Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31 Number 16 July 16, 1968
But We Can't All Be . .
But We Can't All Be . . .
Sir—We, the undersigned students and former students of Victoria University, being persons who consider ourselves in fraternal alignment with, although not affiliated to, the world Trotskyist movement (Fourth International) wish to make it known to you and to your readers that we are seriously concerned at certain references appearing from time to time in your newspaper touching upon the political allegiance of a member of your staff, Mr Owen Gager.
On a number of occasions over the past year, Mr Gager has been variously described in your pages as a "Trotskyist" or "Trotskyite". We wish to make it known that in our view Mr Gager has, by his actions and his publicly stated positions, repudiated once and for all any connection with Trotskyism and we wish to further make it known that we have for some time past severed any political connection which we may once have had with him. We emphatically reject suggestions from any quarter that Mr Gager can properly be called a Trotskyist and we take as the basis for our view the fact that he has adopted political positions which are not merely inconsistent with, but in reality diametrically opposed to Trotskyist positions as understood by us, and we believe as understood by the mainstream of world Trotskyism.
In particular we strongly oppose the Spartacist line which Mr Gager advocates and represents to be "Trotskyist" in its orientation. We base our opposition to this tendency upon a reading of certain published material coming from North America under that name which leads to a policy and position remarkably similar to the one adopted by pro-Soviet Stalinists with regard to activity in colonial and neo-colonial areas. The Spartacists actively oppose the Guevara-ist tactic and indeed the tactic adopted by the Trotskyist Cesar Lora in Bolivia, on the ground that this tactic is nothing more than on advocacy of agrarian revolt, relying so completely upon peasant forces as to negative the possibility of a thorough-going revolution such as resulted from the workor-peasant alliance in Russia in the period 1917-1921. While Trotskyists stress the dangers which are inherent in an over-great reliance upon purely peasant forces (and it may well be that Algeria Illustrates this point) it tear that Cuba represents the case where an initial strongly peasant-based agrarian revolt 'grows over' in its later stages to become a revolution whose character is predominantly proletarian. We believe that the Cuban-type revolution was exactly predicted in Trotsky's theory of the "Permanent Revolution" enunciated in 1905, and brilliantly illustrates its validity. This letter is not the appropriate place to develop our criticism of the Spartacist position in full, but we cannot fail to observe that it is a remarkable fact that Mr Gager finds himself in practical terms in the same camp as the pro-Soviet Right Wing Communists in Venezuela, Guatemala and elsewhere who are not only busily denigrating guerilla movements in Latin America but also taking very definite concrete actions to frustrate their activities. It may well be that Mr Gager arrives at the practical position from a different theoretical route, but the result in practice is the same.
At the inaugural meeting of the VUW Spartacist Club held on June 28th 1968 we noted with interest that a prominent student holding office currently in a student affiliate of the National Party expressed the view that he found no difficulty in supporting and joining the Spartacist Club while retaining his connection with the former organisation. We commend him both for his candour and political perspicacity. There is indeed no valid reason why a person holding Mr Gaper's views should not find himself at one with the extreme right wing. Indeed we think it is a case rather of Mr Gager at last having found his true natural allies.
In conclusion we wish to say that we in no way object to Mr Gager advocating the views he does, we simply oppose attempts by anyone to represent that these views have any connection with Trotskyism. Should Mr. Gager desire it we would be happy to debate with him anytime or anywhere on this or any other similar subject.
R. D. Clarke, H. C. MacNeill, Owen E. Hughes, M. H. Fyson, G. A. Fyson.