The Protestant Era by Paul Tillich
Paul Tillich is generally considered one of the century's outstanding and influential thinkers. After teaching theology and philosophy at various German universities, he came to the United States in 1933. For many years he was Professor of Philosophical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, then University Professor at Harvard University. His books include Systematic Theology; The Courage to Be; Dynamics of Faith; Love, Power and Justice; Morality and Beyond; and Theology of Culture. The Protestant Era was published by The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois in 1948. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock<
Chapter 16: Storms of Our Times
(An address delivered at the Fiftieth Church Congress of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in Indianapolis on May 6, 1942.)
It is my first duty to thank you for the honor of addressing this important congress, being myself a stranger both to your church, of which I am not a member, and to your nation, which I have joined only as a refugee from abroad. However, there is an advantage in my situation. The boundary between two realms is the most favorable position for understanding them. Although the power and the unity of life is stronger in the center, the chance of observing and knowing it is greater at the periphery. From the boundary line between two churches, two nations, and two continents I am speaking to you today.
But I stand not only between the spaces but also between the times. The generation to which I myself, as well as many of you, belong is a generation between two periods of history. The only thing we can hope to be is a bridge between the ages. None of our generation is able to cross that bridge entirely. He who has lived for fourteen years in the nineteenth century and for twenty-eight years in the unbroken world of individualism and harmonism before the first World War is not able to participate wholeheartedly in the period to come. He can only see it, understand its inescapable approach, and explain its causes and nature. That is what we can and must do. That is the help we can give to the younger generation. For this task we have to provide a sufficient amount of scientific objectivity as well as of dynamic participation in the actual movements of our period. But in spite of this we shall remain bridges—and only that; and therefore, if the description of the storms of our times is itself somewhat stormy and revolutionary, it is not my own stormy mood to which this is due but the revolutionary nature of the process itself.
These words imply a presupposition, the main presupposition of my address—that the storms of our times are not a bad accident caused by some evil men, without whose interference everything would have remained as before. No evil men can make history unless the soil is prepared on a tremendous scale. Instead of accepting, therefore, the superficial and all too comfortable theory of accident, I shall develop a theory of "structural necessity." Structural necessity is not mechanical necessity; it has neither naturalistic nor deterministic implications. History is dependent on human action and, consequently, on human freedom and decision. But history, on the other hand, is not a series of accidents; it has a special structure in each of its periods, and it has predominant trends and natural tendencies against which individual acts are of no avail. On this character of history all historical understanding and all adequate and meaningful historical action is based. Without such a structural necessity, history could not be interpreted at all, and no prophetic message would ever have been possible.
On the basis of the assumption that present events are results of structural trends in the bourgeois society of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I shall give an analysis of these trends and its implications. I shall drive the analysis to a point where the vision of a possible reconstruction during and after the war may appear. An analysis seems to be a matter of scientific detachment, of disinterested spectatorship. And, of course, without a great amount of objective knowledge and methodical self-restraint no convincing picture of the situation can be given. Fortunately, an immense scientific literature exists, analyzing all the points we have to deal with. Our task is only to elaborate the decisive lines and to combine them in a true and meaningful picture. But in such an analysis, whether it is more special or more general, still another element is contained, an element of personal involvement—in spite of scientific detachment—an element of valuation and decision, or, as it is called today, an "existential" element. Something that concerns our whole existence, our economic and political, cultural and religious existence, cannot be discussed as if we were unconcerned spectators. Therefore, the analytic and the constructive aspects cannot be separated. The analysis is presented for the purpose of a new construction, as the picture of the construction is painted on the background of the analysis.
The main thesis of the following analysis is that the present world war is a part of a world revolution. Although it appears as a war of nations, it is something different, and it can be understood only in terms of the radical transformation of one period of history into another one. The very fact that world wars are possible and that they have become the only possible form of war shows a fundamental change from all former periods of history. Something has come into existence which never had existed before: world as a historical reality! The term "world"—kosmos—is derived from the unity and structural harmony of nature. It has been used also in a religious sense, and it has been applied finally to history as well. The concept of "world history" has often been used; but it could be used only as a metaphysical, not as an empirical, term. History as a unity of historical interactions has become possible only through the union of all nations of the earth by technical processes. This has taken place, but it has not been understood yet. The international and national institutions, the general forms of living and thinking all over the world, have not yet reached the insight that there is world in the concrete, technical, and historical sense. This is one of the reasons why the rise of the "historical world" first resulted in world wars. The world as a historical reality is being born in the labor pains of two wars. This is an expression of man’s tragic situation; but it shows, at the same time, the need of a revolution which would make the institutions of mankind adequate to the new reality. We must become actually what we have become potentially: a "world."
