THE cause.of many of the poli tical troubles of Eurepe to-day is the very serious contra-' diction that lies at the heart of the Allies' interpretation of the word "democracy ". It has been generally accepted that a condition of the post-war democracy (which is taken as the passport to political, social and even personal rights) is the prior elimioation of so-called Fascism.
Now it is certainly arguable that true democracy is inconsistent with the toleration of organised political parties whose aim is clearly the overthrow of democracy by methods of violence. Indeed this view is far more sensible than the old purist liberal democracy which extended the notion of freedom to freedom to kill yourself or anyone else so long as you could persuade a majority to agree with you. Just as for the Catholic, democracy is a relative, and not an absolute, concept and one strictly limited in its application by the morel law. so it is commonsense 'to exchlde from the claim to be democratic. in any practical sense of the word. any movement. however democratic in its methods. whose aim is the overthrow of democracy.
Hut if we honestly understand postwar democracy in this sense we must reject not only organised anti-democratic parties of the Right. but equally those of the Left. So far from doing this we are hailing the anti-democracy of the Left as a leading partner in the new democracy. But not less important than this—and far less often recognised—is the other side of the picture. We are also dbndemning. nor organised anti-democracy of the Right, but any person or institution that can have the label Fascist or even reactionary affixed to it. The anti-democratic parties of the Right have already been eliminated. They have been eliminated by the war. Fascism and Nazism no longer exist. They cannot exist. • it was an essential part of our unconditional surrender policy that they should he blotted out by the violence of war.
So what we are really doing now is to welcome as super-democrats any Left Party, however anti-democratic in its ideology and methods, and to deny democratic rights to anyone we want to eliminate from the new free society. This is a monstrous denial of the very cause we profess to have at heart,
Latest Examples NOR. alas, is it a mere academic
question in political theory. it is a practical issue, coming more and more into prominence, and it ultimately threatens precisely the kind of civil war which marks the breakdown of the democratic ideal and the open emergence of tyranny.
The first classic example—nod the most iinpudent and disgusting—was the betrayal of the constitutional Polish Government with a Socialist Prime Minister, not only as a part of an infamous bargain with the anti-democratic Soviet, but as part of this widespread conspiracy in public opinion and press against democracy itself. Let us take a typical example. Tribune in 1944 hailed M. Arciszewski as " the most venerable Socialist in Eastern Europe." Within a few weeks the same paper described him as the leader of "a reactionary clique in London." In other words. the fiat of press and pub
lic opinion had deprived the • Polish Government and its leader of their inherent democratic rights which they had done nothing whatever to forfeit.
Last week the New Statesman in an article on Italy demands in so many words that (he Military Government deny all democratic rights to any Italian outside the Resiwance Parties and enforce true democratic freedom for the Left.
More subtly,. but not less viciously, there is a conspiracy in the press to suggest that the Catholic parties are riddled with Fascism and reaction because they have been supported. faute de mieux, by the Right. Tribune has carried this attack so far as apparently to invert the records of the leaders of the Austrian People's Party and of the Social Democrats. For them Dr. Figl, despite his six-year Dachau record. is presumably to be found among the Party's leaders who were " former members of the Fascist Heimwehr as well as the Pan-German Agrarians." while Dr. Renner. though all his life a Pan-German and never greatly inconvenienced by'llitler. becomes the democratic hero.
In Belgium. because a King stays at home to be a symbol to his people, he is a reactionary who ought to lose his throne. In Yugoslavia, because a King refuses to bow to the aggressor and continues to orgenise resistance from without his occupied country, he also becomes a reactionary and actually loses his throne to a dictator, hailed by his Parliament for six solid minutes with cries of " Tito, Tito "—and no one lifts a linger to defend a King to whom we owe so much. It is, by the way, rather amusing, to observe the " not '' in the following sentence from the Observer's comment: "le the meantime we shall not forget the courage with which ex-King Peter took his stand by our side when we were alone." It reads so much better without it.
We Are Generating Fascism RY this date we may have grown A-P used to the betrayals and cheatings and lies which mark so much of international relations and public comment upon them. Certainly the overthrow of a King by a long conspiracy under guise of fair dealing is not a matter to worry anyone. Nor can we expett fair play where there is a chance of denigrating any party other than an extreme Left one. But it is high time to point out the inevitability of having to pay one day for all these appeasements and dishonesties.
