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Norwegian Socialist Youth Leader Attacks YAF, Festival at Helsinki


The chairman of the youth division of Norway's ruling Labor Party yesterday called the upcoming Eighth World Youth Festival at Helsinki "a communist propaganda show." Reiulf Steen, whose group is affiliated with the International Union of Socialist Youth, said his organization "will establish a bureau in Helsinki to oppose the Festival, will publish a magazine, and will set up post-Festival seminars in Norway."

Steen expressed fear that the Young Americans for Freedom would send representatives to Helsinki. "I'm afraid because they are characterized, rightly or wrongly, as fascists," he said. "If they go, that will help the Soviet Union. The Communists will say, 'You see? All our opponents are fascists,' and this would be accepted by everyone."

A member of Parliament, Steen added that "if democratic socialists come into the picture, it will be much more difficult for the Soviet Union."

He said that the first time he had met members of YAF, "I thought they were trying to be ironical. It seemed to me they tried to copy the worst of Soviet propaganda against America."

During a three-hour session over sherry and dinner at Winthrop House, Steen compared the American radical right to the Socialist People's Party of Norway, a splinter group which favors unilateral disarmament and Norwegian withdrawal from NATO. "They are similar in tone and approach to your 'thunder on the right.' They don't like it that Norway is on this 'globe; they want to live apart from the world," he said.

Steen said that there was some anti-Americanism in Norway because "it is very easy to agitate against America." He cited U.S. support of Chiang Kai-Shek and Franco, the integration problem, and McCarthyism as issues which are used to attack the United States. "Little Rock is very well known in Norway," he added.

Last week, Steen visited members of the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee in Atlanta. He said that they impressed him as "very fine people." In Atlanta, he was refused service at a Negro restaurant, which he called "a very curious experience."

Steen said that most Norwegians had been pleased by the outcome of the American Presidential election in 1960. "We were very grateful for the few thousand votes which elected Kennedy, but we would have been much happier if Stevenson had been elected," he stated. "Stevenson would have got 95 per cent of the vote in Norway."

Steen, who saw Richard M. Nixon make a speech in the mid-West, called the former vice-President "a good speaker," but said that "he has a funny way of saying things while not saying them."

The social democratic leader said that what he called "fundamentalist socialists" believe in nationalization of industry. Calling himself a "pragmatic socialist," he held that "the majority of Scandinavian socialists don't believe in ideological phrases," and emphasized that the Norwegian government had never nationalized an industry, though it has taken an active part in developing new ones.

Steen is in the United States on a five-week tour sponsored by the State Department

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