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Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington Vol. 24, No. 6. 1961.

Public Demonstrations

page 5

Public Demonstrations

It is not suggested that the following story is true in detail, for it is obvious that it may only be postulated. However, it is my thesis that there may be a good deal of truth in the broad outline. If anyone has any violent objections to the idea, no doubt Salient should be glad to hear them.

In a certain country which has professed her policy to be to win the world to their own ideology, I think it is fair to suggest that somewhere in the bureaucratic labyrinths common to modern governments there is a State Department of some such title as "Ministry for Advancement of World Domination." Let us imagine that we can see the manager for the New Zealand section briefing a superior on the situation in New Zealand. It is sometime over a year ago.

"Ivan," says the manager, "I've been in this job for several years and I've got nothing to show for it. The Party has its usual dedicated handful, but It has no mass appeal. In elections a few candidates get only a handful of votes. There seems to be no way of getting even one candidate to capture a seat. The workers are complacent on their full stomachs and do not believe that capitalistic heels are grinding their faces in the dust. The only things they think of are football and the price of beer."

"Never mind, Sergei," replies the sympathetic superior, "we aren't thinking of having you volunteer for pioneer work in Siberia yet.

"Yours Is a tough job and we've watched you organise strikes and disturbances without much success. I've got another approach, even football can be used. I've asked the South Africa manager to come here. He's a very busy man now, but he should he here soon."

Just then, in came a jubilant South Africa manager.

"Now then, you two," says Ivan, "'you can work together in this. We've Just heard that the New Zealand Rugby Union is not sending Maoris to play with the All Blacks. Sergei, here's your chance. We've always been unsuccessful In the past because there has never been a big enough issue.

"Now, football, the sacred shrine, can be used. Some people there think that the Maoris ought to go to South Africa. As usual, they musn't know who's behind this. Encourage someone to form a protest committee to organise rallies and marches, collect a million signatures in a petition.

"We might be able to get ministers to preach, and even Interest a few of those students.'

Sergei is delighted. He knows that the Maoris are unlikely to go anyway, but here is a chance to prick the fat body of undemonstrative New Zealanders.

Soon an executive decision of a private body has become a national and an international issue. A few weeks later, all is forgotten, and an issue dies. But some New Zealanders have found that they can be "progressive" and stand up for their principles in public. Newfound enthusiasm awaits another opportunity to assert itself.

Later, opportunity takes the shape of a protest march through the city against nuclear warfare. A few months later again, a march over the Rimutakas to "ban the bomb." And that which before was a novelty is now becoming a hobby and a habit.

It Is my thesis that there will be further demonstrations in the future on other issues, all of which can be justified on humanitarian grounds. The pattern will be repeated; idealists and zealots and their hangers-on will create more noise.

Lest anyone should gain the impression that I am now going to advocate Macarthy-style witchhunts, let me state that I don't doubt the sincerity or integrity of the organisers involved. It is all good, clean fun and I am sure that much physical benefit was derived for many in the recent Easter march.

Let us Beware Though, of Breeding a Pack of Hotheads who Will Race Protesting in the Streets Just Because There is an Issue Which They May Or May Not Take the Trouble to Understand. Such A Pack Would be of Great Advantage to any Unscrupulous Organiser in the Future.

It may be that I am just being cynical when I see local events in line with overseas events and a certain pattern emerging which may set a trend for the future. I hope that I am.

Peter Phipps.