Yet a general critique is necessary, because war and peace are not only a function of Communism: they depend also on the state of health and illness in Western culture. There are many phases of Western life which are repulsively materialistic. The spirit of business and gain, the maddening variety of things exciting your concupiscence,…
Yet a general critique is necessary, because war and peace are not only a function of Communism: they depend also on the state of health and illness in Western culture.
There are many phases of Western life which are repulsively materialistic. The spirit of business and gain, the maddening variety of things exciting your concupiscence, the utter selfishness of uncoordinated activity, all this is not something to attract and inspire. To the superficial observer who is unable to penetrate to the core of love and truth which is still at the heart of the West, there is little to choose between the soulless materialism of the West and the militant materialism of the East.
Quality is in eclipse. Quantity and size dominate. Not the better and truer, but the larger and physically stronger: these call forth moral approbation.
There is a corresponding bankruptcy of fundamental ideas. There is thus in this realm an unequal struggle for the hearts of men between Communism and the West. Communism displays a set of generic ideas—I believe for the most part false—in which it passionately believes, for which Communists are willing—I believe misguidedly—to die. There is no comparable ideological passion in the West. The talk about democracy, freedom, representative government, is woefully inadequate: it deals for the most part with pure form, sheer external machinery. It does not satisfy man’s deepest cravings for friendship and understanding and truth and love.
Politically the West will not serve the cause of peace by allying itself with dark regimes just because it is more expedient not to disturb them. Such regimes are running sores on the body politic of humanity. The West must be honest enough to rebuke and challenge them. It must firmly lead them into the broad ways of responsible change. Their peoples are poised to see whether the West acts from principle or from expediency. And the subversive whispers of world revolution become more and more potent the more these peoples despair of their rulers and the West.
Nor does it do merely to reject Communism. A positive alternative must be suggested. The only effective answer to Communism is a genuine spiritualized materialism which seeks to remove every trace of social injustice without loss of the higher values which constitute the very soul of the West. Communism cannot be met by a mere nay; it requires a mighty yea which will do full justice to man’s material needs but will at the same time place them in their subordinate position in the scale of values.
The tragedy of the world today is that the traditions which embody the deepest truth are not bothering clearly, sufficiently, responsibly, boldly to articulate themselves.
Whatever be the weakness and decadence of the West, it still has one saving glory: the University is free, the Church is free. It is a great thing to preserve unbroken the tradition of free inquiry started by Plato and Aristotle, and the tradition of love started by God. Truth can still be sought, and God can still be loved and proclaimed in joy and freedom. And this fact alone is going to save us. It will not be by pacts, or by atomic bombs, or by economic arrangements, or by the United Nations, that peace will be established, but by the freedom of the Church and the University each to be itself. Communism does not know what it has done when it subjected the Church and the University to its own dictates.