Page 8, 25th October 1936

25th October 1936
Page 8
Page 8, 25th October 1936 — NOTES AND COMMENTS
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Locations: Bombay, Madrid, London

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NOTES AND COMMENTS

The British Offer to Spain

Everyone in this country, let us hope, is united in regard to one matter in Spain, united, that is, in the desire that as much suffering as possible shall be prevented and alleviated.

The tusk of the third party who tries to interfere either to prevent a fight or to stop the fighters from hurting one another too much has always been a thankless one and one that has been apt to lead to misunderstandings, not seldom drawing the wrath of both sides on to itself. Nevertheless, so long as men are men, it will always be attempted.

The Foreign Secretary's instructions to the British Embassy in Madrid to offer the good offices of the British Navy to make possible the exchange of hostages, and thus to ensure the safety of thousands who are now in danger in Madrid and elsewhere have been sent in the spirit of the humanitarian third-party. It has been Britain's tradition to intervene in continental troubles, and very often her intervention has been interpreted as interference. In this case, however, no one will question her intentions. Whether her offer will be appreciated by the present rulers of Madrid who hold, according to our correspondent, no less than 12,000 political prisoners, many of them priests and nuns, remains uncertain. We have little doubt that General Franco will do all he can to make possible this saving of life and avail himself of British help if it can be conveniently done.

The Right to Rebel

A point about the Spanish conflict appears to have been too much overlooked, Since its beginning we have heard a great deal in this country, and especially from " Left " sympathisers with the Reds, of the unwarranted action on the part of the Nationalists in rebelling against a legally elected and lawfully established government. It is surely surprising that gentlemen like Sir Stafford Cripps—to take an obvious example—should protest on this score. He and many like him believe in rebellion or revolution as a justified political means of saving, in case of necessity, those whom he calls the people, or more usually the workers. If it comes to that practically every item of " progress " of which the Liberal and Socialist are so proud has been achieved by revolution, the revolution of 1688, the American rebellion, the French revolution, and, to-day, the Russian revolution. Surely if revolution, as such is admitted as legitimate behaviour for one side, it must be admitted to be legitimate for the other—though, no doubt, undesirable and unpleasant in the latter case.

The Thomistic teaching on just rebellion is perfectly clear, and the present rising of the Nationalists—in reality a counter-revolution, as we showed last week—fulfils the conditions of justified rebellion.

But we are still puzzled as to why the other side make such a song about it. For them all revolution ought to be just.

A Madrid Cartoon

We have beside us a reproduction of a cartoon from a Madrid syndicalist paper. It depicts a man with rifle and cartridge pouch standing on guard and surrounded by eyes. On these eyes are crosses and fascists emblems. Above the figure is the appeal in giant letters: "Revolucionarios!" and under it, the' message: "No Os Fieis ni de Dios" (Revolutionaries! Fear nothing—not even God!). We ask again, how can the Bishop of Fulham, for example, stop to consider the " wisdom" or " unwisdom " of the Church, in the face of evidence like this? "If the Church, or any section of the Church," he said, " allies itself with the support of a particular political party, then the influence of the Church will stand or fall with that party." The Church as such, in point of fact, has not allied herself with any party or political cause, but individual Catholics would not hesitate to fall with any party that opposes propaganda of the above kind. And from a bishop of a State-church, surely the point of view is a little surprising!

Catholic Leadership

In a recent speech Mr. Richard O'Sullivan, K.C., has complained of the lack of Catholic leadership among the laity of this country. The complaint seems to us wellfounded. Leaders presumably are not made to order, but they can be prayed for. We arc unable to walk through the streets of London of an evening without seeing with shame the daily sale of the Daily Worker. This selling, we understand, is largely volunteer work. What eothusiasm for the cause that sale denotes, and what leadership somewhere it argues! Time and time again we are approached about the possibility of producing a daily Catholic paper. and every time we have to answer : " No hope for a generation." Why? Because Catholics would not buy it. unless it gave them all that the daily papers can give with their enormous resources. If Catholics had a tenth of the enthusiasm of Communists, a daily paper would he feasible. It would be a poor affair, no doubt, but it would be Catholic and accurate.

