a Tripoli-Lake Chad railway, which will be Europe's quickest route of access to the wealth of the Niger and the Congo.

Federzoni, Minister of the Colonies, expects to have three hundred thousand Italians settled in Libia in twenty-five years. That is only one year's extra population at the present rate of increase. A careful study by Dr. Luigi Battisti gives a figure of one hundred and forty thousand as the maximum possible European agricultural population of Tripolitania. He appears to think there are about seventy-five hundred square miles of land suitable for European cultivation. (The present Italian population of the colony is thirty-five thousand.)

Whatever be the possibilities of Libian development, they are being pursued with the greatest zeal. The Agricultural Experimental Institute of Sidi Messri, situated on land which in Turkish days was the barrenest steppe, displays acres of magnificent fruit trees. Last year one hundred thousand saplings were distributed to settlers. The great aim of Italian colonial propaganda is to bring home to the Italians that the steppe is not a desert. Unfortunately, scattered about the steppe region are vast sand dunes, which give a Saharan appearance to good land, and are blown about by the cruel Ghibli winds, often submerging an area of cultivated fields. The Italians have manfully tackled the arduous task of fixing the dunes by planting in their midst saplings of tamarisk and other trees which spread deep roots in sand and hold it firm to the underlying soil. This fine reclamation work is certainly the basis of Libia's agricultural future; and on the foundation of agriculture Italy hopes to rear an edifice of industrial development and political prestige. Her accomplishments are worthy of commendation, and her ambitions are

justifiable. Who does not wish her good luck?


WHAT may be 'the Tunis problem,' to which vague and mysterious references are made, implying that there is something of subtle consequence to nations which it is not expedient to explain and could with difficulty be understood in distant places? It is a real thing, like the ultimate, far-flung aims of France in Morocco and along North Africa; and because it is so real, with vast interests involved, and is impossible of absolute settlement without a great upheaval and a recasting of foreign policies, as much silence as may be is kept upon it. Were the issue smaller, statesmen could parley upon it-one thinks of the ultimate and fundamental, and not of the minor and temporary, difficulties which are in a measure influenced by it.

The case is that Italy feels more or less secretly that upon nearly every point, except the important one of purely political possession, Tunisia should be hers, and much does she need it for her outflow. So much has been heard lately of Italian 'rights in the Mediterranean,' Italy's 'position,' Italy's 'aims' in the same quarter; and what does it all mean? Italy has Tripoli, and Mussolini goes to make a picturesque demonstration there; but no nation thinks of disturbing Italy in Tripoli. But Italy, again, makes a slight demonstration of another kind at Tangier, where her interests are as small as her authority; and why? This and other little difficulties here and there find their best explanation in terms of Tunisia, the secret and fun

From the Manchester Guardian (Independent Liberal daily), February 26

Publication rights in America controlled by the Baltimore Sun

damental cause. France is in possession of Tunisia - Italy thinks she Italy thinks she rather jumped her out of it, but that is an affair of history. The interests of France and Spain in Morocco are not quite so identical as is sometimes made to appear, and Italy and Spain have an understanding. France has pushed her authority up higher in international Tangier, and Spain is fretting. Tunisia explains the secret problem, but 'problem' is a term of courtesy; for on the one side a problem is scarcely admitted, and there are no open arguments about it, and on the other, again, it is like a right, and more than a problem.

These things we see, these ideas we feel as simple and obtrusive elements, when in Tunisia, vague and empty political shadows as they may seem elsewhere. The problem of Tunisia is lit up in the mind of the most careless and unpolitical visitor soon after his first arrival in the wonderful and strange city which lies adjacent to the ruins of ancient Carthage. He discovers as he cannot fail to discover -the newly inaugurated headquarters of the Italian colony which have been named the Casa del Dante. The new arrival notices, again, the Italian Opera House where Italian opera is presented by Italian singers. It is near to the intersection of the main streets of the modern city, and very prominent. The French have their own theatre. He finds Italians in many places, and sees that an Italian newspaper is printed here. And then, when he ascends to his room before dinner and flings open the window to the soft, violet Tunisian night, what are those familiar sounds that, not unpleasantly, yet with some incongruity as it seems, break into the general stillness? They are the sounds of a Sicilian flute, and the Sicilian player is tootling out the favorite Pastorale that the visitor heard so often on the hillside at Taormina and

in the back streets of Palermo. It is heard continually in Tunis.

