THE ROLE OF CANADA IN THE CHALLENGE OF THE EAST TO THE WEST
AN ADDRESS BY PROFESSOR G. E. G. CATLIN
Chairman: The First Vice-President, Mr. Thos. Howse
Thursday, October 9, 1917
HONOURED GUESTS AND GENTLEMEN
Members of The Empire Club today have the privilege of hearing an address from a man who has had a most fascinating career. Unfortunately, time will only permit me to mention a few of his achievements.
Professor Catlin was in the Italian Chamber when Mussolini assumed responsibility for the war on Abyssinia. He heard Stresemann speak in Geneva and is probably the only Englishman, alive or dead, to have covered the amendment of the United States Constitution.
On one of his trips Professor Catlin just happened to be on the same train as Reich Marshall Hermann Goering. While another time he was the only English correspondent aboard Wendell Wilkie's special train (luring the presidential campaign.
More recently he has held the post of foreign correspondent extraordinaire for the English publication "News of the World" which has a circulation of seven million. In this capacity he reported the Nuremberg Trials in Germany, paid his fourth visit to Mahatma Gandhi in India, saw Lord Wavell, dined with Jinnah, lunched with Nehru, and met Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek in China. He also received an audience from Pope Pius in Rome. These are only a few of the highlights that have occurred in Professor Catlin's fascinating career.
Professor Catlin was born in Lancashire and attended Oxford University, where he was a triple prize winner and at the age of 28 was Professor of Politics at Cornell University. In 1926 he was appointed director of a large research organization under the Rockefeller Foundation. During World War I Professor Catlin was on active service with the British Army and during World War II he lectured to the forces and he was honoured by being placed on the Gestapo Black List.
Professor Catlin has also been a very prolific writer and published many books. One--Anglo-Saxony and its Traditions" has been called the "Mein Kampf" of democracy. Today Professor Catlin's subject is "The Role of Canada, in the Challenge of the East to the West". Through a typographical error in our announcement cards the word "roll" might lead us to think that Canada's bankroll is at stake. I am sure Professor Catlin will reassure us on that score.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: When I came up last night on the train from New York somebody from New Jersey with whom I was talking said, "And when are the Canadians going to take over the United States?"
I said, "Well, I have been advocating that for a very long while."
Of course, in England we are not so much interested because three centuries ago the Scots took over England, so we have that all settled by ourselves.
I mention that remark because it is very near to the theme of what I want to talk to you about this afternoon I am an old hand here because I spoke on this theme to The Canadian Club in 1940, and when I had finished one of the Directors of Eaton's who was sitting next to me said, "Practical Politics." I am going to repeat exactly the same thing again today and, quite briefly, my theme is world organization for peace, and within that framework, a fusion of the United States and the British Commonwealth, not in any exclusive sense but in that of a fusion of the West within the framework of world government.
Eleven years--no, very much nearer twenty years after I said it the first time, and one year after I said it last time in Canada, you remember the late Mr. Wendell Willkie went to Britain and with the idea of the book, "One World" in his mind, came out in an interview with a declaration that what he sought was the complete economic and social fusion of the United States and the British Commonwealth, and I can only subscribe to the doctrine that Mr. Wendell Willkie then stated somewhat better than I could state it myself.
Perhaps, after all, it is practical politics, so practical that with the consent of members of the Club, if anybody is interested in carrying the thing further, I am over here to meet people who have a concern on this matter.
I might mention in passing that Mr. Walter Lippmann did me the honour in his book on "United States War Aims" to pick out as United States War Aim Number 1, something I had suggested, and he quoted me by name, about what he then called "organic conversations" or, if you prefer it better, "routine interchanges between the parts of the world that we want to tie together", so that they are not just exceptional gatherings like the 1931 Economic Conference, but something that goes on the whole time and produces a real like-mindedness.
Wendell Willkie may have said this, and Walter Lippmann may have taken up one of the practical suggestions, but we still feel that it has been rather "up in the air". Now, in 1947, Ernest Bevin, one of the greatest British Foreign Secretaries since Palmerston, has put forward the concrete proposal of a Customs Union of the British Commonwealth and Western Europe, perhaps with the emphasis on the British Government.
You here in Canada appreciate the difficulties of that. I am simply asking you to consider what is the most practical course, because clearly something has got to be done. You may like Mr. Ernest Bevin's recommendation with which I greatly agree or you may like my own suggestion which goes rather beyond Mr. Bevin's recommendation.
At least I think we can say this, that the small state is no longer competent to carry out in a contemporary world the primary function of statehood, which is that of maintaining peace. It has become an ineffectual organization,
because too small, for the economic and security operations of the present day.
