"The Civil War Of 1943"
(The following account of " The Religious Persecution in England" is very much condensed from a book of that name, published in Paris in the summer of 1943 which went very rapidly through twelve editions.) HE civil war which began on July 18, 1942, immediately took on the aspect of a social and religious renaissance, as is shown by the order obtaining in White England, now two-thirds of the country comprising roughly all territory west of a line drawn from Liverpool, Nottingham, London, but excluding these cities, London itself being encircled along a line, Hatfield, Uxbridge, Croydon, Rochester.
Before it began and to this day in Red England there was revolution : a devastating revolution which has upset the economic order, suppressed justice, disorganised social life and destroyed everything related to religion and faith, This is what we have to study, asking ourselves especially how such a disaster has become possible in a Protestant Christian country?
During the years of relative economic prosperity, from 1933 to 1937, Communism cleverly infiltrated itself into the country, working with scarcely a sound and taking extreme pains to cover its mailed fist with the velvet glove of alluring promises of economic equality, of intellectual emancipation, of modern outlook, of a semi-religious enthusiasm for a new cause and of invitations to all of Liberal or Labour sympathy to work with it against the paramount evil of Fascism, This last suggestion (though there was no Fascism to speak of in the country) turned out to be a tactical masterpiece. Though Communism did not come out into the open during these years and no open alliances with it were made—it was careful to see to that—it made much secret headway through its cells in industrial towns and factories, gaining a hidden and anonymous ascendancy in certain sections of the Trade Union movement, occasionally tentatively trying out its hand in a strike or two, as in the London 'bus strike of 1937.
Most Subtle Propaganda But scarcely less important than this underground progress among workers, the great majority of whom scarcely knew what it all really meant, was the intellectual and cultural advances it was making throughout the population. Exploiting the antiFascist cry, in particular, it was able to build a solid intellectual Left Front which included religious, political, literary, economic and labour leaders. So brilliantly conceived and executed was this plan, supported as •it was by the international Marxist movement, that more than half England, and the soi-disant intellectual half almost automatically read European disturbances as instances of Fascist stm,ression, so much so that—will it be believed? --both religious and capitalist papers almost unanimously defended the Marxian revolution in Spain with its murder of tens of thousands of innocent victims, its destruction of churches and private property and its theft of public and private goods in the interests of a handful of Anarchistic and Communist leaders, reinforced by gaol-birds, the dregs of the population and a mass of deluded men and women—defended all this simply because clever propaganda kept one-half of the truth from them and made them interpret the other as resistance to Fascism and tyranny.
Thus was the ground skilfully prepared in boom time.
The Slump of '33
Came the great slump by comparison with which the slump of 1929 was a mere ripple on the economic sea. . . .
Millions were thrown out of employment . . . all confidence disappeared . . . shares fell to rock-bottom . . . social insurances were going bankrupt . . . the currency began to fall.
The Nationalist Government, made responsible for the collapse, still held a big majority of seats. It had more than a year to run. Its only chance seemed to lie in the tremendous dissensions among the opposition. The leadership of the moderates, the Attlees and the Citrines, was challenged by new extremists appearing all over the country. Riots of an ugly nature were breaking out sporadically in industrial cen tres, a church or two had been attacked, some factories were fired.
Incompetent Government Meanwhile what seemed like the voice of reason was making itself slowly felt. The intellectual Left journals were declaring that the Government was incompetent and could not keep order, but revolution must be averted. A strong and united Left government was needed. The threatened Labour leaders lapped this up under the lead of the Daily Herald. The extreme Left wing grew quieter and seemed ready to bargain. The Communists whose numbers were growing apace in London and the North made noisy but not very serious difficulties.
Thus was born the United Front whose leadership was divided among anti-Christian doctrinaire Liberals, the old guard of Labour, the extreme Socialists who had captured most of the Trade Unions and who were known to control nearly all the industrial and mining constituencies, and the Communists now scarcely distinguishable from the extreme Socialists. The United Front swept the distressed country in the terrible spring of 1940.
But so far from the voice of reason prevailing, things went from bad to worse. Poverty and distress grew apace; tax-returns fell steadily despite gigantic increases in taxation; Cabinet members were known
to be at loggerheads; Parliament was in a constant uproar, the Opposition being scarcely allowed to speak and the Government supporters constantly quarrelling among themselves. Each meeting began with a free fight over the singing of the Red Flag.
