Red China And World Morality

In the area of international relations, the greatest political and moral problem facing the American public is posed by the demand by interested parties that the United States grant formal recognition to Red China. The General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted a resolution not to consider during the current session proposals to seat Red China or to exclude Nationalist China. But the question of communist China in relation to the United Nations cannot be permanently evaded, and reflection on this theme is therefore timely and necessary. At stake is not merely an issue of politics and expediency but a moral and legal question.

The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China is the de facto regime of that country. But such existence does not prove it worthy of recognition. On sound principles of international law the American government rightly holds that while Red China, or any other state, can exist independent of recognition, none is a member of the family of nations until recognition has been granted.

Each state determines for itself the principles upon which it will grant recognition. A glance into history shows that Russia did not recognize the new American republic until 1809, thirty-three years after the United States came into existence. The Russian delay during years when this new little government needed friends was due to disfavor for our democratic system of government.


Communist governments today would have the world believe that recognition is the intrinsic right of every government. To the United States, recognition of a foreign government is more than a formality acknowledging the physical and political existence of a given foreign government. Recognition certifies moral as well as political acceptance and approbation. American presidents and secretaries of state have spoken clearly and cogently on this moral and legal basis for recognition. In 1919 President Wilson declared that

in the view of this government there can not be any common ground upon which it can stand with a Power whose conceptions of international relations are so entirely alien to its own, so utterly repugnant to its moral sense. There can be no mutual confidence or trust, no respect even, if pledges are to be given and agreements made with a cynical repudiation of their obligations already in the mind of one of the parties. We cannot recognize, hold relations with or give friendly reception to the agents of a government which is determined and bound to conspire against our institutions, whose diplomats will be the agitators of dangerous revolt, whose spokesmen say they sign agreements with no intention of keeping them.

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President Coolidge stated in his message to Congress on December 6, 1923, that

Our government does not propose … to enter into relations with another regime which refuses to recognize the sanctity of international obligations. I do not propose to barter away for the privilege of trade any of the cherished rights of humanity. I do not propose to make merchandise of any American principles. These rights and principles must go wherever the sanctions of our government go.

In a letter to the late Samuel Gompers, then President of the American Federation of Labor, Secretary of State Hughes expressed his views:

Recognition is an invitation to intercourse. It is accompanied on the part of the new government by the clearly implied or expressed promise to fulfill the obligations of intercourse. These obligations include, among other things, the protection of the persons and property of the citizens of one country lawfully pursuing their business in the territory of the other, and abstention from hostile propaganda by one country in the territory of the other. In the case of the existing regime in Russia, there has not only been the tyrannical procedure to which you refer and which has caused the question of the submission or acquiescence of the Russian people to remain an open one but also a repudiation of the obligations inherent in international intercourse and a defiance of the principles upon which alone it can be conducted.

Thus the American definition makes good faith and faithfulness in the performance of international obligations equally as important as the fact of political existence. That position is defensible on sound moral principles, however expediency may scorn it. But principle always prevails over expediency in the long run.


America’s earlier recognition of the Soviet regime in Russia should warn us that nothing is gained by recognizing a communist government. Presidents Wilson, Coolidge, and Hoover had maintained, correctly, that the unwillingness of the Soviet Union to fulfill its obligations constituted valid reason for withholding recognition. In his fascination for “good old Joe,” however, President Roosevelt recognized the USSR, which gave solemn promises to desist from further communistic propaganda designed to overthrow the United States government. These pledges were broken as soon as they were made. In return for all the advantages afforded by recognition, the Soviet government gave the Roosevelt administration only vague and vain promises.

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The record to date shows that the Soviet government has kept 4 out of 1052 sacred obligations it has assumed in treaties with other governments.

That record must not be forgotten when the recognition of Communist China or any communist regime comes under consideration. Recognition of the USSR is a fait accompli, and it has brought only bitter frustration and disillusionment to the American people. The same is true elsewhere.


