Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 3. 1969.
You of the petit-bourgeois— — En Garde!
You of the petit-bourgeois—
God help the middle-class. God help the Establishment. That is all I can say. With the Minister of Finance, Mr Muldoon, playing the role of enemy within, I can see little hope for the bourgeoise in New Zealand.
Doesn't Mr Muldoon realise what he is doing in attacking University subjects such as Political Science, English, Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, History? What he is doing is undermining the teaching of middle-class ideology in the community.
Mr Muldoon is right in supposing that such subjects as those above have no useful function in the economic process. History doesn't make our milk richer. Philosophy doesn't make our wool finer. We could scrap all these subjects and our agriculture, industry and technology would be just as good as they are now.
But Mr Muldoon is wrong if he overlooks the vital role of those subjects in our community. I am sure Mr Muldoon thinks New Zealand is, or should be, a middle-class society, with conservative politics, liberal economics, and a traditional culture. If this is what he thinks, why does he want to abolish the subjects at University which are loyally fostering such values?
It is well said that all political scientists are conservatives. Then by eliminating Political Science, Mr Muldoon eliminates a bulwark of his own side. It is fair to say that Political Science alone keeps alive the ideas of such middle-class ideologues as Locke, de Tocqueville, J. S. Mill, Bentham, Burke. These are the political thinkers whose tradition Mr Muldoon claims to uphold in his political activities, why then must he dispense with the consideration of their works at University? This is a strange way to show one's allegiance to a middle-class ideology
There are plenty of people besides Mr Muldoon who think such political thinkers as those mentioned should be scrapped. But these people are Communists. Why then does Mr Muldoon side with the Communists in the dirty work of undermining the political traditions of Western democracy?
Mr Muldoon should be thankful that political scientists do continue to leach the ideas of the great thinkers of his own party.
But Mr Muldoon is not thankful. He thinks such teaching is a waste of time. He thinks the teaching of the ideology of his own party a waste of time.
Mr Muldoon is doing the work of his own enemies, the Communists. How they must rejoice when they see him destroying the very system which he claims to be upholding.
What holds for Political Science also holds for the other subjects under attack by Mr Muldoon.
Philosophy, for instance, does not teach Marxism and the dialectic. If it did, we might understand Mr Muldoon's hostility. Instead, it teaches Aristotelianism and formal logic, the philosophy of the conservative, static mind. This is exactly the philosophy of Mr Muldoon's own mind, and exactly the philosophy of which his own thinking is so remarkable an example. Then why does Mr Muldoon wish to do away with Philosophy at University? The philosophers have served Mr Muldoon's party long and faithfully. Why must their reward be a treacherous betrayal?
English literature is the finest flower of the British middle-class. Why does Mr. Muldoon want to do away with the literature and glory of his own class? There is no need for him to be ashamed of it. It is literature which proletarians and Marxists respect and admire. Why must Mr Muldoon seek to destroy works of the middle-class that not even Communists wish to destroy? It makes Mr Muldoon seem a worse enemy of the middle-class than the professed enemies of that class.
Who does not know the History is the history of the triumph of the middle-class? But Mr. Muldoon wants to suppress that history. Why?
As for Psychology, it is well known that the Psychology taught is Western Psychology, the psychology of the individual, not the Psychology in favour behind the iron curtain. Why must Mr Muldoon cast his vote again the thinking of the West?
Mr Muldoon's dislike of Sociology and Anthropology is more readily understood. Alter all, Sociology was invented by Marx, and may not yet have urged itself completely from Marxian errors. It would seem that Mr Muldoon is consistent with his own viewpoint in attacking Sociology. If so, then this is the only time Mr Muldoon is so in his attacks. As for Anthropology, it is obvious that a science which holds Mr Muldoon a Naked Ape has no right to exist in a free society.
In view of the foregoing, the conclusion seems inescapable that Mr Muldoon is the enemy of the side which he professes to support. This conclusion is borne out by other aspects of Mr Muldoon's policies, such as his curbing of enterprising businessmen and his harshness towards small businesses.
Mr Muldoon wants to cut out of the University just those subjects which foster a middle-class ideology. He also wants to cut down the numbers coming to University.
But does Mr Muldoon not realise that by these cuts he makes the University less congenial to middle-class people on one hand and possibly a closed area to lower-class people? It is the lower class people who are excluded under a selective system of admission to the Universities, since they are usually less well prepared by their background to meet University requirements. But is it good to exclude these students? The exclusion of lower-class people from the University merely means that a chance to indoctrinate and brainwash the brighter proletarians is lost. Can we afford this loss? Can we risk turning our proletarians into revolutionaries because we cannot afford to give them a middle-class education? Nothing is surer than that the Communists in our midst will give our lower-class people that education which Mr Muldoon seems eager to see denied them. Is that the kind of education you want our lower-class people tohave. Mr Muldoon? For God's sake, let us have them here in the University and let us subject them to our middle-class subjects.
But Mr Muldoon would eliminate just those middle-class subjects that could influence the lower-class student to his good.
By eliminating such subjects Mr Muldoon would likewise make it harder for middle-class students to complete degrees. Mr Muldoon's policy would likely enough mean that the middle-class element among students decreased. It would decrease because fewer middle-class people want to do the practical sciences, which after all do smack of the soil rather much.
With the decrease of middle-clas numbers, two consequences might appear. First, the student body might come to have a majority of hot-headed radicals, bent on riot and revolution. Second, the University as a whole might become increasingly proletarian in outlook, when the majority of students were bright students from lower-class backgrounds who have won their way into the University by gaining high marks in the practical subjects which Mr Muldoon preferes, for it is just in such subjects that the bright proletarian schoolboy can score well and so outshine the middle-class schoolboy who is more interested and more talented in the genteeler subjects.
It seems then that Mr Muldoon's policies must lead to the eclipse of the middle-class by the lower classes. God help us all.
Niel Wright is a lecturer in the English Department.