Page 4, 10th December 1943

10th December 1943
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Page 4, 10th December 1943 — A SANE VOICE IN A MAD WORLD
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A SANE VOICE IN A MAD WORLD

THE publication of General

Smuts' great speech, "Thoughts on the New World," was in strik ing (and in many ways consoling) contrast to the international conferences which have filled the world's headlines. It would be hard to imagine two more different

types of approach to the problems that face us. At the feet of the Pyramids and in Persia's capital the "big men " devoted themselves for the most part to the problems of

war. That. of course, was their first busioess. For the rest we may chari tably trust that their tirst concern was propaganda. Indeed from Teheran there was no attempt to reveal any interest in the shape of the world to come save in the most general and

meaningless propositions. And we can still hope at least that the more detailed disclosure of the proposed lines of a Pacific settlement had for it sole purpose the allaying of misgivings among the ruder politicians of America. To he content to view the complexities of the Far East solely in terms of the stripping from Japan of all that she has acquired in the last fifty years would betray so childish and primitive a mentality that we might well despair once and

for all of the whole future We refuse to believe that matters can be as bad as that! We have no sort of affectibn for Japan and we believe that her industrial imperialism (in many respects, we must admit. modelled on British history in the 18th and 19th centuries) is a menace. But neither in equity nor in commonsense can one found peace and order On the mere destruction of fifty years of history. The Pacific settlement needs the active co-operation of the eighty or ninety millions of go-ahead. Industrious and inventive Japanese. and no settlement can be final which does not discover the means of enlisting this race in the common task of peaceful development and recon struction. The present declaration merely condemns to poverty and sub-humanity an active and restless people and is utterly incompatible with the professions of the United Nations, let alone with the Christian ideals put forward by the Pope. We refuse to take it as more than propaganda.

No Peace Conference EVEN were all this not obvious in

itself, the study of General Smuts' speech would proclaim it, even though the Far East did not come within his purview. The key to his mind is to be found in the words: "We are facing to-day probably the most perplexing, complicated human situation that has confronted the world for many generations, and anybody who thinks he has a panacea at his command to deal with these problems must be either sub-human or super-human," and again: "I am myself doubtful whether we shall ever come to a peace conference at all at the end of this war. It may be that we shall be faced with questions so vast, so complicated, so difficult and intractable. that in tile end we shall have to be satisfied with making a pretty comprehensive armistice dealing with the general military question of ending the war, and leave the rest of the problems to a long series of conferences, to a long process of working out solutions without comIng to any general peace conference at all." Only in such an attitude of mind can there possibly be any hope at all for civilisation. Matters have gone much too far to allow for any thinking in terms of mere frontier delimitations, commercial treaties, changing of political regimes, still less of primitive notions of retaliation and punishment as between the masses of human beings which con stitute nations. Only one outlook can save us, and that is a readiness for a common effort to think through these appearances to the underlying realities of moral principles, politieal forces, and industrial and economic organisation, all of these in terms of the moral and material welfare of the human being, be he white, yellow' or black, be he rich or poor, highlyeducated or uneducated.

Power and ,Christlanity nENERAL Smuts in thus posing the true state of the problem weakens the force of his own more detailed propositions which, in his own confession. .are no more than "C rtain lines of thought." Each of them is worth a hundred times more consideration than anything that has emanated from the " big men " so far But it would be as well. to indicalat once some obvious weaknesses.

General rightly emphasises the problem of power and he declares that the League failed through a neglect of this problem. It is only too true that power (or, better, brute force) is to-day a paramount consideration. But we believe that history will show that the reemergence of brute force after the last war was not due to the failure of the League to allow for it, but to the failure of the League to deal with the iniustices, grievances and maladjustments which sowed the seeds of brute force and gave them a rich soil in which to mature. To-day brute force is in the ascendant, and it will remain in the ascendant even though each of the Axis Powers is completely defeated,. so catching is the

di case 1 But surely we must not reconcile ourselves to the idea that brute force will remain for ever a faotor of equal importance with the ideals of freedom and democracy. That is a counsel of despair and a surrender to the idea of perpetual war. Our only path must be the path that will in the end transcend the factor of power and brute force.

