Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 5. April 2 1968
Government No U.S. Stooge — Owen Gager Predicts Col Low For P.M
Government No U.S. Stooge
Owen Gager Predicts Col Low For P.M.
Now that another gathering of warhawks is convoked in Wellington, the cry will again be raised that New Zealand's foreign policy is being controlled from the United States. Emanating from the Peace, Power and Politics conference we may be sure, will come the left's reply to right-wing jingoism—the appeal to nationalists (small 'n') to make their country's foreign policy independent of overseas domination.
Instead of the conventional wisdom that China threatens our sovereignty, the left will tell us that the United States threatens it. Where China's weapon is allegedly subversion, the United States, it is claimed, uses foreign investment. Where the right sees Labour as soft on Communism, the left sees Mr. Holyoake as a "U.S. stooge". At every point in this counter-jingosim that the left has built into its propaganda over the last few years the structure of RSA-type save-your-country-now rhetoric is paralleled.
The left, by this "new look", is made to share the same general outlook as the right—patriotism. But where the right sees China as the enemy, for the left the enemy is the United States.
This approach is viewed by its left-wing propagators as the height of Realpolitik. It is nothing of the sort Jingoism cannot cast out jingoism or super-patriotism super-patriotism. In spite of its latter-day reluctance to accept Dominion" status, New Zealand has never known anything like colonial status since 1860—even the Maori wars were fought against Britain's will, though with British troops and money.
It is absurd to contrast New Zealand's dependence on the United States with that of the Latin-American states as one congress speaker, W. Rosenberg, has done, or, on second thoughts, it is salutary, because Latin America which is really exploited by the United States is so radically different from New Zealand as to point the irrelevance of any "anti-colonialist" rhetoric which would try to link the two.
In the modern world there is no doubt what the political implications are of trying to revive nationalism in a country which probably has more real independence than most European slates of the same size: they are the prerogative of the 'radical right', of America's Goldwaterite pseudo-conservatives, of France's Gaullists or of Canada's French-speaking Credit Socialistes. Nationalism, in a country like New Zealand will remain a prerogative of the right, the RSA and the Social Credit League.
The National Party, significantly, has copyrighted the name 'nationalist'.
New Zealand supports American policy because she freely chooses to support America. This does not have to be explained by immense American economic pressure, or by veiled threats from the Pentagon. It merely reflects the fact that any right wing government will be anti-Communist. And any anti-Communist government will support the most powerful anti-Communist state. This is not subservience to the United States. It is typical right-wing paranoia. The best way to drive out this paranoia is not to substitute another paranoia—anti-American instead of anti-Red. The best way to handle this is to insist that leftism and Communism are not conspiracies and the left cannot be eliminated from the face of the earth by military measures.
If the members of the National Government cannot look at the world sanely without being afraid for their property, the best option for the left is to point this out. Their case is, and indeed can only be, that any right-wing outlook on international affairs is so shot through with political prejudice and neurotic fear of revolution as to be incapable of taking an objective view of the facts.
Unless the left proves itself able to attack the point of view from the right purely on these grounds and shows empirically that it lacks either coherence or adequacy, it might as well give itself up en masse to the Security Police right now. Its pseudo-nationalism is an excuse, and a poor one, for not doing its real job properly. The right should be attacked for what is—a group of people obsessed by property and its ownership. It is not a group of "U.S. stooges", and in the long run no advantage will be gained from pretending what is not transparently false is true.
It is in the last analysis ironic that a body whose main objectives are to change New Zealand's foreign policy should opt for nationalism as opposed to internationalism.
Poverty can be forgotten, or left to charity organisations, provided it is in another country. This is the whole problem of the growing gap between the affluent West and the impoverished rest of the world. It cannot be solved by piecemeal aid programmes, for the efficacy of an aid programme depends on the integrity, responsibility and administrative efficiency of the Governments to which aid is given and the sad fact is that most Asian governments, with the notable exception of the Communist regime, are knee-deep in corruption.
This leaves the only solution to the economic gulf between Asia and countries like Australia and ourselves to international agency capable of getting past both the pressure groups who will raise hell if more than 10% of an advanced country's income is spent anywhere outside that country and the bribable officials at provincial and sub-provincial levels in Asian countries who will keep most of any largesse they are supposed to dispense for the local black market.
It will take some time to develop such international agencies, which will have to work on the socialist principle of providing services to each according to his need, whatever country the needy happen to be in. It will take political struggles in both this country and in Asian countries. It will require very close co-operation between states of similar ideals but with very different pressures upon them; but it should be our goal. Appeals to nationalism will not lead to this internationalism—they will impede it.
There is no reason why people in a prosperous, complacent society like New Zealand should be interested in foreign affairs except internationalism. The Committer on Vietnam is taking a very odd stand on this indeed.
Could it come off? As we have argued, the left cannot win on what is basically a right-wing strategy. Not, that is, unless they can offer something the right haven't got. What could this be?
If you have read Committee on Vietnam publications you will find that the country they most consistently eulogise is France, a country whose right-wing neonationalism has a left-wing patina. The Committee's arguments, in many respects, are almost carbon copies of de Gaulle's electoral appeals. Here, perhaps, the Committee could do better than the Social Credit League or the RSA. It could produce a New Zealand de Gaulle. Who would be the candidate? Not Roger Boshier, perhaps. Why not (given the Committee's predilection for military men) Colonel H. J. G. Low, whose name the observant may have already noticed on a signboard set up strategically between the cable car and the university?
He is right-wing. His is military. He dislikes both Labour and National. He supports the Committee. What more could you ask? Watch out, Vern Cracknell. When the Committee on Vietnam talks peace, its nomination for the Prime Ministership may be already written out.