Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 2. March 27, 1958
More Power to Socialists — My Ivory Tower
More Power to Socialists
My Ivory Tower
I am a socialist. I do not belong to any union, to the Labour Party, to the Socialist Club or the Communist Party. The difference between me and the members of all these is that some day, when I grow up, I am going to be Prime Minister and I don't care how I get there.
The National Party, clever cover for the bankruptcy of the Labour Party, is defeated and the people at last have the government they deserve. It is an alliance of old men, boors and union secretaries. Soon the old men will die.
The people deserve the government because they can't see beyond the next tea-break and they don't want to. They know that Import Control and some other harmless irritants will make it all jake soon, maybe later. They will not think their standard of living affected because when they have bought all they need they will still have money in their hands. The Government thinks the people will save. The Government reckons without lotteries, night clubs, coffee shops and gee-gees.
Mr. Nordmeyer is the figurehead for this gaggle of old wizards. He holds the top part of the Treasury Report in his hands and reads out the case for Import Control; the bottom part of the Report, which deals with the need to withdraw money out of circulation, he tramples with his feet and what else he can spare while he ignores certain straight talk from the Opposition with his mind.
He is so frankly irresponsible that even the "Dominion" is able to write impartial editorials and still make a watertight case against the Government. Not that it's needful to make a case against the Government. The people are too embarrassed to make a stand lest they should embarrass the damned Government. In the meantime they don't worry because She, patron saint of Pig Island, will be right; in the meantime, if not a goldie, She's at least jake.
Do we have to look forward to a long wallow, backward and downward, by a naive, union-orientated Labour Party? Could it be there might come an infusion of direction or purpose from the unions?
No independent thinking is done by the union rank and file, which is incapable of changing its allegiance or anything else, and would vote Labour if the Fiend himself led the Party. The union M.P.'s may be there as a reward for their services or because they need a change from the rank and file or because they really want to do something for the workers (to tell the truth there's very little left to do). Apart from the fact that no proper union man would go into Parliament, there are very few there because they feel a missionary urge to serve their country.
There are about 500 people left who believe that the New Zealand Communist Party has anything to offer the Labour Party or New Zealand. Quote me a Communist whose true concern is to increase the potency of the whole Labour Movement rather than to justify himself to 499 initiates, and I'll back down humbly.
This is the first part of a lengthy article by John Gamby. We propose, if, as he says himself, "the readership can take it" (he must read "Time", a fine socialist periodical) to publish this in no fewer than five instalments. We feel sure you will look forward to them.
The university socialist groups have been great fun; I can't think of a finer or more entertaining bunch of amiable fellows, or more stimulating people to talk to than these thoughtful, inimitable-types. They have organized demonstrations, enlarged the life of the university, written delightful copy for "Spike" with all the gay, useless bravado of a regiment of calavry.
But the minute you suggest that they consider ways of making an effective, representative force of the Parliamentary Labour Party, they look sheepish" . . . Oh no! . . . We're working behind the scenes ... in the Public Service . . . haven't you heard the departmental heads rule the country . . . Mustn't split the Party you know!" But the departmental heads don't rule the country and most certainly don't direct the country. That is done by leaders. You wicked boys. Oh, you young dogs. You ostriches.
As far as I know not one member of either Victoria leftist club has tried to gain a voice in Labour Party policy-making since the War.
[He doesn't know much, then.
(Why is it that our one law-giving body (whose every word is broadcast from our strongest station) consists almost wholly of inarticulate men? Apparently our levelling attitude frustrates any attempts to train men for public life. Ironically the two places where the New Zealander can mix the sweets of power and blarney—the Union and the Chamber of Commerce—tend to be dominated by petty, inflated bigots.)