Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 14 July 6, 1938
Is This Freedom? — Professor Algie's Brain-Child
Is This Freedom?
Professor Algie's Brain-Child
"Let's go and organise a League,
We can hire a University Professor;
A man like that won't cost us much, I guess, Sir!
Let's go and organise a League."
—"Adam Baba and he Forty Leagues."
Before me lies the extraordinary brochure issued by the Auckland Provincial Freedom Association.
On the cover is a delightful picture of a maiden—presumably Freedom—performing curythmies the crater of an active voleano; her arms are symmetrically upraised, and her mouth is split open in an idiotic grin; a sheet is wrapped inadequately round her lower quarters, and a bath towel wound round neck and arms; her torso and chest, hideously lopsided, are blatantly exposed, and resemble more than anything a physiologist's nightmare.
Underneath is printed the caption: "Government by the whole of the people for the benefit of whole of the people."
Can this be Freedom, we wonder?
And as we read the pages hat follow, we wonder more and more.
Of course, it was inevitable that the Book of Words should commence with a dissertation on the Baldwin Torch of Freedom. Who could resist the superb phraseology, the delicate imagery of this passage: "The fruits of the free spirit of man do not grow in the garden of tyranny... As long as we have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, men will turn faces towards, us and draw their breath more freely"?
"The end and purpose of labour Party policy in New Zealand is the complete extinction of private enterprise."
"In other countries, Socialism has meant nothing but tyranny, and it has always been maintained by force and terrorism. Why should it be any different in New Zealand?"
"Government by the whole of the people for the benefit of the whole of the people."
But how is this Association—which, we are told, "is not the National Party in a new or disguised form"— going to procure "the development and maintenance of an efficient, respected, and progressive democracy in the Dominion of New Zealand"?
Apparently "its primary and outstanding purpose is to inform, and continually to remind, the people of the advantages of individual freedom and of sound democratic government, and to warn them against the dangers involved in the regimentation of Socialism," and "Freedom is defined the state of having such rights as [unclear: re] consistent with others having equal rights."
That definition is perhaps the most delightful thing in the booklet. Because "the state of having such rights as are consistent with others having equal rights" describes Socialism itself so beautifully that we're sure it must have slipped in by mistake. Are the rights of a capitalist on the Board of Directors of about fifteen Companies or owning hundreds of scores of city land, "Consistent with others having equal rights"?
The booklet also conveniently answers the potential murmurings of objectors on a page headed "What the Association is Not."
"The Association is not the National Party in a new or disguised form. For the purposes of the next election, however, the Association has offered to support the National Party in every way possible because the Association is opposed to the dangerous and restrictive policy of the Labour Party … The Association is not a grouping together of city business men for the purpose of protecting their own interests … The Association will not seek to overthrow trade unionism …," and so on.
And who is Professor [unclear: aigie], the Organiser of this remarkable Association?
"I Organised it."
When we went to Auckland for Tournament, we tried to get into touch with him in order to present his views to or readers. But he was unfortunately out of town, and "Salient's" Auckland correspondent, Miss V. McBride, Kindly consented to interview him latter, at the conclusion of several interviews, Professor Algie thought it would be better if he gave us written answers to our questions.
Professor Algie (Miss McBride norms us) is a most delightful man to talk to. He is extremely clever and witty: his arguments no doubt owing to his legal training, and logical, precise, and persuasive, while his personality is most attractive. We heard in Auckland that A.U.C. has never had a better Professor of Law His sense of humor is wonderful. And he is obviously sincere.
We wish to emphasize that any comments made in this article are not to be construed as being in any way an attack on Professor Algie for whom we have the greatest admiration, but only on the aims and objects of the League and the National Party which it supports.
Freedom of Speech?
Well, here are the questions and answers:—
(1) What are your views on freedom of speech in the University? For instance, what do you think of the ban on sex and religion debates at V.U.C.?
"In a University it is essential that there should be the widest possible extent of freedom of speech. The reason for this is that the end and pulse of University education is the discovery of truth and the broadening of the bounds of knowledge. There are, of course, legal limitations such as those prescribed by the law relative to defamation, sedition and blasphemy. There are also those other less clearly defined limitations which are indicated by good sense, and good taste. In a University more perhaps than in other places, where the highest standard is so eminently desirable, free discussion should have due regard to those bounds which our sound judgment prescribes. Debates upon religions topics may well do more harm than good for the reason that most people hold to their religious ideals as matters of faith and conviction and the amount of emotional feeling—even bitterness—which such debates engender tends to destroy that very corporate life which it is no small part of University education to foster. Free discussion of sex matters would as a rule produce very few beneficial results and would tend to do more harm than good; I think that such discussions can produce good results only if they are conducted on [unclear: strickly] scientific lines and under responsible direction."
(2) Do you think students should be allowed representation on the College Council?
"Yes certainly, but on certain conditions. For a long time I was strenuously opposed to the idea. My reason was that when first mooted the scheme provided that the students might choose either a graduate or an undergraduate and their representative was to have full voting rights. I thought, and still think, that it would be a mistake to have on the Council a young student who would have a complete knowledge of private matters affecting the staff and internal discipline generally. It seems to me, however, that if the representative was required to be a graduate of two years standing at the least, he would be in a good position to put forward the student viewpoint and I can see many reasons why he should have full voting rights."
(3) Who was responsible for the formation of the Association?
"The Association was founded by a small group of four or five citizens; the idea was put before a group of some 40 or 50 business men and others and was formally adopted by this group and put into operation."
Reward in Service.
(4) Who pays the expenses of the Association?
"The expenses of the Association are paid entirely from funds donated by members of the public and from the subscriptions of members living in various parts of the Auckland Provincial District."
(5) Will the Association continue if the National Party gets into power at the next election?
"Yes; in point of fact the real work of the Association will begin after the election. If the National Party is returned to office our Association would criticize its policy as freely as it does that of the Labour Party and would offer constructive suggestions upon the current problems of the day. The Association is not tied to nor is it a part of any political party."
(6) How does the lack of freedom to-day compare with that in depression days?
"This question involves a discussion of the difference between what one might call 'legal' freedom and 'economic' freedom. Our Association submits that the legislation of the Labour Government has made serious and far-reaching inroads upon the legal or institutional freedom of the citizen. Its policy is socialistic and as such is tending toward authoritarianism."
Professor Algie also kindy answered several other less important questions, which we shall print next week. "Salient" wishes to thank Professor Algie sincerely for the trouble he has taken to answer our somewhat pertinent questions fully.
To supplement the answer to question (3), we append hereto our correspondent's report of Professor Algie's answer at the interview. Should this contain any inaccuracies or misrepresentation, we shall be only too glad to correct any false impressions.
"A group of business, professional, and retired men formulated the notion. They provided a certain amount of the money necessary to carry it on, and then stopped out. The business men didn't publish their names because they thought it might injure the interests of the shareholders of their companies. They guarantee Professor Algie the same salary as he received in the Professorial Job."
Of course the greatest joke of all is that Professor Algie in forwarding to "Salient" a copy of the Aims and Objects of the Association, included an enrollment form!