Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 8. 1969.
The Man And His Views
The Man And His Views
"The service has a duty to follow the activities of Communists and other subversive individuals, into whatever organisation or walk of life they attempt to penetrate."
Brigadier Gilbert (18-4-69)
Financial Vote, 1968
Marriage Guidance Service … $26,000
Prisoners Aid and After-care Societies … … $12,000
Probation & Release Hostels $6,000
Security Service … … $272,000
A further reference to incompetence was made in the House by Mr. J. C. Mathison, the Labour M.P. for Avon, publicising a little-appreciates incident on 20th August, 1963:
"We are disturbed by newspaper and broadcasting appeals … it is inevitable it will be construed by many as an exhortation to inform the Security Police of suspicious circumstances attending their neighbours, friends and enemies."
Canterbury Council of Civil Liberties.
"It is a sign of his political naivete that he seems to equate radical political activity with communism … he must waste a large amount of time investigating people who are utterly reliable and trustworthy … it is repugnant to think that the Security Police was compiling files on people for secret use against them and spending public money to do it.'
W. J. Scott, Council of Civil Liberties.
I Would think that radical political activity in university circles today is at a very low ebb compared with certain times in the past, in particular the late thirties and the forties when impetus was given to radical political thought by the depression and the Soviet achievements during the War.
I recall hearing of an October Group at Victoria which copied the name of a Communist group at Oxford, a name presumably relating to the October Revolution in Russia. I recall also that a VUC Branch formed part of the Wellington District organisation of the Communist Party. These Communist groups are long since defunct, and I do not know of any counterparts in existence now. An awareness of Communist influence is indicated by the manner in which the student body has steered clear of affiliation with the Communist front organisation known as the International Union of Students.
As a New Zealander I regard Communism as evil and subversive. A New Zealand Communist by conscious act when he joins the Party abandons his loyalty to God and country and gives allegiance to an atheistic and materialistic movement operated in the interests of and directed by a foreign power. In the international field the proven duplicities of the Communist bloc countries are legion. One grim example was last year's Soviet resumption of nuclear tests at the very time that Soviet negotiators were sitting at the disarmament conference in Geneva. The Chinese seizure of inoffensive Tibet is another. We in New Zealand are geographically remote from those parts of the world where the "Cold War" is of immediate reality This remoteness inclines us to a detachment—a tendency to equate the Western and th Communist positions, to blind ourselves to the essentially aggressive motives of the Communist bloc and to overlook the inherently immoral character of Communism.
Some of my readers will no doubt have read books such as Neat Wood's Communism and British Intellectuals and Koestler's The God That Failed (about which there was an interesting series of radio programmes on the YC Stations recently). These books tell of the disillusionment which progressively overcame Communist intellectuals in the Western World and which led nearly all of them to break with the Party. Here in New Zealand something similar happened. The intellectual element of the Communist Party was strongest in the late thirties and the forties. Disillusionment increased as the years went by. The final shocks were given by the events in Hungary and by Krushchev's de-Stalinisation speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956. No less a Communist leader than its General-Secretary, S. W. Scott, defected from the Party this time, and has told his story in his book Rebel in a Wrong Cause. Following the defection of its intellectual wing the Party has tended to isolate itself under the cloak of "proletarianism". By and large it is the emphasis on proletarianism which makes it such a small factor in New Zealand political life today.
Thirteen year ago, Brigadier H. E. Gilbert was appointed Director of the Security Service.
In 1962 he wrote an article for Salient which became something of a classic because of the virgin land it traversed.
We reprint this article today, to provide an insight into the mind of a person who would take on the job of director.
The Brigadier was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School and the Royal Military College at Duntroon. He was an officer in the New Zealand Regiment between 1937 and 1957, and served with distinction in Italy and North Africa during World War II. He was awarded the D.S.O. in 1943 and the O.B.E. in 1945. After the War he was Director of Plans at N.Z. Army Headquarters and subsequently Commander of the Southern Military District and Army Liaison Officer in London.
Brigadier Gilbert is married and has three children.
But the very fact that the Communists are able to capture the hearts and minds of only a small number of New Zealanders induces an attitude that Communism in New Zealand can safely be ignored. This attitude is akin to that of the ostrich which buries its head in the sand. The Party membership includes a number, increasing year by year, of "comrades" who have visited the Soviet Union and China on courses of training The present District Secretary of the Party in Wellington, a paid functionary, is a case in point. The Soviet and Chinese authorities must think that their liberality in financing these visits will pay a dividend.
Some of the Party's intellectual members made their break decisively and publicly proclaimed their stand, but a larger number merely allowed themselves to drift out of Party Membership. They do not appear to have done much more than that. Communism has made its mark indelibly on their minds and personalities, They still value highly the human relationships they built up during their Party life and remain fascinated of their Party activities. Some continue to support the Party line on specific issues. For example, current Communist propaganda themes include recognition of the Chinese People's Government and its admission to the United Nations, withdrawal from Seato and Anzus, trade with the Communist Bloc, and support for the Soviet position on disarmament. The former Party intellectuals continue to support these Party themes, particularly in the so-called "front" organisations.
These Communist "front" organisations call for special mention. It is as well to be aware that they are not of spontaneous growth but are established internationally in accordance with directives from none other than Lenin and Stalin themselves who saw the need for developing Communist propaganda organisations separate from the Communist Party, which would attract support from a wider cross-section of the community than would the Communist Party itself. Typical examples are the Peace Council, affiliated with the World Peace Council, and the NZ/USSR Society, affiliated with a Soviet counterpart.
The Communist Party directs these "fronts" usually through the device of having a trusted Communist Party member as the Secretary— for example, the National Secretary of the NZ/USSR Society in Wellington is a member of the national committee of the Communist Party—and through "fractions" of Party members whose existence is kept secret from the rank and file membership and who function as "ginger groups".
A "front" organisation advocating peace, disarmament and friendship with the Soviet Union, and professing (albeit falsely) to be non-political, has undoubtedly an appeal to persons of goodwill, But, if I may offer a word of caution—be sure, if you are approached to join such a group (hat you are fully satisfied about the loyally and bona fide of its executives.
There are only a few intellectuals still remaining in the Party. They are to be found as a small leavening in the teaching profession and among doctors, lawyers and accountants.
A few are in the Public Service. I repeat that they are but a small leavening but as they are there they cannot, in my view, fail to exert their influences, for example, I do not believe that a Communist university lecturer or schoolteacher will not endeavour to influence his students in accordance with his Communist beliefs.
It is in the nature of things for a Communist to be a fanatic. The Party functions on a clandestine and conspiratorial basis. It conceals its membership and its finances. Because experiences, some of them dramatic, have demonstrated that many Communists tend to be disloyal and untrustworthy, it has been Government policy here and in other countries for a number of years now to exclude Communists from certain more sensitive aspects of Government work, particularly work concerned with defence and foreign relations. In a small and relatively homogeneous community such as ours, where so many people take so much interest in their neighbours' affairs, it is sometimes said that the Communists in our midst inevitably become labelled and publicly known. Experience shows that this is unfortunately not the case. The problem of identifying Communists is by no means easy. An even greater problem is the identification and assessment of persons with past records of Communist associations who retain some degree of sympathy for Communism. The answer to the question—"Are there or are there not reasonable grounds for supposing that a particular individual has or has recently had Communist sympathies or associations of such a type as to raise legitimate doubts about his reliability?" must be of particular concern to the employing authorities of the Government and, at the same time, is frequently most difficult to answer.