Works By John Courtney Murray, S.J.
The Uses of Doctrine
DOCTRINE AND POLICY
IN COMMUNIST IMPERIALISM
The Problem of Security and Risk
AS ONE OBSERVES the courses of American action in the world today, the doubt arises whether we at all "hold these truths" or any truths as determinative of our purposes and directive of our policies. This doubt has more than once arisen in the preceding pages. It has also been a stimulus in the recent efforts to define our National Purpose, or at least to launch a public debate about the National Purpose. A new situation seems to have come to pass. History attests that the Founding Fathers—practical men, all of them—were well aware of the uses of doctrine. Today there is evidence that we have no use for doctrine—or perhaps even no doctrines to use.
If now there is a vacuum where once there was substance, the fact is serious. It is particularly serious in view of our present confrontation with the Soviet Union. Coexistence with the Communist empire is the present fact. There are those who wish to transform the fact into a policy by adding various adjectives to the word "coexistence." There is talk, for instance, of "peaceful" coexistence, or of "competitive" coexistence. But, before coexistence, however qualified adjectivally, can become a policy, it is necessary to know just what kind of an empire we are coexisting with. This is the first difficulty. Academic and public opinion in the matter is divided.
There is little common agreement, of a firmly articulated kind, with regard to the aims and motivations and scope of Communist imperialism in its action on the world scene. One could distinguish at least four or five different schools of thought. Their major differences derive from their variant estimates of the role of doctrine or ideology in Soviet behavior. There are even those who refuse to admit that ideology plays any significant role. The Soviet doctrine, they say, is pretty much the same as our doctrine—namely, that doctrine has no uses.
There are also those who are content to cite as the single characteristic of the Soviet empire that it is intent on "world domination"; and they let it go at that. But one cannot let it go at that. The intellectual tyranny of phrases, to which we have long been accustomed in domestic politics, has invaded the field of foreign policy in consequence of the impact of democracy on the conduct of war and on the making of peace. The trouble is that the stock phrases tend to become simply incantations. They are invoked as curses on the enemy or as cries of alarm to sustain a mood of fear and opposition. So it is with the phrase "world domination." It has ceased to yield any clear demonstrable meaning. It has even acquired false connotations, as if the primary Soviet aim were domination by military conquest. In consequence some would wish to discard the phrase altogether, as unreal and unhelpful. But this would be a mistake of method that would lead to substantial error in viewing the structure of the problem that confronts America today. The phrase has meaning, but it needs to be analyzed in the light of the four unique aspects of the Soviet empire.
A FOURFOLD UNIQUENESS
First, Russia is unique as a state or a power. For the first time in history it has brought under a single supreme government the 210,000,000 people scattered over the 8,600,000 square miles of
the Euro-Asiatic plain, the great land-mass that stretches from the River Elbe to the Pacific Ocean. This gigantic power is a police state of new proportions and unique efficiency. Within it there is no such thing as the "rule of law"; there is only the thing called "Soviet legality." Power is used according to certain forms; but there is no concem for justice and no sense of human rights. The Soviet Union has not adopted the Western concept of law nor has it evolved a comparable concept of its own. Its theory of government is purely and simply despotism. In this respect Sir Winston Churchill was right in viewing the Russians (as Sir Isaiah Berlin reports) as a "formless, quasi-Asiatic mass beyond the walls of European civilization." These walls, that contain the Western realization of civility, were erected by men who understood the Western heritage of law—Roman, Greek, Germanic, Christian. The Soviet Union has no such understanding of law.
Moreover, through a novel set of institutions the Soviet Union has succeeded in centralizing all governmental power to a degree never before achieved. The ultimate organ of control is the Communist party, a small group of men who think and act under an all-embracing discipline that has likewise never before been achieved. Under its historically new system—a totally socialized economy—the Soviet Union has become an industrial and technological power whose single rival is the United States. In rising to this status of power it has chosen to emphasize industries and technologies that are related to war. This state is consequently a military power of the first order. It has no rival in ground forces; its air power is adequate to all the new exigencies of war; and for the first time in history the state that controls the Heartland of the World Island has become a sea power of a special kind, an underwater power. Finally, its nuclear and missile capabilities are at least equal to those of the United States, for all practical purposes and many impractical ones.
Second, Russia is unique as an empire, as a manner and method of rule, as an imperium. It is organized and guided in accordance
with a revolutionary doctrine. For the first time in history this doctrine has consciously erected an atheistic materialism into a political and legal principle that furnishes the substance of the state and determines its procedures. Soviet doctrine is exclusive and universal in its claim to furnish, not only an account of nature and history, but also a technique of historical change. It is therefore inherently aggressive in its intent; and it considers itself destined to sole survival as an organizing force in the world of politics. The Communist doctrine of the World Revolution has indeed undergone a century of change, since the days of Marx and Engels. Substantially, however, the change has been simply development. The basic inspiration has been steady and the continuity has been organic. As Prof. Alfred G. Meyer has pointed out in his book on Leninism, "Stalinism can and must be defined as a pattern of thought and action that flows directly from Leninism." (Leninism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957.) Prof. Bertram D. Wolfe has documented the same thesis in Khrushchev and Stalin's Ghost. (New York: Praeger, 1956) This thesis is in possession. And there is no convincing evidence that Mr. Khrushchev represents apostasy or even heresy.
