Page 3, 15th November 1940

15th November 1940
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Page 3, 15th November 1940 — 7. L. BENVENISTI WRITES
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7. L. BENVENISTI WRITES

A Just International Order

Here is the preamble to the proposed " Chart of Human Value."

Since the purpose of every just war is to create a peace more perfect than existed at its outbreak, the formulation of the principles of such a peace is a necessary part of the prosecution of such a war, and since peoples must accept responsibility for the acts of governments which they either choose or endure, it is the duty of all men to concern themselves with this matter.

All durable peace must repose upon concord. But we believe that no concord is possible unless men subscribe to the doctrine commonly called " the equality of men." This means that the human family is one and that all belonging to it have, irrespective of race. colour, aptitude or even moral character, an absolute value which cannot be measured by any standard other than itself.

Man therefore having this value, it must be the end of all legislation and all economic activity to enable each man in every place to develop to the utmost his faculties and powers of perceptions and so attain his fullest possible stature.

I HAVE received a most interesting and valuable piece of criticism on the preamble. My critic raises two objections. He states first that in his opinion the governed are not responsible according to Catholic teaching for the acts of their governors. In theory he may be right, but it is extremely difficult in a modern state to say at what point culpable co-operation with an immoral and tyrannical government begins and when a definite duty of non-co-operation arises. Thus there are undoubtedly a great many Germans who have acquiesced with the greatest good humour in the bestial cruelties inflicted on the Jews. I think the cornmonsense of mankind would hold that such people did in a very considerable measure share in the responsibility for such acts. But since possible exception might be taken to the present wording I suggest that it be amended to read, " since peoples tend to be held responsible for the acts of governments . . . it is expedient for all men to concern themselves with this matter."

My critic's second objection is worded as follows: "Equality is not the princip?e of con

cord and peace, as one sees by considering that the damned have equality but are not in concord. Peace depends upon love. Love is the principle of unity and it is no use looking elsewhere for a basis of peace. We shall have peace when we love one another and not till then."

What my critic says here is obviously sound and I would not dream of denying it, but I have not said that a recognition of universal human equality would automatically bring peace, but merely that no concord is possible without it. This recognition of equality is surely the indispensable intellectual sub-structure for fraternal love. I do not see how in such a declaration as this we can go very much further than I have gone and for the present at any rate I

wording. wording. disinclined to amend the existing word. It was my intention to bring in something about the duty of work when formulating the right to work. It has, however, limn pointed out to me that its proper place is in the passage dealing with the right to subsistence and I think I agree. I shall publish the draft formulation of this latter right in my notes next week. May I again stress how anxious I am to receive criticism and my readiness to make use of any suggestions that I receive.




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