By Michael de la Bedoyere
THE later stages of the election campaign were redeemed from superficiality by Mr. Churchill's reminder to the electorate that everything the parties promised to the people must in the end depend on solving the problem of peace. By suggesting the possibility of highest-level talks with Stalin, Mr. Churchill got matters into some sort of real focus again.
It is indeed quite obvious that until we succeed in building a bridge with Russia, all our activities are of the nature of digging a pit into which sooner or later we shall all fall. This is common sense. not appeasement. Ham tun:lie-4, it can be only too easily misunderstood, Indeed it is almost universally misunderstood, as much by the " tough," who see no hope except in winning a neverending armaments race. as by the appeasers who imagine that Communist Russia can he got to respond to our present Westein values.
The extraordinary thing is really that the West, which professes to be lieve in a Christian-founded idealism, has allowed itself to be jockied into the position of. having nothing to offer Communism but its superiority in material wealth and, consequently. effective military strength. When we look at it this way, is it so surprising that Soviet Russia only responds with " No I No ! No ", while ever on the outlook for a chance of cashing in on our insincere professions of goodwill.
The Communist Logic
THE reason is simple enough, Soviet Russia conceives herself to be imposing on the world a new order. This new order at least corresponds to some extent with contemporary technical development, Modern technical progress depends on centralisation, effective authority and laege units. At the same time, the contemporary conscience demands a " new deal" for the masses. Put these Iwo things together, and one can begin ta understand the logic of Communism, even Soviet Communism. The totalitarian rulers plan and enforcc an economy in which man, in exchange for security of work and status, yields his personality to the State and becomes its living tool.
It is a hideous doctrine; but, we repeat, logical and definitely " modern."
What is the Answer ?
THE real problem which it raises a is to find the proper answer to it. And this is the problem which the free world has not even begun to study. Instead. it takes refuge in trying to keep ahead of Russia with bigger and better bombs. Not only cannot this offer a solution or a security ; it actually drains the free world all the time of the productive resources which, above all things, it needs if it is to convince the Communists that they are on the wrong track.
That is why the real condition for successful negotiations with Stalin is something which will convince the Communists that the West has really got a positive, constructive alterna
tive. At the Moment it has none.
Socialism is not an answer : it is simply Communism without guts. 'I he old Capitalism is not an answer: in modern terms, it is merely a less effective and less idealist form of the same survival of the strongest.
Yet all the time the true answer of the free world lies ready to hand.
It is a social order which works out the implications of the Gospel teaching about the dignity and vocation of man called upon to work his talents with his own responsible initiative in carrying out God's Will and sharing the fruits in the spirit of the commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Unfortunately the world can never make a success of this until Western man believes in God and, therefore, loves his neighbour. Today he does neither. Consequently, he stands bankrupt before the real modern alterne tive Communism.
It sounds funny, but the fact is that until Messrs. Churchill and Truman can bargain with Mr. Stalin on the basis of a plain Christian philosophy, they simply have no cards to put on the table, turned-up or not. Hence the desperate and futile resort to atom and hydrogen bombs as a time-saver.
This Does Not Involve Pacifism
wE do not think this involves pursuing a " pacifist " line. Some thoughtful Christians, it is true, would contend that it does. They would take the argument to the exti eine of a doctrine of non-resistance. The reasoning would be that even if our non-resistance involved further indefinite Soviet and Communist aggression, the spirit of truth would ultimately conquer the conquerors. But we can hardly find warrant for this either in the Gospels or in the Christian tradition.
On the contrary, the Gospels suggest that the first and fullest Christian call is to sanctify our lives and strive to work out and pursue God's Will within the normal material, social and political conditions of the world, using the latter as and when we can and striving slowly to purify and transcend them. In the same way. Christianity in its history has not feared to ally itself with the secular arm and use it, while seeking to purify and elevate its moral values.
Thus today it seems clear that we should combine the working out of the real Christian alternative to Communism with the normal available means of practical defence against the only too real and practical forms of Communist aggression. Our ultimate aim should he to work towards the kind of solution which will make war and armaments more or less obsolete in practice; not to attempt to do without them or to condemn them as immoral. Their morality or immorality lies rather in the use to which they are
A ND it is not only a question of " armaments and war-preparation. More important is the use of our productive resources as a positive weapon against (ommunism because a positive help to Communists.
Perhaps the most intelligent suggestion which has so far been made in the political world for dealing with Russia is Senator McMahon's proposal of trying to bribe, with a species of Danegeld, the Soviet into solid agreements.
Here at least we get, in somewhat callous form, the constructive suggestion that the wealth of the West be positively used for the purpose of helping our economically • less favoured enemies.
To do this in some form or other is absolutely necessary.
The three conditions for a solution would therefore seem to be
(I) Like it or not, we must he ready to defend ourselves in a military sense. (2) We must produce more and share the production until we have to tighten our own belts. (3) We must be in a position to offer a Christian-based social and economic order, built on the dignity and responsibility of she God-called human being, as a practical alternative to the inhuman tyranny of Communism and the present social and economic bankruptcy of ideas in the West.
The Role of the Church
IN view of the fact that the Press '1is always tempted to misconceive and exploit the role of the Church and the Holy See in this great transcending issue of our times, it is worth underlining again the part it is playing.
The Holy See has only one clear and direct political function, and this is to defend and protect in so far as it is able the temporal conditions within which the Church's spiritual commission can be carried out, Since it is part of the set policy of Communism to deny to the Church the enjoyment of these temporal conditions for its spiritual work, it is inevitable that the Holy Sec finds itself opposed to Communist rulers. But the political quarrel is not of the Church's seeking; nor can it be construed as political opposition to Communist regimes as such.
The Church's opposition to Communism is a hundred-per-cent. spiritual and moral. not political. It opposes a heiesy—indeed, more than a heresy, since it is fighting on the spiritual and moral plane, the preaching and imposition of practical and positive atheism.
Equally, when the Holy See ex`communicates a Czech priest for accepting an episcopal appointment from the State in defiance of the Holy See, or when a Polish Bishop condemns priests who aid the State in its taking-over of an ecciesiastical charitable organisation, we are witnessing purely spiritual and ecclesiastical measures which would be taken against any Government in the world, not political measures against Communist governments as such.
it is the World's Job TT is very important to realise this, A because the final solution to the Communist problem cart never simply be a matter for the Church as Such.
The Church's role is to defend the Faith itself and endeavour to protect the faithful in the exercise of their spiritual rights and duties, and to do this against all who endeavour to destroy the Faith and deny the faithful their rights.
In doing this, the Church defends the source of the spiritual, moral and even cultural values which man must in the end use, if so pernicious a doctrine is to be repelled.
But it is ordinary secular States, and ordinary men arid women, in their capacity as citizens, who are called upon in the name of such values to wage the political fight and overcome the aggressor against freedom and civilisation.
We too readily get into the habit of thinking of the world sittkation in terms of "Church versus Communism." This puts the Church into an invidious position, because it suggests that the Church tolerates everything else, and because it plays into the hands of the Communists who would like to undermine the Church's spiritual authority by arguing that it is political and solely directed against the Communist States.
In a very true sense, the Church is above the temporal struggle, and the time may yet come when, if the Western world finds its faith again and takes the proper measures for reaching an understanding with Communism, the Church could well be the mediator on a tolerable common moral basis.
It may yet be very important that the Communists should realise this.