Third, Russia is unique as an imperialism. The Soviet Union is essentially an empire, not a country. Nearly half her subjects should be considered "colonial peoples." Many of the "sister republics" are no more part of Russia than India was of Great Britain. As Mr. Edward Crankshaw has reminded us, "Even if Moscow retreated to the frontiers of the Soviet Union tomorrow, Russia would still be the greatest imperial power in the world." (Russia Without Stalin: The Emerging Pattern. New York: Viking, 1956.) But Mr. Crankshaw's other proposition, that "Russian imperialism is at a dead end," is by no means true. It may indeed be difficult to describe the Soviet imperial design, but this is only because it is difficult to define Soviet imperialism. It is a new historical force, not to be likened to prior
mysticisms of power. It is not at all based on the concept of a masterrace, or on the aggrandizement of the sacred "nation," or on the fulfillment of a noble idea, such as the rule of law to be brought to the "lesser breeds." The newness of the imperialism has almost masked the fact that it is an imperialism.
It has exhibited a new mastery of older imperialistic techniquesmilitary conquest, the enduring threat of force, political puppetry, centralized administration of minorities, economic exploitation of "colonial" regions. It has expanded the old concept of the "ally" into the new concept of the "satellite." But perhaps its newness is chiefly revealed in the creation of the historically unique imperialistic device known as "Soviet patriotism." This is not a thing of blood and soil but of mind and spirit. It is not born of the past, its deeds and sufferings, borne in common; it looks more to the future, to the deeds yet to be done and to the sufferings still to be borne. It is a "patriotism of a higher order," and of a more universal bearing, than any of the classic feelings for das Vaterland, la patrie, my country. It is a loyalty to the Socialist Revolution; it is also a loyalty to the homeland of the Revolution, Russia. Its roots are manyin ideology, in economic facts, and in the love of power; in a whole cluster of human resentments and idealisms; and in the endless capacities of the human spirit for ignorance, illusion, and self-deception. This higher patriotism claims priority over all mere national loyalties. It assures to the Soviet Union a form of imperialistic penetration into other states, namely, the Fifth Column, that no government in history has hitherto commanded. Soviet imperialism, unlike former imperialisms, can be content with the creation of chaos and disorder; within any given segment of time it need not seek to impose a dominion, an order. The Soviet Union may indeed lack a finished imperial design; in any case, the concept of design is too rational for a force that owes little to reason. But it has something better for its purposes, which are inherently dark. It has a revolutionary vision.
If there must be a single phrase to sum up the intentions of Soviet imperialism, it would be far better to speak of "world revolution" than of "world domination." The word "revolution" has a definite meaning that signifies a definite possibility. The world as we know it can be radically changed; it is, in fact, changing daily before our eyes. Moreover, it is possible to know the directions of change that are implicit in the Communist world revolution, as it is guided by Communist doctrine. On the other hand, "world domination" defines not a process but a term. The term may be a Communist dream. It may even be admitted that this term is an historical possibility, if one admits that anything is possible in history. However, what we are called upon to cope with is an actuality, a process that is really going on, an intention that is presently operative—the imperialism of the World Revolution.
Finally, the Soviet Union is unique as the legatee of a longer history. It is the inheritor both of Tsarist imperialism and of mystical panslavist messianism. It carries on, at the same time that it fundamentally transforms, the myth of Holy Russia, the "spiritual people," the "godbearing children of the East," whose messianic destiny is to rescue humanity from the "Promethean West." Communism, whether in theory or in practice, is not a legacy of Western history, nor is it a "Christian heresy" (the pernicious fallacy popularized by Prof. Toynbee). Essentially, it came out of the East, as a conscious apostasy from the West. It may indeed be said that Jacobinism was its forerunner; but Jacobinism was itself an apostasy from the liberal tradition of the West, as well as from Christianity, by its cardinal tenet (roundly condemned by Pope Leo XIII) that there are no bounds to the juridical omnipotence of government, since the power of the state is not under the law, much less under God. In any case, Communism has assumed the task at which Jacobinism failed—that of putting an end to the history of the West. Communism has undertaken to inaugurate a new history, the so-
called Third Epoch, that will abolish and supplant what are called the two Western epochs, feudalism and capitalism.
THE PRIMACY OF COMMUNIST DOGMA
My proposition is that each of these four unique aspects of the Soviet Empire has consequences for American policy. No structure of policy will be intelligent or successful that does not reckon with all of them. Indeed, all our past mistakes of policy have resulted from the American disposition to ignore, or to misunderstand, one or the other of these four unique aspects of Russia.
It would be a lengthy task, although not a difficult one, to demonstrate this proposition with a fair measure of certitude. However, I shall make only two major points.
First, if the Soviet Union be regarded simply in the first of its unique aspects, as a state or power, under precision from its other aspects, there need be no serious conflict between it and the United States. By itself, the fact that a single government rules the EuroAsiatic plain and possesses the technical competence to exploit its natural and human resources poses no serious threat to American interests. There is no reason why the Soviet Union, regarded simply as a state or power-complex, could not live in decently cooperative harmony with the other world-power, the United States. The American locus of power lies in another hemisphere. Our geopolitical position is secure; so too is theirs. Conflicts of interests and clashes of power would arise, but they could be composed peacefully. This point needs making in order to disallow the conception that the American-Soviet confrontation is purely a power-struggle between two colossi of power, whose sheer power is reciprocally a threat, one to the other. To see the problem thus, and to base American policy on anxious conjectures as to which power is "ahead" or "behind" in the accumulation of power, is to mistake the problem completely.
