To the Editor:
John Mander does not quite do justice to Kingsley Martin’s position on British foreign policy in the 30’s. He refers only in passing to Martin’s own discussion of Conor Cruise O’Brien’s attack, which appeared in the New Statesman for April 26, 1963. In this article, Martin makes it clear that while he opposed war against Germany by the West alone, he “favored running the risk of war if Britain and France in the west were supported by Russia in the east.” What the New Statesman consistently opposed was Chamberlain’s policy of making guarantees to the Czechs which the British had no intention of going to war for, while at the same time disdaining collective security arrangements which could have assured a decisive defeat for Hitler. Within this context Martin’s statements become more meaningful. . .
Mr. Mander classifies the New Statesman’s policy as pseudo-revolutionary. Actually, it is not revolutionary at all, having become under the present editor, John Freeman, the organ of the modern Labor technocrats. While its sympathies might still be with unilateralism, the New Statesman now prints serious discussions about defense. Its arguments for scrapping Britain’s nuclear deterrent, for example, as Mr. Mander shows, rest “not on moral but on financial grounds.” Paul Johnson, for instance (who even favors, of all things, British possession of the deterrent for possible action in Malaysia and the Persian Gulf States), has pointed out, as have others, Britain’s role in improving conventional arms. Moreover, almost all traces of anti-Americanism are gone. . . . While the New Statesman strongly favors attempts toward a détente, it no longer has any “illusions” about Russian-Chinese motives. The New Statesman has shown a surprising realization of the problems of the old colonies—which has not, however, precluded sharp criticism. The magazine has been skeptical, for example, of African misuse of the United Nations against South Africa and Angola, critical of the obsession with neo-colonialism, sharply disappointed with developments in Ghana and Indonesia. . . .
In short, the transformation of the New Statesman reflects the transformation of the English Left from the old revolutionaries to the possibilists—concerned mainly with economic growth. I feel that Mr. Mander should have done more to try to get this point across.
Steven J. Kelman
Great Neck, New York
To the Editor:
I would like to communicate my appreciation of the remarkable article by John Mander, “The New Statesman & the English Left,” [February]. I am only afraid that its lightness of form and casual-ness of manner may deceive, causing it to be passed over more quickly than would be right. It is, I think, one of the most searching essays, on mind and society in the England of our generation, that has come from any hand.