2 OCTOBER 1942, Page 3


NUMBER of speeches made last Saturday show that leaders of opinion inside and out of the Government have already gone far in the definition of peace aims. Among these speakers were the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and Sir Stafford Cripps, at a mass meeting at the Albert Hall, and -Mr. Eden at Leamington. It is right that the formulation of our objectives in and after the war should move progressively and by orderly stages. There was a certain absurdity in the cry raised in the first months of hostilities for a precise definition of war aims, as if we had entered the war deliberately to gain certain ends instead of being forced into it by the aggression of another Power, which alone at that stage could reasonably have been asked for what purpose, and with what aims, she was fighting, since it was she who had plunged the world into war. At the start the only aim of the Allies could be to resist aggression, knowing, indeed, what they stood for, and what they were defending, but without a ready-made plan for bringing a new order out of Hitler's chaos. That is something which should grow, and has grown, in proportion as the destruc- tion and collapse of the old world show not only what is wrong in Germany, but what radical changes are necessary also in our- selves to cope with the social forces released or revealed by the war.

For we are conscious that everything has changed, obviously and catastrophically, on the continent of Europe, but also deeply in ourselves. " The old world is dead," cried Mr. Eden, in his speech last Saturday, and added significantly: " it was dying even before it was broken in pieces by the hammers of Wotan and Thor." The war has opened the eyes of a majority of the nation to what was moribund before, and in reconstructing for peace a country which has already been reconstructed for war, Mr. Eden recognises that " none of us can now escape from revolutionary changes even if we would." There are some, of course, whose eyes will never be opened ; who will think that we can drift back to their " good old times," and that all the " controls " can be suddenly swept aside as if by magic, and leave privilege entrenched—that we can safely return to what Mr. Eden calls " the economic anarchy of the old days." But no— peace is something that must be won, worked for, paid for. We have to think of peace in terms of our own renewed social order, and of ourselves as part of a world whose well-being is linked up inextricably with our own.

The Foreign Secretary gave the assurance that the work bf preparation for the relief of the oppressed countries is going forward among the United Nations, and reminded his audience of the responsibilities that will rest upon this country as a world Power. He meant not_only upon the Prime Minister and the Government, but on the nation. For leadership and inspiration we rightly look to those who are charged with the duty of ad- ministration, but Mr. Eden was certainly not seeking to shirk such responsibility when he said that leadership must come not only from above ; and it was strictly in accordance with true democratic theory that he demands the united leadership of a nation ready to direct us to a goal that it understands and desires. In promoting such an understanding a special duty, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury, rests upon the Church, by which he doubtless meant all the Christian churches. He considered that it has a high qualification for declaring what kind of structure of society is wholesome for man, and what is unwholesome ; and he spoke unhesitatingly in condemnation of the gross disparity in wealth, the lack of leisure among the working-classes, and the predominance of the profit motive. He went, indeed, a good deal further, and urged the need of certain specific reforms which are not wholly outside the sphere of controversy, and some critics have already been protesting that to take an opposite view is perfectly compatible with Christianity. He advocated, for example, the limitation of the power of private banks to issue new credit, and the creation of a central planning authority as • recommended in the Uthwatt Report. This last proposal was supported by the Archbishop of York, who added that the nation would have to face a gigantic housing programme when the war ended. But even those who may think that it is no part of the Church as a Church to step into the arena and tell politi- cians what measures they should adopt should rejoice to find its leaders insisting that it cannot be unconcerned with the great social issues on which the well-being and happiness of the people depend.

To what extent it is the duty of the Church to advocate and press for specific social reforms is a matter on which opinion is divided, but no one can quarrel with Sir Stafford Cripps's clarification of the issue when he said that Christian principles must be made so to permeate public opinion that no Govern- ment could act against them, and that those principles must not be vague platitudes, but related to the social and economic prob- lems of the moment. If the hypothesis is accepted, if Christianity is to be Christianity, then those who profeis it cannot rest in generalities, but must actively pursue the practical measures which spring out of them ; and Sir Stafford thought that it could not be content with less than the five desiderata named by Presi- dent Roosevelt—equality of opportunity, jobs for those who can work, security for those who need it, the ending of privilege for the few, and the preservation of civil liberties. At the back of all this lies the Christian doctrine of sacrifice, inspired by which the Church will not shrink from far-reaching social and economic changes even if it should fear that they would undermine the organisational ability of the Church itself.

For the period of the war the doctrine of sacrifice is accepted by the vast majority of the nation in the name of patriotism. There are few rich men who feel it a grievance that they are heavily taxed for the purposes of war, or that their excess profits are removed ; there are few who try to shirk onerous military or civil duties, or do not condemn those who traffic in scarce commodities or seek to get more than their share of rationed goods. But there is no reason why patriotism should end with the war. If the social order we seek is to be one based on Christian principles, the doctrine of sacrifice will be needed no less in peace than in war, and will manifest itself in the same devotion to service and the same willingness to forgo privilege. Revolutionary change, as Mr. Eden said, is inevitable. But to say that does not necessarily mean that conflict and disorder are inevitable. They will only be so if those who are in a position of exceptional advantage obstinately exert their influence to oppose the reforms which are dictated by the needs and conscience of the community, and shut their eyes to the fact that the working classes, who have been exhorted and required to spare nothing in their effort for victory, declare the right to be remembered when victory has been won.

The masses of the country unquestionably demand a social order which will do justice to themselves. The conscience of the community demands that concerted planning and scientific direc- tion, using the best and not merely the traditional means, should be unfailingly at the service of the State in bringing the advan- tage of peace to all classes in the country. If those who have been regarded as the ruling class lend themselves generously and sincerely to such an effort there is no reason to expect vindictive- ness among the workers. There is no urge to violence, no evi- dence of a jealous desire to deal harshly with those who have been gently nurtured. Revolution in the bad sense is not now to be feared in this country, and need not ,be so long as the patriotism, expressing itself in the spirit of sacri- fice, which has been so manifest in the war continues to be manifested in the peace. The nation, under the direction of its Government, has to prove itself capable of a democratic recon- struction of its own social order, first, for the sake of its own citizens, and, secondly, for the sake of the lead that it will be expected to give to the rest of the world. Mr. Eden insists that an enduring settlement and a better world after the war cannot be created unless they are based on understanding, confidence, and with the " will to see realities and face them." In the inter- national settlement it will be an incalculable advantage if we can face the world, as we do today, as a nation united in essentials That will only be possible if willingness to make concession and sacrifices continues, if the post-war social objectives accept by all are such that the political parties need not feel themselw in violent antagonism to one another; if, in other words, we can face the world as a country that has made a success of democracy, and is capable of inspiring confidence in democracies elsewhere.