Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 5, No. 3 May 28, 1942
Universities and Anti-Fascism
Universities and Anti-Fascism
The Mayor and the Truth
We asked them what they thought of the part that the University was playing in the struggle against Fascism. We asked "Truth" first, because "Truth" (in inverted commas) had so often called us a menace and a festering hotbed of Communism. Armed with a report of his speech, we asked His Worship the Mayor, Mr. T. C. A. Hislop, whether his remarks to the Royal Society of St. George could be applied to our own countrymen, and perhaps traced to the influence of our College, among other things.
No News Value
"That's got no news value," said "Truth," when we produced a copy of the famous "Manifesto." We replied that we regarded "Truth" as potential "news" for our own paper, and that we only wanted brought the Manifesto to start a discussion.
The interview with "Truth' developed into a debate between the senior members of "Truth's" staff and members of "Salient" staff. For this reason we cannot guarantee that our report exactly represents the policy of the paper.
For the first time in history, "Truth" disclaimed any uneasiness at manifestations of pro-Soviet feeling at Victoria. What had been said in the past, however, was left to stand. While it was admitted that some past editorial remarks had lacked objectivity, "Truth" felt that the same might be said about College debates. Not only "Truth" was guilty of exaggeration for effect.
The outlook of the paper, we were told, might be likened to that of Winston Churchill when he admired Russia's stand for freedom without approving of her system of government
"Humanity is on the march in this war," said "Truth," "and the barriers to full political and economic democracy will be finally broken down."
We were in accord with this pious hope, but it seemed to us that "Truth" was over-optimistic about the ease with which the change-over would take place.
"Truth" agreed that no solicitude for the future of democracy had been shown by the giant industrial corporations of the United States which had sabotaged the war effort by keeping to their cartel arrangements with German firms. Although it was admitted that the holders of economic power would not lightly surender, "Truth" believed that the hope for the future lay in British methods of compromise and non-violent revolution.
"If you University students should threaten the British method of progress, by extravagant enthusiasm for Russian methods of government, we would not apologise for denouncing you."
"On the other hand, we have never sugested that the University and its students were not playing a valuable part in the life of the community and in the war effort."
To sum up, we can say that "Truth" admires Russia's heroic stand against Germany, but is not sure, that she has been successful in founding a new civilization.
"I am taking nothing back. 'The Dominion' will give you my final word on the subject," declared Mr. Hislop. "If you want to know anything more, read Sir Keith Murdoch in The Times of 31st December, 1941."
"Salient" resolved to try another tack.
"The Guards are jolly good fellows," said Mr. Hislop, in reply to a suggestion that men of the 2nd Echelon had been unfavourably impressed by class distinction in the British Army and in London.
"The better class of people In Britain, the upper class, do not look down on Colonials. They gave our troops, both in the last war and in this, a better time than they had in New Zealand." He added that this applies to civilians also. Mr. Hislop feels that there are ties of sentiment between Britain and New Zealand. England's interest is not solely that of a creditor nation.
Man of Destiny
"In one engagement the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders went in a thousand strong and came out with a hundred men," said Mr. Hislop.
But "Salient," like Australians, had never doubted the personal gallantry of the men of the British Army. Defeat derived from the fact that support was always "too little and too late."
Mr. Hislop eventually confided that his specific charges against Australia were directed mainly at her politicians and not against her men as the raw material of soldiers. We regret that in his speech he did not make this clear. However, he feels that Australian politicians have done themselves irreparable harm in Washington as the result of their critical attitude towards England's policy. They should not interfere with the Comander-in-Chief in the field.
Discipline makes an army. No matter how good the raw material is, you cannot make a fighting army without discipline," said Mr. Hislop.
Mr. Hislop does not think, however, that irresponsibility and indiscipline characterise the E.P.S. and military personnel with whom he has had contacts in Now Zealand. Apparently there are also limits to the extent that he would like to discipline the people in time of peace.
