The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)
What is a Free State?—Right and Might.—Filipinos and Manchurians—Shall America Withdraw?—Japan and the League.
Our Brothers’ Keeper.
A Mericans who ask what business Britain has in India are also liable to ask themselves, occasionally, what business the United States have in the Philippine Islands. Failing to discover in what way the new American title deeds in those islands are superior to the old British title deeds in the East, a good many Americans seek withdrawal, and a Philippine Independence Bill has passed the House of Representatives over President Hoover's veto. But what American anti-Imperialists may gain in consistency, the Filipinos, according to the retiring President, will lose in practical result. The Philippine Islands may be freed, but at the price of their “economic downfall.” This argument has a familiar ring, and it will be seen that the Pax Americana is not much different from the Pax Britannica or even the Pax imposed by the Romans. Mr. Hoover tries to get away from that precedent by suggesting an independence plebiscite in fifteen or twenty years.
Pending the arrival of the Democratic regime, it is likely that the Senate will not help the House of Representatives to rush the subject, but sooner or later it will have to be faced. The bedrock question is whether self-determination is a right of every unit—a right to be realised immediately—or whether each case calls for its own specific treatment according to practical rather than academic rules. Irak passing from a mandated status to membership of the League of Nations is one glimpse of the evolution of racial units. A united China (lacking in unity) provides another and a quite different aspect. Very significantly, in opposing the House, Mr. Hoover “pointed to the chaotic situation in the Orient,” where China and Japan have quite different notions as to what constitutes “self-determination” in Manchuria. Some people would make India like China, and some would make China like India.
A Nation Needs Cement.
The chaos that Mr. Hoover sees in the Orient, and fears in an independent Philippine State, could come to India if India were turned adrift as a “united” nation with no real control over its several parts. Nationhood means not only right; it also requires might; if not might in an external theatre, then at least sufficient internal strength to hold the several parts together and to make government effective internally. What page 10 Mr. Hoover is saying is, in effect, that independence is for those who can use it. Failure to use it is much more dangerous in a great Asiatic State than in an Archipelago. When an American President points the lesser evil, his teaching easily connotes the greater. It may be so read in Japan.
The Lytton Finding.
Any reasoning along the lines of a parallel (which probably is no real parallel) is liable to be faulty, but if the Japanese read the Philippine position as meaning Philippine Right depending upon American Might, they may consider the hand of Japan in Manchuria as equally excusable. They have concealed that hand, to a certain extent, behind a Manchurian Right, but it does not prevail against Chinese Right in the judgment of the Lytton Commission, which has reported against the recognition of Manchuria (Manchukuo). Meanwhile, the Japanese army is driving the Chinese farther back, and China is said to be despairing of any hope that a League of Nations dictum as to “What is Right” will have any effective force against “What Is.” The League wrestles with the problem while this is being written.
At one time publicity through broadcasting was feared. Politicians believed that to broadcast statements on political or controversial subjects would cause international and internal explosions. Some of the worst kinds of political propaganda had been put on the air in various countries, and there was some feeling in Britain that in controversial matters the broadcast would have to be dumb. But the peculiarly constituted British Broadcasting Corporation, which is neither a private profit-maker nor a political department, has waded so carefully into the seas of controversy that it is reaching the public with heaps of live information from big authorities on all kinds of issues (example, Lord Lytton on the Manchurian Commission) and the explosions have been few. The settled dispute with Poland, concerning a broadcast reference to Polish spending on armaments, will, it is hoped, be the exception that proves the rule.
Broadcast's High Standard.
Even at this distance from the Old Country, and without (as yet) having the advantage of hearing the broadcasts, anyone who reads the reprints of them must be impressed with the excellence of the matter. Judged by their writing, speakers of first-class authority are conveying to millions of hearers an education hardly available even to an intensive reader of the magazine press. No magazine has proved itself to be editorially capable (or shall one say financially capable?) of producing so excellent and diversified an output of the thought of men of talent. From the racy outlines of events as told in the news columns of the daily press people can now turn to the broadcast for the real explanation—the fundamentals. It seems to be a triumph (so far, at any rate) of what may be called broadcast editorship. In other hands the thing could have been bungled.
Interest and Taxes.
The choice between punishing the taxpayer and punishing the Budget is still before the Governments of the world. Trade sees danger in taxes, but it also sees, danger in unbalanced Budgets. Britain is just as definitely in favour of a balanced Budget, as she is definitely off the gold standard, and it seems that nothing but the American interest (paid this time, perhaps for the last time, in gold) can upset that balance. That is one reason for hastening an international agreement to decrease debt burdens. Even without paying the American interest, France faces a big Budget deficit. So does Germany. All reports indicate a drift that only international action can stop; but critics who pretend to know the Roosevelt Democrat factor are venturing the prophecy that international debts (Governmental) will have ceased page 11 to be a dominant factor this time next year.
Cricket Big Guns.
Moving picture glimpses of what old time athletes did, compared with the intensive preparations of latter-day athletes, raise the question whether the spirit of amateurism remains, even where the letter of amateurism is fulfilled. The old idea of sport was not to make every post a winning post, but to-day specialisation seeks to close every loophole that may lead to defeat and opens every loophole in the opponent's armour. Every technical device is exploited, and the partition between the fair and the unfair is thin. Even cricket has lost all the village green simplicity. It is now claimed that there is a vital difference between bowling fast bumpers as an occasional event with an offside field, and bowling them systematically with a field on the leg side (the same side of the wicket as the batsman's body is on). This dispute may wreck the Tests in Australia, and has led to an Australian protest to the M.C.C.
The action of the British Air Ministry in ordering an autogiro is one of the most important flying events of the month, but is eclipsed in the public gaze (naturally) by the mystery of Hinkler, and, locally, by the fair weather flight of the Southern Cross from New South Wales to New Zealand in smart time. A good deal of air history is being made in Africa, by the Mollisons and others. British commercial services in Europe, also the African service, are reported to have exceeded expectations from the point of view of traffic, regularity and safety. In a different order of flight is the plan to fly over the peak of Everest, later in the year. The chief pilot of the expedition will probably be the eldest son of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, the Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale, flier, amateur boxer and M.P. The influenza epidemic now alarming England removed a notable airwoman in Miss Winifred Spooner.