Page 4, 28th September 1945

28th September 1945
Page 4
Page 4, 28th September 1945 — PROF. LASKI TALKS TOO MUCH
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PROF. LASKI TALKS TOO MUCH

WE have recently heard a Judge ruling that the holding of a British passport, however obtained, creates an obligation of allegiance to the Crown, and the penalty for failing in this obligation is death. If this is so, we suggest that elevation to the rank of chairman of the Labour Party imposes an obligation in spirit as well as letter of allegiance and loyalty to the responsible leaders of that Party, particularly when they happen to be His Majesty's Government. it is. howevei. an obligation which Harold Laski, it appears, delights to dishonour. Two or three weeks ago this Professor had to be called to book by members of his own Party for harming the national cause' by speaking abroad of his country as a second-class Power. Later he explained that he was trying to be funny, it was not his fault that no one could see the joke. In Italy he' took it on himself to advise his Italian comrades to put an end to the Concordat and the Catholic schools. Is this the wish of the Labour Cabinet, and, if not, does it help Britain in these delicate and anxious times to be represented in such terms abroad by the "Cheinnan " of the Party in power?

And now Laski is reported as broadcasting to the U.S.A.: "Our peoples did not make the immense sacrifices of this war to perpetuate either a tyranny like that of Franco, dr an unedifying mythology like a Vaticans sponsored King of Spain trying hastily to learn the vocabulary of the four freedoms." This point of view is added to others which have caused the columnist in the New York Sun to say: " Since the Labourites have come to power Harold Laski, has done nothing but talk, and maybe that is why the British have such an unfavourable press in this country."

A Clerk's Treas WE admit that Laski's views on Spain are more representative of his Party than his other views, but it takes a Laski to drag in the gratuitous and oinwholly unfounded sneer at the Vatican. It must equally delight him to realise that his words are calculated to handicap the *work of the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues who, while they wish to hasten constitutional changes in Spain, have a sufficient sense of responsibility to their fellow human-beings to wish also to avoid a recurrence of bloodshed and misery in that country. The academic mind of Professor Laski, whose sight ot blood has probably been limited tn his own (shaving) and whose experience of misery is doubtless closely connected with the common cold, will scarcely permit such petty scruples to interfere with his vision of a world oiled by the little grey cells pumped up with hot air at the London School of Economics.

More seriously, however, we suggest that the Professor is engaged on culpably mischievous work at a critical moment in the world's history, As a " clerk," and a pontiff among clerks, one, moreover, not only well trained ir. abstract political theory but in the history of Europe, not excluding that of the Church, he must know perfectly well that any evolution, however rapid, towards popular authority and responsibility cannot be maintained except

within a moral framework. Even though he may personally dislike the Church, he knows that to-day it stands as the sole moral authority in many parts of Europe and that it is fully conscious of its great responsibility as a necessary moral insulator in the great changes that are taking place. We do not ask him to support the Church; but that he should go out of his way to echo the ignbrant insults of Moscow and wantonly seek to weaken the Church's moral weight is inconsistent with his own stated idealism. Again, he knows through his training and experience better than the majority of the members of his Party that his own ideal of real liberty through socialist planning is very far from being realised to-day in Russia. He is entitled to hope that Russia will yet fulfil the hopes he places in it, but he is not entitled to offer the nationalism, imperialism and tyranny of present-day Russia as a model for European countries striving to reconcile the ideals of liberty and socialism. Nor do we think he is entitled to hurl insults at the authoritarianism of Franco's Spain while deliberately closing his eyes to what is happening in Russia and Rutsia's satellite countries. Among the " clerks " of to-day there is none more treasonable than Professor Laski.

DEMOCRACY AND FASCISM

IT has been admitted that the Foreign Secretaries' talks in London have been held up

through the totally divergent views held between them on the meaning of democracy. In these conditions it is instructive to turn to Moscow itself to discover what exact meaning is there attached to the word. Two broadcasts this week are helpful. In these it is made amply clear that democracy means for Russia the single-minded pureuit 01 Ilse aims ot a party in power and diligence in the elimination by any means of people or influences hostile to those aims. Hitler and Mussolini would have agreed in their hearts and admired the courageous legic, but they would scarcely have dared put it so crudely.

