October 9th 1939
Oct 9th, Monday
So little is happening that there is nothing to record. We have had the Allegro, this is the Andante and a very slow one at that.
Hitler is waiting for the poison of his “peace” speech and his propaganda to work. Unfortunately for him there is not the slightest chance of it doing so.
We are faced with one of those immense paradoxes which help cynics to read hypocrisy into the actions of their fellows. As Lord Dunsany said in a little poem on Sunday, the world’s only hope is war. We, the most peace-loving, least easily roused of nations, who only wish to be left in peace to develop our resources and better the lot of our people, are faced with a choice of two evils, of which, to press the paradox still further, the lesser is the greater, the lesser evil is war.
I almost feel I have been guilty of a volte–face in opinion considering what I once thought concerning the specious arguments, the high-sounding phrases and shibboleths that I suspect were brought into play to dress war up into something attractive and tolerable - and yet though I shall always condemn bloodshed, I could not say honestly that I could condemn the cause for which we are fighting. Nor could I be satisfied with a peace that did not achieve its aims.
Where then does humanity stand? To fight is bestial and degrading, yet it cannot blot out the nobility of dying for a great cause: “Dulce et decorum est”, “Freedom is a noble thing”. Nor is there any doubt that Nazism hurts the souls of all with whom it comes into contact. It is something a good deal worse than death.
Could it be said that this is simply a notion founded upon prejudice and an inability to see the other man’s point of view, one’s wits being dulled by home propaganda? Could one for a moment argue that Nazism and Democracy were two rival theories of life of equal value?
Weighing all the available data without prejudice, one must still decide in favour of a system that allows first and foremost, liberty of the human spirit, is not based upon narrow and ferocious racialism, does not encourage bullying, chauvinism, bribery and cruelty, that allows to its women a position higher than that of breeder of cubs, and finally - and perhaps above all - pays at least some little service to God.
Whatever may be the faults of democracy and democratic nations, and they are many, we have progressed, among other things, beyond exulting over a fallen foe, looting a conquered city, and breaking our word even to our enemies.
I think perhaps then it is the idea that counts, and that extreme and disruptive individualism at a time like this can be another name for selfishness. We are faced again with a paradox, and a dangerous one which might be the corner stone of Fascism - that the individual should be sunk in the whole - except for this conclusion that in our case the individual is sinking his individuality that ultimately he may preserve it. Whereas in totalitarianism it is never recovered once surrendered. Mine would be another application of the words “He that loseth his life shall find it”*.
*Matthew 10: 39