This Debate has been a little difficult. We started with railings. We switched on to Russia. Then we went back from Russia to railings. Now I, in my turn, want to switch back from railings to Russia, and to follow some of the observations made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. E. Hughes).
I found his speech extremely moving to listen to, and, in some ways, extremely difficult to reply to. When a man says that he and the common people of all lands want nothing so passionately as peace, and that that applies to the common folk of America as well as to the common folk of this country, it is impossible for any of us to do other than say, "We heartily agree." When he says that he hopes that, if President Truman finds an opportunity of trying to get talks going again with Russia, our own Government will not only put no obstacles in the way, but will do everything they can to facilitate a new approach with a view to a peaceful settlement, there again no hon. Member of this House can do other than say, "We heartily agree." When he talks about the appalling consequences of an atomic war, whether in Russia or in Britain—and I myself have said that, if such a war came, these islands would be the most concentrated target in the whole world—again, we can do nothing but agree.
But, when we have agreed to all that, we still have to face the situation, and, with great respect, I do not believe that that situation is one of equal making as between our Government, on the one side, and the Russians, on the other. After all, it is not our Government, nor is it the American Government, which has occupied millions of square miles of territory since the war ended. It is not our Government which has forced upon scores of millions of people, partly at the point of the bayonet, and partly by a process of subsidised internal erosion, forms of government which they did not want, and which are alien, not merely to our conception, but to any conception, of democracy whatever. It was not the British who started the blockade of Berlin. Nor was it the Americans. When my hon. Friend appears to start with the assumption that there is about an equal amount of wrong on both sides, that seems to me to be thoroughly unjust to our own people and to the Americans, and absolutely inconsistent with the facts of the last three years.
I hold the view that there is, at the moment a sense of lessened tension in the country, and in the world. I do not know to what that is due. It may be due to a number of things. For example, it may be due to the fact that the classic period of the year during which European wars usually begin—that is to say, in the late autumn when the harvest has been gathered in—has passed without an actual outbreak of armed conflict. That may be the explanation. On the other hand, it may be that the defeat of the Communist—inspired coal strike in France tends to create the sense of relief. It may even be that the recent Stalin interview in "Pravda" is capable of being construed as an effort on his part to justify the Russian line to a somewhat uneasy Russian people who require to be convinced. Indeed, it may be a combination of all these three things, but the fact remains that there is a sense of lessened tension.
I see nothing whatever in any single fact in the international situation which justifies that lessened tension. I think that the situation now is just as grave as it was a month ago. I think it will get worse as time goes on until there is, indeed, a positive policy on the part of the Americans and ourselves as comprehensive and as positive as the policy which the Russians are pursuing.
The defeat of the coal strike in France is not a defeat for the Communists, or, rather, it is only a defeat for the Communists if we imagine that their aims and instructions were to bring about an immediate revolution in France. If those were the instructions of the Cominform to the French Communists then, certainly, the collapse of the strike is a defeat. But, in fact, those were not the instructions from the Cominform. The instructions were different; they were to harass the French Government, and to do the utmost possible damage to French economy as part of the effort to frustrate the successful operation of the Marshall Plan, in Europe. If those were the instructions, then the Communists in France have had an immense success. They have dealt a severe economic blow to French economy; they have retreated in good order, and it is possible for them to try exactly the same sort of game again tomorrow, or whenever some convenient opportunity arises.
Nor is it certain that the "Pravda" interview is an attempt by an uneasy dictator to justify himself to a somewhat uneasy rank and file. It is perfectly capable of being construed as the beginning of the effort to condition the Russian mind to war. I hold the view that nothing has been settled. The Berlin blockade goes on; we are no nearer peace treaties in respect of Germany than we were before; the proceedings at Paris get nowhere except up a blind alley; the political gap between the Russians and the democracies is, if anything, wider than before; and the "cold war" is being waged with persistent malignity in every part of the world. While our eyes have been fixed on Berlin, half a continent, in addition to all that which has already fallen, has fallen into Russian hands—Manchuria. The whole future of China is at stake, and, if China goes, everything will be at issue throughout the whole of the Far East. The whole balance of power in the entire world will be destroyed unless the Russian advance in Asia is arrested, and unless the Russian advance in Europe is contained.
When we discuss, however tentatively, the threat of war, let me say with great frankness—because it is important that one should not be misunderstood—I do not believe that Stalin wants war. I believe that we misconceive the whole strategy of Stalin, and the whole purpose of Communism, when we think of war in relation to them in 19th century terms. War in the 19th century was a matter between nations. Today it is a matter of continents and classes. And all the criteria which applied to war in the 19th century have become irrelevant to the conditions of today. In my opinion Stalin does not mean to march, because he is getting his own way without marching. That is the essential.
By the pursuit of the "cold war," through so-called National Communist parties and Communist—dominated trade unions, he inflicts upon the democracies the economic and financial effects of defeat without actually going to war. By keeping Europe in a state of unease, by such things as the Berlin blockade, and so on, he inspires a universal fear which impels the democracies to divert to rearmament, men, materials, and resources which ought to go to the rebuilding of their shattered economies. He has only to carry on that process long enough to win without a shooting war, because, if we are compelled to divert a considerable proportion of our resources to armaments, that means fresh sacrifices and fresh hardships for the people and provides more opportunity for the Communist agitator and the Communist—dominated trade unions to make trouble for us.
In my view, Stalin's conception of war is not that of a primary instrument at all. If the process goes on long enough, subject to one exception, to which I will come in a moment, Stalin will get all the fruits of war without fighting. Europe will go, and the Far East will go, unless something stronger and more purposeful is opposed to Russian policy than has so far been opposed to it. It is even conceivable that Stalin thinks of a shooting war as merely the final push—over of social conditions which are already crumbling into decay, so that it ceases to be an initial operation, and becomes only the last straw, so to speak, which breaks the camel's back. It is perfectly conceivable that war will be quite unnecessary from his point of view, because he will get all he wants without it.