Second, the many-sided conflict known, not inappropriately, as
the cold war is unintelligible (and therefore must seem unreal) except in the light of the second unique aspect of the Soviet state. It is an imperium, a mode of rule, guided in its internal and external policy by a comprehensive systematic doctrine that contradicts at every important point the tradition of the West. Soviet theory and practice stand in organic interdependence. Only Soviet doctrine makes Soviet power a threat to the United States. Only Soviet doctrine explains the peculiar nature of Soviet imperialism and shows it to be unappeasable in its dynamism. Only Soviet doctrine illumines the intentions of the new messianism that has come out of the East, fitted with an armature of power, and organized implacably against the West.
Here, of course, in the concept of an empire controlled by a dogma, is the sticking-point for the pragmatic American mind. Two questions arise. First, is this concept of the Soviet Empire true? Second, if it is, can the pragmatic mind take in its truth and be guided accordingly in the fashioning of policy? For my part, the answer to the first question is unhesitatingly yes. I am less sure about the answer to the second question. The American mind is consciously pragmatist. When questions can no longer be postponed, they are approached with an empirical, experimentalist attitude that focuses on contingencies of fact. The search is for compromise, for the "deal" that will be acceptable to both parties in the dispute. The notion of action being controlled by theory is alien to this mentality. The further notion of a great state submitting its purposes and action to the control of a dogmatic philosophy seems absurd. The pragmatist mind instinctively refuses to take in this notion or to study its implications.
When, therefore, this pragmatist mind reads Stalin's statement about Soviet doctrine, that "there can be no doubt that as long as we are faithful to this doctrine, as long as we possess this compass, we shall be successful in our work," it can only conclude that Stalin must have been somehow "insincere." There is the further con-
sideration that Soviet doctrine is couched in a technical jargon that is not only alien but very boring. The practical man puts it all aside. His distrust of ideas has itself become an idea. What he wants is "the facts." And he rapidly overlooks the essential fact that the purposes and actions of the Soviet Empire are unintelligible without reference to the ideas on which its leaders act.
In his book, The Illusion of the Epoch: Marxism-Leninism as a Philosophical Creed, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957.) Prof. H. B. Acton makes this concluding statement: "Marxism is a philosophical farrago." Other scholars, within the Academy and within the Church, after even more extensive studies have likewise stigmatized the Soviet dogma as scientific, historical, philosophical, and theological nonsense. But what matters for the statesman is not that the dogma is nonsense but that the Soviet leaders act on the dogma, nonsense though it be. The evidence for this fact may not be unambiguously demonstrable; no historical evidence ever is. But it amply suffices for a firm case that may be made the premise of sound policy. This is not the place to present all of the evidence. The record runs back to Lenin's signing of the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. But the segment of history immediately succeeding World War II deserves a brief mention.
In 1945, despite her war losses, Russia was on the crest of the wave. She had territorial defense in sufficient depth on all fronts. Fellow-traveling governments controlled the new states, including the crucial salient, Czechoslovakia. In the United States, Britain, and France a mood of general, if not unbroken, goodwill towards Russia prevailed to a degree that was almost pathological. Germany, the old enemy of Czarist regimes, was in ruins, impotent, under a military government imposed by the Allies. The Western nations were disarming at breakneck speed. If Russia's own security were the goal, it had been achieved. If the goal were the fulfillment of an old-fashioned Czarist imperial design, looking to the consolidation of power, it too was substantially complete. Or, if the goal was simply
the extension of the new imperialism through international enlistments under the device of the "higher patriotism," looking to what Crankshaw calls the "inconsequent mischief-making of the Comintern," the way to it lay open, and eager wishful thinkers in all lands were busily engaged in enlarging the possibilities of mischief, under hardly any opposition or even serious suspicion.
In any case, one would have expected subtle tactics of restraint. Instead the "tough line" suddenly appeared—ruthless pressure for direct control of the satellites, intervention in Greece (and Persia), obstructive opposition to the Marshall Plan and the Austrian Treaty, the Berlin blockade, and the creation of the Cominform. In consequence, within three years the Kremlin had dissipated its major asset of international goodwill. It created for itself a peril that had not previously existed. A divided and disarmed West had begun to unite and arm itself against the menace now visible, though not yet understood.
Why did all this happen? The only satisfactory answer is that the Kremlin was guided by Communist doctrine. The capitalist powers were well disposed? They could not be; the doctrine holds that the capitalist "camp" is irreconcilably hostile. Constitutional socialist governments would protect the socialist homeland against capitalist aggression? No; the doctrine holds that Social Democracy is inherently untrustworthy and ought to be destroyed, because it only deceives the worker and confuses the issue by its pretension to be a Third Force. World peace is the common goal, through negotiations within the framework of the United Nations? Nonsense; the doctrine holds that the conflict between the two homeland "camps" and the two colonial "fronts" is unappeasable. It is the necessary means to the World Revolution. It will be resolved only by the World Revolution. And in its resolution the methods of force cannot be dispensed with. Finally, the doctrine held that at the end of the War the capitalist "camp" simply had to be in a state of "weakness"; its "internal contradictions" were actively at work, presaging its down-
fall. By the doctrine, therefore, it was the moment for the strategy of the Revolution, the strategy of forceful aggression.
