CAN any thinking person avoid a sense of great frustration as he follows the daily newspaper accounts of the defence of the West ? While in one column of his newspaper he will read that 176 million dollars in American loan services have been gratuitously added as a political gesture to the last quarter's already gigantic British deficit, while the Prime Minister goes to America to see if he can get more help, in another he will read about the pre-electoral situation in America which makes it virtually impossible for any American leader to tackle the international situation on its real merits for nearly a whole year. And as his eye moves to another column, he will learn that an attempt by the French Government to tackle the problems of national economy for the general good has led to its downfall. None of these items of news make sense in terms of the common need,
These are just one day's crop of news items, and they follow on dozens of other squabbles and contradictions and non-productive meetings and conferences over N.A.T.O., the European Army, the dangers and yet needs of German rearmament, the Schuman Plan, European federation or confederation, and the rest. Common plans, common values, common ideals would quickly solve each of these insolubles.
The moral is surely that democracy today is in question as never before. It is simply not working out.
THE democratic ideal to which the vast majority of the people in theory subscribe and indeed in defence of which we are struggling with the forces of totalitarianism is that men and women should
be human beings who voluntarily work together for a common good which expresses common aspirations and common needs. This means that individuals, parties and nations can be real agents in the determination of common policies and therefore also real critics of policy itself and the way it is carried out.
But it is fantastic to suppose that the thinking out, planning and execution of common policy can ever be the product of millions of different clashing views taken individually, through party or through national interests. Policy must come from chosen leaders committed to work within a moral and traditional law which all accept. What is happening now? The individual's main interest in
political affairs is simply to better his own economic and social position at the expense, if necessary, of others. The party's main interest is to defend at all costs the economic and social position
of the individuals who can be persuaded to support it. And the nation's main interest is to make sure that whoever else suffers the
individuals who belong to that nation will suffer on the whole less than others. And to ensure all these aims policy making is in the hands of professional politicians who calculate to a nicety exactly what is needed to give them the best chance of securing the votes they need in order to remain in power.
Thus it is that in each country electoral promises bear little or no relation to government action when no election is in the offing, and that government action bears no relation to national or inter
national need when an election is due. Thus it is that only a common fear will bring nations together when any national cost iS involved. Thus it is that the common good, whether national or individual, is never a positive working ideal and that the moral law is freely disregarded except when it can be sentimentally used in order to Make a national or party point against others.
AT the moment the practical problems facing the free West arc not in themselves difficult.
The West possesses enormous potential strength, military, industrial, economic, social, By general agreement to put that strength to common use, and meanwhile to make the relatively small individual, party and national sacrifices needed—these things would in a very few months bring prosperity and overwhelming strength.
Such prosperity and strength having been achieved, the free ' world could use them, not to fight the Soviet aggressor, but to underline its appeal and propaganda strength in two ways; first, to demonstrate how prosperity can be equitably shared and put to the best human use within a free world, and, second, to help the underdeveloped countries of the world, at present subject to lying Soviet propaganda and action, to build themselves tip as equally prosperous, equally strong, equally fair, and equally free peoples.
On paper, a wise Western dictator could quickly accomplish such a programme, because the means really do exist.
In practice, of course he could not, because great power always corrupts.
That is why democracy is the right answer. But it must he a democracy that works, a democracy which springs from the true idealism of the individual, not his sordid, petty selfishness, however much camouflaged to look like socialism or patriotism or internationalism or even Christianity.
The ideal of Western democracy sprang from the spiritual values brought into the world by the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. Those spiritual values have for the most part been lost—and lost in part by the followers of Christ Himself.
Their restoration is the key to the world situation as never before. The day when Catholics and other Christians begin to understand
1 that truth will be the day when our world can begin again to climb the road of civilisation as it was climbed during .the first 1,200 years of the Christian era.