Page 4, 11th May 1945

11th May 1945
Page 4
Page 4, 11th May 1945 — THE MEANING OF VICTORY

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WE continue to use the old word " victory," but its meaning has greatly changed. In one sense victory means more than it has meant since the days of primitive history; in another, less than it has ever meant before. Never since a civilised European, order was established has victory so obviously meant relief from the immediate

perils of war. Modern war endangers every person and profoundly affects his whole way of life; and in regard to the sanctions of defeat, we haVe reverted to the days of barbarism, when entire nations were taken in captivity

and slavery. Because of this victory has become something far more real and far more important than the series of military and political successes which mark world history. By comparison many of these were scarcely more than results of military tournaments or stakes in a political game played by a minority of experts and gamblers. On the other hand, modern victory oilers a far weaker guarantee than ever before that any peace worth

the name will result from it. The forces released by modern war are such that any stillness. however Magnetic and however welcome, can only be anti-, ficial. The task of taming such forces, or even of preventing them from breaking out in even greater fury, must be as strenuous and scarcely less perilous than was the war itself.

And men are very conscious of this great change. Despite the outdated language of statesmen and the excitements of a sensational press, the ordinary man is living in a strange world in which deep relief that war is over and won contrasts with his sense that all kinds of perils and uncertainties lie ahead. To some extent this tension is accounted for by the continuation of the war in the Far East—and that is the politicians' excuse—but the reason goes deeper than that, and the phenomenon, we are convinced, would have expressed itself even if the war had been finally ended. '

Alter the last war there was a tremendous outburst of optimism and hope, and men were persuaded that that victory differed from previous ones in that peace for all time was guaranteed. How incredibly mistaken that view was is .shown by the fact that it is common now to consider this war as the second phase of the first—the duration of war as a whole being over thirty years. The whole question to-day is whether it is pence at last or the opening of a third phase. No wonder victory to-day for all the relief and happiness it must bring is widely considered a mixed emotion.

Our Blessings

wrru so many and such very ob

viously bad signs, it is well worth white for once to count our blessings— and indeed we believe that in many ways thc prospects are' fundamentally better than they were in 1918. Since that date the modern world has passed from inexperience to experience. The last war for all its horrors and all its lessons did not make a real break in the prevalent philosophy of the secularist West that human progress was inevitable and that man, emanci

pated from the superstititions and ignorauces of the past, had only to be himself to achieve a terrestrial paradise. The war itself was construed as a sort of gigantic bonfire destroying once and for all the debris of a bad history. With its ending therefore came the virtual certainty of peace on earth to men now necessarily men of goodwill.

That belief has been shattered for all who live in the world to-day. We all know that the achieving of peace must be a hard, uncomfortable and perilous task. And even if there is little idea of how the job is to he tackled and fundamental misconceptions about the real causes of war, this new realism is the beginning of wisdom.

A second lesson, already partially learnt but sorely now rammed home, is that war itself so far from bcing a solution to any problem only aggravates it. That was a lesson learnt from the last war, and it was well learnt. There is some exaggeration in the common view that this war was inevitable. On the contrary the deep sense that another war might finish civilisation did very nearly prevent the outbreak of this one. Ti was only because of the inability of statesmen and people on both sides to rise to a level where the tensions could be eased and of the reckless irresponsibility of new and untamed men that in the end war had to break out in defiance of the conscience of the world. To-day there is reason en hope that the conscience of the world against war may prove decisivee the more so in that there is much less naive faith in a monopoly of virtue in democracy and liberalism. In a strange way, the very dangers that emanate from the triumph of a Power So totally alien from the ideals of the AngloSaxon world are to sonic extent offset by the greater flexibility and tolerance that must result from so improbable an alliance. A third blessing (which of course carries its own immense dangers) is the heightened sense that the well-being'of each and every person mutters: Here the increasingly powerful ideology of the Left, in all its manifestations, meets the teaching of Christianity so that the Pope himself can honestly rejoice at developments about which he at the same time gives added warnings. With the increasing power of the State there does go an increasing conviction that society and administration and money exist for the good of the person. Again it is a paradoxical position. but it must not be taken for granted that our contemporary experiments in totalitarianism are necessarily going to enslave man.

