Ends in Fight
" HEALTH IMPOSSIBLE WHEN THE LAND IS NEGLECTED"
PACIFISTS, ECONOMISTS, BUSINESS MEN MET TO DISCUSS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF CHANGING THE PRESENT FINANCIAL SYSTEM SO THAT THE PEACE GIVEN TO THE WORLD BY THE MUNICH AGREEMENT MAY BE MADE PERMANENT. THE MEETING WAS HELD AT FRIENDS' HOUSE, EUSTON ROAD, ON THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY LAST WEEK.
A. K. Chesterton, Glyn Thomas, A. M. Ludovici, John Scanlon,, Sir Daniel Hall, Emil Ludwig were among those who took a prominent part in the conference.
There was not much harmony of political view either among the speakers or their listeners, indeed, so little harmony was there that the last session of this conference on the " Economic Road to Peace " nearly ended in a brawl. Emil Ludwig asked that a new Holy Alliance of Democracies be formed to prevent by force " the fulfilment of the German warrior dream."
Mr Ben Greene, member of the Peace Pledge Union, and Mr A. K. Chesterton, who were on the platform during Ludwig's bellicose attack on Germany, dissociated themselves from his views and suggested that his war talk amounted to an abuse of hospitality.
Large sections of the audience shouted loud approval of the attitude of the Greene-Chesterton axis.
But in the other sessions of the conference the speakers at least did keep Clear of political issues.
They obeyed the appeal of Theodore Faithful—chief organiser of the conference—" not to waste time discussing politics." He wags speaking at the first session when he outlined the purpose of the conference.
Praise Chamberlain !
"It should not be beyond the powers of intelligent beings to change the present rules of finance which are now operated by greed," said Mr Faithful. " Behind the chaos and barbarities of to-day there lies this antiquated financial system which has brought the world to a desperate states
"During the past century orthodox finance has been a colossus straddling Europe, with one foot in London and the other in Paris. It has dominated our lives, thwarted social progress, and given us the illusion of self-governing democracies. But now the colossus is toppling.
" Nations like New Zealand, Germany and Italy are replacing the old financial system by another, which has for object the satisfying of human needs.
"Neville Chamberlain has done what no Prime Minister in the last fifty years would have dared to do. He has refused to go to war for foreign investments. We must do all we can to make lasting the peace he has given us,"
Sigmund Metz, author of New Men for New Money, suggested that a new Community "should unite everyone in working to the common good and should create a money systeni which does not of itself affect the interchaege of goods." He got here his first and most considerable piece of applause. His discourse was intricate, smooth and rather unpopular — if one can judge by questions put by the audience.
Knocking Down Finance Totems
" The domain of gold over our credit system must be ended. Banks should confine themselves to granting just the sielfsliquidating loan for industrial needs." This also drew applause.
He boldly asked that the Bank of England be nationalised, and investment be controlled by a national investment trust, because he thought it not difficult " to put planned finance into operation In democracies."
He explained with much technical detail how a planned finance could be worked. Somehow It would eventually have to be worked. " The glaring inequalities of the present system must be removed from any order that pretends to be Christian."
A red-faced, blunt-spoken Yorkshire Manufacturer, Glyn Thomas, followed the gentle, shrivelled Metz. He knocked down all the totems of " sound " finance with a gruff, no-nonsense heartiness.
"It's about time the people were told that it's impossible to save wealth by hoarding money, for money can only be a measure of wealth. It's no advantage to hoard the measure without the substance.
" Money should be removed front the lists of commodities and added to the lists of weights and measures.
"At the moment the more industrious people are, the more money is manufactured by the banks for people to exchange products, so that it becomes impossible for the people to catch up with their debts to the banks.
" Money must be kept at Constant Rate"
" The people must be given back the right to issue their own money. The people would not submit to the banks If they were aware of the banks' systems of creating money. This system was Invented by an eighteenth century Heath Robinson. It has never been improved or repaired.
The issue and cancellation of money is as much the duty of the State as the dispensation of justice. Money must be kept at a constant rate as are all the other weights and measure of the land.
" Wouldn't there be an outcry if your crown pint pot held a quart of beer one week and half-a-pint the next?
"The reform of the money system is furthest advanced in countries like Italy and Germany, where the old system has crashed most heavily.
" Hitler has said, 'Germany has no gold currency. For every mark paid out you receive a standard value of goods and services.'
" To my mind all human wealth in goods and services is of one character only, and can be expressed in one term : men poem-. But the recognised factor of men-power is time: the value of work is based on time, so could we not use as the standard international currency: time?"
" Cycle of Life is Broken"
Dr. G. T. Wrench spoke about World Agriculture and the problem of nutrition. He told how essential it was that a proper basis of human life should be established so that human health might be possible.
" The nutrition of man is really secondary to the nutrition of the soil because dependent on it. The fertility of the soil can only be preserved by constantly putting back into it what has been taken from it.
" This cycle of life whereby the soil *gives to the plant, the plant to the animal, the animal to man and man bark to the soil, has been broken by our urbanised dissipation of waste matter."
Dr. Wrench described at length the life of the people in the Hunza Valley in the Himalayas, where the reward for good husbandry had been to create a people of super-human health among whom disease was unknown.