I am sure my friends in the labour organizations will be sympathetic with Mr. Bevin, because I am sure you know that some of the private documents of British diplomacy are sealed with the insignia of the A.F. of L. And this for a very simple reason that Mr. Bevin's noble and distinguished predecessors all had their own coats-of-arms, and, when he came into office a seal had to be affixed, and while Mr. Bevin didn't have a private coat-of-arms, he had been presented with a ring by the A.F. of L. which he used for the purpose of sealing the documents.
I feel that there is an aspiration in the whole world at the present time to come together toward the establishment of some kind of world government. Mr. Bevin says that he would willingly sit down with any man to discuss a world organization for the maintenance of peace based on the representation of the peoples and not merely the nominees of the government. A very forward-looking remark. I am not one of those who think Mr. Wendell Willkie's idea of one world can now be dismissed as a grand illusion, nevertheless within that field there is an aspiration of the West, of certain countries of the West, to come closer together.
Now, I do not think there is any need to have suspicions of racialism in that. In point of fact it is in the East that we find Pan-Slav Committees and other such racial organizations, flourishing without rebuke.
Although it is well to bear in mind the activities of the Pan-Slavic Committee organized by the Soviet Union, our concern is a concern to get together like-minded people and to remove unnecessary misunderstanding which obstructs the integration, fusing together, of like-minded communities.
Now some of you may say that is all very well, but how does this relate itself, for example, to Mr. Churchill's famous speech at Fulton? I think the speech by Mr. Churchill could have been delivered much better than Mr. Churchill delivered it. He started with--a very bad blunder. It would be perfectly possible for Mr. Churchill to say: I stand on the charter of the United Nations. That is our goal. But you must turn to Chapter VIII, the Chapter called "Regionalism". I shall now proceed to discuss the fulfillment of the principles contained there. Unfortunately, Mr. Churchill left out the initial passages as a result of which the speech was attacked as building up something antagonistic to the United Nations Organization.
I think we must keep the notion of One World; we must keep the notion of the United Nations Organization. The basic principles in the West, and for the world, have got to be those of the rule of law, the maintenance and enforcement of peace under the rule of law, and the determination by the majority what the rule of law may be. Peace applies to the framework. World Organization supplies the framework within which other organizations have to work.
Some people say that if you press that idea too far, for example, that idea of majority decision, all that you will get is secession and the collapse and breakup of the United Nations Organization. The Charter of the United Nations Organization makes no provision for secession. I see no real reason to suppose that there can be any law permitting secession from that organization.
You remember the attitude of Abraham Lincoln was that there could be no secession of a minority from the federal unit which he fought to maintain and I think that the attitude of Lincoln is an attitude we have duly to consider--whether it is not the right attitude in dealing with the maintenance of world peace. Secession is sabotage; it cannot be called legal secession.
We all know that although the United Nations Organization is the basis of the right approach to organization for peace, it is as yet largely paper, and a paper protection. Look at the operation of the veto. I submit and on numerous platforms I have said, that after all it is a provisional and not an unchangeable document. After all in eight years from now the whole Charter has to go under revision, and revision has to go on the agenda and if there be sufficient public opinion to revise the veto out of existence, or to shift it to relative insignificance, this can be done. But unfortunately the revision itself is subject to the veto and I don't think therefore, that revision carries us, unhappily, very much farther forward.
Remember this disastrous veto has had its predecessors in the old Polish Constitution of the 18th Century. Somebody called it "free veto". It wrecked the life of the Polish nation. At last the patriotic nobles who possessed this right assembled in desperation to abolish it. They agreed to do it except for one Polish nobleman who hid himself in an empty stove and at the critical moment popped out his head to exercise the veto. Another Polish nobleman, prompt with his sword, removed the head and thereby removed the veto, so the abolition was able to be legally carried.
I think our lawyers might seriously consider whether there is legal justification for any provision being so operated that it stultifies the organization and the organic document of which it is a part. Can anybody be so interpreted as legally to have a right to do that which ends by stultifying the whole of which it is a section? I think it can be reasonably held in equity that no portion of law can stultify the enforcement of law.
Mr. Byrnes some time ago gave a lead and again Mr. Marshall, more recently. Mr. Byrnes maintained that the moral right of the majority overrides any obstructionist minority. Anyhow, it may be that we shall only advance by first of all maintaining the principle of world organization and, secondly, by discovering what can be done by regions within the worid organization, which cannot be exclusive regions but should be an inclusive region which adheres to the principle of majority rule and the rule of law.
Now, I know that the position of the Soviet Union is that the test of all things is not the majority principle but co-operation and the co-operation of the Great Powers. This co-operation by the Great Three tends to mean keeping in step with George and even when George chooses to change step whatever step George adopts will be the test of co-operation. Normally, co-operation is in terms of give and take. It is an extraordinary view of co-operation which somebody had that one must merely keep in step
with whatever may be the pace set by a dictatorship. Nevertheless, this is urged on substantial grounds as a matter of Soviet security.