Communism is intrinsically atheistic. Since an atheist recognizes no fixed principles of morality, one cannot have confidence in his word, integrity or intentions. Promises and pledges, however solemnly stated in international treaties, are suspended on something other than unchanging moral principles.

It is wishful thinking that recognition of Red China will eliminate the bamboo curtain and bring morality and a sense of honor to its communist government. No prophecy could be falser. Reflect upon the sobering words of Secretary Kellogg on April 14, 1928:

The experiences of various European governments which have recognized and entered into relations with the Soviet regime have demonstrated conclusively the wisdom of the policy to which the Government of the United States has consistently adhered. Recognition of the Soviet regime has not brought about any cessation of interference by the Bolshevik leaders in the internal affairs of any recognizing country, nor has it led to the acceptance by them of other fundamental obligations of international intercourse … Certain European states have endeavored by entering into discussions with representatives of the Soviet regime to reach a settlement of outstanding differences on the basis of accepted international practices. Such conferences and discussions have been entirely fruitless.

No state has been able to obtain the payment of debts contracted by Russia under the preceding governments or the indemnification of its citizens for confiscated property. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the granting of recognition and the holding of discussions have served only to encourage the present rulers of Russia in the policy of repudiation and confiscation as well as in their hope that it is possible to establish a working basis, accepted by other nations, whereby they can continue their war on the existing political and social order in other countries.…

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No result beneficial to the people of the United States or indeed to the people of Russia would be attained by entering into relations with the present regime in Russia so long as the present rulers of Russia have not abandoned these avowed aims and known purposes which are inconsistent with international friendship.…

How reads the record of Red China? It has flagrantly violated the basic rights of humanity and flaunted the standards of international law and comity. It has denied the legitimate rights of American citizens—business men, educators, missionaries—and has caused them to leave property and posts of duty, or has imprisoned them on charges palpably false. Contrary to the provisions of international law, it has held prisoners of war (both Japanese and American) for indefinite periods.

In Korea, the Chinese Communist government perpetrated open aggression by entering the conflict there. It was declared by the United Nations to be an aggressor. This Chinese aggression resulted in 140,000 American casualties, including 35,000 dead. It has perpetuated the division of Korea and has defiantly refused to abide by the terms of the truce agreement. Violations of the truce, by the increase of Chinese troops and air force, are well documented.

Red China continues its propaganda for the invasion of Formosa.

Moreover, it encourages subversion, insurrection and rebellion throughout southeast Asia. The Red Chinese claim the right of recognition by the United States and other governments, and therefore of entrance into the United Nations, despite the fact that they have deliberately and continually flaunted the principles of the UN charter, and that they sought to repudiate the United Nations at the Geneva Conference in 1954.

Our refusal to recognize the Red regime of China and therefore to permit its entry into the United Nations is the greatest factor in international morality today. The United Nations is based on moral forces. President Eisenhower reminded the American people, and the world as well, on July 7, 1954, that this government opposes the admission of Red China because of its continued international injustice and inequity. Nothing in the conduct of Red China, either internally nor internationally, remotely approximates the standards set forth in the Charter of the UNO.


Recognition of the present regime in China would have disastrous results. It would favor our foes and fail our consistent friends, the Nationalist government of Free China. It would startle and frighten millions of Asiatics who are in the balance between the slave areas of the Soviet and the free world and very likely drive them to counsels of despair. It would destroy the will to resist on the part of those millions within China who long for release and who look to America for moral support at very least.

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Recognition of a government need not imply approval of all its past acts. But while that government vaunts its vices and defends its injustices as moral, a moral nation can confer recognition upon it only by separating politics from ethics and thus losing its own moral courage and earnestness. Recognition would imply approval of Chinese aggression in Korea, hallowed to Americans by the sacrifice made there by our armed forces, and it would betray the trust of our heroic dead. It would lend support to the thesis that international organizations and international law are merely figments of fancy, by embracing those who prate that might alone makes right. Recognition would approbate the blood purges of the Chinese people, estimated conservatively by our Department of State as at least fifteen million deaths. Furthermore, it would approve subversion in Viet Nam, Malaya, Thailand and Indonesia. Likewise it would overlook international curtains—iron, bamboo and other types—with their slave labor camps, bondage and bloodshed.


