NOBODY OF GOOD tILL can fail to applaud the aims and aspirations of Prince Philip's Voluntary Service Overseas, which has announced that it is to expand threefold. Its achievements, tiny as they are in relation to the size of the problem it has undertaken, are none the less admirable.
Of all forms of neo-colonialism, the notion of selfless, voluntary labour without hope of material reward seems most congenial both to popular morality and to the new pagan religion of anti-neo-colonialism. But is it likely to be as effective, so far as the good of the recipients is concerned?
The other form of neo-colonialism, developed by the Americans in the Middle East. and attempted unsuccessfully by both America and Britain in Indonesia after the Dutch had left, pledges Western investment without accepting any responsibility for tutelage, welfare or administration in the countries concerned.
As it slovely becomes apparent to the investor countries that in an age when nationalist sentiment is often confused with semi-digested fag-ends of socialism their investments are seldom either profitable or secure. this method is being abandoned, and the idealists are left in command of the field. •
The old colonial system worked so well because it was of direct benefit to both parties. The new, represented by Voluntary Service Overseas, is splendid so far as it goes, but 1 very much doubt if it will ever have the scope of the old. And so far as a nationalist sentiment is concerned. I should think it was less flattering to be the object of young idealists' charity than speculators' avarice.
PROPOSING that the burial ground of St. George's, Hanover Square. should he developed for housing. a Conservative M.P. explained last week that it was a private measure promoted by the Rector and churchwardens. The reason given was that it would remove restrictions on a potentially valuable site which now produced no income and had long outlived its purpose, There must be no end of potentially valuable building sites which produce no income—St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey spring to mind—but I do not see how a burial ground can reasonably he said to have outlived its purpose until after the Day of Judgment.
The most recent figures show that the C. of E. has many fewer than half a million Easter communicants. We know that its income derives in greatest part from investments to the value of £300m. If a few members of this Church, the most civilized and recognizable of all separated fraternity, are allowed to treat it simply as a commercial venture, we should point out that such a firm would have been the subject of a take-over bid long ago.
MR. HAROLD WILSON, in expressing concern over the flight of State-trained scientists from England, suggested that they left because they were not given sufficiently high social status, All too often, he said, they were shown to the back door. Nobody has yet convinced me that their departure is to be regretted. With the exception of military inventions, science knows no frontiers nowadays. Medical or engineering skills developed in America are common property within months.
We have no reason to grudge America such military advantage as our scientists may bring her, since their inventions will almost certainly be put to better use, and war between the United States and Britain is a sufficiently remote possibility at the moment.
No scientist has yet turned up at my house to pose the problem of which door he should be shown to. I think I should judge him on the purpose of his visit—a scientist who wished to install a new gas-meter would he shown to the back door, one who wished to discuss thermo-dynamics on a friendly basis could come in the front.
But if Mr. Wilson expects every patriotic non-scientist to take scientists seriously, listening to their preposterous conversation and encouraging them to overcome their gauche manners and unruly appearance, he is asking too much. Science should serve civilization, not the other way round. When all is said and done, we should feel bottomless admiration and gratitude that the Americans are prepared to take these wretched people on.
MR. HENRY BROOKE'S ORDEAL at the hands of Cambridge socialists would call for sympathy and commiseration if he had had any good reason to be at the university in the first place. But as he planned to address an undergraduate political society himself, he must forfeit all our indignation. It is one of the most grotesque idiocies of our age that responsible polticians feel bound to take an interest in what youth is thinking, as if youth's conclusions had some greater validity than those based on mature judgment and greater knowledge.
I do not know what Mr. Brooke proposed to tell the Cambridge University Conservatives, but the fact that he proposed to tell them anything shows that he was prepared to take advantage of their unformed minds and crude enthusiasms. A sufficiently rousing address might even have persuaded them to behave like the Cambridge University Labour club, and throw vegetables at the next socialist to appear.
In our democratic society, no person, whatever his educe tion, has more than one vote. Many undergraduates, mercifully enough. do not even have that. Now that Mr. Brooke has had a taste of undergraduate opinion, he will be in a position to judge its value, and leave these over-priviledged adolescents to throw eggs at each other.