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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 3. March 20, 1952

Solutions- — Socialist And Christian — Horns of a Dilemma..

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Socialist And Christian

Horns of a Dilemma...

These talks had probed deep issues. Now we were looking for someone to tie it all together and give tty a plan of action. One solution was put forward at the Student Labour Federation session where three student Socialists put forward their case. Economic chaos and inequality, coupled with an increasing outmoded superstructure of ideas accounted for the malaise Mr. Chapman had pointed out and even perhaps for Mr. Jensen's imposed culture. For music, as well as science and the university, are the Instruments of the ruling class, acting in league with the "Coca-coionisation" of American Imperialism. This is also at the root of the trouble in Asia and Middle East. The solution is not patchwork on isolated aspects of the problem but a thorough-going overhaul of the whole structure, based on the socialist creed "From each according to his ability, to each according to his labour"—or should this read: accordingly as he is Labour? Above all we must have Peace, for Life is the essential precondition of progress.

An alternative view had been put forward early in the Congress in the talks given by Mr. James K. Baxter (Wellington) and the Rev. F. C. Harrison (Dunedin), and it became increasingly apparent as the days passed how profound their analysis was, and how many were coming to see the issues in their terms. On the subject of "Choice of Belief," Mr. Baxter analysed the principal attitudes to society exhibited in recent literature. What poets rebel against chiefly is the "Comfortable View," typified in that pleasant faith in the collective man which passes for a philosophy in the "Readers' Digest." For "only when guilt is recognised does innocence become possible." The poet recognises the precariousness of human life, in which men are creatures linked together by a common sense of fatality springing from the knowledge that they can take pleasure in doing evil. But some, seeing this, blame it upon a falling-off from, an age when perfection reigned on earth. This Idyllic View may not be temporal, for it may idealise the Swagman or the Maori, but it always envisages the state in which no moral choices are called for because all are naturally good. More widespread is the belief in Progress, exemplified by the American tourist who told the speaker: "You'll be all right, just as long as you prow-grairss." The fallacy of this view is shown by the fact that although modem man's tools are better than his Palaeolithic ancestor's, they are used for exactly the same purpose—War: for, in Eliot's words, in moral matters generations are as "Bricks laid end to end" and there is no transference of wisdom or virtue from father to son. The unjustifiable conceit which characterises this attitude is also found in the Promethean View of the man who seeks to master remorse by knowledge. "Scientists," Mr. Baxter agreed with Dr. Parton, "do research for its own sake but people yearn for delivery from moral bankruptcy." Only the terror and isolation of Prometheus, bound upon the rock with the vulture tearing at his liver, can result When we persuade ourselves of moral infallibility. And this is the disaster also of the Revolutionary View, which though it recognises the false complacency and the shoddiness of modem society, yet relies on politics for regeneration, and in so doing, disguises as perfect altruism its own real motive, the will to power. The Truth is the view of man as a Moral Being, suffering if he denies his guilt yet capable of moral choice and so dignified as the naturally good being can never be Political cries, like Socialism, Reconstruction, Freedom, are as false as the faith in science—"Sociology is a frigid overcoat to disguise our natures." All that matters is the naked force for good or evil of our personal relationships, and the hope for the world comes not from foisting off responsibility on to the State or any other abstraction, but from exercising moral choice in public as in private, and in sharing the Sin of the World.

Religion and Progress

The underlying religious implications of this view were elaborated by the Rev. Harrison in the S.C.M. session. Man as a fallen being has no power in himself but can find it in the assurance of salvation through Christ. The case for a Deistic philosophy can be argued on scientific lines, but the point about Christianity is that although it has a philosophy and an exact science, theology, it is neither, but is a way of life inspired by the revelation of God to Man through Jesus Christ. He emphasised that the Christian faith was no mere construction of the human mind but followed from the historical facts of the life on this earth of a person who made the astounding claim to be the Son of God. The reconciliation of fallen man to perfect God is possible only through the mediation of this Son, Who gave His life for men. We should strive for an equitable social order, but for the Christian ethical considerations must always be considered from a theological standpoint. The Brotherhood of Man has no real motive or justification apart from the Fatherhood of God. From God the Christian draws the strength which enables him to recognise the sinfulness of his own nature, to endeavour to act in accordance with the Divine Will, and when he fails, to trust in the forgiveness of God.

In the Backet ...

With such a heavy emphasis throughout on the responsibilities we are faced with and the values with which we can meet them, the University Forum became the scene of keen debate on what could be done, in the end resolutions were passed, to be sent on to N.Z.U.S.A. for approval and implementation, with the following objects in view:—
(1)To improve the mechanisms of our own university by the set ting up of Appointments Boards, the appointment of Student Counsellors, the institution of Orientation Weeks and the Rationalisation and increase of Bursaries.
(2)To preserve the independence of thought in the University by protosting against Police checks on Student activities.
(3)To put forward some practical suggestions for the preservation of peace, foremost of which is the admission to United Nations of all nations seeking it.

Furthermore, a collection was taken for Student Relief in Wit-waterstand, which realised £34/12/- in cash. And last, but by no means least, the Congress Forum recommended that all reference to liquor in the Congress rules be deleted, and the fact recognised that the moral responsibility rests with students themselves and not with an overburdened Controller.

Red Rag Profane Bull

One still heaps the Old, Old story, begun by people who should have known better and perpetuated by those who don't, that Congress is a "Hot-bed of Reds." There are two points to make in reply:

Firstly, it's not... Next to the Christian group, the S.L.F. contingent was the strongest present, for which everybody was glad, for we believe in the free clash of opinion as the path to Truth and believe also that an opinion is best stated by one who holds it most firmly. Long ago, in a no less troubled age. John Milton spoke boldly:—"And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?"

Secondly, if you think Truth wasn't upheld, whose fault was that? The doors are open and then is not a student who has ever been to Congress who would not be glad to see anyone come, provided he too was prepared to live and let live. What we go to Congress for is not to embrace Marxism or even to finally refute it, but we try, as Socrates tried, and by tradition the University in Europe has tried ever since, To Learn to be Friends. That's what a University and especially a Congress is for.

Bryce Harland