17 DECEMBER 1943, Page 13


Sta,—In your interesting article on "Germany in Defeat" it is suggested that that unfortunate and misguided country should be allowed after the war to choose her "own form of Government." This is disquieting and, I think, a false Liberalism. Citizens are not at liberty to select their own Municipal Law and I see no reason why, whether in the enactment of law nor in the mode whereby it is made, nor its goverhment, external or domestic, a State should be allowed to depart from the principles of. Natural Justice, not to say Christian Ethic, in the much abused name of Free Nationality. The abandonment of the conception of Universal Law expounded in the Middle Ages has led to the notion that what is right on one side of a river (by whomsoever has authority to declare it) may be criminal on the other, to pragmatic behaviour in diplomacy and to particularised civic morals ; our present tribulation is the result.

The particular methods whereby legislatures and executives are chosen may be left to individual States so long as they do not offend against the rights of human personality, which include the opportunity freely to choose how citizens will be governed but give no rights under pretext of legitimate government to develop what in effect are conspiracies against other communities or their own nationals. I note with pleasure that, according to official statement, the Italians will not be allowed to choose that pagan policy based on Fraud, Fear and Force which they called Fascism. May we not hope that the "Liberties" of Germany will [The sentence to which Sir Henry Slesser demurs follows directly Art. 3 of the Atlantic Charter: "They [the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain] respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live."—ED., The Spectator.]