Ely Michael de la illedoyere
Catholics v. Communists —A Warning
THOSE in close touch with I trends of opinion in America appreciate the fact that very great changes indeed have taken place in the American mind over Russia and Communism since the days of Roosevelt and the war. An article in last Sunday's Observer, by D. W. Brogan, gives an interesting account
of what has been happening. •
This change is reflected to some extent in this country, though here the changing view about Russia is more the outcome Of weariness with Russia's refusal to play the game combined with a dim sense of our exposed position. And any enthusiasm is .checked by the strong realisation that if it conies to war we shall certainly be its first victims. Hence the ice-saw of opinion which swings backwards and forwards between a policy of toughness and one of appeasement.
Furthermore, much in America and Sphin is being made of the WMporary weakness of Russia, which suggests that Russia will only be ready for war in five years' time. Now, it is said, is the time to force her back.
In these conditions we think it to be of the very first importance that Catholics should be clear in their own minds about the quality of their feelings towards Russia and should strive to make this clear to others. Above all, they must distinguish their essentially spiritual arid moral reaction from the reactions of the politicians and those who are taught by politicians and publicists.
Striving to Reach an Understanding
IN the first place, Catholics can have no enmity for the people of Russia, and their sole aim in regard to these is their conversion. This, let us never forget,• is the intention of the prayers after Mass throughout the Church. Common sense next suggests that progress towards conversion is not going to be effected by any brandishing of the sword or threatening of the atomic bomb against Russia. For this reason, many Catholics, notably on the Continent hive long striven to find'some basis of good in the Communist teaching and achievement which may serve as a common ground from which to approach some sort of understanding. A guilty feeling. moreover. that if Christians had lived the full social implication of their Faith, Communism would never have made such headway, has powerfully reinforced this urge for some sort of mutual understanding. Even now, there are many who feel that Communism does. for all its evil; possess some secret of attraction, some hold on the solution to the social question, which Christians must at least understand if they are to play their proper part in saving civilisation. Time and experience, however, clearly show that the direct impact of Communism to-day proceeds, not from anything good which it may contain, but from what is clearly evil and wrong in it. It is the element of tyranny, force, guile, aggression and avowed materialism which is driving it—most directly and obviously in Russia itself. but also in the tactics and pressures of Communist parties nearer home.
In the face of these evils, more particularly where they have achieved the destruction of religion and freedom in many lands and threaten this elsewhere—threaten indeed the blotting-out of all that we can still mean by Christendom, the Catholic has no option but to denounce and tesist, even though he may never forget that his aim may not be merely negative, but must remain the conversion of his enemy by the example of a fuller and better way of life.
Nothing To Do With Power Politics
THIg Christian resistance has
nothing whatever to do with power-politics and war. In the case of our own country, it is perhaps a little late to be speaking of Imperialism and commercial greed, but if it is the case that certain elements in the United States see in the present situation the opportunity for a large-scale dollar diplomacy, Catholics can never insist too much that they have nothing to do with this, and indeed detest it. We are content, in fact we wish, that the Russians shall be full masters in their own house and that they should enjoy that degree of international influence which is the due of an immense and potentially very rich empire. Above all, we wish -that the smaller countries of Europe should enjoy a full independence and liberty and be subjected neither to Russia nor to the power of American salesmen. But we have to insist that these legitimate powers and these freedoms be within the moral law. And we cannot hut resist, come what may, when we see that the heritage of Christendom is directly threatened by an immoral and evil barbarism.
It is not for the Christian to be a leader in that mixed field of power politics which one day tries to compromise and the next threatens the disaster of war. It may or may not become one day the duty of the Christian to take his place in the ranks of those who, in fact, find themselves defending by force of arms the essence of the right. But for to-day it is enough that the Christian confine himself to the denunciation and exposition of the evil threat, while striving with all his might to further such spiritual and social changes as will deprive the Communist of his lest • excuse for attacking the ancient civilisation.
