IN an interview with an American Catholic paper, Don Sturzo has taken a very gloomy view about the future of liberated Italy and charged the Allies with making a series of had mistakes in their dealings with the defeated country. These views strike one with the greater force in that the famous Italian priest is the last person who could be charged with any hidden love for Fascism in itself or in any of its disguises and the last to take a critical line about thc actions of eithet Britain or America. When politicians and publiciste were flirting in one way or another with political and economic expediences. Don Sturzo stood out uncompromisingly for Christian political principle and suffeied for his views. He may indeed have been too optimietic and intransigent. hot the breath of any kind ol political corruption never touched him. To-day he fears for the future of the Italian people who have been left by their liberators in a state of economic insecurity and near-starvation, mainly owing to the imposition of an iniquitous rate of exchange: who are being driven into what he calls a "Communism of the stomach" owing to their sense of social and economic helpless. nest : and who view with a natierial despair the apparent Allied intentions of stripping their country of its badlyneeded original colonies and of using what is left of its armaments with a total disregard both of Italian feelings and needs. To straighten this appalling muddle it neuted the, realism of Soviet Russia, which. in recognising Bacloglio, at least enebled sonic sense of stability to he felt and opened the way towards the formation of an interim Italian Government that could do something to bridge the morass teet necessarily divides a defeated dictatorship from the resumption of constitutimialiem. And we must admit that it took a Communist Russia to realise the importance of the part that the monarchy could play at least during the traneition. One may well have one's doubts shout the ultimate benefit to Italy of this Russian intervention. At any rate for Catholics it must seem to he a disaster that the Italian people should be forced to look to Russia, rather than to Britain and America. for salvation. Yet if this is the case whose fault e. it?
Clearing a Fog Away
V-lE case of Italy, where only a third of the country is liberated and where stuhhorn lighting continue% may he held to be exceptional. Yet we cannot count anywhere on the piocess of liberation being rapid and simple. In the case of any or all the countries of Europe there may be equal difficulties. and the precedent of Italy affords singu holy little hope that the Allies have clear and statesmanlike ideas about how to proceed. Russia. by comparison. appears to know its own mind. What it considers strategical needs or the liquidation of historical debts drives it to dictate crushing terms for its en, mediate neighbours. or the iniquity 01 this procedure there is no need to enlarge again. But at least in our case neither strategical needs nor historical debts offer any set ious temptation Neither Britain nor America desire slices of Europe. Their economic situa lion is such that they will not benefit from the imposition of heavy repose. tions not the further monopolising of colonies and souices of taw inaterial Their real position in fact is accurately expressed in the Atlantic Charter. They have therefore every possible reason to go even further along the line of realism than Russia is going Where it is a question elf countries outside the range of immediate Russian ambitions What then stands in the way of commonsense statesmanship in their dealings with a defeated Germany and a defeated Italy, together with satellite countries? What prevents them taking immediate steps towards the economic teconstruction of those countries ands helping them under honest leaders to take their proper place in a new Europe? What prevents them is a thick fog of muddled thinking and muddled ideas. Relics of imperialist thinking, treditions of European balances of power. fear of offending and fear of strengthening Russia, inchoate commercial ambitions and jealousies, all these are mixed with the ideas of punishing the enemy and making the future secure against him, and the lot is informed by the idea of the Fascist bogy and the hopes of a new ordinary man's utopia divorced from spiritual considerations for which the Left stands It is true that below this level of tog some clear thinking is being done. Unnra, the debates about the I.L.O., new monetary arrangements, all this is real and offers real promise. But unless between now and the end of the war we can drivc away the sentimentality, the wishful thinking and the bogies carried over from the past and face the problems of Europe realistically. we shall he responsible for applying to Europe as a whole the tragic treatment from which Italy has suffered.
