Page 5, 21st November 1941

21st November 1941
Page 5
Page 5, 21st November 1941 — Notes and Comments

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Locations: Washington, London


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Notes and Comments


IN the talks taking place between Presi dent Roosevelt, Mr. Cordell Hull and Mr. Kurusu, the Japanese emissary to the United States, there is a curious echo of our diplomatic relations with Germany before the War. Japan, like the Third Reich, insists on expansion. Her population is far in excess of what can he normally sustained by the narrow territory she occupies. This state of affairs. unfortunately for her, occurs at a time when colonial developments of other countries have left her no available out let. There is no easy solution of the problem, and, even if there were, it is not likely that it would be considered at a time like this when the United States is throwing its weight into the scales against a Power which used the same argument—though with far less reason— to support what events have proved to be an attempt at world-domination.

Nevertheless, it is a pity that, so far as can he ascertained from the somewhat meagre press reports of these conferences in Washington, the President and his advisers have taken up an intransigent and wholly negative attitude. However unwelcome may be the means taken to solve it, the problem, in Japan's case, as also in Italy's, is a real one and calls for sympathetic understanding and unbiassed study. Japan's own attitude, it is true, is far from helpful, but is it not, to some extent at least, provoked by the shrewd realisation that force is the only telling argument in a world that has no intention of listening to reason?

PREACHING AND PRACTIS ING THIS country makes great claims, .both to a very high standard in social matters and to moral political principles. All things considered, the claims are not unfounded, and certainly they are sustained by public opinion.. All the more surprising then—and all the more scandalising to the less pretentious foreigner— is that hard rock of so-called practical realism that makes its sharp point felt so often. Very recently we had the example of .a Burmese statesman, his heart doubtless warmed by the generosity of the Atlantic Charter, travelling to London to assure himself that we meant what we said. But he was allowed to return home dissatisfied. Why? Was it really because the Burmese were not fitted to rule Burma, or because we were far from certain that the Burmese would rule Burma in the interests of British dominion and British wealth?

The conditions of the Merchant Service, now in the public eye, afford another example. Why is it that men who as truly guard our lives as their brothers of the Royal Navy are unable to secure conditions of service and living equal to that of lesser merchant services? Is it because it would not pay those who have large financial stakes in shipping companies? In course of time these and other injustices are put right, but the surprising thing is that this harsh realism should be allowed to survive so long in a generous and advanced people. Who is responsible?

THE DUKE OF BEDFORD LORD Simon did not add to his repute non by his speech in the House of Lords on Tuesday. To say in the same breath of a man that he did not doubt him to be " high-minded, disinterested and sincere " and that his views were "utterly irresponsible and completely pestilential " was scarcely worthy of the mind of a Lord Chancellor.

If the Duke of Bedford is to be persecuted let it at least be on the definite and clearly-publicised view of the Government that pacifism and the support of a negotiated peace are dangerous to the public safety. If that is the case, we all know where we arc. But the Government has more than once protested that it is not concerned to prosecute for the sincere holding and publicising of views that are different from its own.

It is sheer arrogance for anyone, even a Government, to believe itself to know what will be best for the country tomorrow, for the conditions of to-morrow are known to God alone. All the more reason then to allow " high-minded. disinterested and sincere " men to take the risks of extreme personal unpopularity and possible danger by maintaining an opinion which might in the circumstances of to-morrow prove very helpful indeed to the country. History's verdict may well be that the Duke of Bedford's views were " pestilential." On the other hand history's verdict may be that Lord Simon's views proved pestilential. A little humility is required by man if the gods are not to make him mad prior to destroying him.

THE HOME-MAKER THE increasing pressure which the a Minister of Labour is bringing to bear on women to take up war work at all costs, is a highly unpleasant war necessity. We hear that in some European countries .the idea of " conscripting " women has caused, whether sincerely or not, much scandal. But in these matters there is nearly always a constructive, rather than a merely destructive, way out. But it is the harder way. Women can, so to say, have their revenge, by seeing to it that so far from being " masculinised " by modern industry, modern industry is " feminised" by them.

