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Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer, will names be withheld. Only letters under 400 words can be printed because of space limitations.)
To the Editor of the Crimson:
The editorial in this morning's "Crimson" on the Harvard Student Union is to be commended for stressing the one justification for its formation, the one condition upon which it can survive. If it is to be non-denominational, if it is to embrace students of a wide variety of political beliefs, it can not be an organization with specific aims towards which to work, but must rather be a forum in which conflicting beliefs are not advanced in defiance of others but in which they are considered together with patience and open-minded intelligence. Such an objective will not be attained if the new organization is used for political 'action' or its meetings for the propagation of the ideas of particular sects or the registering of protests against offensive events in the outside world.
Much though such a parliamentary union is to be desired, I fear that the great majority of those entering into the coalition seek in unity increased effectiveness in the specific political programs they are now following, rather than a many-sided discussion of the soundness of the beliefs underlying their programs. They say that it is now so important to work for 'peace' and the preservation of civil liberties that greater effectiveness in the pursuit of these objectives is to be achieved by one organization, because of (1) its unity of direction, (2) its ending of inter-group strife, and (3) its appeal to a broader membership. All three arguments are fallacious. External strife by being made internal will paralyze the organization. In any undergraduate political organization, except one devoted exclusively to parliamentary discussion, an active part is taken by only a small minority centering around the officers. Since their aims are not identical, would not several such small minorities be more effective than one? The narrowness of the specifications will invite few undergraduates not enrolled in the existent groups, and will probably deter many of the present members of these groups from joining or taking active part in a coalition group.
Finally, a single organization can not long continue successfully to have meetings of all its members for parliamentary discussion and committees of particular members to pursue specific objectives of political action. A large number of students are interested in either the one or the other sort of objective, not both. The parliamentary meetings are disturbed by business of the committees, by attempts of committee members to propagate their programs among the other members, or to enlist the support of the whole club to a specific program. Those interested in political action hold their objectives so important that they either feel that their committee should direct the club or else form a separate organization. Else why was the Peace Society formed when the Liberal Club had an active peace organization?
In short, the two sorts of objectives, political action and political discussion, are not to be reconciled in one organization? Douglas P. Dryer '36
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