No. 74. Summer, 1959
Editor - D. L. ASHTON
Assistant Editor - H. MARCOVITCH
Some time ago a splendid Coronation heralded considerable speculation about the destiny of this country. Hopes soared for new Elizabethan age. The skeleton of empire, for a start, could be dressed up a bit and piously presented as the commonwealth. There was life in the old lion yet, even if American banknotes were doing what British bullets would never attempt again. But the initial enthusiasm soon died down, and the inheritors of Merrie England, made weak by time and fate, returned to their armchair world in front of the television. No-one would be so foolish as to suggest that every spark of creative vitality has been extinguished. It is very easy to find examples of success in science and music, as well as sport and motor-car exports, and the movement called Operation Britain could undoubtedly provide a much longer list. On the other hand, it is clear that many of our people have lost their sense of mission in the world. No common faith unites them. And Andrew Shonfield, an outstanding journalist, speaks in addition of "the constant conspiracy to make-do-and-mend which distinguishes our society. It is part of the cultural atmosphere, as pervasive as damp weather. It appears in the exaggerated anxiety not to put a foot wrong: not to cause trouble." Where is that joyful confidence in the future, accompanied by the "will to achievement" that marks great people? Many kinds of explanation have been offered for our situation. and in the welter of conflicting ideologies to be found to- day, people will seek many different solutions, or none at all. The charlatans abound in the era of megalopolitanism, a closing phase in the decline of the west. Perhaps only a severe crisis will destroy the superficial and brassy lure of canned entertainment and rivet our attention on the genuine thrill of life and the hard struggle that is the lesson of Nature. Man is a social animal. This should mean that he finds greater happiness through social organisation. Society is his creation. But it is becoming his master, especially with the powerful aid that modern technology provides. A man is slowly losing his individual consciousness by contact with the massive powers that see him as a consumer, a voter, a reader or, in some cases, one of the so-many per cent, who do not quite make unemployment serious. For who exerts the principal control in megalopolis? Are not the commanding influences in our society coming increasingly from the small men with money-power rather than the great men with creative ability? But we do not live by bread alone and something more than circuses is needed to sustain us. So many years later, and the wind still has to say "Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road And a thousand lost golf balls." Even this seems unworthy of an age which has, one might say, exchanged belief in God for fear of the hydrogen bomb. Our times do present us with serious problems, and no solution will be found in the make-believe world that commercialism can provide if we permit it: rather, we are presented with a stimulating challenge, and if in fact history can be written best in terms of challenge and response, here is a great opportunity for historic action. Repressed by artificiality of our way of life and the sad heritage of two great wars, young vitality can easily be diverted towards squalid crimes, aimlessness and frustration : such, probably, has been the experience of the much criticised "teddy-boy" movement. Instead of hopelessness, we must strive for mastery. The virtues of Beowulf must be revived in the decade of Admass. Robust gaiety and virility should not be mere accompaniments of our civilisation; they should be the driving force behind fresh achievement. Instead of our way of life being played out in the world, as the final contest of spirit between apathy and cynicism ends with the triumph of apathy, we must surmount the torpor and rise again to the heights. Our people in particular can lead, and in place of the decay forecast by Spengler, soon we will march again with firm tread towards a fresh Springtime for the Twilight Lands.