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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37 No. 3. March 20, 1974


page 18



Line missed out

Dear Sir,

Thank you for getting my letter on Maori and pidginisation out so quickly. Unfortunately however you omitted one line in the middle of it, interfering rather seriously with the coherence of the writing at this point. The passage in question should read: One of the many difficulties in labelling like this is often that of locating cut-off points on a continuum, indeed in realising in the first place that there may well be a continuum of ways of speaking. For example, there is indeed a kind of "basic English....", etc.

J.B. Pride.

SCM Conference

Dear Salient,

I feel some comment is needed from someone within Victoria SCM in response to Peter Cullen's article about our Summer Conference, in the first issue of Salient this year. Having been approached by many people, asking about Peter's comments I must reply that basically I agree with him; Summer Conference tried to do the impossible and hence failed to achieve its aim. It tried to resolve, through group processes, differences within the movement which are really basic to its existence.

SCM encompasses a diversity of people seeking to understand the meaning of liberation within their own lives and that of the world at large. For some, often those who have been involved in the movement longer, this leads to an involvement in social and political activities. For others, it is the interpersonal element of this liberation process that they wish to emphasise more. Summer Conference was an expression of this diversity within SCM and of the tension that arises when branches or individuals tend to emphasise different aspects within this total field of liberation, at the expense of others.

What I would like to assert is that this tension can be a creative one. Since Summer Conference, there has been critical discussion of the nature and role of the movement which is destined to involve us in future structural change in order to more effectively serve the people. People must be prepared to learn from conference that tensions within SCM are not going to be resolved. Rather, we can learn from such differences while still progressing towards a common goat of a more just society. A movement which contains differences is alive and to resolve these differences could mean the death of the movement.

Margie-Jean Malcolm
President, VUWSCM

Solzhenitsyn's Truth

Dear Sir,

To the author of the article on Solzhenitsyn in last week's Salient and other similar minded members of the student establishment these few words from Solzhenitsyn himself:

"The superficiality, the failure to understand the timeless essence of human nature! The naive confidence of these young people who don't know life! 'We'll chuck out "this" crop of cruel venal, oppressive rulers and we, their successors, will be just and understanding, once we've laid aside our bombs and guns'. But of course they won't "

—"One word of truth...", the Nobel Speech, p 19.


The Ever Dogmatic Anti-Dogmatist


Dear Sir,

I wish to express strong objection to the inclusion in last week's edition of Salient of the 'article' entitled 'Rat Recipes'. It is a disgraceful yet inescapable fact, that in a society based on selfish and oppressive capitalism, people are compelled, through immediate physical need, to cat rat. An attempt to gain cheap, callous and bourgeois humour from such a situation reveals both a basic lack of sympathy and understanding with those who are oppressed and encourages a degree of scepticism in the expressed aims of the paper (i.e. to identify, and attempt to eradicate all forms of oppression). The faults of the article and consequently those of Salient in publishing it, are indeed exaggerated by the fact that on the front page of the same issue an article rightly condemns a society that forces people to live in vermin infested flats. 'Rat Recipes' was a disgraceful attempt to laugh, without hint of irony, at the squalor created by the ruling classes, and the publishing of such an article reveals an inconsistency in the ideological basis of Salient.

Duncan Campbell

'Super' Scheme

Dear Sir,

After reading the article written by Doug Wilson ['Super' Scheme Fighting Foreign Control? — Salient Vol. 37, No 2, March 13) the first impression is, it sounds fair. Fair or not, why should people be forced by any bully, or Government to save? Surely the time honoured method of inducing one to save allows one to exercise free will. If the scheme was made voluntary its appeal would obviously induce people to join.

It appears the Government is hitting hard at foreign control with one hand, and simultaneously dropping their guard to inflation with the other. For if the wage earner has 4% of his wages taken away he will have less to spend. The employer will build the 4% he has to pay into his cost structure i.e inflation or industrial strife.

Should we allow bureaucratic efficiency to invest "vast capital reserves"? I suggest the bulk of the "selective....maximum development" will be in the development of Government holdings in NZ companies.

As an "inheritor of earlier Labour belief", the Labour Government does have a "logically cohesive economic objective". The socialisation of NZ resources and the allocation of these resources; stated principle of the Labour (Movement) Party in 1935; the principle is still with the Labour Party today.

