By Michael de la Bedoyere
The Problem of Liberating Europe The Problem of Liberating Europe THE international situation at the present moment is, perhaps, more complex than it has ever been. This fact becomes clear the moment one seeks to analyse it and bring out the salient points. Obviously, the real issue can be described as the Liberation of Europe, but the factors in the struggle for this liberation are so tenuous and subtle that it is hard to "report progress " intelligibly. At the moment it certainly looks as though the United States had scored an immense victory through the Marshall Plan. but it is so far a victory the spoils of which arc completely intangible. The Plan manoeuvred Molotov into a position where he could only make a choice of very unsatisfactory courses. To have accepted the Bevin-Bidault offer would have forced him to play the obstructionist game on the worst
of wickets and it would certainly have led to a final rupture between East and West. The advantages of this course would have been the delay it might have forced on Europe and the bad reactions in America with the consequent economic collapse before help could be forth coming. On the other hand, the Molotov rejection has dealt Communism a very heavy blow in every Western country and strained the ropes which bind the countries of Eastern Europe to the Soviet, yet Russia must have a hope that the Plan will break down and leave Molotov the eases'. of the Foreign Ministers. Indeed the problem of how to consolidate the advantage of the West remains. This depends entirely on what America is really prepared to offer. The Paris Conference. whoever in the end attends it, is bound to be something of a facesaving gesture. There is little prospect of any far-reaching European understanding, whether on the economic or the political level. This becomes clear when we realise that the countries of the East dare not make any decisive move, and that the relations between the five chief Western European countries, Britain, France, Germany. Italy and Spain, are extremely complex.
The Will to Recover Needed
BRITAIN can do little for the moment but offer her leadership and mediatory powers. The
political situation in France political situation in France
reflects something very close to a social and moral collapse, while France's views about Germany are opposed to Britain's. Spain has been ostracised for no sane reason. Italy has less to offer than we have and far greater internal troubles to face. German recovery is dependent on non-existent understandings among herconquerors. What it really comes to then is very much what Molotov dared to put into plain words. namely, an appeal by each country for American aid on something like the Lease Lend principle. If this is forthcoming (and the alternative is certainly a far more decisive triumph for Molotov), then everything will depend on an even more uncertain factor, namely. Europe's wilt to recover, that is, Europe's will to attain a political and social stability that must condition any recovery and to make the sacrifices of hard working and abstinence from consumer spending which are necessary to lay a new economic foundation. When we look at the total situation in the light of these considerations we can hardly be very sanguine about success. But the fact remains that the issue is precisely this: h Europe to recover a freedom based on economic security, political stability and respect for law; or is Europe to become finally the prey of want, division and the brute force of the strongest political gangsters of the moment ? There can only be one choice between such alternatives, but unfortunately the choice cannot be made either by statesmen or men in the street speaking of what they hope for; it has to be made through a radical change of heart at every political and economic level of the countries of Western Europe.
What Shall We Eat To-morrow ?
long as this great uncertainty • about the future hangs over us in this country and over Europe in general, every Governmental measure or proposal becomes a kind of game of makebelieve. This was well brought out by Colonel Elliot in the recent debate on food. The House listened to a brilliant and, in its own order, most convincing speech by the Minister of Food on our whole system of get ting and distributing food. Mr. Strachey had no difficulty in proving the necessity and success of the State's taking-over of the whole business, and he incidentally gave us all a classic example of the working of the managerial system, Bulk-pur chasing, he pointed out, was not done by Ministers or Civil Servants; it was done by the best experts available from the particular trade concerned " The cereals of this country," be said "arc bought under the directorship of the Commodity Director concerned, Mr. J. V. Rank, a man not wholly unaccustomed to buying wheat; as a matter of fact, a name to conjure with in every grain market in the world." And he gave other examples of Commodity Directors, each of whom is a "king" of his own commodity and does this work unpaid. Mr. Hollis' contention that both Socialism and Capitalism are largely irrelevant in the face of the expert manager could hardly have been better illustrated. Bid Colonel Elliot's question remains, and indeed it remains relevant to the whole managerial system, as well as to the future food of the country: " The difficulty of the Committee," he said, " is that the Minister has been explaining his bulk purchasing schemes, his trade agreements, and all those matters of machinery, but at the back of everyone's mind is the haunting fear, how far will these things be financed?"