On the same grounds the control of the East, east of the so-called iron curtain in Poland, and so forth, has been urged as necessary for Russian security. I wonder how far that argument would have carried, could we argue that the governmental systems of not only Spain but of France and Great Britain must be determined in a certain way as a matter of United States security? I think it could be argued but I must admit that it is a rather unfortunate case to argue. I think it is the type of argument that should be abjured.
It is also argued that the Soviet Union is being surrounded by groundless suspicion and that it requires the veto as a protection against suspicious peoples; that any getting together of those peoples not only gives grounds for suspicion but that it is liable to move over into aggressive measures.
I have every sympathy with a country that may feel there are unhappy incidents in the past, that there are suspicions existent which with good will can be removed, but nevertheless do not let us overplay an argument. I doubt if there is a single country in the world that if it chose to search in its memory adequately couldn't find grounds for suspicion of most other countries.
India, for example, would have abundance of grounds for suspicion. I so well remember discussing it with Mr. Boila in Delhi and he said, "Once the matter is over it must be forgotten and we must be friends."
Then we have the example of Ireland which has an extremely long memory that has moved, unfortunately, in the same mould.
Recall the situation of 1917, when the failure of the Eastern Front nearly lost the Allies the entire war.
Recall when Ribbentrop on his 60th birthday was saying to Russian representatives, "I thank you, for your felicitations. The union of the people of Germany and the Soviet Union, cemented by blood, will remain durable and solid."
When we remember the remarks of Mr. Stalin and Mr. Ribbentrop the suspicion can be a two-sided suspicion and it is best to forget on both sides.
I think most of the difficulty arises because out in the East maybe a distant United Nations plan for the maintenance of peace and the rule of law does not appeal as an alternative to a plan worked out ideologically for nearly a century, expressed in the Communist Party and Comintern organizations which on the whole, thank you kindly, has been doing very successfully over the last few years, and there is seldom reason for abandoning a plan that seems to be working out extremely well.
I remember in the late '30s when I was in Germany, a German said to me, "Hitler, you see, is so successful. He is pressing the Foreign Minister who never looked at us a few years ago, to come and negotiate with us."
I said, "Mr. Hitler is indeed exceedingly successful. He has built up a circle of enemies around Germany more quickly than I would have believed possible."
Let us remember that something that seems so successful may not be so successful.
The fact is that in France and in Italy, too, there are people pledged to back the Comintern lines. I regret to say that there are certain English politicians, not entirely unknown to you, who also back the Comintern lines, and one of them has said, "I don't believe there will be war if we march shoulder to shoulder with the Soviet Government."
The problem is not whether the common people are peaceminded. In my opinion, the common people are always peaceminded in all countries, because they suffer by war. The problem is the problem of the attitude of governments-not whether the common people want war--or even whether any government wants war in the abstract. I don't believe governments want war in the abstract. The problem is whether they think they can get the fruits of victory-if possible, without war, but if necessary, with war. That is the real question.
You may say I am sketching a very gloomy position. I am sketching a gloomy position because I have a feeling chat our danger at the present tune is not so much alarmism as complacency, and I think we are up against a very grave problem to which we should early give our mind.
Now, I am not a complete pessimist. I know, when I was in India it was assumed in certain political quarters, not particularly pro-British, in India, that a further war was to be regarded as inevitable.
I know when I was in China I said to certain Chinese, "Do you think there will be trouble and, if so, do you think it will be in fifteen years?"
They said, "No, in ten."
I don't share that view completely. I believe that the route of peace is first of all the route really of education of humanity which is a long term prevention and, secondly, the establishment of an international power, or an international police force and, incidentally, I hold a document from Mr. Gandhi, saying that he subscribes to this view, and that it should operate like any other police force not against the majority, but against the small criminal minority. That is the route.
The problem is how to get that police force. Two years ago in San Francisco I came to the conclusion that the prospects of peace lay in the majority countries actually, and always in appearance, presenting a strong, united front. It is my view in that event, as was shown in San Francisco, there will be a retreat in policy on the part of countries, to use a famous phrase of Mr. Stalin, now "dizzy with success". That, to my mind, is the route, through which peace can be maintained, the route of union, courage and resolution.
You may say, what have I said about the role of Canada? I think Canada can play a very important role. It can play a very strong role with Britain, and I would almost say I think it can and I think sometimes should, "bully" Great Britain. By that I mean a complete reversal of the old colonial attitude. You remember that Canada in the days of the Washington Naval Treaty played an extremely valuable role. Canada made a reversal of what, according to all reports, was British policy at that time of the Naval Treaty, and few would not say today, looking back to the history of Japan that what Canada did was not entirely the right thing.
