Page 4, 29th November 1946

29th November 1946
Page 4
Page 4, 29th November 1946 — UESTIONS OF THE WEEK

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Locations: Rome, Warsaw, Trieste, New York, Paris


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Keywords: Idealism, Liberalism, Unesco

illy Michael de la Betioyere

The Great Black-Out

AN article in Tuesday's Man chester Guardian by the Labour Member for the Forest of Dean, Mr. M. Philips Price, seems to us to be very relevant to the stagnation of the international discussions in New York. Mr. Price writes from Turkey after a 1,500-mile journey behind the Iron Curtain. And his account of conditions in what he calls the " SlavCommunist " world is all the more convincing because of its sense and moderation. In a way, too. there is some hope in it—hope for the maintenance of an indefinite armistice, if not much hope for the Christian and Western ideals of liberty for man, who is an end in himself and not a mere instrument of some social purpose. Mr. Price testifies to the fact that the foreigner can travel fairly easily in these regions, but in his travels he finds a deliberately created " blackout of information about the Western world," The social order throughout this area " is based on peasant democracies in the villages and workers' committees in the towns; it is overshadowed 'by the authoritarian ruleof the Communist party, and is knit together by linguistic and, to a smaller extent, by religious tics. It believes that the best hope of survival is to create a large economic area of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia, an area militarily impregnable andwith a population inoculated against

the dangers of the Western idea of freedom." Mr. Price further describes the straining of this Slav-Communist world to reach the warm waters of the Aegean through Northern Greece and to dominate the Adriatic through possession of Trieste. ac , o If this count is correct, does not get the picture of militant aggression so much as of a throwback to a more primitive racial and economic idealism with which, speaking purely in terms of the game of sort foreign relations, some s of busi ness could be transacted, And the odd thing is that if it were 'not for the big Catholic populations within the area, the people themselves might in large measure become reconciled to that regression.

Back to Pre-Christianity Back to Pre-Christianity

THE truth is that it is the Catho licism of Poland and SouthCentral Europe which stands in the way of one of the greatest regressions of history—a regression, quite definitely, back to the pre-Christian era, when man was given for the first time the full conception of human responsibility and, consequently, liberty founded in a sure spiritual ideal. Something of what this regression means among the leaders and aristocracy of this Slav-Communist world is brought home to us by another quotation, a quotation from an article by the ex-Communist, Victor Kravchenko, in last Sunday's News of the World. who writes of the workers in Russia: "They cannot leave or change jobs without Government direction. their salaries are low, and they have no chance to strike because every factory has its spies

and its secret police . . The factory day starts with a pep talk, and just in case the workers slack there is another pep talk after lunch (a soup of doubtful origin). In the dining hall tables are set apart for the Stak

hanovites, the new workers' aristocracy, for the lesser fry of the trade unions and party, and again for the unio

trade unbar chiefs and management. The factory bosses themselves eat privately. The food is nicely graded according to status in the so-called classless society." We quote that, not because it is the most important of the attacks on liberty and independence. but because it is likely to strike home to many who may be flirting with this ideology. Far more important is the denial, exemplified in varying degrees throughout this immense area, of spiritual, moral, personal and cultural liberty—in fact, this deliberate will to revert mankind to a state of serfdom, worse in itself and worse in its aims, than anything Europe has known since Christianity came to it.

New York Deadlock

ALL this, we suggest, forms a pretty accurate picture of the factual background to what is being attempted in New York, as one of the stages in the endless endeavour to rebuild peace and civilisation on an understanding between the West which still retains its basic Christian idealism, though with increasing weaknesses. and the post-war East which has chosen to WM its back on all progress towards the ideal of free and responsible man, an end in himself.

Is success in such an attempt pos

sible? In the fullest sense it is absolutely impossible. The Western belief in free man, just because it is a fruit of Christian idealism, partakes, and must partake. of its apostolic quality. Just as no man can believe in God's revelation and not he forced to want to convert others to the truth, so no man can believe in the ideal of freedom and be content to keep it to himself. The West, in so far as it remains true to itself, can never acquiesce in a continent of flea-barbarism, deliberately chosen. The Slav-Communist work! must be regained, and our outposts in it are the Catholic people to whom so little regard is being paid.

At the same time we must face the fact that politics deal only e ith immediate possibilities and situations as they are. From the political point of view it eill probably be far wiser to accept the truth contained in Mr. Price's picture, and envisage U.N.O., the Security Council. Disarmament, international economic arid cultural relations as no more to-day than means of finding a temporary modus vivendi between the West and the re

gressive East. The limitations imposed by this are evident, but something real may be done to preserve the peace, whereas the present pretence that we are all equally civilised partners can lead to no more than endless and dangerous deadlock. Dangerous, because patience on one side or the other will sooner or later give way. If we have any time to spare through aiming less high, there is plenty to do in seeing how far we ourselves are falling away from the Christian principles in which our idealism is rooted and which to-day stand alone in the West as the buttresses of our civilisation, even as today they are the sole enduring defences in the East against the floodtides of barbarism.