"Salient" also drew Mr. Hislop's attention to the undesirable rumours round the town that he had private entrance to a shelter. He stated that he was doing for his family what he wished every, person in Wellington would do," namely, "prepare safe selter for their children and aged. We agreed with Mr. Hislop that this protection of non-combatents should be seriously looked to and trusted that he welcomed an opportunity to quash the rumour that he had gained a shelter otherwise than at private expense. Mr. Hislop said he did not give two-pence for being Mayer and would certainly not use his position which meant hard work and expense other than for the public good, nor did he care what a certain section of malicoius and uniformed public thought of him.
The President of the Waterside Workers Union, Wellington.
Here we found a knowledge of working-class affairs, and of contacts and impressions of Universities going back half a century, and frankly we were impressed Universities which in his knowledge of Cambridge in the 'eighties represented the young of the landed aristocracy, later in New Zealand represented the monied class, and reflected its views; now there was less of that.
We gave Mr. Canham a copy of the V.U.C. manifesto to read, which he appreciated. The men on the wharves are trying, to fight fascism by turning the ships round quickly. Five years ago they had protested against the sending of scrap-metal to the Japanese. He had followed the Labour movement from the I.W.W. days till now, it is anti-fascist, like the students.
As far as young students being Reds and changing their tone later—well, there were always scabs, and he wouldn't talk about human nature, but rather about the circumstances, both economic and social. A man who, from his twenties till fifty years later, has stood by the Labour movement, told us this: "If you students stand by your beliefs as I have by mine, you will do a lot for the good of the workers."
The Communist View-Point
Dr. Harold Silverstone, graduate of the Universities of New Zealand and Edinburgh, said that as one who had spent seven years of his life as a university student he felt a keen interest in the role of the universities in this most fateful of all wars.
"In Nazi Germany," said Dr. Silverstone, "universities are made to serve only two purposes: first, as centres for the teaching and spread of the so-called 'National Socialist" ideology of German "race superiority'; econd, to prepare for war by furthering research in weapons of destruction as well as in training personnel for the handling of subjugated peoples.
"In New Zealand, as in the other countries opposed to Nazism, the universities can no longer regard themselves as little academic communities isolated from the rest of the world. It is 'pro bono pubico' now—not 'ars gratia artis' that must be their guiding principle. It is my opinion that university students have three things to do to-day:
"They must uphold the cultural standards of our people against, the inroads of fascusm. They must study hard to complete their courses as soon as possible and become as proficient as possible in their work—this both for the purpose of the war and for the work of reconstruction after it is won. They must emerge themselves completely with the people in the national war effort, whether as present or future soldiers or in the ordinay day-to-day life of the community.
"The universities must strive to make themselves centres of work, service and political understanding and to play their full and necessary part "in the organisation of victory."
Science Under Fascism
It is nonsense to say that fascism destroys science. What fascism does is something much more terrible for mankind: it perverts science to the greatest evil; it uses science against mankind; it degrades the scientist to the level of a clever beast. Only if we realise this are we able to gauge the strength and power of fascism and the strenuous efforts required, from us in our efforts to overthrow it. It is no accident that the only country which is winning gigantic battles against German fascism, the Soviet Union, does not tire of emphasizing again and again the strength still left to German fascism, and to call on everybody who loves freedom to give his best in the common effort to crush and annihilate German fascism. This sober evaluation of the strength still left to German fascism includes the knowledge that to-day there are still numerous German universities, research institutions and other places of "higher learning," where new plans for evil destructive activities are hatched out and taught.
On April 28th Marie Vandewart, accompanied by Nora Gray, gave a 'Cello Recital in the College Music Room. It is seldom that we have the opportunity of hearing such fine talent and it is to be regretted that, there were so few students among the large audience. Sonatas by Brevat, Bach and Schubert interspersed by lighter piece made up a well-balanced programme. The proceeds were given to the Student-Parcel Fund.
A Nice Tramp
The V.U.C. Tramping Club would, have gone to Cone Saddle Hut last weekend if there had been a [unclear: hut] Cone Saddle, if it hadn't been raining and the V.U.C. Tramping Club had been more energetic. As it was the V.U.C. Tramping Club went back to [unclear: Tauherenikau]