The Self-Blockade Of Germany
The collection of kitchen scraps and disused utensils for the fodder, or the metal and textiles they supply, was an essential war-time industry in the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires and, so far as fodder was concerned, in this country. It has again become a Stateorganised activity in Germany. in time of peace. Old carpets and curtains, old pots and old paper, and all bottles except medicine bottles. arc among the articles required to be saved and collected. For, by its ruthless cutting down of imports, the Reich Government has in effect reintroduced in a modified slegree the blockade of ghastly memory.
Its immediate object is to enable German industries to devote themselves to rearmament instead of manufacturing for export (by cutting off imports you make exports unnecessary). its ultimate object is to secure self-sufficiency in war-time. The greatest danger in the situation is that a people of whom war-time hardships are asked will have to be appeased by the glamour and conquest of actual war.
Greed Over-reaches Itself
It is just as well to keep reminding ourselves that this rearmament was made possible in its earlier phases by the financial houses of London and Paris, It was Dr. Schacht's achievement to persuade Germany's many creditors that they would only be paid if they extended to Germany further credits. Regardless of the fact that Germany could have paid quite a lot if she had not devoted her resources to arming, they continued to grant credits. And just over two years ago the Bank of England itself facilitated these extensions by a special loan of £750,000.
It is not unfair to say that these lenders arc only getting what they deserve when these credits are " frozen " in Germany, as they are under the standstill agreement which was negotiated a year ago and expires in about a fortnight's time. Their representatives are to meet the German Debtors' Committee before that date, but it is evident that they will be told that Germany has an even smaller export surplus than last year.
Honest Building ?
It is possible that no industry has such a name for bad workmanship as the building industry. Since the industrial revolution " jerry building" has been an almost universal complaint. The National Federation of Building Trade Employers has now launched a scheme for eliminat
ing it. Minimum standard specifications for ordinary houses are to be established, and builders and houses conforming to them are to be registered and certified. The President of the National Federation of Building Trades Operatives welcomed the scheme as a return to the old traditions of the industry. The workers, he said, loathed having to do scamped and shoddy work and to use inferior materials that brought discredit on the industry. (A book entitled The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists published some years ago gave bitter expression to this view).
A joint enforcement of honest workmanship by employers and workmen is one of the essential parts of any true corporation (it was one of the duties of the medieval Guilds), and we shall await with some eegerness the putting of this new project into practice.
Controlling the World's Money
Mr. Henry Morgerahau, Secretary of the United States Treasury, Sir Otto Niemeyer, a director of the Bank of England, and Mr. Runcirnan, President of the Board of Trade, are gathering at Washington this week-end. Their purpose is obscured by elaborate denials, one of which suggests that an important Cabinet Minister chooses the opening days of a Parliamentary Session for his holiday. It is generally supposed to be the strengthening and perpetuation of the AngloAmerican-French monetary arrangement of four months ago.
The unification of the international monetary system can be made to sound a very desirable goal but, even more than most international devices, it is liable to become a privately worked control which subordinates the interests of all the nations to the perfecting of the control itself. Mr. Roosevelt is believed to have worked hard to break this private control, but lately he seems to have given ground and in any case must he very much at the mercy of his technical advisers. Sir Otto Niemeyer is the man whose mission to Australia brought that Dominion to its knees after it had momentarily threatened to defy the Bank of England, Mr. Runciman's most conspicuous recent achievement was to let down Jarrow.
Anti-Christ and the Birth-rate
The natural increase of the population of Russia in 1935 exceeded, it seems, that for all the rest of Europe, and has since
grown still larger. And the Soviet Government is trying its hardest to send up the birth-rate even higher by making divorce and abortion more difficult and paying substantial bonuses for five years for every child after the seventh, and more still after the eleventh.
It is an admirable example of what we wrote of some months ago, namely "Birth promotion without religion." It is the Russian answer to Hitter's encouragement of large families in a supposedly overcrowded Germany. Obedience to the natural law in these matters is a glory to any nation, but this parody of it. for evil purposes savours of Anti-Christ.
Amidst the cloud of denials that always accompanies Anglo-Irish dieceassions, Mr. de Valera has again been talking with a Dominions Secretary—and a less heavy
handed one than the last: He has succeeded so well in having both ways as regards internal republicanism and external association with the British Commonwealth that, apart from a financial settlement and a voluntary arrangement as regards naval bases and the like, he has only one more step to take to complete the programme he set before himself when he re-entered the
Dail. He needs to settle with Ulster. He is said to be willing to offer as full a measure of autonomy for Ulster as he himself claims from England, provided that there is sonic form of association in a united Ireland. In this he is wise, for the division between Protestant Ulster and the Free State goes very deep. But only two-thirds of Ulster is Protestant, a further complication. But Mr. de Valera's combination of persistence and subtlety may in the end overcome even this.
The New Session
We defer fuller comment on the work lying before Parliament in the new session until it becomes clearer which part of it the Government proposes to take seriously. For, though there is no bold programme of Bills before the House, there are matters which may take many parliamentary days to discuss, besides arrears from last session, so that some of them will certainly be shelved. It is quite possible, for example, that a great number of debates may have to be held on foreign affairs, seeing how strongly the sympathisers with the Reds feel about the Government's alleged betrayal of " democracy" in Spain—one such debate took place on the very first day of the session. A factory Bill consolidating previous measures and bringing them up-to-date must necessarily be long and complex. How rearmament should be financed—whether by loan or taxation—is a question with far-reaching implications on which we shall have something to say in due course.
The Government and the Special Areas
Finally, the continued outrage of the neglected Special Areas will provide unlimited material for justifiable attacks on the Government unless it amply fulfils the promise wrung from it towards the end of last session—and an ample fulfilment is hard to conceive so long as the present Cabinet remains in office.
Indeed, if they cannot stand by these areas, they may well fall by them. It is interesting to see that The Times, which reflects the mind of the City, is taking that possibility quite seriously and, fearful lest the City may lose so stalwart a protector as the " National" Government, is pressing upon the Government the need of taking " drastic action " to abate the .scandal.
The trouble is that when Ministers have devoted themselves for years to finding reasons why nothing more can be done, it is practically a psychological impossibility for them to think out a drastic plan for doing something or even to consult openmindedly those who have a plan to propose.
The Leak in the Labour Party
Against a minority vote amounting to two-fifths of those voting, the Socialist League decided on Sunday to form a Left Wing United Front with the I.L.P. and the Communist Party. It did this immediately after the Executive Committee of the Labour Party had issued a public reminder of the condemnation of any such Move by the party cOnference. • Presumably the expulsion•of the League from the party will follow. but as only one member of the League, Sir Stafford Cripps himself, is in the House of Commons, this will not have any immediate effect upon the balance of parties there.
What must ultimately tell is the recurrent failure of the Labour Party to give a home to its more radically-minded sympathisers, and its subservience to the oldfashioned Trades Unionism with its preoccupation with wage-bargains within the
system it theoretically condemns. For a long time past there have been enough Catholics in the Labour Party to have infused into it more radical ideas of social justice if they had done no more than pass on the social teachings of the Popes. In default of such a lead those who seek radical social justice drift in relays towards the false radicalism of Moscow.