THE COMING REVOLUTION
Our Concrete Task As Soon As The War Ends
What Peace Aims Really Involve
IBy Michael de la Bedoyere I AT this stage of the war one must seriously ask oneself whether the most effective Christian contribution to the national effort consists in limiting oneself to echoing the sentiments of the Ministry of Information, with moral theology and pious sentiments attached, or going all out to remind our countrymen of the only solid basis upon which Britain can recover her health, material as well as spiritual.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO US THERE are some people who consider that to concentrate to-day on A principles of social reconstruction is to distract attention from the imperative necessities of the war-effort. But have they considered the meaning and end of the war? We are fighting, not to destroy, but to re-build. Our very war-effort, on the home-front and in the field of propaganda abroad, depends at every point upon human beings, intensely aware of the disorder and inhumanity of the past and desperate about the 'future. Tanks, aeroplanes, warships, money, bigger and better bombs. all these things are unfortunately needed and needed immediately, but they will not save us or anyone else from disasters more hideous even than the war unless they are harnessed to a moral will that has reason to hope.
To confine our spiritual and moral interest to the justice of our cause, temporarily buttressing up our emotions with the negative sentiment of hatred and revenge, can become a positive weakness : indeed it is our weakness. Hitler knows human nature better. He knows that men look to the future, not to the past, that in the long run they judge of moral worth by ends, and not by casuistry, however correct. He knows. therefore, that even if he has not got a good case, he can easily make up for the lack of it by inventing a positive cause, the cause which he calls the " New Order." On the " New Order "which is not so much of a fiction as some of our propagandists say, seeing that it is built up on the view that money, trade, the instruments of production, ideas, diplomacy, religion, should be consciously applied by the intelligent power of the super-State to the social welfare of the individual—he has run an external propaganda that has gained millions of adherents to the traditionally unpopular and brutal German rule. It has been a remarkable achievement, and it constitutes by far the greatest challenge of the war to the democracies, who apparently stick to the view that money, trade, the instruments of production, ideas, diplomacy, and religion are irresponsibly owned and irresponsibly usable counters in a free-fight as well among nations as among individuals.
EUROPE AFTER THE WAR LET us be quite clear that, so long as our mood does not change, even the winning of the war will avail ourselves and the rest of the world little. There is every reason to suppose that we shall win. We shall win for two reasons. First, because the peak of our military and economic effort is coming later than Hitler's. Virtually at war for ten years, his human material and his immense organisation are showing signs of running-down. He has failed in the " Blitzkrieg " on which he openly relied, and in desperation has begun to involve himself in ever wider commitments that no power organised by fallible and tiring men could see through. Secondly. his " New Order," which is nothing but a super-German socialism for the whole world, will come to taste less and less sweet even in the mouths of those who admired it most. Here, again, the failure to establish his power rapidly enough will involve him in a steadily increasing loss of moral authority among the peoples of Europe.
All this makes a pleasant picture to look upon, but if we confine out attention to it, we shall be in for a rude awakening. Soberly and honestly considered, what will our second victory mean? In the first place it will mean a military occupation of most of Europe. That in any case is inevitable. Europe will be on the edge of starvation. Most of her capital resources will be deprived of raw materials and. in any case, adapted to the needs of war. The vast majority of her people will be bewildered. lost, their artificial morale broken down, utterly uncertain of the future, not knowing where to look for leadership. In a condition of virtual social anarchy, the people will become the prey of dozens of criminal conspiracies and revolutions that no military occupation and no repatriated democratic governments will be able to control. And consider our own state. Our dependence on the United States and the bounty of our Dominions will be complete. We shall not he able to purchase a pin independently. All our foreign resources will have been used up, and it will take months to restore any profitable export trade, which itself can only be restarted by immense foreign loans and gifts. And this leaves out of account the very real danger of domestic social troubles. whose first effect, at any rate, must necessarily be to retard recovery and increase distress. And it will be our job. while in such a state, to restore order, peace and prosperity to a Europe in a virtual state of anarchy.
