|Politics are meant to open the door to what theology and philosophy decide upon as a code of right behaviour. "This is the good life," says the thinker; "it leads to happiness and to God." "Very well," says the politician, "we must adopt it and extend it for the benefit of all." The assumption here is that the thinker is a Christian moralist, and the politician is an honest man. It is a bold assumption.
That politics have gone off the Christian standard is all too evident. In fact, having slid away from the ethics of the Gospel, politics now excuse themselves from observing any sort of ethics at all. At one time morality was not a private duty as it is now: it was a public standard. Public and private affairs were integrated; there was a unity. Today there is no such reflex check-up: whatever people do in their own houses as regards social relations is their affair; politics, whether national or international, are run on a basis of expediency.
Religion, for example, may not enter into the questions of public policy.
"It isn't the slightest use applying evangelical principles in our dealings with those who are opposed to us," says the politician, "we wouldn't be understood."
And the awful part of it is that this is true.
Once one side refuses to play, all the others begin to cheat. What used to be at least a recognition of the spiritual realities has been replaced by exclusively material considerations. The only things which count for anything in international relations are power and threat and bribe. The idea of trust between nations is laughable.
Children growing up in the modern world may be excused if they imagine that patriotism's finest expression is the savage bravery of the hater.
For them diplomacy is nothing more than the ability to outwit an opposite number by underhand means. Eventually it must come to this, that a nation's well-being is assessed by the degree to which it has been able to eliminate its rivals, whether in trade or in the field. It is the ugly story of the master race, the Herrenvolk.