Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

ready offended by the decisions made at Washington without consulting them. They showed that attitude in 1924, when they were invited to Rome with the idea of getting them to agree to the naval ratios adopted for capital ships by the five Great Powers.' Italian papers were blunt in their disapproval. Impero protested: 'After having imposed her naval primacy upon the world so far as offensive operations are concerned, the United States now wants to deprive the weaker countries of the possibility of building defensive fleets of light cruisers and torpedo boats. That touches directly Italy's interests.' Lavoro d'Italia chimed in: "The memorandum is clear. It looks to the defense of American interests, which are only half veiled under humanitarian phrases and glittering generalities.'

The King's Speech from the Throne last month embodied a ministerial

Session at Westminster

The New programme 'brief to the point of terseness in its promise of new legislation,' to quote the pro-Baldwin Saturday Review. First came the Trade-Union Bill, with which, in view of the victories that Labor has won at most of the recent by-elections, the Cabinet is said to have proceeded with great caution. Some consider the threatened break with Russia a trading measure to placate Tory Die-hards for the omission of their pet provisions for curtailing the rights of labor. A reform of the Poor Law, from which a proposal to disenfranchise recipients of poor relief is said to have been dropped out of considerations of political expediency, and an amended Factories Act, which has been under discussion for several years, practically complete the Government's programme for industrial legislation. A bill is promised to protect British films, and a tiny step toward liberalizing the land laws is proposed by

a provision to secure to an outgoing tenant compensation for the loss of his goodwill and unexhausted improvements. Mr. Churchill has hinted, though this does not appear as yet, that he may be compelled to call for heavier instead of lighter taxes the coming season.

Britain's break with Moscow, if it comes, may prove to be not only a crucial turning point in her foreign policy, but also the principal issue between Conservatives and Laborists at the next general election. Rumor is current that the Cabinet has practically decided to have that election in April or May 1929. This would give two full sessions after the present session ends next July before there is an appeal to the country. Labor is thoroughly up in arms not only against all the proposed amendments to the Trade-Union Law, but against severing diplomatic relations with Russia and sending troops to China. Both of the latter issues are

in a way related, for it is generally felt that the expeditionary troops at Shanghai are there to fight Russia as well as the Chinese. We should bear in mind, in observing the larger alignments that are thus forming, that Indian Nationalists stand shoulder to shoulder with English Labor in regard to China, and possibly also in respect to Russia. Altogether the present session may be livelier than anticipated, for there are indications that political temperatures are rising in Great Britain. The New Statesman's characterization of the Ministry's position before the country at the opening of the new session was typical of this feeling: 'Despised by its opponents, and half distrusted by a considerable section of its supporters, in spite of its high majority it does not enjoy the whole-hearted confidence of any substantial section of the House, and seems, indeed, to have no great confidence in itself.'

Our own press has reported almost as fully as the British newspapers the sensational libel suit ocThe casioned by certain injuGladstone dicious and it appears Case unfounded-attacks upon Mr. Gladstone's private character. The country seemed rather ashamed of the whole incident, and greeted the verdict of exoneration with unanimous satisfaction. Even the Tory Morning Post found nothing gratifying in the ghoulish attack upon its great political enemy. 'Much as we disliked and opposed Mr. Gladstone's politics, it never, we confess, occurred to us to doubt the rectitude of his private character. Before that austere face and those embattled moralities, Cupid, though in general an audacious little fellow, would have fled abashed. Moreover, the great man's private life was so completely felicitous, and was so much in the public eye, that to allege the contrary flew in the face of the evidence. He was not that sort of man; as easy to imagine the Archbishop of Canterbury stealing silver spoons. If, therefore, one truancy from the domestic fold had been alleged against him, with masses of evidence to support it, we should have found it, on our general knowledge of Mr. Gladstone, difficult to believe; but the general charge of indiscriminate and promiscuous profligacy is fantastic, and might almost be called comic. The misreading of character and the flouting of probability were both so gross as almost to cancel out the libel. And yet we are bound to add that Lord Gladstone and his brother took the right course in treading heavily upon the libeler.' Even more denunciatory was the Outlook, which likewise plays on the Conservative side of the fence, and which asserted, 'It is safe to say that not one person in England will disagree with the verdict,' and characterized Mr. Wright as 'the most obstinate, the

-

most stupid, and the most wrongheaded man in these islands.' It suggested that he would do well 'to seek out some desert island and hide himself and his disgusting mind from the presence of ordinary people.' Rather strong language in a land where libel suits are a not unpopular sport.

