Peace in the Family of Man
By Lester B. Pearson
in service to the ideals of Peace
Centres for Teaching Peace,
In building peace in the world.
by Robert Stewart, Director of Canadian
Centres for Teaching Peace http://www.peace.ca
; email stewartr [at] peace.ca
I first learned about Lester B.
Pearson’s book “Peace in the Family of Man” from a presentation by Senator
Landon Pearson at our First Annual Peace Education Conference in
It was a pleasant surprise to learn about
and read Mr. Pearson’s book. It
struck me as unfortunate that this veritable goldmine of peace information from
a Canadian Prime Minister, and
Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, was a “well kept secret”.
(It is also unfortunate that many Canadians do not know that Prime
Minister Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.)
Many of the “pearls of wisdom” from
Mr. Pearson in this book are as relevant today as they were in 1968 when he gave
these lectures. As a tribute, I
wished to help make Mr. Pearson’s words available throughout the world.
It is also very important for Canadians to
consider our responsibility to help build peace in our communities and world.
opportunity and responsibility to build upon Mr. Pearson’s work and make our
country a Peace Education “Student/Tourist Destination”, and a source of
skilled Peace Consultants/expertise available to serve the world.
Canadian Leaders (government, industry,
education, religious, etc.) have a special responsibility to build peace at home
I have taken the liberty of highlighting
some of Mr. Pearson’s comments that particularly struck me.
I hope Mr. Pearson’s words move you as they have me.
[Note - This text is also available in Microsoft Word format at http://www.peace.ca/Peace_in_the_Family_of_Man.doc . When you read the book, you will note that the male gender is used in general. At the time the book was written, 1968, there was less awareness of gender issues. Please consider the male gender usage interchangeable for both genders.]
After a lifetime devoted to the cause of international peace, one of its most distinguished servants here reflects on the state of the world today and the prospects for peace in the family of man. Mr. Pearson’s commentary reveals the personal qualities that have established him as a great conciliator: understanding, patience, reasonableness, and the ability to lighten his arguments with a gently ironic sense of humor. These qualities inform his judgments as he discusses the polarization of international power, the threat of nuclear war, the means of increasing political and economic co-operation, the role of the United Nations, and the prospects for the future.
He begins after the First World War, when those who discussed disarmament at Geneva did so in the conviction that there would be no more war, and ends as the major powers, armed like gladiators to the limits of their endurance, confront each other on a high wire in an era when travelers in outer space have reminded us that our planet is home to all the human race. If Mr. Pearson is not optimistic, he is not disillusioned. He makes clear the futility of attempts at quick solutions and re-states the urgent need to bring to the creation of a unified international community the same intensity of personal commitment we bring to domestic affairs.
The reader will find that sense of personal commitment here, beneath the familiar unpretentious style, and a clear statement of the ideas and attitudes that must direct actions of both governments and citizens if there is to be stability in the world and hope for all its peoples.
This book contains the six Reith Lectures broadcast over the BBC in the autumn of 1968.
1. Peace in the family of man
2. The balance of fear
3. The united states of the world
4. Co-operation through economics
5. A poor thing, but our own
6. Which way will it go?
1. PEACE IN THE FAMILY OF MAN
It was with some hesitation that I accepted the invitation – and the honour – to join the distinguished company of Reith Lecturers. After I read earlier lectures and appreciated their literary excellence and academic distinction I realized that my hesitation was justified.
While I disagree with the cynic – I am bound to – who came to the depressing conclusion that a man can only begin to think when he ceases to work, I confess that my activities in recent years – and even in recent months – have not given me the time or opportunity to buttress my thoughts, if not with logic and learning, at least with adequate research.
I am also acutely aware, from my life in the world of active politics, national and international, how great is the gap between many of the ideas and ideals which I will express in these talks as essential to peace in the family of man; and the hard reality of the practices and policies that dominate our world today.
If, having abandoned the restraining responsibilities of office, my reach may now seem far beyond my grasp, I can only echo hopefully the poet’s question, ‘What’s a heaven for?’
It is a question that not only Reith Lecturers but even practical and pressured politicians ought to keep in mind.
The first sixteen years of my life were spent in the Edwardian end of the Victorian era. It was a time when we felt that God was in his heaven and all was well with our world. For a young Canadian that world was a very small part of a province, of a dominion, in an empire on which the sun was said never to set.
And then in August 1914 the armies moved, and it all ended. For me there followed four years of unheroic but never to be forgotten military service overseas; the sacrifice of many of my friends, and a large part of my generation. When that war ended, fifty years and one week ago, those of us who survived, resolved; ‘never again – it must not be’.
The League of Nations which was born of that war seemed to embody that resolve – as well as the hopes and ideals of millions who had gone through its horror and tragedy in order, we were told, to make the world secure against it repetition. The League was an organization founded on Woodrow Wilsonian idealism; on which we hoped, the French especially, to build a practical and realistic structure for international co-operation and collective security. But the will was lacking; and so was international trust. Fear remained first among the emotions and it is not a good base for peace.
I recall my own very modest part as a civil servant in Canadian delegations to League assemblies after 1930.
I shall never forget the
outburst of idealism in
I remember even more vividly
those days of hope in 1935 when the
That, to me, was the highest
point of international progress between the wars.
It was soon followed by the lowest; with the shoddy betrayal of
international sanctions by us all, and the desertion of the brave victim.
I have felt ever since that this abject failure of collective action
against Fascist Italy’s aggression in
I recall one conversation I had
at that time with a British naval friend, who was worried that even the
ineffective sanctions that had been adopted might lead to war with Fascist Italy
– fighting war. ‘We dare not go
further along this path,’ he said, ‘because the British Navy is in no
condition at this time to wage war in the
So the League collapsed and
World War II began. 1939 merely
confirmed that those who
are not able to read the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its tragedies.
As World War II was drawing to an end many of us were encouraged to
believe that this time we had learned its tragic lessons; that this time the
world would effectively organize for peace.
What went wrong this second time?
Not the Charter we drew up at
The weakness was not limitation
of membership. That only became
apparent later when seven hundred million Chinese came to be represented by a
government in exile on the
It was not because of the veto
power of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
That was only a symptom, not the disease.
It merely underlined the fact that the United Nations could work
effectively only if the five Great Powers – and particularly the
That co-operation soon became impossible, on any acceptable terms.
And so the cold war began.
How could we expect the United Nations to grow in strength and authority as a world organization in these circumstances? Instead of being a pathway to peace and security, it became far too often a battlefield in the cold war.
This was nowhere more apparent than in the effort to organize international security. The Council which the Charter had decreed should be the main agency for such security became, in the words of Mr. St-Laurent, then Canadian Prime Minister, ‘frozen in futility and divided by dissension’. No international force could be organized under its jurisdiction.
Most important of all was the failure to establish international control of the atomic weapon which had brought a new and potentially fatal dimension to destruction and a new and dangerous element into diplomacy and defence policy.
My mind goes back, again, to a
personal experience. I was Canadian
On a Sunday morning, the two
Prime Ministers, with a few advisors – I was the Canadian one – went for a
cruise with the President down the
At one point Mr. Truman said,
‘Now, we will go around the table, and I’ll ask everybody’s opinion as to
what we should do about the bomb.’ This
was the first time I had ever been asked by a head of state to express my views,
and in the presence of my Prime Minister, on such a vital subject.
I was a little diffident about saying anything.
But not much was needed. All
I had to say was, ‘There’s only one thing to be done, and that’s to get in
touch with other powers, especially the USSR, which will become a nuclear power
shortly, and draft an agreement for international control of this new
destructive force. If the
The great opportunity was lost.
Once the Russians had the bomb, the nuclear deterrent, not millions of men with guns and bayonets, became the guarantee of peace and protection. We have balanced on this thin edge of safety ever since.
The United Nations, however, did
not give up the fight for collective, international security arrangements.
It even took armed action against the aggressor in
Later, when the inability of the Security Council to guarantee security or organize force against aggression became all too apparent, the Assembly (where the veto did not operate) was authorized by resolution to mobilize international force for international action to preserve the peace or defeat aggression; a step taken against the bitter opposition of the Communist and some other members, who insisted that it was in violation of the Charter.
It was this authorization which
made possible the intervention of the United Nations’ Assembly in the
In October 1956 the
The UN Assembly was called to consider the matter. Finding myself once again in New York representing Canada at the United Nations, I was naturally anxious to do anything I could to find a United Nations solution by which the fighting could be brought to an end; by which those who had felt they had had to intervene could honourably withdraw; and by which the danger of a Commonwealth break-up would be removed.
As I saw it, the United Nations
must move quickly to set up some kind of international police force which could
come between the combatants, end the fighting, and prevent rash action by the
I discussed the idea of such a
move with Dag Hammarskjold who was at first doubtful about its timing and
practicability; and with some other delegations, including the
There is a time in an international crisis when all are so frightened of what might happen that they will accept many things that they would not have even contemplated before the crisis; and indeed are unlikely to contemplate a week after it has ended. So at the time it was introduced my resolution for a police force was greeted with almost unanimous acclaim. Everybody was looking for some way to resolve this dangerous situation and this resolution seemed acceptable for that purpose.
It was passed early in the morning, and we got to work at once in Mr. Hammarskjold’s office. The resolution gave us only seventy-two hours to report back to the Assembly on the organization of the Force. But before that deadline was reached, we had completed our report, for submission to the Assembly.
It was a thrilling moment. We had to secure contingents from various countries, arrange for Unitede Nations uniforms, badges, identification; provide for air transportation; above all, get somebody over at once. It didn’t matter very much how many we could secure, where they came from, what they looked like. If only a hundred were to appear, at once, men of the United Nations, that would be better than a division later. Wasn’t it Stalin who said, ‘How many divisions has the Pope?’? Well, this United Nations Force was beyond divisions. It was the conscience of the world community, acting to stop a small war and prevent a bigger one. Whether it actually succeeded in preventing that bigger war, we will never know. But it certainly succeeded in bringing this particular fighting to an end for some years. An Emergency Force of the United Nations remained between the parties to the dispute. When it was forced to withdraw, we know what happened.
