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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 10. 24 May 1972

Letters to the Editor

page 2

Letters to the Editor

Revisionist Factionalism


As I read Mr Devereux's reply to me (Salient, May 4,) my admiration grew at his ability to draw conclusions about my alleged views on specific questions from an abstract and cursory treatment of historical materialism. Not everybody, I fear, has this remarkable facility.

"Dev" asserts that my "revisionist cronies" and I believe that all demands raised by social groups if pressed strongly enough, are realisable and that we give uncritical support to all groups opposed to the ruling class. Both these propositions are clumsy fabrications. The first is patently absurd, and so is the second. Certain social groupings i.e churches believe in and demand resurrection but I fear they will be disappointed. Do we give uncritical support to the S.A.L? Anyone reading the distortions of our policies in the report on the Anti-War Conference in Auckland in Socialist Action would find this claim difficult to swallow! Do we give uncritical support to Mr Devereux's grouplet? His letter is his own refutation!

Our theoretical position is that we work together with other groups and individuals in the people's organisations to help mobilise and organise the masses as widely as possible at the highest level of the sturggle in order to promote and defend the interests of the working class and the popular, masses. Applying the principles of independence and initiative, unity and independence, we seek common ground with these groups and individuals. If we make concessions we see them as part of overall policy, as one turn in a zigzag course. In any of the people's organisations (eg the Wellington Committee of Vietnam), we advance certain ideas, support others and oppose still others. But, at no time do we try to impose our policies on these organisations, and we combat any attempts to make them the preserves of any particular political grouping.

Mr Devereux clamied that I failed to back my charges of pseudo-revolutionary phrasemongering with examples. Apart from his letter, typical examples are: (i) his two attempts to get the April 30 Mobilisation to take as us main slogan "Turn the imperialist war into a civil war!"; (ii) his advice, given on two separate occasions, to meetings of the Engineer's Union that instead of negotiating for wage rises, members should fight the boss with guns; (iii) CP leader Hegman's lamentable advice to Dunedin CP'ers: "You only engage in day to day struggle if you can bring out the politics involved."

Mr. Devereux's alter ego, Mr N. Wright, in a "Left sounding article compares leaders of mass marches in New Zealand today with Father Gapon (Salient, May 4, p.7.) Who but an incorrigible phrase monger would compare Tsarist Russia in 1905 (on the brink of revolution) with New Zealand in 1972? Mr Wright also called for more demonstrations against U.S. warships. But Neil, first you have to get your warship! If you had actually taken any part in C.O.V. activity over the years, you would have been able to take part in many such demonstrations. But then you only advise others about what they should do, you do not actually do any organising work yourself.

Using peculiar logic, "Dev", says that I follow Dean and not Marxism because I agree with him on a single point. Perhaps that is why the People's Voice mis-reported the Anti-Apartheid Conference - "Dev" and his comrades did not want to be seen agreeing with certain liberals in case they were charged with following them.

Actually, I try to follow Engels such matters: "Marx and I are ourselves to blame for the fact that the younger people lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. . . . . Unfortunately however, it happens too often that people think they have fully understood a new theory and can apply it without more ado from the moment they have assimilated its main principles, and even those not always correctly." "But our conception of history is above all a guide to study, not a lever for construction after the manner of the Hegelian" (Letters to Bioch and Schmidt, 1890)

"Dev" says" that I am a typical revisionist because I allegedly do not extend recognition of the class struggle to the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is sheer fabrication. I and my "cronies" believe that the class struggle between the working class and the capitalist class will eventually lead to armed revolution, the smashing of bourgeois state power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. We are "merely" opposed to the view which appears to motivate "Dev" and his mentors: "First you got to have a revolution to improve rubbish collection in Island Bay."


(This correspondence is now closed)


Parking a car at the University is always a lot harder than passing an exam. Some people are trying to make the exams harder, but nobody appears to be making car parking any easier. During the "Open Day", the lecture block had a scale model of the expansion planned for the university buildings with nothing to include additional parking for Staff or Students.

At present Staff are over-catered, and Students are under catered, for parking spaces but the Staff carpark is planned to be reduced in size with the expansion of the University so they too will be in the same situation as the Student is today. One thing that is apparent from the model is that there is no future building planned for the site which is now the Students Carpark. What I would like to suggest is that the car Club Members start making a few noises, (to the Students Assn. etc.) about getting a Car Park building built on this site. If the University Students and Staff don't do something about this now then things can only get worse as the University grows.