Recognition would mean the triumph of cruel and cunning men who are plotting the destruction of human liberties everywhere. It would grant comfort and prestige to communists, and betray the dignity of free men.

Mongol tyrants of old like Ghengis Khan or Tamerlane were benevolent and moderate despots in contrast with the men of the Kremlin or Mao Tse Tung.

We respect the principles and practice of international law, and respect international government based on the principles of law and human welfare; but the communists recognize no law nor organization superior to their own nefarious program. The communists chant constant contumely against western “imperialists.” All the while, the world has never seen such colonialism as has appeared in Soviet satellites since the second world war. The American policy, meanwhile, has been consistently one of preparing a national entity for independence, in Cuba and in the Philippines.

Meeting the standards of admittance into the family of nations is a responsibility of the Chinese government itself. Recognition by others is not needed by the Chinese to set their own house in order. That principle was admirably stated by Secretary Hughes in 1923 when the USSR stated its desire to establish relations with the United States:

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If the Soviet authorities are ready to restore the confiscated property of American citizens or make effective compensation, they can do so. If the Soviet authorities are ready to repeal their decree repudiating Russia’s obligations to this country and appropriately recognize them, they can do so. It requires no conference or negotiations to accomplish these results, which can and should be achieved at Moscow as evidence of good faith.


If Red China desires to deserve attention and confidence on the part of other nations, it can begin to show genuine good will and good faith. It can tear down its curtain of bamboo. It can banish its leaders who have subverted the cause of freedom. It can disavow its communistic brutality and bloodthirstiness and make the people of China free. It can acknowledge and make recompense for aggression in Korea, and can be honest and sincere in its dealings with other states. No recognition is needed to achieve these requirements. The burden of proof is on Red China, not on the rest of the world. Theirs is the problem of morality, national and international; and their successful solution of that problem alone can help dissolve their international difficulties. Then we can say of Red China as President Coolidge did of Soviet Russia:

… whenever the active spirit of enmity to our institutions is abated; whenever there appear works meet for repentance; our country ought to be the first to go to the economic and moral rescue of Russia. We have every desire to help and no desire to injure. We hope the time is near when we can act.

The Church’s One Way To Revitalize Christmas

The public celebration of Christmas raises deep concern in the Christian Church. Although instituted to commemorate the birth of Christ, Christmas has become an occasion for inexcusable excesses. Blatant commercialism has captured the season for unholy gains. Drunken orgies at office and home ascribe the day more fittingly to Bacchus, the god of wine. Santa Claus takes prominence over Christ as the process of secularization captures the day once dedicated to worship of the King of kings.

Efforts of the Church to counteract this wanton perversion are pitifully weak and inadequate. Gratefully the Church accepts an invitation from the Chamber of Commerce to display a religious float in the Christmas parade. She hopefully initiates slogans to keep Christ in Christmas. Her community caroling seeks to drown out the huckster’s clamor. She scolds and admonishes. Yet the Church’s effort to revitalize Christmas makes little impact on contemporary society. The spirit of the shepherds and the Magi does not pervade the present generation.

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History vividly reveals the only adequate course by which the Church can restore true significance to Christmas. She must become engrossed with the nature of Christ and the Incarnation with the same passion evident in the life of fourth-century Christianity. The preoccupation of that age with the deity of Christ gave birth to the Christmas festival.

Previous to the fourth century the Church paid scant attention to the birth of Christ. The death and resurrection of the Lord engrossed the minds and hearts of the early believers. Their attention was deeply fixed on the wonder of the Atonement and the glory of the Resurrection. Thus, Good Friday and Easter were the prominent events of the Church year.

