THE indignation and anxiety that I was caused by accounts of the way in which Japanese troops had dealt with their prisoners has been considerably allayed by reports now
to hand. The dropping of letters from prisoners to their relatives and friends on Australian soil was the first indication of more humane treatment. These letters spoke cheerfully of the captives' conditions and some of them stressed particularly the religious facilities that were being allowed.
Later came the news that representatives of the International Red Cross, who previously had been forbidden to visit prisoners, were now permitted to investigate and report on conditions in Hong-Kong and
elsewhere. Messages received by the Red Cross and Ss John organisation in London confirm the impression that Japan's treatment of prisoners and of civilian populations in occupied territories conforms with the usage of civilised nations.
In view of these statements it seems a pity that Mr. Eden in his account of alleged atrocities should have given the impression that the methods he described were those normally adopted by the enemy.
ITALIAN DEMANDS ON VICHY
THE result of the political changes which re-established Laval in a position of authority has been, from the Axis standpoint, disappointing. The purpose of these changes, it would seem, was to secure control of its fleet and to facilitate the transfer to Italy of,,„Tunis, Savoy, Nice, and Corsica. According to the Relazioni Internationali, the organ of the Italian Foreign Office, Hitler gave his reluctant consent for the first time to these transfers at Salzburg.
The refusal of the Vichy Government to fall in with the plan has elicited bitter comment from Italy. The organ just mentioned accuses Petain of submitting to any humiliation at the hands of the Allied Powers, the language used being strikingly similar to that adopted by our own press in charging Vichy with subjection to Germany. Laval is therefore between two fires, and, whichever he falls into, will be accused of servility. Meanwhile the places named and the fleet remain in Vichy's possession. The outcry that Laval's appointment meant complete surrender to Germany was at least premature.
-THE STARK, STRATEGIC TRUTHS"
THE news of Japan's initial sue
cesses brought about a refreshing willingness to face the possibility of ultimate defeat unless something
was done. Since that time there has been a relapse into the former self-deluding optimism. And this, as we remarked in its earlier phase, is not conducive to the maximum war-effort. One of the most interesting sections of the Report on Production issued by the Advertising Service Guild is that which traces the effect of adverse news on work.
Therefore we welcome the courageous statement made by the Observer concerning sea losses. "Last week," we are told, " the United States Navy Department announced that 153 ships had been sunk or damaged off the Americas and in African waters since Pearl Harbour, but unofficial reports put the figure of ships sunk along the Atlantic coast alone considerably higher than the official over-all total," And it adds: " When President Roosevelt coupled his assurance of victory with the warning that ' it may take an awful long time,' he was stating the stark, strategic : strategic thhe-eg" : strategic thhe-eg"
more frankly such " stark, truths are stated, the stronger will be the assurance of victory.
THE STATE AND THE CHILD
IT is somewhat amazing, in face
of the concerted and unprovoked attempt on the part of educational bodies to secularise the schools, to find Mr. A. L. Rowse writing in the New Statesman: "There is at the moment a regular campaign of the religious sects to slip in more religious, and even doctrinal, teaching into the schools while everybody's back is turned and attention is directed to the war. There is a serious danger—as never before—of the sects composing their differences in order to face the State with a joint demand, a united front. Already some of their leaders have spoken in a most threatening way to the Board of Education, of a demand which the Board will be unable to resist. It is important that the Board's hand should be strengthened in this matter, and that it will act on the view that the State is the proper guardian of the rights of the children as citizens to be."
Here is the pure totalitarian doctrine with not even a blush to hide its character. The parents who brought the children into the world and brought them up are not even
mentioned. The omission of all reference to them could not have been greater if, in place of motherhood and homes, children were ushered into the world and matured by means of incubators run by State officials,
But not only are the parents ignored. Mr. Rowse would dismiss those authorities appointed to supervise their interests. " We should abolish," he says, "the useless, or pernicious, system of governors of seconders schools; they contribute nothing to education; they are just watch:logs of an effete social order that is going under anyway."
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION DESPITE this very serious denial
of parental rights and the attempt to create a Teachers' Dictatorship, Mr. Rowse's article contains some wise suggestions. Particularly to be noted is his advocacy of vocational education. This is what he says on the point: " I am not now concerned to consider changes in the organisation, curricula, etc., in the national systern of education. I would only say Hat development should take the line of strengthening the vocational side. The education of children could be made much more real and effective by bringing it into closer relation with the natural and occurational bacsground of their lives."