The Assembly on this occasion had discharged important responsibilities in maintaining peace and security. But this was not the way it was meant to be done by the Charter. It was the Security Council that was meant to be the principal peacekeeping agency.
The cold war made this impossible. So when hope of organizing security under the Security Council on a universal basis failed, those of us who believed in collective action, rather than national action for defence, felt that we should not allow the best to become the enemy of the good. We should try to make regional security arrangements. Those governments that were ready to subordinate their national sovereign rights to the greater need of peace and international security should get together for that purpose. So began the talks that led to NATO.
I was as much a United Nations man after NATO as before. But I felt strongly that the failure of the Security Council to provide security on a universal basis should not prevent the formation of a regional security organization.
I felt the more strongly about
this because the destruction of democracy in
Yet in NATO I saw more than a military alliance. Along with others, I hoped that it might develop into a genuine Atlantic community, organized on a supranational basis.
That is why I was happy when Article 2 – which is sometimes called the Canadian Article – was put into the Treaty to provide for co-operation in other than military matters. This seemed to me to be essential. A military alliance rarely survives the crisis and danger which fives birth to it. We were forming this alliance in a time of crisis and, unless there were some other cement than mutual fear and the consciousness of a common danger, we could expect the military alliance to disappear when the danger seemed to disappear.
The attitude of the bigger NATO
powers was friendly but skeptical. ‘OK,
if you idealistic Canadians want to do this, it can’t do anybody any harm, but
don’t expect it to do anybody much good; or worry too much about it.’
Well, the smaller members in the alliance did
worry about it. They were anxious to
make NATO a genuine collective organization for more than defence.
They have only partially succeeded. NATO
did become an effective organization for collective security, but it was
impossible to develop Article 2 as we had hoped.
On the economic side, NATO was both too small and too large in its
membership. On the political side,
the smaller powers were willing to give up more of their sovereign rights than
the larger ones were. This was
natural. Their sovereignty in any
event was more legal than actual. The
There was one other development
in NATO which seems to me of significance. The
Nevertheless, for strategic and
military considerations which seemed overriding to those most directly
The position of
But the Russian reaction might well be: ‘This Turkish base is really an offensive and aggressive NATO base. It is a threat to us.’
I remember – if I may digress
for a moment – long and weary discussion at the Geneva Disarmament Conference
of the thirties on the distinction between offensive and defensive weapons: if a
naval gun is 7.8 inches, say, it is offensive, but if you bring it down to 4.6
inches it is defensive. The
arguments went on for days and days. One
night at a café in
Well, the Russians are in front
of any kind of a weapon on the Turkish border, so undoubtedly to them it’s an
offensive weapon, however defensive the policy may be behind it.
I had personal evidence of the
importance, and the difficulty, of doing this during a weekend I spent with Mr.
Khruschev in October 1955, at his palatial home on the Black Sea near
We had hours of very frank,
no-holds-barred, talk. Mr. Khruschev
kept referring to the danger of renewed Nazi aggression and the mistake that
I told him I could understand
their feelings but I did not share their fears.
I believed that
I made not the slightest impression on him.
By the same token I suppose there’s not much use trying to argue with the Soviet leaders now that they should have left Czechoslovakia alone; that the Czechs should be free to choose their own kind of freedom and democratic socialism; that they might even be better and stronger allies of Russia as a free socialist democracy. There was no way in which the Czechs could convince the Russians of that, and so the Soviet forces moved in. In so doing they underlined once more how close we are to the brink of a destructive nuclear war; and reminded us once again of the agonizing paradox that our main hope for peace at present depends on the capacity for annihilation of the very weapons we fear.
Certainly the only real deterrent we now have is the fear that war will destroy us all. Yet in the long run, without fundamental changes in international society, this fear will either diminish or disappear, in which case we shall quarrel and threaten ourselves into conflict in the old traditional way; or the fear will become so great that we will be driven to fight in order to remove it.
In either case the result will be nuclear war. I do not believe that if the Big Powers begin all-out military action against each other they will be able to refrain from using any weapon they have. Once in the middle of a full-out war there would be no deterrent against the escalation of weapons. There never has been at any time in history. In a war for survival a nation will use everything it possesses in order to achieve victory, even if it loses half its population in the attempt. What entitles us to think that we are different in this respect from what we were a hundred years ago, or fifty years ago? So we literally hover on the brink of survival or complete destruction. If we don’t do something urgently to solve basic world problems, security problems, economic and social problems; problems of the rich and the poor, of the developed and the developing nations, there will be an explosion – a nuclear explosion, which will plunge us all into the abyss.
Yet there is no cause for despair.
We know what we have to do, and it can be done; even though I am acutely
aware of the difficulty of bringing about the necessary social, political and
economic changes which will have to precede peace and security through the
establishment of effective international order.
The demand for easy and clear-cut solutions of the ‘
Our situation is rather like that of a man in a runaway car on an icy slope gathering speed towards a precipice, who has to say to himself, ‘If I slam the brake on, I shall skid. But I know there is a way of stopping this thing. Carefully now …’
Steadiness and patience are not qualities too widely
esteemed in the tense and uneasy world of today.
But only steadiness and patience in combination with idealism,
determination, hard work and commonsense will see us through to peace in the
family of man.
As these lectures continue I will be discussing some of the hopeful and less hopeful signs that face us as we try to move towards this goal.
2. THE BALANCE OF FEAR
‘An austere ostrich of awesome authority was lecturing younger ostriches one day on the superiority of their species.’
These are the first words of one of James Thurber’s Fables for our Time, about a conference of ostriches called to find out why they could not fly. One impatient young ostrich, Oliver by name, was complaining bitterly that while man, an animal could fly sitting down, ostriches, birds, couldn’t fly at all.
An old ostrich looked severely at Oliver, first with one eye and then with the other. ‘Man is flying too fast for a world that is round,’ he said. ‘Soon he will catch up with himself in a great rear-end collision, and man will never know that what hit man from behind was man.’ So far, we’ve avoided this rear-end collision, but we shouldn’t be too complacent about our escape.
We have been very slow – I hope not fatally slow – to recognize the revolutionary nature of the change that has taken place in the world in these last fifty years. In the late Senator Robert Kennedy’s account of the Cuban crisis, there is one small symptom of this. ‘There were those,’ he wrote ‘…who felt the missiles did not alter the balance of power…’ In other words, there were those who applied during this crisis Nineteenth century concepts to Twentieth century situations.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the world, or at least the
dominant western part of it, was held together by a balance of power system
which was rough and often inequitable, but which worked.
The European powers who largely ran that world had an underlying mutual
interest in making the system work; not as a means of avoiding war, because it
didn’t avoid war, but at least of avoiding the chaos which seems to follow the
wars of this century. They even
observed certain rules of conduct, certain restraints and the acceptance of
certain limitations in the way they fought each other. There was always the
possibility, indeed the likelihood, of the dynastic enemy of today becoming the
dynastic ally of tomorrow. The
primary object of this kind of war was peace and policy.
Victory was a means to an end. The people were expected only to fight and die, which they did usually
without reasoning why. If,
for instance, you look at the reaction to the struggles between
All this ended for ever in August 1914, when we entered on what might be called the wars of political religion of the Twentieth century; passionate democratic and national crusades; wars of unconditional surrender; of squeezing the vanquished until the pips squeak, in the rousing phrase of Sir Eric Geddes in December 1918. So today, instead of a pluralistic, conventional, balance of power world, we have a bi-polar nuclear world. Most of the powerful, though not necessarily the most populous, nations are grouped in two blocs, centered around two super-powers. The earlier forces of balance that made for at least some degree of order no longer operate. We are now groping for other forces to take their place and which will be adequate to keep the peace. All we can be certain of at the moment is a balance of nuclear deterrence between the two super-powers.
This present polarization of the world into two power groups is a stage in history. It will pass. I hope our planet does not pass with it. For the present, the important thing is not to expect earlier political or strategic ideas and methods to apply to this new world situation.
The old political alliances of a hundred or a hundred and fifty years ago were not alliance of peoples; of alliances of popular governments. That development began with the French revolution. But, even in the Nineteenth century, the normal alliance was one between dynasties or governments representing privileged classes only. Such international groupings did not attempt to divide the world up into two spheres of influence, with a great coalition on one side and another on the other. There was a flexibility within the group. You could escape from your commitments relatively easily. Popular democratic passions were not involved as they are today. The system often resulted in war, I know, but not in the kind of war we have had in this century. True, the source of the first World War may be found in the old kind of European alliance. But that war also ended the old system through the passionate popular feelings that were aroused and the influence of those feelings that were aroused and the influence of those feelings on the peace settlement that followed.
After 1918 the rise of Soviet Communism and German Nazism introduced
other new and revolutionary elements. When
German Nazism was destroyed in 1945, there was left a mighty, but shattered,
Let us suppose – and, I assure you, this is purely hypothetical –
that there were a successful Communist coup in Greece, and that the new Greek
Government wanted to align itself with the Warsaw Pact.
But if that help included the use of nuclear force, then the
All this illustrates the great difference between the position in which the United States would find itself if an overseas allied country after a revolutionary change of regime decided to move over to the other camp; and that of the USSR which can call a satellite to heel with relative ease, as we have seen it do in Czechoslovakia; ignoring any hostile reaction, or countering it if necessary.