It is in this light that we must look at the American election to which my hon. Friend referred. President Truman takes office with fewer obligations to anybody, I suppose, than almost any President in American history. The Dixiecrats did their worst; Wallace and the Fellow—Travellers did their worst; Dewey and the Republicans did theirs, and, contrary to the expectation of political prophet and Gallup pollster alike, Truman won against all the odds. The fact that he has won against all the odds means that he enters office with fewer commitments and greater freedom than if he had made a whole series of electoral bargains in order to secure his majority.
I conceive it to be not only possible, but probable, that he will, with the minimum of delay, initiate a further attempt to reach a settlement with the Russians by agreement. I wish him Godspeed, and I think every man who has the remotest conception of what war in the conditions of this century would mean must wish him Godspeed too. I believe that our Government, too, will not be behind in wishing him Godspeed. I do not mind if there is some little sacrifice of face involved either. If it is a question of where we are to meet, let us go to Moscow, if that is any difficulty. But I must say that from my reading of the Marxian dialectic, and from one's knowledge of the impetus which movements like the Russian Revolution today, and the French Revolution 150 years ago, generate, I think that the prospects of reaching a settlement by agreement are extremely remote. I hope profoundly that I am wrong in that, but if it proves that a settlement is not possible, then the world has got to take some decisions.
In the first place, those decisions must come from the United States of America. There alone is the resource of military power, not to defeat the Russians but to hold them in check. There alone is the concentration of industrial productive capacity which would enable a country to pursue a comprehensive and purposeful world policy. I am perfectly certain that nothing save immense American help can stop China going under the Russian heel. I see that in a pronouncement yesterday or today the Generalissimo talks of another eight years of war. I do not for a moment believe that the Chinese people can stand another eight years of war.
Well, I have expressed my view. I may be wrong, but at least that is my view. I doubt if the civil administration in China can hang together for another eight years of war. I doubt if Greece can endure many more years of the kind of situation which has existed there for the last three or four years. Therefore, there must be a direct, purposeful, and comprehensive policy which, in the first instance, it seems to me, can only come from America, because America alone has the material and other resources necessary to enable her to embark upon it.
I hope that if there is a peace move we shall do everything in our power to help it. I believe that every Member of this House will pray with the utmost earnestness that any such move as that shall succeed. But if it should fail, history will not exempt us, and history will not exempt the American people, from their responsibility as the custodians of what is left of freedom in the world. If Truman goes and succeeds, God bless him. If he tries and fails, he and we and the American people will be in what Bunyan described as the "Valley of Decision." Decisions have got to be taken.
In my view, there is only one decision that can be taken, and that is to build up so great a preponderance—and here the resources must in the main come from America—that the gamble of further Russian expansion becomes too big a gamble to be undertaken. If we can rebuild a balance of power in the world, we may get a period of peace—uneasy peace, it may be, but a period of peace —in which the necessities of the nations will impel them to some kind of cooperative effort in this, that, or the other field, if only for the reason that we all live on the same planet and have got somehow to live together. In my view that is the great hope.
The worst danger for peace today is not strength but weakness. The worst enemy of peace today is the assumption which Hitler made, and which Stalin appears to be making, that you can go on that road of erosion and conquest forever, and everlastingly get away with it. Sooner or later somebody says, "No." If they had said "No" earlier, if they had backed their "No" with greater evidence of capacity to resist, the history of this century would have been very different from what it has been. Another Munich would settle not merely the fate of Germany or Austria. Another Munich would settle the fate of what is left of the free world.
While I support the plea of my hon. Friend, and while I often disagree with Members on the Front Bench—I thought the Minister of Works was absolutely shocking today—I believe in my soul that this Government want peace as urgently and as earnestly as anybody in the world. Therefore, I am sure they will support any attempt to get it. If, however, they find that there is no peace to be got except upon terms which mean the end of freedom in the world, I hope this country will take its stand in the "Valley of Decision," and will take the decisions which are called for by the circumstances of the day.
I am very glad to be able to intervene in this interesting Debate. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) approached this subject from entirely the wrong angle. He appeared to me to be under the impression that we and also America desire a war. I feel that he came to that conclusion because we were taking responsible measures to re-arm, to introduce military service and so on. It is because we do not want an atomic war or a war of any kind that we are taking precautions.
The hon. Member may say that that will eventually lead to war, and I can only reply that over the last 25 years being very weak has also led to war. It is really a matter of selection between these two theories—one of being very weak, pacifist, and appealing to the human and better nature of the countries in the world who are strong, and the other of being so strong that one is not in danger of being attacked for one's possessions. And incidentally I do not think there is any need for us to apologise for our possessions; nor do I think there is any need for America to apologise for her possessions. It is how we administer them that matters.
The hon. Gentleman said that a few years ago we were bombing the houses in Berlin, and that now we were giving sweets to the children in Berlin. I must put on record that that is quite wrong. We never deliberately bombed the houses in Berlin or in any other town. In every town that we bombed there were strategic objectives and houses were not in that category. The hon. Gentleman very rightly said that we do not wish this country to be used as a sort of carrier or a gigantic landing ground. That is perfectly true. On the other hand, we were very glad indeed to have the American Air Force here a few years ago. Therefore, one ought to be very careful before making those remarks publicly, and saying that we do not welcome the Americans here. That is certainly not the case.
The Americans are here on a peaceful mission. We all hope they will remain on a peaceful mission. In any case, there is no reason why another English speaking country should not have its forces here to see that peace is maintained. I do not regard that as a menace to peace. I and many other hon. Members on both sides of the House consider it a very useful and wise provision to have our American allies very close to us in these difficult times.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) said that although there was lessening tension throughout the world he was not quite sure of the reason for it. I should like to suggest to him that perhaps the reason why tension is being relieved somewhat is that we are showing a little strength. During a very recent visit I paid to Berlin I had the opportunity of speaking to many Germans and I found that while, quite obviously, there was no particular liking for the British—we would be very stupid to think there is—there was a very real dread of the Russians, and that brings us closer together at the moment.
