estions of the week
Michael de by la liedoyere
0NE feels that the Rev. Michael Scott in denouncing to the world the evils of the colour bar in South Africa is undertaking one of those great tasks of Christian reform which have marked the story of Christianity's beneficent moral influence on the world.
ehristian Action in this country. under the leadership of Canon Collins, has given Michael Scott the opportunity of unburdening his mind to our Christian people in an atmosphere and under circumstances which do not immediately and directly commit the Christian Communions themselves.
This is wise, since the greatest and most needed of reforms are precisely those which have to be carried into effect wisely and relatively slowly and, as it were, from within.
This we learn from the action and advice of Our Lord Himself who did not set out to overturn kingdoms, hut so to change men's hearts that the kingdoms of paganism and evil were slowly undermined.
Unfortunately this truth is too easily interpreted as an excuse for inaction on our part. On the contrary, just because healthy and wise reform must first be spiritual and moral, the greatest responsibility is thrown on to the shoulders of those who claim to be the followers of Christ.
M1CHAEL Scott's account of the
effects of the Colour bar will undoubtedly come largely as news to the ordinary Christian who too easily feels that in the modern world and outside the Iron Curtain conditions of life for millions could not possibly be as had as that.
There is no getting away from the truth that the policy of white supremacy on which South Africa as we know it at present depends is based on force in the last resort. As such, it always remains under the threat of a force mightier in the long run than its own: the force of an immense majority which sooner or later will come to realise its rights and powers.
The day of reckoning. which in history has come to so many privileged minorities. cannot he indefinitely postponed in South Africa.
Therefore the real problem, not only for Christians who understand the vital spiritual issue, but for shrewd men of the world also who wish to avoid ultimate disaster, must be to prepare the way for a gradual, peaceful and constructive emancipation in the common interests of both white and black, both of whom have their talents and resources to offer to the country.
Here, too, is another example of a humanitarian question, too long neglected by Christians and therefore quickly exploited by the Communists, These have claimed to be the sole champions of the blacks and consequently obtained a good deal of the letters' loyalty.
If this unfortunate position is to be reversed and the majority of human beings in South Africa to be enlisted behind the cause of a constructive Christian rather than a destructive Communist reform, then there is little time to lose.
Some of our anti-Communist protests would sound and he more Christian if we coupled them with positive support for the work of a pioneer like Michael Scott.
In thus fearlessly raising in good time a problem too easily evaded by the world, he is serving not only his Faith, hut South Africa and the whole world.
LEI I ERS from correspondents
in Belgium have criticised our attitude towards King Leopold, and we cannot therefore but be reassured in that the King has finally agreed to a course very much along the lines which we felt to be the best in the circumstances.
This wise course differs very much from what the King would have wished and from what he has long stood out for. • Equally, it differs very much from what we believe to be his right and. ideally. in the best interests of his country.
But in this world, and in political life especially, the ideal is not always the practicable ; and there is no more important lesson, whether for the statesman himself or the ordinary citizen, than that the best for the future must be thought out in terms, not of ideal rights and claims alone, but of these adapted to conditions and circumstances which we may deplore and into the making of which much evil and ignorance may have gone, hut the existence of which we cannot ignore.
Let us note. in passing, how readily we preach this truth to others who make absolute claims which we cannot admit ; how reluctantly we apply it to ourselves.
For example, there is a certain school of Catholics who. making extreme claims for democracy and tolerance, appear totally unable to consider the possibility that in a country like Spain the present regime, for all its faults, may be the present wisest alternative for Spaniards.
For our own part. we cannot doubt that the Belgian Socialists and Communists have deliberately exploited the tragic and unfounded international charges against King Leopold for the purpose of undermining the Christian prestige and authority of the Belgian Monarchy.
Thanks to the reluctance of other countries. notably our own, to repair the unjust injury done to the King and to realise that the very values we need ill our fight against Communism were here at stake. the enemies of the Belgian Monarchy partially succeeded in their aims. That they were not entirely successful ig due to the stout courage
and resistance of the Belgian Catholics and the intransigence of the exiled Monarch himself.
BUT it has been clear for some time that neither side could hope to win the day in the way it must be won, if the true function of a king above party and division were to be re-established.
Therefore a compromise became inevitable for the general good and the best hopes for the future of the Belgian Monarchy itself.
King Leopold has offered that compromise, and by doing so immediately takes the initiative again.
It is now for the opponents of the King to admit, in the interests of their country and countrymen, that the will for the Belgian Monarchy remains impregnable, that King Leopold's eldest son temporarily maintains continuity and symbolises his father's royal authority. and that the final resolution of the unhappy question of his father's position, one way or the other. can only shape itself in the course of that further experience which time alone makes possible.
SIR Stafford Cripps remains the
prisoner-no doubt the willing prisoner-of the social and economic system under which we live. In his broadcast he was probably right in maintaining that we are all committed to that system.
This system involves an immense compulsory redistribution of the wealth annually created for the purpose of ensuring that the basic needs of all the people arc sufficiently provided for. With this general purpose no honest Christian, we believe, can substantially quarrel ; but we are gradually realising that in fact it does not work quite as easily or effectively as we hart supposed.
The reason for this is that it ignores and by-pisses something quite essential in human nature, namely the creative urge in man which only operates at full power in conditions of free initiative. full responsibility, and stimulated by the sanctions of reward for sucoess and punishment for failure.
The Christian solution in Christian times was the general acceptance of the moral obligations of the Natural Law raised by the sense of the supernatural to love of our neighbour for God's sake. In postChristian times we are trying to make do with compulsory State paternal benevolence.
THIS paternalism works up to a I point, hut in course of time it is shown to be slowly failing because it involves a vicious circle. There is no real limit to what can be regarded as a genuine social priority, and therefore there is no limit to the percentage of annual production due for compulsory redistribution. But as the amount steadily grows. so does the compulsion coupled with the increasing withdrawal of reward for personal labour and enterprise steadily increase, affecting the less well-off even more hardly than the better
off. Moreover, there is an always increasing net loss due to the administration of the gigantic transfer. This is the circle in which Sir Stafford and all of us are caught.
That is why a modern Budget does nothing to meet the real need, which is a release of freedom and reward for all producers-a release now needed not only to raise the productive level, but even to maintain salaries and wages in step with an increasing cost of living.
Rather than face this problem, Sir Stafford looks the other way. and tries to persuade us that we are better off than ever. Are we?
What has been said about this Labour Budget would almost certainly apply to a Conservative Budget, for the basic problem is far bigger than any modern Party can solve. It is a fundamental dilemma of post-Christian economics.