Last summer’s crisis made perfectly plain the attitude of the
The new doctrine may be somewhat ambiguously worded, but in the case of
Today diplomacy, in its major manifestation for peace and security, revolves around the two blocs I have been talking about. The most dangerous aspect of this two-bloc system is its rigidity. The old political alliances, because they were alliances between governments, were flexible arrangements. States, as I have said, could escape from them without too much difficulty. New leaders would emerge, and the groupings were constantly shifting. Now, because there are still only two powers that have the capacity to destroy the world – and themselves – others circle uneasily around them, as satellites or as allies. The peripheral members haven’t the power of mobility to plat a game of shifts and balances even if they wished to. This kind of relationship may be inevitable in a bi-polar would of the kind we live in, but it doesn’t constitute a solid and enduring foundations for peace or for peace or for a genuinely collective international organization to preserve peace.
A few years back, when we seemed to be in greater immediate danger of nuclear war than now, there was a feeling among the smaller nations in the Atlantic alliance that the vital decisions on out side were in the hands, not so much of a group f allied states, as of a group of men in Washington. This feeling expressed itself in the slogan: ‘No annihilation without representation.’
I remember once, before a meeting of the NATO Council in Paris in 1954
the late Mr. John Foster Dulles, the American Secretary of State, was dining
with four or five of the members of the Council, of whom I was one.
He was telling us, politely but frankly, that the smaller members of the
alliance complained too much about lack of consultation; that the situation was
so serious that we should rally round the
This incident has remained in my mind as an indication of the difficulty in building up a genuine collective security system on a free democratic basis when one country is so much more powerful than the others, even when the desire of that country is to act as only one member of a free coalition.
In those early days here were people – there may still be a few – who
talked about a pre-emptive war as the only way by which we could remove this
danger of attack: to strike first. There’s
less panic talk like that now. There
is even less talk – of there was before
Even in those earlier days we should have been thinking not only of direct military aggression or of indirect, ideological aggression, against which force itself is no defense. We should also have been thinking of how we could best counter the appeal of Communism to the emerging millions of the developing and uncommitted world; the appeal of what might seem to them to be a short cut to welfare and development as well as a protection against the return of imperialism; an appeal that could also, however, cause conflict on a new front between the blocs.
When you have to compete against this kind of appeal, you can only hope to show by policy and example that your kind of society offers the best model to emulate. You can only try to give people in need more assistance and a deeper understanding than Communism can ever do: while making sure there are no inadmissible political strings attached to your sympathy or your assistance. I think we are more aware now of the necessity for this kind of counter-appeal. But we’re still not making a good enough job of it.
Neither are the communists, whose mid-Victorian frame of reference is
notoriously inapplicable to the middle of this century.
Karl Marx is as dead as Queen
Does Communist imperialism represent primarily a messianic urge to spread a new religion or is it a Russian desire to gain power and dominance for a sovereign state? Or is it simple a defensive conviction that capitalist countries, unless they are faced with unconquerable military power, will plot to destroy Communist societies, and in particular the Socialist Fatherland? I find it difficult now to make up my own mind whether the compulsion is more offensive than defensive. I didn’t have so much difficulty fifteen years ago. I was satisfied then it was almost totally offensive. Now I’m not sure.
There are Communist leaders who have not yet abandoned the ideological
desire to establish Communism throughout the world.
How could they? This is their
religion. Mr. Khruschev used to
insist on this ad nauseam: ‘We don’t have to fight you, because your
grandchildren will all be Communists anyway.’
The threat, however, is not the same as we considered it to be in the
early days of the cold war. For one
thing, there are more members of the ‘establishment’ in the
The fact is that the debate about Russian motives is too often argued from absolute positions on either side. The truth is almost certainly that both offensive and defensive motivations are all mixed up in the Soviet people, as they’re all mixed up in everybody. The Soviets want to spread Communism because they have been taught to believe that this is the best way to organize society and liberate man kind. But they also want to spread Communism for their own protection, because Western capitalist behavior, ever since the interventions on the side of the White Armies against the Bolshevik Revolution, has persuaded them that their gospel was right when it insisted that capitalism would not cease to attempt to destroy Marxist Socialism.
In the process of creating a strong state, and strong military forces for
this purpose, Russian chauvinism has also been aroused; just as racial Chinese
arrogance has been whetted by national revolutionary emotions.
As always, there are men willing to exploit these emotions in order to
advance their own political power. It
doesn’t make much sense, however, to talk about a common Communist purpose as
something solid and monolithic, even inside the
In Stalin’s day, I once had a private and personal discussion with a
highly placed Soviet official. I
told him that I have very interested in some questions that we never mentioned
in official discussions. ‘How do
your processes of government work? What is your decision-making process? When
does the Politburo meet? Who decides
what will be talked about? Who draws
up the agenda? And what kind of
arguments do you have?’ His reply
was illuminating: ‘We usually meet around midnight.
There’s lots of talk, based on an agenda drafted by the Secretariat.
Everybody has an opportunity to express his views. But,’ he added,
‘whatever view is expressed, and though it may conceivably have some influence
on the leader, when the time comes he says “it will be done this way” and it
is done. There’s no nonsense,
there’s no further discussion.’ You
may say that this is not too far removed from the procedure in some democratic
cabinets. But my Soviet friend made
the difference clear to me when he indicated that it was not wise to be on the
opposition side of an argument too often. If
you were, it was likely to be
I don’t think the Russian system is operating in quite the same
despotic way at the present time, though of course it remains a totalitarian
dictatorship. For instance, there
seems to have been a division of opinion inside the Soviet government over
Externally, too, there have been some chips off the old Communist bloc; in fact, there’s been a deep Chinese split in it. This division, which may have reduced somewhat the threat of East-West war, has also given a greater feeling of assurance to the non-committed countries, and more flexibility to their policies.
The result of these developments is that, while two great blocs still exist in the world, and their control and power centers remain in Moscow and Washington, the other members of the blocs are less integrated into these centers, while the uncommitted are more confident in their non-commitment.
If, however, there is to be any significant development in co-operative
There is also a dawning recognition of a community of scientific
interest, which has increased as we have begun to move out of our own planet.
Even a common political concern has been shown at the United Nations on
certain matters, though usually it has been disguised from the uninitiated, and
in any even is not given the publicity that the more customary bitter verbal
conflicts always secure. This common
concern between the Soviet Union and the
If co-operation is to develop, if we are to make any progress, there will
also have to be compromises on specific issues.
At times these compromises will be very unsatisfactory.
Western governments will be bitterly attacked because they may seem to be
acting counter to political morality. As
one who has been in domestic and international politics for many years, I know
that while justice can never be discovered from the
means of achieving it, sometimes we have to accept a settlement based on very
rough justice as the lesser of evils.
That is the only valid reason why we have today two
Another cause of tension between the two blocs has been economic; including the gap between their standards of life. But this also is changing for the better.
The Russian people have reason to look forward to their economic future with far more confidence than some years ago. Their consumer tensions; if I may call them that, have been reduced. There is even the beginning of a perception of common economic interests between them and the West, as both sides modify their economic ideologies.
These are at least hopeful signs. But we would be very foolish to take for granted that this new international awareness in the Soviet Union; this new, if hesitant, move towards some very limited freedom, or at least less rigidity in totalitarianism; this growing sense of material wellbeing, will automatically subdue aggressive national and ideological drives. History doesn’t permit us to draw that kind of conclusions. There are too many indications that political and economic growth feeds national pride, and leads to an assertive and often an aggressive mentality. A nation on the march, and on the make, with enormous power at its call, is always potentially dangerous; always appears as a threat to somebody, especially when it believes it has a world mission.
Soviet citizens are not bearded moujiks or lumpen proletarians incapable of handling the sophisticated mechanisms of modern civilization. They are a very gifted race, with qualities of intellectual brilliance and physical endurance that certainly qualify them to be leaders in the world. We may hope that they can find some satisfaction for their national emotions of pride and patriotism in gold medals at the Olympic Games; in trying to set records in outer space; and in catching up with the West in computers and Coca-Cola. If not, and if their intention should be the simple aggressive one of seeking out the first opportunity to destroy by military action the Western world, and plant their flag on all the continents, well, in its savage way this would at least be a clear-cut situation, and we would be forced to cope with it, even though everything and everybody might be destroyed in the process.
It could be, however, that
a greater danger lies in their obsession that we
are going to strike them; and
that out of this comes the drive for them to set up rocket bases and do other
things that contribute to our sense of
insecurity. This, in its turn,
leads our side to establish bases near their borders, which increases their
sense of insecurity. So the vicious and fatal circle is formed. We cut
through it by stumbling into a war which we never meant to begin in the first
In all this I am not advocating that we abandon our military defenses whenever things seem to be improving politically; or that we should rush in panic to add to them when there is a set-back. Strong military power will have to be retained for deterrence, for defense, and as a basis on which you can give strength to your diplomacy and your negotiations; while rejecting the obscenity of ‘overkill’ and avoiding provocative or threatening displays of force like the plague.
There are people in the Kremlin, and no doubt in the Pentagon, who believe in military power as an agent of the wrong kind of persuasion: not as something from which you negotiate for accommodation, but as something to be used as a threat to bring about the achievement of a political objective. This influence shows itself in another way, which General Eisenhower went out of his way to refer to in his last broadcast as President of the United States: ‘We have been compelled,’ he said, ‘to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions…This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience…In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought of unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.’
President Eisenhower was in a good position to now that a military-industrial complex of this kind can influence, and my increasingly seek to influence, national policy. This would be all the more dangerous if, as part of a general disarmament agreement, certain defense industries which give so much employment, and which have become and important part of the national economy, had to be eliminated. The men who control these industries often wield political and economic power to resist change even more effectively than men in uniform. When they are also allied with those men in uniform, you have a combination which could become a threat to civilian supremacy and even to international co-operation and progress.
Even if we believe that the Russian fear of a threat from outside its borders is basically a paranoiac fear, we ought to understand that from their point of view it is not baseless. Somehow we have got to persuade the Russians and their friends that with common fears we also have common interests; that the greatest of all common interests is the avoidance of war, whether it is brought about by calculation of, as is more likely, by accident; war which could destroy us all. If that seems a policy of Utopia, I’d like to know a better one.
