Commentary Magazine


Britain and the Bomb:
What Price Coexistence?

London

As something of a connoisseur of political demonstrations, I have no doubt that the last stages of this year’s Aldermaston march provided the greatest turn-out for any cause that London has seen since the war. When I travelled along it from head to tail, the head was entering Trafalgar Square, and the column proceeded virtually unbroken down Whitehall, round Parliament Square, along Victoria Street . . . and well into Kensington. There were curious sights to be seen: the editor of Tribune and the music critic of the Spectator in the column, and the assistant editor of the New Statesman, with a pram on the pavement. . . . But the sight of 15,000 people walking across London was undeniably impressive. . . .—The Spectator, April 3, 1959.

 

Among the minor irritants inseparable from living (if one can call it living) in the second half of this century, protest demonstrations against the danger of nuclear fall-out must occupy a considerable place. What good they can do the inhabitants of a middle-sized country such as England is not clear, since it must be obvious that in the event of global catastrophe it will make no difference what kind of policy the British government has been pursuing; while anything short of total disaster is not likely to involve this country in the sort of conflict that opponents of the H-bomb regard as immoral. But motives are no less effective for being mixed: it is easy to discredit the all-out pacifists; it is more difficult to counter the plea that Britain should renounce a “deterrent” whose possession seems to many either useless or suicidal. The protest marchers in fact have a political case, though wrapped up in traditional moralizing phraseology, and this circumstance accounts for the fact that this year’s demonstration drew out—in addition to the personages mentioned above—the chairman of the Trades Union Congress (who addressed the Trafalgar Square rally) and the leader of the biggest single union in the TUC. Neither Mr. Robert Willis nor Mr. Frank Cousins are in the slightest danger of being mistaken for fellow-travelers (though Mr. Cousins has long been a supporter of Mr. Bevan), but they have now become fellow-marchers. The annual protest demonstration against Britain’s manufacture of nuclear weapons can therefore no longer be written off as a pacifist stunt. It may even compel Mr. Bevan to revise the qualified support he gave the official platform on this issue at the last Labor party conference.

If it were not for this sudden and rather surprising surge of left-wing opinion against the Bomb, the political scene at the moment would be pretty dull. This statement may conflict with the impression apparently held abroad that Mr. Macmillan’s recent series of pilgrimages electrified the British public and caused a thrill of national pride to run through the country. It is possible that the original announcement of his impending trip to Moscow last February did have some such effect for a couple of days, but when it turned out that he was merely going on a reconnaissance, there was a sharp drop in the emotional temperature; and by the time Khrushchev had got over his toothache and consented to a Foreign Ministers’ meeting, the public had reverted to its customary indifference. Connoisseurs of political nonsense were kept busy for another week or so, trying to decide whether the government or the opposition was ahead by a length in the opinion polls, but by the end of March it was plain that the glamor of Mr. Macmillan’s fur hat had worn off considerably faster than the lure of Mr. Chamberlain’s umbrella twenty years earlier. Thereafter it became the chief business of official spokesmen to resent precisely this comparison, the more so since it was being made by—of all people—the Germans. By the beginning of April, the Times was constrained to report from Bonn that relations with the Federal Republic had never been worse, and that Dr. Adenauer had finally lost patience with the British. The latter, he was reported to have told a select gathering of supporters, must be taught once and for all that they could not lead on the Continent. “Germany and France are the leaders in Europe.” Paris agreed, though de Gaulle counselled Bonn to accept the Oder-Neisse frontier. This shocking suggestion stirred only the mildest protest across the Rhine. “It would seem that the French can do no wrong, even when they withdraw most of their troops and wreck the free trade area,” commented the Times correspondent. He might have added that most Germans take a dim view of British attempts to sabotage the European Common Market, and that even adherents of the rival free trade area scheme resent Mr. Macmillan’s escapade in Moscow: a sentiment formulated with remarkable clarity in Dr. Adenauer’s valedictory broadcast some days after the press had leaked news of the chill in Anglo-German relations.

