Commentary Magazine

The Cold War in Perspective

In August of this year it will be half a century since European civilization went over the brink. All anniversaries have something arbitrary about them, but so long as we don't take them too seriously and avoid playing with sacred numbers, it is permissible to use them as mental signposts. The habit is in any case too deeply ingrained to be abandoned even by academics. Already there is a flood of literature to remind us of what the date 1914 signifies in European history. We are also being told—as if we didn't know—that for Americans and Russians the important date is not 1914 but 1917: the year when the USA took the plunge into world politics, while Russia temporarily cut its losses and turned to more urgent matters at home.

In three years' time, consequently, there is going to be another half-centenary, though clearly the date 1967 is not going to have precisely the same significance for the readers of Pravda and of Time magazine. Will they be urged to remember that Wilson and Lenin represent incompatible principles? Or will the political climate permit a cautious move toward ideological rapprochement? And in the latter case, what new anathemas are going to come out of Peking? These are practical questions, no mere playing with concepts. The way in which we look at the past is itself an index of how we wish to shape the future.

By starting off in this manner, I fear I may have caused a suspicion to arise in the minds of readers aware of the recent growth in Europe of a new kind of neutralism: one not confined to the Left, but given the sanction of respectability by conservative statesmen and thinkers. Is it not tempting to suppose that the USA and the USSR may already have more in common than they are willing to admit? And that if we wait long enough, they will recognize their joint interest in keeping the peace? But even if we suppose that this may be so, it does not necessarily follow that everyone is obliged to draw the same conclusions. One knows what President de Gaulle thinks of the matter—he has lately been at pains to proclaim his doctrine urbi et orbi. But there is also an alternative way of looking at all this: perhaps it is to the advantage of Europe that the Big Two should become less hostile to each other; that they should tacitly agree to act as the world's policemen; and that the non-nuclear powers should take shelter under their respective wings? The cold war, on this reading of the situation, will gradually end, though the more zealous propagandists on both sides may for a while continue to bandy the old slogans. Passions will cool, a modus vivendi will establish itself, and the East-West split will cease to be the dominant issue in world affairs: to be succeeded no doubt by a North-South antagonism pitting the backward agrarian against the advanced industrial countries. Let the armed lumpenproletariat of the world, in the starving overcrowded regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, hearken to Maoist and Castroist slogans: the industrialized nations (whether capitalist or nominally socialist) will hold their own, and if necessary close ranks against the disturbers of the peace. As for nuclear arms, they will be controlled by the Big Two (with perhaps a little help from Britain). The Moscow Treaty of 1963, and its probable successors, will see to that.

It is an agreeable vision. It is also—to be more precise and practical about it—the esoteric doctrine of the British government, and of all three political parties in Britain. In a modified form—with the UN substituted for the Big Two—it accords with the hopes of official and unofficial liberalism; it can count on the support of moderate socialists, from Harold Wilson to Willy Brandt and Giuseppe Saragat; of bankers in Zurich and businessmen in Hamburg; of Catholics in Rome, pacifists in Sweden, vegetarians in Denmark, and nuclear disarmers on the road to and from Aldermaston. Were it not for those notorious troublemakers, de Gaulle and Mao Tse-tung, it might by now have won general acceptance. There is, to be sure, a major snag: one does not quite know whether the Russians are willing to play. On some occasions Khrushchev gives the impression of having seen the light; then he backslides into primitive Leninism, and the world has a narrow escape, e.g. over missiles in Cuba. But taken as a whole, the underlying movement since the demise of Stalin and Dulles seems to have been in the proper liberal direction—that leading to a peaceful share-out of world responsibility among the Big Two, with Britain acting as the honest broker. This in any case is how it looks from London; and it must be remembered that most educated Indians and Africans (no less than some Americans) are apt to take their view of the world from the more advanced sections of the British press. There is a Liberal orthodoxy, as there is a Conservative or a Communist one. It comports respect for the United Nations, faith in controlled disarmament, resistance to nuclear proliferation, and a firm belief that co-existence can be made to work: at any rate as between the USA and the USSR. If the Chinese are not yet ready for it, that is too bad: in time they too will learn to play the game according to the rules.