3. THE UNITED STATES OF THE WORLD
In war, at least at the outset- and unless it is the new
What is this national emotion? What value does it have? How are we to move beyond the prejudices, prides, and loyalties that gather around it; the responses to it which we learn in our cradles, and some of us will never unlearn until we reach our coffins?
Nationalism can be a fine and noble emotion; the love of a man for his own country and what it means to him. But the absolute sovereignty of the nation state, with excessive and exclusive nationalism, is the strongest obstacle in the way of building world order, and of the deeper realization of a world community. The first reaction of millions of people today to any proposals for more effective international institutions, for international control of anything, is: ‘this means that foreigners will be taking charge of our affairs.’
One way of gaining a stronger feeling for the whole community of man would be to discover another planet which was inhabited, and where the natives were hostile. (The cynic might add that if they had learned how we conduct our affairs on Earth, they would be bound to be hostile!) An astronaut would come back to earth from Mars or Venus and complain: ‘I was arrested and badly treated.’ He would report this, not as a Russian, or as an Englishman, or as an American, but as an Earthman. Then we would all get together and react vigorously through press, radio and television – ‘You can’t do that to us.’ And ‘us’ would mean the inhabitants of this planet.
Astronauts returning from outer space have referred to the feeling they had on coming back to ‘earth’; that this was their earth; this was their planet; it belonged to all humans. Through personal experience they are able to relate – as man had never been able to before – their own world, as a unit, to all the other worlds to which they had got closer than any other human beings.
To turn from a hypothetical future to an actual past, I hope I won’t be considered subversive myself when I give the opinion that the most subversive anti-national document of modern times, far more so than Karl Marx’s Communist manifesto, was the Declaration of Independence by the Fathers of the American Revolution.
In the Eighteenth century, the idea that colonies could not only defy the mother country, but from a federal society of their own, was considered not only as dangerously revolutionary, but as quite impossible. When the American colonies declared their independence in 1776, each became a separate sovereign state. It was realized, however, though there was strong support for the narrower idea, that there had to be a broader basis for viable freedom than this separatism.
It was James Madison, who later became president, who said, ‘If that
were all that was achieved, (he meant sovereign status for each colony) it would
have been worthless.’ To him it would have been sovereign fragmentation
Things could easily have gone that separatist, sovereign way in
What we have to do now is to extend this idea of a federal union of
independent political communities into a far wider area than was ever considered
at the time of the American Revolution, so that such national communities
throughout the world will one day become part of a larger international
community. The problem today is not the creation of new
The Americans, after all, reached their goal of federation only after a
long, hard struggle; and after one of the bloodiest of all civil wars
seventy-five years later. Yet theirs
was a union of states which began with many strong bonds between them.
The process will certainly be infinitely more difficult for states in the
world of today. But then, too, the
need is infinitely greater. Perhaps
we should begin with another
subversive declaration, suitable to the conditions of 1968, not 1768; that the peace and security of people take priority over
the sovereignty of states; that the compound nation of
There is a further difficulty. The American Union and the rule of law within its borders were established by force. But the establishment of the international rule of law cannot depend on force. We have to do it by agreement. We have to do it step by step through international institutions. And we may have only years, not centuries in which to succeed; yet only the tentative and limited first steps have already been taken.
Before seeing what these steps are, and how far they have carried us, I should go back to the question I asked earlier and define my terms; especially what I mean by the word ‘nationalism’. I don’t know any word that has come to mean more things to different people.
Nationalism doesn’t necessarily mean sovereignty. The word ‘nation’ does not mean state, though this is the meaning most often given to it. Indeed, I often use it carelessly in that sense myself, thereby adding to the confusion that I now want to clear up. A nation can, of course, coincide with a state, and often does. But there can be more than one nation inside a sovereign state, and often is. Let’s not confuse nation with race, either. Race is a far wider concept. It denotes the biological unity of a group with certain physical characteristics. A race can comprise many nations and many states.
Once you begin to look for common factors which determine a nation or
nationality, you get into difficulty. Language
is not necessarily a common factor.
Economic interest is not a determining factor. A nation state will often cling to a separate existence against its best economic interests. Neither is religion; though a common religion – or a common language – makes the sense of nationalism stronger. Perhaps the most frequently occurring factor is a common culture; but that word is so elusive and hard to define that it is not always very helpful as a criterion. By culture I mean common habits, common traditions, common customs, and, above all, a common desire to live together as a separate group; as a communal society, with certain well-defined loyalties and objectives. Ernest Renan in 1882 described a nation as a ‘daily plebiscite’. It depends, he said on ‘the consent, the desire clearly expressed, to continue life as a community.’ Perhaps we should merely admit that we may not be able exactly to define a nation, but we know one when we see it.
Nationalism is often made more confusing by the presence of ethnic groups
within states; groups which are not nations even within the definition I have
given. Take the
In my own country,
If in our world we cannot maintain existing political federations with unity on essential matters, but with recognition of differences of culture and tradition and language – and even special constitutional rights – what chance is there in the future of building up a wider international community where these separate racial, national, and even political differences can be merged, not submerged but merged in the community of man? From my own Canadian experience I believe that cultural and social differences inside sovereign states, as well as cultural influences on them from outside, can and should strengthen rather than weaken a modern political society; that political unity, in other words, does not have to mean either cultural or social uniformity. It would be foolish and futile to insist that such differences should be eliminated in the interest of a single, sovereign political unity. It would be equally futile and foolish in the international field to insist on the complete obliteration of national differences in the interests of international unity. National societies meet a deep need in people’s hearts and minds. It is difficult to become passionate about something that includes everything. So we have to find a way to reconcile the narrower, more intense patriotism with a wider loyalty. I think it can be done. I think it must be done.
Historical experience shows that a state can develop successfully with
different national identities. The
Scottish people are a national society. You
certainly know a Scots group when you see it.
They have managed to maintain, and vigorously, their separateness inside
It has been argued that Scotland and Wales would be nations in a more
meaningful and satisfying sense if they were able to have more of the
institutions of local self-government; if, for instance, they had their own
provincial assemblies. That is not
for me to say. But surely it is
possible in a country like the
If those who believe in separate nationalities in this cultural sense
insist that each nation must also become a separate sovereign state in the
political sense, where do we get? I
know that if you encourage the awareness of national separateness in the
cultural and social sense, you are bound to create in some people’s minds an
idea that this awareness cannot be carried to its logical conclusion without
political independence too. But
if this were accepted in all national societies, where would it get us?
Would the people of
Apply this extreme political separatist argument to
In 1962 Mr. Pierre Trudeau, my successor as Prime Minister of Canada,
wrote this. ‘The state of
For my part, if the idea of political separatism is carried to its
logical conclusion, I may yet be seen carrying a banner inscribed, ‘Long Live
the Union of free
It is interesting to apply the doctrine of nationalism, as I have been
describing it, to the
Nationalism is often associated with the struggle of unfree peoples for independence when it can be a very powerful and noble emotion. During the struggle for freedom, the new feeling of nationalism and unity can be stronger even than the older separatist tribal feeling. But after freedom has been achieved, the more restricted loyalties often become strong again. Nationalism is good when it leads to freedom from oppression. But it is less good when, after people become free, it is used for a return to fragmentation; or, at the other extreme, to political or racial arrogance by the new rulers; to the forced and total cultural and linguistic integration of unwilling groups into a centralized state; or to forced exclusion of others from that state. There is nothing to be said for this kind of nationalism. It leads to racial discrimination and arrogance, which is to be condemned in any society. We are all descendants of Adam and we are all products of racial miscegenation. Racial purity depends on where you start to count.
It was only a few years ago that we thought of Nigeria, the most populous
of the new African states, as an example of what could be done to reconcile
tribal feeling with national development. It
was a set piece which was working well. So
we thought. Then the whole thing
seemed to be collapsing, because of fierce forces of tribal separation and
tribal domination which had not been sufficiently taken into account when the
constitution of the country was drafted. The
hopes we had for
The civil war in
There have been divisions between nations inside the Commonwealth as
bitter as anything in the United Nations. On
more than one occasion in recent years, the Commonwealth might easily have
broken up: over
It is of great importance to show that this kind of association, of small powers and large powers, of former colonial states and former imperial states, can meet and discuss, and even at times decide together; even though there are no formal bounds, and some divisions between them. I would like to think that such associations as that of the Commonwealth are stages in development to something closer and more united. But certainly if we now tried to make the Commonwealth a more formal association, with demands on its members, with a constitution binding on them, to convert it into some kind of confederation, however loose, it would simply break up. Yet if we can develop, on this multi-racial basis, a new kind of co-operation between free countries, each desiring to work with and help the others, we may be able to give a new and constructive functional expression to the old family feeling that once was strong. In doing so, we will have modified separate and sovereign status in the interests of a deeper feeling of international unity.
This modification is shown elsewhere in the growth of other and more formal international institutions, which in their activities illustrate the increasing need for co-operation between states, as well as the growth of world opinion in favor of it. Sovereign states have accepted, even if not always very warmly, the right of international agencies to conduct ad hoc, or even regular, investigations into their affairs. International inspectors now examine the national books. If you want a loan from the World Bank, of it you want some assistance from the International Monetary Fund, they will send their men around, who look into your national accounts, and into your national financial policies. If you want their help, you have to accept their criticism. Indeed, decisions which concern that most vital part of national sovereignty, your currency, as we now know very well, are no longer solely under national control. This kind of intervention is the price governments must pay for the benefits of international assistance and co-operation; especially in the financial and economic sphere. But it would have been unthinkable a hundred years ago, except in the case of colonies, or subordinate states.
International political investigations are even more difficult to reconcile with national sovereignty, but on occasion they have also been accepted.
