Page 4, 15th May 1942

15th May 1942
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Page 4, 15th May 1942 — NOTES AND 'Column COMMENTS
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NOTES AND 'Column COMMENTS

GAS

THE introduction of the topic of

gas-warfare and the danger of its being started in the middle of the third year of the conflict overshadowed everything else in the Prime Minister's broadcast. (May we, however, express our doubts about the wisdom of a Prime Minister choosing the second anniversary of his appointment to appeal to the people? The use of the radio as a potent instrument linking Prime Minister and people is obviously a constitutional innovation which may or may not be a good thing. To stress this, as it were, through the use of the instrument on a personal anniversary may suggest, especially in these days, some disquieting reflections) We are, of course, absolutely certain that this country or America would never initiate the use of this cruel weapon which seems to reduce warfare to the very last stages of barbarism. Hideous as its use, begun by Germany, in the last war was, it would be even worse now that war so directly affects civilians and even children. Nor do we believe that it would ever be deliberately started by any of our Allies. For that matter we find it hard to believe that even the Nazis, if only in selfprotection, would deliberately bring about its use. The real danger, we think, is that its use should start as It were spontaneously. What we mean is that some irresponsible person may try it or some commander may use something that seems like gas. Such an event might lead to tetaliation, and the result would be the full-blooded use of this weapon by both sides.

We trust that the British Government will never resort to gas unless and until it is absolutely established that the enemy has deliberately and responsibly used it on a sizeable scale. Even then we should do all we can to confine its use to the strictest military purposes. To rain gas bombs on children would be an infamy, and if it is ever used in air warfare— which God avert—some warning as to areas which may be the object of such attack should be given.

A DESPERATE MAN ?

THE naval engagement in the Pacific, the counter-attack by the Chinese on the borders of Burma and the success of our Continental raids following, as these have done, on the cold douche administered by Hitler in his recent speech, have created a more hopeful mood. But there is one factor with which one has to reckon. It is a psychological one. There is no bear so dangerous as the wounded bear. Similarly, it may be expected that, if Hitler is driven into a corner, he will stake all on some desperate venture. There has been some sign that a mood of impatience, demanding wild plunges in the hope that they may prove lucky, is to be found in some sections of our own public. It manifested itself in Lord Beaverbrook's much-discussed speech in New York. It can be detected in a good deal of the irresponsible talk about "a second front"-in the West, not, of course, between the Soviet and Japan. The fact that our adversary is beginning to feel and act desperately is all the more reason for keeping calm. It is not on a "lucky" gamble that we shall win but on the patience of steady nerves and cool minds.

U.S.A. AND THE EMPIRE

THERE is one aspect of the fact that, despite the strain imposed by the occupation of Madagascar, Washington and Vichy still maintain diplomatic relations, which should not be overlooked. Whatever may be the difficulties felt by the rest of Canada on account of this difference between the policy of Washington and London, it cannot be denied that in Quebec Province President Roosevelt's continuance of relations with Marshal Main serves as a bond between the overwhelmingly French and pro-Vichy element in that Province and the United States. It is of interest to note that the plebiscite concerning conscription Which was taken in Canada showed that while 90 per cent. in English Canada voted in favour, 90 per cent. of French Carioda voted "No." Nor is this the only instance of the way in which the States are winning the good-will of the Dominions. Discontent, however unreasonable, with the failure of Great Britain to safeguard its possessions in the Pacific and the natural interest in that part of the world which the U.S.A. shares with Australia, backed by the presence in that part of the world of American troops to garrison the Continent tends to direct the attention of Canberra to Washington as its protector at least as much as to the Mother Country. What may be the final effect of the tendencies thus indicated it would be impossible to say, and they should not be irresponsibly exaggerated, but they are sufficiently marked to call for 'attention.

POST-WAR UNEMPLOYMENT MR. Eden's speech in Edinburgh was one more indication of the growing recognition of the depen

dence of international peace on a just social and economic settlement. "You will not get peace," he said, " without social improvement. If there are 3,000,000 unemployed here and countless millions of unem ployed in Europe and America and Asia, you will not get peace." That, of course, is quite true. But to diagnose a disease is not to cure it. Unemployment is a case in point. Mr. Eden did well to mention the subject. The fear of a return to the conditions which permitted the existence of 3,000,00O unemployed hangs like a shadow over our people, making them almost dread the return of " peace." Unfortunately we shall in certain respects be in a less wellfavoured position for curing it after the war than we were before. We shall be much poorer ourselves, partly because our foreign credits will be dissipated and partly because our immense war production will not easily be transferred to vitally necessary export purposes, if we are to import necessary foods and raw materials. Moreover, if we implement our stated purpose of helping still poorer countries, our own standard of life will for a time be further lowered.

