The White Falcon


The White Falcon - 21.01.1961, Blaðsíða 3

The White Falcon - 21.01.1961, Blaðsíða 3
Saturday, January 21, 1961 WHITE FALCON Fact and Fiction of the Atlantic Community ; A political opponent of NATO recently wrote in a British journ- al that the Atlantic Alliance is an artifical one with no argu- ments to sustain it except the questionable one of military con- venience; the countries of Europe have a common civilization and are right in seeking to give it in- stitutional shape, but the countries of the North Atlantic area have no such links. The argument is not so different in kind from one that was, at least until recently, heard more often in Britain, namely, that there is a genuine partnership in origin and purpose between Britain and the United States, and that is the attempt to bind Britain to the Continent that is the artfical one. Against this latter view I have argued elsewhere, and would do so again; but the argument against the At- lantic Alliance on cultural grounds is a directly dangerous one and ought to be tackled here and now.' Not a Restoration Such arguments are always dif- ficult to deal with. There is the temptation when one is trying to construct something new to pre- tend that it is something that has existed in the past, and that all one wants is a restoration; all revolutionaries know how useful the appeal to an imaginary past can be. This tendency to myth- making has often bedevilled the movement for European unity, and is still something of a handi- cap to it. If European unity really meant: 'Back to the Middle Ages!' I should be against it. So we must be careful not to lay too much stress on Atlantic unity, not to pretend that the Atlantic count- ries are in some sense destined to act together in perpetuity. The Atlantic Community has to be worked for and built from the ground up; Article II of the Treaty expresses an aspiration, not a fact. The differences be- tween our countries are profound and not to be dismissed by any easy talk about common ideals and aspirations. Not only in the big fields of political, military and economic co-operation do dif- ferences between national organi- zation and national habits of work persist; they affect even our es- says in cultural co-operation. Basis for Institutions AH one can say, I think, is first that the Atlantic countries, for all their differences, still have things in common which they may share with some few countries not themselves members of the Alliance—Australia and New Zea- land, or Sweden and Switzerland —but which mark them off rath- er clearly from the other main human groupings. In the second place, what they have in common is so important that it provides at least a basis upon which the statesmen have every opportunity for constructing some institutions durable enough not to be shaken by every gust, warm or cold, that may come from the Kremlin. And this intimacy of contact which is essential to the fruition of our joint enterprise is not something new; it is genuinely this time a product of history. Nor is it his- tory that we need dig up or in- vent. The history of the North Atlantic Community is a continu- ous one. America and Europe did not suddenly rediscover each other during the First World War, the Second World War or even dur- ing the 'cold war'; their contacts have been continuous, not inter- mitting, and American isolation, except in the narrowest diplo- matic-military sense, is largely a myth. But before we look at this as- pect of the matter let us briefly consider the first of these points. What is it that marks off this group of countries from the rest of the world? By and large and first of all, a high level of mater- ial prosperity, not equally • dis- tributed throughout the area; the south European members of NATO and parts of the United States lower the general average and this is a reproach to the solid- arity of our Alliance. But even when this is taken into account, the average still makes most of the rest of humanity look very poor indeed. Does this matter? There is the oft-retailed dialogue between two famous American authors. 'The rich', said .Scott Fitzgerald, 'are not like us.' 'No,' said Ernest Hemingway, 'they have more money.' But having more money does make a differ- ence—to nations perhaps more than to peoples. Prosperity gives the Atlantic Alliance some of its principal problems. Its principal external problems is how to bridge this gap between have and have-not countries fast enough to prevent it engulfing the world in war, chaos and general disaster. This all-important fact about the in- ternational scene is so crucial that I would feel that the struggle against communism is only a par- ticular aspect of it. Indeed, the virulence of the communist chal- lenge would be meaningless except, in this context. But it also gives us many of our most obvious in- ternal preoccupations, from town- planning and traffic-control to juvenile delinquency. The 'Affluent Society' Most of the world is still busy desperately trying simply to keep alive, is still continuing the strug- gle for life against the forces of nature—famine and plague. Only a small group of peoples have got to the point where any but the minority can afford to trouble about the 'good life'. We worry about the 'media' of mass-com- munication' making our young people quasi-illiterate and insensi- tive to the finer elements in our cultural heritage. In much of the world it is a question of getting enough people with bare literacy (and 'numeracy', to use a helpful neologism from a recent British report on education) to man the essential productive and admini- strative framework of even quite primitive societies. For us in the West, the 'affluent society' has rapidly passed from being a new idea to being a tired cliche; for much of the very non-affluent world, it must ring out like an insult. So there are moral as well as material problems involved. And it is unlikely that they can be solved except by a joint effort, through probably not within NATO. In this context much that is loosely talked of as 'Americaniza- tion' can be understood in a far more revealing light. Some people, let us face it, dislike the Atlantic Alliance precisely because they feel that it involves the 'Ameri- canization' of European life. Some people who echo the slogan: 