Tony Fair.

Costing Politics


There is only one point I wish to answer from Albert Rhodes silly letter in your last issue. This is his association of cost-benefit analysis with a Muldoonian outlook, and his reasoning from this that I am really a Tory, since I teach this subject.

Cost-benefit analysis developed because of a realisation that purely financial costs and returns are inadequate for judging government programmes. A cost benefit analysis thus attempts to take account of real social and economic costs and benefits. It can hardly be associated with Muldoon whose prime emphasis is always on financial cost and who appears little concerned with the benefits of government programmes. A cost benefit analysis of the Wellington motorway would highlight the social costs caused by loss of housing. Perhaps if a proper cost benefit study of the motorway had been undertaken the motorway would never have been built. A cost benefit study of University education would attempt to measure the real gains to society from University study of all types. Muldoon seems to have concentrated on what he considers is the high financial cost of University 'failures.'

Mr Rhodes says 'cost benefit analysis went out in the nineteenth century.' In fact it dates from the 1930's and was first associated with the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt.

I invite Mr Rhodes to attend my second term lectures on this subject so that he can learn a little of what it is all about.

David Shand.

Assessing Grades


Obviously Blanaid FitzGerald doesn't regard all his learning worthwhile unless it's accredited a B+ and counts towards terms Why else should he be up in arms over a token resistance to a system that does exactly that?

My guess is that if more students were to evaluate their own learning (or lack of it) the drop-out rate would increase radically It is time we stopped believing in the myth that all we are taught and expected to learn is worthwhile.

I am one of the "infantile, untrustworthy, stupid twits" who is opposed to the subjection of individuals to objective, often ambiguous tests that are used to estimate their understanding of spoon-fed data. It is time education became a dynamic process where staff and students work together as people in the natural process of "give and take" that occurs outside the academic barriers of this University.

Odette Palmer

Arrogant Minorities


The anonymous writer of "Baby Bites Vice Chancellor" uses the arrogant tone of most tiny minorities. She (or he) admits that only 150 parents are involved — less than 2½% of the student population. Yet this little group wants its own building to be crowded into the already overcrowded campus — incredibly, on the only piece of grass left. This, it is alleged is "the only place ...suitable from a community planning point of view" Did she have a hand in designing Porirua and Otara?

She complains that they pay the $24 but don't see the facilities because they "haven't got the time" Whose fault is that? There are plenty of part-time and full-time students who also haven't the time or simply don't want to use the facilities Shall we let them all off the fee, or let them separate little building on campus?

One wonders who the university is for. Hopefully it is for serious students who spend several years working at their subject and only secondarily for part-time students whose primary concern is elsewhere. Are housewives doing a unit or two, or finishing off a degree, to be accorded special privileges when their standard of living is higher than that of most full-time students? I don't see why 97½% should support 2½% who want to have their cake and eat it.

Terence Coogan.



During the teach-in on the security intelligence service Chris Wheeler gave evidence that he had discovered a telephone bug or tap at Courtney Place exchange. Chris had to rely on the services of a friend inside for his info, but in fact almost anyone can get to examine the point at which their telephone is terminated. Almost every exchange has a sign inviting inspection from members of the public or persons interested in a career in telephony. A technician in showing you how it all works usually sets up a call from your number. He will most likely do this from what he calls a uni selector, but with suitable prompting he will show you "where the wires actually come into the exchange." This is at the main distribution frame (M.D.F. in his language) which on one side has all the numbers serviced by the exchange arranged in numerical order. Given suitable encouragement the technician will show you your number. On one side of the block there should be the permanent wiring of the exchange laced against the frame with string. On the other side of the block there should be terminated one pair (i.e. one red, one white wire) unless your phone is a party line, or you have shifted recently or have two addresses.

There are of course other methods of bugging both within and without the exchange, but it seems to me that this is the method most likely used by our S.I.S. It is a very crude method, but has the advantage of needing only one bent technician. All other methods of tapping or bugging within the exchange would both require official connivance and be visible to all technical staff. Such wiring in my experience does not exist. If official connivance is ruled out all other taps or bugs must be in your phone and the pole box where the wires go underground.

Telephony The Suburban Wasteland— The Social and Aesthetic Poverty of the Suburban Areas Mr Fritz Bergman, Town Planner and Architect. Thursday, 25th May-7.30 p.m. Lounge & Smoking Rooms.