Modern industrialism lacks conspicuously the personal and homely atmo

sphere which characterised the workshops and rural crafts of a simpler society. The factory and mill, run by anonymous proprietors and subject to the change brought about by the substitution of contract for status, is as unhomeiike as a prison or a railway station waiting-room. Between employer end employees and between the employees there is no closer relationship than that created by the cash nexus and common financial interests. The scale on which modern commerce and industry are planned, and the mechanisation, has almost entirely elimMated the personal element.

Such a state of things is entirely opposed to the best instincts of woman kind. By nature woman is the homemaker. When that instinct is exercised she can endow even a slum with domestic charm. Even the tenement with its pigeonholed families has felt her influence. If she can carry her home-making powers into the outside world, she will effect a revolution as necessary as it is profound.

A JEWISH CENTENARY SOMETHING more than a newspaper centenary was commemorated last week when the Jewish Chronicle celebrated the anniversary of its first publication on November 12, 1841. This is the first Jewish newspaper in history to reach the age of 100, and full tribute is paid in an interesting number to the liberalism of the country in which the record has taken place. It is all the more noteworthy because of the contrast pointed out by the Chief Rabbi " between Israel's position and outlook in 1841 and the heartbreaking situation that confronts us a hundred years after."

A particularly warm message to the paper has been sent from Cardinal Hinsley who takes the occasion to denounce " the persecutions and calumnies directed against the Jewish people." There is an old belief that the world will not achieve a true Christian order until the Jews are converted to Christianity, and perhaps in that belief is to be found the real secret of the, best Christian attitude to the Jew. It is an attitude of great respect for the real aristocracy of the world. God's own " chosen people," that ancient, enduring and fearless race. It is an attitude consistent with criticism of a people who have not yet found what we must believe to be their final and true calling and who for that reason may he prone to temptations as deep as their vocation is high. It is, above all, an attitude of charity and hope, both in respect of prayer and of aid and sympathy. It is an attitude that must make "persecutions and calumnies" abhorrent. THE BRAINS' TRUST AN increasing number of letters corn" plaining of the way in which the popular B.B.C. " Brains' Trust " feature is conducted a?e reaching us. Last Sunday's programme appears to have gone beyond all bounds. According to our correspondence " pagan ideas about family life " were freely advocated. We sympathise with the difficulties that face the B.B.C. in organising this programme. Religious controversy, we understand, is banned, but such a ban unintelligently applied, can amount to anti-religious propaganda, for there are few matters worth discussing which do not have a natural religious relevance. It seems to us that the B.B.C. should make up its mind whether this is to be essentially a light feature of the " quiz " or " general knowledge " variety, or a serious feature. If it is to be considered serious—as the show of experts suggests —then a sound religious authority should he included in the team. If not, no pretence should be made to discuss serious moral and social problems.

COMPULSORY ARBITRATION AMERICAN Isolationism is not the La only brake on the operation of Presi

dent Roosevelt's policy; there are also those industrial magnates and workers whose differences are seriously impeding war production. Similar symptoms, though not on the same scale, have appeared among ourselves.

A state of war such as that which now exists brings the whole population under conditions resembling those of an army, and it is inconceivable that friction between different branches of the fighting forces should be allowed to impede the progress of a campaign.

Pius XI, in Quadragesinto Anna, describing the corporations of modern Italy, wrote: " Strikes and lock-outs are forbidden. If the contending parties cannot come to an agreement, public authority intervenes. Little reflection is required to perceive the advantage of the institution thus summarily described: peace-collaboration of the classes, repression of Socialist organizations and efforts, the moderating influence of a special ministry."

The Portuguese Constitution, largely based on this and other encyclicals, similarly forbids strikes and lock-outs. Even in our own Dominions, Labour has endorsed this principle, It is, indeed, implied in the conception

of the co-operative State. Whether it would suit the British genius to prohibit strikes and lock-outs in times of peace is a question, but it is hard to find any sort of defence for them in rinses of totall, tarian war.

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