While studying German at Auckland University (1965-68) de Bres became active in the Student Christian Movement. Like many marxist groups, the SCM hid it’s real emphasis behind an innocuous name. Far from being a bunch of clean cut spiritual seekers, the SCM was and is a “Christian-Marxist” organisation
Joris de Bres saved few souls in the SCM, but in his own words “I took part in protests against the Vietnam War, the SIS, the nuclear arms race and nuclear power, racism and Apartheid.”
In 1969 de Bres studied at the Free University of West Berlin, a major centre of socialist activism.
“I studied Marx, Engels and Lenin, Marcuse, Rosa Luxemburg, Frantz Fanon, and modern German writers of the revolutionary left. Students saw their hope for revolutionary change in an alliance with the working classes, through radicalised trade unions. They had nearly pulled it off in Paris in 1968.”
After Berlin, de Bres moved to post graduate studies at Oxford University. He eventually dropped out, perhaps because marching with striking “dusties”, picketing with striking power workers and “translating left wing books for New Left Books, Pluto Press, and Penguin” distracted him from his studies.
In February 1972 de Bres and Geoff Bertram attended the “World Assembly for Peace and Independence of the Indo Chinese People” held in Paris. Joris de Bres represented the Wellington Committee On Vietnam, a mainly Maoist organisation. The Conference was however organised by the Soviet front, World Peace Council.
While Kiwi soldiers were fighting in Vietnam, Joris de Bres presented a letter of solidarity to Quong Ming, ambassador to France of the provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam.
On returning to NZ in 1973, de Bres became a distributor for English and American socialist literature and worked as International Research officer for the Maoist controlled, New Zealand University Students Association.
Joris de Bres then became full time secretary for the Citizens Association for Racial Equality. He served as Secretary/Organiser and eventually as vice-president of the organisation.
After CARE, de Bres went to work for “aid” agency CORSO, yet another Marxist controlled organization. While always socialist dominated, CORSO was then experiencing the beginnings of a Maoist takeover. Joris de Bres was sacked twice “for being too poltical” and won reinstatement with the aid of Maori activist and unionist, Syd Jackson.
In 1973, de Bres, and several other activists including HART’s Trevor Richards, and a young Rob Campbell were listed as supporters of a Wellington based Maoist publication “The Paper”. The organisation around “The Paper” eventually coalesced into the Workers Communist League (WCL), one of NZ’s most secretive and militant Marxist groupings.
Interestingly, de Bres reveals in his booklet “Reflections on Trade Unionism”
“I had worked closely with Massey University academics Rob Campbell and Peter Harris on publications on Pacific Island migrant workers…Both got jobs with the Public Service Association in Wellington, and when an Auckland PSA organiser stopped me in Queen St in 1977 and suggested I apply for a job for the PSA in Auckland, it seemed like a good opportunity. I got the job.”
Both Peter Harris and Campbell around this time were moving from Maoism into the orbit of the pro Soviet Socialist Unity Party (SUP). There are indications that de Bres may have been moving in a similar direction.
In June 1974, de Bres, representing CARE had contributed an article to the SUP’s “Tribune” newspaper, on Apartheid.
In September of the same year he had contributed to a booklet “An Injury To All: a collection of essays on unionism by Bert Roth, Frank Haigh, Joris de Bres et al”, edited by SUP member and later PSA official, Graeme Whimp.
In 1976 De Bres wrote, with Rob Campbell a book on Pacific Island immigrants called “The Overstayers”. It was favourably reviewed in “Tribune”, November 15th 1976 by Len Reid.
The Auckland PSA was well infiltrated by the SUP. Joris de Bres, as Auckland PSA Secretary worked alongside several well known Party members such Joe Tonner and Jo Quatermass and ex party member and NZUSA official Mike Waghorne.
In 1986 de Bres moved to Wellington to become the PSA’s Assistant General Secretary. In the Wellington office, de Bres worked alongside SUP members such as his colleague from Auckland, Joe Tonner, Conal Tuohy, Ros Goldsbrough, Helen and Jane Douglas, Peter Hall-Jones and several other known party associates, including his old comrade Peter Harris.
In 1993 De Bres left the PSA to take up the role of Public Awareness manager with the Department of Conservation. He stayed with DOC until shortly before joining the Human Rights Commission in 2002, rising to “General Manager- External Relations”.
In the late ’90s de Bres became involved in the “Aid Agency” OXFAM as both a trustee and media spokesman. OXFAM, was founded in NZ in 1991 By some of the same old Maoists who had taken over CORSO in the 1970s and ’80s. CORSO was by then a thoroughly discredited shell and a new and more respectable vehicle was needed to solicit the public’s donations and taxpayer funding.
OXFAM NZ tends to focus its aid into countries that have active revolutionary movements. This is not surprising as its staff, trustees and patrons include a significant proportion of socialists and Marxist-Leninists.
So what if Joris De Bres has worked around socialists most of his life? Why is that a problem? I see it as a problem because it has long been Marxist-Leninist policy to utilize the Maori and other minorities as a revolutionary force.
Maori “sovereignty” or “self determination” as promoted by the Human Rights Commission is an essential part of Marxist-Leninist strategy.
Both the Maoist and pro-Soviet factions which de Bres has associated with, often re-affirmed this concept in their literature.
I quote senior SUP member Marilyn Tucker’s article, “The National Question: The Soviet Experience and its Lessons for New Zealand”, published in the SUP’s theoretical journal “Socialist Politics” in 1983.
“The struggles for full National Rights of the Maori people and against racism are an essential ingredient in the general struggle…for socialism..”
Even more explicit was the Workers Communist League’s “Unity” of the 28th of September 1987.
“Support for Maori self-determination is one of the fundamental principles underlying the work and outlook of the WCL… the struggle for Maori self-determination is a crucial part of the process of bringing about a revolutionary transformation of society.”
Unsurprisingly, the HRC has also been infiltrated by socialists and Marxist-Leninists over the years. The HRC promotes a definition of racism that is Marxist in character and is very similar to that once used by groups like the WCL and SUP.
The HRC treats racism not as an individual failing, but as a power struggle between competing social groups. To the HRC socialists, only oppressing groups like white colonizers can be racists because they have the power. Oppressed groups like Maori cannot be racist, no matter how appalling they treat non Maori, because they don’t have power.
When, in December 2002, Joris de Bres shocked middle NZ by comparing European treatment of Maori culture to the excesses of the Afghan Taliban, I think he was being entirely consistent with the HRC’s socialist world view.