A STUPID BAN
THE Prime Minister has on various A occasions laughed absurdities out of court. He has done the country an equally timely service in putting an cud in tactful and felicitous phrases to the B.B.C.'s bans on musicians and artists whuse views on political matters do not accord with those of the Goverenient. We say the "Government " because, though the B.B.C. has to hold the baby, there is no proof that this unnecessary ban originated with the B.B.C.'s governors or directors. It is at least certain that it was strongly approved by the Minister of Information who, once again, has gravely misread the temper of the country. On each occasion the opposition to him has been immediate, strong and well-nigh universal, and Mr. Churchill's commonsense and fundamental Britishness have enabled him bluntly to recognise the fact.
Some papers have attempted to elevate this and other incidents into evidence of hidden " Fascism." We do not agree. They are simply examples of stupidity. If one is really interested in discovering where the Englishman's freedom is basically imperilled, one must examine the social and economic order rather then the political. The Britisher is allowed to say what he likes, because he is virtually impotent against the economic forces, large and small, that force him to behave as others like. Individual liberty is necessarily very restricted in any modern State, but economic independence and security at least allow of a measure of non-co-operation through which religious and moral freedom can be expressed in regard to public policy. But little even of that is possible in the "servile State."
LAST week Mr. Thorne asked the " Foreign Secretary to state the amount of money that the governments of countries under military control of Germany have to pay to their invaders. But it would appear that even the figure of £1,050 millions given in the official reply is an underestimate, though that figure only applies to exactions over a limited area and does not include the loot from Bulgaria, Rumania, Czechoslovakia and
Poland. The fact is that it is almost impossible to express the German economic technique itt terms of money at all. It is so radical, so ingenious and so completely without scruple that the statistician and the economist are taken hopelessly out of their depth and some new dodge has generally been invented by the time they have caught up with the last but three. It is now generally realised that payment for indigenous goods by means of blocked marks is a form of impost, like any other, although the outward semblance of free buying and selling may still he observed. But what of the compulsory de-industrialisation of the occupied territories? Even if It record is kept in some tortuous form of accountancy of the actual physical loot of machinery and plant from French and Belgian concerns what computation can be made of the loss of capital values suffered by factories thus made idle and of the corresponding gain to their sometime German rivals? An apparent uneasiness in their lingering vestiges of a conscience appears to have made the German authorities publicise the fact that their exports to the conquered territories have increased since the beginning of the war. But according to Mr. Paul Einzig these so-called " export" figures include munitions of war shipped to the German
armies of occupation! if Mr. Einzig's statement is correct, this manoeuare represents a degree of effrontery to which only the German expletive " unerhbrt" can do a semblance of justice.
The official reply in this matter very properly stressed the fact that the maximum annual demand from Germany ever contemplated under the Young Plan was £125 millions, which amounts to less than one-third of the present French payment. It might also be recalled (if an old controversy is to be revived) that in his fierce attack on the Reparations Commission and the Treaty of Versailles generally, Mr. Keynes pointed out in horrorstruck tones that it would be legally possible under the Treaty to impose a thirty-year annuity on Germany of between £400 and £700 millions. Mr. Keynes argued that such an exaction was not only monstrous hut impossible, but the Germans appear now to be trying to prove that this advocacy was mistaken. All claims to reparations involve of course incalculable consequent losses owing to the economic maladjustment that must result, but the present German policy shows that Hitler at least has no intention of avoiding the mistakes we made. Rather the contrary:
DE MUN CENTENARY
wE read in French papers that considerable attention has been given to the recently celebrated centenary of the birth of that Catholic social pioneer, Comte Albert de Mun. It is amusing to note the efforts being made to describe de Mun as the champion of the " National Renovation," and it is emphasised that he was a " social Catholic" and not a Christian Socialist. Above all it is pointed out that de Murt, though he countenanced the republic, was far from being a democrat in the contemporary sense. One paper regrets that de Mon did not survive to save Catholics from the democratic heresies.