All this may sound rather silly to the pragmatist. In a sense it all was rather silly. The point is that it all happened. And it only happened because Soviet doctrine decreed its happening.
Moreover, it will not do to say that this dictation of policy and events by doctrine will not happen again; that Stalin is dead; that Russia is "different"; that new men are in charge; that they are realists and opportunists, men rather like ourselves who take the pragmatic view. Russia is indeed somewhat different, but only within the limits of the doctrine. The men in charge are new, but only within the limits imposed by their thorough conditioning by the doctrine. The Soviet leadership is not subject to changes of heart. What is more important (and to the pragmatist, unintelligible), it does not even learn by experience. The doctrine is forever at hand to discount Soviet experience of how the capitalist world acts.
The doctrine casts up an image of the capitalist world that does not derive from experience and is not to be altered by experience. It is a "scientific" image, the product of a science, dialectical materialism, whose basic postulate is that determinism rules the world of human history as well as the world of nature. It is through the distorting one-way glass, as it were, of this deterministic theory of capitalism that the Soviet leaders view what we consider to be the contingencies of the historical world—only they are not seen as contingencies but as determined. So far from altering the scientific image, they are interpreted in such a way as either to confirm it or at least leave it intact. When, for instance, the capitalist world professes its desire to be friendly, just, peaceful, cooperative, etc., such professions cannot but be bogus. Historical determinism will not permit the capitalist world to be other than hostile, unjust, aggressive, and war-mongering. Mr. George F. Kennan has commented, in rather baffled, but still superior, fashion, on "the systematic Soviet distortion of the realities of our world and of the purposes to which
we are dedicated" (in Russia, the Atom and the West, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958.). Mr. Kennan too views reality through his special glass. Apparently it does not occur to him that Soviet analysts of "fact" really believe in the categories of Marxist-Leninist ideology as instruments of interpretation. Like a good American, he believes that if only the Soviet leaders could be brought to see "the facts," with complete "freedom of mind," all would be well.
It is, of course, not impossible that some basic change may take place in Soviet doctrine. But if it did the repercussions would be felt all through the edifice of power erected on the doctrine; and if they were not checked, the edifice could not long survive. The basic Soviet structure is an indivisible and interlocking whole. It cannot permit itself to be tampered with at any point, save on peril of destruction. Still less can it contemplate changes in the dogmas that sustain the edifice of imperialistic power."
The official atheism is necessary in order that the individual may claim no moral rights against the state and no freedom except within the "collective" freedom of the state. This exploitation of the individual in the service of the state is necessary as the premise of forcing further the gigantic technological development. The cult of Soviet patriotism is necessary to preserve the solidarity of the colonial empire over the more than thirty-five national minorities within the Soviet Union, and over the ring of satellite states, as well as to retain that indispensable adjunct of Soviet imperialism, the motley Fifth Column. The maintenance of the police state makes it necessary that there should be "danger from without," from irreconcilable, hostile, aggressive capitalist imperialism. This danger is also necessary to explain to the puzzled inquirer why the state is not withering away. The rejection of the possibility of entirely peaceful evolution to world socialism and the belief in force as the indispensable agent of the Revolution are necessary to sustain the burden of militarization and armament. And the whole edifice rests squarely in the basic Marxist
dogmathe conflict of two opposed worlds leading dialectically and deterministically to the World Revolution. Finally, the personal security of the Soviet rulers and the continuing privileges of the "new class" are dependent on the maintenance both of the empire and of the revolutionary doctrine that sustains it. Thus self-interest buttresses belief in the doctrine.
The conclusion is that the Soviet Empire not only has been, and is, an empire controlled by doctrine, but must continue to be such, on peril of ceasing to be itself. Even to speculate about making a basic change in the established doctrine of the World Revolution would be to raise the specter of the disintegration of the empire. This specter, we may be sure, will be forbidden to rise.
COMMUNIST DOGMA AND AMERICAN POLICY
This fourfold view of the unique reality of the Soviet Empire is the only solid premise of American foreign policy in foreign affairs and military defense. It is a more intelligent premise than the concept of "world domination" in any of the current understandings or misunderstandings of that phrase. It is also a more comprehensive premise than any analysis of the relatively superficial "facts of power. "
The major value of a full view of the unique character of the Soviet Union is that it creates a limited but useful set of expectations on which to base American policy. We need not be left to the resources of improvisation or even to the instinctive reactions of purely practical wisdom—the kind of wisdom that made us enter the Korean War but was never able to explain why we did enter it. The Soviet Empire is governed by the inner laws of its own nature; like any laws they create expectabilities. We may, for instance, expect Communist leadership to yield only to calculations of power and success; force and the prospect of success by its use are the deter-
minants of Soviet action. This expectation would clarify the problem of negotiations. It would suggest that we put an end, as quietly as possible, to the Wilsonian era of diplomacy with its exaggerated trust in world assemblies and in spectacular international conferences. It would further suggest the advisabilty of direct negotiations with Russia. For instance, if and when any agreement on disarmament is reached, it will be reached directly between the Kremlin and the White House, without the confusing assistance of additional nations, allied or neutral.
