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ASOCIALIST intellectual coming from one of the uncommitted countries of Asia made an interesting observation during the Asian Conference on Cultural Freedom which met in Rangoon in February of this year. "In our efforts at expanding the bounds of cultural freedom in Asia," he said, "a difficulty which we come up against in many of our compatriots is what may be described as 'the colonial mind.' This is the obverse of 'the imperialist mind' and represents an intellectual hangover from a period of subjection to one or other kind of Western domination."
Now the decisive rôle that the intelligentsia plays in the underdeveloped countries of Asia is not always adequately appreciated in the United States or even in Europe. It may be worth while stressing, then, that the ruling class in these countries is neither the landed aristocracy nor the capitalists but the articulate urban educated class; this is the class which creates public opinion and makes and unmakes governments. Because the great mass of the people do not share in the making of "public opinion." particularly in regard to international affairs, the people who write and read the newspapers have a strategic importance out of all proportion to their numerical or economic strength.
What exactly is the "colonial mind" which is to be found at work in these circles? In a typical sense the Asian intellectual possessed of this outlook is a well-meaning, earnest soul. He has a Messianic zeal to reform the world. In the case of only a handful does this discontent with the status quo lead to acceptance of the Communist creed. The typical Asian intellectual is by no means a Communist. Indeed, inclined as he is to be liberal, gentle, devotional and somewhat easygoing, he is repelled by the intolerance of Communism, its brutal suppression of opposition, its extermination of religion, its ruthless efficiency.
But since many of us like to think that unpleasant socio-economic aspects of our countries are capable of being transformed overnight we look around for a panacea. Reports of the "success" of the Soviet Five Year Plans and of the "achievements" of the Soviet system evoke in us a ready response. Why, we ask ourselves, should not our own country take similar shortcuts to strength and prosperity? Studies which show that the real wage of the Soviet worker, whether in the factory or on the collective farm, may not, after all, be higher today than it was in 1913 are unknown to most of us and we tend to brush them aside as propaganda. In any event, it would be a mistake to think that most of us evaluate national achievement in terms of individual happiness or comfort. Our main measuring rod is that of national strength and power. The sons of Asians who thrilled in response to the victory of Japan over Tsarist Russia respond similarly to the military and diplomatic successes of Communist China over the Americans in Korea and the French in Indo-China.
Notwithstanding our acceptance--while it lasted--of the Malenkov look, "the look that failed," there is a vague sense of uneasiness somewhere at the back of our minds about the brutalities of the Communist system. "But then," comes the thought, "you can hardly make an omelette without breaking eggs. In any event, it can't happen here. Our spiritual tradition and way of life are different from those of the Russians who, after all, were always used to the Tsar and the knout. What we shall do is copy the Soviet plans without resorting to the blood baths and the terrors of the secret police."
No such caution, however, marks our attitude toward Communist China. "Ah," we say, "China is different!" The Chinese people, we have been told, are overwhelmingly behind the Communist Government. Land reform has been put into effect. Corruption has been rooted out. No more flies are to be seen. The trains run on time. For the first time in their history, the Chinese people have a clean and efficient government. More important, the Chinese people are united; still more important, the Chinese people have told the white man where he gets off. At the same time we are assured that the Chinese Communist leaders are peace-loving. Has not Chou En-lai affirmed in Delhi, in Rangoon and in Bandung his adherence to the Five Principles of coexistence? If the Chinese Communists fought in Korea, that was only because the Americans and their "reactionary" ally Syngman Rhee were threatening their frontier by marching, despite warnings, north of the 38th Parallel. If they threaten to fight in Formosa today, that is because, after all, Formosa belongs to China --or at least Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin agreed during World War II that it did. At this point, perhaps, it would be just as well to concede that many of us are not really possessed of a deep concern for peace. In so far as South Asia is concerned, it has not known a war within living memory. The horrors of war, like the beauties of peace, are therefore in the main an abstraction. But the issue of peace, like that of race, affords us an opportunity to feel morally superior to the Occidentals by contrasting our ideals with their practices.
The oppression of the colored peoples in South Africa is a recurrent theme which we are never allowed to forget. And indeed why should we? Thinking of color and the insufferable claims to white superiority and supremacy, how can we help but think of the suffering of the Negroes in the United States? Stories of discrimination in the Southern States make our blood boil, and the claims of the United States to be the leader of world democracy are automatically deflated.