Such considerations inevitably impinge upon the issue of German unification, and are therefore not quite germane to the subject of British domestic affairs with which this report is principally concerned. Suffice it to say that most observers in London will be surprised if this summer’s inevitable showdown over Berlin does not find the British government in the role of more or less honest broker between East and West. This is not because the British care less about German unification than their allies (in any case a difficult feat, since even the West Germans do not seem to care as much as one might expect), but because they are tired of the cold war and regard the Berlin crisis as a suitable opportunity for stabilizing the status quo. Such aims cannot be avowed, and there will be plenty of disclaimers before the summer is over. Nonetheless there is now little doubt that stabilization along the present political line in Central Europe is regarded as desirable in London. The official argument of course is that the alternative might be world war over Berlin—not an attractive prospect. There is no need to go over this dispute once more: between now and the summit meeting, rivers of ink are certain to be spilled, and all the experts are going to have their say. Here it is simply intended to explain why the spring of 1959 finds the British government and public in a mood to have done with the cold war.

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II

In considerable part, the solution to this puzzle has to do with the dull subject of economics, of which more will have to be said. But this is not the whole story. Other factors have been at work, among them gradual disillusionment among the Conservatives with the notion that Britain can still play the part of a world power. This idea was never very plausible, and it was finally knocked on the head by the Suez fiasco. Since then, control of Cyprus has been relinquished without so much as a murmur from the Tory back-benchers, and even the loss of the RAF’s “staging post” at the Habbaniya airbase in Iraq has been swallowed, if not with good grace, at least with a frozen countenance. It is now accepted that Britain is no longer a great power in the traditional sense—a discovery rationalized by the reflection that “splendid isolation” of the late Victorian sort was a passing aberration anyhow. The Economist, in its traditional role of explaining the facts of life to Conservatives, has recently (March 7) painted a fairly agreeable picture of what the new posture involves. According to its editorialists, “what is called the decline of British power in the world is not as depressing a phenomenon as it is usually assumed to be. Britain’s imperial decline has not resulted from an absolute decline in the strength and energy of this country, but from changes elsewhere that have made the business of dominating others more difficult, as well as more obviously unrewarding, than it used to be . . . the growth of the Soviet Union and the United States has made the great-power competition stiffer than it ever was in the 19th century. . . . Britain’s salvation has been its readiness to adjust itself to these facts, accepting the necessity of retreat in Asia and Africa, as Labor and Conservative governments alike have done since 1945. But the pace of adjustment is slow, and its reasons are not plainly enough stated and therefore not properly understood. False ideas of what is happening in the world produce an unfounded sense of inadequacy and failure, and lead to false decisions, like the decision in 1956 to dam up the stream of Arab nationalism by landing troops in Egypt. . . .” As for Middle Eastern oil, it can (according to the same source) be replaced by imports from across the Atlantic.

What is the bearing of this argument on NATO, and in particular on Germany and the Berlin crisis? “. . . Britain’s actual behavior in two wars suggests that when it comes to a matter of life and death this country fully appreciates that its vital defense interests lie in Europe. Those experiences also show that the security of Europe requires the alliance of the United States, and that the true life-line of this country (as of Europe) runs not across the Indian Ocean but across the Atlantic. Therefore the American alliance is, and must continue to be, the iron framework of British policy.” (Ibid.) There is scarcely an article in the traditional Tory declaration of faith that is not outraged by this conclusion, but the organ of the City is not concerned with Tory romanticism, but with economic and political reality. The Atlantic alliance comes first, and if this means jettisoning the British Empire’s traditional claim to independent global status (“Indian Ocean life-line”), so much the worse. Of late, the City and its weekly oracle have even begun to toy with the notion of joining the European Common Market and letting Imperial Preference go hang. No wonder some despairing Tories have in recent months packed their bags and departed, either to the Antipodes or to Central Africa, where that pocket-sized Cecil Rhodes, Sir Roy Welensky, still keeps the flag flying.

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What further news have the descendants of Cobden and Bagehot for their Conservative subscribers (who cannot get over the fact that they have to read a Liberal weekly in order to discover what their own government is up to)? Chiefly this: “Whereas the Bulganin-Khrushchev talks in London in 1956 were largely wasted in a fruitless attempt to secure a free hand for Britain in the Arab world, the main subject of Mr. Macmillan’s talks in Moscow in 1959 has been, as he said when he got back, ‘these grave problems of the future of Central Europe.’ . . . Why and by what authority does a British Prime Minister make the future of Central Europe his business? What could a British initiative hope to achieve in a matter that concerns the Atlantic alliance as a whole? The first question can be simply answered by asking who keeps troops in Berlin, and why. The answer to the second is more complicated. Clearly Mr. Macmillan had to face embarrassment in Moscow because Mr. Khrushchev wants to talk to a man whose decisions can bind the whole Atlantic alliance, and the British Prime Minister is not that man. . . . Through fortuitous circumstances, the British Prime Minister has been the only leading man of the Western alliance able and willing to undertake this action at this moment. The purpose of it was not to demonstrate that Britain can do something on its own. . . .”