If I sound a trifle skeptical, this is not because I share the conviction (recently reaffirmed by Professor Morgenthau in COMMENTARY1) that the cold war must necessarily continue in the form it assumed in 1947-50. It seems to me to be a weakness of this school that it cannot get away from Dullesian notions about “international Communism,” while its liberal critics on the other hand suffer from an apparently unquenchable thirst for larger draughts of the Camp David spirit. Instead of getting into the arena of what is after all a national debate over the proper direction of U.S. policy, let me rather try to set out how the matter looks to thinking people in Western Europe, from Tories and Gaullists on the Right to Socialists on the Left. (I exclude Communists and Fascists, though the former at any rate are still important and have lately fallen into some confusion over the matter.)



The first thing to be noted is that the “hard” school in Europe has little in common with the American Right and tends to regard its splenetic outbursts—e.g. against Cuba—as evidence of immaturity. A gesture such as France's recent recognition of China encounters little criticism among conservatives, save perhaps on the grounds of timing. In France itself most of the discordant noises came from the center-left, and there is evidence that Gaston Defferre may have hurt himself seriously with the voters by appearing to take the “American” line. To British Tories, as to de Gaulle and his followers, “Communism” as such has ceased to be an issue: they are bored with it, and hardly able to keep awake when lectured on the subject by U.S. officials from Mr. Rusk downward. It is accepted in these quarters that much, if not all, of the “underdeveloped” world will go Communist, or near-Communist. The problem is how to contain the spread, and to this end Western support for various kinds of home-grown “national socialism,” or even Titoist “national communism,” is regarded as the proper response. Perhaps the case is best summed up by saying that the heresies of Mr. George Kennan and Senator J. William Fulbright are the orthodoxies of British Conservatism (though not of the ruling Christian-Democrats in Bonn, most of whom still cling to the Dulles line).

When it comes to trade and aid, the political Right, with its roots in nationalism, is fairly cynical about liberal economics, not unfriendly to planning (as long as it is not called socialism), and totally indifferent to the alleged danger involved in trading with the Sino-Soviet bloc. It is quite aware that trade is a political weapon—at least as aware as its American critics—and determined to use this weapon in order to make itself less dependent on the United States. This attitude is sometimes misunderstood by critics who fail to see that the West Europeans can afford to trade with the Soviet bloc as long as the global political balance remains what it is. Since that balance depends on the unresolved antagonism between the USA and the USSR, it is a trifle illogical to couple appeals to Europe to reduce this trade with the argument that the cold war will go on. It is just because the Europeans see no immediate end to the global struggle that they have decided to strike out on their own. This sentiment affects even the Bonn regime, otherwise America's most faithful ally in Europe. As for Britain and France, no amount of scolding from Washington is going to interfere with their urgent plans for expanding trade with Russia and China. If the cold war must go on, then so must trade. Western Europe is dependent on exports and cannot afford to deny itself outlets in the “third world,” just because much of it is Communist. This is a political decision, not a matter of naïveté on the part of businessmen. Moreover, it is fully in tune with advanced liberal opinion, hence politically unchallengeable.

So far I have drawn no distinction between conventional Toryism and Gaullism; but there is of course a marked difference, as witness Fleet Street's persistent nagging at de Gaulle, and the unhappy mien displayed by Whitehall officials at any mention of his name. Genuine support for Gaullism is limited to a section of the Conservative party (including some of its Europe-minded intellectuals); plus, on the Left, a number of people who retain a grudging admiration for the manner in which the General solved the Algerian problem. The Times maintains its reserve, and plainly does not care for the recent growth of French influence in the tiers monde, with Latin America well in the lead. To most liberals and socialists, the General is the man who has made nuclear proliferation almost respectable, and who in any case provides the Tories with an excuse for hanging on to what is officially known as the “independent national deterrent.” To the more belligerent Atlanticists, he is suspect as the potential leader of a European union committed to “armed neutrality.” Every now and then a “diplomatic correspondent” trots out the standard nonsense about Napoleon, not to mention other historical characters. Some of this perverse irritability is due to the current British national malaise; but there is also a feeling that the General is genuinely indifferent to the Atlantic Alliance, and determined to snub the British so long as they cling to their status as America's favored ally. In the short run at least, the net effect of these tactics is to drive Whitehall back upon an Anglo-American orientation which anyhow responds to sentiments more deeply ingrained than Europeanism.

