In the few weeks since the inauguration of the new President it has become clear that there are today really two Americas. There is the America which refuses to be troubled and views the present world situation without grave alarm; there is also the America which sees the present as a time of mortal danger and thinks great action must be taken if free institutions are to survive. The first America finds many spokesmen for it in the United States Congress; the second America finds its voice in the administration of John F. Kennedy.

Professor J. Robert Oppenheimer certainly spe for the second America in his address before

e tenth anniversary conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, excerpts from which are published elsewhere in these pages. “What some of us know, and some of our governments have recognized,” Professor Oppenheimer declared, “all people should know and every great govern- ment understand: if this next great war occurs, none of us can count on having enough living to bury our dead.” And Professor Oppenheimer would have peoples and governments everywhere recognize, too, that “this situation, quite new in human history, has from time to time brought with it a certain grim and ironic community of in- terest, not only among friends, but between friends and enemies. This community has nothing to do with the injunction that we love our enemies, but is a political and human change not wholly without hopeful portent.”

In “A Christian Approach to Nuclear War,” published as the lead-article in this issue of Worldview, a group of distinguished Protestant theologians takes an even more urgent view of the world’s situation than does Professor Oppen- heimer. They state bluntly that “there is no paral- lel between the wars of the past and the impend- ing cataclysm brought on by nuclear war . . . In Christian terms this means that atomic war so offends against the doctrine of creation that a Christian rationale for war is no longer tenable. There is no meaningful way in which one can speak of a ‘just war’ fought with atomic arms.”

Whether or not one agrees with the unyield- ingly pacifist conclusions the Protestant theo- logians draw, it seems impossible not to share their profound disquiet over the arms race, and their conviction that a radical new course must be found if the final catastrophe is to be averted. A commitment to pacifism involves the individual conscience and, clearly, cannot be advanced as a matter of national policy; but national policy can be informed, and new directions taken, in light of the unprecedented dangers which the present direction of the world offers. Perhaps, when all considerations of justice and prudence are weighed by wise statesmen, the risks of atomic war may have to taken. But those who may decide to take these risks surely must ponder the warning of Professor Oppenheimer: “If the switches of great war are thrown, in anger or in error, and if indeed there are human survivors, there may some day again be high art, perhaps, and some ennobling sense of the place of man and his destiny, and perhaps great science. There will be no sense of history. There will be no sense of ‘progress in freedom’.”

There seems little doubt that President Ken- nedy and many of his advisors realize these grim truths. This realization lies behind and supports their determination to seek new ways to break the deadlock on disarmament. It lay behind and supported the President’s eloquent inaugural ad- dress, with its plea for the nations to concentrate on those things which unite them (including, certainly, their mutual interest in survival) and to cease contention for awhile on those deep issues which divide. It lies behind and supports Mr. Kennedy’s evident determination to avoid the pro- vocative word, the harsh reply, the inflexible pub- lic stance.

One of the great tasks facing the administration is to communicate this realization, and its corres- ponding sense of urgency in seeking new solu- tions, to that other America which does not seem to recognize the dangers. This is an area in which a consensus among our people must be achieved.

Fesruary 196]

in the magazines

As the Kennedy Administration enters its first month, its chances for accomplishment continue to be the leading subject of press comment here and abroad. The New Statesman, in an editorial for Jan- uary 27, heralds the new team as “a high command which, in talent and brainpower, measures up to the professionals in the Kremlin” and recommends “a modest, but solidly practical program for the next few months . . . [that] would create a climate of opti- mism in the world. .. .” In the same issue R. H. S. Crossman agrees that “the new President has re- placed the dreariest by the ablest administration of the century,” at the same time taking note of a certain skepticism: “The question remains whether it has not come too late.” In view of America’s weak- ened position, what gains Kennedy may be able to achieve do not “add up to anything justifying the grandiloquent title of a New Frontier.”

