Out of the smoke and noise of Tuesday night's five-hour Student Union session two facts emerge: the H.S.U. will not be governed by Communists during the coming year; and it has cut itself loose from Russia's apron strings and passed a somewhat hamstrung condemnation of Russian aggression. But these decisions will not cure the H.S.U. of red spots before the eyes, a malady which has reached epidemic proportions in all liberal groups.
The new eleven-man executive committee includes a non-Communistic president, only three members of the Young Communist League, and probably not more than two former Communist sympathizers; the Y.C.L., although voting as a bloc, failed to capture the Student Union. While they did well in the elections, the Communists took an apparent beating on the Russo-Finnish question, when their blanket support of the Soviet Union's foreign policy was snowed under by indignant liberals. The liberal majority proceeded to condemn both Russian aggression and the actions of those groups which hope to use Russia's actions as an excuse to rush the United States into war. In the same breath this majority voted for a rider which opposed both a moral embargo on Russia, and special loans to Finland, as unneutral--an apparently paradoxical stand. Yet this stand is not a unique paradox it represents a fundamental dualism in the thinking of American liberals. These people idealistically believe in morality in international relations; but they are aware of the fact that Realpolitik, not Christian brotherhood, governs the world today.
Even if this paradox can be resolved, a basic confusion still remains: the confusion about the role of the Communist in a liberal coalition. The H.S.U. is avowedly an organization for the preservation of peace and the extension of democracy. In theory it embraces all those who subscribe to those broad aims. In practice, however, it averages in political thought somewhere to the left of New Dealism.
But if the H.S.U. has excluded, or been scorned by, the far right, it has always included Communists. Russia's recent actions, and the Communist attitude toward Stalin--the "his country, right or wrong" attitude--have raised doubts about how far liberals and Communists can tread together the path toward a fuller democracy. A purge is not the way to quiet these doubts, for the Communists stand for certain progressive measures which belong in any liberal program. But the situation is hazy and formless. The H.S.U. contains on the one hand a tightly knit, unified Communist group; on the other hand a liberal potpourri. If the H.S.U. is to educate effectively, it must clear up this confusion.
Perhaps one way would be to form, within its ranks, organized political factions, each committed to a unified program and philosophy. Two such groups might be Fabian socialists or "gradualists," and "New Deal liberals." Such a plan would clarify the relations of the various groups in the Student Union, and enable them to work out a common denominator of belief and action on which all would be agreed. The present sub rosa factional fights would largely disappear, and policy would be fought out openly on "party" lines. The suspicion that the H.S.U. is illicitly dominated by a minority group would evaporate, and Harvard's liberals could get on with the task of defending and extending democracy in a hostile world.
To the Editor of the Crimson: Whilst heartily approving your general attitude with regard to the H.S.U., I should like
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