By Harold McCrone WHILE any move towards the re-integration of Britain with Europe which had a spiritual or cultural basis should naturally command the warm interest of Catholics, the present attempt to rush this country into a financialindustrial tie-up with six of its nations (involving the severance of its existing agreement with seven others), bids us take a long and careful look before expressing approval.
On the chosen ground, the economic one, the facts are these: (a) The present trade with the Six countries already forming the E.E.C. represents 17 per cent of our total export and is rising. (b) Our trade with the other part of Europe, the E.F.T.A. countries. is increasing at nearly ten per cent per annum. and is actually higher, on a per capita basis, than that with the Six. (c) Our trade with the Commonwealth countries is as high as 42 per cent—nearly half—of our total trade. Why should we destroy this? Yet we arc actually required to do so, for conjunction with the Six will involve us in raising tariff barriers against both E.F.T.A. and Commonwealth. On the narrowest business grounds the project simply does not make sense.
There is another ground one which the proposal, economically suicidal, is inherently dangerous. For while trade with the Commonwealth is complementary and therefore conducive of good on both sides, that with the Six would be competitive.
Why then should we legislate against that trade which conforms so excellently with both Christian teaching and family relationships in order to invite an extremely dubious and possibly mischievous future?
As for interested parties, this, too, is instructive. The financiers and the larger manufacturers are in favour. Why not? They speak for their own interests, not for the ordinary humble people of life.
Sir Roy Harrod, Oxford's leading economist, is asking the question, "How on earth shall we manage if we do go in?" But it is the ordinary folk who matter. and for them it may he something like disaster. Prices will rise (this is admitted by the protagonists), and wages almost certainly will fall. Since Monopoly will be finally "rationalised' oh a continental basis, men will he reduced to the level of functionaries of a gigantic system whether they like it or not. Further. they will he tinder the continual threat of blackmail by cheaper, or more "compliant" labour.
As for the Government, they are, if not dishonourable, at least inconsistent. Up to two years ago they were steadfastly against any betrayal of Commonwealth interests. and were. indeed. authors of the successful European Free Trade Association. Now with such suddenness and yet by devious and graduated processes they are*pre. pared to sacrifice both. If it be urged that with their inner knowledge they find compulsive reasons for the change, we can safely accept the assurance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Reginald Maudling. who is pro-Market, that. "We will still survive if we fail to join the Common Market. We have the rest of the world to make our living in, including in particular the Commonwealth and the E.F.T.A. countries". The economic argument is therefore dead.
As this becomes clear to the Marketeers. they shift their ground and assert that by joining the Community we shall cut out the possibility of wars which have ravaged Europe twice in a generation. As already shown, it may do nothing of the sort. It may provoke them Also the experience of history is that smaller nations wage smaller wars; that great aggregations simply increase the scale of conflict: and hence that continental belligerents will wage it on a global scale. The whole argument about Nuclear Disarmament is based on this likelihood.
if it he argued. as it is. that continental governments are but a step to world government, and that the latter will achieve final peace. since none will dare speak against it, then by that very fact it will be a global tyranny, and will set going outbursts in every part of the world.
Given the fallen nature of man, the way to deal with war is to break up the power of possible contestants; and this is achieved, not by political concentrations but by the retention, and even multiplication, of sovereignties
Since then both the economic and the military arguments in favour of us joining are baseless: and since economic conjunction would lead inevitably to political union (indeed, this is now openly declared to be the main aim), Catholics can freely turn their attention to the much more important spiritual aspects of such a project to sec how they would he affected.
These are, in order of priority, Social (from the Christian stand
point), Religious, Constitutional, and Legal. Regarding the first, Christian Social Order is based on those great principles adumbrated in Catholic authoritative teaching and specifically dealt with in the well-known Encyclicals. Without going into Particulars it can he safely said that they all exist to subserve one thing. And that thing is not the well-being of financialindustrial complexes, but the wellbeing of the full human personality of ordinary people everywhere, This must be thoroughly grasped, It does not mean the well-being of some Common Denominator of man—what is called the "common man", but that of all actual living men in all their diversities and honest proclivities. It requires the very maximum of human liberty in all that is not sin, consistent with that barest minimum of authority as will ensure public order. Further, it is insisted that this liberty is hest assured by economic independence of families, and that the health of society is preserved by the multiplication of small farms and small businesses
HUMAN LIBERTY It is when we consider this in relation to the E.E.C. that we find ourselves suddenly transported from the domain of economic imprudence to that of a serious and enveloping attack on human lib erty; in the sense mentioned in the case of the countries of the Six, and as a much more subtle menace in the case of our own. Regarding the first, the Community has declared its intention to drive eight million peasants off their land. In terms of families. dependents and labourers. this will mean several times that number who will be roughly divorced from their immemorial earth to become the wage-slaves of a uni. versal factory system. It brings us up sharp. What is afoot? A peasantry of small farming proprietors represents the best element in any country: minding their own busi• ness, producing food for the cities as well as themselves, and possessing, from the nature of the soil and the toil, a capable independence within the structure of an orderly State. The Church regards them as the healthy norm of society. Why are they being exterminated as such? What voice have they in their fate? Again. what is afoot?
CHRISTENDOM Turning to our own country. many of our people hail the project as a heaven-sent opportunity for restoring England to the Faith Their attitude is that -Protestant" England, sundered from "Catholic" Europe for 400 years will be once again absorbed into the noble cut ture of an undivided Christendom It is a pleasant idea but utterk naive.
How Protestant is England when we Catholics are already the strongest Christian body in the land? More importantly, how Catholic are the nations of the Six?
France of the Revolution is regarded by her clergy as a missionary country; like Italy she has an enormous Communist element —nearly half the electorate.
Germany and Holland are half Protestant.
The real Catholic nations of the continent arc outside the Six. Would we then be "re-ioinine Christendom"?
How far does the Catholic culture of the Six affect their political institutions?
Two things clearly emerge: Firstly however honourable may be the rulers in those countries. they have to operate. just as here. in a context which is not only unChristian but may be called antiChristian. That is to say. they have to accept. however unwillingly. a state of affairs in which not they but international financiers have the say. Their area of decision is limited and sometimes chosen by the latter.
Older Catholics will well remember the indignant grief with which Pope Pius XI castigated the modern economic regime as "hard, cruel and relentless", and attributed it to that "international imperialism in financial affairs" which he described as "noxious and detestable" During the 30 years that have passed since he spoke, this financial imperialism has so extended its scope and is so pervasive in almost every country and in every department of human activity that we have reached a state where it is accepted, even by Catholics in this country, as the normal social structure. It is against this background that the infamous proposal to eject men in millions from their own land is to be judged.
It is not unfair to regard it is a frontal attack on the liberty and the dignity of the Person, in the interests of high finance. The peasants