Next. General Smuts, whose speech was in very " Protestant " mood. failed altogether to allow for the balancing force of Latin culture which still holds .. ithin it the richest nheritar..e of Christendom. Equally he failed to allow for the beneficen, influence of the Church itself which. while it carries over to all nations, lt especially marked and especially ikelyOo prove fruitful in the difficult countries of Southern and Central Europe. The General's fears of lack of balance through the likely continental preponderance of the Russian Colossus were not left to the reader's imagination. Yet in the long run both the question of brute force in general (referred to above) and the potential danger of totalitarian Rut, sia canr...t be solved without the active help of those spiritual principles for which to-day the Church alone stands without shadow or

cernpromise. General Smuts' new world, however long it may take to think out and construct, will never be well founded if it is not built on the rock of Catholic Christianity:

THE HOPE OF U.N.R.R.A.

f 14 illustration of the constructive A mood of General Smuts' outlook and in happy distinction from the negative outlook which (so far as the public has been allowed to know) has characterised the international CC . ferences, comes the first meeting of the Council of U.N.R.R.A. In the constitution of U.N.R.R.A, we have without doubt the most hopeful international initiative which the war has produced. And it is no accident that this international body .has come into existence, not in response to power politics or abstract Atlantic Charters or international juridical ideals, but in response to an Overwhelming human need. The war has destroyed the normal means of elementary life for millions. That for the moment is its clearest achievement. U.N.R.RA. is the practical answer. if we still claim to be human at all, we have got to put every other consideration aside in order to devote ourselves first to restoring to the millions the means of life itself. If there is any sort of consolation to be derived from this cataclysm it is precisely in its having forced us somewhere to get down to rock-bottom and to find the ways and means of giving physical aid to the people of the world instead of moral, philosophical and political platitudes, designed to cover national and personal ambitions. And there is some hope that U.N.R.R.A. by virtue of the immediacy and concreteness of its task will be forced to take on a character adapted to meet wider and wider needs. For at bottom the problem of to-day is a problem of first-aid to the millions who have been deceived by nationalism, politics and ideologies. It is a problem of first-aid in every respect of human life. spiritual. moral, social, cultural, economic. U.N.R,R.A. may yet set a precedent that will save us in spite of the politicians.

THE REAL REVOLUTION

nNE must briefly note that Mr.

Bevires decision to conscript for the mines by ballot is probably the most revolutionary step that has yet been taken in this country towards a new social order. High taxation, Socialism, wartime powers of labour direction and conscription. all these fall short of the starkness of the present step, by which any Etonian is liable to spend a number of years working as a common miner in a field of industry traditionally re

garded as most cut-off from ordinary labour and still more from anything touching middle and upper class life. Some form of evasion or softening of the blow has been possible in every other step abolishing class distinction. But it is hard to see how anything can relieve the picture of the young and hopeful gentleman ebaerttahk.ing himself to the dirt, grime and roughness of a mining village and digging in the bowels of the What is involved in this we need not enquire, nor whether it is ultimately a good or bad thing, The most interesting point about it is that it has come about, not from ideological pressure, but as a social necessity of war. In so far, it is thoroughly in our evolutionary tradition.

THE POPULATION . ENQUIRY

THE decision to appoint a Royal Commission, under the chairmanship of Lord Simon, to examine present population trends in Great Britain is a response to a great deal of publicity on the subject.

A Memorandum on this question was furnished in January, 1039. The statistics of this document, however, were not compiled with a view. to dealing with the birthrate. During the debate which took place in the Commons on July 16 of the present year, the Minister of Health explained the circumstances under which it was produced. It was the result, he told the House, of a request from Sir Montague Barlow, who had been charged to report on the geographical distribution of population in relation to industry. For this reason, its findings will prove of little service in the enquiry now to be started. The Commons debate elicited a number of impressive speeches and revealed on the part of certain members a just appreciation of the critical nature of the problem. We refer in particular to the speeches of the late Sir F. Fremantle and Mr.. Sorensen. We recall. too, Group-Captain Wright's declaration that " our whole policy in the past might have been designed specifically to destroy family life " and the assertion of the same speaker that " we must change our whole outlook towards thc family." We hope that one at least of the members of. the Royal Commission will be in a position to stress the importance and force of the orthodox traditional Christian moral teaching that is highly relevant to the subject matter. And though there are (happily) still many outside the Catholic Church competent to do this, a Catholic member, fully trained in moral philosophy and theology, would be the best guarantee.




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