Questions of the week
by de la Iledogere
MR. McCloy, the American High Commissioner in Ger
many, has given the free world a
very grace warning. Let us re peat it:
" 1 certainly would not be frank with you if I did not convey to you my sense of the real crisis that impends in Europe. It is not a sense of inferiority or fear of attack that leacrs the Rusieens to put all this pressure on the West. They are putting on the pressure, in my judgment. because they feel their strength, and the
immediate hope of success. Their points of attack are Germany and the Far East, but Germany is still their main goal. With it, they feel that they would most effectively shake the hope of democracy in the West."
The question is : What is the West's answer to such a situation ?
We doubt whether any thoughtful and informed person would soberly agree that the West is facing the issue with the proper determination.
Yet, despite Mr. Churchill's assurance recently that war was unlikely in the near future, can there be any real doubt that war muSt result from a Western failure, while there is still time, to meet this challenge with all its force. its powers of organisation, its unity and its ideals.
There and there alone lies the "strength " from which the West must face Communist aggression and if it be possible, negotiate with it for a niodus sevens/S.
It is not, we believe, entirely a question of force or proper political and economic organisation, points on which Western statesmen are low concentrating. Ob•
viously, these are very Michael
important — especially force.
We cannot evade the clear point that in the long run Moscow will not be deterred from the aggression on which it feeds and which is is gospel, save by fear of military defeat and the consequent break-up of the Communist machine.
But Mr. Churchill was surely right in underlining the truth that ordeal by battle today must always be a last resort. since the risks which go with it are se infinitely higher than the possible advantages which may ulti mately be gained by it. And the West is already sufficiently powerful to make a quick and final Communist victory over the world impossible.
The tragedy, however lies in the fact that the West is weakest where it should he strongest. namely in its spirituel or moral rearmament — if we may borrow a much-abused expression.
Common sense WE do not refer here directly to the failure of the West to
mobilise its spiritual and moral re sources behind the Christian religion to which it owes its civilisa tion and ideals. This, though we believe it to be absolutely necessary
in the end, is a matter that can not be forced. it depends in the end on a recovery of religious Faith, necessarily at best a stow process.
We are thinking of something simpler — something that might almost he called common sense.
The West, faced by this challenge, is still living in the past. Its mind is distracted by considerations and fears that belong to a past that is dead and gone. It is bound by nationalisms and narrow patriotisms. It is concerned with building and maintaining economies that depend on outdated economic and industrial relationships.
Oddly enough, our own Govern„tient is the worst sinner in these matters, possibly because this country has most to lose and most that can very easily be lost.
Despite the Labour ideology of a socialist-welfare State and of the solidarity of the professional and working man against capitalism, privilege and the bad, old order generally, it is London which most stubbornly closes its ears to fresh and better ideals and insists on build ing up a welfare " fortress out of the pickings of the capitalist world around it, and so enforcing artificial economic restrictions within the world.
IT would he foolish to deny the very practical difficulties in the way of real change — practical difficulties in which the British Government buries its head.
We all realise, for example. that there ie an inherent risk in badly offering a really fresh deal to Germany and the German people.
We cannot forget German aggressions. We cannot deny the possibility that a sovereign and rearmed Germany might do a deal with Russia, say to recover the lands lost to Poland (about which Moscow probably cares even less than we do).
In more normal times the-se could be decisive factors. But today the overriding factor is Communist aggression, about which the German people probably feel more strongly than any others.
Nor can we seriously doubt that if there is one temptation which could draw Germany away from civilisation. it would he a Moscow offer to rescue her from the tutelage of the Western victors. Nor in any event can we hold Germany indefinitely in tutelage with the world divided in two. and Germany herself the critically disputed spot in the European struggle.
In these circumstances. everything should conspire 10 help us to make the great moral, ideal. decision to treat the German people as our equals and our comrades in the world of the future.
We can see how such a decision, though not in itself a religious or Christian decision, but rather a human and common sense one, immediately links up with the Christian precept of loving our enemies and forgiving those who have done evil to us.
Detailed ways and means, which hold back the statesmen, are not so important as the decnase change of ind that can he embodied in a gesture, a statement, to he implemented in common understanding and agreement.
How utterly petty. for example, is the United Europe offer to Germany on similar terms as the offer to French-dominated Saar ! Here the pohtics of a dead past poison a feeble attempt to look to a future which cannot be wholly disregarded.
The Big idea THE same failure of statesmanship manifests itself in the whole approach to United Europe itself, where the undeniable practical difficulties are allowed, in the name of political realism, to
draw a smear over the ideals.
Theirresponsible Assembly issu-raaldicydfor the big ideas and the big deeds. but the responsible Committee of Ministers can do little but make difficulties and damp down
the nascent idealism. Here again, Mr, &yin is a leading damper-down.
The difference between the statesman and the administrative hack lies precisely in the quality of will
The stateman is fully aware of the difficulties, hut when he sees that the world must have a big idea or perish he will not allow the practical dill
culties to stand in the way : he will overcome them.
The administrative hack. on the offier hand, will moan about the problems. and in the end sink under them, dragging the world with him.
It is this vision, this readiness to face risks to overcome the greatest risk and danger. this courage to face the immediate sacrifice of pretensions and prejudices. even of securities and comforts, that the threatened civilised world needs as never before.
Frankly, it is hard to find in Europe a single person of the front rank, except the veteran Mr. Churchill, who is feted to meet the critical situation.
LORD Vansittart seems to have startled the country with his indictment of the little group of clerics who have played with the idea of discovering Christianity in atheist Communism.
In this country the Catholic Church. seenis to he entirely free of this particular delusion, though in the Continent there is more CatholicCommunism or near Communism, certainly among the laity, than there is Anglican-Communism in Britain.
All this seems to form part of a certain kind of Christian crankiness which has often enough reared its head in history.
It is doubtless motivated by the sincere and genuine enough sense that Christians should be extremists in some way.
We are all surely painfuly conscious of the abyss which separates our practical Christian lives from the idealism of the Gospels.
Therefore it is easy to to seize on some fashionable extremist point of view and call it Christian, thus, as it were, removing from our shoulders the sense of guilt at our personal Christian inadequacy.
BUT it is a very dangerous idea.
The world, when it goes to extremes, does not breed Christian extremism, even though it is often true that there is some one Christian element in such extremes.
Communism professes an extreme ideal of social justice and human comradeship. Fascism professes an extreme ideal of order and discipline, again within a new sense of human comradeship. Pacifism denounces in extreme form the evil of war, and so on.
But the curious thing about the Gospels and the example of Our Lord, whence these extreme Christians. who laud Communism, or Fascism, or Pacifism, profess to derive their inspiration, is that the Gospels teach tolerance for the world as it usually finds itself, in the hope that the individual who would follow Christ will practise within it. in as extreme a way as he cares, the counsels in his own person.
There is warrant in the Gospels for a personal life of heroic poverty for the love of God, of turning the other cheek, of renouncing all violence, and so on. But the political and social world of the day was permitted by Our Lord, clearly in the hope that His Followers would, according to their vocation, leaven and raise its standard.
Those Christians who would wish to go to extremes may well do so in their own lives of utter self sacrifice for God's sake. Most of them, who feel rather guilty about their failure to do this, find it much easier, however, to give adherence to some extreme party or view, and then, living very much as they have always lived, vicariously profess themselves a hundred per cent. Christian.
Such escapism is not Christianity and does no good to the cause of Christianity.