The Russian has instilled on the Continent a very wholesome or unwholesome fear of his arms and his soldiery and I am afraid there is nothing we can do to counteract that fear except to have strong arms ourselves. That is the only possible way. If an atomic war should come, it would be disastrous. So would a war without atom bombs but with guided missiles. It would be even more disastrous, however, if we had weak Services and were not prepared, if we followed the preachings, the teachings or the arguments of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire—although I know they are perfectly sincere—if we did not rearm and did not get together to try to standardise equipment and arms between ourselves and our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic; if we followed that policy then we would not be serving peace or doing right by our people.
My final point is this. Arms in themselves are not enough. We must have them, of course, and the stronger they are I feel the less likelihood there is of war, but I think there is another thing. In our democracies we want a very much higher moral standard as well. Arms alone are not enough. There is a great lowering of moral standards throughout the world and throughout Europe today, particularly in France and Italy, and we ourselves are not guiltless. Until we and our people decide what line we are going to take on this question of morals and principles, then our Armed Forces will be of no avail. Should there be a question of peace or war, should we have to decide once more whether this country, our resources and our people, shall stand again for freedom, then it must be because we believe our freedom and our way of living to be worth the sacrifice of war.
I hope the House will forgive me for intervening in this Debate, for I did not hear the speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), and I heard only part of the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). Such deep questions have been involved, and I was so much interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby, that I want to put before the House something which has been puzzling me and worrying me for a very long time.
I am sure that all opinion in this country would agree that this is not primarily a political struggle. It is not one of the old—fashioned diplomatic differences. It is a struggle of philosophy. The dilemma in which I find myself is that it seems to me that our way of life in this country, our ideas, our Parliamentary democracy, are based upon the same principles as those which have inspired Western and Christian civilisation since the beginning. It seems to me that that civilisation is distinguished from barbarism through the attention which is paid to the rights of the individual.
Both Western civilisation from Rome times and Christian civilisation, finding its origin in Hebrew civilisation, show one long history of the struggle for the liberation of the individual. It took very many centuries before the principle was established that every individual had the same inalienable right to justice in the face of the law, whatever his political opinions, or his religious creed, or the colour of his. skin, or his race, or his language. There were long struggles for the freedom of religious belief, for the freedom of people to practise their religion, for the freedom of political expression, for the freedom of thought, for the freedom of the Press; and it seemed that until the outbreak of the last war, civilisation was on the road to tackling freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
What has been achieved so far has been achieved at the cost of many millions of lives and much human suffering, much labour and much struggle. Until recently, the philosophy behind civilisation was generally accepted. When I was born, in every single country in the world—perhaps in some places it was more honoured in the breach than in the observance—theoretically, at any rate, every man had the right to free and impartial justice. Freedom of speech was recognised as a desirable thing. Countries which did not permit it, felt they had to excuse themselves in the eyes of the world.
But a new philosophy grew up—the philosophy that the individual is not so important as the State or the community. We saw it in Fascist Italy, we saw it in Nazi Germany and we see it today in Communist Russia where, if the interests of the community—and that generally means the interest of the party which composes the Government of the State—conflict with the interests of the individual, then the individual is rooted up like a weed in a flower bed and thrown on to the bonfire. He has no right of appeal. We know the history of the last two years too well for it to be necessary for me to elaborate that point. As I see it, the philosophical conflict today is between those who believe that each individual is an immortal soul precious in the sight of his Creator, with inalienable rights which it is an unforgivable crime to diminish or to extinguish, and those who believe that the individual is only important as a member of the community, and that if the community demands that individual's extinction, or the deprivation of his rights, then the demands of the community have sole validity.
The dilemma in which I find myself —and I ask the House to believe, and especially hon. Gentlemen opposite to believe, that I am not trying to score a party point—is that it seems to me that the future of this world largely turns upon this country, because we occupy the middle position, if there is a balance of power, as we hope there will be. We shall have the deciding power to fling our weight on one side of the scale or the other, and thus give decisive strength to the side to which we adhere. The attitude of this country depends very largely upon the attitude adopted by the Labour Party, and the dilemma as I see it is that the Labour Party has not yet made up its mind upon its philosophy or basic principles.
It is easy from their behaviour and methods to distinguish between the British Socialist and the Communist. Nobody on this side of the House or anywhere else would say that the methods of the British Labour Party or the behaviour of British Socialists at all resemble that of the Communists. No Conservative would charge the ordinary British Labour man with any less devotion to the rights of the individual and to democratic principles than that of Conservatives and Liberals. I admit that, and I say it in all my speeches in the country; but when we get down to the question of principles and philosophy, I find it impossible to apply any tests, any articles of belief, which can distinguish between Socialists and Communists.
I believe the greatest service that the Labour Party in this country can render to civilisation is to make up its mind whether Karl Marx is still its Bible or not, whether British Socialism is to take the path of advanced Radicalism and turn its back on Continental Socialism, or whether it is going to go on trying to have the best of both worlds, and claim support on the ground that it is genuinely Socialist and genuinely Marxian and that at the same time it is a genuine supporter of Parliamentary democracy as we know it in this country.
I would say that Marx is one of two Bibles. There is a very moderate member of this House, moderate in his views—he is not here at the moment—who said at the last General Election that his approach to politics was with the Bible in one hand and Karl Marx in the other. I believe that that is the approach of the Labour Party in this country today.
That is the dilemma in which I find myself. I am not trying to score a point on it. Until British Socialism makes up its mind whether all its efforts are directed towards the safeguarding of the hard-earned rights of the individual—hard—earned and hard won throughout the centuries—or whether all its efforts are directed towards the magnification of the power of the State—until it makes that fundamental distinction, I believe that the lead given by this country and this Parliament in world affairs will be less effective than it should be. That is the dilemma in which I believe many of the voters of this country find themselves. It is the same old story. The Labour Party, it seems to me, believes it can conduct affairs on a basis of good intentions. I do not believe an individual can conduct his life on the basis of good intentions. I believe that in the long run it is a man's faith, belief, principles, philosophy that matter more than his intentions and more than his behaviour; and I believe that that applies to a great party in the State, just as much as it applies to an individual.
