Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 13. 1962
A New China?
Dear Sir,—Your reporter states Professor Goddard fell that Mao's plan of building a new nation could be thwarted n the non-Communists would put all the money they spend on armaments into cheap propaganda."
From this one may gather that Professor Goddard has no desire to see the Chinese build "a now nation" If it is to be done under the control of Mao tse Tung. The fact that the Chinese have no other likely means of improving their living conditions but under Communism does not seem to interest him. Apparently (it port is accurate) Professor Goddard would advocate that the West resort to even such generally "unwestern" methods as the distribution ol "cheap propaganda" to prevent them doing so!
If such are indeed his views, it is" rebel that one reads that Professor Goddard was for twenty years a professor of Chinese history—the assumption being that he has at last retired. Yours etc.,
J. K. Murphy
Sir,—I am struck by a certain similarity between the statement on security made by Brigadier Gilbert, and the statement in Reply from the Communist Party.
Both statements were childish and petty, both were couched in the familiar and tiresome Jargon of the propagandist, and neither were in any way appropriate to the Now Zealand scene.
I should like to mention one point in particular. II the majority of New Zealanders disapproved of our staying in the Western Alliance they would have long ago elected a communist government. They have not.
Now that Mr White is retiring, may 1 the opportunity to thank him for or congratulate him on, or what-have-you, on working Salient into a fairly decent I am also delighted to hear that he intends to pay the cartoonist Yours, etc., Harold Hill.
So does his successor—Editor.
Sir,—The unfortunate ease with which Mr Laking spits and storms has perhaps prevented him from understanding a piece of condensed, constructive, critical writing when he sees it. In his letter about the magazine Argot lie Doctor Beaglehole for all sorts of crimes he didn't commit.
For a moment I found it hard to believe that Mr Laking went to the Contemporary Arts concert. 1 would have thought he would understand why Doctor Beaglehole thought McGonigal out of place, and hence why Doctor Beaglehole suggests some thought on the meaning of word "contemporary".
Mr Laking is reduced to a trembling mass of sulphurous invective because Doctor Beaglehole has doubts about jazz Mr Laking then goes on to have doubts about Boulez.
Mr Laking I fear, has not lived long to realise that often the most valuable works of art are the most difficult to understand. It he is confronted, as he seems to prefer at every Contemporary Arts Concert by pleasant entertainment The Contemporary Group would be wasting their time and his. If, when he is confronted by a work ol art that he cannot understand, he calls it "a slap in the lace," he runs the risk of missing altogether something that "contemporary," and for all he knows, a great work of art.
I find Boulez practically impossible to follow. The reason I don't giggle and call if mad is that that is not the way for to learn to follow music, I am, etc.,Robert Oliver.
Sir,—I doubt if my original referred to Dr B and he had my sympathy for being unable to reply in the same issue. But I have no hesitation m exploiting my unfair advantage Mr Oliver, Dr apparently self-appointed champion.
I have practised in front of my mirror looking like a trembling mass of sulphurous invective but I find it difficult to conjure up the necessary appearance the phrase has a certain polysyllabic grandeur which makes it quite flattering, in a way, to have it applied to oneself.
However: I was "reduced" etc, because Dr Beaglehole (and here I must interpret his motives much as Mr Oliver has) was condensed at the expense of constructiveness. Agreed McGonigal himself can hardly be called contemporary" (O.E.D. "contemporary: belonging to the same time"—presumably the present age) but I was amused of the juxtaposition of that poet with a number of others on programme. McGonigal is not the only 19th century poetry laugh a t now. It seemed quite appropriate to me that "contemporary" and deadly serious poets should be of possible fates.
I do not expect just "pleasant entertainment' 'at every Con Arts concert and did not say that. I recommend to Mr Oliver a very simple little book called "Straight and Crooked Thinking" for the definition of this particular intellectual dishonesty, which is not in the least modified favourite pseudo gimmick different qualifier: phrases such as ar." haps" and "as he seems to prefer.
About "living long enough" etc.: has Mr Oliver understanding? I'm still a teenager—unwise to concede this among those who have achieved wisdom and their 21st birthday. But I can't suppress somewhat adolescent giggle at the picture of Mr Oliver fully aware (having lived long enough) that art must n be difficult (dare I say "obscure?") to be valuable, waiting to follow Boulez and not having foggiest follow him. Perhaps Mr Maconie might have realised that most of his audience would be totally unfamiliar with music which dissects and fragments harmonic and rhythmic structure and tried to explain at least a little of what he felt Boulez was attempting. But it was most definitely a "slap in the face" to expect a large audience to listen without irritation. Compare it to a Stage I Physics Class being given a lecture on an obscure facet of Honours Physics — for which they have had no preparation at all.
