By Michael de la Bedoyere
The French and American Elections
THE French and American elec
tions afford interesting contrasts in the reactions of post-war peoples under very different conditions to the forces that are battling for world mastery. Hostility towards the Soviet, which is much more marked and vocal in America than here or, still more, France, undoubtedly had a good deal to do with the completeness of the Republican victory, and this victory will tend to underline the division between•the Soviet Empire and the AngloSaxon world. On the other hand, it will also tend to strengthen the forces of isolationism, not only because isolationism is much commoner among the Republicans, but because their genera! economic policy is very much more opposed to financial and economic arrangements for facilitating world trade to the short-run disadvantage of American industrialists. Hence we may witness an evolution that will prove dangerous to Europe and this country.
From the American point of view, it is perfectly possible to consider that Europe is, for the time being, a liability
rather than art asset. With modern weapons the major battleground in a war between America and Russia would tend to be across the Arctic, rather than across the Atlantic. Why then attempt to hold the long and dangerous lines linking America with Russia across Europe when it seems inevitable that Russia must destroy and occupy Europe? From this point of view, then, isolationism from Europe is quite compatible with a determination to fight it out sooner or later against Russia.
One does not, of course, imagine that these were the considerations in the forefront of the American consciousness during the elections. but vague preoccupations at the back of people's minds have often proved to be more decisive in making electoral decisions than the obvious, well-publicised issues. While even the possible existence of such ideas sufficiently marks the tremendous difference between the situations in America and France.
Complex Factors in France
IN France, the idea of insecurity remains dominant. France fears both Russia and Germany, while she distrusts both Britain and America. And within this sense of national insecurity, almost national hopelessness. both in internal and external affairs, the French mind is busily pre-occupied in trying to think out a possible basis for an entirely. new order upon which a new security can he built. This can be observed in the lively philosophical and political discussions that fill the reviews, It is to some extent the explanation of the refusal even of so many Catholics to take the rigid anti-Communist standpoint that has come It> prevail in Britain and America. They still feel that the real Christian order of to-morrow, if it is to be genuine and workable, must take even more from the whole ideology of the Communist revolution than from capitalist or nationalist "reaction." They arc deeply suspicious, too (and not without good reason), of the way in which Catholicism is being driven by circumstances into the hands of a very mixed lot of Right-Wingers who are capable of anything. Meanwhile, the mass of the working-class, who are almost entirely without the LiberalChristian heritage so marked in the majority of the Labour-voting British working classes, have automatically preferred the realism of the extreme Left to a middle Socialist way which has already proved its incompetence to con
ool and inspire the French people. And this prejudice harmonises very well with the nationalist feeling that friendship with Russia is a safer bet than (fiend= ship with an uncertain and comparatively impotent Britain.
The election results in America will hardly have any marked effect on the position of Catholics, except perhaps to reinforce the anti-Communism that is flourishing among them, but the French ones will certainly aggravate the difficulties of Catholics in prance. There is a Catholic tension as betweerrRight and Left that has not yet found the means of expressing itself in a constructive middle way. Yet both for the good of Church and State the working out of such an independent middle way is absolutely essential.
The Starvation of the Germans
THE Manchester Guardian, com menting on the food situation in the British zone, has roundly accused the Government of " blundering or worse." Its argument, based on the evidence of its correspondents in Germany, is that there has been a conspiracy of silence about the true state of affairs which has long been well enough known on the spot. It has also endeavoured to reinforce its own attempts at self-deception and deception of the German people by raising the nominal values of rations without possessing the means of honouring such promises. An account of conditiors at present makes heart-rendering reading for anyone who can transcend the barbaric mentality which holds that the mass of German people, including small children, arc getting no better than they deserve. We mention this because this was the view put to us this very week by a pious weekly-communicant Catholic woman.
In the immense complexities of great Powers quarrelling over the iniquitous Potsdam decisions, it is not easy to apportion the precise degree of blame, whether to the Russians and French who have stood out against the possibility of fruitful co-operation, whether to the Americans who have not adequately given of their bounty, or whether to the British who have not aken the world into their confidence
about the facts: but the real moral is not to be found at this level. It goes much deeper. It goes back to the whole primitive conception of imposing a Carthaginian peace and seeking to reap the fruits of victory by indicting and punishing a whole people.
The Real Cause
AND the extraordinary thing about this whole mentality is that it sins not only against every Christian ideal, so glibly invoked during the war, but also against the very moral basis of the liberaldemocratic-socialist ideology upon w,ich toourrespt.resent civilisation is sup
posed this matter, at any rate, that ideology is perfectly clear. It is based on faith in the decency of the ordinary free human being, once he is rescued from the various kinds of exploitation— financial, nationalist, Fascist, etc.—to which he is subject. From this ideology it follows that the only justification of war is to be sought in rescuing the ordinary people from the unjust power with which various kinds of exploiters are in a position to blackmail them in their weakness. Hence the proper use of victory must logically be the process of giving every possible opportunity to a liberated people to achieve the natural good that is in them so that they can co-operate for the good of all with other liberated peoples. Yet both in the First World War and the Second, even the Socialists, who are the most committed to this ideology, have fallen head-over-heels victims to the crudest barbaric nationalism of power-politics with appalling consequences.
