ITALY'S position is now unques tionably hopeless. It can only be a matter of time before Tunisia is cleared of the enemy, and then Italy will be in the position of this country after Dunkirk. It is true that she will be backed, as we were not, by a still poweiful country, but it is by no means certain that Germany will decide to defend Central Europe on the Italian coast. Italy may be assigned the unpleasant task of delaying the enemy to enable the real defence Co be made on German and French frontless. On the other hand, Italy is up against a weight of air-attack which was not at Germany's disposal in 1940. That airforce, in combination with powerful armies and at least adequate naval forces, will prove decisive.
This was the position which Archbishop Spellman, for example, was able to refer to if he talked to Count Ciano. It is possible that he urged, on behalf of President Roosevelt, the high desirability of Italy's coming to terms while there was yet Lime, The Americans, in particular, do not want to destroy Italy, not only because of their regard for a great country at the centre of our Western culture, hut because of Italy's association with Catholicity. But what could Ciano do? The elimination of Fascism must have been a condition of any arrangements. Was Ciano prepared to overthrow his father-in-law and act as broker for a new and more liberal regime? And if he was, is the English Government in a position. considering the state of public Opinion here, to acquiesce in cornparatively' easy terms that alone would tempt Ciano away from the steely embrace of the hated Germans?
These are questions to which we shall have the answers in due course From the strategical. humanitarian and cultural point of view there is everything to be said for sparing Italy the horrors predicted for her by General Giraud horrors that will be inevitable if a settlement cannot be reached, with Italy leading the way.
AIR-RAID GLOATING wE welcome the protests from the Church of England—notably that of Dr. Haigh, who was Bishop of Coventry at the time of the great raids on that city—against the signs of gloating in the descriptions of our raids on Germany. We are glad, too, that publicity has been given to the Vicar of Selby's opposition to the proposal that savings stamps should be stuck on bomb-cases to be dropped on Germany.
We are assured that all raids are made on military targets, but it is admitted that this involves attacks on the towns within which the targets are to be found. with the virtual certainty that many " innocents "even if we confine the term to old people and children—will suffer. The moral legitimacy of such night raiding with its high degree of inaccuracy is, we think, open to doubt. Indeed we have little doubt about its illegitimacy when Germany does
it. However it is a controverted question, and religious authorities clearly allow the benefit of the doubt. We cannot, however, see that there is the smallest room for doubt about the immorality of encouraging the sense of pleasure and satisfaction in such a business. We do not see that there is any moral distinction between enjoying the wounding or killing of a small child before our very eyes and enjoying the idea of it as the result of a legitimate military necessity. And the limit is about reached when we actually take children to contemplate bombs and to stick on them saving stamps with the idea that their little contribution may one day destroy their fellow human beings in the enemy countries. It is true that Christian peoples have traditionally rejoiced in victories, successful sieges and the like, but the rejoicing was for the achievement and its ultimate results for peace and justice; it could never be for the suffering incidentally inflicted, whether on the enemy forces or civilians.
In regard to raids on France and other occupied countries, we suggest that it would be a good thing if the use of the very heavy bombs which can penetrate very strong shelters were discontinued. There might he some loss of efficiency through this, but the plain evidence of our desire to spare probably friendly civilians and workers would more than compensate.
INCREASED BIRTH-RATE DECEPTIVE VERY inaccurate deductions are being made from the announcement that 1942 saw the rise of the birth-rate to the highest point since 1920. If we consider all the relevant facts we shall see that there is no cause for congratulation here. Although 68,000 more babies were born in 1942 than in the previous year (35,164 were born out of wedlock), we have to remember that the yearly number of marriages has been steadily increasing. Between 1924 and 1928 the average yearly number of marriages was 296,700, whereas in 1940 it had risen to 470,500. It is obvious then that though the birth-rate has taken a sudden rise (at 15.8 per 1,000 it is still well below the lowest point of 17.8 reached during the last war). the rate of births per marriage has been steadily decreasing and is still decreasing.
From the moral point of view this is not a happy finding, for the reason why less births per marriage are the order of the day is obvious. But it might be contended that from the national point of view, so long as there is an increase in the numbers of babies born, all is going relatively well. But this is not the case, because the increased marriages have made big inroads on the number of available spinsters, and the process cannot be continued. Very shortly there will be a big decrease again in the number of marriages with a consequent rapid lowering once again of the birth-rate, unless married couples have more children
These facts point to the timeliness of the motion that has been tabled in the Commons in the name of 90 M.P.s urging the Government to take appropriate measures to check this decline. But we all knoe perfectly well the overriding impor Lance in this matter of a materialistic and comfort-loving outlook now ministered to by the almost universal availability of contraceptive devices. Even if the economic problem can be solved, we shall not reverse the present disastrous tendency without a radical change of moral outlook.
MONETARY REFORM THERE is an increasing apprecia tion of the truth that a reform of our monetary system lies at the root of all effective social reform. The proper function of money has been made clear for years by economists. and the truth of their teaching has been made evident both by the totalitarian countries in peacetime and by all countries including our own, in war-time. The essence of the matter was put perlectly clearly by G. D. H. Cole and others rust week when they said: " Under a rational monetary system the nation can afford anything for which they are able to procure or provide the necessary manpower and raw material." To this should be added the necessary brains. The mystery of money lies not 'n its theory and function, hut in the reluctance of nations to overhaul irrational monetary systems which have evoked uncertainly from totally different conditions (when the means of monetary control were not so readily available) to the present time. Laziness and conservatism partly account for this, but it cannot be wholly explained except in terms of a veritable worship of money which affects the people generally as well as the big bankers and financiers.
