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Political Handouts

On the Shelf

By Bryce E. Nelson

Freshmen passing through the post-Registration gauntlet must find the number and verbosity of the representatives of the undergraduate political clubs bewildering. There are the Young Democrats, not to be confused with the Liberal Union, and the Young Republicans, not to be confused with the Eisenhower Republicans, who in turn are not to be confused with the Conservative League.

Despite Harvard's reputation for apathy and indifference, political clubs are far more active here than at the average college. This activity may well be due to a combination of factors: lack of feminine companionship, a feeling of isolation, compensation for being frustrated in the academic and social ends of college life, and the intensely ambitious young men Harvard seems to attract. Undergraduates, many of whom have been accustomed to a large amount of ego-gratification before entrance, often find themselves made more ambitious by the frustrations of this university. This need for appreciation and power very often take the form of desire for political advancement.

The uniqueness of Harvard society produces an unusual type of political organization. Now it may be true that many student politicians are motivated by self-interest, but at least a few work for other ideals than their own self-advancement. At Harvard, however, political clubs too often seem to be mere instruments in the striving for power of the individuals composing them. There is very little work done for the party, most of the energy available is dissipated in seeking offices within the club itself.

This intense ambition perhaps might be sensed if one examined the literature handed out closely enough. For instance in the newsletter of the Harvard Young Republican Club, the President of the club, remarks significantly, "Aid to the GOP can not be looked on as altruistic, since we must live in the future we make for ourselves." He also states, "that when any Republican is contesting the seat of any Democrat, it is always wisest to support the Republican." This even if the candidate is of little merit.

Other facets of the Republican attitude can be seen in the Registration issue of the Harvard Times. An editorial in the issue states "The person who reads this newspaper religiously (as it should be read);" as if this of any other political organ has anything to do with religion. The editorial goes on to say, "the purpose of publication was and is to present political news without a heavy partisan shading." That is, to say, with only a light partisan shading. Another editorial says "We serve two masters," the Republican party and Harvard.

The liberal viewpoint is not nearly as well represented as the conservative in the registration handouts. This is in accordance with the lesser activity of the liberals. The HYDC newsletter states little except vapid idealistic purposes. It reports mistakenly that Senator Church will speak here this fall.

A new publication has appeared on the Harvard scene, Fortnightly, which according to the "Statement of Purpose" has been launched "because of our frustration as Harvard conservatives." These people are troubled by the liberal attitudes displayed "at the very institution of this country most famous for its intellectual vigor, where ideas and viewpoints in other fields are subjected to such fair and thoroughgoing scrutiny." The rest of the magazine is mostly filled with reprints. The purpose of the editors is made more clear by this statement of belief purpose, "that of maintaining a kind of intangible individualism and certainly a dominant and vigorous upper class."

One can only commend the forthrightness and variety of opinion expressed, but the value of membership in organizations devoted more to intra-club power struggles than to working to implement the ideals of a party can only be questioned.

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