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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31 Number 16 July 16, 1968



Sir—I can't feel sorry for Roderic Alley in his state of complete confusion, because he has only himself to Name. If he had read the literature on the concept of sovereignty from Bodin to Rhees and later authors he would know that it is notoriously imprecise except in certain legal contests which do not touch on the concerns of my Salient article.

Regarding nation-states the question is not one of belief, as Mr Alley imagines, but of fact. A nation state, by the 19th-century doctrine which is still operative, must be a state which incorporates all of one nation and none of another. A nation must be defined by objective as well as subfective criteria—language, religion, history, physiological characteristics, even eating habits, dress, social customs, political style and suchlike, as well as sentiments. Not all of these criteria, of course, can be satisfied in all cases. Japan perhaps comes nearest to meeting the nation-state specification, Lapland spreads across the Scandinavian countries. Portugal would Come close but for the many Portugese outside the state. All other countries are in varying degrees remote from this conception-most of the newly-independent ones greatly so (I used the terms "nations" and "societies" in parts of my article instead of "governments" because I wanted to emphasise the role of nongovernmental bodies in the global system.)

I made no assumption that "as states become more co-operative and 'modern' they become less nationalistic". Evidently Mr Allery doesn't know that nationalism is an ideology or creed (linked, of course, with the myth of the nation-state) and that not all states are affected by it— fortunately, for it is surely the most destructive attachment that has so far afflicted human societies. I don't think I need add more to Owen Gager's remarks about internationalism (a far less emotive term).

If Mr Alley doesn't think that "Barriers such as the Iron Curtain on rusting away" between the relatively rich countries then he has a curious view of our changing world. But here he is rather confused, because he accepts "the decline in tension in the cold war". Unless language is to.be purely whimsical, this must mean that alignment and non-alignment both have diminishing meaning as this process continues. As for the erudeness of my classification (I used the term "rough"). surely Salient is not the place for graphs, tables and other means of elaborating what is already plain to most observers: that the rich countries are getting richer and the Poor ones relatively poorer and that, as I said, this process is "jerky and uncertain".

Mr Alley uses the term "military" in relation to alliances to emphasise "the business of killing people". But there have been alliances as far back as the time of the ancient Creeks which were economic and cultural as well as defensive and there is nothing contradictory about that. Whether a UN which included China would be better able to deal with trouble in Asia is a matter of guesswork.

All in all. then, Mr Alley has inded provided a "catalogue of hasty generalisations, ambiguities, and inconsistencies"; but they are all his own.

I should like to take up some of Mr Gager's points, but his graceful support of my main thesis makes me rather want to buy him a drink.

Yours faithfully,

W. E. Murphy