Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 7. June 13, 1945
New Writing No: 4
My general impression of No. 4 was that its standard falls below even that of its predecessors, although one or two pieces seemed almost equal to the best that has been produced so far. No. 4 contains verse from seven contributors, and eight essays and short stories. The verse is extremely uneven in quality. That inspired by the war, e.g., K. J. Hollyman's "Five Poems from a Pacific Campaign," was for the most part commonplace in thought and imagery. F. Alexa Steven's "A Greek Soldier Thinks of His Child" showed some intensity and fineness of feeling marred by uncontrolled expression. Best of them was J. R. Hervey's "Unreported." Of the verse as a whole, "English Liturgy," by Marion Hope, reached the highest level. Into a single quatrain was packed profound meaning expressed in imagery of a high poetic order.
The prose was on the whole better than the verse. Again those dealing with the war, e.g., W. H. Pearson's "Taralala; from a Fijian Diary," fell slightly short of the rest The best effort, in the humble opinion of the reviewer, was Professor Robertson's "Odyssey in Wellington Harbour." "Tidings of Joy," by A. P. Gaskell, and "The Will and Mr. Wilkins," by H. C. D. Somerset, were also good. The thesis that some N.Z. writers are romanticising and "generating a false nostalgia," sincerely felt by the early settlers, was advanced by R. Seymour in a short essay on "A Recent Tendency in New Zealand Literature." He is not explicit, however, as to what is the "vein of good metal" which the writers he criticises so lamentably ignore.
China's New Democracy
During the last year or so, the pressure of events in the Far East has forced the allied nations to take more serious notice of the internal position of China. The accepted picture of a benevolent Chiang Kai-Shek coping with a "Communist menace" has given way to recognition of the need for Kuomintang-Communist unity.
Opportunely there comes through the U.S. publication of China's New Democracy,' by Mao Tse-Tung, the "Chinese Lenin." This booklet was reprinted from an article in a 1941 Chinese Culture magazine. Rigid censorship prevented it reaching the outside world until late 1944, and it is to be regretted that only a very few copies have found their way to New Zealand.
China plays an increasingly important part as our ally in the Pacific war, and the lives of allied soldiers will be saved by a quick victory in that field; it is for these reasons that we cannot ignore the Autonomous North-west Border Region. This region has a population of some 90 million people, they keep an army of 600,000 in the field, and last year were engaging half the Japanese armies in China. In addition to this it is tragic to relate that this gallant people are blockaded from the rest of China and the outside world by Kuomintang troops and receive no allied aid in the form of medical supplies or war material.
The booklet contains a considerable amount of material on China's recent historical, political and cultural development. The author deals with the policy of the father of the Chinese Republic, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, his early policy of the old San Min Chu I and its development to the new San Min Chu I, with its increased realism. That policy recognised the need and value of co-operation with the Communists in China, a co-operation that was so rudely shattered after Dr. Sun Yat Sen's death in 1927. Since then the Kuomintang in China has set its face away from democracy, and has retreated to a position which has been catastrophic for China.
Mao Tse Tung is a Chinese Communist, but this does not mean that his program for China is one of immediate socialisation. He views the situation realistically—China is not a democracy, the country is semi-colonial and semi-feudal. Only a quarter of the Chinese people are experiencing democratic government, those in the N.W. Border Region.1 These people should not be asked to regress to the level of the rest of China. A new type of democracy is needed, where there is democracy not only in the voting procedure and freedom of speech, but also in the conduct of economic and cultural affairs. Big concerns such as railways should be state controlled in order that the government be less sensitive to undemocratic influences; agrarian reform is urgently needed; Sun Yat Sen's slogan "Land to those who till it" needs implementing. This does not mean the seizure of private property—far from it. It does not mean that industry will be controlled out of existence; there is a far greater degree of recognition of China's need for new industries in the border region than in Kuomintang China, where each year witnesses a decrease in industrial output, and increased dependence on the outside world for the materials of war. The new democracy must encourage increased productivity of both industry and agriculture in order to raise the standard of living. Mao Tse Tung also writes of the cultural developments that have run parallel to the other changes in China. It should be realised that the Border Region have done much to educate the peasantry, teaching the peasants how to read and write, and have done much to raise their standard of culture.
Here is a book on a problem that is very close to our interests, and is a pointer to the fact that if we are to be well informed about China it is not enough for us to read the occasional P.A. telegram from Chungking, and the official publications from the Chinese M. of I. in London. We must get round and find out about the other quarter of China.
1 Rep. Mike Mansfield, in his report to Congress after his trip to China earlier this year.