Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 5. April 28th, 1948
Recently I conducted a Gallup Poll among students on the question "What is Communism?" The purpose of this poll was not to find a standard definition for a political idea, but to attempt to discover what significance and meanings such a term had in their minds, and whe-they they were more or less in agreement upon its meaning. Seventy-three students were questioned at random in the common rooms and cafeteria, and the results were extremely surprising.
Eleven gave answers that were broadly in accordance with the Oxford Dictionary or Marxist sense, thirteen gave fairly accurate answers, twenty were extremely vague and inaccurate, nineteen had no idea whatsoever, but disapproved even though they did not know what it was, and seven evaded the question by giving answers such as "a form of Government," and "the Russian Social System."
The poll showed that the majority of the students possessed an emotional feeling about the word, but not any clear idea as to its general meaning. Here are some of the answers.
Barbara: "Well, it's a bit difficult to say—mostly it's oh, State control, ah, giving up your freedom, and all that."
Gus: "A sort of self-government of the people in small groups. Community life. Everybody dubbing in and taking out what they want."
Second year: "The dividing up of everything of your own and giving it to the government."
First year: "The socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange."
Third year: "The nationalization of the means of production, distribution and control."
Second year: "A state in which everyone helps each other and helps themselves."
Second year: "The mutual recognition in all spheres of organic activity of the things that matter in communal experience and existence."
First year: "A form of government opposed to Christianity." (I tried to get a more direct answer from him, but no, it was opposed to Christianity, and that was good enough for him.)
Second year woman: "Well I'm rather at a loss to know what the by——thing is. All I know is that I don't believe in it."
Third year: "Equal opportunity and equality for everyone. Money is shared out and so on."
Second year: "Communism? I'll tell you what it is—it's dividing up of property in such a way that you end up by dividing your soul. Nobody owns a damn thing—it all belongs to the State. The government claims everything. Your house is not your own. They can walk in and say 'we want this' and where are you? In the gutter." (At this stage he gave an indignant belch! and reached for a pudding spoon.)
Jocelyn: "Oh, the sort of thing that goes on in Russia."
Ron: "Communism means two things. First, the organization of society which involves the social control of the means of production, and secondly, it is associated with a specific party and world outlook—Marxism if you like."