I think of one occasion. Some years ago the NATO Council agreed to a procedure by which three officials – British, American and French – were authorized to examine the defense programs and the economic and financial resources of all the member states; and to make recommendations on the contributions of each member to collective defense, so that there would be a fairer sharing of the total burden. That was supra-national progress. True, the members of NATO accepted the recommendations only when it suited them to do so. This showed that the power of decision still resided, ultimately, in the sovereign nation state. Yet our NATO experience has also shown that national decisions can be, and are strongly influenced by the opinions and the recommendations of persons not responsible to your own government but representing an international organization.
In any rational analysis, we are surely entitled to say that sovereign power, exercised through the nation state, which came into being to protect its citizens against insecurity and war, has failed in this century to give them that protection. The rationale for change has been established. The will to make it has not.
4. CO-OPERATION THROUGH ECONOMICS
Earlier I was talking about political problems arising out of the relationship between the two super powers and the threats to peace which flow from them. Tonight I want to talk about economic developments and the way they can influence political relationships; especially those between the materially developed and less-developed countries which constitute the other great division in the family of man.
Today, big corporate business in the industrial capitalist world is becoming by necessity more and more international in its organization and its operations. Maximum production and marketing efficiencies often cannot be realized within the boundaries and the environment of a single state. That is also why separate states often become integrated into larger international economic systems; in order to enjoy the full benefits of technical and economic progress.
The multi-national firm transcends national boundaries, not by crossing them, but by ignoring them through the establishment of subsidiaries in foreign countries. Its success has been so great that not long ago one economist predicted that by 1980 three hundred multi-national corporations would substantially control the business of all the non-Communist world.
This economic evolution is another factor in the erosion of national
sovereignty; or, as some cynics would put it, in the process of universal
Americanization. That is why
some governments oppose it, as a threat to political independence.
The multi-national corporations respond to this by making the necessary
adjustments to ensure that their subsidiaries shall appear as ‘good corporate
citizens’ in the countries where they operate.
They know that otherwise they would soon be in trouble.
It is to their advantage to be a British company in
The fact is that the sovereign states alone is now becoming virtually obsolete as a satisfactory basis for rational economic organizations; at least in industrially developed societies.
Economic growth, with the material benefits that come from the efficiencies of large-scale industrial production, can only realize its full potential in large free market areas extending beyond national boundaries.
This extension leads to the penetration of one economy by another; a
process which has probably progressed furthest in
The same process is well under way in
In the short run, a growing European dependence on American investment
can be economically beneficial as the ‘principle vehicle of technological
progress.’ But in the long run, it
could reduce Europe to the status of a colony, as effectively as
In Servan Schreiber’s view, it will be futile for
Any such project, Servan Schreiber admits, ‘requires an intellectual leap into the future over a thousand discouraging obstacles. To take this step,’ he says, ‘we (Europeans) have to realize that the nation-state is not the ultimate form of social organization and that politics is more than a short term adjustment of power and of interest groups…There is no other solution than forming some kind of federal organization.’
The French writer might have added that the greatest European obstacle to
such a solution is the government of his own country, which gets its inspiration
from a nationalist past that is not going to return, and refuses to learn from
the lessons of the past which have been so tragic for
It may be objected that there is little evidence of any active popular
desire for political federation in any country in
This economic development, I know, is strongly opposed in certain
sections of the Commonwealth. It
also arouses strong patriotic emotions in
There are also those who believe that if
I know European economic integration would mean immediate economic trade difficulties, as well as advantages, for Commonwealth countries; for some more than for others. I know that adjustments would have to be made and shocks cushioned. But we’ve made adjustments in the Commonwealth before, political and constitutional ones. It is a very flexible and resilient association.
When I first joined the Canadian Government service, the new
Commonwealth, with free self-governing dominions, was emerging from the old
Empire. I was told that this would
end the special links between
I know that the present European situation is not comparable to the
evolution of the Commonwealth, but I hope that, if and when all the European
countries give up certain sovereign rights in the interests of a larger
international economic and political community, far from weakening their
relations with other states and peoples, it will make them closer.
I also devoutly hope that any such European development will be quickly
extended beyond Europe, and in particular across the
I want to pass on now to economic relations between the materially developed and less-developed countries, and the urgency of doing more to narrow the production and welfare gap between the parts of this other two-world system. In spite of a huge and unprecedented transfer of resources in the lat twenty years from those that have to those that have not, the rich are still getting richer and the poor, relatively, are getting poorer.
At present, the gap between per capita income in developed and less-developed countries is $1,540; at the present rate of growth it will be $5,540 by the end of the century.
Here’s another statistic. We
are told that the increase in the gross national product of the
Such continued disparity is not likely to promote peace in the family of man. The animosities that will arise from it are incalculable and explosive; especially when the issues are social and political as well as economic. They are mixed up with the transition of peoples from dependence to independence and with a host of emotional impulses that go with a nationalism that has just achieved political power – often suddenly and without sufficient preparation. These impulses become doubly explosive when they are exploited as part of the cold war. But they would be explosive without it.
Many people in the West are afflicted with a sense of guilt in their
relationship with the hungry and impoverished millions in Africa and
It has always seemed to me a somewhat limited interpretation of Christianity which implies an obligation to the less fortunate merely because we may have once done them harm; or to murmur ‘mea culpa’ to justify a good deed.
This confused attitude in the West often has its counterpart in the reaction to aid at the receiving end. Nationalism in former colonies, now free, is possessed with a sense of economic as well as political grievance: a resentment against earlier exploitation, real or imaginary, which too often takes the attention of national leaders off their real problems; and can be used as an excuse for inaction. If there is little or no economic progress after the transfer of power, the new leaders can go on explaining away their failure as a legacy of imperialism. This obscures the essential but sometimes bitter truth that independence, like patriotism, is not enough; that instant freedom does not mean instant prosperity.
It is not easy to argue that sine the poverty was caused by the ‘imperialists’ it is their responsibility now to help in removing economic difficulties by subsidizing the new state for years to come. This might achieve good results, even when it’s not justified on other grounds, if it led to co-operation between the new nation and its former ‘exploiters’. But if the feeling of grievance and bitterness persists, it will make collaboration very difficult. ‘Good riddance’ and ‘please help’ are not easily reconcilable. Private investment, which can be a fruitful way of promoting economic development, is frightened off, and Western taxpayers are discouraged by the unfriendliness of the people they are trying to help. Ultimately, the new nation may find that the easiest way to assure a flow of funds is to exploit its cold war nuisance value and get competitive political and economic bids from both sides; which makes for suspicion and tension rather than co-operation.
In approaching these difficult and sensitive problems, we need to abandon certain easy assumptions. The first is that the difficulties that undoubtedly exist between rich and poor nations are the product of poverty alone, and can be dispelled by filling bellies and dental cavities.
The second is the assumption that the masses in these impoverished countries want no part of our materialist civilization with its supermarkets and its psychiatric clinics; that they would be content to live as they have for centuries in their natural state of happy innocence and accepted poverty, if only their leaders with Oxford or Columbia degrees would not stir them up.
Even if this were true, it is irrelevant. Most of the poorer people now know the rest of the world and they know that disease and hunger and deprivation are not inevitable. They know that man can live to seventy instead of thirty-five years. Even in the most remote parts of the world people have now learned something about the technological society; where there are gadgets to make life more comfortable, and diversions to make it more exciting. New hungers have been created, if only for longer life and better health. Indeed, I do not know of any country which has been exposed to the blessings of rock’n roll or Brigitte Bardot which is not now anxious to copy some of the worst features of our affluent society.
But even if there is a country somewhere whose people do not know, or do not want, the material benefits of Western civilization, certainly their leaders do want them, nationally, and these are the men we have to deal with. And they want much more than food and hospitals and diesel engines. They want freedom and power: power to help their people or to pursue their own ambitions; or both. Their admirable and less admirable motives probably are mixed up, as they are in most politicians in other societies. But we can’t ignore them or the political and economic ideas we ourselves have implanted in their minds by precept and example.
Nor can we expect them to be calm and contented merely by our assistance that, as the white man has already done much, he will do more to help improve the lot of the non-white natives. Dr. Schweitzer is no longer enough.
People can be very proud, though they may be very poor.
In 1945, I was Chairman of the Supplies Committee of the United Nations
Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, whose Director General was a colorful
personality named Fiorello La Guardia, formerly Mayor of New York.
He and I were in
Nothing could be more self-defeating – less effective in promoting peace and goodwill – than attaching inadmissible political or social conditions to our aid; to say we will help, not all of those that help themselves, but only those that support us and believe in our political and economic system.
We must not even exclude revolutionary movements and governments from our offers of co-operation; or assume automatically that every outburst of revolutionary nationalism is Communist, and therefore hostile to the West. We must accept the fact that in many countries where people live in misery and distress, revolution may seem to them to be the only way out; and that Communism has nothing to do with their feeling.
In external aid for development there should be also maximum participation on the part of the receiving country. To the greatest possible extent we should place responsibility on the governments and the people of the country to which the aid is offered. This is not always easy to do. Some part of the aid may go into the pockets of people who aren’t entitled to it. There will the inefficiency. To stop all aid programs because of these things would be very foolish. There are local usages and customs which seem bad and wasteful to us but which have been part of life for centuries and should be respected.
Nevertheless, while respecting all local usages and customs, a donor country is entitled to seek for itself the assurance that its assistance is being used as effectively as possible; that not too much is wasted or put into a numbered bank account in Switzerland.
We also have to reckon with religious attitudes.
Who doesn’t know about
I’ve had experience of this situation in discussions on aid matters in
Recently there have been indications that we in the West are getting discouraged and somewhat cynical about the fact that in spite of mutual assistance the poorer countries are not making enough progress. Indeed, aid shows signs of drying up. This must not be allowed to happen.