The general character of the revolutionary transformation in the midst of which we are living can be described in the following way: Following the breakdown of the natural or automatic harmony on which the system of life and thought during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was based, the attempt is now being made to produce a system of life and thought which is based on an intentional and planned unity. This refers to all realms of human existence.
A. The Economic Development
The economic sphere is the most important historical factor—not in all times, as some dogmatic Marxists assert—but certainly within bourgeois capitalism. Its development from the nineteenth to the twentieth century can be described in four stages. The first period is that of liberal capitalism in the sense of the classical theory of economic liberalism: many small enterprises appeared on the market in comparatively free competition. The market was surrounded by a large nonindustrial realm, agrarian and colonial, able to buy according to the laws of the market. Under these conditions the harmonistic presupposition that the economic interest of the whole is best guaranteed if everybody follows his individual economic interest agreed with reality to a great extent. The tremendous increase in social wealth and the general standard of living during this period is an experimental test for the relative truth of the theory of automatic harmony in the economic sphere. But the natural development of this period led to a second period (not foreseen in the classical theory) characterized by a monopolistic structure. The small competitors became more and more conquered by the big trusts and were finally annihilated, a process in which the basic element of liberal economy—free competition— was increasingly restricted and confined to a comparatively small group of big competitors. This development entailed some dangerous transformations of the original situation. The large investments made by the monopolistic enterprises could remain profitable only in an expanding economy. In the moment in which the expansion came to an end, either by a decrease in purchasing power or by the industrialization of the agrarian and colonial sectors (as, for instance, during the first World War), the investments could not return sufficient profit, and the crisis—the dark shadow of all economic liberalism—became more and more permanent. The harder competition made obligatory the use of all means of technical progress and produced additional unemployment, thus further reducing the purchasing power of the masses and deepening the crisis.
But more important than the immediate economic consequences of the monopolistic stage of liberal economy are its psychological effects on the masses. These effects have created a revolutionary situation in the whole Western world. There is no more terrible fate than the fate of permanent unemployment. The bombed-out workers of London tell us that the threat of unemployment is worse than the threat of death. Not only is the unemployed, like any other worker in capitalism, a quantity of working power to be bought and sold; he is also a working power which cannot be used. Not the economic misery connected with unemployment but the feeling of absolute meaninglessness is the worst element in it. The faces of the permanently unemployed which I saw in Germany in 1931 and in England in 1936— faces I never shall forget—are witnesses of the destructiveness of unemployment. The fact that this was the actual or threatening fate for millions in all countries of Western civilization is the background of the present revolutionary movements.
The third stage of the economic development—belonging exclusively to the twentieth century—is that of state interference in the system of free enterprise. It became necessary because the state could not permit the destruction of the big monopolies on which the life of the nation was essentially dependent. So the state had to support them in the crisis, in order to avoid a general breakdown and subsequent chaos. The state had to "socialize the losses." After that the interference had to continue in order to prevent the return of the crisis. So a certain amount of state interference became habitual. The classical form of it is the "New Deal." But state interference is only a half-measure and shares the danger of combining the shortcomings of both sides united in it. The interfering state disturbed the dispositions of the free enterprisers; and at the same time the state could not prevent them from counteracting its social purposes with respect to unemployment, wages, the use of natural resources, etc. So state interference could not overcome the dangers of the general situation, and it created a new danger, the political half-Fascist opposition of the monopolistic groups, who felt deprived of their unrestricted economic power by bureaucratic encroachments. In central Europe this has finally resulted in the Fascist organization of economy. It will lead in all countries to a new—the fourth—stage of the economic development.
The character of the fourth stage is the replacement of state interference by state command. It is "commanded economy" or "state capitalism." Whatever this might mean in the practical execution, however many liberal elements can be incorporated, in one point the structure is clear: it will be planned according to the needs of the whole; it will overcome unemployment and the underconsumption of the masses. It will create—whatever the price may be—the freedom from fear and want, from those fears and wants which belong to the later stages of capitalism. The totalitarian countries have made a radical step in this direction. They did it in a distorted and finally self-destructive way. But at least they did it. What are the democracies doing?
