Page 4, 8th May 1942

8th May 1942
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Page 4, 8th May 1942 — NOTES AND COMMENTS
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Page 4 from 15th May 1942

Notes & Comments

Page 10 from 4th October 1935

NOTES AND COMMENTS

MADAGASCAR

THE military necessity for the

seizure of Madagascar before :he enemy is ready to do so is not in doubt. And it would seem that this kind of military necessity affects the moral aspects of the problem. The Nazi invasion of Norway and the Netherlands was an immoral act because there was no kind of selfdefensive necessity in the act. But now that the precedent of such immoral occupation has been given and no bones made about the fact that further occupations by the enemy will occur as and when it suits enemy military or diplomatic necessity, we are undoubtedly faced with the need to anticipate an expected enemy aggression the effects of which would be disastrous. And if it is argued that France is a free country capable of freely negotiating the status of an important colony—as she claimed to do in the disastrous case of IndoChina—we can certainly answer that Franco is no longer truly free in this respect and incapable of effectively defending her own possessions against the might of Germany and Japan.

And that this is not specious arguing may be inferred from the virtual certainty that France as a whole—whatever her outward protests—would far prefer to see the Allied Powers in Madagascar than the Axis.

But what seems to us intolerable and foolish is any attempt to link up this inevitable and plainly understandable act of war with a renewed spate of protestations that the French Government is ,a Quisling Government, that France must be considered an enemy, but, of course, that the French people are the victims of their self-seeking rulers. This ,.too much protesting " only weakens our unanswerable case and infuriates the great majority of logically-minded Frenchmen for whom the greatest disaster of all would be a German or Japanese victory. Indeed they all understand, expect and hope for any British action which will make that nightmare recede. Probably Pdtain himself was never more disappointed than when the British , Libyan offensive fizzled out. Had it succeeded, he would have been spared many of his more recent headaches.

PTAIN'S IDEALS

pEW more notable utterances from

national leaders have appeared in recent days than Marshal Petain's May Day broadcast to French workers. The Marshal has not waited for the end of the "war in order to make known the principles on which he hopes to build the new France, and these principles, as outlined in this address. are in full accord with those laid down in the social Encyclicals.

,.It is more particularly to you, artisans, that I address myself today," he said. " Artisanship is one of the living forces of France. France is primarily an agricultural country. The rebirth of our countryside can only be accomplished by the help of the artisan. The natural genius of France puts her in a position to excel in production where individual tastes and the arts of skilled workmanship reach their highest peak. A society of artisans that is alive and fruitful is both an essential element of economic policy and one of the bulwarks of social peace. There is no possibility of class struggle in the artisans' workshops. The employer. the workman, and the apprentice work at the same bench with the same tools. The charter of work provides that your integration and general technical organisation shall be accomplished while preserving the social unity of artisanship. Hence artisanship must be given a status which ensures its permanency and protection." Such a proclamation is calculated to lift up the hearts of those addressed and to inspire them with hope and energy. That the possibility of gaining recognition for a similar programme in this country Is not hopeless was shown by Mr. Bevin's recent address to the I.L.O. on the necessity for safeguarding the interests of the peasant. The Marshal's pronouncement should discredit the attempts which are being constantly made in theEnglish press to attribute the internal policy of Unoccupied France solely to German pressure. In the New 'Order designed by Hitler, it is said, Germany is to be a great in dustrial country while France is to exercise the primitive and inferior function of supplying its master with the primary products of the soil. The scorn with which reference is made to this role could come only from the representatives of a nation which has boasted of being the workshop of the world.

POLICIES TOWARDS FRANCE

WE would draw attention to a striking letter, written from Vichy France itself, of Sisley Huddleston in the April 23 issue of the Weekly Review. Mr. Huddleston, who is one of the most intelligent of our publicists and a man no one could accuse of the least suspicion of " putting the cause of other countries before that of his own," writes in a way which we can only describe as a complete vindication of the views about France expressed in our columns. Speaking of the opposite policy adopted by the Government he says: "Our policy towards France may have permanent results, tragic results . . . The French arc not antagonistic to England; the French Government has behaved with perfect loyalty in difficult conditions, and we should recognise and appreciate the fact in the intecests not only of France, but of ourselves —of that great half of the civilised world I call Europe."

