A Democratic Manifesto

By Emery Reves
THIS book is at once stimulating and irritating. It is stimulating because it lays bare, in a keen and pungent style, many of the shams and hypocrisies of our time, because the author sees clearly some of the dilemmas of the present crisis in the history of civilization. It is irritating because Mr. Reves often fails to think through the practicality of some of the remedies he advocates. He makes an important point when he emphasizes the basic contradiction between the nationalism which has proved such a strong force in modern society, and the growth of science and technology which gives to world economy a more universal character. As he says, a fast airplane can fly across the Atlantic in seven hours. But frequently one must wait seven months for a visa. He is also correct in pointing out that international law has ceased to exist and that there is little prospect of peace without some generally recognized mandatory law. Some of his concrete proposals, however, raise more questions than they answer. He sets great store by the idea of denying democratic liberties, freedom of speech, press, assembly, and so on, to those groups and individuals that are opposed to democracy. But a totalitarian demagogue, confronted with such legislation, could profess to be allout for “true” freedom and democracy. Mr. Reves does not make it very clear how his desired rule of law in international affairs would operate; and his idea that “the democratic nations must become imbued with the dynamic spirit of attack and conquest,” while it may be sound enough militarily, raises the awkward question whether one can shoot people into being democrats and liberals. W. H. C.