The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, June 1929
Free Discussions Club
Free Discussions Club.
After a temporary dormant period the above club recommenced activities on May 30th. After the business of the general meeting was over Mr. Barwell led an) interesting and stimulating discussion on "Censorship." The speaker reviewed recent cases of the exercise of the censorship by the late Home Secretary, and gave evidence to show that it was not so much the alleged paragraph of the works that was objected to as the ideas behind them. Lord Chief Justice Cockburn's ruling, which has since been taken as a precedent in regard to obscurity, was objected to as it ruled out witnesses and reduced the matter to the personal equitas of the judges. Logically, if a work had a bad effect on him it was obscene and not otherwise. If the Act was thoroughly carried out the Bible and most classical literature would be classed as obscene. Mr. Barwell's contention was this purity campaign was staged merely to deflect public opinion from the Government's incompetence.
The censorship of economic literature was obscured. In Australia the position had become so bad that the economic faculties at the university were compelled to protect in the interests of their own studies. The censorship in New Zealand, where a book importer does not know what books are prohibited until he is before the magistrate, was roundly condemned both by the leader and numerous subsequent speakers.
Professor Hunter referred to the extensive use of censorship during the war. He deplored the existence of a Board of Censors, and considered that really harmful literature page 72 could be dealt with by the Law Courts. Mr. Miles, Dr. Sutherland, Mr. Scott and others expressed diverse views.
On 31st May Mr. Riske addressed a small, but appreciative audience on "Revolution." He listed as characters of a revolution:—(1) Exploiting and an exploited class, and with the latter conscious of their being exploited. (2) A strongly organised group to lead the exploited. (3) The use of a capable leader. (4) Some spark to ignite the conflagration. The speaker then enumerated the advantages that arise from a revolution, a new vitality, revival of artistic expression, etc.
When the subject was thrown open to discussion Mr. Miller disagreed with the speaker as to the beneficial results of a revolution. He suggested that revolution broke out after the oppressed class was beginning to gain enlightenment. He disagreed with the view that the romantic revival was connected with the French revolution, and made it clear that Oxford did not regard revolution as part of the scheme of things. Mr. Scott defended revolution and deplored Mr. Miller's lack of knowledge of the distinction between the bourgeois French Revolution and the proletarian Russian one. Mr. Miles made quite clear that revolution was anathema to his philosophy of history. Miss McDonald defended the French Revolution as a breaker of barriers, and instanced the fact that one of Napoleon's generals had risen from the ranks. Mr. Crossley objected to too much generalisation. Mr. Macintosh agreed with Mr. Miller that the results of the French Revolution were prejudiced to liberty, equality and fraternity. Mr. Barwell suggested that revolution was only evolution held back so long that it made a rebound forward. After the speaker had replied the meeting broke up.
The rules of the club are those of Parliament in Committee, although the subjects are infinitely more interesting. The list of subjects already prepared for this year is wide in range and deep in interest. Here are some of the titles:—"A Case for Dogmatic Religion"; "The State"; "The Examination System"; "China of To-day"; "Soviet Russia."
All these discussions will be lead by speakers who know their subject thoroughly.