Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 6. June 3rd, 1948
Mrs. Stables said her Socialist ideals had come to her, not from the writings of others, but from personal experience. Early in life she had been struck by the realization that in many aspects something was rotten in the state of society. At that time she found that her convictions coincided with those of a small group of thinkers and workers in her home town who formed a branch of the Social Democrat Party—the core of the present Labour Party. Today, she added, many of her own convictions did not coincide with those of the official Labour Party. For example, she was resolutely opposed to all forms of heresy hunting! (Applause).
"Socialism," she said, "means the collective good of the whole people." This was the declared aim of every socialist party—and any government that claimed to put it into practice but failed even to try were fakes. There she agreed with Mr. Armstrong absolutely. It was quite impossible to have capitalism and socialism at once.
Socialism was "the pathway of the people." That meant it was basically democratic, and must recognize the right of everyone to his own conscience; but surely, she said, the service of the people was the first social duty of everybody. Surely everybody's conscience must tell them that a system keeping the many in want, and the few in abundance was wrong! And that a system giving everyone what they need and a vital part in political, social and industrial life was right. True socialism meant every man giving his best, and in return, never knowing what want was
"We don't want doles and charity," Mrs. Stables said decidedly, "we want life!" and she added. "It's up to you young people to see that you get it."
What advance have we made? Individuals have done something, she said. But it was only collective effort that could save the world—that meant socialism—or it may even, she conceded coyly, mean communism. It was only a matter of labels. What it meant really was the common good of the whole people. And this ideal she claimed had been put into practice to a greater extent in Soviet Russia than anywhere else. (Consternation.) The Labour Government had done more than any other government in this country in that direction.
We must fight, she said, for socialism as the essential condition for the survival of our civilization. Better a heaven on the earth we know than a doubtful one in the sky. Equal opportunity was the chief demand of socialists. The class distinctions of present society were iniquitous, considering that those who were worst off were those who produced the world's wealth with the sweat of their brow.
Discussion on the two talks was lively while it lasted but the idea of supper seemed to loom large in the minds of those present. One question concerned the U.S.S.R. Both speakers had implied that socialism was in construction in that country. If socialism consisted in the control of production by the producers themselves, was Soviet society really socialist? Mr. Armstrong said definitely, yes. He referred to John Reed's "Ten Days that Shook the World." which described the actual seizure of Russian factories by the workers in 1917.