However, writes Mr. Crossman, if Kennedy “is to fulfill his ambition and regain the initiative in East- West competition, [he] must be content to work in stages. The first stage . . . is the thawing out of that mood of domestic affluence and nuclear com- placency which paralyzed all effective Western ac- tion during the fifties... . But it must be clear to Kennedy and to some at least of his closest advisers that this thaw will be followed by another freeze- up unless the new President, once he has asserted his leadership, has the courage to act decisively.”

In “Needed—A New Bipartisanship” (The New Republic, January 23) Senator Jacob K. Javits (R- N.Y.) maintains that only if the new administration invites the support of the liberal Republicans in Congress will it stand any chance of realizing its anticipated program of liberal legislation. “Despite recent discouragements,” writes Senator Javits, “I believe we can cooperate in a truly effective biparti- san coalition to enact the kind of measures which the much talked about ‘ultra-conservative’ coalition has successfully blocked in the past. But whether this actually happens depends very largely upon the attitude and policies of the new President and Vice President. If Senators Kennedy and Johnson learned the lessons apparent to many of us last August, they now must recognize that Republican and Demo- cratic views have to be reflected in legislation be- - a bipartisan coalition can be expected to fight


Turning to the most immediate task of the new administration—ending the recession—Robert Lek- achman, in The New Leader for January 30, reviews the variety of proposals that have been submitted to the President by economic specialists. Which of these measures will be adopted is uncertain, Mr. Lekachman writes; no clear policy preference is in-


dicated by Kennedy’s chief appointments in the field of economic affairs Mr. Lekachman concludes that “at best the omens are cloudy. What finally happens probably will be dictated by the events of the next months. If the economy droops or, worse, fails to respond to mild medication, there is every probability that practical politics will demand strong remedies. If the economy recovers rapidly, then the real proof of the President’s economic li eralism will come with his first Economic Message to Congress in a year of prosperity. The test of Presidential leadership is not willingness to end a recession, it is willingness to affront vested economic interests.”

Hans J. Morgenthau, writing in the February issue of Commentary, appraises the political realities with which an improved foreign policy must deal, noting that the demands made upon the new administration are “superhuman, in view of which, the prospects for a wholly successful American foreign policy are of necessity less bright than is suggested by the con- trast between the personal and intellectual qualities of the new team and those of its predecessor. Who- ever expects spectacular changes is likely to be dis- appointed. We others will be grateful to the Ken- nedy Administration if it can give American foreign policy a new spirit and awareness, and a consistent movement in the right direction.”

Berliner Illustrirte, the famous and long-defunct German illustrated weekly, has been revived for one special issue. “It is our message of friendship,” write the editors in the American edition, “a renewed Berlin pledge in the cause of liberty.” As a side- light of their ial edition, the editors point out that the missing “e” of Ilustrierte in the magazine's name is once again missing. “For fifty-one years,” runs an editorial note, “the Berliner Illustrirte ap- peared without “e,” an early spelling mistake that became a fine tradition. Then in 1941 the Nazis got the bright idea of doing at least one thing right and changed to IIlustrierte. We have dropped the “e” again, for we prefer the old tradition to the new order of the Nazis.”

Number 145 (January-February) of Headline Series is “The Future of Nuclear Tests” by Hans A. Bethe and Edward Teller, a debate in which Dr. Bethe argues the case for ending nuclear tests, while Dr. Teller presents the case for continuing them. There is a section in which each scientist comments on the other’s views, and the issue ends with a glossary of technical terms.


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In 1958 the World Council of Churches published its widely-noted “Provisional Study Document” entitled Christians and the Prevention of War in an Atomic Age. In response to the World Council’s request for comments on this document, a large committee of theological professors was assembled to collaborate on pro- of prosals for its revision. These proposals form the basis of the present statement, e, which has been prepared and published by The Church Peace Mission in order y to “make generally available for study a document embodying essentially the d same ideas as the [original] paper.” Among those who have endorsed A Christian

Approach to Nuclear War are George A. Buttrick of Harvard University; Herbert Gezork and Norman K. Gottwald of Andover-Newton Theological Seminary;

e Walter G. Muelder, Paul Deats, Jr., and I. Harold De Wolf of Boston University

of School of Theology; Arthur C. Cochrane of the Theological ae & of Dubuque

* University; John K. Hick, Otto A. Piper and D. Campbell Wyckoff of Princeton

op Theological Seminary. Inquiries should be directed to the offices of The Church Peace Mission, Room 249, Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive, New York

4 27, New York.