But I am enlarging upon an irrelevant portion of Mr Oliver's letter. To get back to my reduction to a trembling mass: I suggest that Dr Beaglehole's "condensed, constructive critical writing," may have been condensed but that he made little attempt to be constructive, insofar as he did not actually evaluate the relative contributions of McGonigal, Boulez and jazz. The first, in his opinion, wasted time. The second was boorishly received. And the third he dismissed somewhat disparagingly. If I object to this criticism of some facets of performance and audience on the basis of some arcane criterion of artistic merit which only Dr Beaglehole could consider axiomatic, I object also and just as strongly to his omitting to attempt to say why Boulez should have had a quieter reception. No-one has yet tried ("dared"—perhaps?) to evaluate Mr Maconie's not inconsiderable performance in any specific terms—let's hear from Mr Oliver what it meant to him. I remain, Sir,
R. G. Laking.
Dear Sir,—I feel that "bad taste in the Nordmeyer-Shand (Parliamentary) Debate reached its zenith in the remarks of the Minister for Immigration when commenting on a prior speech by Mr Dwyer.
Mr Shand: "Anyone who makes fun out of race relations in this country needs a good hard kick on the backside." Raising the sacred cow of race relations was somewhat wide of the mark. Except for on, Asian student who missed Irony and thought Dwyer a rabid white supremacist, it was clear to all that Mr Dwyer attacked the immigration policy of the government. Surely this is as legitimate a topic of comment as any other government policy and surely irony is an appropriate method of dealing with it.
This appeal to the groat shibboleth of race relations (and its success with the discerning audience] would have ranked as a collector's item with Dr Austibel, who exploded the myth of racial equality in Now Zealand.
Again I quote: "Somebody should have the sense to remove the ridiculous beard from his face end attach it to a more appropriate part of his anatomy." And later: Mr Dwyer's remarks were in confounded bad taste."
Is Mr Dwyer looking for a tutor in bad taste? I am, etc.,
Sir,—I would like to draw your read attention to a slight inaccuracy in Salient's account of my address to the Socialist Club on the subject of the Sino-Soviet dispute. Your reporter has generally reported my remarks faithfully but by adding one word not used by me has tended to blur the issue somewhat. Your reporter wrote: "The Chinese he argued espoused the Trotskyist position on the question of the role of "national bourgeois revolutions." The word "bourgeois" should of course be omitted. It is central to the Trotsky's concept of the Permanent Revolution that in colonial countries the peasantry and the proletariat together form the principal motive force for the overthrow of the old order. The bourgeoisee in colonial countries do not—on this theory—ever adopt the completely revolutionary role historically performed by the same class in Britain, France and Western Europe generally. Yours faithfully. H. C. Macneill.
View from the Left
Sir,—In answer to those views from the left: I never thought of writing before as I don't want to get myself into controversies with some learned people, around this University. However, concerning the comment of Mr Maxwell about the king and queen of Thailand and the political conditions of that country, I take this opportunity to thank very gratefully for the heroic and glorius demonstration for democracy in Thailand by Mr Dwyer and Co.
I as a Thai feel that the time has come to tell these stinking advocates once and for all what I think of those parasites of democracy, hoping that they might learn how to shut up. I also want to take this opportunity to reply to some cheap comment in the past about the dispatch of New Zealand troops to Thailand under S.E.A.T.O. so that you, all the learned and distinguished characters (who specialised in linguistic sarcasm and stunts) may know, once and for all what we think of you. I am in no way our prised or astounded at the complaints of these leftist advocates as it only proves to me that whatever they advocate either speech or action they just do it for their own glorious sake and for nothing of significance to the community. These parasites of democracy merely live without any real and constructive purpose in life except waiting to make nasty and stinking comment about other people or to wait for some opportunities which might arise occasionally Just to unfold their banners or to stage a picnic demonstration—all of these to enjoy themselves at the expense of democracy.
I would like to say something about Thailand and her political system as something distinct from what you can get from your text-book or some existing fictions... like Fanny and the Regent Siam, or the comic tragedy of the King and I. With no offence, I would like to point out to you learned people and even some single-minded lecturers that no matter what you think or think you know of Thailand by reading or listening to travel takes, we Thanks are content with ourselves, with or without democracy. We are rather annoyed at what you advocate for us against something that exists only in your imagination. You don't have to strive for us, we didn't ask. . . . Let me tell you that it anyone has any doubt, we Thais are whole heartedly devoted to our King and Queen—we love them, we adore them, they are not new to us. They are the fountainheads of our nation. Governments may come and governments may go, but the King and Queen of Thailand will always be there in our heart, and at the head of our government. . . Your idea that they are undemocratic, aristocratic and unconcerned about their subjects is pitifully and unforgivably wrong. They do all they can and you can't say with any justice that they spend the people's money to go on tours. Just for your information I would like to point out that what they spend is derived from their income—which is similar to that of the Queen of England. Stop saying nasty things about them, knowing they cannot reply it you cannot appreciate people, try to appreciate yourself by doing something more worthwhile.
Mr Maxwell, what do you know anyway about an oligarchy which prohibited the existence of opposition parties or the non-existence of democracy or the existence of political opponents. Does the fact that New Zealand .is one of the most democratic countries in the world imply that it is the boat for all? Can you eat democracy, can you worship it? Can you preserve our freedom (which we regard very highly) with it? . . . Democracy will not do for us yet . . .