I put forward this dilemma in the hope that somebody on the other side of the House can answer the problem for me. To me this is the real problem that faces this country today. There can be no compromise between the sort of civilisation, the sort of organisation, which is directed towards the interests of the individual, and that which is directed towards the magnification of the power of the State. I believe that until we solve that problem, this country will not give the lead in world affairs that it is entitled to give.
It is not only irrelevant, but entirely unsupported, because anyone who has made a study of the Labour Party and its growth knows that Keir Hardie sometimes started his early meetings with prayer, and that at the end of his career he spoke of the necessity of going forth to preach Christ crucified, and that Keir Hardie and the Labour Party did not base their case on the Marxian philosophy. They were helped by the Marxian philosophy, as the Conservative Party might be helped by the Marxian philosophy if it would look at the facts. The Marxian philosophy is a statement of a case, which, as I said the other day in another Debate, is the statement that, given the continuance of capitalism, and the basis of a world consisting of selfishness and the purely economic man, there will arise conflicts of a world-wide character, of nations, of classes, of individuals, to which there is no solution until the essential wrong of capitalism is dispensed with. That view, taught by Marx, led ultimately, through Communism, to the preaching of a method that, as the hon. Gentleman has frankly admitted, the Labour Party has not accepted—the method of settlement by violence. The Communists have turned the class kampf, the class struggle, as Marx called it, into class war, implying that the only settlement is by an appeal to military force. It is this attitude that the Labour Party, and the pioneers of the Labour Party, have never accepted.
I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is really trying to answer my point. My difficulty is this, that many members of the Labour Party do preach class war, though I am sure the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson) does not. For instance —and I merely quote this as an example —the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) said he regarded the whole of the Conservative Party as lower than vermin. He has preached class war and directed a dagger against the heart of democracy, definitely. I cannot distinguish between that and naked, unadulterated Communism as in Russia. I am quite sure that many colleagues of the hon. Member for West Ealing differ profoundly from him in that they are Marxists.
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman, who seemed to have a case, makes it worse by the further references he has made. After all, if it is so important in the judgment of this issue, to recall what the Minister of Health said, we could not go far along those lines, because we could bring forward, as we have brought forward in times of stress, the stupid things that the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) has said. Thus we should find that these stupid things about cancelled each other out. If we are to discuss this matter seriously I think we had better leave that sort of quotation out.
May I leave it out then, and merely say that a certain section of the Labour Party has obtained power and obtained support by preaching the class war? Quite definitely. We feel that. I may be wrong. However, we feel that a section of the Labour Party is far from the spirit of the hon. Gentleman, as being the only mainspring of the Labour Party, and that it finds one of the mainsprings —if one can have more than one mainspring—in the preaching of class war and bitterness.
Let me remind the House that although many things are in Order in Debate on the Motion for the Adjournment, there must be Ministerial responsibility for them, and that the Debate must have some connection with that.
Perhaps, I have helped the hon. Member for Farnham to wander from the path by my willingness to deal with his objections. We must drop those and return to the point which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) has left his place, because I wanted to say something particularly about the matters he raised.
On a point of Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. Are you, Mr. Speaker, making a definite Ruling that on the Adjournment we are limited to subjects to which a Ministerial reply can be made? I was under the impression that on the Adjournment we could talk about practically anything.
Oh, no. The hon. Gentleman is entirely in error. There must, in all our Debates, be Ministerial responsibility. We are not merely a talking shop. When we have a Debate we either attack or defend the Government and their responsibility. That is, surely, clearly laid down.
I do not wish to be involved in an attack upon the Government, or suggest there should be some responsibility exercised in a way very different from the way in which it has already been exercised. As I said the other day in the Debate on the Address, in which, I thought, some latitude was allowed, I do not wish at all to object to the policy that the Foreign Secretary is pursuing. I thought he was in an extremely difficult situation, and I want to say that again in rather a different form in support of the case put forward by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire. We are facing an extremely dangerous and difficult situation. I do not believe, as the hon. Member for Rugby believes, that there is any reason why the Foreign Secretary should be discouraged by what the hon. Member for Rugby has described as the complete success of Mr. Stalin's policy.
As a matter of fact, there is no success of that policy. There is no need for our Foreign Office to turn aside from the correct position—from our point of view —because of what has happened in France. As I see the position in France, Mr. Stalin's policy—the policy of the Communists—has led to the almost complete submergence of the Communists. The Communists have done about as badly as they could do in the Elections which have just concluded; and General de Gaulle, who is the last man presumably whom the Communists want to have in a position of power, has been brought by Communist action and the policy of the futile strikes in France nearer to power than at any other time in his career. I go further and say that the Foreign Office has no grounds for discouragement because of what is happening in China. I admit, as the hon. Member for Rugby admitted, that the situation in China is serious; but it is also serious in Russia by the very fact that they have an Iron Curtain.
Hon. Members here, again and again, suggested that there must be something behind that Iron Curtain which the Russians wish to conceal. I believe that is true. I believe that the returning Russian soldiers from Austria and Berlin—the men who have been almost cheek by jowl with our own soldiers and American soldiers—have taken back a story of what is happening in Western Europe which does not square at all with what the Communists tell them behind the Iron Curtain; and, given patience, this process of Russian Imperialism, as I call it, based upon the power wielded by a great military leader, backed up by an effective police force, will in the long run contribute to its own destruction. It has contributed now to its own destruction in France and in other parts of the world. It may be very difficult to have patience to wait until these things run their course, but, on the other hand, it would be very foolish to break out into new warlike enterprises if these could be avoided by patience which might produce other results.