The big men were condemned once and for all by Pius XI when he said that their private control of money enabled them " to govern siedit, and determine its allotment, for that reason supplying, so to -ipeak, the life-blood of the entire conomic body. and grasping in heir hands the very soul of production so that no one dare breathe against their will." But into this conspiracy the link men also entered through their terror lest their little savings and property should be lost ,by any monetary hanky-panky. This fear was lately played upon by the Prime Minister when he cited the immense war-savings as wealth that stood to be lost if the old monetary system was not respected.
MAKING SAVINGS SAFE BUT nothing could be more foolish than this fear, for it is obvious to everyone that the value of money has steadily declined and that savings have been halved in value over the last fifty years or so. At the present time it is only monetary and general economic control that prevents an inflation that would be already threatening to dissipate the very savings made during the war. A rational monetary policy would actually make the people's savings aTar safer, because one of its aims would be to maintain the value of money through enabling the country to produce as much as its manpower, raw materials, brains and trade are capable of, thus keeping an even balance between purchasing power and the amount available for purchasing. It was under the uncontrolled monetary system that Germany's savings were completely lost; it is under a modern State control that Germany's savings have up to date been conserved at very much their original value.
It is true that the absolute Nazi State has abused its powers and based its new economy on the creation of armaments, but this was due to accidental political and economic causes which need not be repeated in a more sane political settlement. There is obviously no economic advantage as such in manufacturing
armaments. On the contrary the economic advantages are all with the production of useful wealth so long as it can find a purchaser at a steady price. And this simply depends on maintaining a fluid exchange of goods between different members of the community, the State adjusting any friction and protecting any of the weaker brethren by insurance, pensions, priorities in production, if necessary, rationing Likewise the State can and should control the financing of foreign trade in the interests of the whole community.
Such power can be abused, but one has little patience with those who protest their fear about this danger while apparently remaining wholly indifferent to the alteration of values, the booms and slumps, the vast unemployment, the cornering, the excessive ill-distribution of wealth, the immoral callousness which gave priority to the production of useless and often demoralising luxuries, while real needs remained unsatisfied, all of which were characteristic of the era of " sound money and the defence of the sacredness of private property." It should also he remembered that under a rational economic system those savings (against which our Lord spoke) will not be so necessary. At present savings are the poor man's only defence against the hazards of a ridiculous system. SEKOTS and Grebird then led me to a green bench, but there was no room to sit down. Some hundreds of people were in fact trying to crowd into a handful of benches. I was firmly placed on the knees party. The else, who in turn seemed to be sitting on the lap of a The Constitution of Lurcomania, I heard later, had laid down the precise size of the Chamber. Unfortunately, the draughtsman of that particular section had made a minor but farreaching error in his arithmetical calculations, with the result that for all time members of the Chamber had to make do with a room that would comfortably hold less than a quarter of theii number. (Professor Yecid has studied with great care how this error has affected the political history of Lurcomania. He points out that the sardining of the Lures and the Maniacs in the inadequate Chamber has proved to be the means of pieserving a united Government and Parliament despite the persistent wars between the two peoples. Less democratic historians have had something to say about the " free speech " of Members who are always sat on.)
SCARCELY had I taken my seat tor to be precise—the tummy of Ris K. Nonnah) when I heard "Number One" shouted out, and Sekots bobbed up with a decidedly nasty smile on his face. Impelled by some unknown force — possibly the effect of the praye-s-1 rose, and, in following some inner voice, I answered -as follows:
"My right honourable Friend has
asked me to reply. The People are eternally indebted to the patriotic banks both of the Lures and the Maniacs, as well as their distinguished and wealthy directors and shareholders, for the money that is so generously subscribed by them to enable the war to be continued indefinitely. Some ability even in Lurcomania is required in order to create new money Without being clapped into prison for forgery, and the whole country must acknowledge with gratitude how these patriotic institutions have made the Government the beneficiary of a technique long ago acquired and steadily improved in the course of time." I sat down, feeling very well satisfied with myself. Nonnah grunted.
RUT Sekots was on his feet again, " Can the right honourable Gentleman explain why financiers should be paid interest for all etcrn ty derived from the perpetual taxation of the people for the loan of funds ten times in excess ot what they themselves possess at any given time, when the Government itself could print that money at the infinitesimal cost of the paper on which it is printed? Could he further explain why the Chamber is never allowed to know the names of those ultimately responsible for the quantity or such financial jugglery and the use of its fruits?"
At this point my inspiration dried up, and I had to answer with my own wits. " My bon. Friend will recall that every loan creates a deposit." I began, having heard the phrase somewhere and thinking that, however unintelligible to me, it seemed to fit the context, " and the . . . er . . , wellknown integrity of our ancient financial institutions is the guarantee that if there is any jugglery, its amount is carefully limited by immemorial custorn. I am sure that in all Lurcomania my Friend will not find men more upright and honest than our financiers," Again I sat down, feeling a little more doubtful.
" But my trouble is that I can't find them. Who are they?" persisted Sekots noisily.
" Would not taxation of land values . .
" Should we not restore to the State its immemorial right. .
" Is not Social Credit. . .7" They all popped up one after another luckily without giving me time to answer.
At last a very fat gentleman with a purple nose and a very blue morning coat rose and in a voice loud enough to drown the other voices, shouted: ,,Is not the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that it would be highly dangerous to interfere with those time-honoured methods of high finance to which a good many of us owe our prosperity?"
" Yes, Sir." I answered, my inspiration having returned with a quite alarming strength.
(Next week: The 111.w.P. answers another Question.)