Viewed from Paris all this looks rather different, even to non-Gaullists, who cannot quite get over a feeling that Washington and London are simply continuing their wartime attitude of ignoring European interests. Even critics of the General and his force de frappe feel obliged to side with him when he says out loud what everyone in Europe has been thinking for years, e.g., in relation to China. It is also acknowledged in these quarters that France now stands a good chance of winning the affection of the tiers monde, and not merely for economic reasons. As the acknowledged leader of the Right, de Gaulle paradoxically can go further left than his liberal and socialist critics. What is more, he is doing it, and not only in Algeria, where Paris is now heavily engaged in subsidizing a socialist revolution. Gaullism as a political phenomenon is beginning to catch on all over the world and to get clandestine support from radicals of the most varied stripes. The General himself gives the impression of believing that the dialectic of the continuing U.S.-Soviet confrontation leaves room for an intermediate position—possibly even for a synthesis at a higher level, where the boring quarrel over capitalism and Communism has been left behind. At the same time the strength of his home base, and the evident success of French “technocratic” planning, enables him to distribute financial largesse, while advising non-industrial countries on how to modernize their economies. With the New Frontier out of action, and the Alliance for Progress shown up as the expensive flop its critics always said it would be, he has even been able to invade Washington's Latin American backyard. Conservatives are reassured by his background, radicals are reminded that France this year will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Revolution which gave democracy to the world. From Peking to Mexico City, by way of Algiers, de Gaulle can count on a favorable press.


Before hastening to conclude that all this represents merely the cynical exploitation of circumstances by an admitted master of the game, let us look once more at the “balance of terror.” Negatively, Gaullism represents an attempt to undo the Yalta settlement of 1945, which effectively partitioned Europe and subjected the Old Continent to the control of the nuclear super-powers. Positively, it entails some degree of nuclear armament, at first on a national, later no doubt on a European level. In the words of M. Raymond Aron (writing in a special issue of Daedalus devoted to the “New Europe”)2 this policy “does not, for the moment, reject the Atlantic Alliance, but it claims to see in it only a provisional organization, useful until the day when the Soviet Union, having reverted to the Old Russia, will favor the reconciliation of the two halves of the Old Continent.” French diplomacy aims at a goal beyond the cold war. NATO is not regarded as expendable—yet; but an integrated Western Europe possessing its own atomic forces will, it is thought, be able one day to negotiate with Moscow on more or less equal terms, and then it will be possible to dispense with the presence of U.S. forces in Europe (though not with the “nuclear umbrella”). The residual dispute between Gaul-lists and European federalists turns more on the extent to which national sovereignty will have to be sacrificed than on the principle of European independence from the United States. To quote M. Aron once more: “The creation of a superior political unity, embracing old nations weighed down by history like Great Britain, Germany or France, demands a real political will—unless it is to be a sort of abdication. But a political will is inseparable from a will to be independent, even if it is not equivalent to a will to power. Many of the Brussels Eurocrats are conscious of this fact and see the constitution of a European state, capable of taking a stand and thus of defending itself, as the inevitable final outcome of their efforts. Such a Europe would not consequently be a third force; it would remain tied to the United States, but as a single unit, whereas today . . . the United States can easily impose its will on the plurality of states, small or middle-sized, whose connections with each other are less close than their subservient relations with the Big Brother across the Atlantic.” Coming from a distinguished liberal, who tends toward federalism and has often been critical of de Gaulle, this is pretty plain speaking. It also confirms (what readers of the American and British press must have had difficulty discovering from the reporting they have been fed over the past five or six years) that not all “good Europeans” are happy about the sun-satellite system which has characterized Washington's relations with its allies. In fact M. Aron's chief criticism of de Gaulle is that, by insisting on French sovereignty instead of playing the card of European integration, he has made it more difficult to get an autonomous Western Europe going. Judging from M. Defferre's recent public utterances, this is also substantially his view.

The theoretical thinking that underlies this kind of approach has to be extracted (at the cost of some labor) from M. Aron's massive treatise Paix et Guerre entre les Nations, originally published in 1962, and soon to be available in an American translation.3 Since the French edition runs to nearly eight hundred pages, I trust I may be forgiven if I confine myself to saying that the work supplies the intellectual rationale of the liberal co-existence program, while leaving a door open for the “tough” school. This is easy enough, once the obsession with Communism is abandoned. The “balance of terror” is then seen as an interval leading—after heaven knows what catastrophes—to a “planetary system,” within which “societies” rather than “nations” will confront one another. These societies will be distinguished by their mastery of modern technology, their degree of industrialization, their wealth, their culture, and unfortunately also their capacity for nuclear destruction. The present interim stage will come to an end when the USA and the USSR have recognized the limitations of their power, and their common interest in keeping the peace. To some extent they have been doing this tacitly since 1945, or at any rate since Korea. As M. Aron puts it, for a number of years now things have shaped themselves “as though the Big Two (especially the United States) were . . . conscious that their common interest in avoiding war took precedence over their conflicting interests . . . [and] as though they were equally anxious to retard the moment when the accession of France or China to the thermonuclear club would put an end to their duopoly. . . . Solidarity among enemies, opposition among allies, assumes an original form in the thermonuclear age.”