Then there is always Senator McCarthy to attract one's attention. It is impossible to overestimate the contribution to anti-Americanism made by the Junior Senator from Wisconsin. Now that he no longer figures in the headlines, his place is rapidly being taken by the warmongering Mr. John Foster Dulles, who, if some of the journals we read are to be believed, is constantly on the point of dropping hydrogen bombs all over Asia. Talking of armaments, efforts at building collective security in Southeast Asia or in the Middle East are resented as bringing war nearer. They run counter to the Asian instinct for letting time do the job of easing tensions rather than going out halfway to meet the problem. Why not trust the Communist rulers to respond to friendship and the jettisoning of atomic weapons?
Urgings to trust the Communists bring up the topic of coexistence. The picture, as it is presented to us in Asia, is that of Russia and China responding to the plea for coexistence while the perverse Americans refuse to accept it. It is not recalled that Communist dogma rejects the very possibility of coexistence and that it is their bitter experience with Communist practice since 1945 that stops the spokesmen of the democracies from giving three cheers every time the word is mentioned. If occasionally it is mentioned, it is dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders, something about "a plague on both your houses."
In the view of most of us in Asia, the world is divided into two power blocs, with a few peace-loving nations in between. We see the efforts made by this Third Force as the major influence restraining the two armed giants from World War III. This "two-Power bloc" thesis is at the root of much of our thinking and it makes it possible for us to equate the total suppression of liberty in Russia and China with the continuing practice of colonialism by some of the Western Powers and of racial discrimination in Africa and the United States.
Having judged both sides to be equally guilty, we do not find it difficult to move on to an acceptance of the theory of equidistance preached by the Indian Socialist leader, Dr. Rammanohar Lohia, who urges "an attitude of mind that keeps away as sharply from the Atlantic camp as from the Soviet camp, from capitalism as well as Communism. To prefer one is to weaken our capacity to combat the other and to build our own way."
So we find the concept of state neutrality extended to the plane of intellectual neutralism and the concept of coexistence stretched to cover the world of ideas and culture. On the morning that preceded the opening of the Asian Conference on Cultural Freedom, the New Times, a Rangoon daily, asked in an editorial, after a reference to the Five Principles: "Why could not the cultures of democracy and Communism also coexist? Must one always seek to oust and replace the other?"
Underlying all this is the assumption that there is such a thing as a common mind or attitude among the intelligentsia of the countries of Asia. Now, this is a concept which has been challenged from more than one quarter. That there is little in common between the mind of the Indian peasant and the Japanese farmer or between the mental processes of a worker in a Lahore factory and those of his counterpart in Hong Kong or Manila may at once be conceded. Even at the level of the intelligentsia, there may be dangers in thinking in terms of a particular stereotype. A keen observer of the Rangoon Conference like Philip Deane commented that "the delegates from the various countries often meant different things when using the same words, and they did not have a common frame of reference, a background of common experience or even a common sense of history."
As the proceedings of the recent Asian-African Conference at Bandung revealed dramatically, European countries could hardly differ more amongst themselves than do those of Asia. There is very little in common between the Lebanese, Irani, Iraqi, Filippino, Pakistani, Ceylonese, Thai, Nationalist Chinese or Korean line of thought and the dominant point of view in Syria, Indonesia, Burma or India. It has now been demonstrated that no particular school of thought can claim to speak for Asia. Within each of the countries are to be found many nuances in feeling as well as thousands who dissent from the prevailing trend. A vocal minority may sometimes produce a misleading impression of homogeneity. Professor Takeyama Michio of Tokyo University writes: "Suppose we have 50 professors, perhaps 5 percent of them are sentimental. There are also 5 percent who write and publish their ideas. But the important point is that it is the very same 5 percent in both cases, so that the impression is created that 100 percent of the professors are sentimental. The facts, of course, are quite otherwise; but the other 95 percent are silent."
When all is said, however, there is enough in common in the historical experience, emotion and thought of a large and influential section of the intelligentsia of the region, particularly in the uncommitted countries, to make it worth while to attempt an analysis and understanding of the "colonial" state of mind.