There is no parallel between the wars of the past and

may survive, this does not alter the fact that each in

. the impending cataclysm brought on by nuclear _ its own way lays claim to ultimate if not divine right 2 war. This is evidenced in the contamination of the _ over all mankind. Thus the Creator of the world is ed earth and its atmosphere, the entirely practical de- _ replaced by tribal gods which are personifications of - struction of civilization, the genetic distortion of the _ the national interest. a race, and the possible extinction of human life and Moreover, the enormous investments of material m of earth’s life-sustaining resources. It is clear that no and human resources necessary for modern arma- nt beneficial results could follow from the employment ments constitute a violation of man’s obligation to of such brute force. In Christian terms this means _ be a good steward of the created world over which that atomic war so offends against the doctrine of he has been given control. He betrays his role as creation that a Christian rationale for war is no creature in dissipating his best gifts in preparation is longer tenable. for the destruction of the very conditions that make There is no meaningful way in which one can _his creaturely life possible and in diverting his God- d speak of a “just war” fought with atomic arms. given powers from developing the creative uses of e- Since no theoretical limits can be placed upon the —_ new discoveries which the Creator has now opened at invoking of destructive atomic power, those who _ before mankind. 's employ or plan to employ such power come danger- Love is the distinctly Christian way of dealing with ously close to usurping the sole prerogative of the _evil-doers and overcoming injustice and violence. D- Creator, even to the point of upsetting the balances This love must embrace enemy as well as friend, at of nature which make human life possible. the attacker as well as his victim. We are bidden to mn In our day this usurpation of divine power is un- —_ be “not overcome of evil but to overcome evil with ht dertaken by competing and contradictory national good.” In so far, therefore, as resort to force can be vs wills, each claiming that it sees the real or ultimate _ justified on Christian grounds, it must aim to restrain good of the world and has the right to use whatever _ evil and redeem the evil-doer rather than destroy force is necessary to secure its ends. They take it _ him. In relations between nations the great majority upon themselves to make this decision not only on _ of Christians throughout history have held that un- “* behalf of their own nationals but on behalf of non- _der certain conditions war might be justified, if not . combatant peoples, multitudes of whom will certain- _ on distinctively Christian grounds, as a tragic neces- le ly perish in a nuclear war, if indeed there are any __ sity in a sinful world. But such tolerance cannot pos- a survivors at all. Even if one or both combatants in- _sibly extend to the indiscriminate and unlimited use ts voke God and deliberately risk their life in the ex- of force which nuclear war among modern powers a pectation that a better life will result for those who entails. Nor can traditional Christian doctrine re-


garding the providential role of government or the state be used to justify the pretension to absolute sovereignty of the nuclear armed powers of our time. This tradition points rather to the need of surrender of some measure of sovereignty by modern nations and the establishment of international law by con- sent backed by discriminate use of police force un- der the direction of the United Nations or some form of world government.

Christians who take the stand, as an increasing number do, that the use of nuclear weapons in an all-out or general war is forbidden as irreconcilable with Christian faith and the precepts of the Gospel, cannot consistently support the manufacturing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons for purposes of “de- terrence.” Weapons which may be intended to deter also create suspicion and fear, and therefore inev- itably provoke. Moreover, the continuance of the arms race daily heightens the risk that through ac- cident or otherwise the precarious “balance of ter- ror” will collapse into war. Those who advance the formula that we should have weapons which we may under no circumstances use cannot entertain a rea- sonable hope that the determination to use is in their control, or even in the control of the central civil and military agencies of their government, since the decision may actually be made by a bomber pilot, a submarine commander or other subaltern or may actually be the result of a defect in a calculating ma- chine. This approach amounts, therefore, to advocat- ing a misleading gesture. It also leaves the way open for the acquisition of nuclear capability by more nations.