Perhaps the best form of aid is trade. We haven’t made nearly enough progress in helping less-developed countries by putting them in a position where they add to their own resources by trading with others on a competitive basis in their own products, primary and industrial.
The less-developed nations which depend largely on exports of primary products for their income have too often found themselves at the mercy of fluctuating world prices which they have no power to influence. Some attempt has been made to bring international order into this kind of trade by international commodity agreements. But the benefits have been limited, because of the difficulty of finding a price which will take into account all the variations between one country and another in the cost of producing a commodity. Much remains to be done, and it can only be done by international economic co-operation and agreement. If we cannot get together for international action of this kind, then we will have the same kind of international anarchy in economic as we have in political affairs, and the results will be more than economic.
With manufactured goods the case is different. A great deal of financial assistance has been given by the West to help poorer countries to industrialize. Indeed, industrialization has often been too high a priority in development. The leaders in a new state have been captivated by the vision of great steel works and textile factories, and too much of the money may have gone there, instead of into the development of agriculture. Then when the country has been put in the position where it can compete in the markets of the world in certain industrial products – textiles are the example most frequently cited – our manufacturers begin to complain and we put up barriers to the reception of these goods in our country. By doing so we neutralize the industrial help we have given; indeed we make a mockery of it.
Through UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development,
attempts have been made to work out a means of giving the developing countries
special privileges such as one-way trade preferences.
But up to now very little has been achieved.
We have here another example of how every economic problem is, or
becomes, a political problem also. If
a government proposes to help a poorer country by receiving ten million dollars
worth of its goods, whether rubber shoes from Hong Kong or shirts from
Yet if we are to have intelligent international division of labor,
industry in the big, developed and rich countries should increasingly
concentrate on production that requires a high degree of investment and skill,
such as motor cars, computers, color television sets; because these are things
the poorer countries cannot hope to make for years to come.
All that has to be done is to tell a cotton manufacturer in Lancashire,
or in the eastern townships of
I want to end this lecture with two points about international aid and development. First, on the individual level: In my own country, and I am sure in other countries also, there is a tremendous reservoir of goodwill, of desire to do something to help less materially fortunate peoples.
With all the evidence of conflict and cruelty in the world, of man’s
inhumanity to man, there is also, paradoxically, more humanitarianism, more
acceptance of responsibility for others, more desire to be our brother’s
keeper, as well as his killer, than ever before.
There is genuine excitement over something like a hunger march to raise
money for international aid. Unfortunately
this kind of excitement sometimes becomes disconnected from a budget which asks
for an increase of ten per cent in the income tax.
But on the whole, few governments can complain that their people have
been holding them back in the effort to work out a generous and wise
relationship between their own economy and mutual assistance.
In 1966, for instance, my government in
My second, and final point, is the broader political view which international collaboration on aid and development may have for all nations. At present, the prospects for political collaboration are limited to what we can achieve haltingly, step by step, by diplomacy, in the United Nations or at other international bodies. Aid for economic development is the field in which there has been the greatest body of agreement on objectives and principles; and hence the greatest opportunity for constructive cooperation on a broad international basis.
Nothing could be more important than building up efficient co-operative machinery for this purpose. This requires adequate funds from the legislatures of the developed countries to make it work. Such funds must become an accepted and continuing financial commitment and not merely a residual factor in the budgets of donor governments.
For an example of one of the bitterest contrasts of our times, I turn to
Which side will dominate the other; in
5. A POOR THING, BUT OUR OWN
Has the United Nations been a success, or a failure?
The answer to that must depend, of course, on what was, and is, expected
from it. Certainly we expected much
– too much – at
When the strength of traditional nationalism and sovereignty, and, in particular, when the realities of the cold war in a bi-polar world, made it clear beyond any doubt that the United Nations could not have anything even approaching the authority of a government, it might easily have collapsed in futility and disappeared. That it did not was largely due to the insistence by the little people in all countries that we must not go back to the bloody anarchy of 1914-45. It was also a recognition of the growing economic and political interdependence of all states.
Recurring reports of the death of the United Nations always turned out – as Mark Twain said of his own – to be exaggerated. Indeed, the world organization has become a kind of international life force – even though this force is often unorganized and undisciplined. In its twenty-four years of life the United Nations has shown a real capacity to adapt itself to exigencies and changing conditions which has enabled it not only to survive, but to become essential for the conduct of international relations.
The United Nations has settled, and this is an important achievement, more than one dispute which might have led to war; and prevented minor wars becoming major ones. It has groped towards the development of functions of a kind not contemplated when the Charter was signed. Conventions have evolved which had modified the law of its constitution. Take the role of the Secretary-General. At first, it was expected to be that of a functionary, and official. That changed; especially under Mr. Hammerskjold, when the Secretary-General became a very important power on his own.
There was another evolution. When
the Security Council found itself impotent, through the use of the veto, to
intervene in conflicts with enforcement machinery behind its decisions, the
United Nations Assembly was brought into the picture.
The United for Peace Resolutions were passed to provide a constitutional
Assembly basis – though the
Again, the function of the Assembly as the ‘town meeting of the
world’ has developed in a way that I suspect the big powers at
Having served as President of the Assembly, I know that it can be difficult to keep before one this ideal of a developing world public opinion, of a forum for the expression of a world conscience, while listening to endless, irrelevant, and at times acrimonious debates on points of order at two o’clock in the morning.
Sitting there on the rostrum hour after hour, I became a compulsive doodler, which resulted in a not being once handed to me from a Canadian delegate who was in the lounge comfortably watching the proceedings, and which read: ‘The TV camera is on your hand. Stick to those geometrical patterns.’ He must have been worried that as the debate became even less absorbing I might move on to sunbathers or mermaids. Nonetheless, these voices going on and on represent the emergence and growth and expression of world opinion.
But in the expression of views and in the making of decisions, the individual and sovereign equality of each of the United Nations’ members was recognized in the one-state-one-vote principle.
In the United Nations Assembly the United States and the USSR, each with power to destroy the world, have the same voting rights as member states with less resources than the General Motors Corporation; with fewer people than any one of half a dozen Soviet cities; less revenue than an American university; or less economic power than a British trade union.
But they all have sovereign equality in law, however meaningless that may be in practice. Sovereignty was also recognized in the provision that the United Nations must not intervene in any matter within the domestic jurisdiction of a member state. But this has been disregarded by all members, most of all by the Communist states, whenever they saw fit.
There have, of course, been modifications of the principle of sovereign equality. The veto given in the Charter to each of the five permanent members in the Security Council was one such constitutional modification. Also in the Assembly, voting patterns are developing based on ideological, racial, geographic or strategic considerations that tend to modify in practice equal voting rights. The situation is not unlike the relationship to his party of the individual member in a legislative assembly. He can vote as he likes, and his own vote counts for as much as the Prime Minister’s. But party affiliation, party loyalty, party pressure, limit his freedom or will to exercise this equality. There is unequal power within equal status.
Nevertheless, because of the principle of sovereign equality, the fact
remains that a decision can be taken at the United Nations against the
opposition of a minority of members who include all or almost all of those that
have the resources to carry it out; and without whose participation the decision
is meaningless in practice. This has
at times resulted in irresponsible votes: for example in the censure of
If the United Nations is to grow in effectiveness to a point where its decisions can become binding, with authority behind them, one day there will have to be some further modification of the one-state-one-vote principle; some system of weighted voting, as indeed is already the case in certain international institutions such as the World Bank and the Monetary Fund.
Coming to the United Nations’ practical achievements, some of the most important have been in the field of mediation and conciliation. Here the United Nations has shown itself to be adaptable to changing needs and conditions and has been able to adopt a variety of procedures and expedients as required.
In this role of mediation and conciliation, as indeed in the development
of the United Nations generally, the middle powers – committed or uncommitted – have been of
essential and increasing importance. I
know that the super powers
will always command super-political power in the United Nations, as well as
super-military power outside it; but I believe that, if the United Nations is to
become more and more authoritative, the lead to this end will have to be taken
by the middle and smaller members of the organization.
They should work more and more closely together in
It has been interesting also to see how the Irish, a nation whose people have long had the reputation – however unwarranted – of preferring a fight to a peaceful settlement, have emerged in the United Nations as eloquent and skilful conciliators. They are a European nation of ancient civilization, but because of their history they can associate easily with the anti-colonial states and be accepted by them as understanding friends.
Even middle powers formally committed to one side or the other have a
part to play.
It is important that the middle and smaller powers should preserve as much flexibility of maneuver in the United Nations as they can. With an easing of tensions, the time may come when even those committed to one bloc or the other will feel free to work more closely together as a group. Apart from what they can achieve in this way, the fact that such powers can find a constructive outlet for national pride and purpose through co-operation in international organizations may help to relieve the tensions which would otherwise find an outlet in a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude to each other of to the larger powers and aggressive insistence on their own national rights.
This middle-power role, of course, will always be complementary to that of the larger powers, not a substitute for it. In the present state of the world it is often, and regrettably, only the ‘big-power’ threat of force in the background which induces the parties to a dispute to accept the good offices of the United Nations. It will be a happy day when we can secure a settlement by appealing simply to a nation’s love of peace and fair play and abstract justice, but that day will be a long time coming. We have a great deal of pioneering in the field of mediation and conciliation to accomplish in the meantime. For this the United Nations is essential: a fact which is often forgotten by those who depreciate its importance.
Meanwhile we must not take too tragically the fact that some work for
peace has to be done outside the world organizations.
This is inevitable so long as important countries like
In the case of the cease-fire
talks during the Korean War there was no particular difficulty with
This brings me to the peace-keeping role of the United Nations, exercised through peace-keeping machinery. I used to be depressed at the United Nations by the amount of publicity and attention that was given to any meeting where there was likely to be a row between the Soviet and American delegates, or indeed any kind of a row. The public gallery would be crowded, every man who represented any newspaper in any part of the world who could get in would be there. The television cameras were all ready. There would be an air of excitement. Down the hall a commission would be discussing how to grow two blades of wheat where only one blade grew before, in order to help those people in the world who were underfed or starving. There would be nobody present but the members and some experts. Yet, perhaps, this disparity of interests is not so unreasonable as it may appear, because the United Nations will be judged, after all, according to its success or failure in solving political disputes and avoiding war.