Again, a true view of the Soviet Union, as a unique imperialism, would suggest that we cease to confuse foreign policy with diplomatic negotiations. To paraphrase a famous remark, foreign policy is when you know what you want. It supposes that you know the possibility of getting what you want, before you decide that you want it. Negotiation is simply the means of getting what you want. The Soviet Union understands this. For instance, it is a fixed Soviet foreign policy to gain public international recognition of the successes of the Communist revolution as they are racked up. This policy is pursued through "negotiations" at international conferences. These conferences negotiate nothing. Either they simply register the political and military results to date and thus fulfill Soviet policy (e.g., the 1954 Geneva "settlement" on Korea and Indo-China) or they run out in sheer futility after two million words (e.g., the prior Berlin Conference). It is time we, too, learned not to fix our policy by negotiations but to conduct negotiations in order to fulfill our policies. It is time, too, that we laid aside completely the concept of "sincerity" as a category of political morality even though it is so dear to a type of Eastern-seaboard political mind that believes in nothing else. To inquire into Soviet "sincerity" or to require "sincerity" of the Soviet Union is a complete waste of time.
The chiefly important expectability or "sincerity" is that the Soviet Union will always act on its own doctrine. As the situation
dictates, it will employ either the strategy of the Revolution or the tactics of the protection of the homeland and of the Revolution's imperialist advances. In either case, since the doctrine is inherently aggressive, it permits no "disengagement." It continually probes for every vacuum of power and for every soft spot of purpose. This is why "disengagement" as an American policy could not be other than disastrous. It would surely heighten the danger of war, most probably by permitting the creation of situations that we could not possibly accept. Only the very opposite policy is safe—a policy of continuous engagement at every point, on all levels of action, by both tactical and strategic moves. At times this policy of continuous engagement might well be enforced simply by variants of the highly effective argumentative technique of the blank and silent stare. The Russians employed it well in the tent at Panmunjom. Turkey has always used it successfully; and West Berlin has learned its value. We still talk too much.
A policy of continuous engagement with the World Revolution does not mean solely a policy of hostility, contradiction, and opposition. Nor is it to be translated primarily into military terms. The engagement can be cooperative, positive, constructive in a number of ways. Here I shall mention only one, because it is so neglected.
Perhaps the most alarming pages in Wolfgang Leonhard's book, Child of the Revolution, (Chicago: Regnery, 1958.) are those in which he reports the effect had on him by Western newspapers, broadcasts, etc. The effect was nil. In fact, practically everything he heard or read about the West only delayed his break with Stalinism. On the intellectual or doctrinal level the disengagement between West and East seems to be almost complete. Torrents of words are poured out Eastward, of course. But they do not even engage the attention of the East. "Why do they always go on about freedom?" asked one of Leonhard's companions, as he got up, bored to death, to turn off a Western
broadcast. "In the first place there is no freedom in the West, and in the second place people in the West do not even know what freedom is."
The young Communist's disgusted comment makes the necessary point. Do people of the West understand what freedom is? Can they intelligently dispute the Communist thesis, that freedom means insight into historical necessity—an insight that is based on scientific theory? (One recalls General Eisenhower and Marshal Zhukov baffling one another in Berlin over the notion of freedom.) Or is it rather the American disposition to dismiss the whole dispute as "impractical," and irrelevant to politics? Or do we think that this basic issue of theory would be settled by distributing (as has been seriously suggested) an avalanche of Sears-Roebuck catalogues in the Soviet Union?
It may be that the Illusion of our Epoch will not be overcome by argument. Certainly it cannot be overcome by force. Perhaps it will succumb only to the enemy of all illusions—time. The fact remains that Communist doctrine is an affront to the Western tradition of reason; and the manner of empire that it sustains is a further affront to the liberal tradition of politics and law that was born of the Western tradition of reason. The further fact is that the West was so late in feeling the affront and still seems largely impotent to deliver against it an effective doctrinal answer, in a moment when a doctrinal answer is of the highest practical importance, not only to the East that will hear it, but to the West that will utter it—immediately, to itself. It may, of course, be that the West has ceased to understand itself. Prof. Toynbee may, in fact, be right in saying that the West now identifies itself with technology, as its cult and its sole export. If this be true, this failure of understanding, leading to a denial, more or less explicit, of the Western tradition by the West itself, would be the fateful "internal contradiction" that might lead to downfall. Ironically, Marx never saw this form of "internal contradiction," though it is the greatest weakness in the "camp" that he opposed.
THE DOMESTIC ISSUE
This may be the place to comment on the basic fiasco of our engagement with Communism on the domestic scene. The subject is a bit complicated. It is, of course, not necessary to invoke Communist influence to explain the various stupidities of American wartime and postwar policies. Stupidity itself is sufficient explanation. The pattern of it was set by the American President who was "certain," he said in all good faith, "that Stalin is not an imperialist." The anti-Communist movement, centering on the issue of internal subversion, probably compounded the confusion by transforming issues of stupidity into issues of "disloyalty." The muzzy sentimentalism of the 1945 climate has indeed been altered. Reckon this, if you like, to the credit of those who raised the cry of subversion. Public opinion, in the sense of public passion (which it very largely is), has been transformed. Everybody now mortally hates and fears what is known, rather vaguely, as "the Communist menace." It was "brought home" to them amid great tumult and shouting (only in this way, it seems, can things be brought home to the American people). This was a good thing. At that, by a strange irony, those who were the loudest in bringing the menace home were or are the last ones on American earth whom one would want to see in charge of combating the menace abroad, in the field of foreign policy; where the massive menace lies. By a contrasting irony, many of those who took the sound view in matters of foreign policy were fuzzy on the issue of internal subversion.
