Our Spiritual Defences Lagging Far Behind Our Military Preparedness .
THE completion of the second year of war sees Great Britain in a militarily stronger position in relation to her enemies than at any time before.. This remarkable position—in view of our late start, our inability to mobilise the smaller countries of Europe, and the collapse of France—is due in the main to our island position. defended by an unchallengeable sea-power, the technical efficiency and dauntlessness of a growing Air Force, thee financial and economic support of the wealthiest country in the world, and the Nazi miscalculation in regard to the defensive strength of the U.S.S.R. But all these powerful factors would have meant little but for the endurance and spirit of our countrymen under the determined leadership of the Prime Minister.
Despite the satisfactoriness of this position, compared with what. might have been, we enter into the third year of war fully aware of the fact that the road to victory is not yet in sight, still less the character and quality of that victory. How we can approach most quickly towards that road and how we can shape a victory worthy of the sacrifices of the war arc the two most important questions. For the Christian, thanking God next Sunday for having preserved us so far, these questions have a special urgency, for it is certain that we can only expect God's protection in the measure that we correspond td God's help and. under Him, shape a future that will prove best, not only for our own country, but for all men.
DESTRUCTION OF HITLERISM NOT ENOUGH WE have undertaken—let us remember—a tremendous responsibility. We have undertaken to restore order to Europe. Selfpreservation was no doubt the determining factor in our decision to go to war. We went to Poland's aid, after a series of diplomatic reverses, because we judged that Hitler could not be allowed another " white " victory without the immediate endangering of France and ourselves. None the less, our challenge was on behalf of Europe. The swallowing up of one country after another by the threat of irresistible force was, we rightly judged, an evil in itself. Not less evil was the tyranny of the new mechanised police State, with its cruel oppression of minorities, foreigners, and those of alien races. We are, in fact, and without any question whatever, the champions of all who hate the brute appeal to superior force, whether exercised within States against the fundamental liberties of the human person, or exercised against States too weak to resist such bullying.
If the story ended there—as too many of us think—the whole world, including vast numbers of the peoples of Germany and Italy, would be on our side, though certain countries and many people might be unable openly to proclaim their support for fear of immediate retaliation. But the story does not end there. And it does not end there because men know in their hearts that. the good life is not a mere matter of resisting the devil. Life is good only in so far as it is positively ordered in pursuit of ends worthy of man. In challenging Hitler on behalf of Europe, we have inevitably incurred the responsibility of providing the positive alternative to Hitler, for that is the meaning of the restoration of order. It is a solemn truth not sufficiently appreciated that the destruction of Hitlerism might actually prove worse than Hitlerism. The million lesser devils of anirchy and disorder, or an alternative dictator, might plunge Europe into a deeper abyss than the false and cruel Hitlerian new order. When we decided on war as the only and ultimate remedy we already accepted the tremendous responsibilities of the consequences of prolonged modern warfare. In addition to these we have the even greater responsibility of setting Europe on the right path again, a responsibility which involves the destruction of the evils which enabled a Hitler to rise and dominate Europe.
THE DOUBTS OF THE PEOPLES OF EUROPE THESE considerations are not popular. yet they are the merest commonsense. And they are very present to the minds of many in Central and South Europe, whose future fate is in the balance. especially the more thoughtful and, we may say, the more Christian of them. It is too simple altogether to suppose that nothing but fear, on the one hand, and base and sordidly utilitarian motives, on the other, govern the minds of the millions who hate aggression and tyranny no less than we do (many of them having had far nearer experience of it) and yet remain doubtful about our positive intentions and capacities. It is too simple to divide Europe into decent folk and quislingites. We must for our own good recognise that for many the war presents itself rather as a Hobson's choice between acceptance of a heartily disliked new order, with the hope that time will settle and soften it, or of an emancipation whose ultimate positive consequences may still seem to them doubtful. We must recognise this, because this recognition is the condition of an early and worthy victory. Short of an unexpected German collapse, military victory is a very long way off. Yet the Nazi domination can be most quickly undermined by our securing the real ldyalty of all who are thoroughly agreed with us in hating aggression and tyranny. And that loyalty, in the long run, depends upon their being assured that we know and have the measure of our vast responsibility, the responsibility for setting in motion an order that is not merely better than Hitler's, but so much and so obviously better that immediate and highly unpleasant risk i are worth facing in order the quicker to make it possible. Let us remember that in these respects we ourselves are in a much happier position. Difficult as the post-war time may be, we do not doubt our ability to look after ourselves. The matter looks very different to those who are interested in our ability to look after them. There are some who consider it inopportune or even disloyal to dwell on these doubts and difficulties. They have failed to appre,ciate the ideological character of the war, the fact that men are consciously or unconsciously seeking for social order and security as much as for liberty. Many need a practical demonstration that liberty is not incompatible with order. and they will not be persuaded by the catchwords that did service in a past against which they are in revolt. It is hard for us to understand all this because liberty and order have been preserved in this country. But Anglo-Saxon liberal ideas transplanted to foreign soil have not always succeeded. The problem there is not tyranny versus liberty, but order, whether it is to be of the Right or of the Left, national or international, corporate or imposed, Christian or Bolshevistic. It is in those terms that we must think if we are to command the confidence we expect.
