Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 14 July 6, 1938

Song of Freedom

Song of Freedom

Many students who will undergo the novel experience of exercising their first political vote at the end of this year must be conscious of a sense of confusion. If they read the columns of the daily papers they might be led to believe that the country is facing ruin, starvation, bankruptcy, degradation, revolution, tyranny, and even Communism. But apart from seeing a community pursuing a normal comfortable course of life, they also see expensive advertisements, flanking he news columns, for luxury items such as motor cars and radios, indicating that there is a lively trade in these items. This paradoxical situation many well cause puzzlement and lead to a wondering why the hysterical utterances of company directors and Opposition politicians should be so largely and unceasingly featured, with the leader writers of the papers trying to surpass them in vituperation.

The answer is not hard to find, and it was stated very succinctly by the Minister of Education, Hon. P. Fraser, at Tauranga. "The Minister said that he would not attack the Press as it invariably did what he expected—attack Labour. He did not blame editors or leader-writers who were paid to do as they were directed. An examination of the share-lists of the larger papers would reveal that share-holders were interested in other concerns affected by Labour's policy. The violence of leading articles and the use of headlines now until the election would surprise even the most hardened."

So thus we have the spectacle of the capitalistic Press throwing its weight behind the National Party since that party promises to capitalists unfettered means of operation. For the purposes of clouding the issue both the party speakers and the papers are cantingly vociferous on the subject of the "loss of liberty of the individual," with further enlargements on the heritage of freedom. We have only to go back to the depression days to recall how the National Party sometimes led, and in all cases connived at the attacks on academic freedom, in order to realize that their idea of freedom is definitely circumscribed, if not wrapped. What type of freedom then do they envisage" Merely freedom to make bigger and better profits. If that is thought to be an exaggeration read between the lines of the following statements, remembering that profits are likely the made at the expense of the workers' wages since wages as compared with overhead expenses, are easily cut.

"The party was also anxious to prevent the cost of living rising too high, but advocated wages at the highest rate industry could afford and the cost of living somewhere in relation to the wage rate."—Hon. A. Hamilton, March, 1938.

"What's your policy?" "I'll tell you straight. It's the limitation of the power of politicians over industry."—Mr. W. L. Barker, April, 1938.

"The spur of all modern achievement was private gain."—Mr. H.C. Jenkins, April, 1938.

Further manifestations of this clamor for one-sided freedom are seen in the fulminations against the Bureau of Industry, the Aunt Sally in this instance being the "dictatorial powers of the Minister." Here the situation is ironical in the extreme for the Bureau is merely endeavoring to give effect to a policy for which the capitalists were craving five years ago—namely, the rationalization of industry. Then it appeared desirable as a means of saving capitalists from the wastefulness of competition, and though competition has not become any less wasteful, rationalization is now regarded with disfavor since it is likely to be a hindrance to the acquisition of super profits.

Examples of the "battle-cry of freedom" are endless but of great interest is the manner the bogey of Communism is made to strut, but no mention made that capitalism is responsible for the present condition of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Militarist Japan, and Franco's Spain. All those regimes under which the freedom of the individual is non-existent have had, and still depend on, the support of capitalists; and in particular it was the steel magnate Thyssen who backed Hitler; Juan March, the Spanish millionaire has financed Franco and negotiated his loans in Rome; While the owed of the Mitsui family of bankers in Japan is notorious.

But the freedom for which the Labour Party are striving—namely, to free even the poorest from the specter of hunger and uncertainty—calls forth the most crassly emotional statements from the opposition. That is a freedom that either they are unable to visualize or, if they can understand it, regard as reprehensible, so to them the social security plan is "gross sentimentalism." In other words these "hard-headed business men" (as they call themselves) are in favor of freedom for the individual only in so far as it does not interfere with business, and the expression "Business is business" has long had an opprobrious connotation.

So between now and November it can be expected that "freedom" will be heavily featured in the Press, and it is to be remembered that in doing so the papers have a large row to hoe, their hope being that the resulting dust will get in the eyes of even the most clear sighted.