Page 5, 16th May 1941

16th May 1941
Page 5
Page 5, 16th May 1941 — NOTES AND COMMENTS

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Locations: Berlin, Rome, Eden, London


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THE " grand inquest " on the recent developments of the war—the last to be held in the historic House of Commons—did not make very inspiring reading. Even the Prime Minister's speech was a brilliant piece of repartee rather than a satisfactory statement about the present position. The terms of the " Vote of Confidence" motion put the minds of the other speakers in a straightwaistcoat, for, if there is one thing quite certain, it is that no responsible person wishes to state that he has no confidence in the Government. To do so would be tantamount to throwing up the sponge, for there is no alternative to the present leadership and the present Government. But had the party system been operating we should have heard, as we did last summer, very different expressions of opinion from the same speakers. On the other hand there was a general feeling, which is much healthier than the old party ideas according to which the opposition is always supposed to be able to work miracles, that we have been up against unparalleled and insurmountable difficulties. The Greek expedition itself was taken out of the realm of discussion because of the general agreement that honour demanded it, whatever the con sequences. And it was realised that, given the material at our disposal and the distances to he covered, the outcome could have been no better and might have been much worse. Where, in our view, the debate was ominous, was in failing to suggest that anyone is prepared courageously to map out our future course in accordance with our present assets and our heavy debits. One gets a sense of desperation: hang on until America delivers us. Is that enough? If we believe that all that is line and decent and Christian in Europe and in the world is at heart on our side, dare we resign ourselves to a psychological defensive? Now is the time to rally all our assets of diplomacy and propaganda so that the way may well be prepared for that turning of the military tide for which we pray. The difficulty is that few politicians and publicists understand what needs to be sacrificed in the Way of prejudice and out-of-date values to ensure victory in the war of ideas.


possess great potential asscti, but, as it comes, so do we do our best to hide or misinterpret it. If ever a country showed a desire to be morally on our side against the evils of Nazism, even after complete defeat, it is Petain's France. Yet there is scarcely a writer or speaker of authority in this country who is not on the look out for opportunities of mocking or insulting the Vichy Government. And the very worst is always expected of it until something better has to be ungratefully acknowledged. Of course a dirty deal had been done when Darlan and Petain obtained substantial concessions from Germany, shout the scribblers. But no evidence comes, and with apparent disappointment it is learned that Main still holds by his word and the Montoire Agreement. It is the same with Franco's Spain. Sufier, the pro-Nazi, is the real leader of Spain, we are told again and again. Any day she may join the Axis and welcome German troops. So the illinformed criticism goes on, undermining Sir Samuel Hoare's difficult mission. But instead Franco grows more powerful and even takes precautions to strengthen his authority. Is this the way to rally great Christian soldiers, like Pdtain and Franco, to all that is good in our cause? Is this the way to make them believe our protests that we fight anti-Christianity for the good of civilization and not Europe for the good of the British system? France and Spain are seeking, amidst infinite material and psychological difficulties, to steer an independent and a worthy cause. They may fail—and if they do, we shall have played a big part in causing that failure and adding to the forces arrayed against our cause.


rU may read the British press for

six months at a time, and scarcely see a serious discussion of such subjects as religion or the principle of monarchy. Though there is evidence in abundance that these are among the most important subjects of the day, our newspapers, whose standard of news is set by what was accepted as important about five to ten years back, arc quite blind to them. There has been little or no reference to the astonishing movement towards Christian co-operation and its practical possibilities for shaping the news of tomorrow, but lest we be thought prejudiced in this matter, let us consider kingship. Look at Europe to-day. Where are its monarchs? Queen of Holland: in Britain as leader of Dutch resistance. King of Norway: in Britain resisting Quislingism. King of Belgium: in German confinement rather than compromise with the enemy. King of Greece: still fighting in Crete. King of Yugoslavia: still resisting. King of Denmark: the cause of Denmark's remaining autonomy. Archduke Otto: in America because he refuses to compromise with the new German order. And in Spain and France the claimants to the thrones are within sight again of restoration because they are known to symbolise the unity and independence of their lands and peoples. The only exceptions are Kings Boris and Michael. This is really a remarkable record that demonstrates how the monarchic principle instinctively expresses all that is best in a country, and it strongly suggests that after the war many nations will find again in a living monarchy the only link between the national traditions of the past and the great social changes which the future will demand. But you might never guess this from studying our press. In fact you might altogether forget, if you depended on it alone, that Great Britain is also a monarchy.