Why is it that a body of men, many of whom have been exposed to the same education as their counterparts in Europe and America, should develop such a distinctive pattern of thought? What are the psychological and emotional motivations that go into the making of the stereotype, and what are the underlying compulsions of which these specific biases are only the signposts?
Consider first the environment in which the Asian intellectual of this kind finds himself. It is true that his country has recently achieved its national independence. The withdrawal of Western domination has, however, left the new ruling class facing tremendous economic, social and cultural problems. The general pattern is of a stagnant economy; agriculture with low productivity hampered still by the relics of landlordism; industry as yet without the strength to push through by itself the process of industrialization; on the one hand a shockingly low national dividend, on the other only too often a rapidly rising population. On the social side there is a predominantly illiterate population, steeped largely in ignorance and superstition, with low physical vitality and low social mobility.
National pride demands that one shall catch up, if not with the prosperity of the United States or Canada, at least with that of France or Italy. Yet the new ruling class finds itself ill-equipped to perform this task. Brought up mostly on a study of the humanities, it lacks both the managerial and technical skill required to put through that process of modernization, economic and social, which is obviously needed for the building up of a twentieth century nation state.
"Attainment of national independence," writes Professor G. D. Parikh of Bombay, "brought millions of Asians, overnight as it were, face to face with realities and demanded of them profound and far-reaching readjustments in their outlook and actions. Their disturbed balance under conditions of alien rule seems to have, however, impaired their capacity of 'facing the world on level terms.' No wonder, therefore, that on becoming independent and thus responsible for shaping his own future, the Asian often apparently fails to see the realities of the contemporary situation and the profound cultural and moral issues involved in it. Weak, defenseless and threatened, he pleads for tolerance and understanding of the sources of the threats. Poor, semistarved and suffering, he looks askance at those who are out to help."
Perhaps more alarming than the magnitude and complexity of the socio-economic problems of the region is the spiritual and cultural condition of the Asian intelligentsia. Often the inheritor of an ancient and noble cultural and spiritual tradition, the Asian intellectual is left, as a result of many centuries of erosion and stagnation, with a legacy which is largely fatalism, passivity and the acceptance of authority. In many cases, the inherited outlook is thus a feudal, caste or hierarchal one. There is a tendency to be a good slave or a good slave-driver. He also finds his recent historical background repellent and uninspiring. The combination of an old civilization in decay and the débris of foreign rule provides a poor foundation on which to build.
It is true that there are post and telegraph, railways, planes and many of the gadgets of modern civilization. But these were brought in by the Western ruling Power in the last century or so and the physical readjustment was carried out in a mechanical way which left the minds and souls of the bulk of the people untouched. "Our poetical internal combustion engines," laments a writer, "puff and pant and have to be pushed along." The basic adjustment within, which accompanied the various stages of the Industrial Revolution in the countries of Western Europe and North America, did not take place here. The same could be said of the forms and process of parliamentary democracy. The process of transplantation was most certainly there, but has there been any flowering? Takdir Alisjahbana, a leading Indonesian writer, put it as follows:
Asia is living in thirty centuries at one and the same time. The stone-age runs parallel to the machine-age, feudalism and mysticism of the middle-ages mix with democracy and rationalism of the new era, and communalism is to be found side by side with the economic plan of today. It is the dualism of this situation which has made the position of the Asian intellectual so difficult. . . . If in addition we realize that the Asian intellectual is fully aware of the fact that the modern world is itself facing a crisis, that its values are menaced by a tide of secularism, skepticism and relativism, we know why he is vacillating between the two crises: the crisis of the Asian community and culture as a consequence of the impact of the West which has not yet ended, either in his surroundings or in his own soul; and the other greater crisis, the crisis of the modern people, embracing the whole of mankind.
It is perhaps necessary for a moment to consider the implications of Western education of men and women bred against the Asian background in order to understand why the educated middle class created by Western instruction, which successfully led the struggles for national independence, should find itself so ill-equipped to tackle the problems that follow on the transfer of power.
