IT is curious that after having
won a long war at infinite cost to destroy Hitlerism we should be willing to accept the test of elections, so-called free elections, in order to distinguish between free regimes with which we should be friends, and slave regimes with which we want to have nothing to do It is curious because by that same test National Socialism should be included among the free regimes, Hitler knew how to do few things better than to stage elections to demonstrate that he had his people with him.
With an exciting nationelist or class cause. with a monopoly of propaganda and public money, with a secret police and spy system in the background, with every opportunity to prepare the ground and with the chance of working up a crisis atmosphere among al primitive or docile people, any regime can stage substantially free elections tin the sense that there is little or no actual compulsion exerted on the voters) and be certain of triumph. It is true that the vanity of dictators requires majorities of ninety per cent. or over, and for this purpose it is usually necessary to do a bit of cooking (naturally where observing M.P.s can't see). but this can be disregarded as a mere bit of trimming. The truth remains that a genuine majority. far more impressive than anything obtainable in Britain or America, can he fairly assured.
It is a solemn thought that we have committed ourselves to this test (a test, we repeat, from which any Fascist regime must emerge vindicated) in order to satisfy ourselves of the genuine democracy of countries which fall under the complete influence. mite tmry and economic. of totalitarian Russia So far we have been in luck. It takes time to stage free elections. and therefore Mr Bevin or Mr Byrnes can virtuously point the finger of scorn at the countries where no elections have been held or where fake elections have to he rushed. But sooner or later the chance for free elections. as in Yugoslavia. will come, and we shall he involved in the farce of acknowledging as democratic countries which are pure Left-Fascist and whose history. traditions. education make the very idea of democracy, a, we understand it, nonsense for many generations to some.
No Test ol Democracy
THE test works much better in the countries of the West, though even in this case it is well to remember that elections can still grossly distort the real feelings of the citizens of any country. They arc at best a necessary but very rough dernocretic control for the temporary selection of men and measures within a community whose members have all long been trained in the art of citizenship within free institntions, It is the fieednm of institutions and the training to the democratic way of life. not the elections. which make and test democracy. Still. in countries like France and Italy today there is at least the hope that election results will bear some sets. dent rough relation to what is really going on in people's minds to offer a promise that gradually real democracy will grow. Even so there is always a race between the genuine democratic elements and the parties (or rather the party) which makes no secret of its Intention to abuse anything democratic in order to establish its own dictatorship and thus be able in its good time Sri stage one of 'these grand elections where majorities of less than ninety per cent. are considered very poor business.
Recently the Church in nearly all countries has gone out of its way to underline the duty for every Catholic of voting. This attitude is in contrast with the poiet of view often taken in the past when secularist politics tended to be boycotted. Unfortunately it cannot be said that the new attitude betokens any progress in political societies. On the contrary, the insistence on using the vote is rather a desperate counsel in a lost ditch defence of the essentials of freedom as against tyranny, of the Church itself against her open persecutors.
The Future of Germany
wE must realise how true it is that wc are indeed living at a time when we have reached the very last defences against open political gangsterism, about to be armed shortly with the weapon of the atomic bomb. We have reached those defences and we have allowed ourselves to be elbowed into so false a position that we declare ourselves prepared to accept the naive test of " face '' elections.
There is in all this one great question mark. What will happen to Germany? In this desperate struggle, with the atom bomb as ultimate sanction, will Germany reinforce those who stand for genuine democracy. as in the Anglo-Saxon countries? Will she share in the internal conflict between the forces of liberty and tyranny. as in France and Italy? Or will she come under the sway of Russia and one day stage a " free " election into slavery? For the real danger to Europe and the world is this: the revival of German aggressive power in partnership with Russia.
That is the sole German danger; but it is a real one. That, we presume, is why France is so adamant about keeping Germany portioned. For the danger to he realised there is. naturally. no reason to suppose that Russia will betray her Allies and do a political somersault. as she might have done. in the opinion of some. during the war The thing will happen through German weakness. Events will be so managed as to make it inevitable that Russia takes over most of Germany and the Germans then " freely " elect themselves into the Russian sphere. Already we hear tbe Russians possess most of the German war secrets, • including the German advanced work on the atom bomb. tottether with the scientists and engineers expert on the question. As soon as the matter is all " democratically " arranged, we shall quickly sec the revival of Germanys immense potential strength—and Russia will dominate Eurone and the world.
That is why nothing could be more unreal than Mr. Attlee's nronogal that Russia he blackmailed with the atom
bomb to state her final terms (echoes of Hitler!). That is why even Mr Bevin's brave and forthright words, with their strong moral import, remain beside the point. The tests which we ourselves have accepted are useless and wholly deceptive. Paper democracy. free election's, promises. they mean nothing in the face of the modern political technique by which nations and people in certain conditions can be worked upon to sell themselves freely into slavery. Russia, of course, may not take this line. but the point is that if she does, we have no means of preventing her.
The Only Test
I'S there then no hope? There is only
A one, and it is a slender one. It is boldly to ..apply the only valid test: the test of Christianity. Genuine freedom and genuine democracy can only rest in modern conditions on spiritual and moral values. The dignity and rights of the human person are the vital link between spiritual values and social democracy. Only where the dignity and rights of each and every person are enthusiastically believed in, defended and practised can there be freedom and sincerity.
Two things then are needed. First a tremendous work of education and self-discipline in every land not sold to tyranny already--and this, above all, includes Germany where. by the way. every sane occupier should be busy restoring the influence of the Christian Communidns and insisting on dcnomMational education: second, the drawing together of all countries where the dignity and rights of the human person survive as an important political and social factor It is no longer romantic to talk of a revival of Christendom. It is that or certain destruction. It is too late now even to talk of such a revival being a 'security, The most we can hope for is that the spirit of Christendom will by its sanity and commonsense prevail in time over materialistic tyranny. An atom-bomb age has its compensations. The certainty of total destruction if the bomb cannot be controlled may prove to he, in God's Providence, the one last way of bringing mankind to its senses. But this will only be if those who valoe Christian civilisation come together in time and realise that the only criterion of right and wrong is God's law, not a phoney, staged, free election in the Balkans.
FOOD AS FUEL
IT was frequently reported in pre-war days that valuable commodities were destroyed be cause the supply of them was too abundant for the maintenance of prices It would seem, if reports front Buenos Aires are correct, that the same wasteful deetruclon may be brought about at the dictation of political motives.
The reports mentioned declare, on the authority of the Argentine Secretary of Industry and Commerce, that, while Argentina had made gifts to European countries and U.N.R.R.A. of 190.000 tons of wheat and thousands of tons of meat, she had been obliged to burn food and forage to keep the wheels of industry running. Argentina.• said this authority, would not need to do this if other countries were willing to send her fuel and other urgent necessities. The greatest Argentine problems, he asserted, were scarcity of petroleum. because the country lacked tankers and oil-drilling machinery, and the breakdown of the transport system because, sometimes t'or political reasons, other countries could not 01 would not supply her with vehicles and spare parts. Among the foods burned to supply fuel, it was stated, is maize.
The reference is obviously to the United States whose policy towards the Argentine has been, front the beginning, much more •severe than that of Great Britain, which is dependent on Argentine beef and wheat. If the allegation is true. it seems strange that a nation which, on the one hand is contributing generously through U.N.R.R.A to prevent a European famine, should, on the other hand. take measures calculated to increase the likelihood of fnmine.