jT may be worth recalling just now that

Herr Hess was one of the few Nazi leaders to call war by its right name. Defending rearmament in 1936 he said: " Every new gun, every new tank, every new aeroplane gives an additional security to the German mother that her children will not be slaughtered in an accursed war or be tortured by Bolshevik gangs." This is in pretty clear contrast with the sentiments expressed only a fortnight ago by Herr Rust in a broadcast when he said, speaking to schools, " It is the deepest conviction of Hitler that militant action is the fulfilment of the Divine Law; and that only the individual and the people who fulfil this law can hope for the blessings of providence. We can only realise the full might of the clash between National Socialism and Jewish Marxism when we recall the slogan of the marching columns of the International at the former May day celebrations: 'Never again war! " Two years earlier, Hess had said: •' Because our old and our young desire peace the way does not lie open for anyone to take a walk through our land." And Hess, it will be recalled, was one of the strongest advocates of a German-French rapprochement. It is much too early to speculate usefully on the real causes of an action that must be as incredible to Germans as would be to us the flying of Eden to Berlin to escape Churchill, but the chasm between the Germany of to-day which deliberately selects the historic monuments of London for attack and the ideals of the early and better members of the Nazi Party is quite sufficient to account for such a dramatic step in the mind of Germany's apparently one really sane leader.


MR. H. M. Gooch, the Genera! Secre tary of the World's Evangelical Alliance, has thought it proper to take the opportunity of the present Christian co-operation to protest publicly against Catholic intolerance and to try to set conditions for any united work between Catholics, Anglicans and the Free Churches. Three Anglican Bishops have joined him in this protest. In it he makes a curious statement: " In Spain, liberty of conscience and worship have ceased to exist," he writes. "This is not due to General Franco, and a recent report on the subject received through official sources shows that the grave menace to religious liberty in Spain, as elsewhere, conies not so much from any State as from the Vatican in Rome." This is a serious allegation which in its present unqualified shape may be dismissed, more especially after the Pope's frequent references to "those others who because of their Faith in the Divine Saviour or at least to our Father Who is in heaven are very dear to us." But it is not altogether impossible that in certain quarters—and not least in some highly nationalistic parts of the Church—relations with non-Catholics are conceived in a narrow and bigoted spirit. It would certainly be well if the fine example of Cardinal Hinsley and the British Hierarchy which, while it admits of no sort of compromise on essentials, recognises that the soul of the Church may be much wider than its body, were more universally followed. And it is particularly distressing when worldly or nationalist considerations are allowed to increase such bigotry. In such matters let us not evade the issue, but enquire into them and admit faults where they occur.


NOBODY will be surprised at the deci sion of the Banking and Currency Committee of the American House of Representatives to authorise loans to Britain on the security of her industrial holdings in America. This step is entirely in line with the whole trend of American policy and it seems strange that the group of bankers who negotiated the sale of American Viscose, to which we drew attention in a recent issue, could not have foreseen and awaited so inevitable a development. The situation, as we pointed out in the note referred to, was by no means desperate and at best the sale of this very valuable British asset was precipitate. In the light of subsequent developments, which, we repeat, our financial experts must have anticipated and could surely have waited for, it seems incomprehensible. What makes the whole business even more disquieting is that the actual conditions of the sale have not yet been disclosed. All that we know is that the American Purchasing Commission consisting of well-known Finance Houses and Investment Bankers have deposited the comparatively trifling sum of $40 million and apparently thus cornpleted the first step of their side of the bargain. The Test is silence,


THE caption at the head of this note A is identical with that heading a leading article in the Economist last week. The word "epoch making " tends to be somewhat overworked, but the appearance in such a paper of such an article under such a title makes its use legitimate. What we are really concerned with when we speak thus deprecatingly of Finance is the adherence to principles that have neither moral nor economic validity. Father Vincent McNabb would no doubt dispose of the matter with some such phrase as the superstition of tokens and though that gets very near the heart of the matter, it does not entirely reach it. The evil of Finance lies rather in a perverted view of the nature of ownership, which causes its social aspects to be neglected. As a result the owner of money claims the right to do what he likes with his own, including both the right to immobilize it and to withdraw at whim from immobility, though his action in the one instance may bring the wheels of industry to a standstill and in the other spread ruin through the precipitate calling in of loans. Our whole banking system is founded on this moral fallacy and with one or two notable exceptions there has not been much Catholic protest against it.

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