I think that at the moment there is a special reason for patience on the part of this country, in view of what has happened in America and what the hon. Gentleman said about Mr. Truman and his lonely fight against Gallup polls, official newspapers and great parties; and, indeed, the contempt which has been poured on him from these islands, because there were derogatory references to Mr. Truman and the utter unlikelihood of his ever being listened to again. The need for patience is all the greater in view of the point raised by my hon. Friend with regard to Mr. Truman's suggestion that he should send a private friend, Judge Vinson, to meet the Russian leader.
As a matter of fact, the Americans, as I see it, in the Election have, for the first time, indicated clearly to the world, to us and Mr. Stalin that they are willing, if friendship can work at all, that a new effort in that direction should be made. I am hopeful—and I build my hope on what I have already said about the inevitable breakdown of the Stalin system—that the Russians will themselves be compelled to look for a way out of the difficulties which they themselves have created.
I have often said when I have read Mr. Vishinsky's speeches that they contribute little to that enthusiasm for Russia which we got from the stories we were told about Russia when Russia allowed us to visit that country. The returning excursionists sent a labour force into Russia in the years between the wars, and when they came back they described how a new and better Russian system was growing, how a dam was being built across the Dnieper, how a new school system was being created, how parks of rest and recreation were being developed, and how a new opportunity for a fuller life was being accorded to the people. Those were the things which won for Russia respect and support in the world. They are rather different from the feelings which are being won for Russia by the speeches of Mr. Vishinsky and the "No's" of Mr. Molotov.
I suggest again that there must be patience and a new effort to try to find a means by which the Russians may be helped to save their own position in the hopeless situation which they have helped to create. Unlike the hon. Member for Rugby, I do not try to put the whole of the blame on the Russians. I do not say that the blame is fifty—fifty, but whatever the proportion is, I know that we have some blame for the situation in which we find ourselves. I know what Professor Blackett described in his recent book concerning the responsibility for the dropping of the atom bomb. I know how that was timed in order to prevent the Russians from developing a military campaign agreed on not only by the Russians, but by ourselves and the Americans, and that the dropping of the bomb was a good deal more the first blow in the cold war which has since developed than the final blow in the war that has just ended.
It is these facts described by Professor Blackett and the facts known in Russia that have contributed on their side to an unyielding suspicion about our attitude in the world. I do not blame them for that. I say to the Russians—so far as my advice can reach them from these Benches in an Adjournment Debate—that they are called upon now by the situation in which they find themselves, to find new methods to face the world dangers which concern us all. If it is true that Mr. Truman can persuade America to give him another chance to send Judge Vinson or any other emissary to meet Mr. Stalin in order to try to break down the suspicion which the atom bomb has created and the wrong policies practised by the Russians as well as ourselves, every effort ought to be made to help him towards that end.
I cannot say more, as the Foreign Office is not represented but from the point of view of what I have said, I do not think that the absence of a Foreign Office representative matters very much. I am talking to our own folk, and I am talking to the Russians whom I have always regarded as a potentially friendly nation, and concerning whom I have always made appeals in this House that we should try to practise so far as we can the friendly approach rather than the inimical one. Because I see this new chance which the hon. Member has provided tonight by raising this matter, I support the plea he has made and beg everybody to try some new and better method of settling the difficulties in which the world finds itself.
I welcome the raising of this question tonight by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) because I, like him, have had an opportunity of visiting the United States during the last year. I think, as the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) said, that President Truman has been elected with probably greater freedom of action than any previous President of the United States of America, and it is important that we should look at the whole question of a peace approach in the light of that fact. When I was in the United States just over 12 months ago I was shocked by the attitude of the Press from day to day. Practically daily for about seven weeks I read the American Press, and it all seemed to be in one strain: it preached the inevitability of war and encouraged mass hysteria, and I came away feeling that it would be almost impossible for the people of America to resist that mass suggestion, although some of my friends in America said: "The Press is not quite as powerful as you seem to think. After all, there are many thousands of people in America who are working for peace; and, indeed, as time goes on you will find that their opinions will be understood and heard."
I now find myself in agreement with those who feel that the present triumph of the American President is a triumph for the working man against those forces which attempt to stir up all the antagonism and the bitter strife which lead to war. Because the President of the United States has such freedom at the moment, I hope that our own Government will seize this opportunity to encourage and support him in any effort he may make to bring about better understanding.
The hon. Member for Rugby said that Stalin's purpose was to divert our efforts from rehabilitation. I can only comment that there must be considerable devastation in Russia, and if Stalin's purpose be to divert us, then I should think he must be smiling at the enormous expenditure on armaments which is being incurred both here and in the United States. According to a "New York Herald Tribune" which I read some time ago, it was estimated that the cost of armaments in America was twice that in Russia; we are spending in the neighbourhood of £700 million a year on defence, and France is spending nearly £600 million. Surely, we ought to look for some means of revising these estimates, the result of which is to press so heavily on the peoples? Reference has been made to the devastation in Berlin, and it was suggested that our bombers never really bombed houses but went only for strategic objects. When I was in Berlin and Hamburg I was filled with complete horror at the thought that it should be considered necessary to win a war by causing that terrible devastation.
In spite of all the great difficulties in the present international situation, think that the combined power of the common peoples of this country and America ought to be able to exercise a moral influence in the world towards a new approach to the international situation. Therefore, I feel that my hon. Friend was well advised in raising this issue, because even though we have not a representative of the Foreign Office here tonight, I hope that note will be taken of the feelings which have been expressed in the House so that we may get a new and realistic approach to a problem which can be overcome by the united effort of the peoples of the world.
I am very diffident at intervening in this Debate, because I did not hear the speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), but I should like very briefly to say this to the hon. Member for the Ladywood Division of Birmingham (Mr. Yates). Is not the vast expenditure that the United States is incurring on rearmament, and such expenditure as we are incurring, for the purpose, not of defeating another country but of preventing war? I think that too often hon. Members opposite—true, only a few of them—suggest that we are engaging in warlike enterprises, whereas what we and the United States are doing is to try to build up such a power as will make impossible the engaging of war against us.