Poincaré's decision to pay this year's installment upon France's war debt to the United States was hardly a surprise to those who had followed his financial policy from the day he became Premier. His plan has obviously been to deal with each day's problem as it arose, in order of its urgency, and not to commit the Government to definite promises for the future. He has refused formally to stabilize the franc, possibly having Belgium's unhappy experience in mind, and he has evaded up to the present committing himself to the Bérenger debt accord. Nevertheless, the franc has been stabilized, at least for the moment, and we are told that the first payment to America will be made. The Premier is of tougher fibre than his Foreign Minister, and possibly for that reason a less ingratiating character. Some profess to see signs that age and increasing indolence are having their effect on M. Briand, who of late years 'has been apt to face difficulties a little nervously.' Others think he has been misled by his great popularity outside of France to expect unusual indulgences at home. Robert Dell, whose stories are sometimes more piquant than plausible, says that when M. Briand left Paris for Geneva last September, filled with brotherly love for his country's former enemies, somebody said to him, 'Poincaré is watching you,' and that his reply was, 'Yes, as a lion watches his tamer.' Whether this be true or not, he seems less belligerently pacifist than he was a few months ago, and there has unquestionably been

some recoil from the open-arm attitude of France and Germany toward each other during the early autumn. Paris proposes to have a little Pan American Union of its own. A committee, of which Marshal Joffre is chairman, has raised a fund of one and one-quarter million dollars and purchased with it a beautiful residence of the Second Empire, which has been rechristened La Casa de las Naciones Americanas

and is expected to be a sort of intellectual embassy of Latin America in France' where the brightest minds of the two countries may come together. A large Latin-American colony exists in France, with its centre in Paris and its confines in the Riviera, which takes its tone from a little group of clever writers who have made it their mission to oppose North America's alleged designs upon the rest of the Western Hemisphere. The average Frenchman naturally sympathizes with this move

ment.

Since the Vatican's ban upon L'Action Française, the organ of the France and the

Clerical Royalists in France, a curious situation has arisen in that country.

Vatican "The amazing paradox is that French Radicals are now applauding the Roman Church, and French Royalists and Nationalists - which is equivalent to saying some of the French Catholics are openly antagonistic to the Roman Church.' The latter critics object that Rome's decisions are purely political and not religious. A new precedent was established, moreover, when a newspaper was placed upon the Index - probably for the first time in the history of the Church. A book is already in existence and can be judged; a newspaper's life presumably lies largely in the future, beyond the ken of censor or critic. As a result of the controversy, we are told, the old idea of a Gallic Church

is receiving some new adhesions. The papal nuncio is said to have reported to Rome that the interdiction of L'Action Française is being generally disregarded, in some cases even by the clergy, and that the circulation of the paper has increased since its condemnation.

German politics were marked during the winter session by the attempt of the Social Democrats and Com

Germany

munists, who seldom join

hands in the Reichstag, to upset the Marx Cabinet by attacking the loyalty of Herr von Keudel, the Minister of the Interior, to the Republic. This gentleman, who was a local official in Brandenburg at the time of the Kapp revolt in 1920, apparently played at that time into the hands of the people who were trying to upset the Republican Government at Berlin. Chancellor Marx came to his defense, however, and the Government secured 249 votes out of a total of 493 in the Reichstag on the ensuing division. On the other hand, Count Westarp, the leader of the intransigent Nationalists, made a long step toward reconciliation with the Republic by intimating that since his Party was now represented in the Ministry it felt itself responsible for helping to carry out the Locarno policy, against which he and his followers have thundered for the past year or more. While Chancellor Marx, representing the Right Wing of the Clerical or Centre Party, naturally stands by his Nationalist colleagues and draws them a slight way toward him, ex-Chancellor Wirth, who leads the Left or Labor Wing of the same Party, is ready to oppose the Ministry. Germania, its principal newspaper, apparently sympathizes with the latter attitude, for it impolitely suggests that mongrels have the vices of both sides of their descent, and that the new Cabinet promises to conduct itself in conformity with its

lineage. Upon the whole, however, Germany seems to be finding her balance under what might be called a Conservative-Republican administra

tion.

The normally unpleasant relations between Poland and Germany have been aggravated by the breaking off of negotiations between the two countries for a commercial treaty. Characteristically, the cause for their termination had nothing directly to do with the terms of the proposed trade agreement, but was a controversy arising out of the expulsion of four German engineers in Upper Silesia. Business in both countries will suffer as a consequence, for Poland sells her agricultural produce to Germany and Germany sells her manufactures to Poland. On the other hand, Prussian Junker landlords, who are the best Pole-haters in Germany, are delighted at the turn affairs have taken, for it not only gratifies their national dislike for their neighbors, but it relieves them of the latter's competition in the wheat, rye, and potato market.

