Courtesy Reuters

Britain and the Modern World

THESE are days in which we occasionally read, either in friendly or in critical language, of a concern whether the British people can continue to play their part in the development of the modern world. Grave as any thoughtful person must admit the situation to be, we in Britain, to whatever political faith we may subscribe, do not share these doubts. We feel that we have heard them before. We heard them when Philip of Spain's Armada was threatening our southern coast, when Napoleon was massing his forces across the Channel at Boulogne, and when Hitler carried almost all before him in 1940. We are therefore by nature and training skeptical of these forebodings. This, however, does not mean that we are complacent, or that we ignore the dangerous instability of present international relations and the stern reality of our domestic problems.

If we are to understand the contribution that the British Isles can make to contemporary political thought, we must first analyze the sources of its authority. Britain is at one and the same time a part of the European Continent and severed from it. The Channel may be little more than 20 miles wide, but its existence has in the past saved Britain physically and detached her emotionally from the Continent. There is here a certain parallel with Russia which should not be overlooked. The Soviet Union is at once an Asiatic and a European Power. Although a great land mass, her home country lies on the flank of Europe, as Britain does, and so through the centuries it has hitherto been to the interest of both of us to see that no one Power should dominate Europe. This motive has brought us together in three major conflicts, in the Napoleonic struggle, in the First World War against Germany, and in the Second World War also. If both countries were still actuated by that motive, surely a wise one, to ensure that no one Power dominates Europe, then our policies could

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