My latest Socialist Academic Profile is of Otago University senior political lecturer, Brian Staples Roper. Dr Roper has an MA from Canterbury University and a Phd from Queensland’s Griffith University.
Brian Roper probably first got radical during the 1981 Sprinbok Tour of NZ. He was involved in Canterbury University “Students Against the Tour” and was one of 26 arrested at a July anti Tour march in Christchurch.
By 1986, Roper was working in Canterbury University’s Sociology Department and hanging around with a small Trotskyite group, the Revolutionary Communist League, which had taken over the leftist journal “NZ Monthly Review”.
In September 1989 Roper wrote a letter to the late Bruce Jesson’s “The Republican”, stating “for this reason the kind of socialism that we must work toward… must be a socialism based on the democratic exertion of working class power through a system of workers’, women’s and Maori’ councils. Our political practice should be directed towards that goal.”
In 1990, Roper joined the staff at Otago University. He quickly became active in the university’s “Progressive Left” club and began gathering around him some young followers.
In early 1993, Roper and his partner, Laurel Hepburn founded the Otago University “International Socialist Organisation”. The ISO was then affiliated to the British Socialist Workers Party and soon became the most militant group on campus.
From 1993 to today, their would hardly have been a demo, march, registry occupation, sit-in or picket in Dunedin that the ISO would not have joined, or led. Otago University’s Education Action Group has always had a significant ISO component.
In 1994, the ISO joined the remnants of the Communist Party of NZ to form the NZ Socialist Workers Party. I remember at the time, one Canterbury ISOer, Robyn Sullivan, telling me what a great bunch, the ex Stalinists of the CPNZ were.
By 1997, the merger was all over and Roper’s group re-adopted the ISO name. They are no longer aligned to the British SWP, but to the US ISO and the Australian, “Socialist Alternative”.
Dr Roper has co-edited two books:”State and Economy in NZ” and “The Political Economy of NZ”. He has a book currently in press entitled:”Towards Prosperity or Poverty? The Keynesian Era, Neoliberal Restructuring and the Third Way in NZ.”
He has been recently on another book,”The History of Democracy: A Marxist Interpretation”.
Apparently Roper does like one thing about capitalism-Coca Cola.