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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 13. 1962

View from the Left

page 4

View from the Left

Dr. Soblen

The recent tragic death of Dr Soblen has not caused the outcry that one would have expected had the full facts of the case been; publicised. Dr Soblen fled the U.S. after having been convicted of spying tor the Russians.

Considerable doubts about the conviction have been expressed, especially since one of the chief witnesses has since been committed to a mental hospital.

The United States Government did not attempt to extradite Soblen. Before an extradition order can be obtained the government applying for it must present a prima facie case before the courts of the country of refuge. As this course of action was not adopted by the U.S. one can only assume that it did not feel the evidence would stand the scrutiny of a British court.

Britain's decision to deport Soblen, a decision that led directly to his death, was deplorable. It amounts to a complete rejection of the traditional British policy of providing a haven for political refugees.

Class Struggle Reappears

Despite Mr Shand's futile attempt to place the recent rash of industrial disputes at the door of the Communist Party, most people see the dispute as a symptom of the deteriorating relations between the trade Unions and the Employers.

Much of the blame has been laid door of Mr Walsh who, it has now been discovered wields too much power. Trade Union leaders however are noted not as leaders, so much as flowers. The ill-feeling that has led to the disputes is not solely a reflection of either the power struggle between Mr. Walsh and Mr Shand, or in the machinations of the Communist party, or in dissatisfaction with working conditions.

The future is going to see an increase in these disputes, not a lessening in industrial tension. The issue is, who is going to bear the cost of the fall in the standard of living which must result from Britain's entry into the Common Market.

Already the government has indicated, by its last budget, that the burden, in its opinion, should fall upon the workers. After all, the progress of the country depends upon the rate of investment and money should be left in the hands of those who will invest.

Increasingly, the employers and the government are attacking what it regards as marginal issues in an attempt to get the trade union movement to fight on grounds that would gain it little support U this happens the T.U. movement will be defeated and will then be in no position to fight the main battle when it arrives.

Such a war of attrition must inevitably lead to a division on the traditional class lines of the Marxian analysis. Such a result would a pity and the government must ensure that the present blurred lass lines do not become delineated again.


In the Swiss Family Robinson the author describes bananas as a fruit tasting somewhat like rotten pears. The recent banana boat dispute certainly left a rotten taste in my mouth. Ostensibly what was at issue was the low wages paid Danish seamen. What was really at issue were the profits of the Union steam Ship Company. The island trade has always been largely the preserve of this company and Mr Walsh's actions appear to be more in the interests of the company than the members of his union.

More on Thailand

The letters from Thai students that appear elsewhere in this issue do nothing to refute my arguments. In fact they substantiate what I said. Firstly there is a complete lack of democracy in that country and secondly Marshall Sarit has been dispensing "justice" with a very heavy hand.

Under Article 17 of the Constitution, Marshall Sarit is entitled to take an; action he sees fit to protect the interests of the people of Thailand. His actions are not subject to any form of review either judicial or legislative.

Whether or not the people of Thailand want democracy or not, or whether they are ready for it is irrelevant to the central theme of argument.

Final Thoughts

As this is the last column that I will write for Salient, may I be forgiven if I get a little philosophical.

During the year I have caused a number of students considerable bewilderment as to the nature of my beliefs. If any label suits me it is probably a Non-Christian Pacifist Revolutionary. I believe in the inevitability of the triumph of Socialism, but do not believe that it can be obtained by a bloody revolution.

This century has witnessed a number of revolutions ostensibly to create a socialist society. Each of these has resulted in the creation of a new state apparatus of a repressive nature. The leaders of the revolutions have the mistaken opinion that the creation of a Socialist society involves solely the changing of the organisation and control of industry. In reality, Socialism involves a fundamental change in attitudes, a complete rejection of the idea that one man should have economic or political power over another.