These days Jan Farr writes children’s stories and divides her time between her Wellington and Wairarapa Homes.
Writing is her main interest now, but once it was socialist revolution.
In 1980 Jan Farr was involved in the Auckland literary and theatre scene and was secretary of the Writers Guild.
Prime Minister Rob Muldoon released his famous list of 32 members of the Socialist Unity Party involved in the union movement. Jan Farr was the only woman on the list.
When questioned by the press, Farr claimed she was not a paid up member of the SUP, but was a supporter. By 1983 however, Farr had replaced a young Jim Marr as editor of the SUP’s “Tribune”, a position she was to hold for 10 years.
“We thank you for the invitatation to send 4 mid level cadres to the USSR to study CPSU leadership at the levels closest to workers“…
Jackson named the four lucky invitees as Jan Farr, Ritchie Gillespie, Lesley Douglas and Doug McCallum. All but Farr were to arrive on the 8th May by SU 558.
“Comrade Farr will leave earlier to attend the Pravda meeting and then to have discussions involving the role and organisation of the press. As she is the editor of our newspaper NZ Tribune, her programmes will need to be need to geared around the role of the press linked with the role of the Party“
This study was probably at the Communist Party’s huge “Lenin’s Institute for Higher Learning” on Leningradski Prospekt, Moscow, but may have occurred in one the Soviet Union’s many other training institutes for foreign communists.
By 1985, Jan Farr was secretary of the Auckland City branch of the SUP. In 1986 she was active in the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji. In 1988 she toured Vietnam as guest of the Vietnam Journalists Association.
That year, Farr was also a member of the SUP’s Peace and Solidarity Commission, which oversaw the peace movement and links to foreign communist parties and revolutionary movements.
In December 1988 Farr was interviewed in the Communist Party of Britain’s newspaper “Morning Star”. She was described as the “communist editor” of “Tribune” and an executive committee member of the NZSUP.
The SUP was working hand in glove with the left of the Labour Party at the time to consolidate the union movement. This was designed to both entrench SUP power and to lock in union support behind the Labour Government-a difficult job in the “Rogernomics” era.
“Last year Mr Lange stated that by 1990 all unions must have at least 1000 members to be legally recognised. He positively pushed the idea of amalgamation to improve bargaining – something we in the SUP see as a necessary step. It was shortly after this that the CTU was formed. . . For years we have been encouraging industry-wide planning but until the recent crisis nobody in the movement really knew what the problem looked like. That’s certainly changing now. . . Our basic position is that we are not in a revolutionary siuation yet and what we need now is the ability to intervene at the macro-economic level of production.”
Jan Farr was on the Central Committee of the SUP well into the ’90s and faithfully propagandised the “party line” while the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe underwent their stage managed “democratic” changes.
In April 1991 penned an interesting article for Tribunes’s forum: “The problems facing Eastern Europe (in which I do not believe communism has been defeated) may show that Marx was observing a natural law which no amount of wishful thinking can change. [That law is the forces of production law]…”
In the early ’90s, Farr was active in the radical Wellington Palestine Group.
After leaving Tribune in 1993, Jan Farr worked for several years alongside her husband Don, in FINSEC, the Financial Sector union.
Once Jan Farr rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s leading revolutionaries. Now she reads stories to primary school kids.
One wonders if she still holds fast to the socialist dream?