The position that the use of a nation’s stockpile is forbidden to Christians and that they must seek to persuade the nation not to commit this heinous crime is certainly sterile and misleading unless Christians and citizens generally are taught this truth in advance and are somehow trained to make the right moral decision at the very moment of ulti- mate crises when “deterrence” has failed. But if the adversary is virtually assured, as would be the case if this course were followed, that nuclear weapons would never be used against him, such weapons lose their deterrent efficacy. The political decision to use nuclear weapons is therefore implicit in the fact of having them. If the threat of use, i. e., of mas- sive retaliation, is actually removed, there is no point in the possession of nuclear arms.

Beyond all this is the specifically moral dilemma ot Christians who oppose use but not possession of atomic weapons. For if foreign policy is not based


on pure bluff, the nation which stockpiles weapons, i. e., uses massive retaliation as a threat, and Chris- tians who condone or justify this policy are now morally committed to massive retaliation. The fact that by some chance they may not be drawn into actual nuclear war, does not affect the moral posi- tion. They are involved in the hopeless contradiction of saying that they will under certain circumstances use the diabolical weapons which they must not use because God forbids it! It is an impossible position from which Christians and the Christian churches must extricate themselves.

Save perhaps in a peripheral situation in no way involving any of the great powers, limited war in the nuclear age cannot be equated with wars of the past. Resort to the concept of limited war and em- phasis on conventional or “tactical” atomic weapons does not, therefore, provide an escape from the problems which nuclear war poses for the Christian conscience. The limited war proposals advanced by the military and the theoreticians of the power pol- itics school assume that nuclear weapons are re- tained for deterrent purposes, not abolished. Con- sequently the basic moral problem presented by the use or threat to use these diabolical weapons re- mains. The hope that in practice better equipment for conventional war would stave off the need to resort to atomic weapons is extremely precarious. As Hanson Baldwin points out, “the first requirement for keeping a limited war limited is, ironically, the capability of extending it.” The threat of nuclear re- taliation is at least implicit under the concept of limited war as before. In the absence of the advance decision, discipline and training already referred to, nuclear weapons would be used if impending loss of a limited war seemed to jeopardize a nation’s giobal power position. The latter is the real stake in the East-West conflict. The idea that big powers to- day would completely abandon their nuclear arsenals but plan to be prepared only for the kind of limited wars known in the past is thoroughly utopian. So- cieties do not deliberately wage wars on a lower technological level than that on which they operate in other fields. As is generally recognized, therefore, by national leaders and competent analysts of world problems, consideration of conventional and nuclear weapons cannot be separated if a serious effort to achieve disarmament is in question. To remove the threat of nuclear war nations must find a way to get rid of war.

Christian leaders have been deeply concerned as the nations have fought two World Wars in a gen- eration, only to be plunged into the era of nuclear war—war, geared not so much to the influencing of

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history as to its mad and meaningless conclusion, in a blasphemy against the Creator Himself. For the most part, however, they have sought to pull man- kind back from the brink by infusing the power politics of the nations with some measure of Chris- tian humility, restraint, concern for others, and con- fidence in such constructive measures of good will as could be coupled with large-scale nuclear arms programs. It is now evident that such measures are totally inadequate to the climactic need of the pres- ent hour.

We must go back to the basic certainties of the Christian faith and the stern and revolutionary de- mands of the Gospel and see whether they can furnish us a new insight into the human predica- ment, new ways of dealing with the problems of our age, and power greater than our own to help us translate into reality the ancient prophetic dream of peoples who learn to walk in the way of the Lord.

