Poland, Bridge for the Abyss? An Interpretation of Developments in Post-War Poland


Peaceful coexistence of two rival ideologies can take two forms. In one the ideologies exist side by side in the world without resort to physical violence. This may be described as static coexistence. In the other the rival ideologies and their protagonists may combine the advantages of respite from physical violence with progressive mutual understanding, perhaps also with a gradual approach to each other's points of view. This may be described as progressive coexistence.

At present, unfortunately, peaceful coexistence between the Western and Communist groups of States partakes very much more of the static than of the progressive form. There is widespread doubt, especially among politicians and officials, as to the feasibility or indeed the desirability of attempting a more dynamic approach.

Certain weaknesses are common to both Western and Communist peoples. There is the usual tendency to think oneself right and one's rival wrong: this is accentuated by widely differing religious, philosophical, and 'scientific' convictions. There is perhaps an even more dangerous tendency, due largely to ignorance and intellectual laziness, to oversimplify a highly complex issue. It is much less trouble to accept the assertions of the professional over-simplifiers, that is, propagandists and the popular press, and assume that our opponents are black and we are white than to undertake a strenuous exercise in self-criticism and the study of the other side's point of view, which may well lead, in some cases, to the conclusion that both are different shades of grey. Men do not usually hate, though they may disapprove, what they understand. But the process of understanding is often difficult and requires great mental effort. So too frequently they adopt the simpler course, accept the existence of a legitimate object of hatred or dislike, and thus set up an emotional barrier to mutual understanding.

To these common failings must be added certain attitudes of mind peculiar to each side. The chief weaknesses of the . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1963


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