A PHONEY ELECTION
By Miehael de la fiedoyere
THOSE who have read the adjoining leader on the Hydrogen Bomb may well ask themselves if it is worth reading these comments on week to week politics I But perhaps a more hum-drum approach will drive in the underlying lesson more effect ively.
Thus, passing to election issues, one may usefully note that these elections appear totally unconcerned with the grave spiritual and moral problems affecting the world and our country-we refer to such measurable problems as the breakup of family life in the avalanche of divorces and the social anarchy indicated by the prevalence of crime, especially juvenile crime ; to the neglect of the moral basis of our education ; to the craze for spectacle, whether in cinema or sport ; to the widespread abandonment of churchgoing ; to the gambling fever, and a dozen other indications of a corruption similar to that which brought down the Roman Empire: a corruption apparently of not the slightest concern to political leaders and the vast majority of political candidates. These elections arc not even troubled by the purely political questions. whether abroad or at home, on which our country's immediate future depends.
Some Vital Issues
HERE are some of the problems of which you are likely to hear very little during the days when your vote is being solicited: (1) The country is patently bankrupt and can only make both ends meet at its present standard of living by foreign loans and gifts. The pound stands below even the devalued rate on the free markets, Is any Party, or even any candidate, who fancies his election chances, prepared to tell the people what is really involved in getting back to solvency? On the contrary. they all promise full employment, while knowing perfectly well that full employment at the present wage level in terms of real purchasing power can only be continued if that problem is solved. They all promise the happy results; no one dare say a word about the kind of effort and kind of sacrifices needed to ensure those results.
(2) Russia has just conquered China with her Chinese Fifth Column, and she is very busily engaged in undermining the precarious new nationalist States of South East Asia, as part of a great outflanking movement of the Western world. The ultimate consequences of this are unforeseeable. The early ones must be further decisive inroads on that world trade which still remains absolutely necessary for the European and American standard of living. Not a whisper about this threat is allowed to leak out to the electorate.
(3) Russia has by no means given up her pressure in Eastern Europe, where Christianity is being extinguished. The most recent example is Poland. What part is Germany to play in resistance to this aggression?
(4) Economically, socially, politically, and most of all because of the great world threat to the spiritual basis of Europe's civilisation, the times urgently call for some great integration of Western Europe in reaction against the long postReformation splitting-up of Christendom into mutually jealous and competitive Nation-States. With leadership and courage the danger of the times could be made the opportunity for one of the great movements of history which in the past have time and again saved civilisation. Does this really mean a thing to our politicians ? If not, how can it mean anything to our electorate ?
Yet our personal future fate. not merely our spiritual and cultural survival, for which the Parties profess to care so greatly, but our very bread and butter and the conditions of a life at all in thc future depend infinitely more on facing and solving these great issues than on any distinction between the comparatively little details of difference between the Party programmes.
ONE is indeed driven at such times as these to reflect on the value of our vaunted democracy.
Note that it is not merely a question of failing to educate the people to the real issues on which their spiritual and even material future depends ; it is a question of totally misunderstanding what real democracy means.
What is the nature of the appeal being made ? It is a claim to a mandate. We are being asked to hand ourselves over for a period of years to one or other group of politicians who need a " working majority." Once this is effected, the " will of the people " will have democratically determined the future. It is most instructive to note how both the Conservatives and Labour are making a dead set at the Liberals because their interference threatens this " voice " or " will of the people."
Reduced to plain terms, what does all this mean ? It simply means that groups of career politicians are prepared to go to almost any lengths to obtain that " working majority" which in the name of a pure myth, " the will of the people." will give
them so-called legal power to dictate to the real people, the whole people, thought of as one person plus one person, for a period of years. Under the guise of legal responsibility you could scarcely have a more irresponsible method of gaining and holding power.
The Conservative Failure
DOUBTLESS all this is a great deal better than avowed dictatorship. if only because the period of power is limited. But even this limitation is more apparent than real, since the need to win elections decisively forces the great Parties to offer very much the same bribes to the electorate and to keep it in ignorance of the real issues which determine their future as human beings.
Because of this, British party-politics arc really based on a tacit agreement for the sharing of very much the same power and the same policy among rival political groups.
We shall not escape from this dilemma, until one or other of the great parties has the courage and integrity to break away from the democratic slogans and cliches of " mandates " and " will of the people "; and to modify the present working of the rigid Party system; to tell the people the real truth. whelever it may seem to cost in the short run-and it will not cost a great deal; to welcome minority parties and independents. instead of insulting them; and, above all. to re-educate the people to the primacy and reality of the spiritual and moral bases of a free and responsible personality which can only be defended in the long run by some financial independence for all.
It is the great failure of the Conservative Party that it has not possessed either the insight or the courage to react in this way against the wave of socialism which in its praiseworthy endeavour to improve the economic lot of the ordinary man has further enslaved him to the politicians and the functionaries. Instead of doing this. the Conservatives are simply trying to outbid Labour with exactly the same kind of prostitution of genuine democracy. They, too, ask for a blank cheque.
Democracy means the individual having a right to help himself and heir" saving his country and his
culture. It demands education to these ends. It is now being used by both the great Parties to mean selling yourself to the politicians for them to enjoy the fun of pretending to save you against all your better instincts.
The Place of the Catholic Fight
THOSE who have read the above • -if they agree at all-should be
in a better position to understand how much is involved in the Catholic fight for Catholic schools. There is a political conspiracy to maintain that the Butler Act of 1944 was a great act of statesmanship, and even the Anglican National Society for promoting religious education. while being forced to admit that real Anglican schools are practically doomed until further financial aid is given, praises that Act.
The truth is that that Act was a thoroughly out-of-date and bad Act. Mr. Butler was simply not interested in education; he was simply interested in working out an administrative system for fooling the people into believing that more years of being at school in technically finer schools was automatically going to make their children into better and more cultured citizens more easily able to earn their living. It may make them more able to earn their living in our present state of a managerial. functionary society; but its only other point is that it ensures the State's (that is, the politician's) absolute control in the long run of the whole of the country's education.
In tackling the religious problem, Mr. Butler was concerned with one thing only: to find an ingenious formula in terms of past prejudices to enlist the cooperation of the religious Communions with the least possible prejudice to his plan.
Unfortunately for Mr. Butler's reputation, his religious solution was worked out just on the eve of a revolutionary change in the minds of discerning petiole about the nature of true education itself and especially about the relation between education and sniritual ideals, themselves now realised to be indistingaishable from dogmatic religious ideals of some kind.
The People Are Beginning To See It
THIS is how it has come about
that today the Catholic demand for the preservation and development of schools in which dogmatic religion is the dimension, so to speak, in which education is given coincides with and powerfully supports the cause of true education itself, In other political and social questions it is possible, as this election shows, to keep the people ignorant of the spiritual issues at stake in the world; but in education it is more difficult. Despite the politicians' conspiracy, the Catholic campaign has made surprising headway with ordinary people. These realise what is at stake. They realise the absurdity of meeting Communism and internal moral anarchy with a secularist State education. It is a contradiction in terms.
But what we must realise sooner Or later is that the beginnings of the revolution discernible in the field of education-a revolution which will sooner or later destroy Mr. Butler's monument-must also apply to the whole of social life.