Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 1. 1962.
A Radical Common Front
A Radical Common Front
More or less coinciding with the formation of the student Radical Federation which has members in all universities throughout the nation, came a summer camp organised (but not controlled) by World Affairs Council. The camp, brainchild of President Butterworth, was held over New Year Period and brought together all shades of radical (and some not-so-radical) thought. From progressive liberals to far-left Trotskyists came the call for nuclear disarmament and more aid to Asia.
Owen Gager, a well-known leftist, led off the talks with one entitled 'Freedom, Civilisation and the Deathwish" in which he analysed these three elements in modern society, with much reference to the U.S. Although sometimes rambling, polemic Gager was generally stimulating and coherent.
Next on schedule was Robin Bromby from V.U.W., whose contribution "Is Liberalism Possible?" examined the forces acting for and against liberalism in our society, with particular reference to New Zealand. Thrusting at education, he said: "(Roman Catholics) conspire, wittingly or unwittingly, to prevent their own mental stimulation (in their schools); they oppose all mental exercise and in some ways oppose liberalism". However, state education was also attacked. Said Bromby: "Generally, the schools do little to raise the students' minds above the level of set school work—this often due to the fact that the teachers themselves are intellectually moribund." Other items dealt with: majority tyranny, political incompetence, while slating ultras of both ends of the political spectrum.
One of the most stimulating talks (if not the most realistic) came from noted Anarchist William Dwycr. Mr. Dwycr said that he believed that the equalitarian society possible was an Anarchist one, constructed on the worthy principles of mutual aid, love and respect. While the principles expounded were not contested by those assembled, the usual doubts of practicability were raised and these occupicd much discussion for the remainder of the camp. Surprising was the large element of Anarchists in relation to the other shades of leftist thought; not surprising was the fact that they were disagreeing amongst themselves.
Hector McNeil, recently in America, came up with the talk on the Ultras in the U.S. Lambasted were John Birch, the U.S. Nazis, the Negro Muslims. A graphic illustration of racial problems was given by McNeil. "Vic" campus conservatives would have done well to hear McNeil talking about the home of world conservative thinking before attacking campus leftists.
Some excellent films were shown, including "Age of Dissent", "Black and White in South Africa", "Time Out of War". Some films were shown as many as three times.
The camp provided an excellent forum for progressive thought amongst students, with informal discussions providing a bridge between arranged talks. Most afternoons were taken up with tramping and swimming and the activities were reasonably well balanced. It augurs well for another W.A.C. camp arranged for the May vacations which will be devoted to World Peace.