GREAT BRITAIN: The Curtain of Ignorance

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    Self-constituted group manager and perhaps the most optimistic was Secretary Morgan Phillips, who cherishes the belief that Communists can be changed. He likes to recall another Labor Party trip he arranged to Yugoslavia, when he spent long hours over rakija with Tito, persuading him to make a break with Moscow. "I have great hopes of this visit to China," he confided. "It could be as historic as was our Yugoslav journey."

    Even Bevan himself, though noisily Marxist, has a somewhat jaundiced eye for Communism as a system. Bevan is too much a demagogue to approve a system where demagogery is without influence, too much an opportunist to like a system that demands unquestioning submission to discipline. In the tense days before the Berlin airlift, Bevan was one of the few who wanted to send an armored train through the Soviet blockade to relieve Berlin.

    Phlox & Talks. The Russians, in no mood to niggle when they had such a good thing, welcomed the travelers like long-lost brothers. They sent a special VIP plane to Helsinki to pick them up, put them up lavishly in the Sovietskaya Hotel in suites complete with pianos and radios. "Truly a place for important people," glowed Unionist Harry Franklin. Georgy Malenkov himself invited them out to a handsome country dacha, and after picking a bunch of phlox and gladioli for Dr. Summerskill, told her gallantly: "What has been wrong too often in the world of education is that men have been too impertinent and women overmodest." Dr. Edith agreed.

    At dinner, somewhat tanked up on vodka, Nikita Khrushchev discoursed freely, "since I am neither Prime Minister nor Foreign Minister but only the Secretary of the Communist Party." Khrushchev's theme: European peace could be guaranteed by nations with common interests—Russia, Poland, France and Britain. In the U.S., he went on, there are some who want war, and demand that Russia make concessions even before negotiations start. Russia would never give in as the price for negotiation. He then toasted "peaceful coexistence."

    Nye Bevan brought up the subject of a U.N. seat for Red China. The U.S. might agree to exclude Nationalist China from the Security Council, he suggested helpfully, and admit Red China to the Assembly. And then after a while, Red China could be moved up to the Council. Khrushchev became very angry. China was not a "beggar," he snapped, but a great nation seeking its rights. "A very downright person," Attlee pronounced

    Khrushchev, "but I got the impression that though he did not speak very much, Mr. Malenkov was the dominating personality."

    Next day the Britons gawked at a lavish agricultural exhibit, where Bevan peered dourly at the gilt-and-gingerbread buildings, commenting: "Pure Victorian. All show. This is the Victorian age of Russia. An immense show of wealth, concealing poverty. The landau at the door, the servants in the attic." At lunch there were long silences between toasts, broken at last by Attlee, who abruptly asked: "How do you get your milk in Moscow?" The Russians told them, in a laborious hum of translation, broken by the clear, social-worker voice of Dr. Edith: "I'm not interested in yield. What about safety? Are all your supplies pasteurized?"

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