From the point of view here indicated the old system of apprentice
ships has much to be said in its favour, and it is good to know that, in connection with certain industries, it is being revived in a modern form which should do much to mitigate the purely mechanical and unintelligent character of the part played by industrial workers in the process of manufacture.
BIRTHS AND DEATHS
THE publication of the Memoran
dum regarding population by the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland is opportune. The result of the enquiries here tabulated are rather more satisfactory than the alarmists have led Us to expect. For the last seven or eight years, it would appear, the proportion of births has been almost stationary. But we are warned that this " does not mean that a future decline is unlikely. The birth rate since 1923 has been definitely insufficient to maintain a stationary population. But for the time being, this has not been reflected by a declining population, owing firstly to the peculiar age-shape of the present population, which discounts both the effect of the birth-rate deficiency and the operation of mortality, and secondly to the recent change in migration movements from an outward to an inward direction on balance."
One of the most striking things about the Report is the evidence it affords as to the decline in mortality. " Variations in the death rate, over the period in question," it says, " have also had an important, if secondary, share in the determination of the numbers living to-day. Mortality may be said to have been approximately halved during the past 70 years. But the decline has not been evenly spread over the whole of life; the bulk of the improvement has been located at the younger ages, and it may be noted that in the age groups 5-10 deaths are occurring at about one-quarter the frequency they had at the middle of the last century, while for younger and immediately older years the reductions are hardly less striking."
TOWARDS GUILD FINANCE
THE new levy of ls. per 1,000 on the sale of bricks is an interesting indication of contemporary trend in shaping a new economic order. The proceeds of the levy are to support brickworks that have been compulsorily closed since the war, but it has wider implications.
The principle is not wholly new, but with each new application the conception of what may be called " Guild Finance " becomes clearer. It was one of the least defensible aspects of the old individualist economy that any fortuitous accession of efficiency not only gave a monetary reward to the enterprise concerned, but that that monetary reward itself often constituted a powerful offensive weapon for the elimination of competitors. Businesses that through no failure of their own, but perhaps through some slight disadvantage of location, or more often through lack of necessary cash or credit, failed to make the pace, went under in the struggle. It was a case of winner take all.
No social purpose was served by this ruthlessness. No incentive was provided that could not have been created at a much smaller social price. A social gain of increased efficiency, that was in itself often negligible, was paid for by a harvest of bankruptcies and by a quite arbitrary and unmerited incidence of suffering.
Let us hope that the new device may be allowed to point the way to a better order of things. Let us hope that the idea will become established of a " Guild Fund " sustained by a general levy which will maintain and assist such businesses as have shown themselves deficient neither in energy nor skill, but are threatened with extinction through some wholly unmerited handicap.
THE STATE AND CAPITAL
ANOTHER significant new development is that by which sole authority for permission to deal on the Stock Exchange in any security has now been vested in the Treasury. The reason for this is that the Defence (Finance) Regulations contained certain loopholes which enabled new companies to put what were, in fact, if not in name, their shares on the market, and that the ban on new capital issues was thus being evaded. Although there is here, too, nothing more than the safeguarding of a policy already approved, the swing over to cornplete and open State control of the capital market is important. It has become almost a commonplace by now that the direction of the flow of capital is a matter of public concern and it is to be hoped that a full recognition of this principle will be regarded as being implicit in the new decision,
Yet, if that is so, one further provision is indispensable. There must be open debate and a clear formulation of economic ends. The Treasury is the most mystery-loving of all Government Departments and still persists in the ridiculous attitude that its " awe-fui " operations are only comprehensible to the elect. This is the source of much avoidable distrust and misunderstanding. If the State is really to direct the flow of capital, then it must let the public know exactly what it is aiming at—and incidentally find out whether the thing that it is aiming at is what the public wants.
THE DOCTRINE OF HATE
THE following letter from a Flight ± Lieutenant, published in the News Chronicle, repeats what has now been authoritatively said by the competent military authorities:
" I have been for just on two years the adjutant of an operational squadron in Bomber Command. I am serving under my tenth commanding officer. I have been all the time in the closest personal contact with the fighting crews. That they have done their job the whole world knows. But I should like to place on record that not on one single occasion have I heard a member of an operational crew speak of the Germans with hatred.
"This is not a remarkable fact. Our crews are trained to do their terrible work with coolness, calculation and quiet determination, and with a courage which comes from a selfimposed discipline which does not need the tawdry stage effects of a provincial Grand Gingnol to engender it."