One vital factor, it seems to us, in easing the economic strain of all belligerent nations will be the making of a peace in which the place of retribution, punishment and concentration upon one-sided security will have as little place as possible. We must, as it were, start again upon a basis of mutual confidence and mutual help in all respects. Mr. Eden would have gone further towards showing the way to a cure for unemjiloyment as a threat to peace had he been able to suggest ways of restoring international trust that went much further than the Atlantic Charter with its Versailles-inspired last point.

FAMILY ALLOWANCES

THE Memorandum issued by the A Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding Family Allowances outlines a scheme providing for the payment of an allowance at a fiat rate per child—that is, at a rate which does not vary with the income of the family. The amount suggested is that of 5s. per week for each child. Alternative schemes for effecting this are explained and the costs worked out. The Memorandum, however, commits the Government neither to any particular scheme nor to the proposal as a whole. The main effect produced by a reading of the paper will be, in the majority of cases, to impress the reader with the complexity of the problem. It is this rather than any objection to the main idea of the proposal which is now likely to postpone the passing of legislation regarding it, The adjustment of conflicting interests will not he easy. and it is possible that, at such a time as this, the threshing out of the difficulties involved will take so long as to exhaust interest in the subject.

This would be a pity. The recognition of family claims is of vital importance and it should not be impossible, in view of this importance, to secure sufficient good-will to reconcile the respective differences of employers, employees and the State. It is a pity, too, that this preliminary survey should be taken from the standpoint of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The financial aspect, which occupies a disproportionate space, is not the chief consideration.

FRIENDSHIP WITH RUSSIA

THE Times correspondent who suggests as " a friendly gesture to a gall int ally " the foonulation of "a hospitality scheme for Russians, and especially Russian children, to visit this country after the war," will find a large measure of support. Interest in and sympathy with Russia in this country is no longer confined to the minority who lead Russian literature, and to that still smaller minority which identified itself with Russian Communism, but is to be found among the mass of our people, whether belonging to the intelligentsia and the extreme Left or not. That large public would welcome some such scheme as the one mentioned which would enable them to express the friendship they feel for our Ally, as well as improve :he small knowledge Russian youth has of the free West.

On the other hand, the singling out of this particular Ally should not be understood as giving Russia priority of place among those who have fought by our side. If Dutchmen, Greeks, Chinese and Poles have not been, for obvious reasons, as successful as Russia, this does not mean that they have shown less gallantry or have not made proportionately great sacrifices. A defeated friend. whose defeat is due to no lack of will but only to circumstances, deserves as cordial recognition as one whose size and resources have enabled it to resist more effectively.

SOCIALISTS ARE PUZZLED

AN article on "Coal" in the New Statesman exhibits a sense of disappointment with present trends in industry. " How, then," it asks, " are we to explain the curious fact that the Mineworkers' Federation and the National Council of Labour, both committed for many years to the advocacy of public ownership, are at present asking instead for the conduct of the industry by a joint body consisting mainly of owners and workers?

It is stated that the reason for this is a justifiable fear that by raising the issue of public ownership national unity may be endangered. We suggest that, in addition to this, there is a growing desire in the industrial sphere for self-government and a growing suspicion of a State bureaucracy, which latter has been increased by recent experience of red-tape iri the handling of production.

It is worth noting incidentally that, according to the observations recorded in the Report on " People in Production " (see page 39), published by the Advertising Guild, the demand for the nationalisation of industry comes chiefly from those outside war industry. Those inside (including many who are members of unions and of the Labour Party) were not so enthusiastic.

INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY

QPEAKING at Oxford, Dr. D.

Marsden Jones, Director of Factories under the Ministry of Supply, declared that great benefits would result if representatives of the operatives took part in management. "There are born leaders among men and women in industry," he said, " who would appreciate any responsibility given them."