The answer is to be found partly in the fact that the psychology lying at the back of the Western system of education was at variance with the outlook on life of the peoples of the region. Developed at a time "when men were being rocked, so to say, in the cradle of Nature," the local philosophies of life tended to look on the aim of civilization as the achievement of harmony with Nature which, be it remembered, has been bountiful in this region and generous to man. The colder and less hospitable climate of Northern Europe and Northern America has just as naturally created a disposition to look on Nature as something to be conquered, harnessed and put to use. When these two philosophies met and clashed, both physical and psychological factors conspired to secure the victory of the imported way of thought. The process of machine production had already shaken the social structure to its roots. Western education carried the assault from the physical to the mental plane, making nonsense of religious ritual and social convention. A gulf now divides the educated urban minority and the rural mass which "not merely think different thoughts and speak different languages but regard each other with a strange incomprehension."
Among the results of this alienation, which has remained unaccompanied by a proper integration into the cosmopolitan intellectual fraternity, is the fact that, as Dr. Charles Malik has put it, "Asia suffers from chronic negatives." Another consequence is that split personality on which many observers have commented. We reject in principle that which we practise ourselves. We reject the "material values" of the West, but delight in availing ourselves in our personal lives of the facilities, the machines and the gadgets that the West has produced. We insist on our own personal right to express our views without the slightest hindrance, but delight in scoffing at talk of freedom in the midst of poverty. The separation of the intelligentsia from the common people leads to its becoming a mass in itself. Its rank-and-file simulate the hard response of the uninformed mass. Hence the absence of individual variations which are such a significant part of intellectual life in the countries of the West and the tendency for emotional reactions to take the place of hard national thought.
The absence of spiritual continuity and harmony creates a loss of faith and a cultural vacuum which is well described by Dr. Sampurnanand, the learned and scholarly Chief Minister of the State of the United Provinces in India:
To my mind, the first component of the malaise from which the Indian intellectual suffers is utter uncertainty and instability. Political independence has been achieved in an age when the forces of Communism and democracy are drawn up against each other in preparation for a mighty war of extermination and, in between the two, there are any number of warring groups owing allegiance to an infinite variety of shades of pink faith. India is destined to be one of the important battle-grounds of these ideologies and the men who profess them. The education and bringing up of those who are the present leaders of society align the young Indian with the protagonists of democracy, but the call of Communism is no less insistent. He is treated every day to tales of the achievements of Communist countries. India frequently sends out good-will missions. These are composed generally either of colorless individuals or of persons whose mission in life is to decry India and praise her Communist neighbors. Little wonder he feels increasingly drawn towards Communism, but cannot, at the same time, divest himself wholly of his weakness for democracy.
And Dr. Sampurnanand continues:
What makes our burden appear so heavy is that we are not spiritually equipped to bear it. There is no faith and no object of faith. Along with the breaking up of the social and economic fabric, old values are also losing their hold and new ones have not replaced them. Religion has become a mummery and old traditions, taking the memory back through a thousand years of the nation's history, embodying its hopes and aspirations, its ideals and its experiences, are being brushed aside with a contemptuous shrug. Spiritual vacuity has become almost a badge of intellectual superiority.
Faced with a distressing situation of social and economic backwardness marked by the absence of capital resources and trained manpower, inhibited by national pride from accepting aid from those more fortunately situated, we cast our eyes round for some method by which our country can pull itself up almost overnight by its boot straps and find itself facing the countries of the West on terms of equality and self-respect. We do not always know very much about what is in process of being accomplished in our own country but hear a great deal about what Russia and China are supposed to be accomplishing. It has been said by a shrewd observer that we are all often the victims "of the inefficiency of our own publicity and the transparently dishonest efficiency of the publicity of the Communist dominated economies." Is it to be wondered at that when we are told such things have been found possible in Soviet Russia and Communist China, we like to believe in the truth of these claims, and that, lacking a tradition of individual liberty and democracy, we do not cavil greatly if, in the process, a measure of economic planning and regimentation is found necessary which temporarily--so we hope--abridges individual freedom?
Besides, many of us have "a private version of Communism" which we equate with fine ideals such as those of liberty, equality and fraternity. "This private version," it has been aptly said, "gets linked with the Russian version through semantic confusion and we walk straight into the Communist trap." This also explains the sense of guilt felt in opposing Communism.
It is understandable that, deprived now of British or Dutch rule on which to blame all our misfortunes, we should look outside our country for a whipping boy to take the place of our old masters. Memories of past political subjection combine with resentment at continuing claims to white supremacy to make the United States, the current symbol of white supremacy, the obvious target of our righteous anger. By a queer twist, the Great Russian, who is also a white man, is excluded from this hated category! For one thing, Russia has been presented to us as a great Eurasian Power, and the unfortunate use of the terms "East" and "West" by the statesmen and columnists of England and America only helps to confirm this.