The United Nations was able to move with speed and power to halt this
aggression because the government that took the initiative was the
But when this much has been said, we have to admit that the Korean
intervention in practice was far from the kind of genuine collective action
against aggression that was visualized by the Charter; either in participation
or in control. One member dominated
all aspects of the intervention. Most
of the soldiers were American, and the military decisions, in fact if not in
theory, were made by a General who, in the eyes of most of the world – and
certainly in the eyes of practically all of his countrymen - was an American
officer, though he himself was always very careful to refer to himself as
Commander of the United Nations’ Forces. After
all, when General MacArthur got into difficulties which led to his recall, those
difficulties were not with the United Nations, they were with the President of
I had some reason to know from personal experience to what extent
There were nations in
Experience since 1945, in
Still other states,
On the positive side, some countries, including
There is one respect, however, in which international peace-keeping can,
inadvertently, be almost harmful. The
very success of police action in keeping warring factions apart, in stopping the
fighting, and then remaining between the parties to the conflict, can remove
some of the pressure to bring about a political settlement.
This is why the United Nations should never engage in peace-keeping
without also trying to remove the sources of conflict which brought about the
fighting in the first place. Here we
have failed; particularly in the
Finally, if we do ever get a permanent
United Nations Police Force, and this is something we must continue to
work for, whatever the difficulties and the setbacks, I should like to see it
used not only as a peace force but also as an International Aid and Disaster
Force. The world continues to be subject to disasters far beyond the resources
of an individual country to cope with. At the time of the earthquake in
The contingents of an International Peace Force could be used for that purpose. Such a Force would have the men and the transport and much of the equipment, and could acquire the training, to bring help quickly and massively anywhere in the world where it was needed. Is this not a humanitarian and non-controversial field where the nations have everything to gain and nothing to lose by working together; and where measures to establish the machinery for such co-operation could be taken at once in the United Nations?
The present state of the United Nations is a transitional one, as Mr. Hammarskjold put it, ‘between institutional systems of international co-existence and constitutional systems of international co-operation.’
To complete the transition is not going to easy. No one could know that better than I do, and my knowledge is based on long and practical experience. Yet that very experience, which has shown how close we have been, more than once, to disaster, has convinced me that Dag Hammarskjold’s transition must be made if we are to escape destruction. Of course, it can only be done step by step; and at times we may even have to retrace our steps, or find detours around road blocks. But we must continue to move in the right direction.
I am going to suggest one step to make the United Nations more united and less national, and therefore stronger; yet a step which, paradoxically, may seem at first sight to lead away from this objective. I think we should regionalize, to a greater extent than we have done, some of its activities, especially those of the 126 member Assembly. At this ‘grand assembly’ there is never time now for the work that needs to be done.
So why not have regional assemblies for regional problems? In the economic and social field, the practice has been growing of delegating responsibility and authority to United Nations regional commissions. Why should we not adopt a similar approach to political questions which face the United Nations; and establish for that purpose regional assemblies of the General Assembly: one for the Western hemisphere, one for Western and Eastern Europe, one for Africa, one, or perhaps two, for Asia. The full Assembly, the town meetings of the whole world, would then meet, say, every three years. The regional assemblies, which would not replace but would supplement the full Assembly, would meet every year, and deal with regional problems. When possible they would settle them, and when it was not, they would lay the groundwork for settlement at the universal assembly when it next met.
As a link in
I don’t want it to be inferred from this proposal, or from the support I’ve expressed for other regional associations such as NATO and the Commonwealth of Nations, that I believe in international fragmentation; quite the contrary. But just as within states federation may often be the best method of reaching unity on a broader and more enduring basis, so in the international community, regionalism – provided that it is not politically, racially or even geographically exclusive – can be a way of reaching the ultimate objective: an organization that embraces the whole world of man, but one which can function more effectively than is the case at present.
6. WHICH WAY WILL IT GO?
What now? Where de we go from
here? There are those who would say,
like the Irish farmer in the story who was asked the way to
Those who are possessed with a feeling of approaching doom will feel badly let down if we don’t move far more quickly than we have to our goal of peace in a nuclear world. When progress is slow the idealists are always in danger of becoming cynics, while realists grow in sober confidence and hope for the longer future. C. S. Lewis once wrote: ‘I am an optimist, because I believe in the fall of man.’ I suppose it all depends on whether we think of the state of nature as Shangri-la or as nasty and brutish. If we believe that the world is made up of powerful irrational forces, that anarchy and dissolution are always closer than we think, them we have some reason for optimism, not only because we are still here; but because, under the pressure or, if you like, the blackmail of facts, we are moving forward, however slowly.
We are a long way from the promised land, but viewed in the broad perspective of history, we have taken some important steps in the century that make for international order and international understanding: for effective international institutions of government.
Meanwhile the threat of a war of universal destruction remains, and produces a deep fear of the future. This fear comes now not so much from the aggressive territorial imperialism of old, as from our inability to control new forces for destruction that we have discovered and developed. In technological and scientific advance, we have scaled the heights, but in social and political change, we are stuck in the swamps of human behavior. We are giants in brain power but we are pygmies of the spirit.
There is nothing new – or unusual – about the use of threat of force in the pursuit of policy. There is nothing new in the fact that certain states are adding to the force in ways unprecedented in history; until they reach the gross indecencies of overkill.
One thing, however, is new and it makes a vital difference. The super-states – with all their boasted absolute sovereignty – are afraid to use the power they have acquired.
So our greatest danger now is that war may occur, not from a direct and calculated aggression; not by design, but by accident; or by conventional conflict escalating into nuclear conflict; or by a minor fight between smaller powers, each with a powerful friend, whom it is able to involve in the conflict. We have had enough evidence of such ‘escalation’ in this century to justify our fears.
It was in
A broader skirmish – and they seem almost continuous – between
Israeli and Arab forces could explode any time into an all-out war.
But there is one encouraging feature to all this.
The risk of nuclear war makes a big power more cautious than it would
have been about intervening or being dragged into the conflict of a client
state. The mistake that could be
made could now be fatal. This should
make for caution – in the Middle East, in
Indeed this fear of involvement by miscalculation explains why even the
superpowers now accept provocations and insults from each other without active
retaliation; why they accept them even from small countries who, a hundred years
ago, if they had attempted to bait a bigger power, would have been disposed of
quickly and quietly by a gunboat or two or by a few marines sent to show who was
running the world. But now ‘Civis
Britannus sum’, or its equivalent in any other language, is no longer enough
to ensure that the watchful eye and the strong arm of your government will
protect you from all harm. A British
diplomatic representative can be detained and insulted in Peking; and American
ship and its crew can be arrested off
If a superpower accepts this kind of provocation, it is because it can’t risk the possible consequences of another superpower intervening on the other side. The Russians in this regard may take more risks than others, and rely more on Western patience than we do on theirs. But they’ve also had their Cuban retreat.
Let me return to my original question.
Where do we go now? What of the future?
In a rapidly changing world it is not easy to predict what will happen, let alone what should be done about it. But certain things stand out clearly – which doesn’t necessarily mean we will do anything about them.
I must mention first – I’ve already talked about it in some detail – the necessity of preventing the world from dividing between the rich and the poor; into a few affluent societies surrounded by slums. It is not good enough to think of peace as merely the absence of war. Peace is progress, peace is growth and development. Peace is welfare and dignity for all people. The nations – developed and developing – must work together; each side has its responsibility to this end. They must do so not merely by transferring resources from those who have to those who have not, in conditions which make progress possible. There must be international economic and financial policies which recognize the interdependence of all nations and will help the poorer ones to grow. If after the political, economic and financial experiences of recent years, we still think that states however proud and independent they may feel, can go it alone in these matters; ignoring each other’s interests, and above all the interests of the impoverished and backward states, then we are beyond redemption. Before long, in our affluent, industrial, computerized jet society, we shall feel the wrath of the wretched people of the world. There will be no peace.
I’m thinking not only of the millions of the emerging and ancient
peoples of Asia and
Arnold Toynbee was indeed right when he said that the West is now surrounded by the World.
As for that other division in our world, Communist and non-Communist, it is easy to state the problem and what should be done about it; and then despair, in the light of current events, about the possibility of doing anything adequately, or in time.
Up to now, most of the positive steps that have been taken have been due to the pressure of fear generated by crisis. This has been the most effective spur to international action; but we will never find enduring peace and international machinery to maintain it by stumbling from one crisis to another.
notwithstanding the recent and deplorable aggression against
Failure here – and failure could be by commission as well as omission – could mean a return to Stalinism in Russia, McCarthyism in the United States, and the worst days of the cold war.
One major objective should be the limitation of armaments by progressive stages: beginning with a freeze on existing levels and categories of weapons; a prohibition of the testing of new weapons, enforced by international control and inspection; and a ban on the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems.
A next stage should be the reduction of all armaments, and the ultimate abolition of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons under national control.
Pending this, steps should be taken to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms: otherwise within a few years many states will possess them, and an entirely new situation, a new balance, or lack of it, will arise in relations between states.
There is, of course, a Treaty now signed and open to accession by all nations to stop nuclear proliferation. Its negotiation has been encouraging. It marks progress in this field, but I doubt whether it will achieve the goal desired.
The Treaty has worried certain non-nuclear states,
It is important, I know, that this Proliferation Treaty should become a part of international law. It may well be as far as we can go in present circumstances, but it does not go far enough.
