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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973

The Twinkle in Keith Locke's Eye! — Ys National Education Conference

page 6

The Twinkle in Keith Locke's Eye!

Ys National Education Conference

Drawing of a man in an eye

The editors in their wisdom commissioned me to write a report of the Young Socialists' Conference. I sat down reminiscing about the drab little performance and automatically began assembling the stock line up of anti Trotskyite jokes—the icepick, the cheques from the C.I.A., the "concretising of Stalinist misleader perspectives". It all suddenly seemed boring as hell and a waste of good space in the paper. 'Salient' readers have patiently endured an elitist procession of sectarian smears ever since this writer can remember. The only people attending the conference were the local working class heroes (Trotskyite and Leninist) and there were few enough of them. For the two or three students, outside the red cat fight block, who give a damn, the following highlights may be of interest.

George Fyson gave a speech about the betrayal of the Vietnamese revolution, a superb analysis lacking only 1) an understanding of the fact that the principal contradiction of the Vietnam conflict is not between the Vietnamese proleteriat and their "Stalinist misleaders", 2) the most rudimentary knowledge of the level of Vietnamese technology — i.e. according to Fyson the Vietnamese have no scientists. (!) 3) Any intelligent questions whatsoever from his assembled flock. Peter Franks and Don Carson were invited to speak in reply, to make up for this vacancy.

After quoting a recent eyewitness in the Indochina struggle (some callow Australian called Wilfred Burchett) in support of their claim that Fyson was talking nonsense, the Young Socialist rank and file were lulled back into their customary stupor by Peter Rotterman. Gasping with emotion he talked of the fellow travellers of the 1930's and how they had served the wicked Stalin's evil policies. This inference was that Frank's and Carson were just the same.

Peter Rotheram speaking at the YS National Education Conference. (Photo by courtesy of Direct Action).

Peter Rotheram speaking at the YS National Education Conference. (Photo by courtesy of Direct Action).

Highlight of the conference was imported Trotskite George Novak. In a leisurely singsong fashion he reminded the multitude that socialism was not incompatable with humanism, provided it was the right sort of humanism. He also mentioned that he was grateful to Benjamin Franklin for inventing bifocals and explained how the slogan "serve the people" had led to the perversion of reformism. A dribbling old prick in anybody's language, he recalled those days when the New Zealand Trot movement was but a twinkle in Keith Locke's eye. Just seems like yesterday, don't it?

Novak was followed by a speech by Russel Johnson, "How New Zealand can be won for Socialism". Half way through this embarrassing performance I got up to go and have a piss. Johnson suddenly screamed that Don Franks would do well to stay behind and hear his wisdom. Being brought up to give the other joker a fair go I decided to humour the poor fellow. With my bladder near to bursting and the blood pounding in my ear drums I received the following information.

The Young Socialists support Gay Lib, Brown Power, Women's Lib and abortion. The Young Socialists will continue to support these worthy causes, the breadth of their united front extending even as far as workers. The Young Socialists are constantly picked on by ultra leftists i.e. every non-Trot lefty. There are but three types of people trying to change society — Liberals (wrongly), frustrated liberals/redhot radicals (very wrongly), Trots (correctly). New Zealand will thus be won for socialism.

Nothing about class, contradiction, social forces, alienation dialectics, foreign involvement, local conditions, various present levels on consciousness — probably outdated consideration, unneccessary to Trotskyism.

After Russel had pulled back the curtain hiding the red dawn he was asked some question by the founder of the socialist action league, Hector McNeil. Mr McNeil was rather rudely told to read "Socialist Action", where he would find his answer. An attempt by George Novak to answer the questions and a few last sneers at the ultra-leftists later the conference closed.

Oh and there was the speaker Evelyn Reed, who I wasn't able to hear. A friend of mine did and was asked what she was like. "Well sort of you know," said my friend. I'll take her word for it.

And that, apart from a party in the evening which none of our reporters could afford was the conference. Keep twinkling Keith!

By Don Franks