The coming planetary system is going to leave this “duopoly” behind: of this M. Aron is as certain as General de Gaulle (one of his most faithful readers, though the two men have often quarreled over the past quarter century). What then will take its place? M. Aron foresees a choice between limited disasters, total catastrophe and the wreckage of industrial civilization, or finally the abolition of war and the effective pacification of the globe. The General probably agrees, but for the moment is more concerned with the immediate aim of breaking the “duopoly,” even if it means helping China to acquire its own nuclear capacity. For may not the resultant pressure on the Soviet Union's Siberian border induce the Russians to remember that they are, after all, Europeans? Those who have to deal with Charles de Gaulle discover after a while that his favorite mental exercise is historical prognosis, and that he reckons in centuries where lesser men are content with years.



So far I have tried to remain at the level of more or less commonsensible reflections on the cold war; but with M. Aron's long-term projections of current trends, one inevitably finds oneself in an intermediate range between “politics” and “history.” Nor is he alone: this kind of writing currently enjoys a remarkable vogue, not least in the supposedly empirical and pragmatic Anglo-American world. For proof we have—among many lesser specimens—a recent tract entitled The Politics of Hysteria by Edmund Stillman and William Pfaff,4 and a companion volume by I. R. Sinai, The Challenge of Modernization.5 The authors in each case are political scientists with a taste for sociology and what in an earlier age was called the philosophy of history. At one time this kind of theorizing used to be a preserve of continental Europeans, chiefly Frenchmen and Germans. By now the secret is out, and everyone is doing it. The fashion really started, I suppose, when Professor Toynbee discovered Spengler and decided to improve on him. In reading The Politics of Hysteria—an oddly chosen title for what is on the whole a fairly sober work of analysis—one can see what happens when two writers of the present age decide to improve on Toynbee.

Let me say straightaway that Messrs. Stillman and Pfaff are worth reading. They are engagés in an attractive manner: intelligent, passionate, sophisticated. They have clearly read and meditated a great deal, and formed their conclusions in an attempt to get beyond the current political orthodoxies. Patriotism in their case takes the form of self-criticism. Quite early on, some of the most cherished official beliefs are rudely challenged. The cold war increasingly “passes into banality.” “American policies are enlarging the very disorders they are meant to cure.” “The truth is that political strategies, in the Soviet bloc and in the West, are nearly all rigidly conservative. They are naïve and blind to contemporary ambiguities, and for that reason, even as the Soviet-American rivalry wanes in an age dominated by the transcendent growth of the technology of war, they are fantastically dangerous.” I suppose it does Americans good to be told this. In Europe we have known it for years: we have only to open our morning papers. The pity of it is that the Russians do not know it, and are not likely to find out from their papers. But let that pass. On the essential point the authors are right: the cold war, from being a necessary defensive operation against the armed threat emanating from the USSR in 1948, has turned into an endless struggle for global hegemony: a struggle that neither side can (and perhaps no longer wants to) win. Meanwhile the neutrals are getting restive: Asia, Africa, and Latin America want to break out of this straitjacket. Industrialization—whether capitalist or socialist—has become the preoccupation of elites who speak for two-thirds of mankind: the hungry two-thirds. Yet all the while Washington and Moscow exchange verbal brickbats amidst growing boredom and indifference, and latterly to the accompaniment of catcalls from Peking, where it has dawned on the incumbents that Tweedledum and Tweedledee have no serious intention of hurting one another. “Let's fight till six and then have dinner” is the secret watchword of the Big Two as they belabor each other with cardboard weapons. Or so it looks to the outsiders, though it is not quite certain yet whether they are right. At any rate this is a good moment for stepping back from the scene and taking a long look at the intellectual presuppositions underlying the cold war; and this is what the authors of The Politics of Hysteria have tried to do.