Nationalism, political and economic, is the pattern that emerges. This, according to Professor Chiro Zengo of Tokyo University, is "a sign of lack of self-confidence in one's ability to maintain one's independence, and stands in contradiction to the general world tendency toward international coöperation." Mahatma Gandhi used to complain about the "slave mentality" of large numbers of his countrymen and to plead that if only they, like him, would feel free, they would be free. Unfortunately, that "slave mentality" has survived and is now to be found in the "colonial mind." It may be asked why, in that case, this nationalism does not react with the same vigor to the impact of Russia. Why this selective purity? The answer is that there is no sense of real internal strength and, with powerful Communist neighbors, discretion dictates a course of appeasement. Professor Takeyama Michio of Tokyo University frankly describes this process in so far as his own compatriots are concerned:
Now that we have freedom of speech in Japan, anti-Americanism is all the rage. It is perfectly safe because after all America will not punish us. And besides, resisting authority is very fashionable and gives one a pleasant air of heroism. But to be anti-Communist is to risk hanging if the Communists should take power. Furthermore, it is condemned as "reactionary," a word which sends intellectuals scurrying for shelter. Thus anti-Americanism enjoys full freedom while anti-Communism does not. It is therefore not surprising that people take the "heroic" and conformist course which is of course absolutely safe, and then set out to convince themselves of its correctness.
Recently, there have been certain manifestations in America and Europe not only of impatience and irritation but also of a degree of exasperation, helplessness and defeatism with what have been described as "astigmatic ambiguities" and an "incredibly complex, knotted coil of attitudes." It is evidently felt by some that the Asian intellectual is a unique phenomenon, likeable as a human being, pleasant to know, but hopelessly baffling on the plane of thought and so neurotic in his ideological attitudes that the normal Westerner must abandon in despair the attempt to understand him.
In point of fact, there is very little that is original or mysteriously Oriental about the outlook of the Asian intellectual. Much of the rationalization in that outlook, if not its inspiration, is derived from the West itself. A whole generation of Asian intellectuals has been bred on the literature put out by the Left Book Club in the thirties and many of them have been greatly influenced by what Louis Fischer has aptly described as "Laskiology." The double standard of morality, a severe one for the democracies and a lenient one for Communism; the acceptance of the Soviet Myth; and the failure to understand the essential nature of Soviet imperialism--these are not Oriental inventions. They were all widely preached and practised in Europe in the thirties and in the United States during the Roosevelt era. Even today there are small but vocal groups of intellectuals in New York and London whose mental processes are exactly on all fours with these. And indeed, is it only small and unrepresentative groups in these countries who display such affinity? Does not much of the description attempted earlier in this article apply even today to considerable sections of the educated classes in France, Britain and the United States? "Many people in the West," write The Economist, not unfairly, "still seem to see less clearly than the Andhra electorate."
In response to the complaint that Indonesians, Burmese and Indians refuse to see the importance to their own security of defending South Vietnam or Formosa, it may be pointed out that it is not they alone who tend to regard measures of collective security in the face of totalitarian aggression as steps that increase the danger of war. Many Frenchmen and Englishmen and quite a few Americans share these prejudices, and when the complaint is made (as it was by a writer in Foreign Affairs of July 1954) that Asian "conceptions of neutrality sometimes transcend normal understanding," may it not be asked whether the mystery is not deeper when good Anglo-Saxons are found to indulge in the same intellectual convolutions?
The real difference between the intellectual climate in the West and in Asia is that in Asia a much larger and more influential section of the intelligentsia continues to hug the confusions and illusions that have been discarded by the greater number of thinking people on both sides of the Atlantic. An effort has here been made to explain why this is so. The same factors that have changed the climate of thought in Europe and America may be counted on to effect a similar change in Asia, though the complexities of the case may make this process a much slower one, with attendant dangers.