Here a knowledge and respect for the law of returns had ensured that no organic matter, either waste food or waste clothes, was thrown away. but that everything was put back into the soil from whence it came.
10,000 Years' Work Lost in 24
"But now in our civilisation based on the service of money this law le completely neglected, and the result of our wholesale exploitation of foreign earth for cheap food, and the neglect of our own earth, has been a vast and permanent decline in fertility. U.S.A. alone has lost 50 per cent. of its soil fertility through erosion.
" Ten thousand years is needed to form one foot of soil; in twenty-four years the State of Missouri has lost seven inches of that soil.
"Modern Western civilisation goes the way of Roman civilisation, deserts are being made by greed. Both the quantity and quality of food must eventually suffer.
"The health problem will not be solved by any sort of reliance on patent medicines or any palliatives for bad health, but only by ensuring people a life based on the realities of a sound agricultural society."
On Friday afternoon a supporter of Fascism and an opponent of Nazism tried to make clear the present financial eyeterns of Italy and Germany.
Fascist Economics The Italian had a difficult task. He, at the last moment, had come to replace the well-known economist, Odon For, who was prevented by illness from speaking. Under the circumstances the Italian did excellently.
He reminded his audience that although two-fifths of Italy is mountaMous her yearly output of wheat is worth f300,000,000; that out of a population of 43,000,000 people, 8,000,000 are agricultural workers.
"The Fascist order upholds the principle of private property, but believes that private interests must always be subordinated to general interests."
He described the working of wheat pools, established " to provide wheat growers with a profit but to avoid price machinations."
He described how co-operative banks granted credit for the help of small firms, and how banking reform had been carried out with the purpose of administering credit primarily in the public interest, to safeguard savings, to grant sufficient capital for the most important works in the country, and to create national resources of raw materials.
In a soft voice, with clasping and unclasping of hands, and in many words, the Italian related how land had been reclaimed for agricultural purposes
throughout Italy. He finished by reassuring his listeners that "Self sufficiency does not mean or aim at a cloSed economy, it only aims at a full use of the land, and the exchanging of goods and services for goods and services."
" Catholic-Puritan Bruning
T. Balogh, of London University, began explaining Nazi finances by remarking unnecessarily that the land reclamation in Italy, for which the Italian speaker had so much praise, cost only one-tenth the amount spent on the Abyssinian War.
He gave a brief history of how postwar Germany, under the leadership of " Catholic-Puritan Briining," got into the economic mess from which Hitler has apparently rescued her. He disapproved of the German and Austrian practice of spending loans on " uneconomic " things like workers' flats.
He admitted that the Bruning system of deflation, causing 7,000,000 to be unemployed, sent the Nazi cause soaring, yet declared Hitler to have been made Chancellor because Hindenburg at the time " was not in proper control of his faculties.
"Hitler got rid of the unemployment by a very heavy profits tax, by fixing wages and prices, subsidising production of certain goods. If one's exports decrease, either one can cut imports
(which decreases the nation's standard of life) or one can push out on the export market subsidised goods. Hitler chose the second method.
"But what he gained from these measures he used not to improve the standard of life, except in so far as employment increased that standard, but to rearm.
" Put Hitler Reports in Wastepaper Basket "
"He has solved the unemployment problem. Twelve million Germans were in employment in 1935; at the present time there are twenty-one million employed—this does not include workers incorporated in the Reich from Austria or Sudetenland. Four million, however, are employed on rearmament work, and the average hours of labour have increased from six a day to nine a day.
" The amount spent on armaments is being increased from £1,000,000,000 to £1,500,000,000 a year. There is a wheat reserve which would last for at least eighteen months, and a reserve in fats
which would last ten months. Any. further increase in armed strength must be made at the expense of the standard of life of the wealthier classes.
" The German system is centralised. Socialist newspaper reports of its imminent collapse, of a vast inflation, can be put in the wastepaper basket with all the other attempts to read the mind of Hitler.
" Were it not for a crushing armaments programme the German standard of life would soar. Any economic concessions to Germany will not benefit the German people, but will be turned into armaments."
Balogh concluded a brilliant speech with a gloomy and rather too categoric warning. "If the German nation wanted to live fully and pacifically, it could."
Much wrath at the sins of international finance, and the greedy exploitsof Empire, came from A. K. Chesterton, cousin of G. K. C.
" The headquarters of international finance are at whatever centre can exercise most leverage on the economic life of the world—at present the centre is New York.
" The rule of finance in the Empire has led to such tragic absurdities as the reducing of the West Indies to a slum, the starvation of natives living upon rich land. This rule of money must be broken.
" To surrender the Empire would leave Britain a small, over-populated country without source of raw materials. To hand control of the Empire to the League would simply mean the endorsing of the money rule. What must be done is to free the Empire from financial control and so win the only true democracy, which is economic democracy.
" The basis of civilisation must be rebuilt upon the soil."
He asked why millions of people in England should remain underfed whilst our controllers exercised great ingenuity in moving goods around the world, not In answer to demand but to foist them on interest owing nations so that interest may be paid to the usurernations.
He demanded that the underfed in England should be given the chance to become consumers of the goods they helped to produce.