The fourth century witnessed a change in emphasis. Controversy concerning the nature of Christ focused attention on the Incarnation. Whether Christ was begotten or unbegotten, whether he was a finite creature or the eternal Creator, was hotly debated in the church and the market place. The controversy shook both Church and Empire. The first ecumenical council at Nicea (A.D. 325) rightly declared that Jesus Christ is very God of very God, of one substance with the Father and begotten of the Father from eternity.

The wonder of the glorious nature of Christ and the mystery of the Incarnation awakened a strong desire to praise and worship God and his Christ on a special day. Not altogether inappropriate was the choice of December 25, which was dedicated in the pagan Roman Empire to the worship of the sun. Homage to the natural sun was superseded by homage to the Sun of Righteousness. The Christian holy day supplanted the pagan holiday.

Only as the Church recognizes and proclaims with fervor that Jesus Christ is very God of very God, of one substance with the Father and begotten of the Father from eternity, will Christmas be revitalized. Only as men are awed by the majesty and glory of Christ will they bow down in adoration and reverence. The human Jesus created by Liberalism in the past several generations arouses no worship in the hearts of men. He has no power to draw men away from baubles and tinsel. That power is exercised only by the eternal Son of God, the Lord of glory, the King of kings.

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Christian Criticism and Labor’s Big Stick

The Christian conscience must constantly bring the social order under prophetic judgment and Christian criticism. Big Business and Big Labor (and Little Business and Little Labor), and Big Government also, must be judged by spiritual and moral priorities.

For several generations, Management has been the major target of economic criticism. One would indeed be blind to fact to deny that the secular spirit, so prevalent in the twentieth century, found a ready expression in the sphere of Big Business. Devotion to the almighty dollar involved Management in evils. Economic injustices invaded the world of work. From them, the worker was properly set free, and the labor movement was an active force in securing some of these reforms.

Between 1900 and 1950 the impression was fostered by some that Big Business is greedy, corrupt, and immoral. Part of this impression was justified, part was the result of skillful propaganda against Big Business. Incessant publicity for some notorious acts of labor exploitation gave wide propaganda force to the notion that Management and greed are identical. But the arbitrary dogma that Capitalism is intrinsically wicked really had roots deeper than these graphic examples of injustice to employees. It was, in fact, vigorously propagandized by the supporters of Communism and Socialism alike. Among them were some of the most influential clergymen and divinity professors of the Western world. They gave organized labor credit for the cure of economic evils, but they quite disregarded the role of the growth of capital, which also made possible greater production with a margin for more leisure and cultural development. Labor was romanticized, Management depreciated. Walter Rauschenbush seems virtually alone to have reflected that the day might come when Labor, rather than Management, would need to be made the primary subject of economic criticism.

The emergence of Big Labor now forces the question whether in the present decade priority in prophetic judgment and Christian criticism should not be toward organized labor.

The fact that Big Labor readily exploited the 15 million members of the merged AFL-CIO as a political force, projecting a four-million-dollar campaign, qualifying or disqualifying candidates for the leading public offices, and perpetuating the myth of a fixed “labor class” distinguishable from the rest of American society, disturbs many leaders with an eye on the unity of national life. There is a growing feeling that Labor seeks coercive power over the citizenry as a whole, demanding and getting from government special privileges and hence unfair advantage because of its size as a pressure group.

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The added fact that Big Labor has provided a framework for the economic as well as the political exploitation of the working man is a further concern. Some labor leaders popularized the use of adjectives like “corrupt” and “greedy” applied to Big Business, until the two became virtually synonymous to the unreflective worker. But the deployment of union welfare funds for private purposes (in which case money collected by the unions for benevolent purposes was grossly misused) and the continued association of racketeering and violence with the framework of organized labor ought to shake public faith in the notion that Big Labor is exempt from human depravity.

Christian interpretation must bring the social order under virile Christian criticism. The Old and the New Testaments contain passages of economic criticism so virile that nothing in the writings of Karl Marx surpasses them in power. Big Business and Big Labor alike, and the small businessman and individual worker also, must be judged by the abiding principles of the Christian revelation.