Even today, working against the tide of emotion and antagonism, the voice of reason is by no means silenced. At a meeting of Asian Socialists, it was U Kyaw Nyein, a Burmese Cabinet Minister, who rebutted Dr. Lohia's theory of "equidistance" and described Communist imperialism as being "even more degrading and even more dangerous [than old time imperialism] because it is more ruthless, more systematic and more blatantly justified in the name of world Communist revolution." And it was Sir John Kotelawala, the Prime Minister of Ceylon, who forcefully echoed this warning against "Soviet imperialism" at Bandung.
It was Asoka Mehta, an Indian Socialist M.P., who recently asked regarding Formosa: "Why should non-Communists be anxious to push people into Communist régimes?" and answered:
As free people, should they [the inhabitants of Formosa] not be given an opportunity to decide their future? When such an opportunity was given to the POW's in Korea, we found that thousands of Koreans and Chinese chose democracy in preference to Communism. Friendship with China should be an important aspect of foreign policy, but it cannot be permitted to disrupt all our moorings to principles and lead us to accept a solution which we have not sponsored in solving even our own disputes with other Powers.
It was Mr. A. D. Gorwalla, a former member of the Indian Civil Service, a distinguished administrator and one of India's leading commentators, who wrote recently on the same subject:
Assume that the Communist Party seizes power in India and consolidates its hold over the country. Suppose after putting up such resistance as was found possible, Pandit Nehru with a few faithful members of the Congress High Command and of his Government . . . accompanied by a hundred thousand troops was able to get away to the Andaman Islands. Suppose the British, who are responsible for the defense of Ceylon and who have a naval base at Trincomalee, then declared that they would not allow the new Communist Government of India to seize the Andamans and ordered their fleet to repulse any Communist forces that attempted an attack, at the same time aiding their old friends, Pandit Nehru and his companions, to hold out, would the condemners of American policy [vis-à-vis Formosa] then feel so very indignant?
"We are all distressed by the misunderstanding existing between India and the United States. What in your opinion can be done to improve this situation?" asks an anxious letter from a good friend in the United States. What can people in America and the countries of Europe do to help?
The problem is surely not one of achieving agreement between the countries of Asia on the one side and those of Europe and America on the other regarding their immediate course of action in world affairs. What is essential is to make all these countries feel that they belong to the free world and are rooted in the community of free men in a manner and to a degree that can never be possible in regard to the countries behind the Iron Curtain.
To understand is to set up a relationship, Leonardo da Vinci observed a long time ago. A discussion between friends can only be on the basis of mutual respect and consideration. Flattery can have as little place in such a meeting of minds as abuse. What is called for is patience coupled with firmness in adhering to one's own convictions.
The conclusions to which this analysis has driven are twofold. First, that it is people within the region itself on whom the main burden of dealing with its complex problems must fall, and that the rôle of those in the West who seek to help must be secondary. Secondly, that the malaise is not only economic but also spiritual and cultural. It follows that a solution must be sought on the plane of thought, spirit and emotion as well as on the material plane. "Until the West can win the minds of Asia's millions, it will be impossible to defend their bodies," recently observed Mr. Denis Healey, British Labor M.P. He might have added, "or to feed them."
Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan, leading Indian Socialist, has questioned the assumption that underlies almost all discussion of economic planning in Asia, namely, that it is through a rise in the standard of life of the people that their happiness can primarily be secured. He feels that such an approach is unfair to the bulk of the peoples of the region, who would reject the idea of a surrender of spiritual and moral values for the sake of greater physical comfort. There can be no doubt that, in so far as the mass of the people are concerned, Jayaprakash's insight is sounder than that of most intellectuals who transfer to the masses of the peasantry, the real proletariat in Asia, their own preoccupation with the satisfaction of material needs. A valid corollary is that no mere improvement in economic standards carries with it any guarantee of the maintenance of the free way of life, a misconception which has been aptly described as "the bread and butter fallacy." Economic aid is to be valued as an act of human solidarity. As an antidote to Communism, it may not rank too high; and the one-way traffic it involves sets up adverse psychological reactions of its own. It must not be concluded from this that any attempt is being made to belittle the value of aid that comes in from the United States and the West. The point is that more emphasis needs to be placed on action on the intellectual, cultural and spiritual plane.