With his mind so pleasantly and conveniently prepared, the stranger now appreciates better than before the significance of the fact that according to last year's census there were 89,215 Italians in Tunisia and only 71,020 French. The remaining Europeans do not count at all. Only seventy-one thousand French as against the more numerous Italians! But for France this counting is taken as a triumph, for it shows that since the census of 1921 the French have gained 17,500 and the Italians only 4400. In the city of Tunis itself the French now number 27,922, having increased by 5700 since the last census, while the Italians are 44,070, an increase of 1400.

The French urge that Italian immigration has decreased because of the curtailment of public works for which Sicilians supplied the labor. They also claim that many Italians come to Tunisia as a temporary stopping place on their way to Morocco; and that within the last five years about 4500 of them have voluntarily become French citizens.

And there comes the rub. The Italian figures represent real Italians, but the French increase is due in part to the naturalization of Italians, which is encouraged by nationalization gratuities and exemption from military service. Three years' residence in France, the French colonies, or Tunisia entitles one to French citizenship, and this is reduced to one year if the individual has 'rendered important services to France.'

The Italian idea is that an Italian is an Italian everywhere, and by the Convention of 1896 this principle was recognized. The Italians of Tunisia were not to be interfered with, and were granted various privileges, such as the right to have Italian schools.

France has denounced this Convention, aiming at bringing more and more the Italians into her nationalization net, but it has been kept alive by short renewals. When the moment comes to make the denunciation real, an awkward, even a dangerous, situation will be presented. The Italian element in many cases is rooted deeply in Tunisia. Large stretches of country are in Italian hands, veritable colonies. In some cases Italian financing companies take over big blocks of land for development and give it out to Italian settlers. But Italians who settle thus often begin to feel more like Tunisians than Italians, and are not deeply concerned over the nationalization question. It is Italy, the home country, the Government, that worries, because she sees her dream of ultimately possessing Tunisia fading away and her children decoyed from her.

Mussolini recently stated with a

certain significance that in some previous remarks of his concerning Italian needs and rights he was not referring to Tunis. The disclaimer, of course, only attracted closer attention to an historical utterance which he made when he first came to power and which seemed to have been completely forgotten. He and the Black Shirts had no sooner installed themselves in Rome than he delivered a flamboyant imperialistic speech which, in its sense and spirit, anticipated Italian policy of to-day. In one strong sentence he spoke of Italian rights in Tunis, and indicated that he was about to see that Italy got them. He had had no experience of statesmanship then, and knew nothing of the exigencies of diplomacy. He learned speedily, however, and thenceforth there were no more such references to Tunis. But that first speech was noted in France, and in it is condensed the whole Tunis problem.



ECONOMIC historians like to tag an epoch by a special name characterizing its dominant industrial feature. Thus we hear of a machine age, a railway age, an electric age, and so on. I wonder if the period which we are now entering will not be denominated in future the chemical age.

Such designations do not imply that the appearance of some new and dominating economic force completely ban

1 From Berliner Tageblatt (Liberal daily), March 26

ishes the other forces which it has pushed into the background. Old agencies of production and distribution remain, at least in many cases, and are even magnified. But a new power appears upon the scene, revealing hitherto unsuspected potentialities and changing the world's economic aspect, either in opposition to or in coöperation with the recent masters of the arena. Indeed, one industrial epoch paves the way for its successor, and is oftentimes its necessary precursor. An

electrical age would have been inconceivable without an earlier machine age. So our chemical age is conditioned by all the mechanical and engineering progress that has preceded it.

Chemistry is by no means a newcomer in our economic life. Pure chemistry is an old science - far older, for example, than modern electrical engineering. Industrial chemistry is also an ancient, although until recently a special and subsidiary, branch of production. For a long time it was limited to making pharmaceutical preparations and to finding employment for by-products derived from other operations, such as coke burning, zinc and lead smelting, and potash extraction. Even the aniline-dye manufacture, vast and revolutionary as it was, did not give a definitely chemical character to the modern age. The great German dye plants before the war were, it is true, mighty undertakings, highly capitalized and fabulously profitable. But they performed an isolated service; they functioned, albeit enormously, in a restricted sphere. They never ceased to be special industries. They did not permeate with their processes and methods the whole economic organism.

Another chemical industry which attained great commercial importance before the war, especially in Germany, was the production of synthetic nitrogen, by three distinct processes. It was not until the war itself, however, that this manufacture attained first rank. Financed and encouraged by the Government, and favored by a hostile blockade which effectively excluded the natural nitrates of Chile from the country, it sprang to maturity almost overnight.

