[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—It was interesting to
see the defeatist attitude of the VIth Voice of Under Thirty expressed so strikingly.
From my experience of undergraduate life those around me can fairly easily be divided into two classes. Those who are religious and those who are not. By those who are religious I refer to all who are enthusiastically engaged in attempting to ameliorate the world in which they live. Under this heading come Communists, Socialists, members of the Student Christian Movement and of numerous other organisations. Indeed, some of our Communists have the deadly earnestness of fanatics—a thing more often associated with religious wars. All these, however, to a greater or lesser degree feel some responsibility for their fellow men.
There are also those who are not religious. They are those whose attitude is one of apparent disillusionment and selfish apathy. They are easy-going and complacent, but mostly extremely affable. Unlike the writer of the sixth article, they do not attempt to formulate their opinions. They-only make futile remarks about the fundamental weakness of human nature (their own of course).
Above all I would strongly oppose the writer's view that it is impossible honestly to face the evils in the world and still remain cheerful. It is remarkable that those who make it their definite aim to study social and political and economic conditions are far more hopeful than those who do not. Merely to sit tight and express horror at the world situation is typical of the person who is superficially acquainted with the real problems. Those engaged in social work in slum areas find more encourage- ment and real pleasure than does the self-centred person whose understanding of his neighbour's condition is confined to occasional enforced sessions in a railway compartment squeezed in a seething mass of vulgar humanity.
It is a disgrace to Oxford that she should spread abroad cynics superficially enough educated to see the evil of the world, yet unwilling to trust the resources of human nature far enough to solve these problems.
Lord Nuffield has shown that Oxford must provide the will and the way necessary for solving our problems by his new foundation. What else is a university for ?—I am, Sir, yours