Questions of the
by Michael de la Bedog
IN a leading article on Italian economic problems in Tues
day's Times the following observation is made : " It may be asked whether any plan of relief and reclamation in Italy which does not face the problem of birth control can be quite honest. Difficult though it is for a Christian Democratic Government to raise this question, it cannot for ever be avoided."
This suggests many and wide reflections, for the population problem of Italy does not stand alone. As it happens, it is as acute in the other two great defeated countries, germany and Japan.
We may go further and admit that the population problem of these three countries has had a very great deal to do with the military aggression from which the world has suffered at their hands.
As such. if there were one great responsibility imposed on the victor countries who undertook to save the world from the consequences of this aggressive policy. it would he the responsibility of solving by wise statesmanship and broad ideas that very problem.
Instead. five years after the end of the second war and thirty-two after the end of the first, britain's leading newspaper whispers in a hole and corner fashion the defeatist word " birth control."
Germany. Japan, Ital.
LET us not of course pretend that the problem of lebensraum has not been exaggerated by these countries, still less that it is
easy to solve in a constructive manner.
But, alas. the victor countries have little excuse indeed for finding themselves today up against the problem -and in more acute form than ever.
1 he simple truth is that their whole peace policies after both wars were positively and knowingly directed to intensifying, rather than curing, the problem which lay so much at the heart of the causes of modern war.
And this for a very simple reason.
Despite the propaganda protests of fighting in the cause of Christianity. civilisation and freedom, these three ideals were deliberately set On one side when it came to dealing with the vanquished.
So far from being encouraged and helped to expand, within of course a world system of controlled freedom such as the victors persistently preached, Germany after the first world war was hemmed in and encircled, while after the second war Germany and Japan were turned into near concentration camps. Germany was saddled with a vast incoming refugee problem, and Italy was still further deprived of the natural means of usefully distributing its surplus population, to the benefit of all, not only in different parts of the world. but even in former colonies of its own.
SERIOUS economists, who do not share Catholic convictions about the immorality of birth control, may believe that the world's problems cannot be solved save by resort in the end to this means of controlling population.
This point we are not here argu
ing. But many of them will at least be prepared to admit that the method of limiting population is a poor substitute for a world social order in which rising populations of producers are able to enrich us all by the consequences of their productive labour.
After all, each of us believes that in a decent social order we have it in us to give the world more than we take out of it. And the same could be true for those at present controlled out of existence, as well
as for those cooped up artificially in over-populated countries.
So long, therefore, as the great victor countries which mould the policy of the world throw Christian principles to one side and deliberately pursue policies calculated artificially to intensify the problems of over-population, which in the last resort arc a chief cause of war as they arc also a chief cause of the social unrest which produces Communism and Fascism. there can be no excuse whatever for the nasty little whisper of the Times that even a Catholic country and a Catholic political party must " face the problem of birth control " if it is to be fully honest.
Oh no, if we are going to bring up the question of honesty, then honesty compels us to admit that the completely dishonest in the matter are those responsible for hemming-in the peoples of Italy, Germany and Japan, and for doing less than nothing to create a decent Christian-principled world social order within which the people of the world may expand and earn the wealth which we all need.
Press and Crime
WE had little sympathy with the aims of the recent Press
Commission, which was clearly mainly political in character, and,
consequently, led to very little. But every day it is becoming clearer that something must be done by the Press itself to raise its steadily dropping moral character.
This is a vital matter. for though it is true that the readers of the newspapers do not easily accept the political lead of their favourite paper, we cannot doubt that they do unconsciously accept the moral tone and standard of the Press they are accustomed to read.
At present. there is great discussion, and not least in the papers themselves. about the need to restore flogging as a punishment for hooligan crime by young people.
In general, the papers seem to support this view, which may or may not he well founded. The answer to this last point cannot he given by the man in the street who thinks almost wholly according to his feelings in the matter—it can only be tentatively given after the most careful and expert investigation by experienced people. But one thing at least is certain.
The prominent sensationalising in the Press of these crimes is a potent cause of their spreading through the country and their. steady increase.
We shall always have potential criminals. as indeed we always have potentially vicious boys and girls in schools.
What determines the change from potential to actual. and what determines the special character at any given time of that actual may be hard exactly to determine,
But fashion is undoubtedly one of the chief factors.
And what can create and spread a fashion more quickly than the sp'read of news about a certain type of crime, and its glamourising by headlines and pictures ?
No doubt. the Press must report crime. but such reporting can he done soberly and simply. and in such a way that while it gives necessary information to the serious reader it will hardly he noticed by those who .are potential criminals.
We do not hesitate to say that the lack of self-restraint in a certain section of the popular Press is today an active cause in the intensification of the crime-wave.
NOR do we doubt that, more widely, the general moral slackness and low standards of some of the popular Press is a very real factor in maintaining
was doubtful about whether the majority of the people approved of political leaders, no
Conservative, who had risen to this eminence largely because of their parentage and social advantage.
Next evening a Conservative paper, deliberately reading the passage as a reference to the monarchy. challenged Mr. Bevan about his oath of allegiance to the King.
'1 his sort of thing, whether from the Labour or the Conservative point of view, is just plain dirty business.
Less blameworthy. but still hardly to be approved was the witch-hunt against Mr. Strachey.
It is we think reasonable, in view of Mr. Strachey's background, to raise in serious and sober fashion the question of his fitness to he Minister of War — though. if he is unfit to take this post he must certainly he unfit to take any.
Hut it is not a matter to he sensationalised; but rather to he raised in Parliament where the Minister can answer for himself and own Prime Minister answer for his own overriding responsibilities in the matter.
A queer postscript to the business was furnished by the Daily Worker which was not above fishing in the muddy waters and offering chapter and verse to prove that its erstwhile comrade, despite his anti-Communist protests, was (presumably) unfit to be Minister of War hecause his repudiation was unsatisfactory When we get to these depths. . .!
THE Lord Mayor of London's
plan to express practical thanks for food parcels by developing a residential centre in London for students from overseas should meet with universal approval and ample monetary support.
Food parcels have cheered the lives of most of us, and the fact that our food parcels, unlike many sent to Europe, were usually not strictly necessary, should make us all the more grateful to the friends who thus helped to cheer lives so often apt to he gastronomically dull.
and intensifying the lack of principle which is at the back of so many of our troubles.
It contributes to crime and especially perhaps sex crime; but it also contributes to the general failure to meet life vigorously and constructively, to respect home life and moral stability. to work harder, to think intelligently of political and social problems.
We would not wish to underrate the importance of material and economic factors, nor would we wish to exaggerate, as some do. the'valuc of a mere negative puritanism in suppressing the colour and legitimate fun of life.
Bad housing, secularist education, lack of playing ground and natural scope for children's activities, all these are vastly important. On the other hand, too severe a suppression of what naturally interests and stimulates our God-given senses can bring its own retribution in repression and frustration.
Rut there are surely standards; and the almost entire dislegard of such standards, not merely in traditional morals, but in beauty and some sort of intellectual seriousness. in a good deal of our contemporary Press may well be an even more important factor in maintaining purposelessness in life and in breeding crime and unhappiness than even the so much publicised material and economic evils of the days.
NOR, it must be admitted, is the proachP.ress politically above re There was a peculiar example last week of a vicious and unfair type of
propaganda. Mr. Bevan stated in Parliament that it would he interesting to have a plebiscite about whether a majority of the people was content to he ruled by a man just because he was the son of his father.
The present writer read this passage and interpreted it quite naturally as meaning that Mr. Bevan