B. The International Organization
A system of harmony—with certain restrictions—did exist not only in the economic realm but also in the sphere of international relations. The political center, identical with the economic center, lay in Europe. There were colonies, dominions, and spheres of influence in the other parts of the world. The United States was completing her continental extension. In Europe, Great Britain—the market-center of Europe— balanced the relations of the Continental powers. In spite of many single disturbances, this system of "balance of power" worked rather well and seemed to confirm the general harmonistic view. At the same time it was an adequate form for the liberal world economy.
But when the imperialistic competition of the great nations led to the first World War, this system of harmony collapsed. During the war Europe lost its controlling position politically as well as economically. The United States and Japan became powers of first rank. Russia was separated from the European concert. The establishment of a French hegemony in Continental Europe proved to be a failure. The establishment of a large number of sovereign national states on the narrow European Continent proved to be disastrous and just the opposite of what the situation demanded. Each of them, maintaining an independent army, diplomacy, and economy, was set against all the others and played a game which brought all of them to the complete loss of independence. The attempt to counteract the evil consequences of this type of sovereignty by the League of Nations failed because the League itself was built on the same principle of national sovereignty. So the second World War showed even more strongly than the first that the harmony of the balance of power has gone and that it must be replaced by a planned unity of nations, in Asia, in America, on the European Continent, and by an all-embracing unity of all nations. To this unity the great Asiatic nations must belong, not as colonies or spheres of European influence but on an equal basis with the Anglo-Saxon and Continental nations. Not only Japan but also China and India are using the present world revolution for the purpose of removing completely the control of the white nations. The Axis powers have seen all this. They have created an enforced unity by conquest and suppression in Europe, and they have driven the white rulers from many Asiatic countries by subjecting them to their own imperialism. They did it, and do it, in a distorted and self-destructive way. But at least they did it! What are our plans?
C. The Political System
Democracy is not a political system in abstracto, to be imposed at any time in any place. Democracy has definite historical presuppositions without which it cannot work. It presupposes a large amount of natural harmony and conformity. There must be a basic amount of agreement between the parties, in spite of many points of disagreement. "His Majesty’s opposition" must be "most loyal." And there must be a great amount of confidence in the representatives on the part of the voters. The delegates must really be "our delegates." Both demands presuppose a fundamentally united interest of the whole nation, which is of more importance to everybody than his own special, deviating interests. If this is the case, each citizen can subject himself willingly to the decisions of the majority, accepting them as the "general will" of which his will is a part. Working democracy presupposes a basically common interest among all its members, whether it is a real or an imagined interest.
If the harmonistic foundation of a democratic system disappears, the democracy breaks down. If the minority gets the feeling that its basic interests are permanently disregarded by the majority, the opposition ceases to be loyal. It denies the system as such; a totalitarian party is formed for the sake of a revolutionary overthrow of the existing political system. This was the situation in Europe, especially in central Europe. From two sides the discontent with the democratic way arose—from the side of the ruling classes and from the side of the economically disintegrated masses. The masses were afraid that the democratic method never would be able to liberate them from misery and unemployment, even under a government in which their own delegates participated. They had experienced too many disillusionments. And the ruling classes were afraid that the democratic way would finally create a parliamentary majority representing the disinherited masses and threatening the position of the economically ruling groups. So sections of both groups joined the predemocratic, half-feudal revolt of desperadoes of the lower middle classes—the Fascist or National Socialist religious-political "Order." The democratic system could not stand this attack from three sides. It fell with its harmonistic foundation. The situation in the originally democratic countries is not so grave as it was in central Europe, except for France. The basic conformism in which democracy is rooted is still alive in England, America, and some smaller nations. But even here the danger-point was nearly reached in the great economic crises, and American democracy was saved only because the power of the central bureaucracy was strengthened to such a degree that a complete catastrophe could be prevented. Today the war has produced a bureaucratic centralism in all countries, even in those in which the democratic method is still used. The critical situation for the democratic system will arise after the war, when the reorganization of a world in ruins will create tasks for which the ordinary democratic methods cannot be used at all. The necessity of a central organization of the European economy alone—not to speak of Asia—demands a basic transformation of the political system.
The abominable form of the totalitarian methods in Europe should not close our eyes to the emergency out of which they have arisen: the breakdown of harmonism. And they should not prevent us from recognizing that a return to the former ways of liberal democracy is impossible. The dictators understood this situation. Can we claim the same?