If these lengthy quotations (for which an apology is due to the reader) have made the point clear—the article from which they are taken, incidentally, is headlined “Towards the Nineteen-sixties”—a minor effort will at least not have been wasted. The point, it is perhaps unnecessary to emphasize, is that Britain must somehow get out of the great-power game before the 1960’s close in. This does not imply lack of loyalty to the Atlantic alliance: on the contrary, this particular commitment comes first and is allotted precedence even over the traditional interests of the British Empire and/or Commonwealth. What the new outlook implies is a rational desire to eliminate all possible sources of conflict between East and West that are not absolutely rooted in the fundamental difference between their respective ways of life. This accomplished, coexistence can be made to work—though never in the sense intended by pacifist protest marchers, or readers of the New Statesman. There can be no genuine peace as long as Moscow and Peking continue to dream of world domination through world revolution; but there can be—there must be, if Britain is to survive—a modus vivendi that takes the deadly sting out of the cold war. From this standpoint, which is plainly that of the British government (though not of all the Tory backbenchers), Berlin—indeed Germany and Central Europe as a whole—is not so much a moral commitment as a nuisance. Or rather, it is a nuisance, and a source of danger, precisely because it unfortunately represents a moral commitment. Clearly, the ideal solution, from this point of view, is to shuffle the commitment off and let someone else—say Mr. Hammerskjold—carry it; equally clearly, this is not going to be easy. It may not even be feasible, though we shall certainly try to do our best. And what if this means that in a few years’ time a neutralized and internationalized Berlin is peacefully swallowed up by Herr Ulbricht’s People’s Republic? Very unfortunate for the Berliners, no doubt, but perhaps a price worth paying for the sake of “stability” in Central Europe. Besides, can it not be held that the real chance of unifying Germany was missed in 1949, after the Berlin blockade, and that the Germans themselves are to blame?

And so from Central Europe to Central Africa, and things that really interest us.

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III

In the context of British politics, as briefly sketched out in the foregoing, Central Africa does three things: 1) It takes our minds off Central Europe and allows us to concentrate on race relations, Sir Roy Welensky, and other 19th-century phenomena; 2) It provides outdoor relief for hungry Tories, colonial settlers, unemployed ex-officers and others who cannot find a suitable niche in the remodelled and partly democratized Britain of the 1950’s; 3) It offers a chance to give backbone to the Commonwealth, now that India is gone. (Not to mention the fact that Nairobi [Kenya] seems destined to replace Habbaniya [Iraq] as an airbase and RAF staging-post to the Indian Ocean, Australasia, and the Far East.)

But before these agreeable visions can materialize, a political framework must be found to contain the emerging African nationalist movement: principally in Central Africa, where successive British governments have over the past decade tried to satisfy the urge of the 300,000 white settlers for local self-government, without driving the still rather inchoate African nationalist groups to the point of rebellion. Of late there has been a setback: African feeling in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland (the latter almost wholly “black”) has come to the boil, in a form which has plainly scared the authorities and driven the settlers further to the right—though not yet to the point of rebellion against the London government. In addition to the customary clashes, arrests, and charges of sinister foreign influences, there has been evidence that the “partnership” formula is breaking down. When the projected Central African Federation becomes autonomous next year, it looks like turning into a small-scale replica of the South African Union. Perhaps disaster can still be staved off; perhaps it is too late. Certainly the Labor party, for all its present concern over the situation, has little to show in the way of past actions to eliminate the color bar and promote something nearer democracy in Britain’s remaining African colonies. Yet it is noteworthy that neither the Conservatives nor Labor seem to question the importance of Central Africa to Britain. It is widely regarded as the main touchstone of imperial policy.

