COLUMN What Are They Up L To?
COLUMN What Are They Up IT ispossible that the Press may give some of its space to the Twenty-Third National Congress of the Communist Party which William Gaflacher, the former Communist M.P., will open at the Battersea Town Hall on Good Friday morning. Its decisions will not be without their significance even though they are all known to the
leaders in advance.
But in the long run, far more important is likely to be a curiously named conference which the leaders in London have organised to follow immediately after the first one finishes.
This has the neat little title of "Conference of Communist and Workers Parties Within the Sphere of British Imperialism," and is to be held in Caxton Hall, Westminster, from April 21 to 24.
If it is anything like the last (which was also the first) such conference, held in London in 1947, it should be of considerable interest to our rulers and, incidentally, to many of the Church's most promising mission territories, too.
The last one began as a "British Empire Communist Parties Conference," but the Cominform's original idea proved to be somewhat elastic and delegates arrived from Latin America as well as from countries who were rejoicing in their newfound "liberation" from that same Empire.
PRESENT were men from Malaya, for example, who, after a discussion of the tactics which should be used in the anti-imperialist fight, went home and so or fly after launched the jungle war which still drags on today. A number of that particular delegation have died in the jungles or have been hanged for their part in the civil war.
Others came from Africa, .India and the Caribbean and went back convinced that it was only a matter of time before they could he heading great popular anti-imperialist movements which, given the right leadership, would bring their countries through armed struggle into the Communist camp.
The work of our missionaries in a dozen different countries has been all the harder because of decisions taken at that conference and, in particular, at the behind the scenes talks which are always more important than the public sessions. And the free world's fight has been a lot more difficult too.
This time, right from the start. the conference is open to the Cornmueist Party of almost any colonial or "semi colonial" country — that latter category, in particular, is one which may be stretched to include anyone from India to Cuba.
What is perhaps insufficiently realised is that Moscow has given the little British Party more and more responsibility for directing the work in such countries and, taking a world view of the'matter, this makes it of a good deal more significance than its numbers would suggest.
ATER the great wave of sympathy and generosity which brought the francs pouring in to the Abbe Pierre's appeal for homes for the homeless of France has come a certain coolness on the part of some at least of the French middle class, I learned in Paris during a brief visit last week.
Like any such sudden expression of the heart of a nation being suc
cessfully touched by a man of charity who is also an orator, there are the inevitable weaknesses of organisation.
It was all too sudden, too spontaneous, for an organisation to be built up to match the size of the response. And, since it was hearts rather than heads which had been first touched by the plight of the homeless, it was immediate, rather than long-term, results which mattered at the moment.
Fr. Pierre argued that it was better to have bad housing than none at all. Now the critics arc asking the question that was bound to crop up: "Yes, but are you not in danger of depressing working class housing standards generally, by putting people into shacks'? May not the temporary homes become permanent?"
The demands on the abbe& time, with constant trips abroad thrown in, are such that much has to be left to others.
And that, they say, raises the possibility of unscrupulous people getting into this super-money-raising project and causing scandal. It is not surprising that there has been the odd case here and there of the bogus collector sent to jail for begging for the Abbd Pierre and then pocketing the proceeds.
More important, however, are the things which have been achieved. Most obvious is that for a whole nation suddenly to be swept by a mood of charity is in itself a beautiful thing and good for that nation's soul, But there is a more subtle point which thinking French Catholics are also noting. It is this: For years there has been a mood of frustration among the French people, because it seemed as though everything the
Government or anyone else attempted was blocked by the political deadlock and by the sheer weight of the administrative machine. Catholic Actionists felt this perhaps more than anyone.
Now that feeling of helplessness, as M. Henri Rollet, our Paris correspondent, pointed out to me, has been dispersed. It has been shown that quick action is still possible, that Christian charity—if there is enough of it—can cut right through all the red tape.
Not the least-important aspect of the campaign has been its effect upon the morale of Catholics.
MISS JENNIE LEE, M.P. (wife of Mr. Aneurin Bevan, M.P.), speaking in London last Sunday : "If we are going to have colonial uprising suppressed by hydrogen bombs that is the end of all ordered progress. .
—Daily Worker, April 4,1954.