In reference to the words "political skill", that is an opinion. I suggest if you take a clear study of the Labour Government's origins you will find the "real and final objective" is a socialist New Zealand.

John McDonald

Pigs at the trough

Dear Sir,

Why are people, especially the New Zealand male, his counter-part is fast catching up, such pigs when it comes to alcohol? If you are drunk only then can you enjoy yourself. If you haven't chundered, you haven't lived. And if you can't down a 6 or 8 oz glassfull in five minutes, you are not a man. Pig I would rather call it.

Why don't New Zealanders, especially boozing university students, grow up.

A Sickened New Zealander

Have you seen the God-Deceivers or Who Killed Sister George

(Hardly Cock Robin, Girl)
The Evil Queen looked down from her throne
and sent her up gutless.
She swings from a tree, empty, head,
with once jutting black beard, lolling,
sagging on sunken breast.

And here such a peaceful camp scene is disturbed
by the mole springing herself upon the unsuspecting.
She should crawl into her hole
and close her ring forever.
(And you know what happened to the little boy
who put his finger up a dyke, don't you?)

Straighten up there lads and lasses.
There's a fox in my box
half way up the staircase
and men's eyes are worth a fortune
to the band boys, you know.

There is a Tavern in the Town
Boys and boys come out to play,
We're all having a Gay-time,
Donald where's your troosers.

For all further inqueeries meet me outside the library.

L.G. Nemrae

Honkies Hangi

Dear Sir,

In regards to Don Carson's masturbajory letter (Salient March 13) — perhaps Carson thinks that the Maoris should be "guzzling" lemon and Paeroa while the white honkies should be preparing the hangi.

As everyone knows Pakehas make shitty hangis ( a recognition of the Maoris culinary talent surely) and besides nobody drinks Lemon and Paeroa at hangis anyway.

Does Carson prefer such ads as Griffins 'Gingernuts' or 'Lime Fresh'? I think not.

Noel Cooney

Large finger superimposed over a landscape

A Reflection of Witi's Life

Dear Roger,

Delighted to see you and the Salient crew back again. We were also pleased to see that the world is still providing grist for your political mill.

The mill sure ground under Witi Ihimaera didn't it? We were relieved to hear that a book can actually be evaluated in terms of it's literary standard alone but wonder, in light of your admission of dim literary sensibility, how you got the assignment. We were interested to note that you, Roger, a Pakeha, can not only condemn his reflections as being incomplete and inaccurate, but suggest too that his works lack Maori insight. What you mean, Roger, is that Ihimaera's work lacks your particular orientation politically. Might we suggest that literature and other art forms can have value beyond their political potency and that Ihimaera's work is intended only to be a reflection of his own life.

We are reminded of an old Chinese folks saying mentioned by Mao Tsetung describing the behaviour of certain fools — "Man who have rocks in head should keep mouth shut or rocks fall on foot."

Reginald & Tobias Willoughby-Smythe

Would the reviewer like writers to subordinate literary considerations to political and propagandising ones?

Dear Sir,

Roger Steele's assessment of Tangi (Salient March 6) says more about the reviewer than the book. It is one of the most arrogant and presumptuous pieces I have read.

So, a Pakeha journalist can say that a Maori author "lacks Maori insight" and knows little "about Maoritanga and the real solution of the Maori people today". (What is this "real solution"? I hope Mr Steele will share it with the rest of the world, particularly his apparently less enlightened Maori countrymen).

What unmitigated rubbish. One of the strengths of Ihimaera's work is that he writes about things he knows. This is what gives it authority. He doesn't pretend a knowledge of generalities like "Maoritanga" (a Pakeha-invented concept aimed at homogenising Maori things). He writes about Rongowhakaatatanga, his own area of experience and competence.

Steele's complaints that the author invites people to "forget politics", and that the work "suits the interests of a small section of society, the middle and upper classes", are equally revealing. Would the reviewer like writers to subordinate literary considerations to political and propagandising ones?

Well, the persecutors of Alexander Solzhenitsyn make the same demands that authors bend reality as they know it to suit the objectives of ideology.

Roger Steele's patronising manner ("I respect and cherish the Tangihanga as an institution") and his unfamiliarity and rejection of Maori idiom ("obsidian splinters at my heart" and so on) are also distasteful. He judges the work not only from a political point of view but also from one of assumed cultural and linguistic superiority.

