WE ARE seeing today the climax of a hundred years’ war. If we are to keep in proper perspective the Berlin crisis, the UN brawl, the clumsy manoeuvres of the Kremlin and the advance of America into Europe, we must view them against, their historic background.
One hundred years ago Karl Marx, a German who never soiled his hands with toil and had only a philosopdiical understanding of the workers, wrote his Revolutionary Handbook “Das Kapital.” It. was a declaration of war on society, written in a country which allowed compílete freedom of thought and gave sanctuary to pxilitical exiles Great Britain.
Ideas are like germs; they seek entry where the resistance is lowest. Of all great powers Russia, with its uneven cycle of bad czars, great czars and weak czars, its arrogant aristocracy and ignorant peasantry, and its intellectuals pu-oclaiming the country’s decline in books and j)lays and panphlets . . . here was the breeding ground of revolution.
In 1914 Russia was weak and wasted, divided in purpose and bankrupt in the means and the will to wage war. Her soldiers fought bravely as they always do, but the revolutionaries saw their opportunity. When the Germans sent lxmin back to Russia (he had been enjoying sanctuary in Switzerland) the hour of Communism struck.
Lenin and Trotsky hoisted t heir (lag of world revolution. They believed that when the war ended, Europx* would fall into their hands like an overripje apple. It was left to Poland to set back the hands of the clock by defeating Russia in 1922.
Yet the initial impie tus of Communism could not lx* denied. It seeped into Germany and Italy and France and sought to complete the chaos which war had brought. The rise of Fascism was the answer. Evil had begotten evil and in many countries liberty died without being given a decent burial.
Communism, however, was halted. Its virus had created a counterpxnson and the infection no longer spread unchecked
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through the weakened body of Europe. Then came the Hitler war which ended in the annihilation of the Fascist tyrannies and opened the road once more to the opportunists of the Kremlin.
They knew that America and Britain would be weary and disillusioned after victory. They knew that the Allies would demobilize and disarm, because the 1918 model was there for the Russians to study.
Strategically the Russians’ position was marvelous. Within their zone of influence were Bulgaria, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Greece, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Turkey would have to come under pressure for a while yet and Greece would require a successful revolution which should present no great trouble. And there would have to be a coup d'état in Czechoslovakia before the Communists could seize autocratic power. But what a field of manoeuvre! How rich the possibilities compared to the difficulties!
Nor did the advantages end there. By an incredible stroke of luck and tough bargaining the Russians had secured Berlin as part of their zone and had the Allies in pawn. France, Britain and the U. S. A. were to administer and supply their sections of Berlin without any land contact with their zones except the railways and roads that ran through Russian territory.
No wonder Stalin looked at his hand and found that it was full of nothing but aces. Where could he lose a trick?
“All or Nothing”
Finally the Russians looked away from Europe, toward India, Africa, Arabia and the Far East and they said: “There is revolution in the desert, in the hills and in the islands. Communism is on the march and we are heirs to its victory.” I have no doubt at all that Stalin, who grows mellow at night, sat late over his vodka and contrasted his future as world ruler with the days when he was in and out of prison as a Nihilist and agitator. 1 also have no doubt that his fellow members of the Politburo drank deep and smiled approval while saying to themselves: “You are old, Father
Joseph, old and garrulous. Some of these days you will be no longer with us. Father Joseph. It would be a pity if you lingered unduly ... as Lenin tried to do.”
One does not need genius or a dramatic imagination to know what passed through the minds of the Russian leaders when the war was over. Lenin had always believed and preached that Communism could only
survive if it achieved a world revolution. From time to time there have been men high up in Russian affairs who have argued for a lesser objective, but the true Russian Communists believe that it is all or nothing. And certainly they were right to think that the second World War had brought that dream appreciably nearer to reality, especially when it was followed by the 1945 British election result which to Russian eyes must have seemed a violent swing to the left. The subsequent withdrawal of the British from Burma, Egypt and India must have reinforced their conviction that the British Empire, the age-old champion of human liberty, had gone into a final decline.