The Labour Revolt
THE observations made in the
above notes may possibly help one to find a clue to the puzzle created by a large group of Labour back-benchers who for one reason or another threaten rebellion on the National Service Bill. The pacifist objection to conscription in peacetime runs for the moment parallel with the feelings of the critics of Mr. Bevin's foreign policy, while perhaps a more widelyfelt sense that British industry can not to-day afford so large a number of men in the Services provides a background to both. As against all these sentiments, there is the undoubtedly paramount urgency that a sufficient show of force should remain to deter Russia from further acts of aggression, and to protect legitimate British interests.
The pacifist position is a very respectable one, and, in our view, it is one that Catholics dare not dismiss out of hand. One may well believe that in a world of rivalry in atomic bombing, it must prove in the long run the only sane view and certainly the one best calculated to effect our hope that in the end the world (and the Russians) will return to sanity, But one strongly suspects the true motives behind those who criticise the Bevin policy and even the strange keenness on the part of certain people to increase the number of workers at home when these same people do all they can to keep out valuable immigrants.
An Interesting Step in Belgium
THE recent Belgian political
crisis has been, somewhat surprisingly, solved by the alliance of the Christian Socialists with the Socialists, while the Liberals and the Communists form the Opposition. In the Government, under the leadership of the Socialist, M. Speak, there are nine Social Christians and eight Socialists.
Thus Belgium seems for the moment to have attained the desirable goal of a Centre Government in oppesition to extremist wings. This solution, furthermore, involves a break in the dangerous alliance between the Communists and Socialists which characterises the French and Italian position, just as it marked the downfall Of Socialism proper in the countries under Moscow domination. In this respect, the position is similar to the one in Germany, where the main Social-Democratic body has resisted the imposition of a United Socialist (which might better be called a United Communist) Party, and it is in line with the recent Socialist split in Italy.
However, it would be premature to hope that this solution will prove stable, for the Christian Social Party in Belgium is, in general, somewhat to the Right of the M.R.P. in France. while the Belgian Socialists are well to the Left of Labour in this coun try. The position in Belgium is further complicated by the question of the King, on which the new allies are sharply divided.
The formation of courageous and principled Centre Governments, from which the Communists are excluded—and which by their separation from the parties of the Right make clear to critics that such a, Centre is not a disguised form of" Fascism "—is a step very much in the right direction at present, and Belgium has at least pointed the way.
France Tointite Italians Also
FRANCE is once again teaching
this country a , much-needed lesson by signing a treaty with Italy which will allow of the immigration of 200,000 Italians who, together with their families, will increase the French population by about half-a-million. A like foresight has been shown by the Argentine and Brazil, countries which hope to enrich and strengthen themselves by attracting mil:ions of Italians. Here is another case when a return to the civilised conception of the free movements of people proves quite obviously to be in the interest of all parties.
One of the greatest blots on the record of the Anglo-Saxons has been both the limitation on the natural growth of their own people and the restriction on immigration in the supposed interests of the skilled workmen. In the international field this recession front a civilised conception of human freedom to move has played a great part in precipitating war, -notably in the case" of Japan and Italy. Domestically, we realise now that in a sane economic world there cannot be too many• workers, so long as they are free to move to where they are needed, for every good worker constitutes a most valuable item of national wealthin a developing economy:
Yet. despite these lessons, it is only in the most grudging fashion possible that we, who have done so much harm by trying to restrict population and population movements, and are now paying heavily for it. are at last in our extreme necessity prepared to tower for a moment our drawbridges. Other countries are quicker in the uptake. and the future will belong to them.
The Care of Homeless
eACThHildroLlics will be particularly "' interested to study the ,ternes of the proposed legislation which will implement the recomroendations of the Curtis and Clyde Committees on the care of children deprived of a normal home life. This is a matter for which a Government should take an overall responsibilitY, yet it is also one where the real work must be entrusted. not to mere paid agents, however efficient, but to men and women prepared to dedicate themselves to a labour of love. The Church has a very great deal to contribute both in the matter of seeing that true religion is protected and in giving of its long experience in the care and love of the abandoned. As in popular education, so in this work of charity the Church was a pioneer, and no true progress will be made, if mere order and efficiency replace what in the past has beeh done for the love of God and of our neighbour. Order and love need not be mutually exclusive.