The so-called military dictatorship term which is so often applied to Thailand is a harsh term, too harsh. It is not like a police state.
What in this talk about the non-existence of opposition parties when we never had a code of politics that provided for any anyway? Is this our sin? Then what is this startling comment on the execution of political opponents about? What Sarit did was to safeguard the security of the country. The people he executed were traitors who were planning to give away our beloved land to foreign domination and share that gain themselves.
In conclusion, sir, I am sure that democratic institutions will be introduced soon I hope by undertaking the job of writing this letter that you will be able to see things more clearly so to stop writing dirty comments about Thailand and the Thais.
We love democracy, we yearn for it, but so long as it does not work for us in more ways than one, we cannot have it.
My main concern is to inform the leftists how ignorant they are. You people in New Zealand are very lucky in your chances to be well educated. Yet some of you are guilty in the use of this opportunity. Yours etc,
This letter has been abridged—
Sir,—Readers may well remember that the last column under the sinister heading "View from the Left ' by a certain obscure joker, whose name I do not recall and indeed would not care to remember, made certain references to the Thai Government and also to the "Royal Visitors" who obviously have endeared themselves not only to their own loyal subjects but to all their Kiwi friends.
The only thing about the article that really strikes me is the fundamental error in the use of the future tense contained in its opening, remark which reads:
"By the time this article will appear the King and Queen of Thailand will have left these shores and the local social climbers will be putting their tiaras back into cold storage."
As a lecturer in English I feel it my duty as well as my privilege to point out that the sentence should read.
"By the time this article appears (not will appear) . . . will have left these shores . . .".
The correct formula is: "At a certain ascertainable time in the future something will or may have happened". For example, "By the time you are ready (not you will be read) I may have changed my mind."
In the interest of all the Colombo Plan students into whose hands a copy of this honourable paper may find its way, therefore, but especially in his own interest. I implore the character concerned to exercise a certain amount of care in the use of his own native tongue in future.
I do not intend to involve myself in any kind of polemics or verbal warfare in this case, because it is my principle "not to slay a man without a sword." I should like to say this, however, that if the columnist in question intended to establish a name for himself either as an unscrupulous misinformer or the exact opposite of a genius, he can now rest assured that he has attained the highest degree of success and certainly deserves our congratulations. On the other hand, if he attempted to poison the educated minds of the readers who I am more than certain, are of such calibre as will not in any circumstances allow themselves to be enslaved, by misinformation of any form, he must prepare himself for utter disappointment.
For accurate and reliable information on or connected with the Land of the Elephant there are several sources. All one has to do is, as it were, look in the right direction. As a matter of interest, one of my convictions is that ignorance—pure simple ignorance—is always a forgivable sin. But whether or not ignorance coupled with for instance malice is excusable is for you readers to decide. In any event, I believe the warning "... a little learning is a dangerous thing applies. Yours, etc.
Sir,—I would like to congratulate Mr Maxwell on his intelligent discussion of the Security Police and the factors behind the Brigadier's outbursts. Some points about Thailand also occurred to me while reading "View from the Left."
Obviously the social and economic circumstances of Asia make "democracy" in the Western sense a difficult condition to attain. The main goal of Asia over the last decade has been material progress, industrialisation is seen as a status symbol. Rightly or wrongly Asian intellectuals have tended to argue that economic progress can best be achieved through strong one-party government, embracing all progressive elements in the country. This will ensure continuity of policy and prevent political squabbles and factionalism from retarding economic advance. Thailand perhaps should be considered in the light of progress achieved; substantial progress make the heavy-handed military rule of Marshal Sarit acceptable to the ordinary Thai.
When the regime first took over (by a military coup d'etat) it started a vigorous campaign to suppress corruption etc. The army shot all the stray dogs in Bangkok (as great a nuisance as the cow in India) and one Finance Minister was forced to resign and later prosecuted for corruption. The drive for reform soon ebbed and after the dust and smoke cleared things were pretty much as they had always been.
New foreign investment laws have been promulgated; the most generous in South-East Asia, and there has been a substantial flow of capital in. Though foreign investment may be very important in assisting a country to industrialisation, it can be a dangerous gift even to a relatively advanced country such as Australia, in a country with a backward social structure and poorly-developed infra-structure the effects of such investment may be negligible or positively harmful. To get our support the Thai Government should be doing more than just screaming about their opposition to Communism. The real test New Zealand should apply is whether it is undertaking the basic social and economic reforms necessary for progress. On this test, Thailand's government fails miserably. It is still corrupt, bureaucratic and reactionary; ambitious plans for development exist more on paper than in reality since the government lacks the energy or initiative to carry them through.
Even over the question of anti-Communism the Thai regime has shown more opportunism than its loud protestations of bitter opposition to Communism would suggest. When with the Patil-Eisenhower Grain Deal America underwrote the Third-Year Plan of neutral India. Marshall Sarit almost immediately accepted Russian aid. If neutralism paid to that extent then Thai policy had laboured under an illusion for a long time.