Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31 Number 14. June 25, 1968
Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor
No tradition for violence
Sir—Alister Taylor's statements on the political, moral and intellectual timidity of students in the issue of Salient would seem to be founded on a false premise. I contend that the political and moral attitude taken by people towards a governing body is determined by environment and temperament. New Zealand students, on the whole, do not inherit a tradition of revolution and demonstration to gain their desires. Because of the relative political stability of this country volatile reactions are extremely rare, and leaders in almost every field rely on protracted negotiations.
I do not wish to say that the wielding of student power would be a bad thing. The present negotiation setup usually results in lukewarm compromises which have little lasting effect and give even less satisfaction to student needs. What I am saying is that until those in power become accustomed to more violent means of obtaining concessions it is simply not feasible to use those more violent means.
Yours till the Junats fall,
Sir—I take this opportunity to correct editorial statements made in your last copy, and to base on this a plea for the adoption of an editorial policy suitable for a student newspaper.
During the last few weeks students overseas have been asserting themselves in a demand for their "rights" with an enthusiasm and effectivenes which has never been approached before in the Western world. During this time I, and presumably many other students, have been waiting for some comment, or reporting of these disturbances to appear in this newspaper, but we have waited in vain. Now, the ignorance, the unwarranted assumptions, and the lack of sympathetic understanding expressed in your editorial has added disappointment to those who have hoped and waited.
Some comments then on your editorial:
The student movement in France had brought the French government virtually to a standstill before the labour unions decided to support them, in the hope that they (the unions) might be able to further their own interests by bringing down a government they had not liked, and to take a share of any gains the students might make. As for the student movements of the United States, they look to the injustices abuses and exploitations of their own society for their motivations; and then inspiration they get from the Third World personalities of Fidel Castro and "The" Guevara, hot these are hardly the "militant students" you claim them to be. Neither is your statement of their "ultra-simplistic theories of imperialism" at all realistic and it must be rejected.
You now state that the reason for student unrest is "the extent of the alienation of students from the communities", which I fully agree with, but to continue,"the birth of student unionism a hundred years after the birth of unionism among industrial workers" implies a parallel between the two movements which does not exist. In general terms the intense activity and enthusiasm among the industrial workers was motivated by two things. Firstly, the need to improve and extend the existing institutions, and secondly, to gain for themselves a greater share of this "improved" society. In direct contrast to this attitude the new generation students point out the direct casual relationships between the injustices of their society and the institutions of that same society, and so their first act is to reject those institutions and to work actively to limit or abolish their influence.
In America today a growing number of young people are renouncing higher education in the universities, which are seen as merely machines wherein young people are turned into the correct numbers and types of graduates to satisfy the needs of society. There university students, who can no longer accept the Universities role in society, are being joined by large numbers from the Artist-Bohemian-Beatnik-Hippie movements, who are attracted by the opportunity of working actively in the communities to try and change our societies values instead of isolating themselves within their own movement.
It is essential for every student in these times of unrest and change, to examine not only the structure of our present society, but to look critically at the basic values and determinants of our whole way of life, for there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about how and why our society works. This is made very obvious by the large number of misleading or incorrect statements made by many of our own leaders and administrators.
Even the Vice-Chancellor of Auckland University, Mr Marshment, thinks that ". . . it is axiomatic in this democratic society that everyone should enjoy an equal opportunity for educational advancement", which shows a profound lack of understanding of our educational system within the Capitalist society.
I feel that it should be the function, of a student newspaper to present to the students truly radical ideas and that this could best be done by following the actions and thoughts of The Movement in America and in other countries where it exists. There are many people, among the students and staff of this University, who have had the opportunity to see, at first hand, The Movement in America, or who have followed its progress since its emergence. I am sure that these people would be willing to help inform the students of Victoria.
Perhaps if a few more articles on the Student Movement overseas, their activities and ideas, and of Radical movements throughout the world could be published, then possibly the pages of Salient would not be filled with the excessive dog-fights of the very fractional "radicals" of Right and Left, and their criticisms of our present political leaders of which too much spoils the flavour.
Then perhaps Salient might be distinguished by the two Wellington daily papers by its content and outlook instead of just by its size as at present.
Yours faithfully, Carmichael.
Sir—Your correspondent David Grant has unwittingly stumbled upon one of the strengths of Christianity?that of being able to accept changed ideas about the world. The replacement of a religious explanation by a scientific one does not change the truth (if the truth exists at all), nor does it change God. It merely changes our conception of God? A human mind cannot truely understand God or anything much about him, but a "god" which could be fully conceived of by a limited human mind would be no kind of god at all. Mr. Grant seems to have met the explanation of God as "the ultimate cause". This is a totally inadequate and erroneous view of God, since the "ultimate cause" has a habit of moving further away as explanations to previously unexplicable phenomena are found. Each person has a slightly different understanding of God, and we cannot say which is correct.
In passing, Mr. Grant, not only Christians have "bloody vivid imaginations", and scientists, philosophers and others have also been known to arrive at the correct result by incorrect means.
Yours, Gordon Findlay
Sir—If Murray Rowlands is an anarchist then I'm a member of the Labour Party. I am not a member of the Labour Party. If Mr Rowlands thinks he can undermine the power of the state from within, by joining a political party, then he indulges in wishful thinking.
Paltry palliatives like the proposed abolition of the Security Service do not impress me. When the Labour Party becomes the government and votes itself out of existence, I will begin to take some notice of Mr Rowlands absurd position. He has negated all concepts of anarchism by becoming party to an authoritarian bureaucracy. New Zealand anarchists will have as much scorn for his claims as they have for the state of which he seems to be a willing and enthusiastic tool.
Sir—Like Mr Perrott I too was interested to see how I would answer the question, "Can a scientist be a Christian"! The title given appeared somewhere between my typewriter and the printer, and was certainly not a question I intended to raise. Maybe the answer to the puzzle lies in Mr Perrott's definition of evolution?it was simply a question of 'the motion of matter'.
K. P. Perry.
Newsheet was published yesterday separately from Salient . . . . it will not henceforth appear here.