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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1936

An Opinion from London

page 63

An Opinion from London

The following comentary on present-day affairs in Europe is an extract from a letter from a former New Zealand student now residing in London.

"The general situation has become much more acute, thanks largely to Spain; but I think that was a bit premature. I still feel the first big moves, if there is to be any way, will be in Czecho-Slovakia, will be started by Germany and bring in Russia. Japan will move in the Far East. The Fascist countries in Europe will be together and France be involved in Civil War. England is essentially Fascist and will support Germany. The people here may oppose this move, and strikes and so on take place, but I fear that patriotic propaganda and a red scare may overcome their intellect. The war will be on everywhere at once—round the borders of Russia and in different parts of Europe, and as I said before it will be democracy v. fascism.

"There is a possible alternative to this, since this country does not want war because of her favourable economic position. She may prevail on the fascist countries to follow a more peaceful path. She is in the position of a wellfed pawnbroker lecturing his starving clients and telling them to quieten down and he will lend them a little more. In fact he is forced to lend them some more because he may lose the lot otherwise. He is forced to condone their aggression against his rivals, the co-operative concerns (Russia, etc.), but is frightened that they may become too powerful and independent and that he will still lose control of the moneybags. He may see possibilities of tremendous trade with the co-ops and put his foot down, taking to-day's profit and risking the future.

"This is the line being frantically pursued by Russia, who will even sacrifice her support for the struggles of the workers in other parts in order to achieve this—witness Spain for instance.

"In the meantime, England is re-arming at a rapid pace and is going to make sure that whatever happens she will be able to make a job of it. Aeroplanes stage attacks on London nightly. Blazing searchlights pick them up. Dozens of new aerodromes are being built. Mass production of gas masks for every person in the country. Most important firms require their employees to be in the territorials. In fact, the whole country is getting as quickly as possible on a war basis.

"A word about Spain; this development has demonstrated perfectly the general position. The blame can be laid at the door of international finance which is ruining the smaller economic groups. The people get fed up and elect liberal, labour, or socialistic governments. These try to ease the low state of living of the masses and start taking some of the wealth from those that have it. The fascists, black-shirts, or Nazis then get going, organised, subsidised, and controlled by the financial group, come out with a strong patriotic line and start to save the country. They fasten on any popular prejudice, the Jews, the Irish in Scotland, the English in Ireland, and blame them for everything. This, together with an appeal to primitive passions is a powerful psychological force and with the average modest intellect it works. They are led and officered by the best public school element who have undoubted intelligence but who are the favoured class of society and have much to lose. So Spain has been split in two and the war is completely ruthless. Leaders and organisers on both sides are shot as soon as they are caught. Individual excesses occur when violence is the only law but as most papers are owned by fascist sympathisers it is natural that the Government forces are called "reds" and the fascists the insurgents. The Government of Spain is condemned by them for opposing the fascist rising and all atrocity stories blamed on the communists. It is indeed fortunate that all the socialist groups decided on a united support of the government, and kept control of the greater part of the country, because without it the fascists would have had victory and no working class leader, or even the modest liberal reformers would be alive to-day. Why I don't hold with the fascists is because their aggressive nationalism will lead to further devastating wars and though the cost in life of opposition to them is high it will save countless times more in future generations.

"Far from being the depraved savages the papers make them out to be the red organisers are the most intellectual leaders of the workers and it may well happen that if the rebels are put down the new society will be classless, state capitalistic, with the red flag flying over Spain.

"In London the reaction to Spanish events among the people is considerable. I saw a demonstration of several thousand people march to the Spanish Embassy to show their support page 64 of the Government. It was really impressive. It was raining as in complete silence they marched past the Embassy with their right hands raised in the clenched fist salute. Events politically are slower in developing here, but there is a definite move. The Communist daily paper comes off the press at 10.30 in the evening, and in an hour over 500 were sold at Hyde Park gates last Sunday.

"But enough of politics. I see Lovelock won. . ."