I think that the war tension has, to some extent, relaxed lately: partly because of what has happened in Italy and what is now happening in France, the reverses sustained by Communism in those and other countries; still more because of the very effective air lift to Berlin, which has so surprised those who imposed the blockade; and finally, and above all, because of the very close concord between the United States of America and this country, and certain Western democracies, which have shown strength—and it is, I believe, through strength that we shall get peace.
I should like to quote what was said a very long time ago—I think about 1860 —by a Foreign Secretary of this country, which I think is not inapplicable today:
The policy and practice of the Russian Government in regard to Turkey and Persia has always been to push forward its encroachments as fast and as far as the apathy or want of firmness of other Governments would allow it to go but always to stop and retire when it has met with decided resistance.
I suggest that that is as true of Russia today as it was of Russia under the Czars 80 years ago. It seems to me that one of three things is fairly certain. Either the U.S.S.R. want war because they think war is coming inevitably and it will suit them better now than later—or because of internal troubles—in which case nothing we do can very much accelerate or delay it; or they want war unless they get all they want, in which case the outlook is very sombre, because I am afraid that what they want is to dominate the world; or, finally—and I trust much the most likely—they do not want war at all, but are prepared to take some risks to get what they do want. The latter is the most hopeful prospect, and it is only in that third alternative that we can really influence a decision.
I believe that if we are to influence a decision to the utmost to prevent war it is by the United States of America and ourselves showing Russia exactly those steps beyond which she cannot in safety go; otherwise we shall be guilty of raising her hopes and enabling her to make advances from which it might be very difficult for her to withdraw. Therefore, I do suggest that speeches such as that of the hon. Member for the Lady-wood Division of Birmingham—if I understood him rightly—do not really strengthen the cause of peace, as I know he would most profoundly wish to do.
This is a subject upon which one must speak with great care, for only the irresponsible can give full vent to their ideas. I believe that there is a great deal of truth in the case put forward by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown). I also believe that a great disservice is being rendered to public opinion in this country by those who are continually urging us to get closer to Russia and less close to America. One of the first things we ought to do, if we are to understand the existing situation in Europe, is to examine the psychology of the Russians. If we do that, we shall discover that we have in Russia a group of leaders who are not prepared to argue with anyone who is outside their country. The very basis of their creed prevents them from even contemplating compromise, unless it is forced upon them by superior arms. A Communist cannot compromise with anyone who declares himself to be a Communist but does not put himself completely under the thumb of the Communist leaders. Yugoslavia is a proof of that.
There is no freedom under Communism for anyone except the leaders, and that is why Russia must be kept as secret as possible and why the Russians must be prevented from having contacts with the Western world. It might have been imagined prior to 1939, that close cooperation would have been possible between a Communist Russia and a Socialist Britain, but that is not so. We now have clear proof that there can be no co—operation, close or otherwise, between a Communist Russia and a Communist Yugoslavia, and that only blind subservience can be tolerated by Moscow.
As far as we are concerned, we are as helpless in attempting to persuade Russia to compromise or to accept our point of view as in trying to convert the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson) into believing that teetotalism is a bad thing, or in persuading a pacifist Member that pacifism is a bad thing. There are ideas which are seized upon by the human mind and which make a person impermeable to all arguments, and Communism is one of these. The Communism in Russia today is so hidebound that it excludes any Communist who does not blindly accept the leadership at present operating in Moscow. That is shown by the existence in this and other countries of groups of Communists calling themselves the "Revolutionary Communist Party." These are people who have been exiled from Russia, just as Trotsky was exiled.
It is with this kind of people that we have to deal. I believe that we ought to go to war only in self-defence. We should continue our present efforts in Berlin, because I am quite certain that the future welfare of the rest of Europe depends on our remaining there and gaining the right, not only to be there, but to have a free approach to Berlin from the British and American zones. I believe that in present circumstances the actions of the Foreign Office have been right. We shall need great determination and endless patience. We are dealing with an antagonist who is not yet an open enemy, an antagonist who can afford to sit on what he has already won. I believe that endless patience will eventually lead us to better times. While we can retain the existing situation, the rest of Europe is gradually developing its own resources, becoming less dependent upon the rest of the world, and more capable of doing something in its own defence. Therefore, the more time we can gain, the greater service we shall be able to render ourselves and the rest of Europe.
Those who have taken part in this Debate seem to be divided into those who appear to hold the view that war is inevitable and those who protest, as I do, against that assumption. I believe the assumption that war must come is a contributing factor to its inevitability. The hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman) spoke of building up such forces between the United States and Great Britain as to make the threat of attack almost impossible. Although unity in every possible way between us and the United States is immensely desirable, any idea that such a union could prevent war is quite absurd. One could quote innumerable examples throughout history of great forces which have been built up on the assumption that because they were unassailable war could be avoided, but in all these cases these hopes have been proved completely groundless. The only possibility of avoiding war is by a world federation and the creation of a supranational State to take the weapons out of men's hands.
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that if a greedy Power was bent on world domination, it would be much more likely to start a war if the rest of the world was weak and divided, than if it were strong and united? Does he not think that if we are weak, we are in danger of being gobbled up?
I accept that entirely, but I understood the hon. Member to say that the kind of union he described, and which most people in this country support in one way or another, would be a means of avoiding war. I say that although it might delay a war, it could not prevent an eventual conflagration.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson), that the policy of this country, the one that we must pursue, is that of patience and effort, provided it never amounts to appeasement. I believe that such a policy is now producing positive results. We can see what is happening. It is easy for Members to say, as some have said tonight, that in the final analysis we must face war if it comes. That is obvious; it is something which almost everyone accepts. But we have to realise that if it did come, we should be presiding at the funeral of civilisation as we know it today. Therefore, all efforts must be bent on finding a way out.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) gave us his views on the recent American election. He said a number of obvious things with precision, but there were some which I thought rather contradictory. He carefully showed that we are having a cold war, wherein Russia was attempting to achieve her objective without actual war, and in the hope that if force were needed, it would only be for what he called a pushover. The hon. Member also suggested that we must build up such preponderance, economically and militarily, as to remove any threat from Russia.