'Yanks go home!' are thinking of the social effect of having large numbers of American in our midst, and not simply subscribing to the lunatic belief that the pre- sence of American forces makes us less, rather than more, secure. But in point of fact, all that is happening is that some of the physical resources available to Americans for a generation or so are now coming to be widely available here. And it is not sur- prising that many of the uses of these resources are the same, whether it be more convenient kitchens, or television and paper- backs. And with this goes, espec- ially among the young, a more informal and freer social life. One may or may not like this. I suppose I am old enough to find the European pattern more agreeable; I feel more at home in Paris or Rome than in New York or Chicago, intellectually as well as physically; I prefer the cafe to the drugstore and (except in very hot weather) vin ordinaire to coca-cola. But I see no. reason why these preferences should be shared by the young . The Western Story If similar responses to similar stimuli accompained by a good deal of imitation and importation explain our changing pattern of consumption and social habits, it is not surprising that the same thing should be true of our social and political institutions. A pro- fessor of government may be per- mitted to attach importance to the latter. The reason for the af- fluence of Atlantic society does^> not lie only in the natural ad- vantages of climate and raw ma- terials; it is also that our count- ries have shown unique capacities for the organization of their af- fairs in ways which make the best of the resources given them by a bountiful providence. They have shown a unique talent for self-government, first at the local event, later at that of the State, and now internationally. Practical reason has been put at the ser- vice of man; and advances gained in the understanding and mani- pulation of nature have been transformed into advances in social welfare. This is, after all, our Western story. At no time since the .American colonies seceded from Britain, taking with them the fruit of a thousand years' experiment in the art of government, have the de- velopments on the two sides of the Atlantic been independent of each other. Even before air travel even before the cable and the steamship, the mutual awareness of the two sides of the Atlantic was one of the basic facts of our- cultural history. We tend to see only the peaks of this exchange of ideas, to note that the best book on America in the second half of the nineteenth century was written by an Englishman, as the best book in the first half had been written by a Frenchman. But de Tocqueville was unique only in genius, not in purpose or performance. The idea of deriving lessons for Europe from the study of America was common form in the Europe of his day. A French scholar, M. Rene Remond, has found out that in France alone no fewer than four hundred books about the United States were pub- lished between 1815 and 1850, and at an accelerating tempo—as many in the 1840's as in the whole preceding period. And, of course, this was not just a French phenomenon. A British historian, Professor John Hawgood, in a recent volume of the New Cambridge Modern His- tory points out the extent to which American ideas and ideas about America were part of the great intellectual ferment in Europe that preceded the revolu- tions of 1848. The Americans took over in their institutions and poli- tical thought the most advanced forms that eighteenth-century Europe had to offer and upon this basis developed the first mod- ern democracy. For. much of Europe, through much of , the nineteenth century, this demo- cracy provided the model to be imitated or shunned as interest BY MAX BELOFF Gladstone Professor of Govern- ment and Public Administration in the University of Oxford, and author of Europe and the Euro- peans, The Great Powers and other books. (Reprinted from NATO Letter, December 1960.) or prejudice might dictate. Later the current of ideas was the other way. Twentieth-century Europe moved faster in much of its social thought and action than did the United States—the 'New Deal' was in part an effort to catch up with same aspects of Western Europe. Today the interchange of ideas is so rapid and so continu- ous that it is hard to disentangle what is by now almost a single story; though it still falls short of what we need. Americans of European Origin But this interchange of ideas, which means that the institutions and ways of thought of the two sides of the Atlantic have kept sufficiently in step to make pos- sible the intimate co-operation that the machinery of NATO and its possible future developments demand, is only a reflection of a still more important factor in the situation; all but about ten per cent of Americans are directly of European origin. The most recent and best book on the subject, American Immigration, written by a British scholar, Maldwyn Jones, of the University of Man- chester, and published by the Uni- versity of Chicago (here is the Community at work!) puts the matter succinctly: In the hundred years between 'Waterloo and the outbreak of World War I, no fewer than thirty million people, drawn from every corner of Europe, made their way across the Atlantic. They came in a series of gigantic waves, each more powerful than the last and separated from one another only by short periods of time.' Since the First World War the stream has slackened without ever dying up altogether; though much of it, as in the quarter-century before 1914, has come from parts of Europe politically today outside the bounds of the Atlantic Com- munity. It is, of course, true that migra- tion has played its part in mould- ing the history of the European peoples; but over some centuries this has been the exception rather than the rule. And countries which have furnished migrants as well as those which have proved espec- ially receptive—France for in- stance—can be fairly easily iden- tified. It would still be a matter of surprise to find Sicilians with cousins in Norway, or Belgians with close relatives in Portugal. In the conclusion of his article next week, Mr. Beloff takes up "Emigration a Popular Move- ment." HoffotAeup STARRING ¦. 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