Page 10, 24th August 1935

24th August 1935
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Page 10, 24th August 1935 — NOTES & • COMMENTS

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Organisations: League of Nations


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Keywords: Politics, London, Fascism

" Most Glorious

Though we do not share the contempt of some of our contemporaries for the Ethiopians and their state of civilisation, nevertheless, if Italy invades their country it is hardly to be supposed that, with whatever losses, the war will be ultimately anything but a walk-over for the Italians. A comparison of the military resources of Italy and Ethiopia alone tells its own story. In view of this, Mussolini's words at Benevento, referring to "the most glorious of our victories," and again at Pettoranello, where he declared "we shall go ahead until we have built up the Fascist Empire," are nothing less than nauseating.

The glory that would accrue to Italy from a military triumph over Ethiopia would be the "glory" of a big boy wantonly thrashing a small one.

The Black Man In Arms

The last war was mainly a white man's war. But if the trouble between Italy and Abyssinia brings about hostilities the black races are likely to figure prominently in it. M. Candace, France's Negro deputy, has warned M. Laval that the black peoples of the world support the cause of Abyssinia, and already more than one Zulu chieftain has offered his help to the Emperor.

It is a long time since the native African took an effective part in the making of history, but it may be that his time is now corning, and that the soil which has been so long lying fallow will bear its appointed crop. A united black race in arms suggests events for a parallel to which we should have to go back to Europe's sufferings under the deluge of northern barbarians in earlier centuries. The Pope's interest in African missions, viewed from this standpoint. has a prophetic quality.

The Peace Ballot

We print this week the summarised results of the "peace ballot," which the Catholic Herald has always supported as a means of ascertaining the views of the more thoughtful part of the community on the principal peace-and-war issues.

From various sides attempts have been made to "crab" the value of the ballot, and we do not deny that some people have tried, from opposite extremes, to read more into the returns of answers to the questions than can certainly be found there. Nevertheless, the virtual unanimity of 38 per cent. of the people over eighteen about the League of Nations, reduction of armaments by agreement, and prisate manufacture of arms, and the overwhelming majority against the use of aircraft in war, is undeniably of very great significance. There is a solid mass of "peace-minded" people—not "pacifists" in a derogatory sense—in Great Britain.

The average poll. 38.2 per cent., is admittedly low, and it was dragged down by Northern Ireland. On the other hand. the Welsh poll, 62.3 prit cent., was 24.4 per cent. above that of England —one more evidence of the intelligent interest in vital issues taken by the Welsh at large.

A Still Larger London ?

Nearly half the new factories opened in Great Britain last year were opened in the " greater London " area. But before the year began London was already the biggest manufacturing town in the countrybigger than Birmingham or Leeds—in addition to being the biggest port, the biggest commercial centre, the biggest financial centre, the biggest administrative centre, and the biggest residential centre in the country.

To emphasise the news about the factories there comes a proposal by London's county council to build houses on thirty acres of playground at Hackney Marshes.

This much at least is clear. Whoever acquiesces unprotestingly in the herding together of eight or nine millions of human beings in the London area (to say nothing of the increase of that number) has no right to complain of the defects of the sarious schemes under which these millions are housed, moved to work and back, or provided with air or recreation or social relations. It would be as unreasonable as to complain that eggs arrive broken, after insisting on packing a gross in a box that will only contain them if their sides are flattened.

Where Are The Bohemians ?

The Paris correspondent of the Observer has noted the disappearance of student café life and of the tradition associated with the Quartier Latin. Chelsea Village. near Washington Square, NeW York, has witnessed a similar disappearance of the bohemianism once associated with it. London hes its artistic and literary centres, but Grub Street is no more and neither Hampstead nor Bloomsbury can be cornpared with the former haunts of British bohemianism.

The respectability of the arts and of the writing trade is one of the results of the contemporary craze for tidying up. Disreputable in many respects as were those ancient haunts. it is doubtful if the gain in respectahility has . much moral value or has meant a gain in genius. It was not

" Defiling The Vanities"

Some weeks ago we dared not to attack, perhaps hardly to criticise, but to set a question-mark against a public utterance of Mr. I3elloc's Chesterton. To-day let us overbalance this by calling on all our readers to order a recent number of G. K.'s Weekly (August 8) and read what he has to say on "Defiling the Vanities."

It is a plea for the natural. " • . . The flatness and imbecility and vulgarity in the soul, with which decaying Capitalism has now poisoned half the world, is not only to be found in indifference to divine things, but also in the defilement of the human things which religion reghlates, and even the human things which religion has often to restrain . . . such things as glory and the great love of our own land and the epic of the love of woman."

It is a superb statement of, not, alas!, what so many men and women are conscious of to-day, but of what so few realise: the degradation, the making ignominious, of "the human things," choked and befouled by the rubbish ground out by the machinery of contemporary life.

Motors And Men

Motorists have not been slow to point out that the ministry of transport's recent analysis of road accidents shows that 736 of the 1,500 examined are attributed to the fault of pedestrians; and a very little observation from a car makes it clear that many pedestrians are careless or rash or both.

On the other hand it is not true that the report supports the claim that high speed has little to do with accidents. Of the 376 fatalities attributed to motor-drivers 113 are put down to excessive speed— nearly three times as many as to any other single cause. The fact that in nearly 67 per cent. of the examined cases the cars were travelling at under 30 miles an hour is not to the point—unless one has the hardihood to argue that a higher speed would have decreased the likelihood of accident.

Meanwhile, the Chief Constable of Manchester has found it necessary to issue a special warning to motorists who exceed the speed limit, threatening stringent measures. It is good that there is one city where cars are not to be allowed to chivvy human beings about the streets as if they were hens.

The Runaway Car

The car which started up with an individual (not the owner) in it who was unable to drive and, in his panic, knocked over a cyclist presents a symbolic picture of our civilisation. We have lost control of the machinery and we have done so because, having repudiated all effective forms of moral discipline, we have lost control of ourselves. We cannot too often recall the words of Sir Alfred Ewing when, speaking as president of the British Association, he referred to the growth of mechanism. "Man," he said, "is ethically unprepared for so great a bounty. In the slow evolution of morals he is still unfit for the tremendous responsibility it entails. The command of Nature has been put into his hands before he knows how to command himself." The solution of the problem so energetically tackled by Mr. Hore-Belisha is beyond any minister as such. The fact that the numbers killed and injured on the roads in August bank holiday week were higher than a year ago reveals to what an extent the car is out of hand.

America's Social Revolution

The passing of the Social Security Act initiating an old-age pension scheme, an unemployment insurance measure and a system of child welfare introduces a change in American life which may be well called revolutionary. The individualism of the United States has resented hitherto both state aid for poverty and the establishment of charitable institutions. Even the hospitals demand payment from patients who here would be, as a matter of course, granted free treatment.

Acceptance of a system not unlike that of the dole means that the depression has killed the old, self-reliant individualism which, under prosperous conditions, so greatly flourished in the States. It will be interesting to watch how the new order works and what its effect will be on the American character. At least it should diminish the begging which was becoming a notable feature in American cities.

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