New Zealand Legion

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The New Zealand Legion was a political organisation founded in New Zealand during the Great Depression. Its ideology was a mixture of nationalism, individualism, and social conservatism. It is sometimes considered to be a fascist (or at least crypto-fascist) group, although the group itself did not see itself in this light.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology and movement characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation's sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland. Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference (self-determination), that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity, and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity—based on shared social characteristics such as culture, language, religion, politics, and belief in a shared singular history—and to promote national unity or solidarity. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve and foster a nation's traditional culture, and cultural revivals have been associated with nationalist movements. It also encourages pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism. Nationalism is often combined with other ideologies, such as conservatism or socialism for example.

Contents

History

The New Zealand Legion was a successor to the New Zealand National Movement, which had been founded by a group of people dissatisfied with the United-Reform coalition government, who broke away soon after 1930. The group included John Ormond, [1] a former Independent Reform candidate influenced by Albert Davy (although Davy himself did not join the Legion). [2]

United–Reform coalition Government of New Zealand

The United–Reform coalition government of New Zealand was the government of New Zealand from 1931 to 1935. It was a coalition between two of the three major parties of the time, the United and Reform, formed to deal with the Great Depression which began in 1929. The Labour Party refused to join the coalition, as it believed that the only solution to the depression was socialism, which United and Reform did not support. Rather, they attempted to solve the country's economic problems by cutting public spending. This, the policy of making the unemployed do relief work for the unemployment benefit, and other cost-cutting policies, made the government the most unpopular of its era, and it was defeated in the 1935 election.

Sir John Davies Wilder Ormond was a New Zealand businessman and farmer.

Albert Ernest Davy was a New Zealand political organiser and campaign manager; and at the height of his career, was regarded as one of the best in the country. He was a strong opponent of socialism, and spent most of his life fighting what he saw as socialist tendencies in New Zealand politics.

In particular, the government was accused of adopting "socialist" policies to combat the Depression, [3] and of attempting to appease left-wingers rather than resist them. The New Zealand Legion presented itself as an alternative solution to the Depression, winning support from conservatives who believed that action was necessary but who rejected the socialist approach.

The Legion reached its height in late 1933, when it is believed to have had around 20,000 members. Much of its support came from smaller provincial towns, particularly in the Hawkes Bay area. The Legion had little in the way of organisation, however, and rarely set out any detailed programs. By the end of 1934, the Legion had dwindled away to virtually nothing. [4]

Ideology

The New Zealand Legion used a number of themes in its campaigning. One was nationalism, with the Legion arguing for greater self-reliance (particularly from Britain) and national unity. Another was individualism harshly critical of "state paternalism", the Legion promoted what it saw as the right of people to be free from (and if necessary, to resist) government interference in their affairs. There were also calls for greater public morality and self-sacrifice "for the sake of the country". Although the Legion was involved in politics, it did not see itself as a political party, and professed itself opposed to the party system.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

A political party is an organized group of people, often with common views, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters' interests.

Some, particularly on the left, accused the Legion of being a fascist organisation, but this is a contentious claim. In particular, the Legion's belief in individualism is pointed out as contrary to fascist principle. After the Legion's eventual demise, Robert Campbell Begg, its one-time leader, was approached by the Nazis while on a world trip, but is reported to have found their philosophy "absurd". [5] [6]

Robert Campbell Begg was a New Zealand doctor and politician. He was born in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand on 11 April 1886. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, qualifying M.B., Ch.B. After serving as a medical officer during the First World War, for which he was awarded the military cross, he returned to Edinburgh, gaining an MD in 1923.

Nazi Party Fascist political party in Germany (1920-1945)

The National Socialist German Workers' Party, commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party, existed from 1919 to 1920.

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References

  1. Hall, David. "Producer Control in the New Zealand Meat Industry in the 1940s/1950s". ojs.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  2. Beaglehole, Diana (22 June 2007). "Davy, Albert Ernest 1886 - 1959". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  3. "Fascism - our path too?". New Zealand Electronic Text Collection. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  4. "The New Zealand Legion". New Zealand History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  5. M.C.Pugh: "The New Zealand Legion (1932-1935): New Zealand Journal of History (April 1971)
  6. Matthew Cunningham: "Conservative Protest or Conservative Radicalism? The New Zealand Legion in a Comparative Context: 1930-1935: Journal of New Zealand Studies 10 (2011)