The Christian has a mandate to regard his dis- cipleship as relevant to his role as a political being. The Christian ethic is certainly incumbent on men in political relationships and institutions fully as much as in their personal relationships. Admittedly, the way of discipleship is not possible for nations in the way open for individuals, Apart from Jesus Christ no person or group has ever fully lived out the task of the Servant; but the commission of the Servant is addressed to nations as well as individuals, and more emphatically and urgently now than ever before.

Reconciliation in every age entails the Cross and means surrender of pride and readiness to accept sacrifice, for nations as well as individuals.

From the Christian perspective forces inimical to righteousness and freedom have to be met with counter forces, that is to say, with justice, steadfast love and sacrifice. Sacrifice means willingness to per- severe in doing right and seeking to establish it by means of love and against the disapproval or oppo- sition of others, if necessary to the point of death. The preservation of physical life and the survival of particular political forms is not the supreme end of human life, and men organized in political institu- tions have no reason to believe that they are exempt from the obligation of sacrifice.

Accordingly, it is a specious notion that willing- ness to fight an atomic war in the defense of free- dom is a form of Christian sacrifice. Atomic warfare is meaningless and futile. It cannot be justified by the resolve, “Give me liberty or give me death,” since it holds no promise that many may live in

freedom because some have voluntarily sacrificed their lives; but means the end of freedom in mass annihilation and suicide. Such conceptions cannot be equated with the sacrifice of Christ which was a dis- ciplined self-giving that refused to injure any other human being and had in mind the building up rather than the annihilation and distortion of life.

The Atonement teaches us both the heinousness, the subtlety and the power of sin, and on the other hand, the possibility of overcoming sin in union with Christ. We must therefore shun every tendency to blame our sorry performance as Christians on a pre- sumed incapacity to do otherwise, lest we mock the Incarnation, deny the Atonement, and flout the ethical mandates of the New Testament. We are not so free of sin as we are likely to think in our self- congratulatory moments; but we could become much freer of it than we usually admit in our moments of self-defense. This is true of nations as well as indi- viduals.

At various points, the Bible suggests that God may not will that the human race continue indefinitely within the structure of history as we know it. But there is certainly no Scriptural mandate for man to precipitate the end of history.

Continuance of the present policy of major na- tions in ringing large sections of the world with atomic armed planes and missiles is itself an implicit usurpation of God’s right to end creation. It assumes that man, acting in the limited interests of one na- tion or coalition of nations, has the wisdom to apply unlimited power in the pursuit of his ends, whether defined as justice or self-defense.

Christians see no resemblance between the end promised in the Scriptures as the fruition of God's purpose and the end that might be precipitated by the rash acts of man in defiance of the norm of love revealed in Christ. Men and nations may usurp God’s exercise of power but Christians cannot join them in such rebellion against God.

Christians cannot be positive that abandonment of primary reliance upon atomic arms will avoid a holocaust or bring righteousness and peace among nations. The true basis of Christian trust in recon- ciliation is its consistency with the nature of Chris- tian hope. Christian hope is sturdy when linked with acts of faith that grow out of unreserved commit- ment to the standards and demands of Biblical teaching. In the final resort Christian ethics requires that all moral calculation be made instrumental to obedient faith, never opposed to it or substituted for it.

We are undeterred by the suggestion that this hope and the acts of faith derived from it are “ideal-


istic” and “utopian.” They may be such in the sense that men at large have not responded to them, but we reject any contention that such hope and faith are inept substitutes for nuclear armed might. Re- liance upon such might is certainly not advancing either security or reconciliation among nations but tends even more dangerously toward war through accident or fear. Our hope is born of faith in God and the knowledge that Christ is the Lord of His- tory. In this hope and faith, men facing their pol- litical responsibilities will discover new courage to refrain from futile and pathetic trust in violence or the threat of violence to maintain or extend the na- tional or universal interest.

