Page 8, 23rd April 1937

23rd April 1937
Page 8
Page 8, 23rd April 1937 — Things New And Old

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Organisations: Communist party
Locations: Moscow


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Things New And Old

Why Anti-God ?

Prom a Correspondent The bulk of professedly Communist writing is notoriously tedious. But those whose business it is to read it are aware that every now and then there flashes out something more intelligible, more human and sometimes even heroic. Here are some examples of what 1 mean.

A selection of Radek's articles in the offi. cial press has been translated into English. It contains a eulogy of Stalin. Now, Radck's recantations during his recent trial were by no means the first. He had been associated with Trotsky as long ago as 1926 and 1927 in the struggle against the power and policies of Stalin that ended in Trotsky's overthrow, and afterwards declared his conversion to Stalinism and his eulogy was the sequel. The editor, anticipating criticism, • explains that to the convinced Communist politics are a science in which particular positions arc capable of proof and disproof, so that to apply such terms

" repentance " to the admissions of error found in Radek's article or in public trials is as absurd as it would be in the case, say, of a physiologist who had become convinced by further evidence and reflection that some physiological opinion he had previously held was untenable.

In so far as that is true it is very illuminating.

Philosophers and Heroes?

Not long after reading this I dipped into a book entitled In Search of History by an American journalist and read his account of his experiences among the Chinese Communists and their foreign sympathisers and advisers. 1 noted particularly two things in his very sympathetic account of them.

One was that the elite among them impressed him with the long view they took of contemporary events, which they viewed in the light of a whole philosophy of history. The other was the heroic capacity for suffering and risking suffering shown especially by the Chinese Communists.

And now in reading Maurice Hindu's novel Under Moscow Skies I am struck by the plausibility with which one or two of the Communist party members are represented as clear-eyed, generous men wholly wrapped up in an intelligently conceived ideal.

Philosophies that Unify I am bound to say that the Communist intellectuals I have met have hot impressed me so favourably. Except in the case of the very yoong there has •always been something in their eyes that has suggested a lack of ultimate sincerity and peace of mind. At the same time I would not deny the possibility of a man being so cornpletely dominated by the Communist ideal in its more positive aspect as to have all his mind and activities unified by it for a while.

After all, as Julius Hecker, of Moscow, said on one occasion when he and I had in turn addressed a conference on Christianity and Communism and we were both taking part in an informal discussion between the meetings: " Our Roman Catholic friend there, he has his complete philosophy of life, and I as a Communist have my complete philosophy of life. We have that in common."

And this unification by a self-contained philosophy with a definite objective does for one man what the passion for money does for others. It cuts out irrelevant interests so that he can almost be called selfless and brings about a concentration of will that makes him almost irresistible.

Limitations of Materialism

But there is only one philosophy of life that is really complete and self-contained. All the others fail by two tests. Objectively they set before a man an ideal that cannot be realised and subjectively they fail to satisfy fully the needs of the human heart. In the end one or both of these truths must be forced upon the man who lives by one of these philosophies.

The man wholly devoted to money throws himself so strenuously into external activities to obtain it that he can sometimes stave off the realisation of these truths till the time comes for him to die and he finds that he cannot take his money with him. But the Communist intellectual, both from his own nature and from the abstract character of his philosophy, will be more introspective and self-critical. He will not need the approach of death to force upon him at least intermittent glimpses of the fact that his materialistic utopia will not work and, even in so far as it does work, does not bring him lasting inner peace.

Memories of Atheism

I was never a Communist and was always too radically sceptical to be Wholly dominated by any ideal for more than the briefest spell, but I had my share of the bitterness that comes from discovering that one has fixed all one's mind and will upon an impermanent and insufficient objective and have experienced the intensification of one's atheism that follows it.

It follows because the kind of man I have been picturing will not be satisfied until his will is fixed irrevocably in an immoveable and indestructible object. In the last resort he will have to make his choice in terms of God. If he can surrender to God and love Him he can become fixed in that love eternally. If his pride will not allow him to do this his will can become fixed in unending hatred and revolt. No one in hell asks God for annihilation.

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