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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 11. August 1, 1957

Noises on the Left

page 3

Noises on the Left

If ever I have been puzzled and disappointed by an article, it was by Conrad Bollinger's "Noise of Battle" in " the Spike," in this account of recent political activities at V.U.C, two fundamental assumptions are made by the author; one of them is, unfortunately, quite correct, but the other is so wrong that it should not be allowed to pass unchallenged, although only heaven knows how often it has been made in the past—made with that naivete born of childlike faith which characterises a blinkered and fanatical approach to an "ism."

The article recalls the various "noises" that have vibrated or blasted the V.U.C. political scene since 1949, and no one can quarrel with the author's assumption that all the loudest "noises" have been engineered by the Left and that therefore the present account should deal exclusively with Leftist activities and the counter-measures they provoked. Apart from "Time" like attempts to colour the tone of the article to favour his point of view, including the studied, repetition of the name "O'Brien" (is the reader to believe that all opposition to the Left has come from such an admittedly vindictive quarter?), Mr. Bollinger has given us a short survey which is factually sound.

However, his second, and to me deplorable, assumption is that Communist and Socialist groups at V.U.C., which have agitated for such causes as world peace, freedom of speech, the banning of germ warfare and atomic and nuclear weapons, better working conditions, equal pay for equal work, anti-segregation laws in South Africa, and closer relations with Asian countries, have necessarily championed these causes as a matter of far-seeing doctrinal policy, and that the causes are doomed to failure without Leftist guidance and support. It is an assumption that, as part of a unique world-saving ideology, these causes constitute "big issues of the time" ("The Spike." page 43) over which Left must struggle against Right. Nothing could be farther from the truth and more insidiously calculated to widen the breach between the two camps. It is a constant puzzle to me why there should exist in our little welfare State of New Zealand educated men and women who are persuaded that Communist or Socialist ideologies have something of additional benefit to offer, and who sincerely believe that, by a process of rationalisaion, the ideologies have logically become the raison d'etre of causes which in fact have already been espoused by other individuals, peoples, and nations, though perhaps not with the same "religious" fervour. I am irresistibly drawn to the conclusion that, in their search for "noise"-making material. Leftist promoters in New Zealand during the past decade have been obliged to rely on these popular causes, either because of a fundamental flaw in Communist or Socialist doctrine (about which we hear so little), or because the idea of applying the doctrine to a smugly educated society, such as ours, is manifestly grotesque.

While Mr. Bollinger's article does not profess to champion any cause other than that of "battle." In which I wholeheartedly support him, the opening quotation from Milton sets one on one s guard, and I was disappointed to discover that, in the underlying concept and basic premise of the article, truth has not been given a sporting chance.

—C. G. Powles.