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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 25. 6 October 1972


In their joint article entitled 'Apolitical Science' Salient, 2-8-72), R. Campbell and P. Wilson make the demand for the institution of something called "The Politics of Dessent" into the university curriculum. Although they made it clear who would control the teaching of such a course, they did not specify its objectives.

It is futile accusing the political scientist or the economist of being non-commital, because they are the first to point out the limitations of their positivist approach. But something is wrong somewhere, for it is not obvious which discipline(s) should focus on the need for analytical tools to tackle the Great Why: Why war? Why the draft? Are we destined to follow the law of the ant's nest, where every individual has equality in slavery?

How do we recognise the seeds of totalitarianism?

And what drove Adolf Hitler to proclaim, "The intellect has grown autocratic (!) and has become the disease of life. We are now at the end of the age of reason. People put us down as the enemies of intelligence. We are. But in a much deeper sense than those conceited dolts of bourgeois scientists ever dreamed of." (Quoted in Hermann Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction.

What type of irony is intended by the cartoon around which Campbell and Wilson wrote their article? The idealists march under a banner showing the face of their leader; The activists march in victory, raising aloft the decapitated head of the idealist's leader. This cartoon projects a clear understanding of the basic political issue - perhaps it was lifted from Punch? Which principle stands for Hitler? For Stalin? Mussolini and Mao Tse-Tung? Yourself? In this context it should be asked: What are the implications of Peter Wilson accusing Professor Philpott of being "culpable" of idealism, in Wilson's article entitled, paradoxically, "Demistifying Economics"?

I ask these questions seriously, because anyone who suspects that political action cut-off from ideas is barren thuggery, will be properly indignant if, after sweating through his degree in social science or the humanities, he finds (as Campbell and Wilson put it) that he has not "been given the tools with which to understand and interpret the modern world".