Not every criticism of Management, and not every criticism of Labor, is Christian in temper and content. The criticism that flows from the Russian collectivists has too often, even in Christian circles, been artificially equated with the criticism which flows from the Hebrew prophets and the Christian apostles. The literature of the Manifesto and the literature of the Bible both address a message of economic criticism to our day, but one does so from a pagan standpoint, the other from a theistic standpoint.

Doubtless the most provocative article in the current issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY is that by Kermit Eby. One reason it is significant is that its trenchant criticisms of the labor movement come from the former research and educational director of the CIO.

We are not here concerned with the secondary thrust of the article, except by way of passing comment. In some of the minor emphases we heartily concur, e.g., that preparation for war is not necessary to maintain prosperity, and that spending for roads and other civilian needs would stimulate the economy as fully as does the armament industry. Some we might venture to debate, e.g., that all mass media today make light of increasing debt and advocate spending as the road to prosperity. From some we dissent, e.g., the plea for more foreign economic aid and for expanded welfare programs at home. Such programs have not been free of a coercive element, with relatively few people deciding what others should pay.

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But the criticism Dr. Eby neglects to make, as well as the direction taken by those he ventures, reminds us that even a glass-top desk has two sides. And the side Dr. Eby overlooks needs now to be considered.

It may well be that labor unions have themselves been corrupted by some of the very evils they set out to banish from the economic world. We have suggested that the misuse of power and the selfish utilization of the individual worker provide conspicuous examples. Moreover, American labor is more and more so preoccupied with the single objectives of economic gain that it loses its ability to reply critically from within the sphere of work to the Communist thesis that all our problems are basically economic. But such criticisms of Big Labor are not the whole. The theme of Labor in its relation to the “mores” of modern society has deeper facets than this.

One of the dominant structures of the society of the post-Christian West is a capitalistic economy. Instead of absorbing the “mores” of Capitalism, and protesting only against its seamy side, the “reforms” at which the labor unions aimed encompassed the destruction of Capitalism, and in many respects continue to do so.

And at this point Christian criticism cannot keep silence. For, even if influential Protestant clergymen during the past generation tried to make collectivism out to be Christian, and Capitalism Satanic, they were false prophets. By their proclamations they revealed that they misunderstood Christianity, and that their devotion to the writings of Marx ran deeper than their fidelity to the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures. For Capitalism is biblical; it is particularly Protestant and Calvinistic. And a genuinely Christian critique of Labor must hope that the unions will absorb more of the capitalistic “mores.”

Not that Professor Eby’s criticisms are not often much to the point. The contempt for good music and the longing for violence, the profanity characteristic of some unions, the gulf between union leaders and union workers, the bureaucratic disposition to regiment the thinking and voting of the workers and to muffle opposition, the hunger for political power, the exaltation of economic gain above other considerations—these accusations need to be leveled. But the criticism needs to go much deeper. The most dangerous thrust in the modern labor movement is its ambiguous relationship to a capitalistic economy, and its constant support of programs that lead in the collectivistic direction. And it is with this feature of Big Labor that Professor Eby does not come to grips.

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We are not charging that labor leaders, or workers, carry communist cards. If the definition of a communist is one who “carries a party card,” organized labor may well be free of a single member. But if sympathy for collectivism is to be measured by economic ideals and programs, the situation is quite different. And it should be clear enough why no congressional investigation is launched at this level. For the constant modification and weakening of capitalistic “mores” is an activity which both major political parties have shared with organized labor.

Professor Eby himself seems to share this revisionist stance. For a capitalistic economy may, and ought to, criticize an inordinate self-interest. But when Professor Eby argues that the nature of private interest is such that it cannot concern itself with the public interest, he seems to take the collectivist line, and apparently serves notice that his conflict with organized labor involves merely an intramural debate.

The Ten Commandments as a Religious Epic

The Ten Commandments is the twentieth century’s religious movie epic. The theatrical world is not likely to duplicate the grandeur of Cecil B. DeMille’s big scenes, nor the 13½-million dollar investment that escorts Israel safely through the Red Sea while deluging box offices with viewers.