It is immediately objected that nations which cease relying on unlimited use of force will incur the risk of enslavement and individual physical and mental suffering which might be imposed by a con- queror. An ordeal of this sort could not be as acute and meaningless a form of suffering as that bound to occur in an eruption of atomic warfare. This is not simply because some life is better than no life. It is not bare survival that ultimately matters for the Christian who does not fear death. What matters is that the survival of life under tyranny could be creative, being deliberately chosen in consonance with Christian faith and hope. The risk of enslave- ment at the hands of another nation is not so fearful a thing as the risk of effacing the image of God in man through wholesale adoption of satanic means to defend national existence or even truth. What would be the substance of “freedom,” “truth,” “love,” after we had used atomic weapons in a general war?

On the other hand, we dare not underestimate the positive effect that a policy of reconciliation might have upon hostile nations. We do not predicate our reliance upon love on the assumption that it will automatically elicit love from other nations, but Christians in our day tend to place too low an esti- mate upon the power of redemptive love practiced by nations, not because they have conclusively studied human nature and political institutions and potentialities, but because they have been saturated with political and military doctrines which engender cynicism and rob them of the courage to invoke those deeper realities that cry aloud for opportunity to work in men and nations today.

Were a nation in response to a prophetic Christian summons to abandon its reliance on nuclear weap- ons and massive retaliation and base its policy to- ward other peoples on resolute good will and mas- sive reconciliation, the results might not be as great and swift as we imagine in our most sanguine mo- ments, but there would doubtless be more signs that


policies consonant with Christian faith are “prac- tical” than our cynicism and disbelief presently en- courage us to expect.

There is no effort here to present a complete out- line of a national policy consonant with the convic- tions expressed above. Formulation of such a pro- gram must in fact depend chiefly upon the labors of large numbers of individual Christians and of church bodies who come to share these convictions. Here, however, are several concrete proposals which we are prepared to endorse:

1. Christians should advocate that our govern- ment commit itself immediately to the most serious and unremitting effort to achieve controlled multi- lateral disarmament among nations. The actual dis- mantling of military establishments and demobiliza- tion of armed forces necessarily require consider- able time but it is unlikely that there will even be any significant reduction of armed forces unless there is a clear decision that total and general disarma- ment down to police level is the basis of policy and that security is henceforth to be sought in interna- tional agencies and not military establishments.

2. As Christians we affirm that we cannot under any circumstances sanction the use of nuclear and other mass-destruction weapons, nor can we sanction using the threat of massive retaliation by these weapons for so-called deterrence. We accept the re- sponsibility of bearing witness clearly and persist- ently to these convictions among our fellow-Chris- tians, especially among Christian youth, and also among our fellow-citizens generally.

3. We plead with the leaders of our government not to persist in piling up nuclear arms even if other nations are not prepared to agree to the same course, but to formulate and call on our people to support a program of unilateral withdrawal from the nu- clear arms race. In the absence of agreement to dis- arm, and faced with increasing danger that a nuclear holocaust may be accidentally precipitated as more nations take steps to equip themselves with nuclear weapons rendering agreement still more pre- carious, such decisive unilateral action may be the only way to break the terrible circle of armament and counterarmament in which the world is trapped. As an initial step we advocate that the U.S. cease the testing and further production of atomic weap- ons, and of chemical, biological and radiological weapons.

4, We advocate serious negotiations for disengage- ment of troops and military installations from vari- ous areas, such as Middle and Eastern Europe, the

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Middle East and Far East, followed by neutraliza- tion of these areas as was done in the case of Aus- tria, the problem of guarantees against aggression being placed in the hands of the UN.

5. We urge that the U.S. extricate itself from military alliances with imperialist and reactionary regimes which are of dubious value even in a mili- tary sense, and instead adopt political,’ economic and cultural policies which will make her the symbol to the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and even of Communist lands, of their hopes for freedom, equality, and deliverance from the ancient curse of abject poverty.

6. We urge upon our fellow-Christians and upon governmental agencies and educational leaders seri- ous study of the possibilities of nonviolent resistance to possible aggression and injustice.