On the other hand it is announced in this country that a body of Catholics have organised themselves into an International Catholic Democratic Union. And this body will, no doubt, be equally enthusiastic in claiming a de Mon as its champion. We feel that the time has come when Catholics, whether in France or in this country, would do better to expound the essential of Catholic social and political principles and to seek to apply them in whatever political order happens to exist than to band themselves into advocates of democracy, socialism or national renovations, all of which in actual fact are more or less tainted with secularist errors and committed by secularist antecedents.
MUDDLE IN WAR INDUSTRY
wHILE measures are being enacted at
tremendous speed to mobilise women for war work and increase our production of munitions evidence of grave lack of co-ordination between supply depts. is coming to light and causing deep dissatisfaction in engineering circles. The secretary of the Trades Council in a large industrial town containing many factories engaged upon aircraft and other essential work, told our Labour Correspondent last week that owing to the lack of work foremen of engineering depts. are mtually telling their men to bring some iob or other from home with them to do to fill up their time. Men were being called in over week-ends at overtime rates with nothing whatever to do.
Mr. Fred Smith, the general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, in the February issue of the A.E.U. Monthly Journal has some very pointed comments to make on this matter.
"Cases can be cited of factories and workshops where the plant is not working Co capacity, but not because labour of the right sort is lacking. Daily we have complaints of highly qualified and competent workers standing around waiting for materials or for orders to execute. The anomaly of short time working on the one hand, and of excessive overtime on the other, is still to be found in the most vital and essential of the war trades, even in aircraft production." Such statements are not encouraging, although at the same time their import must not be exaggerated. There is unfortunately no doubt that as yet we have not yet got to 100% efficiency in our war production, and that we still retain procedures in our Government departments reminiscent of the possibly not-sos fictitious Ministry of Circumlocution.
MERCHANTS OF DEATH
THE nightmare craziness of the inter nationalization of commerce, entirely irrespective of moral and political considerations, appears to continue. America, for example, condemns Japan's aggression and hacks China's fight for liberty but she supplies Japan with raw materials without which she could not keep up the war. Five days before this country went to war with Nazi Germany her agents were dipping into our stocks of nonferrous metals for cash and delivery before September I. Russia, Germany's ally, is still supplied from sources supposedly horrified by Germany's aggression.
The latest of these mad tales comes from Melbourne, Australia. In this case, Japan, a member of the Axis, is quite content to supply Australia with many items essential to her war activities. The Japanese Consul General has stated that the materials included army uniforms and machine tools.
Akiyama said trade between Japan and Australia was growing steadily. He announced that the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (Japan Mail Steamship Company) was putting three10,000-ton liners into the Japan-Australia service and said this indicated that Japan's policy was one of friendship toward Australia and peace in the Pacific.
CREDIT UNIONS AND CO-OPERATIVES
NEWS of Credit Unions and Co-operatives have often appeared in this newspaper. Both names are so easily confused with other social experiments or institutions that it is worth making their nature clear. Professor O'Rahilly has given a very good account of credit unions in his latest book Money. Expressing his conviction " of the need for institutions which will supply the small man in his recurrent requirements for temporary accommodation at a rate comparable to that which the well-to-do enjoy," he explains: A credit union is an association of persons united by some common bond or community of interest, e.g. parish, creamery, industry, factory; the numbers in a union vary from 50 to 5,000. The object is to encourage thrift and business methods among the members, to educate them, to encourage a spirit of mutual help. The small savings of the individuals are pooled and then lent back at reasonable rates, thus eliminating the subjection of the average worker and the small farmer to usury. The union is not composed of two groups: thrifty savers and thriftless borrowers. All the members are systematic savers, some of whom borrow from time to time for legitimate purposes. The loans are limited to productive and provident objects e.g. sickness. tools, repairs, emergencies; and preference is given to small loans. In the U.S.A. the charge on loans is not allowed to exceed 1 p.c. per month. This helps to eliminate buying on credit; for the cash price plus cost of a credit union loan is always less than the instalment price.
Retail co-operatives, of which there are 2,000 in the U.S.A., apply the same principles of pooling the wealth, experience and labour of the small community to the problems of production and distribution.
It is possible that Great Britain after the war may find itself a more suitable field for the development of enterprises which, according to O'Rahilly, are " of enormous importance to 95% of the people," though the vast urbanisation of otr country presents exceptional difficulties.