Kenya John Connell, H. B. W. MacAllan Last of the
Viceroys Leonard Mosley The Myth of Major Eatherly G. B. H. Wightman The Case of Mr. Multi John Papworth Goodbye to Summer Kersti French
Wine, Women and Beer F. A. Chat 'tier, Miss J. C. Carson
Those Advertisements Francis Beckett Nuclear Testing Derek Parker Napoleon Brandy T. A. Layton William Butterfield John House
SIR.—Treating my arguments about the British minority in Kenya with a courtesy which—to a man of my unfashionable views—was curiously welcome, the Spectator, in its leading article of February 16, observed that 'appeals to loyalty and honour, though understandable, cannot be accepted without reservations.' Have we, as a nation, come to the end of the road, not merely in the matter of colonialism, but in the acceptance of and the will. to act upon two moral concepts, which have been of funda- mental importance in our life for a long time; the honouring of explicit obligations and solemn and repeated promises, and loyalty, among individuals, to brothers, kinsfolk and friends?
Loyalty and honour are not merely pieces of academic philosophical jargon, to be taken up or discarded by a don and a group of undergraduates at a tutorial; they are essential elements in any individual's, any society's, day-to-day practical system of conduct. In two world wars in my life- time this country, at prodigious cost, has honoured specific and solemn obligations. We may, and we must, regret the cost; historians may, and perpetu- ally do, dispute the complex causes of both wars; but few will argue openly that, in the circumstances of July-August, 1914, and August-September, 1939, we should not have honoured our pledges. Had we, in each instance, done so earlier, there might well have been no conflict.
In the far smaller tragedy of the British minority in Kenya, I hold, much pain and much sorrow could have been averted if there had been made, two years ago at the latest, a solemn reaffirmation of pledges of security of tenure—not of retention of political privilege, as is always argued against those who think as I think—which should have been backed by financial guarantees. This chance has long since been lost; but there does remain a simple, basic responsibility of the British Government 'towards British citizens: the responsibility of pro- tection of life and property and—if this is impossible —of rescue. Is this it responsibility the honouring of which is either to 'be evaded or hedged with reservations? The Spectator enumerated some of the reservations which, in its view, can affect the dis- charge of the Government's responsibility. But surely it cannot seriously be argued that, because, our fellow-countrymen (and their wives and children) 'failed to appreciate the need to change their attitude to the Africans,' we are morally justified in abandon- ing them to serfdom and murder at the hands of those whom—though I firmly reject this premise— they 'ignored and despised.'
If a liner is wrecked, it Is surely neither per- missible nor right for the captain and the crew to make moral assessments of their imperilled passengers: 'That one is a gambler and a wencher; that one never tips her stewardess, is an arrogant bully and a selfish, greedy old woman; and that one is a useless sot. Let us, who are much more valuable citizens, take their place in the boats, and let them drown.'
Individuals who practise such a code are rightly regarded with contempt. A nation which takes to it is surely no less deserving of contempt. Loyalty, too, is both an individual and a corporate concept. On the corporate plane it is perfectly true that, as the Spectator says, I have made appeals to loyalty. What is so reprehensible about loyalty between societies of the same stock and citizenship? Why is it right for Jews, Arabs and Africans to feel loyalty and affection towards other Jews, other Arabs and other Africans, but wrong for British to have the same emotions towards other British?
Corporate loyalties are, as anthropology has demonstrated again and again, natural and usually successive extensions of individual loyalties, from parents and brothers and sisters, to family, to clan, to tribe, to nation, In a sophisticated society such as ours the progression is different, the emotion the same; from the family onwards we accumulate loyalties to our school, university, trade union, regiment, firm, class, denomination, county, country. Unhappiness and tensions, of course, arise, when loyalties conflict; and most of the politico-moral arguments in a society such as ours arise out of conflicting loyalties. l recognise that this is true of many who hold another view than mine about Kenya; for loyalty, though not synonymous with love, is an expression of love.
On the personal plane, I know only that the British minority in Kenya are my brethren and my friends. They are in the gravest distress and danger. For me the phase of appeals—made over many months in the face of every defence mechanism in our society: suppression, soft-pedalling, boredom, and the old-boy network—is almost over. If and when there is violence in Kenya, against which I have uttered warning after warning, I have no soft option. I was brought up in and I accept certain principles 'of conduct. 1 cannot carry the burden of my country's honour, but I have the remains of my own. Generalised appeals are only too easy especially for one who was a leader-writer for some twenty- six years; individual decisions, for one who has a more than ordinary share of moral and physical cowardice, are difficult. In the last novel which I wrote, published ten years ago, I put these words into the mouth of one of the characters: The really hard choice in life is between a duty and a duty.' A man comes to more than one watershed in his life. We hear a tune when young, and wherever its call takes us we must follow. It sounds a good deal too loudly in my ears now to be ignored.