This last point may be disputed. The Labor party and a number of Liberals (not, however, the editors of the Economist) clearly prefer Dr. Nkrumah as a Commonwealth associate to Sir Roy Welensky, or his Southern Rhodesian colleague, Sir Edgar Whitehead, who last month was with difficulty prevented from rushing through emergency legislation that would have done away with habeas corpus. (Not that there is much regard for legal and constitutional niceties in Dr. Nkrumah’s preserve, but to his numerous British admirers, two blacks do make a white.) However, economics come in at this point to tilt the balance in favor of those African territories—all on the East coast—where European settlement has meant a large inflow of investments. The newly emancipated British and French territories on the West coast may be more up-to-date politically, but when it comes to capital investment they lag considerably behind the regions still in the grip of old-fashioned colonialism. Throughout West Africa and French Equatorial Africa (now remodelled to republican status) the investment rate fluctuates between 8 and 12 per cent of gross income: not quite enough to break through the “sound barrier” of modernization. The East African territories do better, though only in Kenya can the economy (almost completely controlled by white settlers) be described as “dynamic.” And when we come to the two Rhodesias and the Union of South Africa—politically and spiritually the most deplorable of the lot—the rate of growth is at a level hardly equalled anywhere outside the Communist world. For over a decade, investment in this area (cf. the Economist, December 13, 1958) has absorbed 20 to 30 per cent of gross income; the economies have been growing at an annual rate of 6 per cent—compared with 4 per cent in the U. S., and a normal growth rate of 3 per cent in Europe—and South Africa, under the Nationalist regime, has even been able to dispense with foreign capital, while investing something like 20 per cent of its own income.

Economics, of course, is not the whole of life. It is, however, the foundation of most other things. Life in the newly independent, or autonomous, territories of West Africa may be more agreeable (certainly for intellectuals), but power and wealth are likely to flow to the colonial East, unless African nationalist movements can cause sufficient trouble to frighten the investors and force the settlers to come to terms with native African sentiment. This, clearly, is going to be the issue of the 1960’s, and to many thinking people in Britain it is far more interesting than the stale problems of Central Europe: an area wrecked by two world wars and inhabited by nations who are now paying for their age-old habit of settling their conflicts by force. Also Central Africa, from the British viewpoint, has the merit that we can do something about it—perhaps even display our famed capacity for compromise and statesmanship—whereas we can do very little (if the truth be told: nothing at all) about Central Europe.

With these considerations in mind, one need not be surprised at finding the pages of our newspapers, periodicals, and specialized reviews increasingly dominated by discussions of racial problems in general, and African affairs in particular. The Third British Empire—supposing such a creation to be feasible—is going to be based on Africa, if it can find a base anywhere. Africa, too, is the Labor party’s last chance to practice its liberating mission. Both parties in fact can aspire to more than insular status only by finding solutions for Africa, imperialist or democratic, as the case may be. Without Africa the Conservative party must shrink to a provincial replica of U. S. Republicanism; the Labor party, to just another Social-Democratic movement on the Scandinavian pattern. Lastly, the faithful Liberal remnant has sought and found in Africa a cause—racial equality—which appeals both to its principles and to its hopeful search for something that does not involve major social changes. At home, such causes are hard to come by, though every now and then the authorities obligingly provide civil libertarians with an issue, e.g. by banning the sale of Lolita, or refusing to make life easier for homosexuals. Prison reform—always good for a humanitarian campaign in our more progressive newspapers and periodicals—has lately been taken up by the Conservative government. Education remains a delicate subject as long as prominent Liberals and Socialists send their children to privileged private schools. Racial equality, on the other hand, offers every conceivable target to the reformer: it is safe (there are few colored people in Britain), it is moral, and it is indubitably progressive. Also, it really is relevant to what is happening in Africa, which is our only remaining overseas territory of any consequence.

To be fair, Africa is productive of some exceedingly tough characters who make a passable foil for our democratic gladiators: Dr. Verwoerd, with his apartheid and his undisguised plans for pulling South Africa out of the Commonwealth if interfered with; Sir Roy Welensky and Sir Edgar Whitehead in the Rhodesias, with their 300,000 white settlers and their shaky commitment to racial “partnership”; and flamboyant characters like the aged Lord Malvern who after nearly half a century’s work in Central Africa recently returned to Westminster to make their Lordships’ flesh creep with threats of secession (“I know you are very indignant that we have a little army of our own, and an air force, and so forth”). Who shall blame us if we find such challenges (which after all are manageable) more satisfactory than the endless tug-of-war in Central Europe? It may be said that the real comparison is with Little Rock, and that after all Little Rock has not prevented Washington from formulating a global policy. But in the first place, Governor Faubus has not threatened secession; and secondly, our global policy (insofar as Britain still has one that is distinct from that of NATO), pivots on just those African territories which also breed the racial and political conflicts referred to. If the Commonwealth is to have any reality, these matters must be settled—and soon. Before another decade is out, it may be too late.