Why then do I find their argument not wholly convincing? I suspect it has to do with their commitment to what, for brevity's sake and for want of a better term, may be called the philosophy of neo-conservatism. This attachment may seem odd in the case of two writers who want to transcend the cold war, and who are alert and sophisticated enough to credit Communism with the ability and the will to revolutionize stagnant societies that do not yield readily to conventional liberal treatment. But there's the rub: Stillman and Pfaff do not really like the world revolution that is now going on, in various forms and under different labels, all over the globe. They are put off by its crudities and by the grotesque forms it takes—in Egypt as well as in Cuba, in Indonesia no less than in China. What they like, I was going to say, is Western liberalism, but they don't really like that either, for they disapprove of the French Revolution. In the worst manner of Toynbee, Niebuhr, and other conservative sages, they class that great event—the true beginning of the modern age—with all the most senseless butcheries of ancient and modern history, down to the recent German catastrophe. They even suggest in all seriousness that “the excesses of France of the Revolution were related to the excesses of the wars of religion, and to the Spain of the Inquisition.” The grain of sense in this otherwise nonsensical statement is the fact that, in a country weighed down by the tradition of absolutism and the Catholic Church, the Revolution was bound to be bloody. (It was, however, a lot less costly in human lives than the wars of religion.) To treat this as an occasion for a sermon on the unfortunate habit of “the West” to “turn violence to the service of idealism or a vision of truth,” is to blur the essential distinction between meaningless slaughter and meaningful progress. What these treasonable clerks are after is nothing less than the abandonment of the entire liberal heritage, and the inculcation of a “tragic” pessimism whose theological roots they do not even bother to conceal.

The superficial attraction of the “tragic” view is considerable. Above all, in a country much given to a naïve kind of self-idolization, it makes it possible to criticize the official pieties from what looks like a superior vantage-point. The scales of justice can be held even. If Hitler was mad, the Allies at any rate were ruthless. If “the Nazi attempt to reduce the Poles and Russians to a subhuman status” stands condemned, so do “the calculated retaliatory acts of murder that were the Allied fire raids on Hamburg, Kassel, Dresden, and Tokyo; the atomic horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—these are events not easy to parallel in the earlier history of the world.” Moreover, Hitler and Stalin were not the first despots to butcher millions of victims: Napoleon killed a lot of people too. And before that there was the Thirty Years War, and earlier still there were the Crusades. “Thus a quality of fanatic violence in Western civilization was already established in the Europe of the thirteenth century.” In our own day this violence has assumed an ideological character: it has been directed to the attainment of supposedly ideal ends. “Here is a truly Faustian ambition—to transform by physical action not merely the earth, but the qualities of the creatures who dwell upon it . . .” And who doesn't know what happened to Faust in the last act?

All this is very true. Unfortunately, the way it is put by the authors suggests that they have swallowed a large dose of hokum about the superior spirituality of “the East” in general and India in particular. Their imagination takes wing at the thought that “the West” suffers from a peculiar urge—namely a “demonic” will to change the environment—unknown to other civilizations. In this they are right, and what is more, it is precisely this urge (whose roots are obscure) which has enabled Europe and America to crawl out of the slime in which other areas are still stuck. That Eastern spirituality Stillman and Pfaff so admire is the mark of a culture which, from time immemorial, has treated massacre, slavery, misery, infant mortality, the caste system, and the subjection of women, as evils not to be avoided, or even as the ransom of a greater good. Nor is it the case that violence and terror are Western traits. Stalin didn't shock the East—by Eastern standards his behavior was quite normal. The only people shocked by his (and Hitler's) massacres were Westerners: Americans and Europeans. For that matter, Hiroshima did not greatly shock the Japanese (setting aside the immediate survivors). Most of them fully expected to be butchered by the victors in cold blood: it was what they would have done.

One sometimes feels that the Russian Revolution has had the same kind of numbing effect on Americans that the French Revolution had on Englishmen of the past century. In both cases there is the same tendency to give up thinking about the future, on the grounds that history is a mess anyhow and talk about progress a joke in poor taste. But all the time the technological revolution goes on, and there will be found people with nerves strong enough to shape it. The spiritual self-flagellation recommended by fashionable sages in East and West does nothing to help. It can even be slightly repellent. “Skepticism and stoicism,” we are told by the authors of this tract, “. . . are essential to arm men to endure the waste and perplexity of history; only they can save us from despair, or from the self-destroying recourse to a magical totalitarianism.” Who are they to talk? What most people need, and haven't got, is not “skepticism and stoicism,” but three square meals a day, and the right to be treated as human beings. To hell with neo-conservatives. If they can't stand the heat, let them get out of the kitchen. If they get too much in the way, there is a danger that the Communist cooks will take over. They are not full of modish despair, and their menu appeals to the masses. Are they to have a monopoly?