Few can watch this screen spectacular for three and one half hours (a short depiction would be unworthy of the theme) without imbibing a deep sense of God’s restless righteousness in history, shaping the destinies of men and nations, and also an admiration of Moses his servant. Not only do the Egyptian plagues of Egypt and Israel’s rescue mirror God’s power; they become credible in view of his divine purpose. The modern spirit must be strangely stirred by this stupendous panorama.

Viewed as a religious achievement of the cinematic world, the film transcends the tawdry values intriguing to modern moviegoers, preoccupied with life’s secondaries. The producer of King of Kings had already showed an industry lusting after false gods, and neglectful of the spirit, its higher responsibility.

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The Ten Commandments is no simon-pure biblical dramatization, however. It is flashy and often fleshy in its handling of the sacred story. This fleshy flank has even raised a question over the film’s propriety, since it adds to the Bible narrative a physical accent disturbing to some sensitive consciences. In filling in the “thirty silent years” of Moses’ life, the film needlessly detours into the legendary, enlarging on the erotic experiences of life and somewhat indulging a prominent interest in sex.

Virtually alone Time Magazine (Nov. 12), in contrast to the unqualified plaudits of leading churchmen, pictured the film as “in some respects perhaps the most vulgar movie ever made,” throwing “sex and sand into the moviegoer’s eyes for almost twice as long as anyone else has ever dared.” “The fine line between bad taste and sacrilege,” Time implies, is obscured in a professedly Bible epic whose “numerous, nubile and explicitly photographed” dancing girls at times flirt with the seventh commandment. Yet it must be remembered that the sensuous worship of the golden calf even by the Israelites is historically accurate. And it would be difficult to find a segment in the film which caters to the lustful look, even if chastity might now and then have been more carefully guarded (a notching down of the sex aspects would hardly have weakened the power of the film). Some scenes, moreover, refreshingly raise the concern for sex purity to a devout desire to avoid shame in the Lord’s eyes.

The important question, does the film convict the conscience?, requires a complex answer. Surely it casts its weight against the sins of idolatry and of ingratitude, and contrasts the ruthless totalitarian disregard of the worth of the individual with the biblical view of man as a bearer of the image of God. Yet the approach to the theme of liberty and bondage is one-sidedly modern rather than biblical. Inseparable though these themes be, it unjustifiably stresses political freedom from earthly tyrants above the freedom to worship the true and living God. The great themes of worship, prayer and sacrifice are marginal to the film. Indeed, the only significant reference to Hebrew sacrifice, the passover blood on the doorposts, ascribes the edict dooming the firstborn not to Jehovah but to the Egyptian Pharaoh (reflecting an uneasy view of the wrath of God). The handling of the Decalogue neglects the supreme fact that the Law is a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ.

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This neglect arises from a failure to grasp the standpoint of divine grace. The film omits the Gospel, integral to the Old Testament as to the New. The Decalogue was no code for salvation by works; it was a rule of life published by the Redeemer-God.

Hollywood could hardly be expected to turn history back to a real meeting with God in Egypt and Sinai. Yet every dramatization of the sacred necessarily raises a question of personalities as well as of props. Doubtless Charlton Heston as Moses and the other film stars carry their roles with dignity and reverence. Heston, who spent three and a half hours daily in makeup and make-ready, reportedly is no drinker, and abandoned smoking because he “couldn’t, and be Moses.” This premium on externals is reflective not alone of The Ten Commandments, but is the real tragedy of modern culture. It is more difficult to be Moses than Hollywood thinks, and God’s commandments run deeper than it knows. Morality as an outward mask gave Christ an occasion to liken the Pharisees to play-actors. A culture in which the arts merely reflect the truth, rather than incarnate it, knows the form of true religion without its power. Jehovah wrote commandments on stone, so they could not be erased; he purposes to write them on the human heart. Hollywood has inscribed them on celluloid and sound tape, somewhat more brittle and breakable. When God speaks with a Hollywood accent, it is somehow easier to swarm the box office than to storm the altars of repentance.

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