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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 4. March 23rd, 1950

Straw on the Third Time Down?

page 2

Straw on the Third Time Down?

An article on the work of United Nations, which has been sent to us, appears in this issue.

It should by now be clear to even the worst of the "my-country-tis-of-thee" school of jingoists that a real and effective world government is the only way out of what a correspondent in this issue calls "the present critical international situation.' What surprises is that, having accepted the idea, they can proceed to entertain the delusion of national sovereignty—which, as the article says', is the worst of the menaces facing us. Even the correspondent we mention goes on, in time of stress, to appeal to the man who "has ... a respect for ... his country." Always, national pride: always the sanctuary of isolationist sanctity to retreat to: always the call to arms for our country.

Nationalism has been termed a stinking corpse from the 19th century but it is in serious danger of polluting 20th century thought.

Effective world government must be achieved, but how? Earl Russell, in a recent symposium on the effect of atomic energy so far lapsed from his earlier sanity as to argue that the way to achieve peace was for our supranational block (the term is culled from another letter in this issue) to blast and squash the other out of existence; we are—if not top dogs—at least the only dog left—and peace is sure to follow. What nonsense! By the time we had succeeded in that, we would have aroused so much bitterness, have created such a rift between the sweetness of our theory and the desolate cynicism of our practice that our resulting moral state would be subhuman. Paying lip-service to anti-materialism would not overcome this.

One possible way out is to strengthen and broaden the work of the lesser international agencies: students here can do much to assist. But getting behind—even if it is only trying to understand—UN, is a practical way of doing something. It will undoubtedly be argued that UN is failing. But do you know? Probably what the newspapers give you; and it suits national pride to hold international organisations in debility.

The first thing is to find out whether UN is doing anything. Students seem often to be willing to help student organisations, sometimes even international student organisations. We can't afford to be cynical about this one.

The drowning man on the way down for the third time does not scorn the straw for its seeming weakness: he grabs, hard—then asks questions afterwards, and does some swimming on his own account. When we have had two wars, are we, on the way down for the third time, scorning UN because we're told it's a straw.