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IV

As noted above, these political choices are partly conditioned by the country’s economic health. Something must therefore be said about this far from fascinating subject. Fortunately, this can be done fairly briefly, for the facts are well established and not really in dispute; even the number of possible interpretations is limited.

The principal fact is that over the past three years, financial stability has been bought at the cost of economic stagnation. Since 1956 prices have not risen significantly, but neither has output. The balance of trade has improved, mainly because of fortuitous changes in world market prices; and the payments balance, on which the solidity of sterling depends, has become more favorable: but only because imports have been artificially held below the level at which British industry would be fully employed. Yet mass unemployment has been avoided, consumption has gone up, and taxes have been lowered. The electorate therefore is reasonably content. It does not understand that the cost of economic stagnation can be formidable in the long run; that failure to expand productive capacity translates itself into failure to expand foreign sales in the face of German and Japanese competition. Already Britain has slipped to third place—behind West Germany—as regards volume of total exports. This momentous change occurred last year, while the newspapers were busy celebrating the sensational improvement in the balance of payments. In shipbuilding Britain has been overtaken by both Germany and Japan: neither of these traditional rivals had a single shipyard left in 1945. They are now out in front.

This trend represents an acceleration of tendencies which have been at work since the war, under both Labor and Conservative governments. Though both parties, in the time-honored fashion, blame each other, neither has been successful in overcoming the built-in handicaps. Under Labor a somewhat higher rate of investment and expansion was purchased at the cost of inflation and controls; under the Conservatives, financial stability and decontrol, plus rising consumption and lowered taxes, have been accompanied by an even lower investment rate, and latterly by absolute stagnation. (In 1958 industrial production fell by 1 per cent, while all other European countries scored advances of varying magnitude). It has not so far been possible to combine a high rate of expansion with financial stability—a feat easily managed by half a dozen European countries, notably Western Germany. Rather, every attempt to let the economy produce at top gear has resulted in a foreign exchange crisis. At the moment, the possibility of another Labor government is already having the effect of making foreign bankers nervous about holding sterling: Labor is “the party of inflation,” quite apart from its reputed hostility to private enterprise (the latter an ideological hang-over rather than a real issue, since the party program has virtually scrapped public ownership, except for the steel industry).

This does not mean that there has been no progress in absolute terms. On the contrary, there has been constant improvement in living standards, thanks in part to a fall in the import prices of food and raw materials; taxes have come down in a most gratifying manner, and consumption has risen annually, as have wages and salaries. Even in 1958, when expansion was at a standstill, the populace consumed 5 per cent more in the way of imported food, drink, and tobacco. Exports fell, but the value (though not the volume) of imports declined more sharply, thus leaving a large financial surplus to be squandered. The only trouble with this agreeable picture is that it holds no guarantee of permanence. This is recognized in the latest official White Paper which comments that “in 1958 the United Kingdom’s balance of payments was highly satisfactory. This was largely because external conditions were exceptionally favorable.”

For a country whose level of employment depends in the most direct manner on its foreign trade, this conclusion holds a warning. It is not one that either the government or the official opposition has been anxious to impress upon the public. We are nearing a general election, and neither party is anxious to spoil the fun. This accounts for the Chancellor’s latest Budget concessions; it also accounts for the opposition’s muted dissatisfaction with the existing state of affairs. The Labor party indeed is committed to a policy of expansion, and its leaders are vocally indignant about “Tory stagnation.” They have not, however, so far made it clear where the emphasis is intended to lie. Theoretically, full employment can be secured in two ways: by stimulating home consumption (which means bigger imports of non-essentials), or by investing more in the basic industries, even if it means holding the standard of living down. One must be a considerable optimist to believe that Mr. Gaitskell and his colleagues are going to choose the latter course; or that, having chosen it, they will be able to impose it upon their party and the unions.