D. The Cultural Movement
The cultural life after the period of the Enlightenment was based on the presupposition that the intellectual and moral development of the individual would lead to a cultural "common sense," able to create a harmonious and progressive civilization. The autonomous search for truth by the "parliament of sciences" was supposed to produce a sufficient amount of certain truths to guide the life of society. Education for social adjustment, on the one hand, and a critical spirit, on the other hand, were supposed to produce an even higher moral level and social progress from generation to generation. Freedom for personal experiences unrestricted by tradition and dogma was supposed to create common symbols of an ultimate, uniting, and obligatory character. The law of harmony seemed to overcome the dangers of a radical cultural liberalism.
This assumption was not entirely wrong. It was partly justified as long as a strong cultural heritage existed, and with it a natural conformity. On this basis the freedom of every individual for autonomous thought and criticism did not endanger the social unity. But when, with the increase of the social and political contrasts, the ideological harmony disappeared, unrestricted freedom of criticism became disastrous, and authoritarian trends developed. This was the European cultural situation during the years before Hitler came to power.
The picture of western Europe, from Great Britain to Italy, as I saw it in the years 1936 and 1937, was the picture of a complete cultural disintegration, especially in the younger generation. This disintegration expressed itself in four main ways of feeling among most of the younger and many of the older people.
First of all, a feeling of fear or, more exactly, of indefinite anxiety was prevailing. Not only the economic and political, but also the cultural and religious, security seemed to be lost. There was nothing on which one could build; everything was without foundation. A catastrophic breakdown was expected every moment. Consequently, a longing for security was growing in everybody. A freedom that leads to fear and anxiety has lost its value: better authority with security than freedom with fear!
Related to the feeling of insecurity and fear was a general uncertainty. About 1930 a book appeared by the French writer Viennot, Incertitude’s allemands ("German Uncertainties"), in which the German situation before Hitler’s rise to power was described. The title also fitted the situation in France, Belgium, and other countries, as history has shown. The younger generation was tired of making decisions about everything, including their own existence. They could not bear any longer the burden of autonomous thinking and acting. They could not stand any more a life in which nothing was certain. Consequently, they were longing for a certainty to be gained at any price, even the price of a complete heteronomy and subjection under a leader. The situation may become more understandable if we compare it with the method of progressive education in this country. This method has two aspects: the education for adjustment, namely, to the standards and forms of the given society; and within this frame the education for autonomous thinking and discussion. The latter is not dangerous as long as the former is stable; for then even the most critical thought does not transcend the limits of the social conformity to which the pupils are adjusted. But if the given social and intellectual structure disintegrates and the conformity vanishes, the autonomy of the pupil acts within an empty space and cannot reach that amount of certainty without which life is impossible in the long run. This, exactly, was the European attitude.
The third characteristic of the cultural disintegration was loneliness. In the system of harmony the metaphysical solitude of every individual is strongly emphasized by the doctrine that there are "no doors and windows" from one "monad" to the other one. Every single unit is lonely in itself, without any direct communication. The horror of this idea was overcome by the harmonistic presupposition that in every monad the whole world is potentially present and that the development of each individual is in a natural harmony with the development of all the others. This is the most profound metaphysical symbol for the situation in the early periods of bourgeois civilization. It fitted this situation because there was still a common world, in spite of the increasing social atomization. But when the remnants of a common world broke down, the individual was thrown into complete loneliness and the despair connected with it. So the younger generation in all European countries tried to escape this situation, to overcome the solitude of individualism, and to discover a new community. The youth movements, since the beginning of the twentieth century, are the most visible expression of this longing.
The fourth and most basic symptom of the cultural disintegration is the feeling of meaninglessness and the resulting cynicism. Not only the religious symbols of earlier centuries had lost their power of giving a meaning to life, but also the philosophical and political symbols which were supposed to replace them. So everything was missing which could make an absolute claim for surrender and devotion. But youth wants just such a claim. It wants strong, unquestioned, commanding symbols. It looks for religious symbols—and, if it cannot find them, for quasi-religious ones. Otherwise, youth—and not only youth—despairs of any meaning in life. Skepticism and cynicism conquer the spirit and open the hearts for the entrance of "demonic" symbols. He who provides them can easily become a leader, and cynicism is not far from fanaticism.
This was the chance of the Fascist and National Socialist revolutions. The Fascists and National Socialists realized their chance and used it with all possible means. They promised security and certainty and community and a new meaning of life; and they provided all this, though in a demonic and self-destructive way. They sacrificed freedom for security, autonomy for certainty, individuality for community, and personality for an absolute symbol. They fulfilled the longing of a large part of the younger generation. And what have we to offer them?
