Page 6, 7th February 1964

7th February 1964
Page 6
Page 6, 7th February 1964 — Independence at what cost in blood?

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Independence at what cost in blood?

TN DEFENDING HIS NOW LARGELY DISCREDITED policy of speeding up the movement towards African independence, Mr. Macleod suggests that any other policy would have led to terrible bloodshed in Africa. What remains to be seen is how much bloodshed will have been caused by the end of the century as a result of the deliberate granting of independence to people whom nobody—least of all Mr. Macleod—supposed to be ready for it.

I should be very much surprised if our policy will be defensible in terms of pintage and gallonage of blood spilt. Certainly, the Labour decision on India, defended by Macleod as "the only realistic one", gives a flying start to the other side. In any case, I think it is wrong to judge a cause in terms of caualty figures. A distinction must surely be made between blood shed in the defence of order against the forces of anarchy, and blood shed pointlessly as a result of that anarchy.

But I am afraid that the distinction most immediately apparent to politicians is between English blood, or blood shed here and now by the English, and Negroes' blood spilt in whatever quantity at some distant date by themselves. The loss of confidence in our imperial destiny, occasioned in the first place by the numbing laziness of Welfare philosophy, is justified to ourselves as unwillingness to shed blood in what we have come to accept as a discredited cause—the right and duty of the white man to colonize, govern and develop the backward countries.

We may shrug off the upheavals which result from our premature Withdrawal with' talk of "teething troubles" or the "need for more authoritarian government in emergent countries," but when we are faced with general and complete anarchy in Africa, we cannot blame our high ideals. Idleness and lack of confidence in ourselves have made us unwilling to look after the Africans, not any significant advance in African development nor any change in the nature of our duty to the underdeveloped. All that remains to be seen is who takes up the White Man's burden next. The only forecast we can make with confidence is that it will not be the United Nations Organisation.

CLIVE JENKINS criticizes Granada's World in Action programmes on the Port Talbot steel strike because strikers' wives—all of who opposed the strike—were portrayed as "snivelling, under-educated ninnies." It is a complaint that could be made against all such programmes, that two out of three men or women in the street interviewed invariably appear to be morons. This is not to say I always disagree with their opinions, although, like Clive Jenkins, I am more aware of the speaker's inadequacy when I do disagree, but simply that it does cast doubt on the value of public opinion.

If we are to preserve the myth of an intelligent and informed public opinion, we must either select our men and women in the street more carefully, or we must have a large number of spare actors available to produce speeches prepared as representative of reasonable opinion on any given subject In fact, the programmes reveal no more than is accessible to anybody who keeps his eyes and ears open in a bus. But so few of us do, that it comes as a bit of a shock.

IF IT IS THOUGHT USEFUL to keep every child compulsorily at school for an extra year, regardless of aptitude, I wonder how Icing one would have to keep them at school before educational idealists agreed it was no longer useful. Nobody of good will wishes to see children who would profit from further education taken away from school either on their parents' insistence or because of the school's inability to teach them. But it seems stupid as well as cruel to keep others at school who will derive no profit from the extra year.

Their additional numbers will make it doubly difficult for the "educable" to take advantage, even if the "ineducables" did not tend to disrupt the class. Clearly the sensible thing would have been to institute selective compulsion at the school's discretion. The reason this has not been done is explained in the dogma of egalitarian philosophy that no individual is more or less educable than another, and so no one has any right to more education.

It seems a shame that we should allow everyone's education to be ruined out of regard for this theory. Education may be an inalienable right—although 1 do not see how it can sensibly be called one—but by spreading the jam too thinly we merely ensure that nobody gets a taste of it.

THE AMERICAN MOON SHOT fiasco anticipated by one day the quatercentenary of Galileo's birth, but it is a good example of the idiocy to which this vain and stubborn old man has led us.

As Arthur Koestler pointed out in his excellent article in the Observer this week, it was the obstinacy of Galileo's crusade, based on fallacious argument, which finally convinced the Church of the futility of patronising scientists, and created the very proper division which exists to this day between the man of humane learning and the scientist. I can see no possible reason why the Christian, educated man should be expected to rejoice that his projectiles have reached the moon. Even if the moon should prove to be made of cheese, as it may well be for all I know or care, we are no nearer solving the world food problem.

Perhaps, if the Church had continued its patronage of science, 1 it would have been able to direct scientific energies to good use. There is enormous need for a scientific Inquisition to suppress endeavour in fields which are obviously a waste of time, like moon exploration, or harmful, like nuclear explosiorls, but Galileo showed that the vanity and vulgar curiosity of scientists are too strong.

As it is, our knowledge of the structure of the moon's surface will not bring us wisdom, happier life or certainty of redemption. An enormous amount of talent and energy which could have advanced the common good is dissipated. No doubt curiosity can be a healthy urge, but when indulged to this extent I cannot believe it is anything but wicked.

A LETTER in last week's Tribune bitterly attacks Mr. Wilson for his statement that he intends to pick the best brains in the land and harness them to the task of national rejuvenation: "It is clear from statements like this", says the writer, "that Wilson is concerned not with the Socialist objective of abolishing social classes, but merely with replacing the old system of hereditary class with a new system of meritocratic class. A dictatorship of brains would be even more tyrannical than a dictatorship of birth."

It is difficult to know where this leads us, or by what conceivable process we are to be governed, .let alone nationally rejuvenated, if this writer has her way. The advantage of the hereditary class system is that it moderates the original injustice of the fact that we are not all born with the same number of gifts, as well as being extremely pleasant for those born in the upper brackets. Thus a man in an inferior position may not necessarily attribute it to the fact that his talents are inferior.

Its disadvantage occurs whenever a man of inferior ability is able to prevail over one of superior talents. This need never happen, in a free society, since there should be no conflict of interest between the stupid, rich proprietor and the intelligent, salary-earning underling. In any case, a fool and his money are soon parted But if neither birth, nor wealth nor wit are to have any influence in our choice of leaders. it is hard to know how we shall choose them. Bring back beauty? It seems no more hazardous an idea than choosing them for their devotion to socialist principles.

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