In all this there is matter for heartsearching and genuine experiment, for patience and tolerance. above all for learning again something of the secrets of the human person, created by the Infinite God—heart-searching, we repeat, full of danger, but also full of hope. In every way this is better than the bourgeois superficial, almost animal. dawnism which ushered in the last deceptive peace.

Birth Rate Rise

MOT by any means unrelated to what has been said above is the remarkable fact that in-practically every country, whether victor, vanquished or neutral. there has through , the war been a marked rise of the birth-rate. This is in sharp contrast with the experience of the last war. Such news as this is still relegated to back pages of papers, but it may be more important than victory itself, for it may be the sign of a reel change in mankind as a whole towards, the fundamental problems of life. The only plausible explanation offered for this widespread change is that men have biologically welcomed the closer ordering of social life which has been the inevitable concomitant of war whether in belligerent or neutral countries. If this is the explanation it may throw a flood of light on many of the most vexed psychological and social problems. An the explanation is by no means inconsistent with Christian teaching. We live for God througb society. The injury done by the modern heresy of individualism may be even greater than we suspect. It is the supremely selfish philosophy. And it would not be absurd to see thc beginnings of the remedy in a violent swing away from individualism towards social totalitarianism. The time may come when men will find through experiment where a middle way lies—a middle way much nearer to Christian doctrine than anything Europe has known since the Reformation.


EPORTS from the San Francisco Conference make it clear that a profound change has come over our way of looking at international problems. As an example, we might quote the latest dispatch of Reynolds News Correspondent. Declaring that " the people of Europe at least arc in the process of taking a decisive move to the left," he goes on to say: "But that is not evident here. What is clear here is that the United States has taken a decisive step to the right and in the Argentine affair, at least, we went with them." This language (and it is becoming increasingly common among commentators) is quite different from that of the old diplomacy. Those ranged against each other in the past were nations as nations. The balance of power was struck irrespective of the political and social creed professed -by those concerned. A monarchical Germany and a republican France faced each other at the peace conference without reference to their constitutions. Even the five-year-old Soviet Government could sign a Treaty of Friendship at Rapallo with a Germany governed by a coalition regime. Such treaties arc signed to-day, but more rarely. The decisive factor on which, international alliances depend is that of ideology. The great obstacle at San Francisco is of this character.

. Under the circumstances. American and British diplomacy and that of the nations belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations is in a particularly advantageous and responpible position. The spirit 'of political and social compromise prevailing in these communi

ties constitutes them an international Centre Party capable, if its counsels are heard, of effecting some sort of settlement. In the matter of the Polish frontiers, they have already shown a temper which, whether wise in the long run or no, was at least accommodating. Such settlements are perhaps the best for which we can look. It is therefore to be greatly hoped that this group of nations will be able to put their point of view forcibly and thus stave off what otherwise must be a fatal ideological conflict.

TRANSPORT t WORKERS' STRIKE THE unauthorised strike of bus and tram employees which, spreading rapidly, •threatened ''to

cause serious dislocation in the London

area, has come to an cod. This dispute, which was said to be concerned with the new Summer Service, has, however, a significance beyond the intmediete occasion. Relaxation when things have been going well with us or even when exaggerated newspaper accounts represented them as going well, has been a common phenomenon. On the other hand, crises such as that which followed the Dunkirk disaster provoked efforts that might well be described as heroic. One would expect therefore that the news of successive enemy surrenders and the prospect of speedy and complete victory would produce a mood in which grievances, whether justified or not, would lead easily to such action as that of the Transport workers. If this be a correct reading of the situation, we may expect a good deal of industrial unrest. Not unnaturally those who have been for over five years under a heavy strain, now that the job has been done and well done, will feel that they have earned a rest. The change Over from war to peace will introduce numerous factors which will contribute to this holiday mood. We all know that the call on labour during the period of reconstruction will be scarcely less imperative than it has been during the war. The occasion for putting our shoulders to the wheel will he, 'however, less spectacular and therefore less exciting. It will be a constructive rather than a destructive effort to which we shall have to apply ourselves. and this has not the same popular appeal as that provided by the obligation to bring the war to a successful conclusion, The spirit of industry, in fact, will be tested as never before. 'this, however, makes it all the more necessary to respect the psychological demand for relaxation. We shall work all the better if, for awhile, easier conditions arc permitted. Now is the time when the voice of the industrial psychologist should be heard. Otherwise, those who exploit labour grievances will have it all their own way.

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