THE TABLET A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER AND REVIEW

ESTABLISHED 1840 REGISTERED AS A NEW SPAPER

VOL. 171 No. 5102

LONDON FEBRUARY 19th, 1938

SIXPENCE

IN THIS ISSUE

AUSTRIA AND GERMANY

Editorial

CATHOLICISM IN AUSTRIA

By Edward Quinn

WITH BOTH SIDES IN SPAIN

The Record of an English Journalist

E. I. WATKIN ON THE MARXIST PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE

Full List o f Contents on page 228.

THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK The Oxford Street Campaign

The Japanese have declined to answer the British and American questions about their ship-building intentions. Their operations on the mainland are hanging fire, but they are well able, keeping check of opinion in Britain and the United States, to discount the likelihood of effective common action. In both countries there are powerful and official agitations for trade boycotts, which will produce a certain effect. The politicians and authors who walk in the gutters of Oxford Street between the ’buses and the pavement with their sandwich boards, calling for a boycott of Japanese goods, can be pretty sure of one thing, that if their activities have any effect it will be precisely the opposite of what they desire. International trade, the interdependence of the world, was taken in the last century as the very stuff of human existence. The commercial classes in Japan, who came into rapid existence following 1867, when Japan emerged from its closed feudal order, are losing their battle, but they will find themselves deprived of their main argument if their Japanese opponents can say with truth that the whole of the structure of the export trade rests on treacherous foundations, because it is liable to be wiped out by interested agitation in its chief markets. Mobilising for Shopping Hostilities

The weapon o f the trade boycott makes an obvious appeal to the easy-going civilian populations of the countries with a high standard of life. They are encouraged to think that without risk or serious discomfort they can rule the Far East from their arm chairs, or by signing papers at their back doors. It is not true. The immediate effect of these boycott campaigns will be the same as the effect of the Lytton Commission, of the allied intervention in Russia, of the sanctions against Italy. It will produce an immediate patriotic rallying to the Japanese Government, a growth of the belief that force alone, based on national self-sufficiency, can secure national well-being. It is a most serious blow to that conception of a recovered world trade that the possibilities of these boycotts should have to be taken into account whenever the nationals of any country think of developing a particular export market. Trade competition is much too fierce for the weapon not to be freely and unscrupulously used by trade rivals whenever a political opening occurs. The mentality of trade boycotts is the same as the mentality which thinks rearmament is simply, or primarily, a matter of writing cheques, and that material accumulations of ships and aeroplanes matter more than the spirit and training and wills of the people. The Easy Way to Rule Mankind

The debate is likely to become increasingly active and the alignments increasingly marked between two schools of thought in Great Britain, both claiming to be thorough champions of representative institutions. One school is represented by the proposal now being mooted in America, that there shall be a national referendum before a war can be declared. This is the spirit behind Lord Cecil’s announcement that everybody in Great Britain is to be canvassed to see whether they are for or against a boycott of Japanese goods. It is a theory that attaches a mystical value to sheer numbers, and its root fallacy lies in its treating real convictions and the most casual and passing willingness to sign a paper or cast a vote, as equally the expression o f a resolute will. An indifferent half-nod and a readiness to die for a cause have equal rank. The time has surely come for responsible statesmen, even at the risk of immediate misrepresentation and abuse, to set their faces against this tendency. It is false to call collections of door-to-door signatures the will of the people. In skilled hands, and with carefully-framed questions, the most enormous petitions and ballots can easily be assembled, and these things come to have a cumulative and snowball effect so that people sign because signing has become a fashion. It may flatter people to imagine