Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 11. August 1, 1957
It is hard to throw cold water over such a sincere piece of writing as John Fenyhaugh's editorial in the new-born "Left Review." but we must criticise three points which appear to be central in his argument.
First, his rather uncritical regurgitation of the Marxist analysis of economic systems on page three (paragraph one). The only attempt he makes to justify his bald statement that "Just as feudalism gives way to capitalism, so too must capitalism give way to socialism." is to instance the "factions in the capitalist camp." So what? The "Left Review" itself illustrates a fundamental split in socialist thinking, let [unclear: one] the many factions mentioned by the editor on page two. When he says "Capitalism must give way to socialism" does he [unclear: ot] mean to say, [unclear: N] the rest of his additional seems to suggest, that capitalism should give way to socialism? An unexceptionable statement of opinion, but the transition is hardly established as inevitable by the editorial.
Next we have the hope expressed that "our cherished democracy" should be extended to all fields of national life. Again a worthy ideal. Yet in the same paragraph he condemns piecemeal "controls, "the delicate wrangling of economists," etc. Surely such "delicate wrangling" is essential to democracy as we know it. Perhaps we do the editor an injustice to suggest that the editor has not read k. R. Popper's "The Open Society and its Enemies." But if he has, can he afford to ignore Popper's cogent arguments for "piecemeal social engineering"?
Lastly, we would question his dictum that a society owning its own instruments of production "would produce a social environment which would foster the moral development of man." Why should socialism be any more moral than capitalism? Russian dockers (under a "form of socialism") still pillage cargo, as one of us can vouch for. Also, the idea that "narrow mental outlooks" and "materialist and egotistical views" can be remedied by "a reorientation of society" is perhaps too much of a Rousseauist retreat from reality.
While we believe that capitalist society has faults in plenty, we believe that they can be remedied without the wholesale uprooting advocated in the editorial. If a moderate and undogmatic approach to the problem is "expediency," we plead guilty.
J. J. Fordham.