E. The Religious Situation
The problem of the meaning of life, expressed in uniting powerful symbols of ultimate concern, leads to the question of the religious situation, for being religious means being ultimately concerned. Religion is not exempted from the general trends of theoretical and practical activity. The religious situation was determined by the idea of automatic harmony as much as was the situation in all other spheres. The historical actualization of the idea of harmony in religion is Protestantism. The Protestant protest against the distorted authority, certainty, collectivism, and symbolism of the Roman Catholic church has brought about that kind of religious freedom, autonomy, individualism, and personalism through which the Protestant churches became parts of the modern world. In Luther as well as in Calvin we find the presupposition that the mere hearing or reading of the biblical message would create a religious common sense and that preaching alone is sufficient for the making and maintenance of the Christian church. Wherever the Word is rightly preached, it must create the community of believers. Even this highly idealistic assumption was true for nearly two centuries. A Christian education of more than a thousand years had fashioned the soul of the European nations in such a way that Protestant autonomy did not imperil their spiritual substance. This substance responded spontaneously to evangelical preaching.
But, since the period of the Enlightenment, this substance has slowly been lost, and subsequently the law of harmony ceased to be valid. It was not a catastrophic change, for the enlightened bourgeoisie maintained a rationalized and weakened Christian tradition in order to maintain itself and the social and cultural system in which bourgeois society is rooted. But this "pragmatic" justification of the religious tradition could not prevent its full disintegration and the rise of a complete secularization not only against religion but also of religion itself. In this way the Protestant churches were drawn into the general process of the dissolution of the harmonistic system of the modern world. The question is whether or not this means the end of Protestantism in the sense of the Protestant churches and cultures, as one might conclude from the analysis of the present revolution. There are movements in the Protestant churches toward a better understanding of symbolism, toward ritual reforms, toward the strengthening of the church authorities, toward a new valuation of the sacramental reality, toward a new ecumenical church. Will the Protestant churches be able to undergo such a transformation without losing the Protestant principles on which they are built? What help can the Anglican church—and in a more remote way the Greek Orthodox churches— give in this regard? Is the middle way of the Episcopalian church a new creative way, or is it the way of a compromise, uniting the weaknesses of both sides? These questions are fundamental for the analysis of the "storms of our times" in the religious sphere; and the religious sphere is the most important if we really are living not in a war of national imperialisms but in a war which is the expression of a revolutionary transformation of human existence.
Even in this respect the totalitarian leaders understood the situation; they renewed the old Shintoist emperor-cult, or they created a new pagan creed, or they divided authority and symbols with the Catholic church, or they used the eschatological hope as the dynamic force of the social revolution. They produced quasi-religions; but these quasi-religions became such strong and largely victorious competitors of Christianity and Protestantism that again we must ask: What have we done for the fulfillment of the religious demand in the present world revolution?
The picture of our time is consistent in all realms of life. It does not fit equally all countries and all levels of the population. There are differences in space and time—the most thorough disintegration has taken place in Europe, especially in central Europe; Russia has jumped directly from the feudal form to her type of post-bourgeois structure; America lives still in a happy backwardness; Asia tries to avoid the bourgeois stage as much as possible. But in spite of these differences, the main trend is obvious, and the dynamic forces are visible to everybody.
If the nature of this war is "world revolution," then its aim must be "world reconstruction" in such a way that the causes of this revolution will be overcome. This is true of all the spheres in which the system of harmony has disintegrated, and that means in the totality of our existence. Therefore, two ways of finishing this war must be excluded completely: the return to the situation before the outbreak of the war, the "status quo" solution; and the conditioned acceptance of the plans of the Axis powers, the "compromise" solution.
The status quo solution never is suggested in a pure and unrestricted form. Everybody knows that history never repeats itself, and everybody agrees that some drastic changes must be made, especially in the international realm. But most people believe that amendments of the old structure are sufficient to keep it alive. If this were carried through, the consequences would be the following: in the economic realm, monopoly capitalism would be re-established and the state interferences entirely removed—up to the next crisis. A few dozens of sovereign states would again disrupt the European Continent—up to the next catastrophe. Asia would be brought back under the white rulers—up to a fully developed racial war. Democracy would be superimposed on a heap of ruined, despised, and uprooted groups—up to the appearance of fighting dictator-generals. Freedom would be forced on people who are anxiously longing for security; individualism on people who are desperately in need of community; autonomy on people who need leadership; personalism on masses who are in want of uniting, absolute, and catching symbols. These are the implications of the status quo solution, however cautiously it may be framed. It seems that destiny is wiser than the representatives of this solution. It seems that the radical progress of the revolution itself has made impossible such a world-historical relapse.
