THE TABLET The Tablet Publishing Company L td . 39 Paternoster Row, London, E.CA. Telephone : City 2536





By Christopher Hollis


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REVEILLE ...................................................... 403

A Drawing by Thomas Derrick THE CHURCH ABROAD .............................. 405 BOOKS OF THE WEEK .............................. 408 TALKING AT RANDOM .............................. 410

By D.W. SURSUM CORDA .......................................... 413 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR . . . . 414


F [ the speeches in which they announced the coming of war, both Mr. Chamberlain and M. Daladier paid special and pointed tribute to Signor Mussolini’s work to preserve peace. The Abyssinian campaign, the speeches over many years, designed to glorify the military calling and the sense of an Imperial mission, which the Duce has made to Italian audiences, but to which the world has listened, have obscured his sustained and excellent work for peaceful revision of the Peace Treaties in Central Europe. The European scene will not be rightly judged except by people who recognize that the Italians have the greatest interest in seeing that in Central and Southern Europe there are many free peoples, and neither a German nor a Russian hegemony. The more closely Berlin and Moscow are able to keep in step, the more plainly does a common bond emerge, uniting the interests of Italy with those of France and Britain.

The Duce and the Italian people have for so long seen themselves as leaders in the revisionist camp that it has not been difficult for the Nazis, by calling everything they do “ revision,” to make the Italians think more of the substance than of the manner. Even today there is a widespread tendency in Italy to think of the present war as concerned with Danzig and the corridor, and not with much more fundamental things. No reader of the British “ Blue Book” of documents concerning GermanPolish relations, C.M.D. 6106, price Is., who follows the extraordinary story of the deliberate German campaign against Poland, can be left with any doubt that the issue was never one of Treaty revision, but of transforming Poland into a dependency of the Reich. Poland had its allotted place, along with Bohemia and Slovakia, and Danzig played, in the Polish policy of the Reich, just the role which the Sudeten Germans had played in the conquest of Czecho-Slovakia. If the Nazi action is accepted for the ambitious and far-reaching thing that it was, is it to be excused and accepted, as has been suggested in Rome, as historical dynamism ? No word is made to excuse more these days than dynamism, and it is well to recall to the lucid Latin intelligence that it is only the Greek word for movement, and that movement as such must be judged according as to whether it is good or bad. We have come, slowly, over several years, but very clearly to the conclusion that Nazi dynamism is an evil thing for the Europe to which we all belong. It is a movement which in the field of internal policy seeks continually more and more power, and will brook no rival, either in the Church or in the home. In the external field it seeks to absorb and subjugate everything weaker than itself within its reach, in a fashion at once more thorough and scientific and more merciless than the dynastic tyrannies of earlier centuries.

The cause for which we are at war might well be summed up as the restoration of private life against the ever-increasing claims of the State. By this we mean that our common civilisation has always rested on a recognition that the State is a means and not an end. While temporal rulers have a great and sacred vocation, and a just claim to obedience, they exist to make possible orderly and humane existence. They are subject to a law higher than themselves which they must observe if they are to keep their just claim to the obedience of law. That law, grounded in nature, sets limits to the claims which may be made in the name of the State. These limits are set at naught in Germany and Russia when the right of the head of the family to be respected by the State within the circle of his just family authority is denied. This may seem at the first glance a right remote from the international conflict now rising. But if the family had not been dethroned inside Germany, the dynamism of the Nazi drive to power would have been stopped. From their side the Nazi leaders recognize this. They have just dissolved Catholic Action groups in Danzig as “ a contribution to the effective unity of the Reich, ’’ a unity chiefly valued as a source of strength for war. When men ask what we envisage for the Germany of tomorrow, it is precisely this restoration of the claims of the private citizen, the father of the family, the return to the ideas which have been at once the strength of Governments through the centuries, and the effective limitation of their power.

The magnitude of the events through which we are passing is not being appreciated, and least of all, perhaps, in Italy. Just as wars overshadow and dominate the imagination, so that each war is conceived at first too much in terms of past experience, so is it also with war aims. Men are still talking and thinking in terms of the last war and of the relations between governments, when in fact governments themselves have been transforming their character. The language of diplomacy is used about realities very unlike those for whom that language was made. Men talk of the government of modern Russia and modern Germany, but their talk is to no purpose if they fail to recognize that the groups of men wielding vast power in those two countries are not governments in the old sense of the word. It is meaningless to talk of making peace with them on the strength of assurances that their aims are strictly limited, and are bounded by a sense of there being a natural European framework or a normal European way of life. Both those basic contentions are denied alike by the group that follows Hitler and the group that follows Stalin. There have been unscrupulous rulers often enough before, but not systems exalting unscrupulousness, calling it dynamic life and historical reality. 400