Hope of man

SValentineJRM1251404v10130.jpg
SValentineJRM1251404v10131.jpg

Title

Hope of man

Description

Article. General discussion based on Easter being season of hope. Mentions establishment of international law. Talks of Sir William Beveridge's book The Price of Peace"and Air Vice Marshal Donald Bennett's book "Freedom from War". Goes on to discuss possible ways forward for national sovereignty and security systems.

Date

1945-04-01

Temporal Coverage

Coverage

Language

Type

Format

Two newspaper cutting

Publisher

The Observer
IBCC Digital Archive

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Identifier

SValentineJRM1251404v10130, SValentineJRM1251404v10131

Transcription

THE OBSERVER
1791

22, Tudor Street, E.C.4 Central 9481

LONDON, SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 1945

HOPE OF MAN

EASTER is the season of hope and resurgence, of life renewed and light rekindled. Especially, and blessedly, is that true in this year of victory assured. Hope is no longer needed in our western war. We move amid the splendid certainties.

While we offer thanks and praise for things well done, we have still plentiful scope for resolution and the good intent. Afar, in the east, the war may continue stubbornly and bitterly. In Europe we have to grapple with a continent of chaos: and, beyond that, we have to establish an enduring regimen among nations, an order without which the children of to-day may be yet another generation of the doomed.

There is abroad, let us admit, even among the drums and salvos of triumph, a new defeatism about the prize of peace which victory should naturally bring. Some confidently say that a reign of world-law now is an idle dream; it can only be sustained by the powerful, in their opinion, and the powerful few will never submit to the jurisdiction of the many weak. This argument certainly has some support among those who deem it realistic never to give human nature the benefit of any doubt, to judge the sky of to-morrow only by the storms of yesterday, and never to see in a man a creature capable of learning. The pessimists can point, with a natural satisfaction, to the Tentative Proposals and the voting plans prepared for discussion at San Francisco. The Great Powers do seem to share the view of the Hollywood magnate who said, “Say, boys, that sure is grand. But please include me out!”

The Reign of Law. There, beyond question, lies the hope of man. And there, surprisingly, lie the gloomy apprehensions, the timidity, and the flight from hope, which are the mark of so many heads deemed to be the hardest in the land.

Nobody, of course, would admit to wanting a continuance of the international anarchy which makes war possible and perhaps inevitable. But there is a large scepticism as to the possibility of nations accepting that diminution of sovereign independence which the individual now sensibly takes for granted as the condition of his security and domestic justice.

Other minds, however, are more hopeful. In two books (just published by the Pilot Press) there is a strong plea for a confident effort to establish international law as against the view (editorially set forth yet again in “The Times” last week) that peace must essentially depend “on a process of adjustment, compromise, and agreement between those in whose hands power resides.” What can this be called but a dismal retreat from mortality and legality? Not to retreat, we are told, is to suffer from “simple illusions.”

A senior simpleton, it seems, is none other than Sir William Beveridge, whose new book, “The Price of Peace,” is an analysis, clear and concise, of the fear that is inevitable, in a world without law, of the frightened man’s, or nation’s, recourse to arms, of the competition in arms, and of the almost inevitable clash of arms. The answer must be the institution of law as a means to banish fear. Sir William shrinks, perhaps too readily, from the difficulties inherent in schemes of international federation, believing that compulsory arbitration can be s sufficient substitute, can be made acceptable, and can be enforced, provided that “the great Powers are content to be policemen without being judges also and without being above the law.”

[page break]

In the second book, called “Freedom from War,” the youngest of our Air Vice-Marshals, Donald Bennett, who may soon join Sir William on the Liberal benches in the House of Commons, argues with ruthless insistence for an immediate Supreme International Congress, enforcing a Security Code by an International Law Force, in which the various national forces are to be merged. The difficulties of achieving anything like this in a few months are obvious, but the view of “Bennett of the Pathfinders” is that paths are there to be found, in politics as in the skies Man’s choice is now between life under law or annihilation amid anarchy; for future wars will mean no less. If it be simple to believe the former possible, then Air Vice-Marshal Bennett is gallantly ready to be Public Simpleton Number One, assuming that Sir William’s less exacting claim for arbitration puts him second among those now habitually dismissed as “Starry-eyed.”

The points at issue in these books, concerning the possibility of Federalism, the enforcement of arbitration on recalcitrant sovereign nations, and the immediate creation of a World Authority, armed for justice, are of a size and complexity defying adequate discussion here and now. They are points to which every thinking person must return. For the moment there are certain general aspects worth attention.

Many Service men will shortly be bringing into politics a far closer and more poignant experience of international cooperation than has ever been experienced by political theorists at home. To men like Donald Bennett the idea of a World Force maintaining World Law and doing it quite soon does not seem remote or fantastic. Sir William Beveridge, less sanguine about the speed and ease with which national sovereignty can be limited, is none the less hopeful that the Great Powers will not insist on being above the law deemed suitable for other nations, and will not make “anarchy at the top” (or anarchy mitigated by “adjustment, compromise, and agreement among the strongest”) the accepted condition of the new world.

Perhaps the so-called realists will be proved before long to have facts on their side. Perhaps the Great Powers will insist on being judges in their own cause as well as being the policemen of all. But why must we now accept that possibility, or even probability, as the depressing certainty? We have not only the right but the duty to make at once the strongest possible bid for a system of supernational law backed by a united, if not merged, force of many nationals. If we fail, we fail, and then our duty is to admit the fact.

A system depending on the adjustments and compromises of Great Powers, even though it be propped with regional arrangements, is not a security system. Let us say so frankly. We must not make the old mistake of allowing a façade of international law to be mistaken for the reality of a rogue-proof, war-preventing union. We must not, as “The Times” warns us, be simpletons. But there are many kinds of simpleton, and one may be he who decides that hope never pays a dividend.

Citation

“Hope of man,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 20, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22180.

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