Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 13 July 5, 1939
The Two Camps
The Two Camps
The principle we have now decided to adopt in regard to political articles, etc. in this and the next issue is that they will not in general be accepted unless they are definitely of more interest to students than to other sections of the community, even the educated ones. However, we received quite a large number of such contributions, and we publish the following as more adequately (in our opinion) expressing a point of view put forward in at least two other articles, and as being especially of interest to V.U.C. in view of the motion recently carried by the Debating Society, "That Russia is the Spearhead of Modern Civilization."—Ed.
The stock-in-trade of many modern writers on the world situation contains one assumption larger than any other item in their mental outlook. It is the assumption that the world is divided into two camps. In one entrenchment lie the powers of liberty, as summed up for us in the title "Democracy Under Canvas"; in the opposing faction are the totalitarian states of Italy, Germany, Portugal—the bad wolves that menace our cherished traditions of democratic freedom. Fascism and Nazism, in greater proximity to the democracies of the West, are ogres that scare the children of liberty, and lend Victor Gollancz and his "private enterprise," the Left Book Club, valuable assistance in his laudable endeavour of making money out of the world danger of Fascism. "Fascism" has been selected as the shibboleth. If you are not persuaded that the world needs a strong dose of Communism for its cure, you are a Fascist. If you breathe a suspicion even, of some sneaking idea that in some respects Democracy does not function well, you are without the pale—you are a Fascist. So there are two camps—Fascism and Democracy (note that Russia gets in here).
Russia escapes her due classification among the Totalitarian states. In that happy realm where the Don and the Dneiper [unclear: now] so peacefully, where the worker drives to his palatial factory in the same motor car as Stalin; in that blissful classless state where all work the same hours for the same wage, where all are accorded the same fine living conditions, surely there must be some sacrifice asked [unclear: of] the individual. Surely the State that gives him so much must ask something in return. He is obliged to sell his soul to the State. Pardon, that is an unfortunate way or stating it, for souls are out of date in Russia. Each man belongs to the masses; he exists for the sake of the race. For the sake of the masses he submits to the tyranny of a few men alleged to represent the masses. In a land of so many millions there is but one mind. It is the mind of Stalin. There is but one will. I'll give you two guesses—whose? Liquidations, and "liquidations or the liquidators" suggest that it is perilous to have a private mind, more dangerous to reveal it; that it is purgeworthy to fail in any duty assigned by the State, and most un-Russian not to confess, when tried, that you are guilty, and traitorous not to plead for punishment. Even Mr. Gollancz seems to have a vague suspicion or the existence of the O.G.P.U., for in a speech before the Left Book Club at Caxton Hall, London. November 8, 1937. he is reported: "In the U.S.S.R. prices are falling and salaries increasing. It is true that in England we enjoy certain things. We have more liberty of speech and of propaganda than in the U.S.S.R." We can draw our own conclusion about liberty in Russia, when even he, in the transport of ecstacy, occasioned by being "caught up" to the Workers' Heaven, noticed that liberty was circumscribed. Democracy demands freedom in politics. When this is absent the whole box and dice belongs to Cæsar—to Sawdust Cæsar, to Swastika Cæsar, or to Cæsar of the Hammer and Sickle.
The regime of the present Communist Party supplanted Democracy in Russia with the overthrow of the Kerensky Government in 1917. The millenium was to sweep the world. A halt was soon called to the European Journey, for once the seductive promises had been promulgated, and the mob incited to violence as in Italy and Hungary; once popular government had been threatened, as was the German Republic in 1919 by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, then the middle class generated an equally voilent reply to threatened spoliation and extinction. "Like cures like," and because the violence of Communism could only be staved off by an equally violent antidote, then Fascism, Nazism, or any other "-ism" that counters Communism, does not operate along lines or soft persuasion. Communism is cosmopolitan. International and anti-national, and has as its most distinctive slogan—"Workers of the world, unite." But the Nazis and the Fascists each glorify their races as special stud-farms of thoroughbreds. More differences than these could be outlined, but let us get on with washing-up, rather the dishing-up, for you are going to get all three on the one dish.
Three Men in a Dish
Messrs. Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, all boil down to the same thing as far as Democracy is concerned. All are antagonistic to democratic government: to organisation into parties that vary in political creed. They are opposed to freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of public meeting. All or them are authoritarian, dictatorial, cruel, ruthless, unscrupulous, warlike. All of them demand and produce a passive, servile character. Reds, Browns and Blacks submissively swathe themselves in uniforms, march in squads, shout slogans, block cars, lift hands, and smash opponents heads. Freedom and individuality are swept away. The Duce, the Fuhrer, the Leader, the Dictator—each captains a nation of pupnets; each winds up his slavish automata and sets them off to work his will.
Communism, and in their various forms, the totalitarian States as exemplified in the National Socialism of Germany and the Fascism of Italy, are all systems that deny one of the fundamental principles of human liberty as stated by Christianity—all men have the right to freedom, because they are all equal in dignity as the children of God. Communism, Nazism, Fascism, all deny the separate personal dignity of man, which is the only foundation of the liberty which is the essence of Democracy. They are religions that call on man to sink his individuality in the mystic urge of serving the race of Germans, the race of Romans, or the classless race or world-workers. Lumped together, they are the "New Paganism," and their quarrel is with Christianity, which asserts the individual dignity of each man. When Christianity refuses to hand man over to the God of State it fights for the very basis of Democracy—the separate personal dignity of each man.
There are two camps, but the contending forces are not Fascism and Democracy. They are Christianity and the "New Paganism."