Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 12. September 25, 1946

Is Anti - Fascism Sufficient?

Is Anti - Fascism Sufficient?

They left the Gym and went down the steps across the dark tennis court in silence, each ordering his thoughts and seeking an opening for conversation. They were both impressed by what they had heard, a lecture and film on the International Democratic Youth Movement, and each wished to draw the other out.

Finally, tritely, but there was nothing else for it, "What did you think of it?" said Fisher.

Barnes took a moment to consider, then replied slowly, "On the whole I think it's a good idea. It answers a definite need, the need for co-operation and internationalism, but—" he paused, "I can't help feeling that its basis is not positive enough."

"How do you mean? The constitution is pretty definite: fostering of world peace, co-operation between nations, better facilities for travel. They seem positive aims."

"On paper it looks positive. It's an excellent set of aims. But I've been reading some of their reports, and I'm rather worried by the messages from the national movements to the congress. The chief theme of most of them is 'we must be united against fascism,' or words to that effect. There's far too much emphasis on this negative aim.

"Yes, I've noticed that too, and it explains why some people have dismissed it as 'Communist.' Yet I wonder if anti-fascism is a negative aim."

"Surely. It is against something rather than for it"

"Well," said Fisher, "you would agree that we are all seeking the same thing: the recognition of the dignity and worth of the individual human personality. That sounds rather pompous, but it is as near as I can make it."

"Yes. that's about it."

"And fascism is the very negative, the denial of Just that thing. It makes everyone completely subservient to the state and wastes human life recklessly in wars."


"Then anti-fascism is the negation of this negation (to quote Marx) and therefore is positive."

"That," said Barnes, "is sheer sophistry. It sounds logical, but I don't think it will bear study and I don't think you really believe it either."

Fisher grinned, "Nor do I, fully, but there's a grain of truth in it. Anyhow," he continued, "we must remem-ber what the groups are that make up the movement. In Europe, at least, they have risen from the resistance. They fought the Nazis. They have just come out of a terrible experience, in which the dominant need was to defeat the enemy. Naturally anti-fascism seems supremely important."

"I grant that," said Barnes. "I can well understand how the emphasis arises. If I'd lived through the same experiences, I'd think the same as they do. But even so, that negative approach is not enough to hold the groups together. Think of the years to come when the war has receded in the people's minds. The impetus of the movement will then be lost, unless there is a positive factor uniting them."

They walked on, silent. At the door Fisher suddenly stopped. "No," he said, "there are basic aims, and they are pretty positive ones: the aim of peace, which is impossible under fascism."

"What about the peace of the grave?"

"It is the aim of democratic government, which is impossible under fascism. It is the ideal of the liberty of the individual. These are all implicit in anti-fascist action. That's the most urgent problem of today. The fighting is over, but the war goes on. There are still fascists in power in Spain, Greece and the Argentine. We must fight them, because if we don't we" can't carry out our aims. It's like controlling a river. What we want eventually to do is to build an irrigation system. But first we must prevent floods which would destroy everything."

"Yes, that's perfectly true, but an irrigation scheme must contain something more than flood control alone—you can't stop there."

"But fascism is not dead, and so long as it is alive we've simply got to be united against it Surely we've learnt the lesson of the war. It's so much easier to attack a disorganised group than an organised one. Hitler saw this. If it did nothing but prevent fascism, the World Federation of Democratic Youth should be Supported."

"I suppose so. The combating of evil is a good thing, yet it is not a substitute for the achievement of good." They went on upstairs. "I only hope they really can get the organisation working on the positive lines as laid down by the constitution."

"Well," said Fisher, as they parted on the landing, "I hope so, too."

J.M.Z. and D.J.B.