THERE has been much surprise among many of the Conservative supporters, especially those representing agricultural interests, at the Prime Minister's condemnation of the policy of growing all the food we need in time of war.
Mr. Chamberlain, though he appears to be extremely successful in handling the susceptibilities of foreign countries, is often singularly tactless in dealing with his own countrymen. The latter indeed arc much more touchy and much slower to face facts; hence they need an even greater diplomatic art.
It is well to notice that he was only referring to food in time of war. When he turned to the Government's agricultural policy he stated that his object was " to give the farmer some measure of security "; and he added very significantly: " It is no use putting forward measures which do not carry public assent with them."
The fact is that this country as a whole will not stand for a real agricultural policy. No constructive agricultural policy which will not raise the price of food has yet been devised, and the moment the cost of food rises, the whole country is up in arms, led by Liberals and Socialists. Ever since Gladstone made cheaper breakfasts into an electioneering slogan, it has proved decisive. No party can win if its opponents can show that it has caused food prices to rise. Hence Mr. Chamberlain was only clumsily bowing to necessity when he refused to make promises which he knows neither he nor anyone else in this country can fulfil.
This of course is not to say that the refusal to revive agriculture and produce more of our own food is wise or even sensible. It is madness, in case of war, suicide. Food is as necessary as munitions, but the country will spend millions on the latter while refusing to tighten its belt a millimetre for the former. But as the Prime Minister noted in another connection, we live in a world of madness and folly. The point however is not, whether it ought to be done, but whether it can be done. And once that question is asked we shall find ourselves carried to ways and means that leave modern democracy, Parliamentarianism and even the British Constitution standing. Mr. Chamberlain may be pardoned for not venturing into them.
FEW things bring home so clearly the degree of revolution that has taken place since the war than the existence of the vast army of refugees, men without a country, without a legal existence, seeking shelter and recognition, but finding only closed frontiers and the notice "full Up Here."
The dreadful part of it is that the vast majority are innocent men and women, the victims of revolution, ideologies and powerpolitics. They are often separated from their families, deprived of their goods, at best looking forward to a tolerated • life of abject poverty in an unfriendly land, at worst to mental and physical exhaustion. The Conference which has opened at Evian in France is mainly concerned with refugees, for the most part Jews, from Germany and Austria. It is well however to remember that a far greater number of innocent people were thrown out of Russia by the Bolshevik Revolution and that whichever side had won in Spain. the result must inevitably have been the exiling of a new army of outcasts.
In fact it is difficult to apportion blame for this human tragedy. We live in an age of revolution, the age which has revolted in a hundred ways against the philosophical, political and economic fallacies bred by the Reformation and culminating in the secularism of the nineteenth century. But, as always happens in wars and revolutions, it is not generally the guilty who receive the punishment but often the weak and innocent. It is equally impossible to blame States for their reluctance to add to their problems by receiving refugees without careful enquiry. We cannot expect that these wanderers without ties or ideals shall remain potentially good citizens. They must almost inevitably form an element of trouble and dissension wherever they go, and seek for life and excitement wherever they can find it, as so many of them have done on the Red . side in Spain, But the inevitability of the tragedy and the impossibility of discovering a solution to it cannot shut the eyes of the Christian to the fact that each of these men, women and children are human beings, ends in themselves and made in God's image. The thought of this, even if it cannot lead to our doing anything concrete for them, at least reveals the appalling consequences to souls of a world disorder founded upon false humanitarian instead of human and Christian philosophies. And if we cannot help materially we can pray for the thousands upon thousands whose lives—to which they had looked forward as cheerfully and hopefully as we have done to ours—have been blighted in the most tragic way of all.
THERE was confusion at Walsingham due to false road directions posted by the local authorities during the great pilgrimage of last week-end. That there should be this rivalry between Catholicism and Anglicanism over the desire to pay homage to Our Lady at her famous English shrine is a real tragedy.
The lesson for us at least is that we must never do anything which can possibly be interpreted as sectarianism. We know the truth about Walsingham and about devotion to Our Lady. But if others do not, and yet wish to honour the Mother of God in their own way, we should be glad, taking only such opportunities as may offer gently to help them towards the full truth.
Wise and Otherwise
" I am speaking to an enlightened audience, yet how many of you can wash your small son thoroughly?"—Dr. E. J. Partridge.
"We don't teach the Ten Commandments nowadays."—Priest describing first confession course for small children.