The Example of the
Empire IT was refreshing to read the Prime • Minister's fine speech that closed the debate on Imperial Unity. In certain moods Mr. Churchill is a romantic, and in dealing with the Empire he has the advantage of speaking about something whieh is more romantic than himself. Reviewing the story of impelial relations during this century, the Prime Minister was rightly forced to seek an explanation at a level deeper than material ideas. " You must look very deep into the heart of man, and then you will not find the answer unless you look with the eye of the spirit. Then it is that you learn that human beings ate not dominated by material things but by ideas for which they are willing to give their lives or theit life's work " That is profoundly true, and it is impossible to account for the links which have hound the Dominions with the Mother Country against every utilitarian anticipation and in spite of all the forces making for a dissolution without invoking a spiritual and motet force which draws together peoples who fundamentally share the same decent
vs and the same truly human s I uc
But surely this truth contains a tremendous lesson, The problem before the world to-day, as Mr. Hore-Belisha pointed out, is not the future of the Empire, it is the future of Europe. Is it impossible for Great Britain, whose record of imperial relations has on the whole been en outstanding and successful precisely because caution and utilitarianism and a nice calculation of materialist pros and cons have been subordinated to moral principles and community of spirit—is it impossible for Great Britain to stand boldly before the world as the champion of the same n ewel values for the peoples of Europe? In the case of the Empire, Britain has transcended the governess attitude. She has respected independence, local custom, religion, variety, even difference of policy, and put her money on broad principle and community of interest. To-day as never before she has tho chance of doing the eante in her leadership of a Europe looking for new life. Though different in character it is impossible to say that the problem is harder than the problem of Empire once appeared. There. as Mr. Churchill said, " darkness was turned into light and into a light which will never fade away," a " mitacle " was accomplished. Courage to-day in standing before the world for the Atlantic Charter and an Atlantic Charter more spit itualised and Chrhotienieed than its present draft could see the miracle repeated, LESSONS OF FINNISH PEACE FAILURE A LARGELY false propaganda " is preventing the public trom appreciating the true lesson of the breakdown ol pence negotiations between Russia and Finland. It is generally contended that Finland is no longer substantially free and under Germany's thumb. To this is added the suggestion that the Finnith people have been overruled by Quisling politicians. The first suggestion is ob. viously nonsense since, if it were so, here was the opportunity for Finland to escape from the German overlord ship. As for the second the Finnish people have known as much about the negotiations as anyone else has. If there was to be any hope of success. the matter bad obviously to be kept
private. Meanwhile Finland remains as constitutionally free as this country. and there is no reason whatever to suppose that the Finnish people are without full confidence in their present leaders.
The truth, unfortunately. is that if the Films do not trust the Germans, neither do they trust the Russians. and the severe Russian terms were not alluring enough to tempt the Finns out of a position which they must realise to be highly precarious, And what is true of the Finns is also true ot millions in Europe as a whole. In Spain and France, not to speak of Central European countries and Germany itself. the fear of what will happen after a victory due so largely to Soviet Russia is sufficient to maintain much of the German moral strength long after Germany's military position is seriously undermined, And if we are not to have to fight this war to the bitterest end. the " Big Three " must make it clear to Europe that revolution and anarchy are the last things they want. But Europe will scarcely bo reassured until it hears something of the precise policy to be adopted and of the arrangements as between Russia and the Western Allies so that there may be a reasonable chance of the Allied desire of social stability being fulfilled 1THE POLISH "DESERTERS" THERE is, unfortunately, not a little to suggest that the recent raising of the allegations of antiSemitism In the Polish Army, coupled with thc case of the various men who state that they wish to be transferred to the British Forces, has wider international bearings. At any rate it coincides very neatly with ptessure against Poland and is well calculated to fan distrust of the Poles and Indignation against them. But there is a second aspect to which It is useful to draw attention. If the above is correct, we must also admit that the inflexibility and stiffness of army traditions, whether in Poland or elsewhere, have served as useful instruments in the hands of any who may wish to cause trouble. To the layman it seems absurd that Poles, whether in the Polish Army or not, should not be able for good and sufficient reason to serve in the British or any other Allied army. The word " desertion " is loved by all Army chiefs, but no sensible person would call " desertion " the reasonable desire of a free citizen to transfer from one Allied Army to another or to join one or other of these armies rather than the army of one's own country. And the question links up with the whole subject of nationality which hitherto has been far too inflexibly controlled largely owing to narrowminded claims by different countriee on the services of their citizens. If there arc these troubles between Allies, what improvement can we expect in the free woild to come? And since it seems evident that large and probably conscript armies will continue to exist after the war, let us at least hope that in such matters as these army law in the different countries will be humanised and made more consonant with citizenship.
FUNCTIONAL POLITICAL TENDENCIES MR. Hore-Belisha. speaking in debate on Imperial Unity, argued that the world to-day is ruled " more by functional institutions than political," The tendency in this latter direction, both in international and national affairs, grows stronger as the difficulties of post-war political planning become more evident. A symptom, small in itself but not without significance. of its operation in home affairs will be found in the recent decision of the National Farmers' Union to develop its own agricultural policy. The farmers have become im• patient of Whitehall's efforts to plan the future of their industry. Thee latest move, besides serving to exemplify recognition of the functional ideal. is a practical step towards rebuilding from below rather than under ethraedireteattienn of a centralised bureau tic sOpposition to bureaucratic methods Is apt to be too negative and to suggest that the alternative to proposals put forward by Mr. Herbert Morrison and others is a return to the discredited laissez-faire system. In failing to indicate any positive and constructive alternative to the anarchy of nineteenth century Liberalism this opposition is making inevitable the triumph of the system against which it is tighting. The only way to check the growth of a centralised State omnipotent in every sphere of national life and controlled by an officialdom out of touch with the practical affairs of industry will be found in a guild order (such as that approved by Pius XI) whereby each section of industry would be responsible, apart from the necessity for co-ordination and the safeguarding of consumers' interests, for the conduct of its own business.
The application of this principle to the troubled sphere of coal mining is obvious. As we said last week, the fact that the miners have submitted to the direction of their own leaders brings nearer the day when the industry will be self-governing. Reconstruction will be sound according as it starts at the bottom rather than abandons control to political and bureaucratic bosses.