Page 5, 11th July 1941

11th July 1941
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Page 5, 11th July 1941 — Notes and Comments
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Notes and Comments

SPANISH VOLUNTEERS

Tsending of Volunteers from Spain to fight against Russia is being treated by the Government in the right way: little notice is being taken of it. It was to he feared that the very people who were most ardent in promoting the International Brigade would be the first to make capital out of this. The reasonable point of view is that the volunteering of a limited number of Spaniards to fight against Bolshevism is an unimportant factor in the diplomatic situation. We may trust General Franco to see the matter in its right perspective, and we hold to it that Spain will not be involved in the war. On the contrary, this is a convenient way for the Spaniards to liquidate perhaps the most embarrassing of their debts to Germany. It is necessary to appreciate the enormous importance which the Spaniards attach to the expression of gratitude in order to realise that this may be quite a real factor in enabling them to maintain neutrality. Apart from that it is quite a good thing for British interests in Spain that a few of the more hot-headed falangists should be away from the scene.

A SWING OF OPINION

THERE is plenty of evidence already

that there is going to be a big swing of opinion in this country away from the Christian values which were appealed to while Nazism and Stalinism were considered to be allies and towards the mentality that was prevalent in the days of the Popular Front. When we say " a big swing of opinion " we do not mean that the bulk of our people are going to change their minds, but that the influential publicists who ran British policy at the time of the Spanish Civil War are now going to campaign with all their might for an ideology whose magnetic pole is Moscow.

The danger of this does not, we think, lie in any British affection for Cornmunism, as such, still less for the tyrannic and godless outlook of the Soviet Party leaders. It is much more subtle. We all know the number of powerful influences, economic, political, cultural, which make for secularism. The power of finance in London and New York, on the one hand, and the strong and often sincere desire, on the other, for an itnternational socialist society, turn vast numbers of those who wield influence towards secularist internationalism. These forces, though often hostile to one another, are equally opposed to the older values of patriotism, to the autonomy of the family and natural associations of men working together for a personal or local interest, to the Christian moral law which protects the moral heritage of the past against newfangled theories and usurpations of power, whether by physical force or financial control. But in a world where the strongest magnets are the socialist experiment in Russia and the totalitarian nationalist experiment in Berlin, with the reasonable but comparatively ineffective ideals of democracy, old-fashioned liberalism, and sentimental Christianity exerting but a comparatively weak pull, the Russian appeal must tend to attract powerfully the non-Christian anti-Fascist interests. In fact it needed the strange alliance between Nazism and Stalinism to arrest the process for a time an4 to give the better ideals a chance. '

CHRISTIANITY OR POPULAR FRONT?

WE must face the fact that while the Christian ideals undoubtedly represent the real feelings of the vast majority of individuals in Western Europe and America, they are comparatively powerless in the democracies because their moderation, their balance and their complexity weaken their mass appeal and their propaganda value. Furthermore we must recognise that their essential strength is their actual weakness in the modern world. For these ideals (which include the best of liberalism and democracy) ultimately spring from the dogmatic religious faith which civilization once accepted, but to-day rejects. Unless you accept Christian values—and that means accepting the dogmas upon which they depend—your defence of democracy and political moderation will be vague and sentimental, and it will not stand a chance against its robust and unscrupulous rivals.

On the other hand, on the Continent Christian values have to some extent been taken up through nationalist authoritarianism, which, though often poor Christianity, is effective anti-Comniunism.

That is why we must once and for all face the truth that the immense dangers to Christianity, arising from the present phase of the war, can only be met by a return to the bedrock of Christian dogma. It is not sufficient to believe that nine Englishmen or Americans in ten dislike Nazism and Bolshevism about equally. Unless this dislike is converted into a constructive belief in the positive moral values that find their reason in the Christian faith, we shall be swept sooner or later along the road whose only end is the gospel of Moscow. Moreover, we shall never make a successful appeal to the present mood of European peoples on a Left ideology.

Nor should we rely on the defeat of Russia. Such a defeat would merely open the way to Nazism. Moscow ideology would, moreover, survive the physical defeat of Russia. It might even be

strengthened as appearing as the last

resort against the dangers of Nazism. We

can only rely on the maintenance at all

costs of our own Faith and on the spread of that Faith in Britain and America. Christians now carry a double burden : they must play their full part in the war against Nazism and they must wage their own campaign against the no less serious danger of gradual surrender to secularist international socialism which threatens to become the rival ideal in the democracies, though not at present on the Continent, where our main appeal should be.

A PREDOMINANTLY LEFT COMMITTEE

ASMALL, but perhaps not unimportant, example of the way the wind is blowing was furnished by the publication of the names of the members of the Committee of Social Reconstruction Survey. The terms of reference of this Survey are described as " to inquire into the redistribution of industry and population brought about by the war and the extent to which this redistribution is likely to persist in the post-war period; into the effects of war-conditions on the working of the public social services; into the

changes in conditions of living due to evacuation and similar measures and into the bearing of all these factors on the general problem of national reorganisation after the war."

