LET US turn now to another system of problems in the collectivisation of the world, and that is the preservation of liberty in the socialist state and the restoration of that confidence without which good behaviour is generally impossible.
This destruction of confidence is one of the less clearly recognised evils of the present phase of world-disintegration. In the past there have been periods when whole communities or at least large classes within communities have gone about their business with a general honesty, directness and sense of personal honour. They have taken a keen pride in the quality of their output. They have lived through life on tolerable and tolerant terms with their neighbours. The laws they observed have varied in different countries and periods, but their general nature was to make an orderly law-abiding life possible and natural. They had been taught and they believed and they had every reason to believe: “This (that or the other thing) is right. Do right and nothing, except by some strange exceptional misfortune, can touch you. The Law guarantees you that. Do right and nothing will rob you or frustrate you.”
Nowhere in the world now is there very much of that feeling left, and as it disappears, the behaviour of people degenerates towards a panic scramble, towards cheating, over-reaching, gang organisation, precautionary hoarding, concealment and all the meanness and anti-social feeling which is the natural outcome of insecurity.
Faced with what now amounts to something like a moral stampede, more and more sane men will realise the urgency for a restoration of confidence. The more socialisation proceeds and the more directive authority is concentrated, the more necessary is an efficient protection of individuals from the impatience of well-meaning or narrow-minded or ruthless officials and indeed from all the possible abuses of advantage that are inevitable under such circumstances to our still childishly wicked breed.
In the past the Atlantic world has been particularly successful in expedients for meeting this aspect of human nature. Our characteristic and traditional method may be called the method of the fundamental declaration. Our Western peoples, by a happy instinct, have produced statements of Right, from Magna Carta onwards, to provide a structural defence between the citizen and the necessary growth of central authority.
And plainly the successful organisation of the more universal and penetrating collectivism that is now being forced upon us all, will be frustrated in its most vital aspect unless its organisation is accompanied by the preservative of a new Declaration of the Rights of Man, that must, because of the increasing complexity of the social structure, be more generous, detailed and explicit than any of its predecessors. Such a Declaration must become the common fundamental law of all communities and collectivities assembled under the World Pax. It should be interwoven with the declared war aims of the combatant powers now; it should become the primary fact in any settlement; it should be put before the now combatant states for their approval, their embarrassed silence or their rejection.
In order to be as clear as possible about this, let me submit a draft for your consideration of this proposed Declaration of the Rights of Man—using “man” of course to cover every individual, male or female, of the species. I have endeavoured to bring in everything that is essential and to omit whatever secondary issues can be easily deduced from its general statements. It is a draft for your consideration. Points may have been overlooked and it may contain repetitions and superfluous statements.
“Since a man comes into this world through no fault of his own, since he is manifestly a joint inheritor of the accumulations of the past, and since those accumulations are more than sufficient to justify the claims that are here made for him, it follows:
“No treaty and no law affecting these primary rights shall be binding upon any man or province or administrative division of the community, that has not been made openly, by and with the active or tacit acquiescence of every adult citizen concerned, either given by a direct majority vote of the community affected or through the majority vote of his publicly elected representatives. In matters of collective behaviour it is by the majority decision men must abide. No administration, under a pretext of urgency, convenience or the like, shall be entrusted with powers to create or further define offences or set up by-laws, which will in any way infringe the rights and liberties here asserted. All legislation must be public and definite. No secret treaties shall be binding on individuals, organisations or communities. No orders in council or the like, which extend the application of a law, shall be permitted. There is no source of law but the people, and since life flows on constantly to new citizens, no generation of the people can in whole or in part surrender or delegate the legislative power inherent in mankind.”
There, I think, is something that keener minds than mine may polish into a working Declaration which would in the most effective manner begin that restoration of confidence of which the world stands in need. Much of it might be better phrased, but I think it embodies the general goodwill in mankind from pole to pole. It is certainly what we all want for ourselves. It could be a very potent instrument indeed in the present phase of human affairs. It is necessary and it is acceptable. Incorporate that in your peace treaties and articles of federation, I would say, and you will have a firm foundation, which will continually grow firmer, for the fearless cosmopolitan life of a new world order. You will never get that order without some such document. It is the missing key to endless contemporary difficulties.
And if we, the virtuous democracies, are not fighting for these common human rights, then what in the name of the nobility and gentry, the Crown and the Established Church, the City, The Times and the Army and Navy Club, are we common British peoples fighting for?