The field is wide and offers a large area of choice both in objectives and in procedures. Such action has the merit of refuting the insinuation that "the West has nothing to offer but technology." There is also the advantage that on the plane of cultural coöperation there is possible that mutuality or give and take which is unavailable on the economic level. On what basis shall this meeting of minds take place? It is obvious that there is little that the West can do of and by itself, but a great deal it can do to help people within the region to help their own countries. Mr. Chester Bowles certainly got hold of the right end of the stick when he recently warned a United States audience that when you do something to people "they resent it and throw it back in your face;" when you do things for them, they say: "Thank you, why don't you do more?;" but when you do things with people, you establish a "sound foundation."
There are many who feel--mistakenly, I believe--that economic aid by one part of the world to another should be canalized through the governments concerned. Even they, I expect, will concede that intellectual and cultural coöperation must be people-to-people and group-to-group, and that its regulation by the State would defeat its purpose. There are ever so many popular causes of a nonpolitical and nonpartisan type in which coöperation between nonofficial groups in the West and their counterparts here is desirable and helpful. It is necessary to stress this, since there would appear to be a tendency on the part of some Foundations and institutions needlessly to become subsidiaries to diplomatic activity.
Intellectual exchange and interchange between the East and the West is of the highest importance. Irked by the flow of "cultural delegations" between Soviet Russia and Communist China on the one side and India on the other, with the unbalanced picture they are apt to give of cultural "achievements" under Communism, someone was recently provoked to suggest the exchange of cultural delegations between India and America. This suggestion overlooks, however, the basic reason which underlies the phenomenon of "delegations," namely, the Iron Curtain and the desire of the Communist dictatorship to let it up in respect of a few hand-picked people--their own visitors abroad, chosen for their dependability, and their invitees, chosen for their naïveté. There is no need for "delegations" in the case of countries between and within which free men may travel freely. A more longterm view would involve the posting of teachers and students from one region in the other over considerable periods of time. Real comprehension involves a sincere effort to understand the forces that have developed what is called national culture. Nor should such exchange be limited to that between the region and outside. How little we in Asian countries know about the culture and intellectual life of our Asian neighbors and how easy is it for interested political propaganda to erect barriers between us! To help bring Asian to Asian is a process in which the West can participate.
Within each of the countries concerned there are numerous chores, big and small, that cry out for minds and hands to perform. Opportunity--as the Asian writer, musician, dancer, painter or sportsman sees it--is in dreadfully short supply. He sees his counterpart in the West achieve recognition and success in a measure that can never be his. The reasons for this are the barriers of language, often within the same country; the gulf of distance; and the poverty and consequent lack of patronage within the region itself. The Foundations and the intelligentsia of the West can lend a big hand in providing opportunities for presenting the best of the philosophy, literature and art of the countries of the region to the West. We have schools of classical music and dance languishing for want of support. There are documentary films that cannot be made for lack of funds. Sports organizations pine for the resources that would permit their teams to participate in international tournaments and rallies apart from those organized in Iron Curtain countries, travel facilities to which always are freely available. An association of writers in a certain language would like to start a journal. There is no one to encourage the translation and publication in English of the writings of the most eminent of those who write in other tongues. There is need for the establishment of courses for the study of comparative literature. With the fading out of the English language, the need is greater than ever for the translation of the Western classics into Asian languages. The Soviet Union recently gave an award to the script writer and producer of India's "best film of the year" and it has been assured of exhibition throughout the U.S.S.R. The United States Government cannot of course force Americans to see any foreign film it may choose to patronize for reasons of diplomacy, but is it not possible to have a confrontation of Eastern and Western films, music, dance or art through festivals organized at both ends?
The sphere of education offers many opportunities. It would be a mistake to think only in terms of universities and colleges. There are also scores of extensions and projections of the educational process which have yet to be developed. The employment of a critical methodology in the social sciences, in the criticism of art and literature and in philosophical dissertations has been highly developed in the West during the last half-century. In Asia, the development of such techniques can be helped by a sharing of skills and resources quite as effectively as can technical assistance and know-how in the field of agriculture or industry.