Hungarian Deportations

IT would be. unfair to describe Czechoslovakia as falling within the SIav-Communist world, if only because there exist in that country normal relations with the Church, and, indeed, the goodwill on either side has recently

been underlined. Nevertheless, we have news from that country of behaviour that falls so low that it must make one ask oneself the question how long countries still belonging, at least in part. to the Western civilisation can stand in any way faithful. It throws, moreover, a sinister light on the adequacy of the very little which can be achieved at a nmeern peace table. In Paris in early October, Czechoslovakia agreed to submit proposals for direct CzechoslovakHungarian negotiations about the future of the 200,000 Hungarians living in Slovakia and, in the event of the proposals not being accepted by the Hungarians, to refer them back to the Foreign Ministers' Council. For this conciliatory attitude the Czechoslovak delegate was congratulated by the American.

Now Cardinal Griffin has received from Cardinal Minclszenty, Primate of Hungary, a long telegram, telling the ghastly story of how the Czechoslovak authorities have started to create " accomplished facts " by expelling the Hungarians with brutal methods. Under the pretext of a compulsory labour decree the Hungarians, men, women and children, are rounded up, forbidden even to go to Mass, and deported. Their land is then given to new Slovak settlers. When Czechoslovakia organised the mass expulsions of the Sudeten Germans, plenty were found to say that the Germans deserved no better. But the habit of barbarism. and brutality grows with the using, and this new persecution in the name of a

country, once proud of its democratic rapid iberty and widely professing Christi

anity. sheds much light on how the slide away from civilisation can be.

Church and State in Poland

CRITICAL point in the

relations between Church and State in Poland seems to have been reached. Cardinal Mond is in Rome to consult the Holy Sec and to report on the condition of his country. President Bierut has spoken in an interview of the possibility of the signing of a new Concordat which may permit of the Church's representation in the future Polish Diet, to be elected in January. On the other hand, reporters in Warsaw interpret the trial and condemnation of a priest as the leader of an underground Communist band as an attempt to warn the clergy of the danger of any criticism of the regime. Any negotiations will present the Holy See with a poignant dilemma. Is it wiser to afford some sort of protection to the interests of the millions of good, practising Catholics in Poland, even at the risk of strengthening an anti-Christian reeime? Or, are conditions in Poland such that the Catholics must continue to bear very heavy sacrifices in the interests of their spiritual and national freedom to which their present plight is an enduring witness? The Church in these matters is always extremely reluctant to demand more of the Catholic than is absolutely essential, and, if there is the remotest chance of its proving useful, she is always desirous of signing a Concordat which in no ways commits her to any approval of a regime. Unfortunately. history shows how very rarely the Church's willingness to accept the word of an anti-Christian regime has proved a sound investment. The agreement is used in propaganda as a proof of the Church's support for evil courses, and, a year or two later, disregarded.

In the present instance, the Holy no See will certainly have illusions

about the Bicrut regime, and it is likely to look to the general course of international relations to see what hope there is of holding the Polish regime to its wartime pledges.

The State and the People The State and the People

TWO very different questions in recent public discussion illustrate the concrete problems that have to be faced when the modern State undertakes what it considers its duty by the people. The first arises from the plan to nationalise the railways. We are not here concerned with the propriety of this measure, except to note that railways are probably one of the clearest examples of an enterprise which, by Catholic principles, may be considered suitable for public ownerrhip. Our point affeets rather the problem of compensation. It seems to us very difficult to justify the State's decision to fix the amount of compensation without any reference to any third party which can estimate impartially the true value of any undertaking. The point here is that the State is not taxing but buying a piece of property which Jr believes itself to be better fitted to run than its present owners. Unless a price can be arranged by agreement, the only fair way of fixing a price is by arbitration. Unless property is proteseed to this extent, it will prove impossible to oppose a State or government which passes from a reasonably fair valuation, as in the present case, to partial or complete expropriation. The second case was raised last week in the Lords when Lord Pakenham defended the War Office's plans to take over common and other land as training ground for the new Army. He was at pains to point out that any decision could he discussed and debated in Parliament, hut it was rightly pointed out to him that there is all the difference between discussion prior to decision and decision prior to discussion. Here again, given the necessity for more ground, the only fair thing to do is to erect an impartial body which can find the best way of reconciling public necessity with private and public rights.

Dangers of UNESCO Dangers of UNESCO

mLi are glad that Mr. Kenneth Lindsay has uttered a word of warning in Parliament about UNESCO. "If UNESCO," he said last Friday, " is going to try in Europe, which has Roman Catholics and Communists and other distinctive creeds, to produce another treed. I foretell in this House here to-day that it will be doomed;" Unfortunately, Miss Wilkinson in her reply confined herself to explaining the admirable results that would be likely to accrue to the world by this meeting of all brains. 'rile fact is that it is pretty well inevitable that any international organisation for Education, Science and Culture will either flop after doing much harm by the way, or find itself imposing a new, or rather renewed version of the old, vapid liberalism. Yet there could be a real function for an organisation of the kind which ftiroonmetohueldvery beginning realised its own limitations, Such an organise promote more active and fluid relations between the existing and real sources of Education, Science and Culture. These consist of the universities, the schools. the numberless technical and cultural institutions, many bodies sponsored by different religious organisations and other wider educational institutions. And even here one could fail by attempting too much and seeking to do any organising. To help existing institutions of standing and value and gently to promote more fruitful relations between them would be quite good enough to begin with, And in the stricken state of Europe there is plenty to do. And for this purpose there is hardly any need for the paraphernalia and eloquence of the UNESCO set-up. It is the sort of job which is best accomplished quietly and from the shadows.

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