Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 108

London Letter
Dear Editors:
18 Dorset Chambers
Chagford Street
Ivor Place
London NW
As I am writing this letter in answer to a privately-addressed one o£
your own, perhaps I had better start by quoting what you said, so as to
make clear what questions I am trying to answer:
"There are things the news reports do not tell us. For instance, what's
happening under the surface in the way of politics? Among the labor
groups? What is the general mood, if there is such a thing, among writers,
artists and intellectuals? What transmutations have their lives and their
preoccupations suffered?"
Well, as to the political situation, I think it is true to say -that at the
moment we are in the middle of a backwash which is not going to make
very much ultimate difference. The reactionaries, which means roughly
the people who read the
had a bad scare in the summer, but they
saved themselves by the skin of their teeth, and they are now consolidating
their position against the new crisis which is likely to arise in the spring.
In the summer what amounted to a revolutionary situation existed in Eng·
land, though there was no one to take advantage of it. After twenty years
of being fed on sugar and water the nation had suddenly realised what its
rulers were like, and there was a widespread readiness for sweeping eco·
nomic and social changes, combined with absolute determination to pre·
vent invasion. At that moment, I believe, the opportunity existed to isolate
the monied class and swing the mass of the nation behind a policy in
which resistance to Hitler and destruction of class-privilege were combined.
Clement Greenberg's remark in his article in
that the working
class is the only class in England that seriously means to defeat Hitler,
seems to me quite untrue. The bulk of the middle class are just as anti·
Hitler as the working class, and their morale is probably more reliable.
The fact which Socialists, especially when they are looking at the English
scene from the outside, seldom seem to me to grasp, is that the patriotism
of the middle classes is a thing to be made use of. The people who stand to
attention during "God Save the King" would readily transfer their loyalty
to a Socialist regime, if they were handled with the minimum of tact.
However, in the summer months no one saw the opportunity, the Labour
leaders (with the possible exception of Bevin) allowed themselves to
made the tame cats of the Government, and when the invasion failed to
come off and the air raids were less terrible than everyone had expected,
the quasi-revolutionarv mood ebbed away. At present the Right are coun·
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