FRIDAY, MAY 10, 1946.
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THE 1-rench people's rejection of the draft constitution is the most serious deteat for Communism since the end of the war.
-1 he decision against a system streamlined for the convenience of a dominant party was unexpected, and there were two main reasons for this. The first is that political experts and observers are nearly always behind the times. They observe back, not forwards, and fail to detect the intangibles and imponderables of human nature where it is still free to express itself. The second is that the vote for the constitution was weighted in favour of acceptance. Acceptance meant that France could have gone ahead, and this is an appealing point for vast numbers of voters who cannot be bothered to stop and ask themselves about the direction being taken. Rejection means a continuance of instability, and this is so abhorrent to the utilitarian that even Conservative British papers have conuniserated With France on the
But the time when the people of Europe are due to see through the sophistries with which selfnominated leaders have been deluding them since the day when they cashed in on a common victory, is surely upon us.
Everything now depends on the quality of the new leadership which should emerge under the encouragement of a decision'such as has been taken in France.
And the first thing to be clear about is why the so-called Left has enjoyed its run of spectacular success in spite of the Fascist quality of its ideas and leadership ?
I he reason undoubtedly is a profound dissatisfaction among the generality of people with the social deal meted out to them under the old economic anarchy. The attempt to patch up the old eornpetitive system so that its grosser abuses might be remedied has not worked. There is a widespread demand for a planned social system whose conscious aim shall be to meet the human needs of each and every person. Let us be clear that any forth
coming leadership will Nil again (to the advantage of Communists or Fascists) if it does not sincerely and intelligently aim at giviog social justice the primacy over every other material interest.
Unfortunately — and this appears to be the case in France today—the Left is defeated with the help of classes and types of people who are not seriously concerned for social justice. Their first interest is to defend their own skins.
If Communists and semi-Communists are to be permanently defeated, it must be by radical social reformers who do not need the help of the entrenched Right. And to do this, they need to gain the confidence of the great body of "Labour" supporters—to use the convenient British term— much of whose vote in Europe still goes to the Communist wing.
They are well aware of this need, but unfortunately they respond to the situation in the wrong way. 'I hey imagine that the secret is to appease the extreme Left.
What the Centre parties need to do is courageously to formulate their own policy of deep-going social reform against the background of the human rights which are the heritage of Western political and cultural progress.
If they are neither afraid of th.emselves, nor of the people : if they are sincere and forthright ; if they refuse to be side-tracked by the pink intelligentsia and the trouble-makers who want to make the world that most suits themselves, then they need not worry about their following.
Gradually at first—for the Cornmunist leadership has had a long innings—then much more rapidly, they will gain the confidence of the millions who want freedom and justice.
Unfortunately the era of secularism, the lies told about religion and the bad example of many a Christian, have closed the eyes of millions to the truth that it is in Christian teaching that the heritage of freedom and social justice is founded. But the best leaders know the truth.
Let them be intelligent enough to plunge into this deep well of wisdom, and, in due course, the benefitent waters, even though unlabelled, will effect the cure needed.
Nowhere more clearly than in France are the true issues understood, though it cannot be said that M.R.P. leadership has fully realised the position.
If Frances Christian leaders are afraid neither of themselves nor of their opponents, and if they are not afraid of the political sophistries, not least in foreign affairs, as for example Spain, that have become current—above all, if they are not afraid of Christianity, as it welcomes the people and rebukes the selfish, as it condemns exaggerated nationalism and encourages charity among all, then Europe may yet be set upon a path which even the three great Powers will not be able to cross