WORK TO BEGIN NOW WHAT is the use of pointing all this out, it may be objected. It cannot be helped, and the choice is between such possible troubles and the certainty of the virtual enslavement of the country to Hitler's designs. It may readily be admitted that the peace will bring problems compared with which the problems of war are simple. But surely we can, at least, ask ourselves, here and now, what is the real nature and scope of the tasks that will face us after the war. and prepare ourselves accordingly. The more so in that the working out of such plans now will actually present us with what we most of all need to hasten the ending of the war, namely, concrete and positive peace aims. In the first place, it is imperative that our own people, the people of America and the people of Europe, should be made aware by our propaganda that we fully realise the nature of the post-war difficulties. So long as we continue to shirk this question, we keep millions in Europe with a vested interest in the order, however unpleasant, which Hitler would maintain, we feed the isolationists in America who are content to see Europe stew in her own juice, and we ourselves are left living in a world of mirage that must seem hopeless to any intelligent person on the Continent. Since it is absolutely obvious that if the post-war Europe is to be saved at all, it must be saved by the help of America, now is the time to initiate concrete and practical discussions with America. America, moreover, so long as she is not actually involved in the war, is in a position to help us through her diplomatic relations with enemy countries and her citizens in those countries. She can advise us about the real state of opinion in enemy or enemy-occupied countries, the real worth of present leaders, the best chance of helping the formation of stable governments that will command sufficient confidence; and she can powerfully assist us in making known to those countries our hopes. In all this we can be helped by other important neutral countries, like Switzerland, Portugal and even Spain. And perhaps we could get the most important help of all from the Holy See, where every sincere effort to make a just peace and maintain European order will receive all possible help and the most experienced and disinterested advice.
THE MONEY POWER BUT such preparations, vitally necessary as they are, only touch the fringe of the real problem. The real problem is whether we can think out, accept and put over positive principles of reconstruction. And in this respect, we suggest, the real enemy is to be found among those of our own democratic household, not least in America itself. Until the representative governments of Great Britain, America and the Dominions can secure full control over the " money power " we shall effect nothing substantial. Let us not misunderstand the meaning of the " money power " in this connection. Let us rid our minds of bogies in the shape of sinister men in top-hats rigging markets, selling armaments to the enemy, and throwing good food into the sea with a cry of triumph.
What we mean by the " money power " is the control of capital and credit—both of which include the hands, brains and often souls of men—with a view to drawing from them a rapid and high return in terms of money. Consider how this power has worked in a concrete instance. Money, that is, a claim on the hands and brains of men and what they produced in the past, awaits investment, that is, increase or a yearly return on itself. Vast territories of the world remain what is called unexploited, that is, not bringing a regular ten per cent. or so to those who possess money. What happens? Money buys up these territories for a song. Money harnesses the resources of science to find the quickest means of obtaining sellable produce from those lands. Money sees to it that an immense demand for such produce is created. And the result? An army bears down on these territories, sucks them dry. regardless either of the future or the age-long traditions of husbandry. High profits are made, thousands of commissions paid out, the land is turned to dust, its people reduced to virtual slavery. Who is responsible? No one single person, but a whole generation of men, all of whom, in ways big or small, are fighting together to secure their own return out of an act of mass greed and vandalism. That is an example of " money power." And . if we imagine a whole civilization seeking with a minimum of control to exploit land, natural resources, inventions, and men themselves, in the interests of monetary profit, with the result that a few succeed in holding the many in bondage and all together rebel against the ancient laws of God and nature that were designed to preserve the life and health of the whole person. then we begin to have an idea of the meaning of the " money power."
PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT THE war is one of the results of this vast competition and vandalism, and the peace which will follow it will exact the full payment that has been deferred by the artificial stimulus of war wherein the " money power " philosophy reaches the supreme absurdity of trying to extract tribute from sheer destruction itself. It follows that the only conceivable way of restoring a semblance of order is by a general return to a natural economy directed towards the service and welfare of the individual as an independent human being, the natural agent of the production of real basic wealth yielded by the proper use of land and raw materials. And since such a conception is flatly opposed to every value upon which recent generations have been brought up, the change-over can only be made by a wise, firm and fundamentally Christian authoritarianism.
To realise the truth of this we have but to consider the part which America will have to play. Unless she is content to see Europe collapse into anarchy, she must furnish the essential capital that has been wasted during the war. She has a right to do so—under conditions. If they are the " money power " conditions, she will exact a tribute in the shape of the industrial service of the American " moneypower " which will mean sowing the seeds of another and even greater war, even more remote from the moral values to which we pay lipservice to-day. But if the conditions are that the wealth be used for the creation of a natural economic system serving the social and economic rights and duties of the independent individual within an ordered society that seeks natural and not artificial values, then Europe may breathe again for the first time in two hundred years.
Frankly, we know only one man big enough to see this and to wield the required authority : it is President Roosevelt. It may be a remote hope, but it is the only one. And if Britain is going to win the peace and hasten its advent, it must prepare the ground here and now, in conjunction with the President, for the great constructive revolution which alone can stem the onrush of-a destructive one, the like of which the world has never witnessed.