubs, the Socialist Hall could provide entertainment for working-class men and women without the costs and violence associated with alcohol.
Hundreds of different events were held in his site. One reported by the Maoriland Worker on the 1st October 1913 was a ‘literary evening’ organised by the Freedom Group. Philip Josephs, the anarchist tailor we will meet at 4 Willis Street, was one of the organisers. The evening promised to ‘take the form of an Anarchist-Communist society, where one is equal to another, where no criminals, no officials, and no authority exists – all are one happy human family, enjoying at least for one evening the benefits of a perfectly free society.’
Maoriland Worker, 28 June 1912.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Walking Radical Wellington