A Change Of Economic Direction Needed
By Michael de la lledogere
AT last people are beginning to
realise the essential hollowness of much of the post-war prosperity, and they are consequently wondering what is going to happen to this country, and indeed to Europe, during the next few years. Yet the writing has been clear enough from the start. This country in particular, but to some extent all the world, has been carried along by the imperative need to repair the worst of the war damage. Even this has only been made possible by the distribution of American capital. Unfortunately, this American capital, while it has met the immediate needs, has also camouflaged the real economic
situation. Indeed, it has actually made the real economic situation worse than ever.
Very expensiie social legislation has been undertaken as a result of heavy political pressure with little i
regard for the improvement of the economic situation which alone can support indefinitely these costs whose effect is to guarantee the good life irrespective of sufficiently good
production. Moved by this same political pressure and carrying on the increasing economic autarchy of the past, the countries of Europe, and not least this country, have used American aid to deepen economic divisions within Europe, instead of increasing co-operative European production and widening intraEuropean trade. Thus instead of encouraging an economy and finance which would tend to restore the convertibility of currencies and multilateral trade, we have all been trying to save ourselves, almost literally from day to day, by isolating and protecting our own politico-economic system with as little regard as possible for those wider needs of all peoples. Only in so far as a serious attempt to meet these is made can there be any real hope of that restoration of. a sound economy which is imperative if our social aspirations are to be permanently met.
Labour's Dilemma and Opportunity
No doubt, it is easy enough to say this, and yet to find it quite impossible to suggest practical ways and means out of the present dead
lock. Sir Stafford Cripps is, no doubt, justified in his argument that any move towards the convertibility of sterling could only exhaust sterling's gold reserves and create a very anxious situation. We are equally justified, when failing an American depression and consequent increasing difficulty in obtaining dollars by trade, in protecting our country's food-supply by a bilateral agreement, such as has been signed with the Argentine. Any devaluation of sterling must also create tremendous economic and social problems without any guarantee that our position would be eased at any rate for very many months during which our people, already so burdened, have to live.
Yet what does appear ever clearer is that we arc embarked on a course to which there can be no happy ending. It is vain to hope—and indeed it would be wrong to hope— that America can continue indefinitely to pump dollars into a Europe which by its social and economic policy can never hope to repay and, worse than this, must progressively cut herself off more and more from the American economy which also has a right to live and prosper, the more so in that it is expected to pay the piper.
Somewhere and sometime the turning away from this autarchy and protectionism must be made. Somewhere and sometime we must risk our false air of prosperity and our artificially secured high standard of living in order to find our own level and raise ourselves again in company with other men to a prosperity based on internationally rationalised• production and trade.
It is the duty of even a Labour Government, however right it may be to stand firm in the short run for immediate and pressing British needs, to educate our people to these truths and prepare them for the temporary sacrifices which their realisation must mean. Unfortunately these sacrifices will prove. to be precisely the ones which a Labour Government objects to most. Thcyprobably involve the rich seeming to grow richer and the poor certainly growing poorer for a time. They will mean unemployment again. They may temporarily threaten social expenditures.
The country, too much misled by Socialist politicians, is in no mood to appreciate these economic neces sities. Yet it seems certain that only a Labour administration has any chance of initiating such a changed economy without causing something very like a revolution which would help no one.
If Labour had the courage to face these realities, then indeed would be "the finest hour " of that great Movement.
Trade Between East and West
THE spiritual and political clash
between East and West—which was hardly tempered by the recent Foreign Ministers' meeting—is so keen and vital that we are apt to overlook the immense economic
damage to the world which it causes. How right the Daily Worker is to note that the development of trade between Europe and the Sovietdominated countries would immensely help to solve the economic problems referred to above. There is a natural balance of trade between the industrialised West and the granaries of the East, and this balance would quickly dissipate any currency difficulties arising from different economics in the past. But the Soviet zone cannot afford to let in the Western air which would flow with Western goods— nor can it afford to have its own air cleansed through mingling with that of the West. And on our side there are some, though not enough, who, so long as the Soviet persists in its tyranny, aggression and religious persecution, will continue to fight against pumping economic strength into the enemy of all freedom and decency.
