ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: The Commonwealth.

Editorial from Volume IX, No 50, December 14, 1957.

So often has the intangible substance, the undefinable common link, of the Commonwealth been stressed that there is a danger that the growing stresses and strains among the members, or changing political trends and ideals may tend to be minimised and obscured to the prejudice of the Commonwealth concept. Developing dissonances are no longer ignored or denied. Doubts prevail about the continued existence or the usefulness of the Commonwealth in the changing world conditions and circumstances. But it is generally assumed that, despite divergences, in spite of the changes in the complexion and the composition, the Commonwealth remains a valuable and desirable common bond. If imitation be the sincerest form of flattery, the Commonwealth can feel flattered that it has inspired not only America and colonial powers like France and Holland, but even the Soviet Union to attempts to create similar groupings of nations. And the Commonwealth can take pride and solace that these attempts have yet to be solidified, while it survives all fresh onslaughts.

It would be unfair to belittle the resilience of the Commonwealth. It is a product of the British genius. Like many other manifestations of that genius and tradition, it is neither logical nor the best evolutionary process that could be conceived. What is the common link that binds the Commonwealth? It was only to be expected that, at the inaugural meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in New Delhi, Pandit Nehru would stress that “all of us have a democratic functioning of parliamentary institutions.” A parliamentary democratic form of government is, then, the quintessence of the Commonwealth. It will be conceded that Democracy may have many limitations, but is the best form of government yet devised. But there are countries outside the Commonwealth, which also swear by Democracy. Washington or Paris would claim that America or France is as much a democracy as Britain or any other Commonwealth country. Democracy is the most distinguishing characteristic of Scandinavian countries. It is the main claim, right or wrong, of the Soviet Union that it and other Communist countries alone are striving for democratic Socialism.

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