ATLANTIC CHARTER AND RUSSIAN ALLIANCE I N estimating, therefore, the real progress of the war towards victory, we dare not overlook our progress in convincing the world of our readiness and our capacity to help it towards a new order that is worth the name.
Have we, then, made progress in this direction comparable with our military victory? We doubt whether we have. We gladly record as a positive step the direct association of the United States with ourselves in the shaping of the world to come, according to the Atlantic Charter. Despite the abuse that is showered on Wall Street by the Nazis and Fascists, we shall find throughout Europe a very deep respect for the power of the dollar. Anything that will help to convince the ordinary people of Europe that the power of the dollar is going to be mobilised for Europe's economic reconstruction will prove highly effective. What is now needed in this respect is some clearer indication as to just how and in what direction that open sesame to food and capital is going to be invoked. If the primary aim is reconstruction on the natural economic lines of each country and the creation of order in Europe, the dollar may yet save us all. If the purpose is no better than the economic enslavement of a debtor Continent to the profits of dominant international financial clique, then there will be no takers, for fascist propaganda has exposed that racket rather more effectively than we realise here.
Secondly, the association of America strengthens us because she is a non-belligerent, still able to judge more impartially of Europe's real needs, and still prepared to treat key countries like Vichy France and Spain with objective consideration. As against the Atlantic Charter, we must also record the very heavy liabilities incurred by the Russian Alliance. The antiBolshevik crusade is nonsense, but it is clever nonsense, for it is a convenient way of exploiting the real and widespread fear that Europe will only exchange Nazi domination for Bolshevik domination. especially among the Central and Near-Eastern countries. And whatever we (who have no real fear of Bolshevism on this side of the Channel) may think. many wonder whether the devil they are now putting up with is any worse than the devil with whom they feel themselves to be threatened. (It is, of course, possible for us consciously to exploit the Alliance by deliberately appealing to the subversive elements on the Continent and to make a very good job of it, but we Christians refuse to consider this as a practical alternative, since it would completely destroy every moral claim which we have a right to make. There could be no greater moral disaster for us than to yield to the ever-present temptation to conquer Germany by handing over Europe to those elements of disorder, the conquest of which enabled Hitler and Mussolini to pose as liberators.) SEEK YE FIRST . . .
BUT the Atlantic Charter and the Russian Alliance are essentially accidents and neither goes to the root of the problem. It is we who have to do the convincing by our actions and our pledges. We shall only do so by expressing in every action we take, both at home and abroad, the radical Christianity of our motives and by committing ourselves to thoroughly practical courses of action in regard to the economic and political settlement of Europe as a whole and of its different countries.
We believe that the time has come when we must opt, for Christianity. This means that, while allowing for the reasonable freedom of dissentients, we recognise the Christian moral order (itself based upon Christian dogma) as the norm. Whether it be in domestic affairs, as in education, the ethics of marriage and the family, the division of property, the relations between employers and employed, the social rights of the individual, or in international affairs, whether in their political or economic aspects, we must base law and custom on Christian truth and justice. The world knows today that in this alone is to be found the bulwark against the unbridled competition of a million selfish interests which, whether in liberalism or totalitarianism, can only issue in the brute power of the strongest. We must take the plunge, and if we rouse many temporary enmities we shall have gone along way indeed to allay the suspicions of the many who still doubt the consequences of our victory. And if we are told that this is hopeless idealism, we must coolly answer that it is at bottom nothing but the fulfilment of our moral claims in war and peace. as it is also a return to the European tradition. If this were done, we should find that the practical problems of the settlement of Europe and its different nations would become much simpler. To realise this we have only to imagine the practical consequences of our resolution to share rather than to sell the raw materials of the globe or of our resolution not to tolerate in Europe those forces, whether economic or social, whose record has solely been one of self-interest, the acquirement of power, the engendering of jealousies, indiscipline. the hatred of natural authority, and all of these by a conscious determination to deny the existence of God and the claims of that traditional Christian morality. which made our civilization and culture.
Next Sunday's Gospel—perhaps the most beautiful passage of literature in existence—ends with that epitome of Christian hope that must surely be our message to the world on that day of national prayer: " Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." Yes, we have a long way to go before our moral progress towards a victory worth the name catches up with our military progress.