I had hoped the days of such lofty condescension were over. I am dismayed that they are not.

Michael King,

Wellington Polytechnic.

["Real solution" was actually a typist's error where I had written "real situation" —Ed]

Time Stands Still in the Tower

Dear Sir,

Why hasn't anything been done about all the stopped clocks about the place. Time can pass so easily that we miss even more easily the lectures or tutorials that we are requested to attend. There are stopped time-pieces through the Library, lecture theatres and Hunter Building.

Tiddles again

The Family

Dear Sir,

The submissions put forward on "Women's Day" made some quite valid points. One in particular though that went astray in its implied solution, was the attack on family life as we have it now.

It is true that women, are often used rather than loved in marriage, as in other sectors of our society. Many men seem to think of their wives as servants who sew, cook, clean and wash.

Perhaps though, what prevents out modem housewife from being able to hold a paid job or take a fuller part in community affairs is the fact that our society is too institutionalised. We have "homes" for the aged, the orphan, and now we want child-care centres. Past societies have managed quite well without these amenities, why is it that we need them so badly?

They had a bit more respect for their elders and gave them a real place in society. They usually had them live in their homes, caring for them, and frequently allowing their own children to be minded by them.

Perhaps then, if we weren't so keen on establishing our so-called independence and pushing our parents and grand-parents into lonely existence in pensioner housing or institutions, we could provide a purposeful loving retirement for them. They need not live a fate almost worse than death and neither need our young housewives be stuck at home minding children all day.

Our children loo would benefit from having relatives, who love them, look after them, rather than mercenary staff, no matter how well "trained"they are .A loved child will never go wrong.

T.J. Moffat

Donner and Blitzen!

Dear Sir,

In a letter published in your issue of 13 March, R. Wilkes complains about the pricing of German text books at the University Book Centre, and remarks: "The German lecturers say "tut-tut, what a scandal" but nothing is done."

May I point out that neither myself nor any of my colleagues ever said anything of the sort to anyone. On learning of the gross discrepancies in pricing between Whitcoulls and the University Book Centre (on March 5 at the first meeting with the first years), I immediately made enquiries of Whitcoulls, who by researching into their files ascertained what a justly calculated price should be for the texts concerned. I then confronted the Book Centre with this information. The manager confessed to over-pricing through a mistake, and had in fact already reduced excessive prices: one text was reduced from $5.15 to $2.70.

A notice informing students of this, inviting them to apply for a refund, and giving informa- page 19 tion about other German texts, was posted by me on the German Department notice-board on March 8. It is still there. At the earliest opportunity (March 12) I also made an announcement to this effect in class.

All this would seem to me to amount to more than saying, "Tut-tut, what a scandal".

Peter Russell
Lecturer in German.

Facts on the Union

Dear Sir,

In reply to R. Wilkes.

Why did you write to "Salient" without first discovering a few facts? You may or may not have noticed it yet, but there are a few things really wrong with this University. You could complain about these rather than resorting to "non-factual statements" and personal attacks on the wrong people.

You imply that you are not a kiwi student and that you are a poor student. You certainly are a poor student — even mediocre students do some research before rushing into print.

Your inaccuracies?
1)Student Union fees are not $25.50. There is no Student Union. The Students Association and the University Union are different organisations.
2)"Poor student" needs some defining but the great majority of NZ students are the sons and daughters of the well-to-do. During their vacation they earn at rates safeguarded by the NZ Trade Union Movement. A few students may be poor.
3)Fresh fruit is on sale at cost price in the downstairs cafe whenever the capitalist mode of production and distribution allows. Fruit drink is also on sale. Both are believed to contain Vitamin C.
4)The House Manager as a member of the University staff is entitled to the use of Union facilities. He is paid at rates comparable to other New Zealanders and enjoys the company of friends. Why use the emotive word "cronies"?
5)You are a member of NZUSA at a cost of $1. Is that "terrific cost"?
6)NZUSA does not have a tramping club. NZUSA has no clubs. Who did you give 50 cents to? There are a number of student clubs on this campus which do not require members to pay a subscription. In all cases the cost of membership is decided by club members at their AGM.
7)Discounts are available on forms of transport other than NAC. See your STB office for details.
8)NAC does not fly to Mount Cook.
9)The University Council Joes not administer New Zealand Railways (see Victoria University of Wellington Act and New Zealand Government Railways Act.)
10)The University bookship is owned by Sweet and Maxwell. Why complain to your German lecturer. Is he a shareholder in the firm?
11)Your German lecturer did not say "tut, tut" and do nothing. Please check your departmental noticeboard.
12)Your letter did get published.

