Marx Review States Guardian Now Out of Literary Infancy
Ceremonial Style Needs Editing To Become Journalism of First Class
With the appearance of its sixth issue the Harvard Guardian has progressed beyond the stage of literary infancy. No longer do we look for signs of originality in order to shout our felicitations at its mentors. We have come to take the enterprise seriously and to expect our money's worth from our subscription.
Inquiries from students at other universities indicate that the Guardian's advance is being watched with growing interest. Thus the initial standard of performance becomes an editorial obligation. The present issue does not fall below the standard.
Can Claim Novelty
In one respect the March issue can lay claim to novelty. In contrast with what might have become an undesirable tradition, no faculty contributions are included this time. Curiously enough, the result has not been a decline in substance. But the absence of faculty contributions makes more conspicuous what has been noticeable in past issues: that the Guardian reflects a mood sterner than the youth of its sponsors would suggest. The light touch and playful grace, irony and polemical satire are apparently not permitted to interfere with the Guardian's dedication to scholarly analysis.
It is true, there have been exceptions to this rule. On the whole, however, the mode of presentation tends to be strenuously academic, at times almost ceremonial. One has the feeling as though some of the undergraduate authors were overpowered by their own sense of scientific responsibility: their method is cautiously conservative, their style weighted by terminology. Perhaps there is stage fright behind such mimicry. Whatever the cause, its effects are not conducive to first-rate journalism. Here is a wide realm for editorial guidance.
Mexican Reform Discussed
The March issue is introduced by a discussion of the agrarian reform in Mexico. Its author is Dr. Ramon Beteta, Mexico's energetic Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He presents the government policy of forced land redistribution, inaugurated in 1915, as a "restorative" development--"giving Mexico back to the Mexicans." Compared with the steady progress of the preceding enclosure movement in Spain as well as in Mexico, the peasant emancipation under Tsar Alexander II is bound to appear in a most favorable light.
But while in Spain agrarian reform became a practical possibility only after the collapse of monarchy in 1931, Mexico's "reconquest of her territory" from foreigners, absentee owners and large-scale operators has now been under way for more than twenty years.
The author, while emphasizing the accomplishments under President Cardenas, admits that the agrarian reform has still a long path to go. In the meantime, we are assured, the former peons "now labor with new ferver and a boundless faith to wrost from the unhewn rocks of the past the Mexico of the future."
Propaganda in Europe
According to Dr. Beteta, "the Mexican people are taking possession of their Fatherland." Similar phrases are being marketed, though perhaps in a different sense, in Europe's bourgeois dictatorships. The motives for the manipulation of political symbols and the methods of opinion management in contemporary Italy and Germany are reconsidered by Mr. Harold F. Porter, Jr., in a contribution entitled "Propaganda in the Fascist State."
The author shows good grasp of the essential problems and the premises from which the techniques of "popular enlightenment" are derived. He correctly "perceives in the exercise of political power the operation of psychological quite as much as physical influences." What he does not always perceive, however, is the danger of a rationalist orientation turning categorical.
Taken out of its context, a statement such as the following sounds rather optimistic: "Democracies sift the opinions and beliefs of all with the end in view of determining the state program by selecting the one most nearly correct or by correlating the less variant attitudes." Nevertheless, as a survey of the different media of Fascist propaganda Mr. Porter's paper is of considerable merit.
Politics At Oxford
Mr. Raymond Walton, a recent graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, offers an authoritative and intriguing account of "The Oxford Man in Party Politics." To combat misconceptions about the aristocratic heritage of British university life he cites the fact that at his former alma mater "over half of the undergraduates are in receipt of financial assistance independent of family ties." His sketch of political clubs at Oxford and of students participation in party activities should be of great interest to Harvard men--all too often aloof from "politics."
More significant still are probably his comments on the government careers of those who have gone through college training. Party work in Parliament (regardless of the special label) still holds a strong attraction, while the "clever and cautious people" and those responsive to the prospect of administration activity prefer the civil service. For his American friends Mr. Walton suggests, however, that it "took centuries" to build the British public service tradition.
The closing essay by Mr. Nathan Belfer is devoted to "Schumpeter's Theory of 'Imperialisms.'" As an exposition of Professor Schumpeter's doctrine (elaborated in 1919) Mr. Belfer's paper is certainly a worthwhile undertaking. It is less successful, however, as a critique.
Perhaps the author should have explored more fully the implications of Schumpeter's definition of imperialism as an "objectless, irrational, violent disposition toward indefinite, purposeless expansion." What is implied here is the problematical contrast between absolutism's quest of glory and aggrandizement as an end in itself and the rationally oriented calculus of bourgeois capitalism. Such encomium of the profit motive strikes me as no more realistic than the Marxist interpretation of imperialism.
A well-balanced and eminently readable summary of the Kennedy survey of the American merchant marine--followed by some material on the Labor Relations Board--puts the reader back on his feet.