In any case, whatever its effect on public emotion, the anti-Communist movement has been fairly spectacular in its failure to contribute to public understanding. The problem of understanding centers on three large issues. What is this "thing from the East"? What is the "Western thing" in the name of which we oppose it? What were the corrosive forces that were able to create a yawning spiritual and intellectual vacuum within the West, but were not able
to fill it, with the result that the "thing from the East" found some lodgment there? Thousands of questions and answers before Congressional committees and bushels of propaganda sheets from patriotic societies have contributed almost nothing to an answer to these questions. In their turn, the forces that opposed the anti-Communist movement have rivaled it in their failure to contribute to public understanding. In considerable part they failed even to speak of the real issues, being content to retire, embattled, behind a rather porous barricade—a concept of democracy as an ensemble of procedures, a legal system of civil rights. It was not strange that in the end the public, with some instinctive feeling that the quarrel wasn't getting anywhere, and had become trivial anyway, should have grown bored with it. Imposed on a prior fiasco of understanding, this was a most lamentable result. The three basic questions still stand.
Even yet the response to Communist imperialism is largely in emotional terms—fear and hatred (or, conversely, pathetic appeals to "understand the Russians") and bursts of brief excitement over every new Communist success, and, for the rest, a last-minute rush to the resources of pragmatism in all its forms (notably including military technology) to meet particular issues as they arise.
THE USES OF FORCE
This brings up the question that looms so largethe question of armaments and war. The underlying issue is whether a full view of the unique reality of the Soviet empire furnishes any reliable expectations in this critical area. There are several.
Soviet doctrine as a whole dictates a policy of maximum security and minimum risk. Risks can and must be minimum because the dialectic of history decrees that the capitalist world, though still powerful, is decaying and must inevitably disintegrate from within, whereas the forces of socialism are in constant ascendancy and must
inevitably triumph. Security must be maximal because at every point the gains made by political or military means must be consolidated as the base for further revolutionary advance. The Soviet Union cannot be provoked into taking risks that exceed the minimum; for it does not act under external provocation but under an internal dynamism. These conclusions, already implicit in the doctrine, are confirmed by all the evidence in the historical record.
We may expect that Soviet doctrine will continue to dictate the same policy of maximal security and minimal risk. This expectation furnishes a measure by which to decide the gravest and most pervasive problem of foreign and military policy, namely, how to balance the elements of security and of risk. We may safely invert the Soviet proportions. Our policy should envisage a minimum of security and a maximum of risk. Only by such a policy can we seize and retain the initiative in world affairs. And it is highly dangerous not to have the initiative. On the premise of this balance we did, in fact, enter the Korean war, which was right. But then we retreated from the premise to a policy of minimal risk, which was a mistake.
Moreover, it would be prudent even to create situations of risk for the Soviet Union—situations in which the risk would be too great for it to take. We may be sure that the Soviet leadership will not risk the debacle of the World Revolution through a major war for the sake of anything less than the soil of the homeland of the Revolution. We may expect that it will yield tactical ground, or refrain from going after tactical ground, if the risk of holding it or going after it becomes serious. But if there is no risk, or only a minimal risk, aggressive policies will be carried through, as they were in Hungary, where nothing was done to create a risk.
At the same time, Soviet doctrine serves to warn us to be wary of the facile persuasion now being spread about that "Russia doesn't want war." There is no reason to believe that Communism has been converted to the faith of Social Democracy, which holds that the
evolution to world socialism can be wholly peaceful. Any notion that the Soviet Union has tacitly entered some sort of Kellogg Pact is absurd. The use of force, as an instrument of national policy, is still an essential tenet in the Communist creed. By the whole force of Communist "insight into historical necessity" Russia still wants war—the kind of war, in the time and place, that would be necessary or useful to further the multiple ends of the World Revolution, not least perhaps by extending the colonial "liberation front."
Moreover, this same insight convinces the Soviet leadership that the capitalist world wants war. War, like imperialism and aggression in general, is inherent in capitalism. This is a matter of scientific doctrine; the Communist understands it to be so, and he cannot be persuaded otherwise. To admit that the capitalist world does not want war would be to go against the doctrine. It would also be to cancel the "danger from without" that helps to justify the police state and to explain why it cannot yet wither away. In the face of the standing Soviet conviction about the war-mongering capitalist world, it would be doubly absurd to believe that the Soviet Union does not want war.
It is all a matter of the measure of risk that war would entail and of the measure of its usefulness for the World Revolution.
Precisely here, however, the present Communist insight into historical necessityin the case, the necessity of the use of force to further the Revolutionmust be less naive than once it was. It was Lenin's emphatic doctrine that "frightful collisions" must take place between East and West before capitalism is overthrown and socialism installed. Lenin was thinking not only of major wars but of other revolutionary violences. But he did believe in the inevitability of major wars. Stalin too believed that war was inevitable and that it would inevitably advance the fortunes of the Revolution. But this simple faith can no longer stand. One cannot doubt that the Leninist-Stalinist doctrine has been subjected to revision in Communist high
councils in the light of the realities of nuclear war. What usefulness would attach to this manner of "frightful collision"? What risks of it should be run?