There is a noticeable trend towards a deep spiritual revival which takes different forms in different countries but which is too fundamentally alike to be purely coincidental. Perhaps the most outstanding of these phenomena is the revivification of Buddhism in Burma, with the support of Prime Minister Nu, and more recently in Ceylon, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Islam has of course been the foundation of Pakistan, but in "secular" Indonesia too the desire to base modern society and progress on a religious foundation has been steadily gathering strength. In India, people are once again beginning to turn to the deep influence of Mahatma Gandhi. Symbolic of this trend is the Bhoodan Yagna (land gift) campaign, led by Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Gandhi's chosen disciple, and that eminent convert from Marxism, Jayaprakash Narayan. The field of religion is a sensitive one where normally external intervention is to be deprecated. Any encouragement that may be forthcoming for these spiritual developments should be not for the churches of the various faiths but for specific projects of scholarship or social service, not for feeding monks but for efforts and services such as the constructive activities of the Ramakrishna Mission or the Buddhist orders.
Education in citizenship and training for democracy offer yet other fields for coöperation. The importance of propaganda is so well understood by the international Communist apparatus that it is used by them with the greatest persistence. In their own way, the Communists show an understanding of the truth that man does not live by bread alone. The effort put in by the democracies to meet this threat is altogether insignificant. Within the region, what is needed is an effort at presenting and popularizing the values of democracy, not on the level of propaganda but that of education. This has so far barely touched the fringe of the problem. The Asian Conference on Cultural Freedom was an effort of this kind. Such projects might bring with them an awareness of the problems, suggest positive solutions and lead to the activating of impulses that go towards the building of democracy.
The Communists disseminate their ideas through an army of indigenous personnel in each country. Since democracy does not and must not function through a fifth column, the problem of mobilizing local conviction and talent on the side of freedom achieves great importance. Commenting on this complex subject on the termination of the assignment in India of Ambassador Chester Bowles in April 1953, Freedom First, the organ of the Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom, had this to say: "The lessons that the failure of Mr. Bowles' mission teaches would appear to be that those who represent the democracies in a peripheral country such as India should seize the initiative in the cold war of ideas which is being waged in such countries by the Soviet and Chinese dictatorships, that while attending to the needs of the governments the need to educate and enlighten public opinion should not be overlooked, and that economic aid unaccompanied by ideological coöperation and approximation is an undependable foundation on which to build democratic solidarity."
How to help in keeping alive the spark of freedom in the hearts of Asians and to fan it into greater vitality is the problem. There are, of course, obvious dangers of any cooperation on the ideological level. These can be limited if the parties with whom the coöperation takes place are existing organizations and institutions whose bona fides are established, whose activities are not influenced by the coming in of such external support and who share in the costs of the joint effort. Among such institutions can obviously be counted trade unions, universities and colleges, literary and philosophical societies, as well as established organizations and groups devoted to the spread of democratic values and the preservation of the free way of life.
Westerners who argue about these matters amongst themselves often stress the priority of physical strength over moral prestige, and vice versa. This is a false antithesis. In a part of the world where free territory in Tibet and Vietnam has been lost in recent years, power has a persuasiveness of its own. A British organ of opinion certainly saw the problem clearly when it stressed the need of bringing home to people in Asia the conviction that "the West is physically powerful enough to prevent a world Communist victory and sufficiently well intentioned to relieve the starving of the distressed."
Has the West adequately realized that, since freedom is indivisible, the defense and expansion of the bounds of freedom is a one-world proposition? If one who has written on Asia with great understanding and sympathy is to be believed, the West itself has still a great deal to learn. "There is not yet a one-world strategy for strengthening weak spots wherever they exist," writes Herrymon Maurer. "In large part the struggle between Communism and the free world is a struggle for peoples' convictions. The struggle cannot be successful unless the dynamism of Communism is countered by the dynamism of democracy, expressed in the spoken and written word, in economic aid and in the willingness to take risks."
In the end, all efforts at fostering certain values must fail unless those who espouse them demonstrably live up to them. "If we, with all our power, and removed by distance, waver, if we talk further about settlements and truces with the Communists," rightly observed the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Senate recently, "we cannot expect the small nations living in the shadow of the Communist octopus to stand up." On the other hand, those who stress that the answers Asians and Africans get to their questions about human dignity and individual rights are "going to make history" are equally right. A more unequivocal identification by Americans with the struggles to end racial discrimination and the relics of Western colonialism is what democrats in Asia would like to see. To Americans and others who are anxious to know how they can avoid letting down those who have faith in them in these distant parts, an outsider can perhaps only repeat the advice of the immortal bard:
This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.