It needs no proof that the acceptance of the war aims of the Axis, even in a very restricted form, would mean the destruction of all values and symbols of Christianity and humanism. The compromise solution is no solution but the victory of the other side. But, although there can be no doubt about this, there is a properly justified doubt about the willingness of all groups among the allied nations to resist any compromise with the present leaders of the Axis. This doubt is suggested by the very nature of fascism and national socialism. These movements are carried by people who are the products of the disintegration of all social classes, the workers as well as the ruling classes, the intelligentsia as well as the lower middle classes. Although the lower middle-class group is most important for the fascist ideologies, it is not so important for the dynamism of the movement as has often been assumed. The ideology is taken cynically by a large number of leading National Socialists. But the fact that fascism recruits its supporters from all social levels gives it the possibility of appealing to all of them. How strong this appeal was in many countries is well known; and—in spite of all opposite assurances—it is still strong in many sections of the world and in many individuals all over the world.
There are people in the democratic countries who are inclined to a compromise because they realize that every additional year of warfare removes farther away the chance of a return to the past for the status quo solution. And for them the war is not worth while to be fought and—above all—to be paid for if it really proves to be a revolutionary war. This attitude has received much support because of the entrance of Russia into the war and the fear that she and her ideology may become decisive for the reconstruction of Europe and Asia. There are other people who have realized that the status quo solution has no chance at all. They understand the revolutionary character of this war. But they want to give it a direction which is not greatly different from the Fascist methods and aims. They work for an American or British branch of fascism, without calling it such, without accepting its anti-Christian and antihumanistic propaganda, without revealing their real purposes as frankly as the European dictators do. Anti-Semitic, anti-alien, anti-New Deal, anti-worker propaganda, increasing in this country, is the expression of the American type of fascism. They do not want Hitler’s victory, not at all; but they want their own fascism—if they cannot get the status quo. There are similar trends in Britain, less active today than in America, but by no means nonexistent. For all these people, Hitler and Mussolini are not merely the enemies but, at the same time, in a transformed way, the models. Against both groups—the status quo supporters and the compromisers—the real meaning of this war must be emphasized again and again. Nothing is more perilous for the war effort of the allied nations than the lack of a great and powerful war aim. The general demand for a statement of war aims has brought about the Atlantic Charter, which is more than nothing, but much less than what we need. Its failure to include Asia is sufficient to reduce its value greatly. Many private and official groups are working for a statement about postwar reconstruction. This fact proves the general feeling that the merely negative purpose of winning the war is not sufficient. We won one war and lost the peace disastrously. If those who make the peace, and the public opinion behind them, will not realize the demands following from the causes and nature of this war, then the peace will be lost once more. It is not my task to outline a program of war aims on this occasion as I have done before. The analysis itself has shown the direction in which the postwar reconstruction must be conceived: a planned economy with as much individual spontaneity as possible; a federation of federations of nations without military and economic sovereignty of the member-nations; a centralized state power with democratic correctives; a security which guarantees freedom—freedom from want and fear; an authority which is leadership and not command; a community which overcomes loneliness by a more collectivistic form of life, without sacrificing the meaning and right of the individual; symbols expressing in a convincing and uniting way an ultimate, unconditioned, and demanding concern and giving life meaning for the coming generations. This is the direction in which we have to think and to act; it is the direction in which a program must be sought; but it is not the program itself.
Let me finish with three questions by which our attitude to the meaning of this war can be tested.
When we fight against Japan, do we fight a racial war, a war for the maintenance of European imperialism in Asia, or do we fight for the freedom of Asia also from ourselves?
When we fight on the side of Russia, do we fight on her side because it is useful for us to do so for the time being, but with the intention of excluding her once more from European affairs, or do we acknowledge seriously her right to determine, on an equal basis with the Western nations, the destiny of Europe and Asia?
When we fight in Europe, do we go as punishers, educators, cultural and economic conquerors in order to actualize the ‘‘American century," or do we go in order to help Europe to survive and to be re-established in new forms and for a new future?
The answer to these three questions is important not only for those at home who think about the peace but also for the thinking soldiers who fight the war and want to know for what they are fighting. What hope do we have for a constructive answer to these three questions? How much hope does the situation in Great Britain give us, how much that in America? I cannot answer this question. But what I do know is that if the meaning of this war is not understood and accepted, night will fall over us for generations.
Viewed 190487 times.