Because we have accepted an inner contradiction within our own declared ideals. the world we make will be rotten at the core.
We are involved in this Russian and Communist-led plot to ostracise everyone displeasing to anti-democrats of the Left and to deny to all such the very political rights for which we have been lighting. The consequence is sooner or later inevitable. The pressure of the great Powers will in time be withdrawn from Europe. The common person will become more and more disgusted by the tyranny of the Left. The Right and Centre. deprived by this conspiracy of their • rightful and natural methods of reacting. will find themselves forced into precisely the Fascist-like methods of violence with which they are at present baselessly charged. Then there will be trouble on the large scale and civil war in which the Communists will not gain the day. In other words, dui present short-sighted and base policy will inevitably generate the Fascism which we imagine we are the more quickly destroying.
What happened in Spain before the war—and let us remember that this is the real explanation of Spain's present regime—will happen on a much wider scaleacross the face of Europe. And the deepest tragedy of it all is that we shall have destroyed that great and genuine aspiration among all parties and classes for real democracy and constructive economic and social reform which did really mark the defeat of Hitlerism arid Fascism and which was evoked by the Allies' liberation. Thai good-will, properly and fairly handled, could have done far more than the United Nations Organisation can ever do to lay foundations of peace. And from no other quartet would the world have obtained greater and more useful helpthan from the Church, the Pope and the Catholic people. In the appeasement of Russia and the extreme Left that good-will has been turned sour. The evidence for this is already beginning to manifest itself.
FRANCE'S SUSPICIONS IN a world riddled with suspicions and misunderstanding priority of importance so far as this country is concerned should always he given to any misunderstanding with France, for in the long run the future of Western Europe depends on Anglo-I'rench relations. Yet those relations, it seems. are dogged by minor crises that should easily be resolved, of which the latest is the French suspicion that we are denying coal to France in order to build up Germanyagain. This suspicion, of course, links up closely with the American criticism of France's refusals to treat Germany as a unit.
France's position is easy to understand. Her inherent weakness forces her to-day, 'as it forced her after 1918, to make a desperate attempt to keep Germany down and. if possible, to extend her frontier at Germany's expense, It is a futile policy because it has not got in it the seeds of permanence, and Britain knows it. But this makes our responsibility all the greater. It is important that we should sponsor a constructive plan for the internationalisation of the Rhine and the rich regions near it in such a way that these can serve all Europe' and France and Germany themselves. There is no reason why an intelligent scheme should not actually benefit a peaceful Germany more fully than in the past, while also `benefiting France and Europe and removing a focus of conflict. But the matter cannot wait. Britain needs both a prosperous Germany and a strong and prosperous
France. It is for her to make these possible, and on this basis to secure a Western European pact which could he a model of peace and prosperity. Nothing less will allay Frances fears.
DIRECTION OF LABOUR A CORRESPONDENT to the Times recently related how, during his period of war service, he had decided to abandon the lucrative but uncongenial business in which be had been engaged and devote himself to agriculture. In conformity with this decision, on his being demobilised, he, had made arrangements with a farmer by which he would be able to get training in work on the land but was informed by the W.A.F.C., through the Ministry of Labour, that he was not eligible for such training as essential to obtaining employment since, if he wished. he could return to his former employment.
The case is of particultar interest not only as illustrating the way in which the Government is claiming to override a clear sense of 'vocation but because, at the present time, agriculture is crying out for labour. The general secretary of the Agricultural Workers' Union, Mr. A. C. Dunn, has stated that at present. the number of agricultural workers has been increased by conscientious objectors and refugees, together totalling between 200,000 arid 250.000 and that these might be expected to leave before the end of the next agricultural year. It is therefore of special importance that no hindrance should be placed in the way of would-be recruits able and willing to take up the arduous work of farming. " One volunteer is worth ten pressed men." Recruits of the kind exemplified by the Times' correspondent are specially valuable in an industry' which is of the specialised character possessed by agriculture and which therefore requires those whose personal inclinations favour it.