Probably this achievement will mark for the future historian the transition of chemical manufacturing from a specialty to a universal industry. The

fundamental discoveries had been made; the stage was now reached when chemistry was to challenge Nature herself for primacy as a supplier of industrial raw materials. That challenge might have been long delayed had not the manufacture of synthetic nitrogen been so tremendously stimulated by an iron blockade and by an insatiable demand for explosives. The result of that conjuncture was certainly impressive. Germany manufactures to-day six hundred thousand tons of fixed nitrogen annually, or one third more, measured by nitrogen content, than the Chile saltpetre fields produced the year of their maximum output. Our Dye Trust alone, with its output of four hundred and forty thousand tons, overtops Chile's record production by ten per cent. In this important field chemistry has beaten Nature hands down, at least in Ger


Another process which promises speedily to rival the manufacture of synthetic nitrogen as an outstanding achievement of the new chemical age is the liquefaction of coal. Our Dye Trust has just completed a plant in the lignite district which is expected eventually to produce one hundred and twenty thousand tons of gasoline a year. If this is accomplished, — and there is every reason to be confident that it will be, Germany will be in the same position with respect to petroleum products that she now is with respect to nitrates. Three million tons of coala ridiculously small percentage of our annual output - will then suffice to render us entirely independent of foreign countries for our heavier and lighter lubricants and motor fuels.

This does not mean that synthetic oil is likely to exclude natural petroleum from our markets as quickly and completely as artificial nitrates have excluded Chile saltpetre. We have not

yet reached the point where we can venture that prediction. We are not under the compelling necessity to perfect this process that we were to perfect our nitrogen process during the war. Nevertheless, it has behind it the powerful scientific, financial, and engineering backing of the Dye Trust that enormous incarnation of industrial chemistry which is not only the strongest economic power in Germany, but one of the strongest in the world.

Parenthetically, the history of the Trust shows how we sometimes can draw strength from weakness. Our great aniline monopoly, which controlled the colors trade of the world before the war, was almost completely cut off from its markets by hostilities. Yet it addressed itself to this new situation with such resource and success that it has made up many times over for what it lost. To-day dyes constitute only about one fifth of the Trust's output. Its principal product is synthetic nitrogen, which has not only compensated for the loss of the dye market, but is supplying funds for perfecting the manufacture of artificial petroleum upon a commercial basis. Nor do these fields exhaust its activities. It has just produced a new synthetic fertilizer which threatens the supremacy of the potash monopoly and promises to give it control of the fertilizer market. It is likewise reaching out into another immense new field where chemistry is superseding Nature - the artificialsilk manufacture; and by the synthetic production of methyl alcohol and acetic acid it is rapidly encroaching upon the hitherto carefully guarded preserves of our wood-alcohol distillers.

Are we then to predict a victory for chemistry all along the line? It might seem so at first glance. But the situation is not entirely one-sided. Old processes and products fight for survival, and they too summon science and

modern technique to their aid. The raw-material monopolists whose natural products are threatened by synthetic chemistry are up in arms. In the Chile saltpetre fields the Yankee Guggenheim concern, with its powerful resources of capital and engineering skill, has developed a new process of extraction which promises to reduce the cost of production by one half. If this is achieved, the scales may turn against synthetic producers. Similar developments are occurring in the petroleum industry. The Standard Oil Company has perfected a new process which has boosted the proportion of gasoline obtainable from a given quantity of crude oil from fifteen per cent to fifty per cent. But already these two competitors are composing their differences and establishing a community of interest- though this may be only the prelude to a great industrial battle in the future.

A third group of raw-material monopolists is girding itself for battle with the Dye Trust, alarmed by the latter's invasion of its field. I refer to the coal barons. They, however, are trying to steal the weapons of their adversary, and have formed a consortium to develop a coal-liquefaction process of their own. Instead of employing lignite, as the Dye Trust does, they plan to use ordinary coal; and though their pioneer plant is designed for an output of only ten thousand tons of petroleum and gasoline per annum, as compared with the one hundred and twenty thousand tons of the Dye Trust's plant, they have a double string to their bow in the shape of two alternative and independently developed


This rivalry between the chemical barons and the coal barons, which is still more or less under the surface so far as synthetic petroleum is concerned, has broken out in open warfare in

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