Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 10 June 8, 1938
Letter in Reply
Letter in Reply
My dear "J.D.F.,"
I'm really awfully sorry, Sorry because, owing to my writings lacking the elegant style and clarity of yours, I have been unable to make you understand fully the implications of my Preface to "Olympian Nights." Because, you know, we're both saying pretty much the same thing.
In reply to my assertion that the root trouble is not national but individual, you gave us an irrelevant dissertation on the Marxian axiom that religion is the opiate of the people. It really isn't an answer, you know. Because I didn't mention religion at all in the Preface—I merely made a plea for the eradication of ignorance sloth, and inactivity in the individual, so that he would at least be qualified to build up the now world system which you and I desire. Obviously, you can't reform the world If you don't know anything about the institutions that need reform, or simply don't care.
You seem to believe that "personal reformation" consists in resting "india-rubber buttocks on the red-plush of church pews" or "Performing spiritual exercises amid the opulence of cushions." Picturesque. But that, of course, is personal degeneration, not regeneration. Merely insincerity and dishonesty In the individual.
You shouldn't look at right and wrong, good and bad, in the light of the Class Struggle.
I agree that "the bulk of the people are forcibly held in the thrall of traditional concepts." To release them, from that thrall we must, as you say, make them "consider events outside, of a system of traditional prejudices." An individual problem. I agree that, "active participation in day-to-day, struggles" is essential. You see both, you and I are addressing ourselves to the Individual.
If you want to change the social order, unless you wish to do it by a bloody revolution, you must have the consent of the masses. All Governments, except perhaps those of the totalitarian states, are dependent upon the passive consent of the people. In other words, the individual must consent.
If you house a slum population in a palace, they'll soon turn it Into a plgstye.
Plastered luridly on hoardings and blatant In shop windows, we see advertisements which, referring to the Toll of the Rond, exhort us to "Ride in Safety with So and So's Tyres" or "Avoid Accidents with Such and Such Brakes." But it is very unlikely that the accident rate will decrease until the drivers are more careful.
But still, we both really mean the same thing.
Ronald L. Meek.