Socialists who attack Christianity
deprive themselves of their one
hope of building a people's world
Shall Om Children or The; By Victor
Gollancz. (Gollancz, 2s. 6d.) Reviewed by MICHAEL DE LA BEDOYERE
RISKING the accusation that I have been bought up by Mr. Victor Gollancz. I urge people to read Shall Our Children Live or Die'? a reply to Lord Vansittart, which he has just written and published.
As regards its main purpose of counteracting Black Retard, it is almost enough to say that Gollancz writes with' an adult mind.
Without the slightest difficulty he demonstrates the puerility of Lord Vansittart's values and 'the shallowness of his history. and he does this in the simplest and yet most powerful manner possible, namely, by showing that Gelmans — no less than ourselves—are ordinary men and women. They differ from us in accidentals. personal and historic, but they are essentially no worse and no better. (This truth, conveyed by every kind of evidence, is righly distinguished from the very different fact that Germany to-day under Hatter " finds itself," through a variety of circumstances, threatening the world with the actual extinction of Western civilisation, while we are, at the lowest estimate, defending an order which maintains hope.),,
BUT this book, apart from the Vansittart question, sets very clearly the terins of a puzzle which, we think, distutbs the minds of many Christians at the present time.
Mr. Gollanez, see have said, writes with art adult ntind—and this indeed is a welcome relief in the third year of war. His history breaks through the superficialities of nationalism and the game of power politics, as taught schools, and reveals the .econornic or rather human motives in play. His' philosophy and psychology enable him very often to reach a /eve/ of thinking and to give a moral direction svhich can shame many a Christian who should be preaching a like slew through the following of Christ and membership lvith Christ's Church.
Despite all this, when Mr. Gollancz menaces the magic word " socialism," his whole critical and philosophic apparatus seem to fail him, and in ibis field he becomes as adolescent as Lord Vansittart himself.
We are convinced that most thoughtful and informed Christians aidently and sincerely share Mi. Gollancz's hopes of a world in which the evils and fallacies of capitalism will be things of the past and in which each and every man will have the chance of living a full, free and economically secure life. Mt. collancz bus mom than once stated—and hc states it again in this book—that true Christianity is oil his side.
HOW then van we get over this clinically: the distance that separates the shallow Socialist idealism has we should call it) that tilis this book from the Christian social realism—when both seem to be aiming at the seine end?•
Mr. Gollancz has one good argument up his sleeve—and though it is not actually made in so many words, it is implicit through these pages. It is that nothing but " revolution " (however defined) will ever be strong enough tu break down the capitalist would, with all its subterfuges and tricks, and create the conditions of a juster and more rational world. Therefore he supports rcaolution, of any or every kind, as preterahle to any hopes of progressive evolution (all of which are bound to be more or less frustrated by militarists, junkets or industrialists).
For this reason he writes in glowing terms of the Soviet revolution, while admitting that hc hopes we shall not have to go backwards towards its defects while reaching forwards towards its ideal. This reason, we are bound to admit, is a strong onc, especially when it is applied to the main subject of the book, the prevention of large-scale international ware If war is hound up with capitalism, then certainly something drastic will have to be done to put an end to this essential cause or war. On the other hand. there are those who hold that international Bolshevism saw in world war the quickest way to its ambitions.
Rut Mr. Gollancz seems to go further. Not only does he opt • for the " true " Socialist revolution (as in Russia), but he pretty well accuses apyone who does not share his views of being a reactionary or capitalist.
' I WISH so sincere and intelligent a Wen COIlla come to understand that it is possible to seek ends that are in essence of the same moral quality as his own and yet to disagree entirely with his simple faith in the revolution. I wish he could be persuaded to apply to his own remedies the kind of critical analysis with wsrach he can devastate a Vansittart.
One may have the uttermost faith in the decency of ordinary living in decent conditions and yet retilise the immense difficulties of securing a political order which secures those conditions and inspires that decency. -Mr. Gollancz admits ,this time and again when analysing capitalism, yet he imagines that the moment capitalism is destroyed these difficulties will melt away of their own accord. History surely proves that the good social life springs from the common
aLi_eplance of mot al principle and enlightened tradition and from a reasonable degree of self-rule within a wisely and firmly-established order.
And this is why Socialists. who turn against Christianity are simply working for an anarchy which never fails to turn into
tyranny. There is no mystery about the Soviet Union. The tyranny there is not due Ins the poverty or low intelligence of the Russian: it is due to the deliberate destruction of religion and the consequent loss of any natural. moral principle of social order.
If only Socialists mull be persuaded that in smacking religion or supporting the widespread assaults on Christianity today they are depriving themsell es of their one hope of building a peop14 world that will not prove Zr, be as great a uri,oy and tyranny for the people as'is Hitler's Germany ! Possibly in the course of mom' generations ,tied much suffering Socialism could evolle its own religion. but if that religion saves it it will be because if is. nothing but the essential religious and moral principles of the Gospels.
WHY not then have the intelligence to accept and preach those principles which are there for the asking before the revolution?
Of all Socialists, MI. Gollancz is the one to appreciate this truth. He has already travelled a long way in his Socialist thinking: let him take the last, greatest and most important step. which is boldly to base his social and political hopes for the ordinary man (which so many Christians share) on Full acceptance of' the truth of the existence of God, on true faith in the dogma of the Incarnation (the spring of all true democracy), on the body of religious and moral teaching to which the Church has been a witness through two thousand years of