The attitude of our own Govern
ment to this matter has been unfortunately reflected by Mr. Mayhew who in the Commons on Monday was asked by Sir Patrick Hannon whether he would suspend the current negotiations with Czechoslovakia for a trade treaty because of the persecution there. Mr. Mayhew stated that these negotiations could not be suspended on " political grounds." Is the persecution of a country's religion and the attempt to destroy the spiritual and moral basis of a people's freedom a " political " matter? To say so argues the profoundest misunderstanding of what is at stake. We do not believe that Mr. Mayhew or the Government in general labour under this misunderstanding. They merely lack the courage to take the steps necessary to stop these hideous assaults on the deepest human rights. The Western world is not so strong, either physically or morally, as to be able to afford this cowardice in face of the common threat.
PERSECUTION AND " DOMESTICATION "
THE Dean of Chichester is to be congratulated on his forthright denunciation in the Church
Assembly of those Christians who still try to pretend that there is no real persecution behind the
Iron Curtain. The argument, of course, is that so long as actual churches are not forcibly closed, as they were in Russia, religious worship can continue and therefore the term " persecution " is inappropriate. The Dean interpretes the Dutch General Secretary of the World Council of the Churches as thus distinguishing between " domestication " and " persecution."
As the Dean suggested,this new distinction was probably thought out through latent hostility towards
Rome. To side openly with the persecuted Catholic Church in Eastern Europe would be unpalatable to many Protestants, and therefore comfort for them can be taken in the thought that the Catholic Church is only being " domesticated."
This is a despicable point of view, the more so in that it comes from Christians who make no doctrinal claim, as Catholics do, to be the only full and authentic Church of God, For such, who recognise all Communions to be part of the Unity of Christendom, the sufferings of any one part of Christianity are directly and obviously the sufferings of all. And just as they would be —and are—the first to claim that " domestication" is a genuine form —and a very effective one—of persecution when applied to themselves, so they should not allow accidental differences of doctrine, taste and politics to influence their Christian charity.
For Catholics the position must always be rather more complex because of Catholicism's exclusive claim. Yet we are convinced that those Catholics who, solely for doctrinal reasons and certainly not through lack of Christian charity, support the "domestication " of Protestants in Catholic countries are misinterpreting the true position. While we must maintain that in the last analysis error can have no rights and that one form of Christianity is not as good as another, in charity and prudence we should also tolerate and defend those who in good faith and inculpably unaware of the full truth practice andpreach what they believe to be religious truth and what is in part the Christian truth. insofar revealed by God to them. And in this matter our well-founded indignation should remind us of the danger of falling into the same lack of Christian charity and of readiness to share suffering, where it is a question of Protestants in Catholic countries.
THE BELGIAN ELECTIONS
WHILE the Belgian Elections happily afford yet another indication of the receding tide of Communist and extreme Left feeling in Western Europe, it is regrettable that they have not yet made politically possible a clear decision about the position of King Leopold. It is generally thought that a Referendum would vote the King back into the position to which he has a fundamental legal right, and this situation alone lends an air of uncertainty and democratic incompleteness to the country's whole Political situation. It would be far better if the decision could be made once and for all. Possibly only a small majority in the King's favour would lead to the latter's abdication in favour of Prince Baudouin, and this decision, if it were made in the light of the people's will, would also stabilise the constitutional position.
Belgium as a whole clearly wishes to retain the monarchy, but it may prove in the end difficult to retain the monarchy while the legitimate King is forced to remain in an undeserved exile.
The question needs settling, and it is to be hoped that the Liberals and Socialists will come to see the advisability of a proper democratic procedure in response to elections which clearly enough indicate the country's wish for proper democracy and an increasing opposition to the democratrie tricks in which the extreme Left is inclined to indulge.