SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1934. Volume 5. Number 3.
Afterthoughts of a Dud Debater
Afterthoughts of a Dud Debater
Coloured Debate : That action should be taken by the League of Nations to provide for Japanese expansion.
This was an interesting example of debate as an instrument for arriving at truth. The truth still necessary to be arrived at is which side was telling it. One speaker instanced the use of debate very neatly when he asked, "Why shouldn't I use statistics to prove anything at all?"
For the purposes of debate, facts are obviously very abstract conceptions. Look at these "facts" given! Japan is overpopulated. Japan is not overpopulated. The Japanese are capable of settling anywhere. Japan's difficulties are due to religion. Japan's difficulties are due to industrialism. Japan's difficulties are due to imperialism. Birth control is encouraged in Japan. Birth control is not encouraged in Japan.
Curiously enough, both sides agreed, as if on a matter beyond question, that artificial limitation of population (formerly known as Race Suicide) would provide an effective solution. This shows how advertising can give a patent medicine a vogue. Fortunately (for us) the vogue is recent. In 1910 (or thereabouts—the date can be verified in the local Hansard) a New Zealand socialist wrote a poem containing the following:
"Over the Orient Sea "
Rank upon rank of pitiless eyes watch us unceasingly;
Patient, stolid, immutable; quiet as passionless Fate,
Why should they leap at our rifles' months who have only to crouch and wait?"
This antediluvian versifier saw peril because—
"Here in the Childless Land
Life sits high in the Chair of Fools, twisting her ropes of sand."
O tempores! O mores! The modern fashion in Ideas takes a different angle. We have taught the Jap some Western tricks. Let us teach him another.
For his own sake? The blighter is intent on inheriting the earth, says Pro. No, says Con, he is content to stay at home. But, says Quidam, he sends his goods abroad, e.g., radio sets at ten shillings each. We are not going to stand for that! An English man's shop is his castle. We don't mind harikiri, but trade is a sacred matter.
What is Japan after—expansion of the coastline or of the waist-line? Never mind, call in the League of Nations. The League is a literary and debating society which was instituted mainly through the efforts of the poor pedagogue who conceived that other equally successful idea, the Fourteen Points. The home of the League is at Geneva (famous for gin), in Switzerland (famous for tinned milk and yodelling, in Europe (famous for, inter alia, its literature). True to its environment, the League dispenses gin, milk, yodels, and tons and tons of literature.
Nietzsche's dictum seems applicable: "To scholars who become politicians the comic role is usually assigned; they have to be the good conscience of a state policy."
The difficulty with Japan is that the brown race will not take the interests of the pink race to heart. They selfishly put their own interests first—an idea most abhorrent to the West.
Let the Japs be warned in time. One banzai and the League will break into a yodel. At the first report of a rifle the League will (after a decent interval) set to work on an exhaustive report. A move towards expansion and the League will arrange some very good dinners and some excellent speeches and perhaps a little gin.
I refer, of course, to the Secretariat. The nations which form the League may be expected to do the usual thing. We, for one, are ready (almost). As the Japs say, what has been the fashion once will come into fashion again.