Why do you not address yourself to analysing and correcting real problems.

David L. Cunningham

P.S. Do you want to pay for a locker, or do you want the New Zealand worker to pay for it?

Cartoon of two men drinking coffee at the Victoria University Cafe

Dear Sir,

The inaccuracies, distortions, and confusion of R. Wilkes' letter in your last issue show that he has failed to do even the most elementary research before setting pen to paper. Firstly, he has this ridiculous notion that there is a class of poor students, a majority as he puts it, that is forced to patronise the lower floor cafeteria because they cannot afford to pay over a dollar for a balanced meal in the restaurant. Yet a 'balanced meal' can be had in the restaurant without having to go to the expense of ordering the most expensive courses. Omelets are available for as little as 65 cents with rolls and coffee included. A full list of prices for the catering operations was printed in Handbook but perhaps Mr Wilkes only looked at the pictures. Naturally there are many facets of the catering setup that need to be improved such as the long queues, the lack of seating and the lack of food late in the afternoon. I would question Mr Wilkes' assertion that the Railways provide a better service for their passengers; history and personal experience have proved otherwise.

R. Wilkes also seems to be confused between NZUSA, VUWSA and the University Union. One dollar entitles Mr Wilkes to obtain an International Student Identity Card which allows him to fly on NAC Standby scheme, managed by NZUSA at half price. If this cheap flying is merely for rich students then there are thousands of rich students (so much for the poor majority). The Students Association fee of $25.50 is paid to the University administration out of which $8.25 comes directly to the Students Association for student activities, few students clubs charge membership fee, and if they do a club AGM is a good time to complain. The rest is put into Union maintenance and building funds for the upkeep of the Union building. The House Manager and his ancillary staff (they are anything but cronies) are hard working and are paid award wages which hardly enter into the class of "well paid". His comments should have been directed towards the bureaucracy which is imposed upon us by the university administration.

The final fear that his letter would not be published for fear of offending the new catering manager is pure fantasy. Although Salient may not be to everyone's taste it has never been a paper that has refused to print anything for fear of offending someone. It might have been better if R. Wilkes' letter had not been published for then he would have been spared the embarrassment of having his ignorance displayed in public.

Gyles Beckford

In Defence of Solzhenitsyn and the Soviet Dissident Movement

Dear Sir,

Hopefully, Terry Auld's recent article on the exile of Solzhenitsyn from the Soviet Union will provoke some discussion and debate in the pages of Salient. Given Auld's erroneous ideas, which he attempts to bolster with factual inaccuracies, I should certainly hope that a number of people take the trouble to reply. This is one attempt at doing just that, while aiming to provide added information on the Soviet dissident movement, and elaborating on some of the areas which Auld passes over with too much haste.

The emergence of a number of outspoken dissidents in the Soviet Union is a relatively recent phenomenoh, dating back to about the mid-1950s. Prior to that, the system of terror instituted by Stalin and the bureaucracy which he led had effectively frozen Soviet political life. Auld briefly refers to this as "alleged 'Stalinist' terror", and in effect denies its very existence. The facts, of course, totally refute his view, and it is these same facts which are indispensable if we are to understand anything about the dissident movement today.

Stalinism maintains itself by instituting a system of monolithism. There is one line, that of the leaders, and all who deviate from it automatically become "capitalist agents" and are purged. Hence, the slaughter and imprisonment of millions during the 1930s, the construction and maintenance of an elaborate secret police apparatus, and the rigid control of the supply of information to the Soviet people.

When faced with critics, the Stalinist system does not debate with those critics' ideas, and engaged in open discussion; it launches a campaign of vilification and slander, usually based around the most preposterous assertions. Trotsky, when exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929, became an "agent of the Gestapo". In China — to cite a more recent example — Lin Piao fell from being Mao's "heir and successor" to a "counter-revolutionary conspirator " who sought to turn the Chinese Communist Party into a "Fascist Party".