Against this background the political warfare falls into place. At the moment the two parties seem about level, though some indications favor the Conservatives if Mr. Macmillan can bring off a successful summit meeting. Alternatively, we shall be governed by Messrs. Gaitskell, Bevan, and Harold Wilson. No one pretends to believe that they are of the caliber of the 1945-51 Labor government, which was itself far from wonderful.

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V

And so back to our domestic concerns, back to race relations and human relations, back in a sense to Aldermaston and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. For the annual protest march to our chief nuclear science laboratories is beginning to acquire the character of one of those movements which, though launched by outsiders, end by changing the whole tone of public opinion. There is even a film about it—March to Aldermaston—which has been running quite successfully at one of the major London cinemas. Its soundtrack seemed a bit disingenuous even to the sympathetic reviewer of the British Film Institute’s highbrow quarterly magazine, Sight and Sound. Still, it will not do to suggest that the campaign has been taken over by the Communists: they are trying hard, unaware as usual that their success would kill the movement stone-dead. It is, however, more likely to continue along pacifist-neutralist lines, as did “disarmament” during the 1930’s.

Some people affect surprise that the Communist party should go on existing at all. (It has just held another national congress and reported a recovery of membership strength to the pre-Hungarian level of 27,000, though the circulation of its daily suffered a further drop.) The fact is that the British CP has always been primarily an industrial organization. It continues to have some importance in the factories, and to be in control of at least one major union. Almost all the dissident intellectuals have now left (their organ, the New Reasoner, is quite readable and almost indistinguishable from a socialist publication), and some of the younger shop stewards, tired of the old gang but still “revolutionary,” have joined the Trotskyists, who thus to their intense surprise find themselves in control of a sizable militant labor organization: something they had never dreamed would happen. But still the party carries on, though its leadership is aging, and the new recruits no longer come from the social and intellectual top-drawer. It will doubtless go on, just like any other sect. At the opposite end of the political spectrum, the remnants of Mosley’s “Union Movement” have lately been active trying to stir the embers of race hatred (directed mainly against West Indian immigrants). An “independent” candidate of their persuasion, who last month tried to rouse the electors of a Norfolk farming constituency to the menace of “colored Bolshevism” (as represented by an assortment of bogeys ranging from Dr. Banda in Nyasaland to immigrants in Notting Hill), polled some 750 votes out of a total of 40,000. Not yet a major nuisance, but possibly a straw in the wind.

Closer to the center of public life, the group of up-to-date young Conservative politicians and intellectuals associated with Crossbow magazine have published a learned study suggesting that Britain can still play an important part in the world if the public is prepared to back a policy of economic expansion (a big “if”). Since this group includes some three dozen present or future Members of Parliament, and has the discreet blessing of the party high command, it deserves to be taken seriously. Its adherents are modern-minded and enlightened on all sorts of issues, from Keynesian economics to race relations and cultural censorship. In France they would support de Gaulle, in America they would probably be reckoned liberal Republicans, of the Rockefeller stripe. They may very well be the driving force of Toryism in the 1960’s, the Old Guard leadership being disposed to favor them, as against the stupider back-benchers (who, however, are more popular with the local associations, especially the women). In dealing with British politics, one must never forget the existence of this element: this is a left-of-center country, and even the Conservative party goes on modernizing itself.

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Yet Africa is sure to put these rising young politicians to a severe test. I say “Africa” advisedly, since this is now the biggest issue in British politics, leaving the Bomb aside, as something that concerns NATO rather than Britain alone. Assuming that Central Europe can be neutralized, and that the Bomb can somehow be rendered harmless—no need to stress that these are earth-shaking assumptions—Africa is certain to dominate the scene, as India did for the Victorians. Not the Middle East: that has been quietly written off as hopeless. It is not without significance that the latest issue of one of our leading literary monthlies—a publication hitherto devoted largely to championship of Colonel Nasser (when not busy pleading the cause of the homosexuals)—has suddenly switched its attention to the Dark Continent: in a somewhat amateurish manner, but still with an evident straining after seriousness which is as welcome as it is surprising. For we have recently been through a rather stale and foolish period, partly occasioned by Suez shell-shock. There are signs that this mood is passing; elegant futility is no longer the mark of fashion, and even the London literary intellectuals have woken up to the existence of real problems. Against this faintly encouraging background, the detached observer can salute even the Aldermaston marchers, for all their obvious absurdity, as harbingers of a somewhat more bracing temper.

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