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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 8 July, 3, 1946

Blues and Pinks Vanquish Reds in Polychromatic Dialectic

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Blues and Pinks Vanquish Reds in Polychromatic Dialectic

"That the New Zealand Labour Party would benefit from co-operation with the Communist Party" was the subject of a lively and entertaining debate in the Training College hall on Friday. Varsity took the affirmative against Training College, and on a basis of personal conviction the negative secured 75 votes against 50. Mr. Peter Morris took the chair. The audience numbered some 150, including many facetious interjectors from 'Varsity; the TC students present were comparatively quiescent.

Mr. Winchester (described by Jim Milburn as the Penguin Political Dictionary) presented his case ably and persuasively. The NZ Communist Party sprang up in the 1920's as the logical development of the struggle for socialism. Mr. Winchester described the Party's policy and its accurate prophecies in the past. Communists today regard Labour as the major Socialist organisation which should unite all working class opinion if it is to defeat the Nationists. First, Mr. Winchester pointed out, Labour-Communist co-operation was essential because there were invaluable men in the Communist Party whose experience was at present denied the Labour organisation. He quoted the cases of Roy Stanley and Ted Whitlow. The donkey work for Labour in the last General Election was done in the main centres by the Communist Party ("me and my friends".) Secondly, the Communists could give the Labour Party the benefit of their theoretical experience.

Mr. Jim Milburn's oratory was audibly enjoyed by his hearers. Labour, still keeping the noble end in view, opposed methods of gradual evolution to those of the "wrecker and saboteur." "We have no need for an alien philosophy finding its spiritual home overseas." (Cries or "Moscow Gold.")

He admitted his Communist friends to be extremely politically conscious but found this fact a danger. The communists he described as "a disgruntled specimen," the political leper of our time, whose cry was "let's disorganise things;" en masse they were an "autonomous, querulous, squealing body." He pointed out that NZ Communists despite their noise were an extremely small group; the country had not one Communist M.P. nor were they holding offices on local bodies. He felt therefore, that "we of the Labour Party should examine Communist motives for seeking co-operation;" the advantage lay not with Labour but with Communists and Labour knew it. Amid uproar from the audience, he quoted Mr. Morrison as saying that the best thing that the Communist could do for the common good would be to exterminate himself. "Labour has done well to remember that a little Lenin is a dangerous; thing."

Mr. McCreary opened with a pot metaphore which, he claimed, was purely and simply the theory of dialectics. The gradual process of evolution must culminate in a point of definite change; we should become "conscious causal agents." The inspirational roots of the NZ Labour Party were to be found in Harry Holland, and his inspiration came from Marx and "Looking Backwards." The main difference in the parties today was that the Labour Party had become respectable now it was in office. But how long had it been respectable? Labour feared "to sully the hem of its pale pink garment" by co-operation with the disreputable Communists. The world situation beyond the local one was to be considered; in the world settling-down process there was a danger that reaction would triumph. John concluded that if the Labour Party did not co-operate with the Communist Party, they were lost; if they did they were lost. He appealed to Mr. Wachsner's logic; was not this a case of the Ambiguous Middle?

Mr. Maguiness, seconding T. C. commented on Mr. Winchester's statement that Communist membership was open to anyone over the age of eighteen; he considered this to be very obvious. Co-operation of the two parties would alienate moderate Labour supporters. He supported continued gradual incorporation of Socialist measures in the legislation of this country. The abrupt methods of Communists were unacceptable to N. Zers. Small farmers who voted Labour but feared the possibility of collective farming would not support a Government co-operating with Communists. The question of the religious votes, too was very important—could Labour afford to lose the Catholic vote.

Mr. Gretton (Affirm.) deplored the negative attitude of "dear old Labour grandmothers who imagined a Communist under every bed." (Interjec.: "More in Hope than in Fear.") He saw in the world—Germany. Italy. Spain—dangerous tendencies for the working class to split itself. Communist policy was [unclear: consistently] hostile to Labour's [unclear: enemly]

Miss Kelly (Neg.) defined cooperation from her dictionary, as "working jointly together for mutual interests," and maintained that the Communist and Labour Parties had no mutual interests. She criticised the Communist attitude to the war effort 1939-1941. The Labour Party stood essentially for NZ and the British Umpire.

Miss Cooch (Neg.) stated to the audience's mild surprise that dictatorship of the Proletariat meant dictatorship over the Proletariat by the Communistic body. No Communist could call himself a free man.

Harold Dowrick (Affirm.) "thought it germane to get down to a few essentials." Labour, with a "platform of pseudo-pinkish-neo-almost-Sociallsm had pursued its wavering way till it reached its present respectability; it had built up a traditional aristocracy of Labour which made "a horribly respectable stink in a blue way." He pointed to the horrid example of reaction at the previous night's Stud. Ass. Meeting. We must get down to the class conflict ("where are my interruptors?")

Mr. O'Brien (Aff.) was greeted in awestruck tones by Mr. Wachsner: "He's joined the Party!" Of the three principal fungoid growths in NZ politics he found Labour the least poisonous. But a short term period of co-operation with the Communists would teach Labour to avoid them in future.

Mr. Hume (Neg.) Communists throughout the world were gathering their strength for another attack on evolutionary progress; this matter of Communist affiliation must be opposed by every man and woman.

Mr. Easterbrook-Smith: Facism is not dead. The working class throughout the world must keep the freedom obtained through the war. Forces of reaction were on the march.

Miss Cummings (Neg.) Communism in its present form is an ideal government for an ideal community (Hub—very forced). Today it has lost its purity and is based on "community of goods rather than on a Unity of Hearts."

Mr. Collins (Aff.) Labour was guilty of the rankest opportunism In its fear of prejudicing its interests with moderate supporters. It should not truckle to the petty [unclear: bourgeousie] but should realise who are its enemies.

Mr. O'Connor (Neg.) quoted Laski: "The Communists look on Democracy as a bourgeois fraud." The actions or Communist members were directed by the [unclear: pffifty] bosses. He turned with fiery wrath on the Communists' attitude to the war effort. (Mr. Wachsner: "Open the barricades.")

Mr. Falconer (Aff.) The Labour Party came to power because it represented united working class interests. Today it has lost this unity because it has drifted into Parliamentarianism. The Communist Party has now united many of these forces.

The judge, Mr. K. G. Scott, said that the debate had resolved itself into one on the merits or demerits of the Communist Party. The Negative floor speakers had hardly made the most of their case. These are his placings:—
(1)Jim Winchester.
(2)John McCreary.
(3)Tohy Easterbrook-Smith.
(4)Jim Milburn.
(5)Dick Collins.