From this lethargy we shall not move until we are electrified by a leader, someone with personality and gifts prepared to devote every minute of his life to hard work for the cause and to die young as the result. And let us not give the excuse that we have no money to do things. There never was a case when sufficient enthusiasm did not make possible whatever money makes possible.

Bombay— The prolonged and severe rioting in Bombay arose out of the building of a Hindu temple hall next door to a mosque. In other words, the great Hindu-Moslem feud has broken out once more, and only the most insular of British politicians will imagine that the promised parliamentary institutions with their debates and election campaigns will do anything to diminish it except among a comparatively tiny group of semi-Europeanised students and exstudents.

But it would be a grave mistake to think that, because this "communal " antagonism is likely to make immense difficulties for the parliamentarianism now being so lavishly bestowed upon India, the antagonists are necessarily • unreasonable beings evho need to be raised to the level of parliamentary enlightenment. It would be truer to say that they have the perfectly sound instinct that political institutions ought not to embody radically contradictory philosophies of life and society.

England— This does not mean that it is impossible for those with radically different religions or ways of life to live peaceably. side by side. A political community directed by one predominating set of beliefs and principles can, for example, give facilities to a group within itself to live contently according to a different way of life on the understanding that it does not try to control the organs of State. But there can be no real political stability unless one fundamental philosophy of life does prevail in the State. The stability attained in this country between the Reform Act and the Great War resulted from the fact that the tolerance given by Liberalism to a wide variety of philosophies masked a thoroughgoing uniformity. An Englishman might hold any sort of religion or philosophy, but on the tacit understanding that he did not claim to mould public affairs by it, and apart from a few politically insignificant minorities no one did, and society was run as far as practicable on the principle of laisser faire. meaning the absence of any social principle. When communities had to be dealt with (whose religion coloured all their activities (as when) Irish affairs were on the board) the inherent instability of the Liberal State at once revealed itself.

And the East End The Great War closed the Liberal era and one nation after another has since sought to reconstruct itself radically in accordance with some comprehensive social philosophy and each in turn has discovered that dissenting minorities must be deprived of any hold on the political, economic or educational organs of the community as a whole. The cruelty and violence with which this deprivation has often been accompanied should not blind us to the essential logic of the process.

Reconstruction has been proceeding more silently but swiftly in England, chiefly on the secularist and bureaucratic lines of Whitehall, which provokes resistance from the deplorably few and effective resistance from hardly any.

But a number of other movements are now on foot with a philosophy calling for a radical reconstruction trid these were sure sooner or later to come up against the Jewish question. For the Jews, who among themselves form so closely-knit a com munity, are unless segregated, an alien element in any society that seeks to mould its institutions according to any other single philosophy of life. In a secularist Liberal laisser faire State they are entirely at home but no other can give them political power without destroying itself, for they, quite naturally, will never conform to its philosophy. (We are not, of course, speaking of Jews genuinely converted to Christianity.) Once again, the crudities and brutalities of the Fascist campaign in East London and other Jewish quarters should not be allowed to blind us to the reality of the problem there. And it was not Fascism that created the problem, but the Liberalism that allowed the Jew to become dominant in a then Christian country.

The Question of Uniforms

At the same time the Fascist movement of Sir Oswald Mosley itself constitutes a problem for the British Government. A minor aspect of it that is to the fore at the moment is the matter of their uniforms.

The practical difficulties of regulating uniforms in a way that would not equally ban the Boy Scouts or could not be evaded by a little ingenuity are notorious. Nor does there seem any good legal principle on which the wearing of an unofficial uniform could be banned except in relation to some illegal action that it encour ages or facilitates. And the stimulation of enthusiasm and of propagandist discipline could scarcely be described as such in England.

The Government would be well advised to think in terms of the kinds of actions characteristic of the men in uniforms. Do they, for example, take advantage of the uniforms to make concerted mevernents for the purpose of unlawful violence?

For so long as there is a regularly established Government in this country and no notorious breakdown of the public forces of order, the Government has the duty of seeing that the enforcement of order is not taken over by private organisations.

They have also the duty of seeing that the existing political institutions which they control and administer respond adequately to genuine public needs and desires. For it is the breakdown, complete or partial, of Parliamentary Government that is both a cause and a pretext for the rise of semi-military movements everywhere.




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