Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 11. June 8th, 1950
Vuc And Wfdy-Should We Stay In?
Vuc And Wfdy-Should We Stay In?
In View of another rejection by the Students' Association in General Meeting of a motion aiming at disaffiliation from the World Federation of Democratic Youth, we publish two points of view on the issue:
A.W.C. says "No"
The report of Victoria's delegates to the WFDY Congress at Budapest was prepared by Ron Smith and K. J. Hollyman and S. T. Scoones, two ex-VUC New Zealanders now studying in Paris. All students are urged to secure a copy and study at least some of its 50 pages. Only by careful reading can they form a reasoned opinion on whether or not continued WFDY membership is worth-while.
This writer is against continued affiliation with WFDY, but believes that as long as VUC is affiliated, we are obliged to take some interest in it. It follows that these comments are not intended as a personal attack on the delegates, who have no doubt carried out their duties in accordance with their own conscientiously held personal attitudes towards world affairs.
The first point about the report is the quaint phraseology. Some of it probably consists of straight quotes or abridgements of WFDY prepared handouts, but throughout a peculiar style is maintained.
The report of the WFDY President quotes President Truman: "That the U.S. Government would accord financial aid to those governments which would openly fight against the democratic forces." A footnote explains that "Truman himself, of course," said 'Communism,' but meant, as the facts have shown, any democratic forces opposing U.S. expansion and demanding national independence and democratic rights."
Apparently the President of WFDY is unable to quote President Truman directly, but must introduce this peculiar jargon in place of the word "Communism."
One dreadful moment is highlighted on pages 12 and 13 of the report. Here the President of WFDY said: "We should popularise ever more widely the successes without historical precedent which have been obtained in the Soviet Union during the past decades."
Our delegates were upset about this. They thought it "might be open to misinterpretation as a statement of political favouritism." Well they might think so! They therefore gave a page of reasons explaining this one away. They manage to turn the statement into "points out the necessity of popularising the achievements of the Soviet youth (or of the youth of the people's democracies)." Just a "message of hope for youth."
Note: We started with "Soviet Union" and ended with "Soviet youth."
With all the pages of lists of delegates from every imaginable country (each tagged with the support of old friends like the Eureka Youth League in Australia or the Canadian Seamen's Union) there is one omission—yes, you guessed it—Yugo-slavia. Remember how she used to fill the pages of "Salient" in those good old days before Tito split on the boys? Other sources state that Yugoslavia was expelled from WFDY, but our delegates just ignore the fate of the poor youth now subject to their "inhuman oppressors"—or is Yugoslavia just "anti-democratic"?
Diary Notes of WFDY—
- April 14—A day of solidarity with youth fighting fascism in Spain.
- February 21—A day of solidarity with youth fighting against colonialism.
- October 2—International Peace Day.
One of "Our Tasks in the Battle of Peace"—"Task 10—We must learn to develop the rich and often undeveloped talents of our girls, who as the mothers of tomorrow, are natural champions of peace."
The report on New Zealand is really good. During the conscription campaign last year ("for imperialist war") "Press and radio (were) closed to the peace forces." These instruments were certainly weighted against, but hardly "closed" to the "peace forces."
"Later this year the student newspaper was temporarily banned in the same college," gives the impression of a Soviet-style censorship. It overlooks the rather simple point at issue of an article alleged to be offensive to local personalities.
According to Mr. Smith (he should know, being an M. Com.): "New Zealand faces in the near future an economic crisis exceeding in intensity the great depression of the early 1930's, which caused great suffering to New Zealand youth."
So hang onto your money, students; with such a prospect it seems a pity to waste any more cash on staying affiliated with WFDY.
Get hold of that report, read it, and think it over before attending the annual general meeting!
C.V.B. says "Yes"
The cynical and shallow nature of A.W.C.'s attack on WFDY is obvious to anyone who has read our delegates' report or any WFDY documents.
A.W.C. dislikes WFDY "phraseology". For young Malayans and Indo-Chinese, the words "imperialism" and "democratic forces" have a very precise meaning, much as "capitalist crisis" had for young New Zealanders during the slump, and "fascism" during the recent war. The accusation of distorting Truman's words is absurdly abstract. "Communism" Is used to mean "any democratic forces opposing US expansionism." We all know that the new Chinese Government is only 1-3 Communist, and that the American Inquisition has ousted the mildest of liberals.
You don't have to be a Communist to recognise the positive challenge of the Soviet Union to capitalism. If we prefer to ignore the fact that their youth have economic independence and social opportunities far exceeding our own: and prefer to follow uncritically the lead of a dishonest Press in slandering and abusing that country, then we are not acting in the traditions of a university.
Despite his scrutiny of WFDY files, A.W.C. is ignorant of the fact that the "People's Youth of Yugoslavia" were expelled from WFDY because their Central Committee and delegates to WFDY Council were proven to be not elected, but appointed by the Yugoslav Government.
A.W.C. sneers at the young people of the world celebrating the symbolical national day of anti-fascist Spain, and that of the young people facing the degrading conditions and political benightedness of colonial areas. Remember Roosevelt's words: "If our brothers are oppressed, then we are oppressed ... If their freedom is taken away, our freedom is not secure."
As for world peace, does A.W.C. agree with Hitler that "only in continual warfare does mankind progress?" The mothers of tomorrow should be the natural champions of peace. So should the fathers. But I feel sorry for anything sired by A.W.C.
There was nothing in the New Zealand report that was untrue; every significant event and current effecting the youth movements represented was mentioned. Association policy was reliably reflected in the entirely correct treatment of the "Referendum" and the "Salient" dispute.
A.W.C. is frivolous in his treatment of the possibility of an imminent economic debacle. In this event, it is obviously in our interests to cooperate with the young people of other countries to fight against a forced decline in living standards. WFDY has already given an excellent lead—at worldwide gatherings, in International youth commissions reporting on different areas and problems, and in organising united campaigns among the youth of individual countries, for better conditions of living, working and education. We can learn from the problems of the Canadian Student Christian Movement, from the Scots Mining Youth League, from the Viet Nam Democratic Youth League, from the Medical Students of America and from the Czech Youth Front—and they can learn from us. We can learn to understand one another's point of view, and with a sympathetic knowledge of the nature of the tasks others are facing, we can lend our support, and expect the support of others. Thus through the liaison of the Federation, and through personal contact at World Youth festivals and congresses, we can get to know the other young people with whom we are sharing the planet.
So, too, must we co-operate with the youth of other countries—all other countries—to safeguard and strengthen world peace under the United Nations. For without world peace there can be no secure future.
Surely those are adequate grounds for supporting WFDY—in every way. Victoria has already rejected disaffiliation, and will do so again. It remains to make the affiliation have some more real meaning.