Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 16. 1972
The PBEC Inquiry ~ How Universities Help Serve International Capital
The PBEC Inquiry ~ How Universities Help Serve International Capital
The inquiry at present being conducted into the incidents surrounding the PBEC Conference is turning into a model of the kind of pseudo-justice one can expect from the business-academic complex. It is by now widely known that most members of the Professorial Board were never very keen on the idea of having an inquiry in the first place. In fact, the proposal for an inquiry and a motion deploring the disruption were agreed to only as a concession to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Taylor, who was pushing for stern action to be taken against the demonstrators. Strange action, you may say for a man as liberal as Dr. Taylor — but if you were being paid to face people like R.C. McDonald, the N.Z. Liason for PBEC, over cocktails at regular intervals, you would understand why Taylor feels compelled to act this way.
Feel sorry also, for I.D. Campbell, who is responsible for conducting the inquiry. A man of liberal repute he is perhaps the ideal person to gather impartially all the facts which the Professorial Board, after careful consideration, will decide to call for the laying down of regulations about what you can or cannot do on campus - thus following a reactionary pattern set overseas. Or, alternatively, they may well decide to discipline some of the demonstrators involved, which may go some way towards restoring Dr. Taylor's relationships with the local bourgeoisie. Those disciplined will, of course, exercise their right of appeal to the University Council.
If anyone was to ask at this stage, "Hasn't the Council shattered any credibility it may have as an impartial authority by recently passing a motion deploring the disruption of the PBEC Conference?"he or she would be dead right. It's not just the words of the motion that count but the attitude conveyed therein. In other words it's highly unlikely that the Council is so open-minded as to reverse its stand on the issue no matter what information Campbell supplies to them. On the contrary, bloody minded is the only way one can describe the collective psyche of the Council. Even Campbell was upset with their action — for the wrong reasons, I suggest, but more of that later.
Getting back to the Council it is obvious that the motion was, as with the Prof. Board, a majority capitulation to minority pressure. J.N. Lauren-son Council member ex manager of Woolworths, and another drinking buddy of Taylor, McDonald, and other members of the ruling caste was the chief figure here.
In fact, the Chairman of the Council. K.B.O [unclear: Wen] even had to rap Laurenson over [unclear: th censoreo] of his [unclear: Cencscore] But Laurenson got his way and things were beautifully set up; all that remained was for the demonstrators to make their submissions, so that the administration and the academic bureaucrats can claim to have taken into account all points of view before making their decision to lay down regulations or to take disciplinary measures.
Faced with this situation is it any wonder that many people, including myself, who were only too willing to make submissions believing it an opportunity to get our case heard, have now informed I.D. Campbell they will not co-operate? Of course, the immediate reaction has been that our non cooperation is a confession of guilt, that we're scared of being inquired into. But since this is so obviously a Kangaroo court which is trying us, I personally would rather it made its decision without my willing compliance than with it. To cooperate at this stage would be to lend a veneer of fairness to the proceedings which they obviously do not deserve. Fortuitously, we have been given advance notice of just what this inquiry was set up to do, whose interests it is designed to serve. To ignore such a pre-warning would be the height of folly as I hope to make clear. It is people like Laurenson, McDonald and Taylor who have exposed the true nature of this "inquiry" which they originally took care to conceal beneath I.D.Campbell's liberalism. In their zest to see "strong action" taken, these flunkeys could not even wait for an "inquiry" to provide the grist for the mill. It is they who have put their own inquiry beyond the pale.
Paradoxically, it is now only the demonstrators who can save it and restore it to respectability. Campbell knows this and is attempting to [unclear: inclide] into the fold. The method [unclear: being] es, such as those [unclear: C] inquiry, to the people[unclear: to] comment. The [unclear: reci]. with a non-[unclear: cho ply] to rebut the [unclear: on-] cooperative and so [unclear: allov] constable's comments to go unchallenged, IT they "choose" not to respond, Campbell will submit his findings on whatever evidence he had been able to muster — the bulk of which will therefore consist of statements from Phil Brew, Constable-Buick and PBEC's P.R. (Private Rye) man, Feslier. No more need be said on the chances of Campbell producing an "objective" report.
Meanwhile he and the demonstrators are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea; put there by people whose characters are as spotless as their three piece suits, — at least so they would have us think. The fact that anyone of them might be the father of any one of us does not mean we should defer to their aura of responsibility, their impeccable establishment credentials
Students who applauded Feslier's performance at the post-PBEC forum, who were sucked in by his deeply injured manner were the victims of an attempt to recruit the majority of responsible students into stamping on that "small minority of dissidents" who cause Spiro Agnew, Muldoon and Alf Allen so much heartburn, Chris Wheeler of course, has now been successfully jpilloried and will quite likely do a prison stretch for trying to get his mess-age across. Just as capitalists today find it necessary to plan indicatively through organisations like the N.D.C., so they find it necessary to plan the climate of political opinion. In this they will have the support of bourgeois institutions such as the university and its academic and administrative bureaucrats. This will happen unless students take it in their heads to prevent it.
The motion passed unanimously at S.R.C. on July 5th calling for the inquiry to be dropped and deploring the Prof. Board and Council for their premature motions deploring the disruption of PBEC is a major sign of hope. The academic-business complex will certainly not take it well - in fact it will increase their determination to nip such defiance in the bud. The pressure therefore, will be applied that much more severely especially on people like Taylor, who will go as far as he can to comply. I say "as far as he can" because if there is one thing Taylor fears more than his businessmen friends, it is the possibility that he may arouse the ire of students to such a degree that they decide to respond through taking direct action. If the inquiry continues students who consider it a farce might well therefore, give some thought to the point generally accredited to Mao Tse-Tung when he spoke of the advisability of attacking the enemy at his weakest point.