These two statements are contradictory. Indeed, they could be a positive menace. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that nothing sufficiently positive was being done to oppose Communism. I believe there is only one positive thing which can be done to oppose Communism in any real sense, and that is to build up the standard of living of the depressed peoples. What is the position in Europe today? Is there a Power which, in any sense, could stand up to a Russian attack, either in a cold or a hot war? Of course there is not, and one of the major reasons is that in France the conditions of industrial workers are so deplorable. The French Government are not facing up to their responsibilities in the way in which this Government have faced up to theirs, with the result that conditions ripe for the spread of Communism are created.
The most significant point about the result of the American election is its likely effect on the economic future of Europe and the world. If, as has been suggested, Mr. Truman's victory makes more likely the continuance of such aid as Europe needs for her rehabilitation, then it will be the most important contribution that can be made to the defence of world democracy against the inroads of Communism. The policy of our Government is of vital importance in this respect. As the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. G. Nicholson) said, this country has a vital role to play. On the success of the domestic Measures we are introducing, on our own economic rehabilitation, depends far more than the standard of living of our own people.
For instance, conditions in the Colonial Empire, where millions of native peoples are still hopelessly depressed, where they have been exploited for so many years, are ripe for the spread of Communism. Those peoples constitute an immediate menace to peace, and it is of vital importance that we should pursue a policy of sparing as much as we can from our own meagre resources for the development of those areas, not with the object, as in the past, of bringing back from them far more by way of dividends than we put into them, but by providing capital equipment and resources for their greater development, to raise their standard of living and to increase world trade. In that way we shall be providing the greatest possible barrier against the spread of Communism. I believe that the result of the American election assuring, as it does, the continuance of the policy which has been pursued, in the economic field over the last 12 months, constitutes a very great hope for the future peaceful development of the world.
Almost everybody who has spoken, from this side of the House at least, seems to feel the necessity for a new approach towards the problem which we are reviewing in this Adjournment Debate. Listening to various Members, I have come to the conclusion that in some quarters at least, there is the feeling that the pattern of behaviour among people in the Soviet Union, differs from the pattern of behaviour among the people of the West, whether in the United States or in this country. Different reasons have been offered for that view, but if an examination of this opinion be carried a little further, if the basic elements that underlie such a belief are scrutinised, I believe it will be found that such a view is superficial.
I hope the House will not mind if 1 illustrate what I mean by quoting a physiological experiment about the effect of certain external factors on the behaviour of animals. I think it may be suitable, especially as my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) has touched on the question of nutrition and the need to increase the amount of food that is available in the world. If rats are placed in a cage, and fed in a certain way, and their behaviour examined, and, under exactly the same conditions, other rats, of the same species, are fed in a different way, certain changes in behaviour are noted.
A classical experiment was to feed a group of rats upon a diet which did not create hunger, a diet which provided ample calorie value but which was deficient in certain nutritional elements, such as vitamins and mineral salts, which are essential to good health. The diet that was considered to be deficient consisted of the type of bread that we used to have pre-war—refined white bread. The fat provided for them was unvitaminised margarine, and the meat was carcase meat, that is to say, it was not offal, such as liver. There was no milk, but there was an ample supply of sugar and of jam of the cheap types, such as we used to eat. In the other cage the diet consisted of wholemeal grain, leaf green vegetables, and a little cod liver oil and milk as required.
What was noted was this: after 30 days the rats that were fed on the malnutrition diet began to murder each other, became cannibals and devoured each other. In the cage where the diet was one which we try to obtain for ourselves, owing to our knowledge of nutrition, at the end of two years—and two years, in a rat's life is equivalent to 50 years of human life—there was not only complete health but there was no infantile mortality and no gross disease, such as we used to see in the out—patient departments of our general hospitals. There were, of course, the little sportive combats in the rutting season, with a tail and an ear bitten off here and there, but that was all.
I am very sorry if the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) finds what I have said amusing. I can assure him that if he had my experience as a medical man in a large industrial town he would not have thought it funny at all. If it be accepted that hunger and malnutrition can cause the changes in the behaviour of animals that I have briefly mentioned, what is one to expect from mankind if throughout the world we are faced—as, indeed, we are faced today and have been faced for as many generations as we know—with total hunger for hundreds of millions of people and no possibility of any true amelioration unless the nations come together and combine cooperatively to bring about a solution of this distressing problem?
Hon. Members on both sides have spoken about the need for a new approach. Surely this is a possible method of a new approach. No one is going to persuade me—or, indeed, any hon. Member of this House—that the Russian people do not want to have all the food that is necessary, and food of the right type. That, surely, applies to the people of China also. I think that we all—in the Soviet Union, here, in the United States, and everywhere on this planet— are satisfied that without peace, we cannot have the satisfaction of these elementary rights. A new set of cards, whether the faces are upward or downward, seems to be indicated, and the calling together of the type of world organisation that Sir John Boyd Orr has always preached as being desirable and essential would, I think, bring forth from everybody all the world over, including the Soviet Union, the right answer.
Why must we always think in terms of strategy and politics when our real need is to live? Even if we do not wish to live for ever, whilst we do live we ought to live to eat and remain in good health. I think the outlook for the world is far better than many people have thought for a long time. I have never been very pessimistic but I remember that when I first spoke in this House three and a half years ago, I said four things were essential: That the world as a whole must produce very much more food if we were to solve the sort of problem we are speaking about today; that importing countries like Britain cannot expect to be able to import as much as they used to import in the olden days; that exporting countries will look at the needs of their people and will not export so much. All these things, it seems, are certainly happening. The fourth point was that unless we use science and make a co-operative effort the whole world over to help us in agriculture, the earth will revolt against us and we shall never solve this problem. I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will remember that this is a possible approach to this problem, and an approach that will be welcomed. I think, all over the world.