Canada must not be too modest. Canada can play a decisive role if it knows when and where to play it. In my view it should. There are certain obscurities that I think should be cleared up. For example, one obscurity is the Anglo-Soviet Treaty which in Clause 7 appears to state that Great Britain can give no assistance to any country that is hostile to the Soviet Union by which I understand if, for example, Canada, by mischance, got involved by war, Great Britain could not go to the assistance of Canada.
One would like to know if that is what that clause really means. I think the Canadian citizens should reflect on that. These obscurities sometimes lead to war.
The point has been raised by Mr. S. H. Carr in his recent book on Russia, what practical steps can be taken. Here are some practical steps that are indicated. They are matters for Canadian citizens to reflect on and take action. There are other practical steps. We can get together to advocate either Mr. Bevin's Customs Union which is an idea of great courage or something wider and broader-Wendell Willkie's scheme of a Western Union of like-minded peoples within the framework of "One World", or we may feel that the key to the right approach is definitely to put the notion of "One World" first in the rule of law-the decision of the majority first.
Then when we come to the practical implementing of this, we may have to fall back on tieing together far more closely than we have even dreamt of hitherto, like-minded nations that are prepared to accept the rule of the majority.
Turning to the detail, I put forward the suggestion I have already quoted to you, that Walter Lippman took up organic conversations. For years I have played with the notion of having some kind of Anglo-American Institute of Cultural Relations. That might be done by government. My impression of what I know of American citizens and Canadian citizens, is they would prefer to have it done by some other agency. I suggested in New York many years ago that we ought to have some kind of Committee set up, of people who would get together and definitely go over the question of western and democratic theory to find out whether we cannot talk a common language and vocabulary about the pattern of democratic ideals, bearing in mind that the great decisions are likely to be taken by what might be called the floating vote, namely, Western Europe, that you have got to convince the peoples of Italy and France and Austria, and you will not convince by handing them out old worn concepts of democracy and liberty unless definitions are attached.
The Soviet have a tremendous advantage of an almost fanatical dogma polished up to the last point. It may indeed prove in some instances a disadvantage, because they have, for example, come to the dogmatic belief that there must be an economic collapse in America. On the other hand, it may not be justified by events and they have nevertheless calculated there must be one because Marx said so. That is a weakness.
Our weakness is that we haven't got a theory at all. We are bluffing too much. The ideals we have, have failed to carry conviction. It is time the corpus, which is a corpus of centuries of thought in the West, and not less in the English-speaking West--don't let us be unduly modest-nevertheless, it has not been brought up and, related to the definite affairs and therefore, fails to have cutting power and cutting force.
I suggest we must not be tempted to turn out slogans and turn out propaganda before we have done the thinking. We have got now to do the thinking, then we can move on to turn out the slogans and the propaganda. Remember, the effective propaganda today is literally worth army corps. The right idea is worth seven battles.
The issue is the issue of claiming the soul of Western Europe at the present time and it is not settled which way Western Europe goes.
You may say to me this is all very difficult. So it is. I see in the Toronto morning paper that Mr. Duplessis had produced a suggestion that Canada had three enemies Communism, Socialism and Bolshevism. With all anologies, I can't think of any more mischievous notion. I happen to be a Socialist. Ernest Bevin is an outstanding Socialist. Many people who put up the major fight against totalitarianism call themselves Socialists. If you adopt that slogan then you are going to alienate the very people you want to bring in and I would suggest to Mr. Dunlessis as an alternative-for we in Britain are not wing to fight to reverse the decisions of the Second World War-a better slogan might be Opposition to Communism. Black Fascism and Red Fascism.
You may say, I repeat, it is all very difficult. So it is. I remember the remark made at the time of Dunkirk when it was said, "Let me have the best solutions worked out. Don't argue about them. The difficulties will argue for themselves."
We are now in a very critical time, because of the very nature of Democracy which tends to talk and to doubt until the last moment and until past the last moment. My old friend, Lionel Curtis, has many times pointed out the weakness of the British Commonwealth is that it wins wars but doesn't prevent wars. It couldn't prevent wars because it-didn't make up its mind until too late.
The difficulties are there. Don't talk about the difficulties. Let us get to the discussion of the solution. I am not concerned with the detailed policies of Foreign Ministries or even the detailed relations between Commonwealth Union and Customs barriers. I am concerned with the question of ideas. We have to think out the question of ideas and decide whether on the issue of personal liberty, we are prepared nobly to save, or meanly to lose, the last best hope on earth for which we fought the last war. (Applause.)
At the request of the Vice-President, the thanks of the meeting were expressed to the speaker by Brigadier Colin Campbell.