To sum up,
therefore, there must be a far greater effort made to limit and control
armaments. We are losing our sense
of priorities. Détente and disarmament must be put first, and we
have been forgetting this; or become too discouraged by mounting
difficulties. Disarmament must be given a new impetus, a new urgency.
What more important initiative could the new Administration in
If it is not taken, or if it fails, it could mean a new arms race, the dangerous consequences of which cannot be exaggerated. Let me mention one. In any new arms race the stability and the credibility of the nuclear deterrent – on which peace now precariously rests – would be weakened and probably destroyed; because one phrase of such an arms race would be the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems as well as new attack missiles with multiple nuclear war heads.
As the deterrent became more and more uncertain, more and more unstable, the temptation would increase to remove the danger by a surprise blow, relying on the power of your new attack weapons to pulverize your opponents and the effectiveness of your new defense system to protect you against any retaliation.
On the other hand, a détente between East and West would make it possible to organize peace and security on a more effective basis and create the conditions which would make reduction of arms more feasible.
The alternative to a détente and arms agreement become all the more frightening when one contemplates the increasing speed of technological and scientific developments – both civil and military. It is estimated that this year thirty billions of dollars are being spent on defense research and development. Even if – and this is a very big ‘if’ – the United States were to success in deploying an effective anti-missile defense system for its own territory and people, Western Europe would not be likely to afford the effort to follow suit. The result could be the break-up of Atlantic collective security in bitterness and recrimination.
would alter the whole European picture. It
would at least make possible contacts between the members of the NATO and Warsaw
Pacts, leading, I would hope, eventually to a balanced reduction of forces in
could help the progress towards European unity; but unity brought about without
the negative pressures of cold war or of too great dependence on the
European integration, the
In this new
Europe Germany will be a strong, and, I believe, a constructive force.
She will not be subordinate in any way to
A détente could have another important result. It would reduce – or even remove – that danger to peace which arises out of the dependent relationship between a smaller state and a big protector; where the smaller state may try to involve the larger in its fears, its quarrels and its ambitions. What must be done is to make the whole international community – not one single power – responsible for security and justice in special situations.
has been made in internationalizing the problem of
points of danger could be resolved, it would then be possible, as it has always
been desirable, for
substitution of welfare for warfare as a basis for relations in this danger area
could mean much for the economic development of the Arab states – and much for
The danger is
increased by the apparent determination of the Soviet Union to build up her
naval strength in the
In no place,
in short, could a détente between
talks, however, about improvement of relations between the Communist and
non-Communist world, it is foolish to restrict our hopes and fears to Europe and
There are two
other developments which could be of increasing importance in
moment, however, we are more immediately concerned in this area with the problem
I have touched on only one or two dangerous situations in the world; on only one or two of these things that have to be done. I have omitted many important issues and I have over-simplified others. I know how easy it is to talk about what must be done and how hard it is to get it done. In particular I know how easily the fears and tensions that make for conflict – and hinder co-operation – can be stirred up by our modern media of communication which are able to bring about a mass reaction that is instant, often thoughtless, prejudiced and aggressive; in large part because the media concentrate on the kind of news that is the most exciting and therefore often the most likely to produce a negative, even combative result. Modern communications have brought man – and his doings – into everybody’s living room. Too often they have done this in ways which help us to learn the worst of each other and which seem to increase rather than reduce tension.
Faced with all these tensions and frustrations and fears, man looks today for solutions and for security from the action of decisive and determined and charismatic leaders. This usually means men certain of their own views and confident in their own power; men who see things in black and white, who are assertive and uncompromising, and who hold forth the hope of salvation through a simple principle of conduct to which all can cling, whether it’s socialism or free enterprise or vegetarianism or yoga or what have you; men who have final and absolute solutions for every problem.
I was attending a conference in
We have been conditioned today to seek easy and quick remedies for every ill that the body, and the body politic, is heir to. But there are no simple or sure remedies. One way to make progress to the ‘distant scene’ of international peace and security is to recognize that the road is dark and difficult and that calls to adopt this or that easy detour, which will not be lacking in appeal or confidence, will not be of much help.
It is the Marxists who err most grievously in this regard, though even Communist leaders are beginning to admit that Marxist-Leninism needs contemporary interpretation and application. But we of the West also too often look for solutions, not so much by honest and hard thought and effort, but by noisy and at times careless chants and slogans about our own superior ideas and systems. Yet the very vigor with which we denounce each other’s panaceas shows our own doubts about our own.
We have a right – indeed we have a duty – to proclaim and defend our own democratic concepts of freedom and our way of life. But we should realize that they don’t necessarily apply in the same way to all the variety of cultures and races, of social and economic systems, which make up today’s world. We would be wise to be humble. All the more so because while we assert, as always, that we have God with us, our conduct too often seems not to be dictated by any sense of that morality which, we are told by the theologians, distinguishes us from the lower animals, who have only behavior mechanisms. We tend to bow down to the success, personal and national, that comes with the possession and use of aggressive power; whether for the domination of government and people, or the accumulation of fifty tankers and five hundred million dollars, or a thousand newspapers. We admire this kind of success and call it greatness. Unfortunately it is the kind of greatness which more than once in this century has led to conflict and destruction.
Arthur Koestler, in a lecture not long ago at the
‘Not,’ he answers, ‘because man is too belligerent or aggressive but because, on the contrary, he’s too easily deceived by appeals to his loyalty and his love. His infancy associations, his training and education as a child, the group community pressures to which he is later subjected, have made man not too little but too much of a social animal.’
There is much in this, of course, but I have some difficulty in accepting the Koestler theory that the source of our trouble is not man’s original sin but man’s original goodness; that it’s not his aggressiveness, but his agreeableness that has to be changed. In any event, this only transfers the guilt of aggression to rulers who take advantage of this loyalty and submissiveness and whip the lambs into raging lions. But surely we know that the fault lies not in our rulers but in ourselves. Whatever the cause, the results in history have been violence and war – and never so much as in our own times.
Fortunately there are signs, though not very clear or numerous as yet, of an awakening consciousness of impending doom if man does not abolish war as an instrument of national policy and create the necessary international institutions to make this possible.
Perhaps you can also take some hope from the changing nature of war itself. Until the present century, the waging of war has been a highly emotional and not always unattractive experience. The Charge of the Light Brigade or Custer’s Last Stand have not been so much a deterrent against a repetition of killing as an incitement to it.
It is surely more
difficult to arouse this kind of ‘death or glory’ emotion about a
guided missile or an anthrax germ. It’s
not easy to strike heroic attitudes over a crusade with a computer.
Therefore it should be easier now to find an appealing moral equivalent
for modern war as a relief for a man’s aggressive instincts and to counteract
what Freud has described as man’s special death wish.
Whether we like it or not, war has been an outlet for the emotions of
people, especially people who are deprived or dissatisfied; an outlet also for
the idealism, the energy and drive, of younger people.
War offers everyone a chance to become involved, to the utmost, to the
exclusion of everything else, in a common endeavor; in a common sacrifice.
Young people, I hope, will in the future be mercifully denied this kind
of involvement which leads to killing and being killed. But too often now they
are denied a more constructive channel for their aspirations, their concern, and
for the expression of their idealism. Until
they are made to feel that they can participate with their elders in the running
of things, participate in everything, they will continue to find an outlet in
the mounting of barricades, in struggles for change and for a greater freedom,
of whose nature they may not be very certain themselves. Can
we find a way in which the energies, yes, even the aggressiveness, of young
people, indeed all of us, can be applied to making the world better instead of
worse? If we need a moral equivalent
for war, and we do, we have it at hand in the need to attack and defeat poverty
and deprivation and discrimination and injustice; in the challenge for creative
social change; for service to the family of man.
We must begin to work on the principle that the interest of all men is above the national interest of any group of men. This may mean modifying our whole concept of the all-powerful sovereign nation state: indeed it must mean that. But could anything seem less likely?
The emotion and traditions that still surround nationalism and national sovereignty deny priority, or even urgency or purpose, to something which is still so remote from our loyalties and feelings as the international community.
At present, we take it for granted that the first duty of the government of any sovereign state is to defend the interests and well-being of its people and take whatever action is possible and necessary for that purpose. Yet we know that this action will not alone produce the desired result.
When national action fails to protect the public interest, it is none the less assumed that the state’s obligation to provide such protection remains valid. But a similar failure in the international sphere throws doubt on the practicability or validity of the whole idea of effective international action.
It is going to be a long, slow process to change this attitude. But today it is essential that we make a greater effort than ever before, because today’s world, and even more tomorrow’s, makes the old, narrow and exclusive concept of nationalism and national sovereignty as out of date and inadequate as the coach and four or the muzzle loader.
Barbara Ward has written, ‘The ever tightening thickening web of complete interdependence draws all the sovereignties, great and small, kicking and screaming, into a single planetary system. But the institutions to express this unity are so frail, so dependent upon sovereign vetoes of unsovereign states, that they seem little more than the tribute of hypocrisy which vice pays to virtue, recognizing its necessity by giving it the widest berth.’
People, therefore, must be made to see that internationalism is quite as important to them, as practically and immediately important, as national loyalty and interest; important not merely in an academic and remote or idealistic sense, but important as something which immediately and concretely affects their well-being, their very lives.
We must apply the science and art of politics to the affairs of the international community with the intensity of personal involvement that we give to domestic affairs.
In the past, conflicts have led to wars within national boundaries. But normally we don’t go to war over such disputes. If we do, we call it civil war. We must reach the point where we consider war between countries as civil war.
We must cultivate international ideals, develop international policies, strengthen international institutions, above all the United Nations, so that peace and progress can be made secure in the family of man.
Lester Bowles Pearson, P.C., O.B.E., M.P., M.A., LL.D., was born in
Mr. Pearson has received many award and honorary degrees.
In 1958 he was given the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in creating
the United Nations armed force that established and maintained the truce in the
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