Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 9. June 5, 1952
The Socialists on "The World Crisis"
The Socialists on "The World Crisis"
One of the most friendly social events in the university year must surely be the Socialist Club's Weekend School, which is annually held around Queen's Birthday time. Certainly the people in residence last weekend had a most enjoyable time—the food (always an important factor) was excellent and plentiful, and the company too (even at 3 o'clock in the morning) left no qualities to be desired. The serious side of the weekend's activities drew an average attendance of 30, a larger attendance than that of last year.
The theme "World Crisis" was one which embraced a wide number of subjects, ranging from discussion on broad historical trends to problems in specific areas. One of the most fertile subjects which came up incidentally during discussion was the place of Communism in the world set-up, and the influence of Soviet Russia on modern thought. The practical aspect—"What can we do?"—was before the talkers at all stages, and it was surprising (and refreshing) to hear the Socialist Club, which has often been accused of being impractical, discussing such matters.
The Socialist Club study weekend was opened by Mr. Ormond Burton discussing the pattern of world crisis. Mr. Burton thought that the most significant factors in the world situntion today were the breakdowns visible everywhere of great systems, the vital movements apparent in the resurgence of nationalism and the possibilities of new forces arising from the clash of diametrically opposed ideologies.
The most evident breakdown was that of capitalism, a great force destructive of essential values. It was an architect of ruin. The downfall of Brahminism meant the liberation of forces of great Intensity. India is now an incalculable force. The third break dawn, again of a social system of great antiquity was that of Confucianism releasing a vital and powerful energy, Referring to the situation in China today the speaker suggested that although China may later become fundamentally [unclear: Communist] she was not yet so.
Speaking of present day vital movements Mr. Burton Illustrated the resurgence of nationalism in the tremendous success of Hitler's Aryan cult British Israelism and the American Way of Life. N.Z. he said was the ideal place for developing a small, proud, dominating and Inevitably war like people. Parallel with nationalism was the powerful wave of Communism, the new religion. The breakdown of Brahminism and other old systems made way for a new idealism which had a wide appeal. Communism had a theory of fall and redemption through a succession of social systems.
Only Christianity and Communism had world philosophies capable of vigorous action.
The possibility of wars between national socialisms would mean the ruin of life or Communism rising from the ruins. Nowhere was there a system with organic structure to stand the storm. The forces lining up today had no inner coherence.
The second speaker said that socialism must be tested against the pattern of world crisis. Socialism had been powerless to prevent two world wars, now what of the thrid now imminent? There were the two opposing views on the world situation—rearmament and the inefficiency of the U.N. and the Soviet state by its internal system removing the incentives to war and insisting that capitalism and Communism could co-exist.
In the following discussion, possibilities of co-operation of all who believed in peace were considered. Burton believed compromise weakened both sides which view was hotly opposed.
What Price Freedom?
Addressing the second session of the weekend school on the subject "Crisis in Our Civil Liberties.." Miss Shirley Smith said many New Zenlanders did not regard their democratic rights very highly. A large number of middle class folk shrugged their shoulders at Emergency Regulations and Police Offences Amendment Acts. Unfortunately Aristotle's definition of man as a political animal was dreamed up in days when citizens were marc conscious of their rights and duties.
Merely voting every 3 years was not fulling these rights and duties we must persistently exercise our right to express our views, and bring them to the notice of our governors. People have to be encouraged to do this. Many people avoid activity In politics because they "don't want to get into trouble." Such people were the "law-abiding citizens" at whom Mr. Webb's propaganda was directed when the Police Offences Bill was being debated. Milton called such people "common steadfast dunces."
The attack on civil freedom over the post period was a [unclear: manifestation] of the breakdown of capitalism, she said. When the ruling class felt they were losing their grip by other people's rights to criticise thorn and organise against them, they had no qualms about suppressing those rights.
Discussion centred around what methods the Socialist Clubs should adopt to oppose further encroachments on our freedom.
Crisis in Asia
An address with this title was delivered by Professor Belshaw to the third session of the school. He described the poverty and unhygienic conditions in countries of Asia and North Africa he bad visited, and laid much blame at the door of oppressive systems of land tenure. He quoted an Egyptian politician as saying that in the event of war against the U.S.S.R. only those countries with reformed land laws could be relied upon to support the west.
The Professor declared that while exploitation was a contributory factor to the backward conditions, more even distribution of wealth would mean little increase in living standards. The people of Asia needed to be led to higher standards of efficiency and complete changes in attitude to such question as religion, graft, the family, and modern science. Population, for instance, should be restricted, and cows in India should be catch.
The solution, he said, should probably be a third alternative to either capitalism or Communism Mean, while, however. India and China were going ahead trying to solve their problems by the two alternative methods, and their comparative success might decide the fate of the whole confinent.
Some disagreement with the Professor was evidenced by questions and discussion, but all agreed that his talk was informative and provoking.
Germs Over China?
The secretary of the Student Labour Federation, Hector MacNeill spoke to the fourth session on the question: "Is Germ Warfare Being Used in Korea?" He ran over much evidence for the fact that the U.S. authorities had ordered the preparation and experimenting in this horrible form of destruction and then quoted many sources which alleged that it had actually been used in Korea and China.
Starting point was the undeniable, fact that of all the signatories to the Geneva Protocol outlawing bacteriological warfare, only Japan and the United States had refused to ratify it. American methods of fighting in Korea had been officially dubbed "Total Interdiction," and aimed, (to quote Ridgeway), at killing as many Chinese and Koreans as possible. Germ warfare had the advantaga of killing people without destroying property.
It was a fact that U.S. Secretary for Defence Johnson had declared "We are as well prepared in the field of Biology and Chemistry as in the field of Radiology." and the official U.S. "Military Review" had boasted in 1950 about the methods the U.S. could use If put to it: "Germs must be cultivated," said their March Issue that year, "and It is necessary to have large quantities of them ready (or use. . . ."
He further quoted the unimpeachable evidence of former advisor to the Chiang Kai Sheka, Canadian Presbyterian Rev. Dr. James Endicott. and of New Zealanders Rewi Alley and Shirley Barton.
Discussion brought out general alarm at the evidence, some of which was new to people present. There was agreement that it should be as widely publicised as possible, and that the U.S. should be forced by public opinion to ratify the Geneva Protocol. The facta should he fully investigated.