Britain and America: Allies for Peace?

Courtesy Reuters

THIS is not the first time that the British and American peoples have come together in a fighting partnership. Two decades back they were fighting side by side for very much the same reasons. Now they are doing the job all over again. From this experience at least one lesson should be plain. It may be difficult to say precisely what the two nations should do to coöperate effectively in the postwar world, but it ought not to be difficult to say what they should not do. They should not do what they did last time.

Their first main error is so obvious that it hardly needs underlining. They did not maintain their partnership. The second error is more fundamental but less obvious. They had a basic misconception of the nature of war and peace. If war is thought of as a sudden, inexplicable, arbitrary act, then it is possible to mistake victory for peace. In that conception, victory puts an end to war as a policeman removes an unwelcome intruder from the peaceful home of a respectable householder. The burglar has gone. The home resumes its normal preoccupations. The incident is closed. This is the basic assumption of the "normalcy" of peace. But war is not a sudden intrusion from without on an otherwise peaceful world society. War is simply a consequence of the way in which that society behaves. It is the violent crisis of deep-rooted social disease. A more exact if unpleasant analogy for war is that of an abscess on the body politic. It may gather in this place or that, but it draws its poison from the whole of the unhealthy bloodstream. Lancing the abscess is not enough. Until the bloodstream is cleansed, the sores will break out again.

Take the example of Germany between the wars. From 1925 to 1929, in the period when German society was fairly stable and the German nation was recovering some position in Europe, the Nazi vote was never above 100,000. Then

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