The Chtistian, it is true, is not piepared to accept the above ideology as anything like sufficient. To it he adds the warning that man is not naturally innocent, but needs to be perfected by both a natural discipline and a supernatural aid ; that, of himself, lie will go to the Devil. Man's perfection, the Christian. holds, is delicately involved in an appreciation of his membership, as an individual. of art ordered temporal socitty intimately related with his call, as a person, to achieve a goodness transcending that temporal society. The Chtistian therefore is not so naively optimistic as the Socialist, but for this very reason he does not (or should not) deny his whole faith at the first breath of returning barbarism.
Had the valid distinction between exploiter and exploited been adhered to, and bad prudent and wise means to re-order and re-educate the too readily (and diabolically) exploited German masses been taken, the way would have been left open for a relatively rapid German recovery and its quick reincorporation in the concert of peaceloving nations. This standard may not be high, and it is certainly being gravely tested to-day, but at least it is better than miserable anarchy. The tragedy of the Germans to-day—a tragedy which holds back the economic and political recovery of all Europe—ia the direct consequence of the barbaric hysteria to which so many, nominal Christians, nominal Liberals, nominal Democrats, nominal Socialists, have succumbed even after the warning given them by a similar folly after the first war.
Incompetent Treatment of Italy
EVEN more indefensible than the treatment of Germany has been the treatment of Italy. It is recognised that for the vast majority of Italians Fascism was a political gesture rather than any deep expression of sinister tendencies. Nor did Fascism share the diabolical character of Nazism. But, apart from this, the need for the restoration of Anglo-Italian friendship was a strategic and political priority, about which there could be no, argument. Yet through sheer incompetence, narrow-mindedness and servility to Russia we have been wholly outmanoeuvred. We, who should have been friends and, no doubt, wanted to be friends in the end, have emerged in the eyes of the Italians as harsh and blind foes, while Russia, who was the prime cause of our intransigence, has managed to appear as a possible protector of a friendless and misunderstood people. Happily, Catholic Italy is tough enough to see through the tr:ekery, but we have no right to expect the indefinite continuance of a Western and Christiandemocratic predominance in a country which, largely through our British intolerance of Catholicity, we have so ill used,
The Equal Pay Commission
SELDOM has the futility of any
thing but a Catholic view of life been better illustrated than in the report of the Royal Commission on " equal pay."
Goodwill without clear principles seems to have supplied the only fundamental unity among the members who included five men and four women. Three women dissented from the final draft. Three men had reservations. The latter observed, after two years' study of the issue, " the whole matter " was "somewhat speculative." They also found the view of the Commission that " over a wide range of occupations the woman is as efficient as the man as a physiological machine " was " too optimistic."
Just what the view of men and women
as such favoured by the Comnalssi was, it is impossible to judge from the report. They are considered as " physiological machines," as tax-payers, as persons with dependents, as fathers, mothers, as spinsters, bachelors, as psychological specimens, as voters and as persons whose efficiency might be impaired or otherwise. Of any attempt to link the aspects of man as thee are fused in him the report is innocent. It is concerned with " equal pay " for someone and it cannot even make up its mind what. equal pay is—but it is, as a majority, against it.
Some interesting points for Catholics,
however, do emerge. Absence among industrial workers as a whole is greater because of illness. There is a higher sickness rate among female industrial workers than among men, and married women in industry who arc absent through illness exceed unmarried invalids by 65 per cent. This higher sickness rate is attributed to two causes, fatigue "dependent on the fact that the woman is doing two jobs (a) in her employment and (b) in running a home, and secondly in poor nutrition. " The evidence that fatigue due to additional home duties is an important factor, we accept. The importance. of poor nutrition is less easy to determine." TH Gambling gome Secretary, it is reported, has received a depu Gambling gome Secretary, it is reported, has received a depu tation representing various religious bodies, calling his attention to the growth of commercialised gambling. In particular, concern is expressed by these bodies with the extraordinary increase in the amount of money staked on greyhound races and the development of football poGolbebtltiinngg.
Gambling on the scale indicated is on the scale indicated is
not wholly disconnected from the opposite tendency which would give us .it planned economy and greater financial security for the individual citizen, Under the system of laissez-faire life itself was something of a gamble and chance played no small part in determining his fortune, But the taking of risks in one form or other is something which normal human nature demands. Be this as it may, however, the proteA now being made is fully justified. Indeed, the growth of gambling on the scale indicated is one of the most sinister of the features marking present-day society. It evidences a desire to make money quickly and with out the labour of mind and body which is the ordained method of providing the means of life. The gambler, instead of depending on his own disciplined efforts, depends on chance. It is, therefore, opposed to that steady application on which we arc relying in order to surmount the serious economic difficulties now facing the country, and it is entirely uncreative and non-productive. The trouble is that the spirit of which gambling, like the reform of a sensational and partisan Press, is a symptom which cannot be overcome by legislation. What is required is a new attitude towards responsibility and k k