THOSE who gloomily accept the hypothesis that the forces of the Russian Empire have won a victory in Czechoslovakia might to do worse than ask themselves of what in fact their victory consists ? They might do worse too than seek to define in what way they suppose the Czechoslovak peoples have been defeated.

It is true that for the time being the occupation forces have deprived the legal government of some of its freedom of manoeuvre, and it is true that there may even now be some ugly things in store for the Czechoslovak peoples. These are immediate and painful matters which cannot be gainsaid or glossed over, which should indeed be acknowledged frankly as a step to giving the people of Czechoslovakia whatever help may be in our power.

Yet on the wider stage, where the destiny of peoples and their beliefs is determined, it is possible to assert that the peoples of Czechoslovakia have won a resounding victory and that they have inflicted on their oppressors a no less resounding defeat. The victory is not of course, a total one; it is indeed of the essence of non-violent resistance that victories shall be partial. Total victory is a totalitarian concept and as such alien to the spirit of non-violence.

The nature of the defeat is unmistakable; for generations some of the boldest and most generous of humankind have believed that only under marxist communism can man end the evil of poverty and create a new order of social justice. The Russian leaders, already confronted with a worldwide retreat from this creed to which they give so much lip service, have at one stroke transformed that retreat into a rout. It is an awareness of this disaster which has led so many communist parties not in power, and still subject to nominally free electoral processes, to condemn the Russian invasion out of hand. They are, of course, too late, and each of them must be aware that the question uppermost in any politically literate person's mind as he surveys them is, how differently if at all, would they behave if they enjoyed power and were confronted by a similar clash of power interest and principle.

The bearing of the Czechoslovak peoples has had all the attributes that enable non-violent forms of power to be deployed with the most immediate and practical effect. It would have been so very easy, and the outside world would soon have come to accept the consequent carnage and suffering as a normal part of life in the age of progress, for the Czechoslovaks to have sought to resist with guns, and that the suicidal temptation to do so was so firmly rejected is something for which mankind as a whole must be deeply indebted to Mr. Dubceck and his countrymen. Confronted with the harrowing reality of Russian armour in their streets the people maintained an astonishing degree of unity, consistency of purpose and courage, and they demonstrated to an incredulous invader and a no less incredulous world, that bv such means they were invincible. ยท


The Czechoslovaks have given an unequivocal demonstration that physical force is no longer the final arbitrator in human affairs, and that they can no longer be conducted without regard to the more essential attributes of the human spirit. It is this lesson that is bursting through the newspaper headlines of every country in the world, whether they speak of student revolts, anti-war demonstrations, racial animosities and other manifestations of trouble; each is saying in its own way, it is not force, whether the force of money and privilege or authority or of guns, but human dignity and the paramount value of each human life which must be the basis of the new world. It is the special glory of the Czechoslovak peoples to have indicated the effectiveness of the only means of waging this struggle which is fully consistent with that dignity and value.

If there are deeply worried and insecure men in Eastern Europe today they are in Moscow rather than in Prague, and if the forces working for peace in the world are ever to play more than a spectator's role before the tumult of events it is important now that they understand the dilemma confronting the Russian overlords and offer some alternative path. It is, after all, the key to the weakness of the Czech position that beyond a general aspiration to liberty it possesses no tangible goals on which to build a sustained non-violent revolution; it is a weakness matched by every aspiring revolutionary force in the world and today this intellectual failure to define and make explicit the goals towards which we need to move has become the biggest brake on the efforts of oppressed people to break away from the old order.

In one important respect the forces of both communism and capitalism share a common misapprehension about the nature of modern society. They both believe, or profess to believe, that it is possible to attain the goals of liberty and democracy within the compass of a centralised and technologically orientated state. This is a blunder of historic proportions, and it overlooks the extent to which technological developments have themselves created vast new forms of power in society. Not only have these new forms proved so far totally unamenable to attempts to bring them within the ambience of popular control, they have also superceded numerous forms of power which were. The citizen has thus become a loser twice over, and whereas in former times it was possible to trace a fairly continuous increase in the influence of the common man in the collective voice of his community affairs, this process (it reached its apex perhaps in the Jeffersonian concept of the town meeting) has gone into a steadily accelerating reverse since the onset of industrialism. The historic fact of increasing citizen powerlessness is the most pertinent aspect of all industrialised states whatever their nominal political character, and a readiness to grapple with the implications of this fact must now become central to the challenge which the modern non-violent revolution is seeking to