By Hugh Kay PROFESSOR CAMERON'S views on the possibility of some kind of dialogue between Catholics and Communists. outlined to me last week in an exclusive interview, has brought comment from men of affairs in various walks of life.
Prof. Cameron held out little hope of a theoretical dialogue at this stage, but argued that the many changes and variations in Communist beliefs and attitudes over the past decade or so, offered grounds for attempting agreements in the practical order.
Two of the most interesting reactions come from Lord Boothby, who is intensely active in promoting contacts over the curtain, and a leading Trade Unionist who joins issue with Professor Cameron's view that modernisation of the Trade Union movement here is the answer to Communist subversion. Here are some of their main arguments:
LORD BOOTHBY: It is too early to talk about a theoretical dialogue with the Communists, and for the present, our approaches to each other must be on the practical level. This includes cultural exchanges, of course, the ballet, the opera, and so on. But the best hope is trade. Over the past 18 months, I have spent a tot of time behind the Iron Curtain, and I am DOW working with Mr. Stenberg on a project to set up a British Agricultural Show in Moscow next year. (Mr. Stenberg is a young, vigorous and eminent business man, Hungarian born and a naturalised British subject. He is prominent in the chemical industry, but he also farms 2,000 acres in Kent.)
The Russians feel that Great Britain has more to offer than anyone else in the breeding of pedigree livestock and in agricultural machinery, And this, you know. is Russia's Achilles Heel.
The National Farmers' Union approves of the project, and I hope the show will be opened in May 1964. by Mr. Khrushchev himself. He has sent me a message to say he hopes the plan will go ahead.
So far as theoretical principles are concerned, there is. a fundamental contradiction between the Communist and the Western outlook. The one denies, while the other asserts, man's basic individuality. The Communist position is collective, and it denies the priority of individual values.
There can be no compromise here, at present at least, in theory. But practical agreements can be worked out.
At the same time, as Koestler tells us, we are all planners now, and in practice many questions boil down to how much industry to nationalise, and how much not.
Here at home, the Labour Party is bound by Clause 4. It's a millstone round their necks, but they can't give it up, and I quite understand their position. In the same way, the Communists are based on Marxist principles, and there's no point in trying to force the issue for the moment, though, no doubt, a theoretical compromise will eventually be reached.
For the time being, I can only recommend what I'm doing myself. I've been to Rumania, Czechoslovakia and Moscow, to Hungary twice and Poland twice. The thing to do is to get behind the Curtain and talk to the boys there.
With regard to Communist activity in the industrial field at home, the answer lies with the TUC, not with the Government. The TUC alone can impose discipline and stop subversive action by shop stewards and strikes the TUC disapproves of. It has the power, and is gradually showing that it also has the will.
A LEADING TRADE UNIONIST : I would like to take up one or two points from the interview Professor Cameron gave you last week.
To suggest that bringing the trade union movement up to date would solve the Communist problem here is to ignore the fact that the Communists have a strong and active minority within the movement which can frustrate any attempt at re-organisation with which it may disagree.
It will fight strenuously to condition trade unionists against "new thinking" which does not have class war for its basis.
The Communist Party is highly organised and centrally directed. with two objectives in view: to act as an agent for the Soviet Union's foreign policy; and to propagate class warfare. It cart succeed in either field wherever there is widespread apathy and indifference, or where there is no informed opposition. It cannot be ignored or dismissed as insignificant The only real solution to the problem of counteracting Communist technique in the trade unions is for the other political parties to start taking a greater interest, so that the Communists are not the only group with an organisation to ensure acceptance of its point of view.
As regards Communists joining non-Communist societies, the following points must be borne in mind :
1. Certain organisations art a target for Communist take-over bids, including trade unions, cooperatives, and associated bodies.
2. Other organisations are to be infiltrated so that Communist leadership can be injected into them, including C.N.D., and various political and Marxist groupings.
3. Organisations which can neither be taken over nor infiltrated must be constantly attacked and ridiculed. Individual Communists will join them to find out "what is going on". Not all Communists announce themselves as such, and these are the most dangerous.
If a Christian belongs to an organisation in the first two categories, he must be constantly alert to the activities of individual Communists and their groups. Any weakness on the non-Communist side will be exploited to the full'. Every technique will be used, including lies, whispering campaigns, ballot rigging, the manipulation of rules and standing orders, and even friendly overtures.
It is quite wrong to think that these things happened only in the E.T.U., or that the troubles in that union can be explained away by reference to the personalities involved.
There is far too much documentation of Communist tactics and techniques. which are, still being actively used today, for any Christian to harbour the illusion that the Communist Party is just a group of individuals with a political outlook different from that of the majority.
It has a different outlook, but it also has the determination and the machinery to force others to accept its point of view.