The results of this revision of doctrine may have been hinted at by Khrushchev at the 20th Party Congress in 1956. He did not refer to the new instrument of frightfulness, the H-bomb. His utterance was cautious. The Communist will not renounce his essential weapon, the threat of force. Nor will he renounce force itself. But he will carefully calculate its uses and its usefulness for his own purposes and on his own premise of policymaximum security and minimal risk. This manner of calculation is his specialty. Moreover, he will make the conclusions of this calculation serve as the premise of his armament policies. His industry and technology are, after all, largely geared to warnot to war in general but to war as a possibly useful instrument of the World Revolution. To the Communist war is not a game, or a galvanic reaction, or an exercise in righteous anger, or a romantic adventure, or a way to develop the national character, or a sin. It is strictly and coldly a means to an end. And the end is clearly defined.
What conclusions has the Communist come to, what policies has he consequently defined for himself (he always defines his own policies, in what concerns both ends and means), in this historical moment so different from Lenin's—in this our nuclear age? The answer to this question would presumably be an important premise of American policies with regard to war and the weapons of war. Some answers should be clear.
First, all-out nuclear war is not a means of furthering the World Revolution; its only outcome would be the end of the Revolution, in the end of the world; the risk of it therefore must be avoided in the conduct of political affairs. Second, an all-out surprise attack on the capitalist world, with nuclear weapons, would run a maximum risk
of the retaliatory destruction of the Homeland and of the Revolution itself; it is therefore excluded as a strategy of conquest. Third, on the other hand, the capitalist world is intrinsically imperialistic, aggressive, and bent on military conquest, as its hostile "encirclement" of the Soviet Union shows. It is ready for all-out nuclear war; and, despite its professions, it might launch a surprise attack. Therefore the Soviet Union must be ready for both contingencies. Maximum security requires maximum armament, conventional and nuclear. Fourth, military force is still a factor in political affairs, through its use, and especially through the sheer threat of its use. The doctrine of the Revolution—the doctrine of "collisions"—still holds. It will come into play whenever the risks are sufficiently minimal, and the chances of success sufficiently solid. These conditions will be more readily verified when the use of force, including nuclear force, is on a small scale for settling (or aggravating) local disturbances. Therefore small-scale nuclear force must be available in quantity, together with conventional arms. But if the risk appears that the tactical action will be enlarged to the dimensions of strategic action, through the employment of strategic nuclear weapons, it must be broken off, lest the Homeland of the Revolution itself be endangered.
In sum, major nuclear "collisions" with the capitalist world are not inevitable; on the contrary, they must be avoided, since they cannot advance the Communist cause. World socialism can and must be achieved without major war, by peaceful means—political, diplomatic, economic, propagandistic (this, in effect, is what Khrushchev said in 1956). Adventurism is to be rejected, since it violates the policy of minimal risk. On the other hand, the threat of force is still a valid revolutionary weapon; so too is the use of force itself in determined circumstances. Finally, the Homeland is in "danger from without." Therefore the armament program must be pushed through the whole spectrum of nuclear weapons—large weapons as a deterrent for maximum security; small weapons for use with a minimum of risk.
If this diagnosis of Communist thinking is generally correct, it suggests several conclusions with regard to American thought.
First, the danger of an all-out sneak nuclear attack on the United States has been vastly exaggerated. We have maximal security against it in the Soviet policy of minimal risk as long as the massive deterrent is sustained. Second, the correlative danger of an all-out nuclear war has likewise been vastly exaggerated. Many tend to make maximal a risk that is only minimal. It could only happen as the result of enormous stupidity, basically attributable to a complete misunderstanding of Soviet doctrine. This stupidity is no more inevitable than war itself. Third, the danger of limited wars has been underestimated. This maximal risk has been made minimal. It seems to be the historical American delusion that no war is worth while unless it is unlimited, waged for "ultimate" causes. There is also the special delusion proper to the nuclear age, that any use of nuclear weapons, however low in the kiloton range, must inevitably lead to world catastrophe. Hence the false dilemma: either to begin with catastrophe or to renounce all use of nuclear force.
Fourth, more generally, the whole concept of the cold war has been overmilitarized and therefore superficialized. This overmilitarization, combined with the exaggerations noted above, has affected national policy adversely in many respects. Moreover, it has tended to obscure or even discredit the validity of the very concept of the cold war. This too is lamentable, because the concept is fully valid, if it is interpreted in the light of the full reality of the Soviet empire in its fourfold uniqueness. Unfortunately, it has become too easy to say that, since the Communist threat is not primarily military (which is true), it is no threat at all and we should make disengagement our policy (which is completely false). Unfortunately too, it has become too easy to say that, since the United States is sufficiently safe from foreign military aggression (which is true), the real threat is internal Communist subversion (which is false).
Finally, all the confusions in American thinking come to a focus in the opinion that the issue of American "survival" is squarely put to the Department of Defense, supported by the Atomic Energy Commission. This opinion is entirely disastrous. We may be quite sure that the Communist mind, with its realistic and strategic habits of thought, has carefully separated the problem of the "survival" of the Communist Revolution from the problem of war. The Communist leadership has no slightest intention of making "survival" the issue to be settled by force of arms. In fact, it is prepared to abandon resort to arms, as soon as the issue of "survival" is raised. Survival is the one thing it is not willing to risk. In contrast, America is not prepared to resort to arms until the issue of "survival" is raised. Survival is the only thing it is willing to risk. Not the least irony in the current situation is the fact that the West has surrendered to the East its own traditional doctrine, that "survival" is not, and should never be allowed to become, the issue at stake in war.