Here is what a Moscow radio commentator Said last Friday: " A rather strange discussion has arisen in the press abroad on whether or not thc Soviet State is really demo crane. We Soviet people are decidedly perplexed. I think the war just fought and won is the best answer. Without doubt, this was a war of the united forces of democracy against the joint forces of Fascism, and democracy was the victor. German Fascism was defeated by the Red Army. which liberated the democratic States of a considerable part of Europe, and restored to them their independence, freedom and democratic institutions. Now that the war is over. the country which is roost persistently fighting for the eradication of all the remnants of Fascism should be considered the most demo

cratic Far from all the democratic States have done every thing possible in this respect. U.S. democracy, for example, still tolerates the Fascist propaganda carried on .by a definite section of its press. In the U.S.A. and Britain there are persons living in peace and comfort who, throughout the war with Fascism, openly advocated a cornpromise peace with Hitler and did their utmost to save Fascist Germany and undermine the unity of all democracy. With these black spots of all shapes and sizes on West European and U.S. democracy, it would be better for those who like to take such a critical view of the U.S.S.R. to follow the hears advice to the monkey iii the fable.

Why. dear lady, look so hard for the faults of others? It would be far better to look at yourself."'

Congratulating itself on its 10.000th issue Pravda writes: " The freedom of the Soviet Press serves the people. The Soviet journalist is free because he cannot be influenced from outside. The Soviet journalist is a worker. and is paid for his work. But he does not work for the sake of money. He does not sell himself. He does not peddle in news. Does any single foreign journalist enjoy such freedom?" Yes, the totalitarian press in any totalitarian country.

The Case oi Palestine WE may virtuously smile at this ludicrous inversion of the very essence of democracy which depends on a leasoned conviction, togeiher with the acceptance of a freely-discussed and peacefully-reached decision in terms of the facts, but let us remember that if we enjoy some degree of democracy in our own internal affairs, we easily submit to " Fascism " where it is a case of arguing and defending national issues. To-day the nations are rapidly turning to international Fascism which means asserting the right of the strongest to speak in the name of truth and liberty. That is the tight which has been going on round a table in London. The notion of the common good and the rights of others who may be concerned arc lost sight of in the game of bargaining which turns on the question which every Power asks itself: what can I get away with? And the settlement so reached will in due course be qualified with the same high-sounding names which Soviet Russia invokes (as Hitler invoked) in ,her apologias.

Nor is this conception of politics confined to nations. The strongest possible pressure is now being used, for example, to give Palestine to the Jews. We have yet to discover any case for the Jewish claim as against the Arabs which would be in keeping with the principles of justice, freedom and truth which we habitually make when we are talking ot domestic politics. Instead a will and a convenience are asseited and then described as a right to be implemented, if necessary. by force. We are not satisfied that the immense increase of this pressure during and ;ince the war teflects nothing but the sufferings of the Jews during that war. It must to a large extent be accounted for by the rapid spread of the assertion of will backed by force In the name of truth and rights which was and remains the essential evil of Fascism.

There is nothing new in all this. It ts simply an effect of the rapid .collapse ef that liberalism which was a kind of .sholly secularised Christian moral teaching. We are reverting to a jungle law. made all the more terrible by the power of mechanisation, all the more dangerous because of surviving hypocritical pretences and all the more effective because Christianity itself has for the great majority of men been successfully debunked EDUCATING DEMOCRACY AN address given by Sir Ronald Forbes at the annual conference of the British Institute of Adult Education made clear how great is the interest shown by the forces overseas in the educational courses provided by A.B.C.A. Men stationed in foreign countries, he said, wanted to be informed concerning the peoples of those countries. their institutions and history, and there had been an awakening to the fascination of ancient history. At the same time, Sir Henry Marten, Provost of Eton, has called attention to the work of the British Society t'or International Understanding, of which Mr. G. M. Young is chairman and Mr. John Eppstein director. Sir henry rightly laid stress on the need of preaenting the facts of 1110del n usiory I I paitia I ly. Our

business." he said, " was to be teachers of history and not to be prophets."

Even as. regards the. first of these roles, there is to-day an almost insuperable difficulty. The presentation of a true perspective of the plesent world situation in the heated atmosphere of the post-war period is as hard as getting " the lie of the land " under conditions which create mirages. It is doubtful whether a really objective statement on the subject would be tolerated.

And even if the true facts could be ascertained and published. it would leave unanswered the all-important question as to what ought to have happened. The science of history is as dumb on the point as is atomic science on the ethics of applying atomic energy in wiping out whole cities. History can be and is interpreted to support various and conflicting ideologies. Between the academic presentation of the facts and the honest citizen anxious to do the right thing there is a big gap. The need of " prophets," in the true sense of that much misunderstood word, still remains.




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