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Bertrand Russell

In response to:

Peacemeal from the September 26, 1963 issue

To the Editors:

I have had called to my attention the review by Mr. Muggeridge of Bertrand Russell’s book, Unarmed Victory. I do not wish to discuss the series of venomous epithets employed by Mr. Muggeridge in the course of what purports to be a review of a recent book. This seems to me beneath contempt. I should say only that it is always nice to observe the intellectual quality of the opposition.

I am more concerned to point out to the readers of your journal that Mr. Muggeridge has grossly distorted the stated views of Lord Russell and the theme and argument of Unarmed Victory. Lord Russell’s view of the Cuban dispute was well known before the crisis was upon us. He wrote to the Guardian in London warning against the danger of the determination of the United States to bully and to invade Cuba, and also of the danger of a Soviet arms build-up to meet American intentions regarding Cuba. The essential point was that the blockade of Cuba, combined with the threat of nuclear bombardment, brought mankind to the verge of annihilation. There is nothing, in the view of Lord Russell, which can justify so immoral an act. As Lord Russell has pointed out, were the Chinese to blockade Formosa and threaten to sink American ships of the Seventh Fleet should they attempt to run the blockade, and further to invade Taiwan unless missiles were immediately removed from Chiang’s hands, the condemnation of this rash act would not imply approval of the missiles in Taiwan except to those who are indifferent to truth.

The second gross distortion in which Mr. Muggeridge indulges is that he seeks to suggest that Lord Russell condemns India, irrespective of the merits of India’s case in the Sino-Indian dispute. Lord Russell carefully documents the extent to which India not only was without a substantial case over the matter of the disposition of the territory in dispute, but provided persistent obstacles in the way of negotiation which gravely enlarged the crisis and the danger to mankind. I shall not seek to refute the innuendo and the slippery attempt to suggest that Lord Russell is serving the interests of Communism in the course of his attempts to establish the truth and, above all, to oppose the danger of imminent annihilation. It is unworthy to pander to the mania of cold warriors. My only suggestion to those who have been unfortunate enough to have read the review of Mr. Muggeridge is to compare Mr. Muggeridge’s article with the book he fails to review.

Ralph Schoenman

Secretary to Bertrand Russell

Merioneth, Wales

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