20 MARCH 1942, Page 16


The New Society

Conditions of Peace. By E. H. Carr. (Macmillan. 12s. 6d.) IN writing this book Professor Carr has rendered a great service. He designed it as a call for the lead for which so many people arc anxiously waiting—a lead which will revive our old faith in higher things than just self-preservation and material prosperity. In 1940 we regained our belief in ourselves and our mission in the world ; with it we regained our old reputation as defenders of the just cause. There is some danger of our receding from that position, unless we can translate the cause for which we stand into more positive terms. To this search for the formula- tion of a new national outlook, Professor Carr has made an out- standing contribution. He attacks the moral, the political and the economic problems of the present and of the future with refreshing courage and candour. He seldom shrinks from stating unpleasant facts, or from facing their consequences squarely. He is not afraid to propose revolutionary policies, for, as he says, " we are passing through the greatest revolution of modern times, and to describe a policy as revolutionary is merely to indicate that, at any rate, in this respect it is appropriate to the age for which it is designed." His argument is founded on long experience and reflection upon international affairs, and is pre- sented with a lucidity and an astringent logic which make it both challenging and compelling.

The first part of the book is a trenchant analysis of the " revolution against the three fundamental ideas of the nineteenth century : liberal democracy, self-determination, and laissez-faire economics," which in Professor Carr's view has produced the present cataclysm. The old type of democracy is no longer a driving force in the modern world. It has become " stale, unprofitable and inert." It has somehow lost the magic and the dynamism of its appeal. It can no longer vitalise twentieth century society, hence the crisis of which most of us are more or less conscious,—the lack of moral purpose, the crude materialism, the cynicism and the indifference which have charac- terised the last twenty years. Without the incentive to sacri- fice for a common good, society is likely to perish of moral inanition.

It is impossible to summarise adequately the political and economic causes to which Professor Carr traces this state of affai rs. The political machine is no longer run in the interest of the " little man," but in that of the producing elements. " No political opposition could be effective so long as both party

machines were controlled respectively by organised capital and organised labour, whose common interest is united against the consumer." As a result governments have been driven to defend the industrial or agricultural status quo by tariffs, subsidies, quotas and other restrictive devices, to the detriment of the well-being of the community as a whole. The only remedy, at Professor Carr's view, lies in a fundamental change in our economic thought, which will mean that, in President Roosevelt', words : " we think less about the producer and more about the consumer."

Nationalism, again, has broken down as a consequence oi scientific progress. Small nations can no longer be self-sufficient, either militarily or economically. The technical development of modern warfare means that no small State can survive except in close and permanent association with a great industrial Power. Similarly no small State can resist the pressure of concentrated economic power, as Germany showed in its dealings with the Balkans. Hence we are confronted with the paradox that at the moment when the demand for cultural nationalism ha reached its climax, economic nationalism has become a suicidal anachronism.

From this diagnosis of the ills of society; Professor Carr pro- ceeds to suggest the outlines of a curative treatment. He insisu that the reconstruction of this country must be in the interest of the " little man," and that the spirit which animates it will largely determine our influence in the rest of the world, for " social and international policy have become inseparable." The balance of forces on the Continent, which for three hundred yeari prevented the organisation of Europe against Britain, will no longer exist. Neither Russia nor any combination of smaller States can be relied upon as a counterpoise to Germany. We shall have to abandon our traditional aloofness from Europe, and become an active partner in promoting its economic revival, and in ensuring its political equilibrium. " Great Britain is, for good or evil, involved by military necessity in the affairs of Europe, and those who desire the maintenance of British power must accept the inevitability of British commitments in Europe."

This is an inescapable conclusion, which the public has not begun to realise. It means collaboration with the Continent, but also with Russia, for Britain will never be in a position to under- write the security of Eastern Europe. Professor Carr sees little I hope in the regeneration of Europe except on a continental basis. He has no faith in any federal system or in the revival of the League in its old form. He believes that " to begin with con- stitutional structures is to begin at the wrong end." Starting from a co-operative effort to relieve distress and starvation, he looks to

the gradual building up of a continental economy, under a Euro- pean Planning Authority, which will seek to organise its trade, transport and finance with a view to raising standards of living and expanding the consuming power of its markets. By means of a common social enterprise the habit and finally the forms of A political association may be generated. Professor Carr has no A illusions as to the difficulties of European reconstruction, nor does 1 he suggest that our outlook should be confined to Europe. He sees Britain as a bridge between the " western civilisation " of 1 Europe and the other continents. As an overseas Power our 1

interests must remain largely extra-European. In any case the resettlement of Europe must be a lengthy and empirical process. Peace cannot be remade in a few months ; the final political settle- ment must be postponed until the lava has cooled and the nos outline of Europe has begun to take shape. Finally, the German dilemma has to be faced, and perhaps Professor Carr faces it with less than his usual realism. He does

not deny a deep-seated German tradition of " brutality, aggressive- ness and what is rather invidiously called ' militarism.' " But 10 explain it by the fact that Germany achieved national unity com-

paratively late does not explain it away or offer any guarantee of its early extinction. Nor does the charge against Germany rest on " dubious scholarship " or upon the emotional desire to brand one's enemies as "moral reprobates." Unfortunately,the charge tests not upon the German writings of the past, but upon the German deeds of the present. There is no denying the evidence produced 11 the Russian, Polish, Yugoslav and other Governments of the horror!

perpetrated not by an abstract " Germany," but by thousands of individual Germans in every occupied country. Corroborative evidence is afforded by the perpetration of similar outrages be thousands of Germans in Germany itself, in Austria and in Czechoslovakia, which the world was able to assess coldly bef°ee any warlike passions blurred its judgement. Whatever psych°. analytical explanation may be adduced for the perversion of large section of the German people, its consequences cannot be avoided. For two generations the German name will be held in fear and hatred in most parts of Europe, a fact which is bound to have long-term political consequences. One may agree with Professor Carr that the right policy would be to incorporate Germany in the new European community and to enlist its energies in its rebuilding. One may hope, like him, for a com- plete revolution of the German outlook on society. But no European system can work smoothly until Germany's neighbours have confidence in German aims and standards of conduct, which they will be slow to Icquire. The offences against the canons of human behaviour which have been deliberately inspired by Nazi doctrine and systematically committed by its devotees will make reconciliation infinitely more difficult after this war than after any previous war in modern times. To ignore this factor in the problem of European reconstruction is to leave its core out of account.

But if Professor Carr underestimates the difficulty of the German problem that detracts little from the value of his book. It is full of an independence and breadth of vision, a loftiness of aim and a sobriety of judgement which are rare in themselves and still rarer in combination. No more penetrating study has been made of the revolutionary epoch through which we are passing or of the conditions required for the building up of a new and stable society. As such it deserves to be widely read and