7. We call upon the Christian Church to disabuse the American people of the notion widely held that Christian values can be defended and our Lord and his teaching somehow vindicated by the extermina-

tion of Communists. We plead with our fellow-Chris- tians to help in carrying out our primary Christian task of winning adherents of Communism to Christ by the preaching of His Gospel and the daily prac- tice of the ministry of reconciliation which He has entrusted to us.

God has not called us to be dragged like slaves in the wake of history plunging to its doom but to be the messengers and servants of Christ who is the Lord of history and the victor over the demonic forces in it.

It is with a deep sense of our own unworthiness, our little faith, our halting obedience that we send this message to the churches and to our fellow- Christians everywhere. But we believe that in re- sponse to faith, God will now, as in other times of man’s sinning and despair, impart new light and power to His church and His people. The Church will then be a channel of grace and renewal for the world, and Christian citizenship will acquire a new meaning.

other woices


The February issue of Encounter publishes the text of an address delivered by J. Robert Oppenheimer at the recent tenth anniversary conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Berlin. Excerpts follow.

Among all the changes of this [past] decade there are two to which I would address myself. One is brutal. Ten years ago my country had barely lost, and still effectively had, a monopoly of the great new weap- ons, the atomic weapons; and for their use in combat our armed forces, and all others, had means of delivery not essentially different from those of the Second World War. Yet it was then generally held, and I believe correctly, that these armaments constituted for all of us a hideous argument against the outbreak of general war. Today there can be no talk of monopoly: we are deeply into the atomic age, in which many nations will be so armed.

Let me say only this: What some of us know, and some of our governments have recognized, all peo- ple should know and every great government under- stand: if this next great war occurs, none of us can count on having enough living to bury our dead.

This situation, quite new in human history, has

from time to time brought with it a certain grim and ironic community of interest, not only among friends, but between friends and enemies. This com- munity has nothing to do with the injunction that we love our enemies, but is a political and human change not wholly without hopeful portent.

The Remek Gita, that beautiful poem, the great Hindu scripture, is a sustained argument on the nature of human life and its meaning, intro- duced by Prince Arjuna’s reluctance to engage in fratricidal combat, and by Vishnu’s clarity that this combat was a simple and necessary duty, whose performance would preserve the way of Arjuna’s salvation, and whose evils were of no deep mean- ing, either for him or for those whom he might kill. Can we be thus comforted?

Traditionally, the national governments have ac- cepted as their first and highest duty the defense and security of their peoples. In today’s world they are not very good at it. We all know that the steps which we have taken, alone or in concert, have at very best an uncertain, contingent, changing, and above all transitory effectiveness. This is one reason, important but perhaps not central, for a second change in this past decade. We have come to doubt the adequacy of our institutions to the world we


live in; beyond that, we have come to doubt cer- tain aspects of the health of our own culture. In this, I speak with my own country in mind, because the traits that have given rise to our anxieties are as marked with us as anywhere. Yet I think I see that in the older, more traditional societies of Eu- rope, the same problems are beginning to appear, and will inevitably grow more grave. I think that I see that in the measure in which liberty comes to the people now largely deprived of it, in the meas- ure in which productivity, education, and the mod- ern world come to the peoples that aspire for them, these problems, in their own form, will come too.

Compared to any high culture of the past, ours is an enormous society. It is for us an egalitarian one, in which we hope—and I pray that we may always hope—that there be no irrelevant exclusive- ness from participation in its highest works, its pow- ers, and its discourse. Ours, for special reasons of history, rendered more and more acute by the na- ture of the twentieth-century world, is a fluid so- ciety, with rapid change its hallmark. Like so many others, it is, in its politics, and much of its public life, a largely, even an inherently, secular society. We live, as we all know, with an expansion of knowledge overpoweringly beautiful, vast, ramified, quite unparalleled in the history of men. We live with a yearly enrichment of our understanding of nature, and of man as part of nature, that doubles every decade; and that is in its nature, necessarily, inevitably, and even in part happily an enrichment of specialization.

This age of ours is the scientific age, in which our work, our leisure, our economy, and an increas- ingly large part of the very quality of our lives, are based on the application of newly acquired knowl- edge of nature to practical human problems; in which size, egalitarianism, flux, are the social hall- marks of a continuing cognitive revolution.

