23 JUNE 1961, Page 15

CUBAN AFTERMATH SIR,—I wrote in my first article that 1

was reluctant to become embroiled in argument with these 'pro- gressive' publicists. Mr. Toynbee's new letter shows one of the reasons: that awful feeling of having got into a controversy with a Tar-baby (if he will excuse the American allusion).

Mr. Toynbee takes every general remark as if it were ad hominem. He started by accusing me of being rude to Lord Russell, on the basis of a sentence which could not possibly have applied to that figure. Now he seriously seems to imagine that in an article which was in part an answer to a general point raised by him, though not by him alone, every word must he taken as personal.

In any case, those I was criticising are obviously not fellow-travellers. A fellow-traveller is not allowed to be soft even on Hungary. Of course, some Castro fans here are fellow-travellers, but the general point which can be made against all of them is that they palliate the actions of tyrannical regimes if these happen to have a 'progressive' cover story. And I am sure that many people will be revolted by Mr. Toynbee's line that while he would sensibly prefer Conservative to Communist rule for himself, he denies Cubans a right to the same choice.

That he also misunderstands my general views is natural enough. I believe that tie Communist move- ment could be, and even might be, humanised. One party, Nagy's, was for a moment brought hack into

the civilised community. Two others—the Polish and the Yugoslav—have in different ways reformed some of their rigours and stupidities. As between undemocratic regimes I vastly prefer Tito's to Salazar's. It is within such qualifications that I believe containment of the expansionist terrorist bureaucracies at present in control of the main bulk of the Communist movement to be our most urgent political task.

But to return to the personal point. As it happens I have just been correcting the proofs of a book in which I refer to Mr, Toynbee in a footnote as opposed to Communism, at least in a literary con- text. One would prefer him to abandon his St. Sebastian stance altogether, but in any case this is one arrow he will have to do without.—Yours faith- fully,