I am afraid that I am not capable of following the hon. Member for Hanley (Dr. Stross) into the chemical and biological fields. I intervene just to say that I found it a little difficult to follow the argument of the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) when he said that, in his view, it was not possible by building up defensive forces to make war impossible permanently and to deter aggression to such an extent that war would never eventuate.
I was merely refering to a suggestion which had been made by the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman), who suggested the building up of those forces between the United States and this country, and I said that that could not possibly remove war permanently.
That is precisely what I am referring to. I understood the hon. Member for Taunton to say that however much America and this country built up their armed strength, it would not have the effect of permanently preventing war. That is exectly the point with which I am not in agreement. With all due respect, that very point has really never been historically tested. I do not know how far back the hon. Member intended to go, but I should have thought that, as far as 1914 and 1939 were concerned, a very good case could be made out for the view that in those two cases Germany only took the risk of going to war because, not only was there insufficient preparedness on our side, but because the intentions and determination both of this country and, even more so, of the United States of America, had never been adequately made plain. A strong case can be made out for that view. Even if one goes further back, I should not think there is any clear case to substantiate the hon. Member's view that it is not possible to prevent war permanently by building up defensive forces.
The great danger of war today arises from the fact that Russia knows that, if there were war, she would be in a position, with her vastly superior armies, to sweep over the whole Continent of Europe in a very short time and do almost irreparable damage in various ways before ultimately she might be forced back as the result of a lengthy struggle. It seems to me that that knowledge and the temptation which it puts in her way, might induce her to take the risk even of having the atom bomb used against her; although I am beginning to incline to the view that she does not intend to take that risk. That, I think, is a very hopeful feature of the present situation.
I agree with the hon. Member for Taunton and other hon. Members opposite when they say that we should make every possible effort and exercise almost unlimited patience at this stage to try to come to an agreement with Russia and to put relations on a more friendly basis if necessary by sending a special emissary to talk things over with Stalin, as President Truman intended to do. I think that that was one of the main factors in influencing the result of the American election, people deciding that they wanted something of that sort done and supporting Truman because they thought that he was more likely to do it than was anybody else.
While not neglecting to build up our own armed strength so as to make ourselves able to resist attack we should try to remove from Russia the great temptation of knowing that she could over-run everything if there were war. We should pursue those two parallel policies side by side. I think we should then find that the danger of war would steadily recede.
The critical position with which we are faced is not so much a military as an economic one. We may be giving too much attention to the distant bear, when we ought to be fixing our attention upon the wolf at the door. There is no reason to suppose from the recent history of Russia that she wants war. Anybody who has seen the terrible devastation inside that country, surpassing anything in Europe including Germany, would find it difficult to believe that Russia would voluntarily embark upon another war. Indeed it is often said by friendly critics of Russia's policy that she does not want war, but wants the fruits of war. If we take the history of what has occurred since the war we shall find that Russia has, in the military sense, evacuated Persia, Manchuria, Yugoslavia, Norway and the Danish island of Bjornholm and other places. If the Russians were thinking in terms of military aggression there is little doubt that they would have retained those areas as places d'armes for future aggressions. I do not think therefore, that it can be their intention.
It has been suggested that Russia is trying to achieve her aims by infiltration and the spread of Communism, but the spread of Communism will depend upon economic and not upon military factors. What has built up communism in China is not the Soviet Union but the corrupt and brutal regime of Chiang Kai-Shek. What is building up Communism in France today is not the Soviet Union but the economic incompetence of the present French Government. Indeed, the army of one million men which France maintains and cannot afford, and her lavish military expenditure which results in the lowering of the conditions of the French working class, produce more Communists than the Soviet Union or the Cominform have ever produced.
I do not think there need be any fear of the spread of Communism in this country provided we are able to maintain a reasonable standard of conditions for the working class. Wherever there has been an advance of Communism, it is on account of the economic conditions in that country. How can we prevent a deterioration of economic conditions? Surely not by embarking upon an arms race which will result in the spending of more money than we can afford. We ought to attend to the primary economic struggle which we have to face. Whether one regime or another survives, depends in the long run upon the soundness of its economics and whether it makes economic progress or not. Whether the Eastern States now allied to the Soviet Union survive in their present form and maintain Communists Governments will depend in the long run—and in the short run—upon whether they make economic success. What applies to the East will apply to the West. The Americans may think without serious economic catastrophe, because of their immense economic resources, of the building up of their Forces and embarking upon an armaments race. For us the danger is exceedingly great, and we ought to concentrate first and foremost upon stabilising ourselves economically.
Can we come to terms with Soviet Russia? It has been suggested that Communists do not compromise but I cannot agree with that suggestion. If anybody examines the history of Soviet Russia since the days of the revolution they will find innumerable examples of compromise. The Russians, like everybody else, will accept the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread. I am sure that it is possible, even today, on the basis of mutual concession on both sides, for us to understand the Russian point of view and for them to understand ours, and to come to some agreement.
It seems to me that there has been recently in many respects a movement by the Soviet Union in that direction and a desire to eliminate possible points of friction. I believe for instance there has been an approach on the subject of Austria recently. The main danger area at the present time where it is difficult to see how points of friction can be removed is Berlin, but I understand that the difference between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia today is largely because of the questions of Carinthia and Trieste, which stand in the way of a settlement which would lessen the friction and would be in the obvious interests of Soviet Union economy at the present time.
I hope that we shall make a fresh approach to these problems and look at the matter again, perhaps with fresh minds on both sides. The greatest catastrophe which can afflict mankind is neither Capitalism nor Communism, or any other "ism," but the danger of a new war.