The major problem put to American policy at the moment is the problem that the Soviet Union has already solved in terms of policy, namely, how to be prepared to use force on all necessary or useful occasions, and at the same time to withdraw "survival" from the issues at stake in the use of force. "The children of this world are shrewder than the children of light in their dealings with their own kind" (Luke 16:9). The children of this world understand better the uses, and the uselessnesses, of this world's darkest thing, force. They are shrewd enough to know that the institutions of this world can be advanced by force, but that their survival should not be put to the test of force.
The irony in the Gospel saying seems to be magnificently fulfilled in the American nuclear armament program. It seems to have been conceived to insure "survival" but not to fight a legitimate war for limited and justifiable ends. Perhaps one should not blame the Department of Defense or the Atomic Energy Commission. They could not get their budgets through the Congress unless they "proved" that
"survival" is the issue at stake. And the Congress could not levy taxes on the people unless it "proved" that the "survival" of the people is at stake. But this is moral absurdity, not least because it is military absurdity. We have got the problem of "survival" and the problem of war so mixed up that we may finally be incapable of solving either.
Nor will it do to say that we have been forced into this position by the Communist menace. It would be almost impossible to set limits to the danger of Communism as a spiritual menace. It has induced not simply a crisis in history but perhaps the crisis of history. Its dream of the Third Epoch that will cancel Western and Christian history and the major institutions of that history (notably the rule of law and the spiritual supremacy of the Church) has gone too far toward realization over too wide a sweep of earth to be lightly dismissed as a mere dream. On the other hand, as a sheerly military menace Communism is strictly limited. It is limited in the first instance by its own doctrine. This doctrine has always assigned to military force a real role in the advancement of the World Revolution. Nevertheless, the role of force has always been ancillary, subordinate, supportive of political, economic, and ideological initiatives. Force is to be employed only when the historical moment is right and the military or political risk is minimal. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that in the nuclear age, in which all risks are enhanced most horribly, Communist doctrine has set a still more diminished value on the use of force. By a sort of perverse genius, proper to the children of darkness, it has at the same time set a higher value on the sheer threat of force.
The Soviet Union as a power-imperialism must be confronted by power, steadily and at every point. But when the question is military engagement it is quite false to say that the issue is "survival." And American persistence in thinking this could easily reduce American power to impotence. The real issue is to know how and why "survival" got to be thought of as the military issue, and then to withdraw it from the limited political and moral issues at stake in our military
engagement with the Soviet Union. It is impossible to think of any other way in which our nuclear armament program can be reduced to rationality—to some sensible conformity to the canons of moral reason (which look to justice in war), and to a hardly less desirable conformity to the rules of military reason (which look to success in war).
The clue to the distortions in the present structure of American policy is deposited in a remark made by the Military Operations Subcommittee in its nineteenth report, submitted on February 20, 1958. It said: "Under present methods of operation we do not know what we are trying to accomplish through military aid." Military aid programs, it added, "are not clearly related to a strategy of defense. . . . Logistical plans have not been revised to keep step with strategic concepts and strategic concepts lag behind war technology." The general sense of this judgment, made directly with regard to military aid programs, holds with greater force of our nuclear armament program and its newer adjuncts, rockets and missiles.
The general uneasiness among the public—here at home and abroad—derives from an instinctive sense that America does not know what it is trying to do. And the uneasiness is sharpened by the general knowledge of what we are in fact doing, and have in fact been doing since the Manhattan Project. We are engaged in the exploitation of technological possibilities simply because they are possibilities, in the absence of any clearly defined strategic purposes that would be consonant with the institution of war as a valid instrument for altering the political will of an enemy—in the case, the Communist enemy, whose political will, and whose doctrine on the limited use of force in support of his will, are by no means mysterious or unknowable. The general public senses that this situation is irrational and therefore immoral. And it focuses its deeper fear and its more diffused disapproval on the relatively minor question of nuclear tests.
It is doubtless true that military concepts have always lagged be-
hind weapons technology. The lag was tolerable when the technology was limited. This is not so today. The resources of military technology are unlimited, and there is no principle in technology itself to call a halt to their exploitation. Weapons technology has already gone so far that it has raised the issue of "survival" and thrust it into the problem of war, in defiance of every military rule and moral principle, and in defiance too of every sound calculation with regard to the enemy's will to power as supported by a will to war. It is bad enough when policy and armaments run in opposite directions; as Theodore Roosevelt said, we cannot be a nation "opulent, aggressive, and unarmed." But it is worse when policy runs after armaments, and armaments run after technology, and the pressures of budgetary considerations buttress the primacy of the technology of multimegaton weapons, because they are cheaper. An armaments race that may end in war is bad enough, since there is always an element of irrationality in war, even when it is a just war. But an armaments race that seems already to have ended in absurdity is vastly worse, because what is militarily absurd is irredeemably immoral.
It may well be that the pragmatist American mind will not hearken to discourse on the morality of war, especially since it bears beneath its pragmatism the American-Protestant taint of pacifism. However, it might listen to discourse on success in war—concretely, on the kind of success that is politically valuable in the kind of war that is possible or likely, in present circumstances, against a particular enemy, who has a fully constructed "compass" (as Stalin called it) whereby to set his intentions and to direct his action in history, and who, finally, has an articulated doctrine with regard to the limited uses of military force in support of his political will. The moralist, of course, will not object to such discourse on success in war. It forms, in fact, an essential part of his own moral discourse, as the following chapter will show.