Now let us come to the present. It is more than three years since the Axis powers were defeated and now we must
sk how Communism has fared during hat period of destiny. In my opinion here can only be one verdict. Communism is losing the hundred years’ ,'ar. The tide of battle has turned gainst the fanatics at the Kremlin. It may be that Communism will rally tself and try to fight back: certainly it dll inflict dreadful punishment and ufifering wherever it has to get out. lut I claim that no man could honestly rgue or believe that Communists can ace the year 1950 with anything but he gravest apprehension.
What then has halted the surging, rresistible flood that threatened civili;ation so recently? First, I believe, be:ause Communism was no longer nerely an economic and political creed >ut had become the stooge of Russian mperialism.
Karl Marx always believed that vorld revolution would begin in Germany or Russia, but I doubt if he ;ver foresaw that Russian officials like VI. Molotov and A. Vishinsky would me its prophets. The Red Army galantly fought and crushed the German iivisions on the eastern front, but the Red Army in occupation of Germany inflamed the hatred of the Teuton for the Slav to a greater intensity than ever.
The Score in Europe
Because the Russian Communists had crushed freedom in their own country they thought they could do it by the same methods wherever they went. Let us then take a swift look at the map of Europe and see what is happening now:
Italy—Communists have started a purge of their members on the ground that many of them are “doubtful.” Great numbers have meekly sur-
rendered their arms to the Government. Secretly they hope that the blunders of the Government may give them another chance. Unfortunately, their hopes may come true.
Holland— Communism has dwindled to unimportance. Its membership in the trade unions has dropped in two years from 170.000 to 77.000.
Sweden—Communists’ electoral gains of 1944 were wiped out in this year’s election. Principal reason, Sweden’s traditional fear of Russian expansionism.
Yugoslavia—Tito and Stalin are in a death struggle. The Russians utterly failed to realize the sturdy independence of Yugoslavian people. This is a case of two Communist peoples broLight into conflict with each Other because of nationalistic differences.
Finland—In the recent election the Communist, vote dropped by 30% , resulting in the formation of a purely Social-Democrat Cabinet. Communists now turning to trade unions in the hope of paralyzing the nation with unofficial strikes.
France—On figures it must be admitted that the Communists are strong. Undoubtedly the threat of a De Gaulle dictatorship prevents moderate Communists from breaking away from the party. Their newspapers are powerful and well-edited. Out of a total electorate of 25 millions the Communists can count on 5h¿ millions. As there is a multiplicity of parties this makes the Communists the largest single party.
There is, however, a growing rift between the French and Russian conception. The French are fiercely individualistic, whereas the Russians believe in regimentation. Rut for the reasons mentioned France cannot be counted as a weak spot in Russia’s ideological empire.
Czechoslovakia — The Communist Government is organizing labor camps, which are really concentration camps, to deal with the widespread sabotage by the workers. The Government now rules by terror. The republic always regarded itself as a western power and there is a growing hatred of its forcer! inclusion behind the Iron Curtain.
Germany— Russia, as Russia, has lost the three years’ psychological battle. The Germans in her zone compare their isolation with the other Germans who are in touch with the West. In Berlin the hatred of the Russians has reached a pitch of open defiance.
* * *
But the map of Europe does not tell the whole story. Where Hitler failed Stalin has succeeded—in bringing America away from her own boundaries into the old world. Communism, as I have already stated, produced the countervirus of Fascism. Now it has created something far more menacing to its existence, the conquering unit y of freedom-loving people.
Christendom is awake! Slowly, far too slowly, the western powers have come to the realizat ion that the war for men’s minds and men’s souls, has been going on for a hundred years. But as in a flash the free peoples have discovered, and just in time, that their whole spiritual existence is at stake. With that realization we are seeing the emergence of a new crusade.
Communism in retreat can be dangerous. That we must realize. But if we do not weaken, if we are bigger than ourselves and have a vision beyond the limits of our eyes, we may witness the beginning of a hundred years of peace and Christian achievement. It cannot happen in a day or a year, but the forces of darkness are in retreat and the forces of Christendom are on the march. ir
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