THE further retreat of Rommel's forces together with the hopeful preparations for a large-scale battle for the command of the Sicilian narrows emphasise once again the tragedy of an unnecessarily divided France in the very hour of resistance to the ancient foe. And though this division cannot really affect the unity of purpose behind the United Nations, there is no denying the fact that it has some effect on their mutual relations. In particular it underlines once again that possible source of friction. namely. the so-called " class " struggle, over both the conduct and aims of the war.
The Fighting French appear to have the support of Russia and the popular elements in this country and to a lesser extent in the United States, while the French in Africa and the West Indies are supported by the Americans generally and what are called " reactionary " minorities
in Britain. The handing over of Madagascar to the Fighting French (though its purpose is undoubtedly to emphasise Britain's complete disinterestedness in the colony, except for temporary strategical reasons) can unfortunately be interpreted as a bargaining counter in this rivalry.
Nothing could be more unfortunate than the creation of a false situation of the kind. There is in any case very little ground for the " class " aspect of the dispute.
General de Gaulle himself is very far from being " Left" in politics, and in Africa the Generals are much more concerned with the military situation than the political or social, on which they, no doubt, take differing views.
Surely President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill could make a joint
personal appeal to Admiral Darlan
and General Giraud on the one side and to General de Gaulle on the other to discuss together the situa
tion and to come—if necessary over the heads of some of their suppor
ters—to an understanding in the interests of France and the United Nations.
CATHOLICS CRITICISE BEVERIDGE -ONE regrets the already considerable expression of criticism of the Beveridge Plan which has emanated from Catholics. While no Catholic can have the smallest difficulty in picking holes in a scheme expressly worked-out so that it may be adopted with comparative ease by the modern secularist State, this criticism cannot but remind one of the heavy opposition brought to bear in the past on Old Age Pensions, unemployment relief and so on. It is not a good thing (if it can he helped) for the Catholic body to seem to stand among the critics of social change designed to better the position of their fellow-citizens. The Catholic is right to press (as we have always pressed) for a Christian-grounded State, i.e.. one consonant with the Papal directions about society. Such a State would most surely lay far greater emphasis on the primacy of the person and on the need for associations or corporations standing between the Slate and the individual. At the same time one must realise the unlikelihood of any such development in this country. where political and social evolution has taken quite a different turn. Under these conditions, one has to judge of a reform. not so much in the light of the ideal, but in the light of immediately practical alternatives. One alternative in this case is to do nothing. This would involve the continuance of the haunting of extreme poverty and insecurity for millions. it would involve. into the bargain, the maintenance of the powerful position of the big insurance companies (more dangerous perhaps financially then the banks themselves). In this connection we would invite critics to ask themselves whether a State insurance is not more in harmony with Papal directives than Capitalist insurance? Another alternative would he a dole system which, one may recall, was the original Socialist demand. In fact it is rather surprising that Socialism has greeted the present contributory scheme with such goodwill. In the light of these practical alternatives in this particular country there is a very great deal indeed to he said for the Beveridge Plan with its opposition to doles, its insistence on the economic priority of the family and the children and its strict adherence to its terms of reference. While criticism of details is useful and necessary, Catholics must not imagine that opposition to the Plan will bring the Christian State nearer; it may rather put its realisation still further back.
THE RUSSIAN MYSTERY understand what is happening in Russia, we must never forget her profound century-old religious conditioning and that her revolution is the fruit of that. I am not now talking of mere ideas, or of the fact that there are elements in the Communist ideology which have something in common with Christian values. I mean that deeply ingrained spiritual habits are at work, and that it is these which have provided the real dynamic of all that has occurred and are the source of that tremendous magnetism that is exercising its power on Britain." So writes Mr. .1. 1.. Benvenisti in our contemporary, the American Commonweal.
It seems to be forgotten that long before the name of Marx was known -among those whom Stalin goyernS they possessed a profound belief in their Messianic destiny. Russia, they believed. was called to initiate a new spiritual movement with world-wide effects. Nor is that belied by the masterpieces of Rus sian literature and music. It is surely evident that the people who produced Dostoievsky and Tolstoy arc not truly represented by a materialistic philosophy any more than the England of Shakespeare is represented by the plutocracy which flourished in the age which gave birth to the Manchester School of Economics.
FINANCING WAR AND PEACE IT is well that the attention of Parliament should he directed again to the country's financial position. In two main respects it is highly unsatisfactory. In the first place vast quantities of money are being created for non-economic war production, with the result that there is a great deal of purchasing power and very little to purchase, with inflationary results, only partially and temporarily held back through price controls. In the second place the most essential goods, both for war production and home consumption, are being largely obtained through Lease-Lend, and therefore not paid for at all. These artificialities can continue without disaster until the end of the war and perhaps a little longer; but we must begin to face the pperoachelem of passing from war to if we are to avoid a financial catastr6phe . that would imperil everything that may have been achieved by victory. There is only one way of doing
this. This way demands, in the first place, the planned conversion of war industry into an industry that will meet the demands and purchasing power of our own people and that will be sellable in countries from which we derive essential imports. In the second place, we must maintain— and even increase—the wartime ehome production of food. Though
finance alone cannot ensure
all this—the other wartime controls must be maintained and adapted to peace—a long-term financial plan designed to stimulate both industrial and agricultural production will be needed. What it comes to is this. The two artificialities of war, namely, an increased purchasing power without increased economic production and the gifts of the United States, must be made sound again by re
lieving one another. The international value of the goods derived to-day from Lease-Lend must in peace-time be derived from an economic production by industry, rapidly adapted from war to peace demands. This will never he achieved unless the State issues and controls credit and money as cheaply as possible and in pursuit of a coherent plan. We note with satisfaction that this demand for States issued credit to finance economic production is beginning to be made from within big Local Authorities. Said the Chairman of the Birmingham Reconstruction Committee re
cently: " Thinking people are beginning to say that, if the Bank of England can create credit to make a profit for its shareholders, the community might create credit for its own services and the benefit of its citizens."
BELLIGERENCY THE friendlines' or otherwise of
the attitude towards the Allies, and particularly towards Britain, of neutral and even belligerent nations, and their leaders, is generally over simplified. There are at least five distinguishable motives for taking sides, and one may find some of these obviously operating in one direction, and others either absent, or working the other way.
1. Belief in overwhelming justice of one side's cause.
2. Belief in the necessity for one side's victory, for one's own ultimate safety.
3. Conviction that one side will win, and that it must therefore be supported for one's own ultimate safety.
4. Conviction of immediate and overwhelming danger from one side, which must therefore be appeased, or even supported, for one's own immediate safety.
5. Direct attack from the other
sidlen" the case of Russia: obviously I did not operate before 5 came into action. Thereupon 2 follows; 3 became Russia's own cause, and 4 became obsolete. It is worth noting that 4 seems to have dominated Russian policy until it was superseded by Germany's action.
In the case of Spain, the only certain evidence is of 4 operating in favour of Germany. On present British propaganda, it is probable that 2 also operates in the same direction. Analysis of Spain's attitude suggests that 3 has operated, in the same direction, but with diminishing force. lf, as certain extracts from Franco's last speech suggest, and as most of the British public believe, I also operates in favour of Germany, then it is difficult to explain why Spain has in fact maintained neutrality.
in the case of Vichy France, the original attitude is obviously covered by 3 and 4. With 3 decreasing in force, 2 grows in strength.
" Column 8."—Challenge from the Saints will be found on page 3.