Most Englishmen no doubt smiled at the thought of the Duce's encouragement of the goose-step in Italy and at his words: " When the Italian people like they can do anything." And, in view of the difference between the customs and traditions of this country and Italy-, they smiled with good reason.
But it would he equally well if certain representative and distinguished Englishmen realised how easily they too can provoke the no less forgivable smile of Italians and Continentals in general.
Under the heading " Italians in Abyssinia " a number of such Englishmen have argued in The Times against the recognition of the Abyssinian conquest. Up and down this highly moral letter the words
" international burglary," " racketeer," " burglar," " swag,"." crime " occur. Yet in the last paragraph the signatories argue that, while other countries may be able to afford to recognise the African conquest, we cannot because " we are a great African power." It will be well for us, they suggest, in our future dealings with " Africa's black millions" if we can quote the fact that we made the " moral gesture of refusing to acknowleslge an Italian conquest. In other words, if and when " Africa's black millions" rise to claim their natural inheritance, we shall be able to say with eyes raised to heaven: " You must not blame us, the greatest African Power, for we were very emphatic in .denouncing the illegality of the conquest of our fellow and much less successful bandit. Seeing that we can never give up our own conquests, we could scarcely do less than this to show our love for you."
This may seem an unpatriotic view and „many rrtay be indignant at this comparison between the Italian bodily goose-step and our own spiritual goose-step, but we would seriously plead that we are doing ourselves no good by these extraordinary combinations of high morality with national interests. If we are going to argue in terms of " burglary " and " swag," we must be ready to apply the terms to ourselves. If we very naturally do not wish to do this, we must cease from trying to apply these terms indiscriminately to others. Else we make ourselves at best a laughing-stock, at worst a nation of hypocrites.