Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College. Vol. 20, No. 5. June 14, 1956
"Socialism through Democracy "
"Socialism through Democracy "
Dear Sir,—From time to time discussion has taken place, in Europe in particular, around the question of the creation of a "popular front" between democratic Socialists and Communists. Since the dissolution of the Cominform Bureau and the broad "Let's have unity" hints thrown out to the Social Democrats in Europe by Bulganin and Kruschev, this matter has again come into prominence.
It may seem a far cry from the arena of European politics to the political alignments of New Zealand University leftists, but there are in fact similar issues of principle involved.
The Socialist Club at VUC has, over the year, provided Socialists of nil shades of opinion with a forum to air their views and act on issues which had the support of a majority of the club. It has done this, in my opinion, most successfully and should continue to go on doing it, but at the same time it seems evident that there is need for another student club or group oriented towards a particular Social Democratic programme.
In effect this type of club could meet the need of those students who want to adopt and popularise the "Socialism through Democracy" that is the basis of West European Democratic Socialist parties. There is, I think, an analogy that can be drawn between this re-grouping of the Left and that which obtains among Christians in the University.
There are at present, I believe, no less than four religious clubs all of whom are concerned with the Christian faith and paths to salvation; yet there ore no obstacles that I know of to prevent an individual student from belonging to two or more of them if he wishes.
Strengthening the Left
Just in the same way it seems to me desirable that it should be possible for an individual student to belong to the Socialist Club with its present broad compass while belonging, if he wishes, to a Social Democrat Society with more particular aims. There need, of course, be no antagonism between such student groupings and I think that the Left at the university could be considerably strengthened by such an arrangement.
It can scarcely be denied that over the years many students have come to regard the Socialist Club as being too close to one particular party line, and while this has been far from true in recent years it has, nevertheless, prevented the participation in political life of any sort for not a few students.
In order that students may join a club or society without the fear that they may be committing themselves to membership of a group which includes people with whom they are fundamentally at variance on matters of principle this new type of club should draft its constitution with considerable care. No one wishes to exclude any student from joining any club, but at the same time it should unambiguously state its fundamental principles. Those students who do adhere to it can then be expected to rally to its support without the slightest concern about its ultimate objectives.
CP should affiliate
It seems to me highly desirable, too, that the university branch of the Communist Party should openly affiliate with the Students' Association as student branches of the British Communist Party do at the larger universities in the United Kingdom. Up till now the university branch of the CP at Victoria College has preferred not to do so and while the excessive witch hunt hysterias of the cold war was on their reasons for not doing so were understandable and can, in part, be sympathised with, but now with a considerable improvement in the cold war, they and the College could only stand to benefit by declaring themselves openly.
For my own part I can see extremely little ground for common action between Democratic Socialist and and Communist while infamous deeds such as the sale of Czech arms to the Neo-Fascist Nasser Government in Egypt are going on.
At the same time I am always prepared to hear their point of view and debate with them Important issues of the day; but the words spoken by the Chairman of the NZCP, Vic Wilcox in November, 1962—"Our aim must be to break the role of Social democracy in the working class movement"—provide for me at least one powerful objection for a resurrection of the notion of the Popular Front.
I, am., etc.,
[This letter was written prior to the Social Democrat Society's inaugural meeting—Ed.]