Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College. Vol. 19, No. 5. May 5, 1955
In Reply to O'Brien ... — IUS Reaches Over the Iron Curtain
In Reply to O'Brien ...
IUS Reaches Over the Iron Curtain
Having been accused of "smear tactics" and of uttering "hosts of errors" and things which are "grossly untrue", I feel called upon to reply to Mr O'Brien's article in Salient of April 6.
IDS emerges from Mr. O'Brien's assault as little scathed as it did from his earlier assault at Curous Cove. On that occasion, his audience responded by carrying a resolution in favour of closer liaison with IUS.
Firstly, Mr. O'Brien defends CoSec on the grounds that it is not really pro-imperialist, because it passes resolutions in favour of "moral support" for students fighting for national independence. X never denied that Co-Sec did pass such resolutions. I said, in fact, that Co-Sec members agreed to similar sentiments being expressed in the preamble to the IUS Constitution which they helped to draft. What I did deny is that these folk are in favour of putting such sentiments into practice. I suggested that it was just because IUS was so "political" as to want to put them into practice, that these folk led the secession from IUS, and the formation of Co-Sec.
Words are cheap. So is "moral support." Does Co-Sec approve the kind of "moral support" for national independence expressed by the war of terror engaged in by British troops in Malaya and Kenya under cover of minor disturbances and popular discontent! Do they approve the kind of "moral support" for national Independence expressed by the obilteration of self-government in British Guiana, Guatemala, and Bast Pakistan under cover of imaginary "Communist plots"? If not, why don't they say so?
Mr O'Brien feelingly adds that Co-Sec has also given material support in the form of scholarships to colonial peoples. So far, so good. But does Co-Sec forget that what colonial peoples need, in compensation for being looted by the West for so long, is not charity? It is the right to help themselves, to build up their own structure of nationhood in self-respect, and demolish the framework of corruption and piracy bequeathed by colonial rule.
In passing, Mr. O'Brien makes reference to "North Korean aggression," Ignoring the fact that who aggressed against whom has never been investigated. Foreign Office Far Eastern expert Sir John Pratt has assured the reading world that the aggression was Syngman Knee's, and certainly that gentleman's subsequent utterances and activities make that seem very likely. The only hand IUS ever took in the Korean holocaust was to give help to the students whose country was being torn up by foreign armies.
This passes for Mr. O'Brien as proof that IUS is a "Cominform tool." He adds to it the fact that IUS expelled the Yugoslav student union. This was certainly a hasty action, but I never heard that nubsequent Co-Sec supporters established a reasonable case against it. As for the incidents in Prague in 1948, when right-wing manoeuvring led to the replacement of one left-wing majority Government by another, what little violence there was came from the right, not the left. Some of it may have been from students: occasionally that phenomenon, the rightwing student, to make an appearance. Certain it is that there is greater equality of educational opportunity in Czechoslovakia than there used to be.
Mr. O'Brien seems to have a private theory about what constitutes a national student union, quite different from the one he enunciates at the beginning of his article. He appears to include pet organisations of corrupt despotisms in Latin America and South Asia. Certainly IUS's Indian affillate, the All-India Student Federation, has a history of activity for student needs far back into the 30's, whereas the officially sponsored body attached to Co-Sec is quite a new arrival. Just how representative the Co-Sec affiliates from Slam, Pakistan, and the Philippines are, I defy Mr. O'Brien to describe.
Political Bias—which Way?
The tale about how impossible it would be for us to benefit from IUS because of distance and cost, is repeated by Mr. O'Brien. If it were true, would it not be equally true of Co-Sec? But it is not. The Indonesian national union has sponsored the setting up, under the aegis of IUS. of a Pacific and Asian student sub-group. Surely we could participate in its activities. Through it we could build co-operation with the bulk of Asia denied us by contact only with Co-Sec. And no New Zealand student, unless he believes in the sort of nonsense talked by Sir Carl Berendsen at the Catholic Students Congress, thinks we can help peace by getting to understand only those people who agree with us.
As to "political bias," what sort of objectivity is likely to be represented by the "Ford Foundation" which paid the fares of delegates to the Co-Sec conference at Constantinople—Including that of Mr O'Brien?
Just how astray Co-Sec is in its dealing with colonial student problems was shown by the report of Indonesian delegate Busono on the Copenhagen Conference in 1953. Nearer home, the irresponsibility of New Zealand Co-Sec supporters was shown in the very brief report of the VUC delegate at the same conference. It included a long passage sneering at IUS, and an admission that he had made a speech at the Conference while drunk, attacking the SCM. The same gentleman, though elected by the students to attend an IUS conference, failed to attend it or notify his inability to attend.
Mr. O'Brien's peroration about "students of the democracies" can only be meant as a joke. Mr. O'Brien knows very well that what he understands by "democracies" are a few countries—not more than 15—on the North Atlantic and the South Pacific. And the vital interests of the students of these countries are bound up with peace, which necessitates shaking hands across the curtain that divides East and West. Co-Sec enubles us to meet only the students of the motley of fascisms and feudalisms claimed by the United States as "allies".
Only IUS opens wider doors.—C.B.
[As this verbal debate appears to concern only Mesars. O'Brlen and "C.B." (despite the motion pasted at Congress), the correspondence will close next issue with Mr. O'Brien's reply. It is the last time he will be so naive to take a Congress motion as meaning anything to those who voted for It.
Vive la University!—ED.]