It is a relief to turn from these lucubrations to Mr. Sinai. He at least is in no doubt that the “third world” stands in need of the most drastic reorganization. In fact he has gone out of his way to make himself unpopular with the tender-minded by stressing how backward the backward countries really are, notably in such matters as personal freedom, civil rights, and the overcoming of religious superstition. It is true that Stillman and Pfaff have something to say about that too, but they are so obsessed with the devastation caused by the impact of the West upon Africa and Asia that they tend to ignore the liberating effect. They positively bewail the damage caused to the Oriental psyche by the sudden confrontation with the modern world. Not only Communism, but liberalism too, is blamed for riding roughshod over these ancient cultures. This perverse nonsense—very fashionable now, one gathers, among American academics—is placed in its proper perspective by Mr. Sinai's first-hand account of present-day conditions in India and Burma. He has the courage—a century after Marx and Macaulay—to say what everyone knows but dare not admit: that conditions in these countries are dreadful because they have not been forcibly Westernized. I especially recommend his account of Burma to sentimentalists who believe the claims made on behalf of “Asian socialism”—socialism without tears, that is. I also recommend his chapter on “The Irrelevance of Asian Socialism.” From this one may learn that the few genuinely modern-minded Socialists (such as Sjahrir in Indonesia) admire the West precisely because of its “Faustian” quality, i.e., because Western culture does not preach submission to fate. Men like Sjahrir know that modernization has been a failure because it has not been radical enough. The Western impact has been blunted, not least by Europe's reluctance to promote a thorough break with the past. Yet nothing is more certain than that modernization in the economic sphere cannot be got going until the cultural fabric—above all the stifling family system—has been shattered. All these archaic societies will have to be torn up by the roots and reorganized in far more drastic fashion than “Western imperialists” ever dared contemplate. They cannot, during the present century, hope to catch up with even the poorest parts of Europe in basic living standards; but they can at least avoid catastrophic famines and “population explosions.” At present they are sinking deeper into the mire, and their Western friends are understandably getting fed up. Before they renounce the whole operation as a bad job, they might consider what is to happen if the race is lost to China.

It is to such perspectives that writers on the cold war necessarily turn when they lift their sights above the Iron Curtain running through the midst of Europe. I began by saying that to non-Europeans 1917 is a more significant date than 1914, and I am going to close on this note. But the Europeans are catching up. Sir William Hayter (late of the British Foreign Office) in his contribution to the Survey discussion already mentioned, alludes casually to the effect that “a series of Cubas in, say, Latin America or Southeast Asia” might have on the world balance of power. Most of us have now learned to think in these global terms. What we have not yet quite learned is how to relate this kind of thinking to the understanding of long-run social and cultural change. M. Aron (writing in the same number of Survey) approaches the theme from the familiar angle of postwar pragmatism. “It is true to say,” he says, “that ideologies are dead in the advanced societies of the world (if we take an ideology to be a total interpretation of world history), but the statement does not apply to the countries in process of development.” It doesn't apply to the others either, but let that pass. It is certainly true that revolutionary passions have cooled in the West (to the conservative, or the academic liberal, only revolutionary creeds are “ideological”: his own thinking is exempt) and that something like a consensus is coming about in the most advanced countries. It is also true that Western conservatives have been unsuccessful in trying to impose their constipated outlook on people still struggling with the urgent problem of keeping alive. But it is emphatically not the case that the backward countries would do better if they adopted our own piecemeal approach. “Social engineering” is no answer to their problem. A “total interpretation of world history” is an urgent practical necessity for them if they are to break with the past and reshape their cultures; and until they do, they will make no material progress. It is odd that Americans, of all people, should need to be convinced of this truth.


1 “Peace in Our Time?” March 1964.

2 Published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Winter 1964. For M. Aron's views on coexistence see his article “The Great Schism” in the January 1964 number of the quarterly Survey (London), where a special section is devoted to this topic.

3 To be published early in 1965 by Doubleday.

4 Harper & Row, 288 pp., $4.95.

5 Chatto & Windus (London).

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