Although the date for the coming parliamentary elections in Austria has Austria

not been set, the campaign is already on. The Government Parties, headed by the Christian Socialists, are attacking the high taxes imposed by the Socialist Municipal Council in Vienna. Certainly the exactions levied on certain individuals and institutions, especially the big banks, to obtain money for social welfare undertakings, are very heavy, and suggest a policy of expropriation by installments. A note of bitterness, recalling the parlous days of 1919 and 1920, has been introduced into the campaign by a bloody set-to between members of a Veterans' Union and members of a Republican Club in the Burgenland, in which two laborers were killed and several others seriously

wounded. As a demonstration against this violence the workers of Vienna inaugurated a brief general strike. Apparently the anti-Socialists were the aggressors, as they left their place of assembly and attacked their opponents at the latter's meeting place. Other disorders of a similar but less serious character have occurred elsewhere in the rural districts.

The uprising in Portugal last month, which was suppressed only after bloody fighting and great destrucSpain and tion of property in Oporto Portugal and Lisbon, was aimed at the military dictatorship set up last year by General Carmona. It was headed by Dom Affonso Costa, who was President of the last Assembly of the League of Nations. According to some it was an honest effort to restore constitutional government; according to others it was the attempt of a clique of disgruntled politicians to seize power. Whichever version is true, revolution seems to have become as normal a method of changing the administration in Portugal as in some parts of Latin America.

Spain's ambitions have received a blunt rebuff in France's courteous but firm refusal virtually to turn over Tangier to Primo's Government. Apparently the proposal was mismanaged, since it was as sure to be refused as was President Coolidge's call for a naval conference. Rumor has it that the blunder was made by Señor Yanguas, the young head of the Directory's Foreign Office, who has since resigned. Among the contemplated measures of the Government is a new physical education law under which systematic training of the body will be obligatory for all Spaniards, irrespective of sex, except those who can show just cause for exemption with a medical certificate. Presumably the measure will actually apply principally

to children and to young people liable to eventual military service. The draft scheme for convening the new National Assembly is also before the Council of Ministers, which is in no particular hurry to get together such a body, but likes to have it in the offing in case of need. A number of arrests have been made in Madrid of people who called by mutual agreement at the Mexican Legation and left cards to manifest their sympathy with that country in its conflict with the United States. This, however, appears to have been done less as a courtesy to Washington than out of deference to the Spanish Church, which is decidedly anti-Calles.

Italy continues to be an interrogation point with respect both to the real Italy sentiment of the people and the true economic condition of the country. Reports leak out of instances where mobs have attacked the Black Shirts and handled them as roughly as the latter do their opponents. The extraordinary severity with which enemies and supposed enemies of the Government are treated, concerning which we shall print an article in our next issue, indicates that uneasiness still prevails in ruling circles. But faith in Fascist dogmas and in the State as a universal benefactor continues unweakened. The latest proposal, of which we have given preliminary hints before, is to develop still further a guild organization of society, of which the existing Fascist trade-unions and employers' unions afford a preliminary outline. Negotiations were recently conducted at Milan and Rome between emissaries of Mussolini and Labor leaders of the Left Wing, who have hitherto remained in opposition, which are said to have resulted in an agreement upon the broad bases of a programme which would give the workers and their representatives a larger voice than heretofore in strictly industrial

policies and decisions. Italy and Russia are alike, however, in producing a wealth of projects for regenerating society which get no further than discussion and dilettante application.

Africa's depopulation, which has been a source of concern for the colonial and mandatory Powers, Africa especially France, for some years past, has been accelerated by a dreadful typhus epidemic which has swept across the continent from west to east, following the Niger to Lake Chad, and which is said to have claimed at least six hundred thousand victims. In one district alone more than fifty thousand are known to have died. How keen international rivalry continues to be in Central Africa, notwithstanding the meticulous parceling out of territories at Versailles, is suggested by an article in L'Avenir Colonial Belge, which magnifies Great Britain's Cape-to-Cairo control into a standing threat against the Latin Powers in that continent, and calls for a Franco-Belgian compact to resist it. In South Africa the perennial native question remains to the fore. A joint European and native conference, summoned by the Dutch Reformed Church, recently met at Cape Town to consider all aspects of this subject, including the land and the suffrage question. Speakers pointed out that the relations of the races were aggravated by the steady drift of the blacks to the townsmovement that was shared, indeed, by the whites, but with less disastrous effects upon their economic and social future. The natives seem to desire the same status, both economic and political, as the whites, although this may prove detrimental to them in the long run, while Europeans favor segregation. In respect to land, the latter policy is easily understandable by an American. In respect to the franchise, it raises the same issue that has arisen in India

a

« ElőzőTovább »