This agrees with the conclusions reached by the National Committee on National Expenditure as stated in its Eighth Report. Under the heading, " Taking Workers into Confi dence," it says: " Your Committee propose to deal with this matter only in general terms and in so far as

it affects production. They are convinced from the evidence received that, looked at solely. as a matter affecting production, It is of the greatest importance to take every possible step to enable the workers employed in factories to have a true understanding both of the general war position and also of the conditions affecting the work in which they are engaged. The significance of each piece of work should be made clear, as well as the reasons for changes or delays in production if these occur."

How strong is the tendency in the direction indicated is shown by a recent article on " Efficiency in Production" which appeared recently in the Times. The writer of that article makes clear the importance of the human factor in industry and shows conclusively how production profits from consideration of this aspect of the matter. Its relation to the occupational groups recommended by Pius XI is obvious. IT was all eye-service in my boy hood days, which were those of sugar-cake altars of phoney Gothic. Not so much altars, they were Exposition shrines, behind which you had ample room for storing broken statues and Tenebrae candelabra, and where your altar-boys could go and feel faint during Midnight Mass, bit! other altar-boys in the eye, or cat their sandwiches while the priest gave out Communion. I used to keep my box of silkworms behind the altar of the church where I served as a hay. Now everything is " utiliturgical," to coin a word with a topical ring. Just sbe candles, plain mewa, and the floor space behind scrubbed every Saturday morning. But whereas whh the sugarcake altars you did at least attempt Tenebrae and an occasional Vespers even with violins for the Magnifica, now it's just simple Low Mass, with simple English chasubles and albs that no longer foam in lace, with a simple evening service of unsung Rosary, a simple instruction of ten minutes, and simply twelve candles for Benediction. Bad-minded people of any boyhood days, seeing the pyramid of lighted candles and listening to the paid choir singing Mendelssohn's Lauda Sion, called the Church a " sensation seeker "; our modern urge for the cutand-dried, our utility-austerity complex, to which the Church has now gracefully attuned herself, have got some of us crazy on Liturgy-stunting.

SAlts a punster once who was also a liturgist: " Stint your stunting, and you'll stunt the growth of the Liturgical Movement." Now Father Brown (Mgr. O'Connor, of Bradford, to you), who was a " stunt.' of G. K. Chesterton's, one day built In that city a round church, in the middle of which he put a plain table for altar which he covered top, back, front and sides with plain white linen; he took crucifix and candlesticks and put them on the floor round about, and then walked all the way round the altar every time he incensed it at High Mass.

To admiring, awc-stnick liturgists, less brave than he, he is alleged to have said: " There's got to be more movement, and less talking, in the Liturgical Movement." Being the Movement's first brave man, he dptly dedicated his church to the First Martyrs. But he wasn't martyred. Not yet, anyway. Now I'd be furious if brave priests gave up all hope, and listening to others less brave, gave up singing Compline or Vespers of a Sunday evening, but I'd also sulk in a corner of the church if the Jesuit Fathers stopped blessing my babies at the end of a fortnight's Mission, or no longer let toddlers stand in the pulpit with them when they consecrate them to their Mother, or if other priests stopped booking famous preachers in order to attract congregations. Just as I'd be bored to tears were this paper to stop giving us all (including itself!) a shaking from time to time, I'd also miss my Holy Rood/eta if Mgr. Jackman were to be scotched.

WEEPING cob-webs away from Catholic minds, a job practically monopolised so far by godly people, founders of religious orders, and those who lead heroically virtuous lives in cloisters, is now being done also by other heroes—those who have hearths to look after. Their chief virtue is that, though they are moderately religious people, they most definitely see the need of a new world order founded on godliness.

Unfortunately, some other people get sore, because the champions, liking thorough methods, prefer to machinegun the cob-webs, ra-ta-ta-ting with vim, pep and gusto their gloriously ruthless typewriters.

Consequently, when Catholic journalists " stunt," as it is alleged they do, by stressing among other things Youth and Liturgy, and by fighting contraceptives, I like to think the journalists feel that youth, through getting a new, more inspiring, and more beautiful insight into the doctrine of the Mystical Body, will succeed where its fathers failed—that is, in keeping its own body pure. Then the Church's growth will no longer be stunted. You know, the greatest stunt ever put across was Christianity. The Church did it. And, oh boyt is this silly world still gaping after two thousand years of it?




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