DISRUPTION

DISRUPTION with the idea of " clearing the way for a new Marxist order has long been the avowed tactic of the Communist Party, It is, for example, undeniable that one of the aims of the Third International between the two wars was to promote another war SO that Communism could be established on its ruins. Now that Communism has been accepted as a respeutable creed there is a grave danger that many people should fall for its cleverly disguised, but still pursued, tactic of causing disruption. Thus we shall find that the popularly-voiced cry for opening a Second Front is started and propagated from Communist or near-Communist sources. It offers a magnificent opportunity, for the question of a Second Front is a perfectly sensible one to debate and to support. What is intolerable, however, is that it should be made the subject of mass popular pressure without reference to the views of those who alone are in a position to understand the risks in terms of forces available, other commitments and so on. And if one wishes to satisfy oneself about the Communist origination of the clamour, one may consider the remarkable fact that the opening of a Second Front in the Far East is never mentioned. That would be to bring pressure to bear on btalin —a crime of /ese-rnejeste. Whether or not a Soviet attack supported by the U.S.A. on the heart of Japan would be a wise move is, of course, just as debatable as the advisability of an attack in the West. But we need. to find an adequate explanation of why the Second Front agitation always applies to the 'West and never to the Far East, where its chances and 'effects are at least as rosy. Soviet-Japanese relations, let us remember, are the one exception to the united stand of the Allied Nations.

SOCIALISTS AND NAZIS

THE Tribune was a trifle unfortu nate in selecting last week's issue for another attack on those who took the Nationalist cause in the Spanish War. It mentioned this paper. of course, and, by the way, informed its readers that we were " more royalist than the king, more antiNazi than the Tribune," and, more surprising, that we arc among those who " hailed Vansittart." At the same time it mentioned the Tablet. which was included in the general indictment, the object of which was to suggest that while we all professed great loyalty to the anti-Axis cause, our hearts wsre really with the " reactionaries and the Fascists." We say that the Tribune was unfortunate because the attack coincided with a note in the Tablet which ran as follows: " It is no mere coincidence that Hitler has rectuited his publicists in France so largely from the Left. Only a mind already convinced of the desirability of bureaucracy can be labelled Socialist, and only such a mind can accept the totalitarianism of National-Socialism. It was because of the Nationalism of the Nazis, not because of their Socialism, that previously these men hated Hitler; now that they have seen him destroy so many nations, and proclaim his intention to impose Socialism on the whole of Europe, in a vast machine to embrace all countries, they have been quick to perceive that Hitlerism does not differ in any important particular from what they have been advocating for so long." We perhaps are in a position to confirm the truth of this, since we have never attempted to disguise the fact that our own sense of the need for a thoroughgoing social reform— in our case, of course, of a Christian pattern—has been the reason for our reluctance to, join in the root-andbranch of all things Fascist or Nazist. And we have often pointed out that there is a much greater affinity between the outlook of the real Socialists and Nazism than between Nazism or Communism and the old-fashioned liberal democrats whose faith is still that of the average British working-man.

FUEL RATIONING

WE are somewhat suspicious of the

outcry that has been raised against the proposed rationing of fuel—particularly since the press has hardly attempted to make it clear that there are two distinct issues in

volved. There is first of all the question whether we shall cut down consumption instead of increasing output, and secondly the question of whether fuel shall be rationed. It is very significant that no suggestion has come forward from the most vocal opponents of the scheme to combine rationing with a relatively modest consumption cut. All have talked as though the rationing principle meant hardship for everybody. In point of fact this need not be the case: What rationing would do would be to strike down one of the few remaining privileges of the richer classes. Strict food rationing can be evaded to some extent by the wellto-do in hotels and restaurants—as well, of course, as by some of the less well-to-do in canteens and British Restaurants. There is no corresponding back door for getting in heat, once the rationing principle has been adopted, and there is probably more differentiation betwen the expenditure of the various income groups on heating than on any other basic necessity. There is a great deal to be said for rationing, the technical difficulties of which appear to have been deliberately exaggerated.




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