This same strategy is being employed today by the Soviet bureaucrats against the dissident movement. Those who disagree with their line must be either "mentally ill" (an excuse for imprisoning them in mental asylums), or "in league with the imperialists".

Terry Auld exhibits a similar sort of sick thinking in his article. To him, Solzhenitsyn is a "fascist", the other dissidents are at best "bourgeois democrats", and Socialist Action (the socialist newspaper which defends Solzhenitsyn's right to speak his mind without per-secution) becomes a "bourgeois" newspaper.

To understand the Soviet dissident movement, we must bear in mind that the individuals concerned are themselves products of this system of monolithism. As the first small group of Soviet citizens to begin re-acquiring the habits of critical thought, they are to a large extent isolated from the still docile masses. They have difficulty discussing and debating ideas among themselves — a fact which obviously compounds their isolation. The Soviet regime monopolises the flow of information on such delicate subjects as international events, the revolutionary heritage of Lenin, Trotsky, and the Bolsheviks, and the ideals of the Russian Revolution.

The only Marxism to which these people can gain easy access is in the perverted forms dished up by the bureaucrats — a "Marxism" reduced to never-to-be-questioned "articles of faith", rather than a living science which can give a crticial appraisal of societies (Soviet society included) and strives above all for objectivity.

The only "socialism" which these dissidents know is that which they experience in their own daily existence — a noteworthy fact being that many of them have experienced the labour camps at some point in their lives.

If, in this terrible context, some of these people end up rejecting Marxism and socialism, that can hardly be blamed on the individual dissident. Solzhenitsyn, who rejected socialism after his long imprisonment in labour camps, clearly falls within this category. The blame for this rejection falls squarely on the methods of the regime itself.

Terry Auld claims that Trotskyists (meaning the Socialist Action League and the Young Socialists), in defending Solzhenitsyn, have "hailed" his "firm commitment to socialism". That is a lie. For someone who quotes so liberally from Socialist Action, and has therefore presumably read it, Auld somehow missed the fact that two of the last three issues have carried articles on Solzhenitsyn, and each of these specifically refers to his rejection of socialism.

What Auld fails to comprehend is that Socialist Action defends Solzhenitsyn against the repression of the Stalinist system despite this rejection.

Some well-known Soviet citizens who have issued statements protesting the persecution or exile of Solzhenitsyn have themselves expressed this extremely well.

Roy A. Medvedev, an historian and dissident who still adheres to Marxism:

"Before the arrest, Solzhenitsyn considered himself a Marxist. After he went through the cruel tests described with such merciless truthfulness in the 'Gulag Archipeligo', Solzhenitsyn lost his belief in Marxism.....

"Marxism will certainly not perish for loss of one of its former adherents. We even think Marxism will only benefit from debate with such an opponent....."

And Yevgeny Yevtushenko, a leading Soviet poet, wrote:

"No, I do not agree with many of Solzhenitsyn's views in 'Gulag Archipelago', which I have read.....

"But in this book there are terrible documented pages about the bloody crimes of the Stalinist past. However great the mistakes of Solzhenitsyn, the bloody blunders of the Stalinist past are beyond comparison with him."

Indeed, when we look back at the horrifying legacy of Stalinism, it is in many ways amazing that any of the Soviet dissidents continue to maintain their belief in socialism. Yet despite the pressures exerted on them, many courageously continue to declare their allegiance to Marxism and to the socialist movement generally.

Medvedev: "Stalinism in many respects negates — and is a bloody annihilation of — Bolshevism and all revolutionary forces....the development of Marxism and scientific Communism will allow the creation of the most just human society."

Yevtushenko: "I have proven my adherence to the ideas of socialism not only by my verse but also in public appearances abroad, when young fascist thugs attacked me...."

Grigorenko and Kosterin, two men who have probably gone further than any of the dissidents in criticising the bureaucracy from classic Leninist positions, have claimed that the Soviet leadership is following policies that are "anti-socialist and contradictory to the fundamental ideas of Marxism and Leninism". They have openly characterised the Soviet leadership as a highly privileged bureaucracy.

Needless to say, the dissidents' theoretical analysis of Soviet society, and their elaboration to a programme of action to combat the repression which they face, is generally at a very rudimentary and confused level. This is hardly surprising. As sort of "pioneers" of critical thought in contemporary Soviet society, they face immense obstacles. They encompass not only the Stalinists legacy and all its ramifications, but also the "usual" day-to-day difficulties of living under constant persecution.

