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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

CONFLICT AND ENNUI

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Perhaps few ideas are more apt to stir the average undergraduate than the idea of socialism. Some will argue on it until the small hours of the morning, fiercely pro or antagonistic. Some will laugh it off with a gesture, and immediately double three no trumps. While others may take occasion to curse "those damn radicals" and be more careful to lock their doors even when they go in.

And because all of this helps in its own way it is more than welcome to have brought to the doors of the University some such discussion as the debate on socialism held Saturday at the Liberal Club, when Mr. Thomas argued for socialism and Professor Carroll for capitalism. Neither speaker, perhaps, represented the extremists of his school. Mr. Thomas, speaking privately, stated that he would not try to force socialism on a community completely opposed to it, while Professor Carroll listed as capitalistic corporations several organizations with a distinct socialistic tinge. Nevertheless there was a conflict, the conflict of "there can be nothing worse, change now", and "there is much that is worse, wait for a better." And both spoke of lunacy--in connection with the other school. Such conflicts show America still alive.

"It is one of the glories of Harvard," an eminent member of the Faculty is fond of saying, "that its professors disagree so radically." And he generally proceeds to disagree. So it is one of the glories of the United States that two schools holding as widely differing opinions as the socialistic and the capitalistic can live, as it were, jowl by jowl, and express their views freely. From such a condition of affairs the country need fear nothing. A state is in danger not from expressed but from suppressed opinions. Should citizens cease to disagree they would cease to live, becoming merely

"A party in a parlor,

All silent--and all damned."

On the merits of existing and proposed systems the present undergraduate will probably have to decide all too soon. And the temerity he shows at the bridge table, his sense of perspective at the movies, and his forethought in clicking the latch will doubtless all prove of value. But meanwhile as he sits on the fence, (a very comfortable one), passing what snap judgements his fancy may dictate, it is satisfying to realize that in the field below the combat is intense, and that on descending into it, though he may perish from almost any cause, he will not die of boredom.

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