Spirit of Lawlessness
Riots were now increasing in numbers and frequency and the spirit of vandalism was growing. There were frequent and bloody clashes with an exasperated police. Local tribunals could not keep up with their work and a spirit of challenge to the authority of law was abroad. Sit-down strikes out of pure class-hatred were the order of the day. But much more disturbing than all this were troubles at Aldershot and in some other military centres while a great mutiny broke out in the Fleet. It was noticed too that in certain towns the police were very half-hearted in dealing with riots. The fact was that the Home Office, the War Office and the Admiralty were all in the hands of extrcm' Socialist Ministers, while the same party, with a growing number of Communists, had captured nearly all the local governs means.
A great miners' revolt in Durham began in the autumn of 1940 and had to be sup. pressed by the military to the horror of the Communists abroad. More than 2,000 miners were killed. Durham Cathedral and Town Hall were practically destroyed on the pretence that the police and the soldiers had used them to fire from. It was also generally believed both at home and abroad that some clergymen and ecclesiastical students were firing from the former.
General Feeling of Insecurity The revolt was put down, but from that hour scarcely any citizen in any town 01 importance felt safe. The example of Durham Cathedral seemed an inspiration, and when in late 1941 the Bill to disestablish the Anglican Church came before the House one of the Conservative members was able to read out the long list of churches destroyed and clergymen, priests and nuns killed or injured in riots throughout the country during the past months. It was curious and very English that in the long series of socialising acts, the question of the Church had been shelved, largely because the Left Ministry which had revolutionised Britain, both in law and fact. felt that a legal attack on the Church would be more likely to wake the people up tc realities than anything else. As it happened, the Bill caused the last Ministerial crisis before the war. The Liberals and the Labourites, though they certainly had no desire to defend a Church whose immense wealth was described by the Extremists quoting, not from secret papers and hidden archives as once in Spain, but from Whitaker's Almanac and other current reference books, at last took the opportunity to make a stand against the drift towards revolution. At the end of a violent debate in which certain Ministers went even further than the Conservatives in their denunciation of the Government, the latter's majority dwindled 40 20, and all the Liberal and Labour Cabinet Ministers, handed in their resignations. The Church Times, in a leader that week, wrote of " their fine courage, first in confetss:e3 their mistakes and then in standing by their country whose cause in the present distressing state of affairs was identical with the cause of the Christian religion."
Lower down in the leader they were called "heroes, whose heroism may yet be further tested by being faced with what would be tantamount to a martyr's death." In certain Liberal organs abroad the Church Times was roundly accused of prostituting Christian for political and economic ends and reminded of the fact that the incompetence, social snobbery and wealth of the Anglican Church were quite enough to account for the Government's enlightened and democratic attack on it.
Communists in the Cabinet There is no space to go on with the story. It will be recalled that the remaining Ministers recruited Communist leaders to fill the vacant offices, that, together with the Communist local authorities, they systematically penalised every property holder, however poor, made ordinary business impossible, filled 'the police, navy and army with their own creatures, caused the resignation of nearly all the officers, did nothing to suppress the growing anarchy, but seemed to encourage it.
It was then that orders for •the Communist revolution came from Moscow, The carrying out of the plans were once or twice delayed, but meanwhile certain army officers in conjunction with one or two millionaire industrial leaders (an archbishop or two had been consulted) were preparing the counter-revolution. They knew that nearly all the army and practically the whole of the West of England was for them.
Alleged Rebel Leaders Mr. Winston Churchill, it was believed, was the real organiser of the successful revolt against British democratic institutions and the Duchess of Atholl led the women of the country against the Red forces. The Reds held London and the great cities in every one of which there were terrible massacres, especially of clergymen and priests. St. Paul's and Westminster Cathedral were gutted, but the Abbey was spared because it was so near Whitehall in very much the same way as the Cathedral of Barcelona was spared in the Spanish war. Farm Street was burnt down in the earliest days of the war and Jesuit priests who were household names to the whole of the Catholic people were executed.
It is also estimated that only five per cent. of the Protestant churches of inner London were spared and certainly some 10,000 of the names listed in Crock ford's are missing. It was hard for Englishmen to understand why so many progressive and intellectual circles abroad retained sympathy for the constituted Government. The English memory is short.
The Church Titnes had to he edited in Oxford, the rebel headquarters, and to this day proves itself an invaluable propaganda sheet for the cause. in certain advanced religious circles on the Continent it is strongly felt that its support of Fascism is compromising true Christianity.