3 DECEMBER 1948, Page 16


Sra,—If my letter deserved Colin McDonald's imputation of intolerance, I am sorry for it. I was not trying to uphold "Communist claims to perfection," but simply to question the logic which apparently favours a corrupt regime against an " arid " one because the latter's victory helps Russia, and which adduces atrocity stories of the alleged treatment of foreign missionaries by the Chinese Communists, without apparently weighing the evidence that comes in from the younger missionaries of a major change in the Communists' attitude towards religious groups. Missionaries who met recently in North China were about equally divided between the two points of view, both bringing evidence in their support. But it was noted that the more recent evidence—the behaviour of the Communists in Hsuchang, Kaifeng, Chenchow, Tsinan, the parley initiated by Tung Pi Wu, the new chairman of the North China Coalition Govern- ment, all tend to support the same conclusion: the Communists are taking pains to refute the suggestion of such as Colin McDonald that the "usual Communist pattern" is "ruthless."

It is suggested that all this amounts merely to a Communist tactic, and that China, in spite of the moderating influence of the Chinese tradition, will under Communist leadership repeat the tragedy of Czechoslovakia. Communism runs true to type, we are to assume, or, as the Communists put it, Marx's prophecies are preying correct. I do not find it so easy to classify and thence dismiss the people with whose views I disagree. One feature which you, Sir, have noted in your News of the Week—there is a steady stream. of young men and women, on the whole idealistically motivated, who are moving over to the Chinese Communists and leaving corruption and "harsh illiberalism behind in Nationalist territory. Why is it that in country after country self-sacrificing altruism is being driven over to the support of the Communists ? I suggest two reasons: in the first place, the Communists at least practi:6e consistently what they preach, however depraved the sermon ; in the second, the Western opponents of Communism seem to have a genius for picking on the most morally bankrupt, slothful and inept of the Right wing as the champions of "Western freedom." These groups are then armed and supplied from abroad, without any serious attempt being made to exact political tolerance within their regime, or a clean government, as the price of the aid they receive. In the circumstances it is no surprise to find that nationals of the foreign powers involved receive rough treatment from the natives of the country concerned.

Chinese Cogimunism may or may not incline to the Communism of the West. I believe the force of Colin McDonald's descrip- tion of "Chinese China" is that there is an innate Chinese conservatism which can already be seen at work moulding and modifying Chinese Communism. I suggest that if Chinese—or any other Communism—is to be modified, that will best be done by countering its twisted opportunism with Western principle, by conceding to it what in its achievement is good, by seeking to understand it where it is bad. We are in danger of conversion to the very tactics against which we protest—the ruthless subordination of principle to expediency, the unwillingness to make objec- tive assessment of the rights and wrongs of a dispute ; we risk the domination by our own fears for the effect of one side's victory upon the balance of world power. If we are to counter Communism's hold on the altruism of youth, we can only do it by offering an attitude of mind, a type of leadership, a kind of society which shows up the fundamental falseness of power politics, and doctrinaire ruthlessness, whether politically Right or Left. I think Colin McDonald would agree that latent in China there are men with the qualities this requires. They are to be found among the " non-political " groups. Let us beware before we drive them finally

over to Communism.—Yours faithfully, TONY GIBSON. 44 Mecklenburgh Square, W.C. r.