Courtesy Reuters

South Africa and the World


WILLIAM JAMES divided philosophers into the tender-minded and the tough- minded; similarly, anyone who has given concerned study to South Africa and the present international situation may find it useful to categorize his thoughts into what he would like to happen and what he thinks likely to happen. This article is an attempt to summarize in a highly condensed (and therefore oversimplified) form some personal conclusions from these two angles and to suggest certain maxims or lines of policy for Britain and the United States.

In Britain, the question of South Africa has been looked at lately from many different points of view-sometimes from the angle of high morality, sometimes from that of national interest. Among those who put moral considerations first, there are both professing Christians and humanist- agnostics. The Christians, however, are divided, perhaps more sharply than the humanist-agnostics; some are resolutely militant, but others feel that militant intervention can only cause violence and that the calculation of whether such violence is outweighed by ultimate good is too nice to be susceptible of any clear conclusion; some indeed would consider it one on which a Christian should not embark. In this article I propose to deal with the second set of arguments-those pertaining to national interest-but this is not because I think the moral arguments unimportant.

Here too, among those who proceed from the point of view of national interest, there is sharp division. Some, probably a majority, argue quite simply that we have substantial stakes both in capital and trade which would be lost by any interference in the present situation; others regard these stakes as something to be balanced against loss elsewhere if we persist in a support of South Africa that might lead to isolation. From whatever angle the question is regarded, it is highly complex and there are many factors capable of different assessment; all that seems clear is that almost any course that might be adopted involves considerable disadvantages alike

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