In view of the claim of modern Communists to possess an interpretation of reality and of history which makes them infallible guides to the processes of social change, and in view of Communism’s avowed purpose of supplanting all existing political and social forms, thinking persons are perplexed by the term peaceful coexistence as currently employed by the Soviet masters. The hopeful seize upon Mr. Khrushchev’s reiteration of the term as evidencing a possible alteration of the fundamental strategy of the Communist world. Can it be, some inquire, that the men of the Kremlin have “seen the light” and have turned from dogmatism to pragmatism, from their iron-clad and doctrinaire doctrine of the inevitable destruction of Western civilization by Marxist conquest to something approaching, at least, the procedures of fair competition and of international behavior based upon some form of mutually accepted rules?

Much is at stake—more than most persons in the West realize. It is therefore prudent to take a long, searching look at the term “peaceful coexistence” to see, first, what it indicates about Soviet planning for international strategy, and second, what if any implications it has for the Christian man and woman in the free world.

The term “peace” means, it goes without saying, something vastly different to the Communist verbalizer than it means to us. Stripped of its supporting verbiage, it indicates an absence of opposition to the expansionist aims of the U.S.S.R. from without, and of course the suppression of any resistance to the mandates of the regime from within the Soviet super-state.

Running through the speeches of Nikita Khrushchev is the theme that while war on a worldwide scale is now unthinkable (since it would mean, at a minimum, the incineration of his great heartland), the Soviet masters reserve the right to foment, foster, and support “wars of national liberation.” This means, in blunt terms, that any internal uprising in any land outside the Red Empire will receive not only encouragement, but every possible form of assistance from Moscow. In effect, it means that wide-scale war (certainly abhorrent to all of us!) is to be eliminated on pragmatic (as opposed to humane) grounds, so as to offer an unlimited opportunity for Soviet subversion in the part of the world which is presently free.

Seen from this angle, “peace” means the absence of forms of war which are inimical to the present, pragmatic interests of the Soviet Union. In other words, times of relative freedom from armed conflict afford, in the judgment of the masters of the Kremlin, an optimum set of factors within which war can be waged at other levels. This is the lesson which we ought to learn from the semantic juggling of the word “peace”—that to the Communist masters, no proximate peace is peace at all.

We forget all too easily that the Communist leaders of today seek to exploit every factor for their own advantage. Diplomacy is not utilized as a means to effecting compromises for the sake of achieving justice. Rather, the Soviet masters mold it into an instrument by which cheap conquests are made, and by which maps are redrawn in such a manner as to extend Communist hegemony and/or secure the imperialist and expansionist interests of the super-state. The monolithic control by the state of the raw materials, the labor potential, the means of production, and the means of distribution enables this system to lend itself to the most systematic and ruthless forms of commercial warfare. Trade becomes a weapon by which manufactured goods from within the Soviet state can be priced abroad, not with respect to their intrinsic value, but with a view to demoralizing the economies of other nations. It goes without saying that patents and copyrights are infringed with a high hand, with no thought of observation of civilized codes concerning royalties.

More could be said along these lines; but the prudent do well to realize that by “peaceful coexistence” the masters of the Kremlin do not envision any form of civilized competition with the free world upon the basis of recognized and stated ground rules. Any talk of respecting the usages of other nations, or of allowing to their systems anything more than a de facto and temporary legitimacy, means no more than Stalin’s verbal tribute to the “self-determination of peoples” at the peace tables following World War II.

It is fashionable in some quarters to suggest that any person who speaks or writes in such a fashion with respect to the Communist world is a member of “the radical right” or to regard him as a hopeless conservative. While we deplore the excesses of some forms of rightist protest, we hold that there is a proper regard for the lessons of the past; certainly a perusal of the lessons which the Communist world has handed the West yields some shocking data. And as Santayana once wrote, “He who will not learn from the past, will have to re-live it.”

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In the light of the foregoing, it may be noted that the Christian man and the Christian church may well derive some lessons from the current use of the term “peaceful coexistence.” Two deserve brief mention in closing. First, it may be well to be on guard against any romantic notions of the “freedom” of the Church within the U.S.S.R. If the past has any word for the present at this point, it is that the Russian church would not be permitted to participate in the councils of world Christianity until the masters of the Kremlin felt it “safe.”

Second, it is inconceivable that any ecclesiastical delegation which speaks for “from 30 to 50 million Christians in Russia” will permit any world ecclesiastical body to be prophetic where the subversion of free nations is concerned. It should be borne steadily in our minds that the Russian church is permitted to be “prophetic” in one point only, that of “peace.” It cannot be shrugged off as irrelevant that it is precisely this point which is the cutting edge of the “velvet glove” phase of Soviet imperialism.

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