While this Survey would necessarily be largely statistical and economic, the terms of reference are wide enough to include highly relevant moral and social factors. Yet the Chairman of the Committee is G. D. H. Cole, a well-known Socialist, completely indifferent, as far as his works show, to religion, if not hostile. He is assisted by the Master of Balliol, the Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Prof. A. G. B. Fisher, Prof. D. H. Macgregor, Prof. A. L. Bowlcy, R. C. K. Ensor, Miss A. Headlam-Morley and Mr. C. H. Wilson. Of these, only the Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, as far as we know, has had any official experience of religious work as such, though the Master of BaIliol belongs to what Mr. Gollancz

would call " the Christian Left." Prof. Fisher has published Moscow Impressions, and Mr. Ensor was a leader-writer of the Daily News and the Daily Chronicle.

Small matters, perhaps, but the accumulation of this bias towards secularist socialism will have its effect.

One must regret, too, that when the names of the Committee were announced a Catholic member rose to put a question. It was not, however, the question that might have been expected: it was to enquire why there was no agricultural expert on the Committee.

PROPAGANDA

wE also regret that no Catholic contributed to the debate on the Ministry of Information, though this was probably due to the fact that none of the Catholic M.P.s caught the Speaker's eye. The debate left matters very much as they were for the simple reason that you cannot have effective propaganda when there exists division of opinion as to what should be propagated. In the last war our ideals had an immense pull, and consequently our propaganda was excellent at comparatively little expense. In this war our internal propaganda, as Mr. Duff Cooper pointed out, is excellent. The reason is that the cause of selfdefence and the refusal to come under Germany's influence are highly appealing

motives to all Britishers. The trouble about them is that they have far less appeal to people abroad. The fact is that we must decide whether to go all out for definite Christian values—and this is a question of deeds, hard thinking and not empty propaganda phrases—or let ourselves drift leftwards towards the values for which the Popular Front ideology stands. How long shall we be able to go on trying to have it both ways? Yet if we plump for the Popular Front we shall heavily increase the antagonism felt for us in many parts of Europe.

FOOD SURPLUSES AND COAL

ANEW and very interesting principle underlies the recent agreements with Australia and New Zealand for the financing of reserve food stocks. For the British Government now undertakes to share equally with the government of Australia and New Zealand the cost of paying for unshipped surpluses-of storable food stuffs. As the Financial News remarks, " what is novel is the participation of an Overseas government, with its tacit recognition that the responsibility for dealing with the surpluses does not lie solely with the producing countries but is shared also by those who would normally be the consumers." The important words here are in the last phrase which implies that it is both expedient and to some extent equitable that the consumer of any product should in difficult times recognise a certain responsibility for assisting the producer whose work and outlay have benefited him in the past and whose services he may well be forced to call upon in the future.

It is a thousand pities that this principle was not acted upon when unemployment drove thousands of our miners away from the pits which for the moment had ceased to yield them a livelihood. It is very difficult to believe that nobody foresaw that in the near future their services

might be again required. Yet nothing whatever was done to make it worth their while to hold themselves in readiness. This would doubtless have been regarded as " subsidising idleness," " pauperisation," and so on. Yet among the higher economic strata we are well acRuainted with the institution of the retaining fee. the receipt of which is, so far as we arc aware, never regarded as likely to be injurious either to the recipient's industry or to his morals. The truth is that the " flexible labour market " still forms part of our calculations. We have so long acted on the assumption that there will be a starving human reserve from which we can always draw when the need arises that we are quite incapable of realising that conditions have changed. We have been so reluctant to do the just thing that we hesitated to do it even when it had also become the overwhelmingly expedient thing. The matter of the coal mines will, we hope, bring home to the powers-that-be the lesson that shortsighted opportunism is by no means always a paying investment.

ii NONE DARE BREATHE AGAINST THEIR WILL" FOR some weeks now we have been urging Mr. Stokes to take up the affair of American Viscose in the House of Commons. We were therefore glad to see that he has opened his campaign with the bluntness and vigour which we were entitled to expect from him. He has put a series of highly pertinent and unpleasant questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, asking for the identity of the Government's advisers on the sale and whether any of these received commis sions on it. It matters little that the answers he received were characterised by that evasiveness to which we have grown accustomed in ministerial replies whenever there is any explicit or implicit criticism of anybody or anything connected with the Bank of England. Indeed, that evasiveness is so obvious that it will assist rather than hinder Mr. Stokes' purpose in having this whole thing thoroughly cleared up. In addition to the replies given by Sir Kingsley Wood, the Government have seen fit to circulate an official statement which, in our opinion, makes their position not better but rather worse. After telling us that about £2,000,000 was paid to the American bankers on a sale that realised about £13,000,000 (less than half the value of the asset), they inform us that the original agreement was even more outrageous than this, but that the American Purchasing Syndicate " voluntarily surrendered " about one million of the profits which would otherwise have accrued to them. The only explanation is that the negotiators acted under virtual

duress, that is, that a sovereign government has been held to ransom by the money barons of a friendly country. The

well-known passage in the Encyclical has been startlingly fulfilled: " none dare breathe against their will." But Mr. Jesse Jones, of the Currency Commission, did " breathe against their will," to the extent of a million dollars and though this exaction was relatively trifling, as symbolic importance is enormous.




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