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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32. No. 25. October 9, 1969

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

All Letters Submitted For Publication Must Be Signed With The Writer's Own Name. No Pseudonyms Will Be Accepted Save In Exceptional Circumstances.

me radical, you ...?

Sir.—I am forced to reply to the letter from Auckland by Owen Gager in Salient 24. First I must straighten out what he was trying to say. In clear language, it goes something like this:

(1) The Radical Activists Conference was not a conference, but a "political coalition".

(2) The VUW Socialist Club and the Auckland PYM are "partners" in this coalition.

(3) The Socialist Club is "saying" that the Auckland demonstrations were in defence of the Auckland PYM, and were concerned with a general persecution of the left, when in reality they were "for civil liberties" and "against individual instances of excessive use of force by police in making arrests at demonstrations.".

Perhaps it will be best to clear up these details of the first part of Mr. Gager's letter first. The first suggestion—that the conference was a coalition—is sheer nonsense as anyone who was there knows. However Gager insists on this point, in order to try and brand the VUW Socialist Club with the "sins" of the Auckland PYM. Incidentally, those who did go to the Radical Activists Conference from VUW Socialist Club in no way represented the club; it was left to individuals to do what they wanted. As there was no coalition, it is hard to see how anyone could be partners in it. As regards (3) it seems mere quibbling to separate "defence of the left" from "civil liberties". The demonstrations were about all those things, as anyone who reads the pamphlets produced for them can see.

In the second part of his letter Gager gets down to his real business and makes these points:

(4) Members of the Socialist Club have made "what they have claimed to be" attacks on the tactics of the Auckland PYM.

(5) This is just a front for real solidarity with the Auckland PYM.

In other words, we really like what PYM does, but we "attack" them just for show (or something).

This Ingenious and nonsensical theorising on the part of O.G. Gager actually points up what is behind his own sectarianism—of which his letter is a typical example. He simply cannot understand the Marxist notion of critical support: support against attacks by the enemy, which are never defensible. An example of this is the unconditional defence Marxists must give to the workers' states in their confrontations with imperialism. Criticism when it is felt this is justified. This is precisely our attitude to Auckland PYM.

As far as we're concerned they have democratic rights—to exist, to organise demonstrations, to publish their magazine, to not have their homes ransacked on false pretences and their hard-earned equipmnt confiscated—and we will defend these rights unconditionally. This is why we organised the solidarity demonstrations here.

On the other hand we have a perfect right to criticise them when we think they are bound by an ultraleft childishness which can only damage the movement. This is what we did at the Radical Activists Conference.

Gager's suggestion of "attacking" to cover up "real solidarity" reflects his own sorry way of carrying on. He won't give an ounce of support to something he disagrees with only slightly. For instance he left the Committee on Vietnam because of trifling squabbles with others of differing political viewpoints within the COV, who nevertheless were all prepared to unite on the demand for the withdrawal of New Zealand troops.

This latest thicket of cobwebs Gager has constructed is merely another reflection of his sectarianism and childish meanness. It is tragic that he has to be dishonest in his ambition to be ever critical.

G. A. Fyson.


Sir,—In answer to Mr. Sharifuddin's letter in the last Salient, at the beginning of the year I invited, by personal letter, all overseas student groups at the university (including Fijian. Soamoan, Thai, African, and M.S.A—for the record I did not invite the MSSA and was promptly hauled over the coals and rectified the omission for the next meeting)—to send one or two reps., according to their size, to be on the International Affairs Sub-committee and to represent their respective points of view. As such MSA were officially represented though, of course, their thoughts on matters not directly pertaining to the MSA were of a personal nature.

(b) I have been in closer contact with the MSSA through the year as they have constantly gone out of their way to tell me of their views and activities. MSA has been helpful too but at times they have not told me of Important meetings such as their AGM. However, I have been in touch with some members of th MSA who are personal friends.

(c) What Salient does it Its own business but when I wrote the article in question I consulted with the then Persident of the MSSA and the immediate past President of the MSA as to the facts. The part relating to the future is hypothetical and my own opinion.

(d) On other matters relating to "consultation" I considered through my contacts in MSA that I had a more than adequate idea of their point of view. I am fully aware of the existence of MSA, its implications and its general policy and cannot, as Mr. Sharifuddin well knows, ignore it.

(e) The Clubhouse or House has, as its caretaker, the MSA as questions raised in the Malaysian Government were not prepared to pay monies for a "House" which was being used by Singaporean full members. As caretakers the MSA have ultimate control though I agree it is available for "all Malaysians and their friends".

I think, however, that some hard thinking must be done by both sides to stop this ridiculous situation as it exists and to bring about a reconciliation. To this end and ni vew of the sentiments expressed by the new President of the MSSA I am going to ask the Presidents and the Secretaries of the two parties to meet with me so that we can begin to hammer out a possible solution to the problem.

International Affairs Officer.

John Eade.

Ring again

Sir.—As Mr. Marsh has pointed out in his letter published in Salient 24, Mr. Pretty's article on Wagner's Dark Horse Opera is not only badly written and in part plagiarised, but also displays a remarkable lack of critical perception. Indeed, the purpose itself of the article is far from clear. Is it intended as a record review, or as some kind of critical appraisal of the work.

If the former, the actual criticism of the performance is limited to saying that Wolfgang Windgassen gives "possibly his greatest performance". (Presumably Mr. Pretty has heard all the others). There is a paragraph about the reputation of the other singers (also from the record notes?) but nothing about their performances, nor about the performance of the orchestra Also there is nothing about the recording reproduction, surface noise, stereo effect, etc.

If, however, it is the letter, the list of sins of omission is even longer. Mr. Pretty falls to place the opera in the context of the whole cycle failing to explain the significance of such vital terms as "the ring" "siebelung", "Wotan" or "Wallbale". If we are to be assumed so simple, to need a crude plot summary which incidentally is as unnecessary as it is tedious, such synopsis being available in numerous books in the library, then presumably we need an explanation of these terms whether they appear in an earlir article or not.

Furthermore, this childish plot summary is the limit of Mr. Pretty's dramatic criticism, if indeed it can be called criticism, and saying that "the brass instruments have a field day" or that "the strings are there mainly to provide background music and filter" hardly fulfils the function of musical criticism. Also terms such as "fantastic", "most beautifully light and air" and "a wee bit fine" are too mouldy and subjective to be of any value.

What then are we to conclude the article to be but the ramblings of an irresponsible Wagnerolater who betrays himself in such witticisms as "if you find you have no taste for Wagner (i.e., you have not taste)".

Finally, I hope that in future your newspaper will refrain from wasting students' money in presenting us with the crap dropped from the ring of Mr. Pretty's hobbey-horse.

Allan Marett.


Little did I know, as men of my ilk little do, that you were to make of the interview of me a Puzzle, a Competition.

As you have done so, I insist that I win. and receive all due accolades. My answer therefore is that the interviews read across the page, not (smug, smug) as the non-initiate of Salient layout might presume, down the ruled columns. As if anyone would take notice of big black thick lines like that. And that the fellow looking with understandable chagrin from twixt Marshallian thoughts is no less than Spiro Zavos, writer. And that Simon laid it out.

My slogan "Why I like Salient ..." is completed as follows— "because the layout as impeccaby designed to maximise puzzlement. Mental Vigour, and Sheer-Good Fun, in chasing articles wheresoever they may hie". Pursue, pursue.

In expectation of appropriate palms and goodies.

John Pettigrew.