Terry Auld uses the fact that most of these dissidents have concentrated their struggle on the question of democratic rights in the Soviet Union as a sign that they are a "sorry lot" who can be mainly classified as "bourgeois democrats". But democratic rights have tended to become the centre of their activity simply because it is the first obstacle which confronts them whichever way they turn, it is the total lack of these rights which inhibits their communication with wider sections of Soviet society, and severely limits the amount of reliable information which is available to them.

In discussing the Soviet dissident movement, there is one key question that must be answered: Who will gain, and likewise who will lose, from the struggle for real democracy in the Soviet Union and the other workers states?

Only the socialist cause can gain from a free discussion of the past (of the crimes of Stalinism and why they occurred), of the nature of the workers states today, and of the way forward in the future. Only the bureaucratic leaders of the workers states have a vested interest in stifling and repressing such a free flow of ideas. We only have to recall the events in Czechoslovakia during 1968, where one of the central demands to emerge was for "socialism with a human face", to sec who gains and who loses from such discussion and debate, especially once the working masses begin to participate in it.

Certainly, the capitalists do not gain from this movement, as Auld implies throughout his article. The capitalists gain, and indeed have already gained, from the repression of democratic rights in the workers states. Gleefully pointing at the crushing of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, as the bloody purges of the 1930s, at the exile of Solzhenitsyn, they are able to hypocritically moralise about "freedom" and "democratic liberties". You have only to talk to a few ordinary people in this society to understand just how well the capitalists have used such outrages in an attempt at inoculating people against the "evil" of socialism.

Auld's article has an interesting twist to it which warrants further investigation. While he attacks these first manifestations of a dissident movement in the Soviet Union, and offers no opposition to the exile of Solzhenitsyn, he nevertheless criticises some aspects of Soviet society. He points out for example, that a "privileged stratum" dominates this society, and that a process of "degeneration" has taken place. Typically, he cites the situation in China as a far more healthy alternative.

Why is this? For an answer to this we have only to look at the Moscow-Peking split.

For several decades Stalinism was a monolithic system not only within the Soviet Union, but it also totally dominated the international communist movement. Once again, there was one line: Moscow's. The communist parties Of the world became more than apologists for every policy and action of the Soviet leadership, from "justifying" Stalin's pact with Hitler in 1939, to "explaining" the Hungarian invasion of 1956. Those who disagreed or wavered along the way were expelled and had the usual venom heaped on them.

Therefore when differences developed in the world Stalinist movement — between Moscow and Peking — a split became inevitable. But with this split we see no fundamental transformations in this movement. It is now simply divided in two, with one side slavishly apologising for Moscow, the other for Peking. Instead of one Pope (Stalin), there are now two (Mao and Brezhnev).

By understanding this context, we can now see why Auld can criticise certain aspects of Soviet society. Just a few years ago he would have been accused of being a "capitalist agent" — or perhaps even a Trotskyist! — for casting the vaguest hints of critcism in that direction; today, the struggle between Moscow and Peking makes such attacks allowable.

But notice how Auld imposes certain limits on his criticism:
1)He refers to the "privileged stratum" in the Soviet Union, but does not care to cast his critical eye on a similar bureaucracy which exists in China.
2)He criticises certain aspects of the repression in the Soviet Union but refers to the crimes of Stalin (who obviously instituted some of the bloodiest repression of all time) as "alleged". The reason for this is that the Chinese leaders still uphold Stalin as a great revolutionary leader. Their criticisms of Moscow date back a very short time, to around the Kruschev period; before that, they knelt before the dictates of the Kremlin like all other Stalinists.
3)Auld attacks the current dissident movement in the Soviet Union in terms that are not dissimilar to those of the Soviet leaders. Why is this? You do not have to be very farsighted to see that the future growth of such a movement could very well precipitate some "unhealthy" developments within China itself. Such movements have a habit of flowing over national boundaries. And where will Auld stand when a similar movement begins to emerge in China? We can be confident the persons involved will have the usual epithets hurled at them — "capitalist agents", "fascists", etc.