France's Industrial Troubles Threaten Us IT is the same grim shadow which darkicns still further the country s increasingly difficult industrial relations. Workers all over the country are feeling more and more the effects of our relatively slow inflation, and they demand substantial adjustments in their wages. The lot of the blackcoated worker of all ranks is no better. In some ways it is more difficult, since he receives much less public help, for example, for education, through canteen meals, cost of travel and so on. On the other hand, the hopes rested in nationalisation and shorter hours are not being realised, and we are now becoming faced with the absurd position that the State has to resort to precisely the same unpleasant methods of '' coercion " as have been so heartily condemned when resorted to by the capitalists of yesterday. In other words, the State is getting little out of nationalisation except a vast amount of work involving a great waste of needed manpower and all the opprobrium of the employer into the bargain. In connection with the danger of waste of manpower through State control. it is well worth studying pages 63 and 64 of David Dallin's The Real Soviet Russia, published to-day by Hollis and Carter. Here is a passage: " The Soviet economic journal, Proble, of Economy, gives a comm.parison between two electric power stations, one in the United States
the other in the Soviet Union . Each produces the same
amount of electricity. The American station employs 51 persons, 17 of them office workers. The Soviet station employs 480 persons, of whom 91 are office workers, 106 are in the ' division of fuel arid transport,' 98 in the boiler room, etc. All these questions of industrial relations which have already caused such havoc in France and threaten us here increasingly to-day arc made infinitely more serious because the sanction for failure to solve them is not just a period of discomfort. but a collapse and chaos which even the richest flow of American dolliire vsill not he able to stem.
The Spanish Referendum WE were in no way impressed by the Spanish Referendum on the law of the succession to General Franco. Referendums, plebiscites and general elections in moments of great emotional crisis are very poor guides to the real state of public opinion. The expected answer can nearly always he got from cleverly framed questions in the light of prevalent feelings. Where the State is totalitarian or authoritarian, be it Communist, Nazi, Fascist or anything else, there is never any danger of returns that do not wholly suit those in power. But this is not the same as saying that the measures sanctioned by such methods are all equally worthless. The measures have to be judged on their own merits. So far as we can see, the measures taken by General Franco to stabilise so far as possible the regime in present international conditions, arc wise and necessary. On balance—and no one denies the disadvantages and grave shortcomings of any authoritarian system—the people of Spain have been given internal peace, a goodly measure of effective social liberty (by Spanish standards) and fair prosperity, and it is hard to deny that any radical change at present would gravely imperil these benefits. If General Franco has greatly profited by the ineptitude of the Powers in their attitude towards Spain, well, he cannotbe blamed for that. From the Catholic point of view we cannot overlook the plain truth that religion and all that is allied to it have been enabled to make remarkable progress. Responsible Spaniards are well aware of the danger in modern times of any close alliance between Church and State, and the present tendency, we understand, is to insist from both sides on independence. Nor should we overlook the degree of Christian influence emanating from the new Spain and attecting Spanish-speaking South America where religion has not always been in a healthy state. The Catholic who is working for a radical change at present in Spain's present regime is, we think, taking on himself a heavy responsibility. He must satisfy himself that 'he present evils of the regime are such as to counterbalance the obvious dangers to religion and internal peace which any such change would clearly threaten Are You Happy or Unhappy ? AN unusually cheerful note, these days, is struck by recent Gallup Polls on the happiness of ordinary people in four selected countries, Britain, the United States, Canada and France. According to the reports given in the News Chronicle, Great Britain has the lowest percentage of unhappy people, one in seventeen. On the other hand, America has the highest percentage of " very happy," as opposed to " fairly happy " people, namely, 46 per ccnt. Britain is next with 38 per cent. Strikingly different results come from France, where one in three is unhappy, nine per cent. only " very happy," and 52 per cent. fairly happy." What the real worth of a Gallup Poll like this is no man can say. Possibly French standards are very different from Anglo-Saxon ones, but presumably a man is as happy as he feels, and we can take comfort in the fact that apparently very few people in this country feel unhappy.