I have been much concerned that in this world we have so largely lost the ability to talk with one another. In the great succession of deep discoveries, we have become removed from one another in tra- dition, and in a certain measure even in language. We have had neither the time nor the skill nor the dedication to tell one another what we have learned, nor to listen, nor to hear, nor to welcome its en- richment of the common culture and the common understanding. Thus the public sector of our lives, what we have and hold in common, has suffered, as have the illumination of the arts, the deepening of justice, and virtue, the ennobling of power and of our common discourse. We are less men for this. Our specialized traditions flourish; our private beau- ties thrive; but in those high undertakings where man derives strength and insight from the public excellence, we have been impoverished. We hunger for nobility: the rare words and acts that harmonize simplicity and truth. In this I see some connection

with the great unresolved public problems: survival, liberty, fraternity.

Let me be clear: I do not think that living in to- day’s world is an easy task, or that any human so- ciety has ever solved the problems that now con- front us, or has even lived with them in dignity. This is for us not so much a time of anger as of honest sorrow, of renewal, of effort.

Let me be clear also on the great virtues of to- day’s world: the recession of prejudice, of poverty, disease and degradation which marks so much of it; the creative, intimate and lovely communities which thrive in it; the brilliance and wonder of the sciences that lie at the root of it.

What is at stake is a view that is not truly a nec- essary view, but one that has been the specific mark, the cachet specifique of European civilization. If I cannot be comforted by Vishnu’s argument to Arjuna, it is because I am too much a Jew, much too much a Christian, much too much a Euro far too much an American. For I believe in the meaningfulness of human history, and of our role in it, and above all of our responsibility to it.

Great cultures have flourished without this be- lief; perhaps they will again. If the switches of great war are thrown, in anger or in error, and if indeed there are human survivors, there may some day again be high art, perhaps, and some ennobling sense of the place of man and his destiny, and per- haps great science. There will be no sense of his- tory. There will be no sense of “progress in free- dom.”

Indeed, just this belief and this dedication have brought us where we are. All high civilizations have had a tradition of learning the truth, of contempla- tion, of understanding. Since Greek times, many have understood as well the role of rigor, of proof, of anchoring consequence to hypothesis. They have had as well the art of putting questions to nature, of experiment; they have had forms of communica- tion, perhaps inadequate, but at once robust and intimate. It has taken all these, rediscovered and slowly recaptured in the last millennium, to make the age of science; but it has taken more. Trans- fused with these, there has been a special sense of progress, not merely in man’s understanding, but in the conditions of man’s life, in his civility, in the nobility of his institutions and his freedom, a sense of progress not for the individual soul alone, but of progress in history, in man’s long story.

We may well have learned that if we of the West do not look to our own virtue, and that of our insti- tutions and our life and lives, we shall be ill equipped to bring liberty to our colleagues now deprived of it, or to make either our culture or our liberty relevant and helpful to the lands newly embarked on unprecedented change. Let us, in many varied ways, turn to this, quite without flattery or illusion, but not quite without hope.

aS oe a *



—— reer a CCU

Communist China and Asia: Challenge to American Policy by A. Doak Barnett. Harper. 575 pp. $6.95.

by Helmut Sonnenfeldt

Of all the grave and complex problems with which the United States is confronted in the nine- teen sixties, the emergence of Communist China as a powerful, dynamic and revolutionary force is in many ways the most threat- ening. More than eleven years have elapsed since the Commu- nists established their authority over the mainland; in that time they have consolidated their rule, embarked upon ambitious eco- nomic plans and amassed strong and growing military forces. They have not, of course, solved all their problems: the food supply remains subject to natural disas- ter, and the agricultural sector in general has yet to be effectively organized; economic growth has only just begun; domestic dis- sidence has by no means been eliminated, despite frequently brutal demands of repression; and the regime remains dependent upon Soviet economic and mili-