It is safe to predict that this article will cause a how to go up in some quarters about "lining up with the capitalists". Auld has already set the pace in this regard through the manner in which he attacks Socialist Action's defence of Solzhenitsyn. This is simply a reflection of the Stalinist method of thinking which I described earlier: if you don't subscribe to the official line, then you can't be anything else but "pro-imperialist" and certainly not a socialist.

This method represents an implicit rejection of critical thought We see here people who attempt to make merciless criticisms of capitalist society, but then put blinkers on when it comes to the Soviet Union and China. Like a scientist who is also a devout Christian, these people seek a scientific analysis of capitalism, and then fall on their knees, like the faithful before the Vatican, whenever China or the Soviet Union comes up.

Revolutionaries have nothing to gain by adopting this semi-religious attitude. Marxism is based first and foremost on a thorough going objectivity, and a critical appraisal of all societies and regimes in the world. As soon as some people grasp this elementary fact, certain aspects of the socialist movement will be in a far more healthy state.

Peter Rotherham

page break

Witi is sorry for me

Tena koe,

I have been kicked around all my life by people like Roger Steele on one hand and Sir James Wattie on the other, people who want me to do what they want rather than what my heart tells me what I should do. But unlike Roger Steele (in his review of my book Tangi, Salient, March 6), at least the aim has been at my balls. I have never been kicked in the heart before.

It is not so much his criticism of my work that bothers me for at least he has the honesty to say his literary sensibility is dim. I quite agree.

What appalls me, however, is his Pakeha cynicism which leads him to suspect my motives (opportunism, cashing in on a few memories, stealing the thunder of other Maori writers etc), and the Pakeha arrogance to say that one is "invited" (his word not mine) to forget reality and politics when reading my work and that the class interests I serve are the middle and upper classes of society rather than the oppressed sections of the Maori people. Roger Steele should keep his White liberalism, attitudes and generalisations within his own European framework for man, he's way out.

His Pakeha attitude is also exposed in his putting down of my experience. Would you believe it, a Pakeha telling me that my experiences are "spurious"! His experiences may be different, so what! I am writing about my own and some of them are not as "quaint" as Roger Steele thinks them to be. I trust my own experience, I follow the dictates of my heart. No Pakeha or Maori, no Government, so-called "class interest'", pressure group or individual will tell me what to write about my own people. If others want to tell it the way they see it, fair enough. But like Sir Jamies, I'm sure not going to let Roger Steele patronise me (and why didn't he reprint my answer to Sir James at the "Book of the Year" ceremony?)

I just wonder what Roger Steele is trying to prove. Is he implying I am a "little brown boy"? (Man, I can shoot that implication down in flames!' Is he saying I am not for die Maori people? He certainly seems to be saying my experiences are wrong and his are right. And to give credence to his view, he has done a patch-up job to suggest I ignore racial contention (have I got news tor him!), a lack of sincerity and have suspect motives. His method is a tissue of insinuations which I find ominously hilarious.

I am committed to the Maori people and Maoritanga in a way Roger Steele could never understand. I have maintained this commitment despite all the kicks I've had going through the system (and acts of Pakeha ignorance as in Salient's misspelling of my name as Itimaera —Sir James couldn't pronounce it properly, Salient can't even spell it correctly which is "hard to ignore, eh"?). Roger Steele's kick to my heart and lack of understanding about the literary genre I wrote Tangi in (Maori traditional poetry) shows his comprehension of Maoritanga as being less than he makes it out to be, and more than anything else I am sorry for him.

Witi Ihimaera

[We spelt your name right fifteen times. Our proofreaders missed the sixteenth. I apologise for that. — Ed.

Hoist with our own petard

Dear Sir,

Anyone reading Salient can see quite clearly that you are left in your views, political, social and otherwise. But as workers in so many parts of the world have found to their sorrow, having leftists in places of influence or in charge of operations does not necessarily mean a better deal for the workers. Obviously the editor and the photographer of Salient consider themselves a cut above the "workers" (perhaps the two (gentle)men (?) in question don't work?) Under the heading of staff they list themselves on top of the list under their titles followed by a list of "Among the workers were" etc not even considering it worthwhile to mention the obvious others engaged in Salient's production. [Who? — Ed.]

Then you finish the whole sordid business by grizzling, and making public a nasty little dig at Patsy's non-cleaning of the office. Sad isn't it? However, I send you my

Kind regards

Ray Grosswain