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part of Belgium would be an unhappy thing in the event of a possible recrudescence of the Pan-German dream. In the heyday of Pan-German agitation, the Pan-Germanists always emphasized the Teutonic cast of the race, language, and culture of the Flemings, and their close historic affiliations with Germany. So the Flemish part of Belgium, set off by itself, would be a tempting target for Pan-German propaganda. But probably that need not worry the world, for a while, at least.
Strong economic interests which both France and Holland have in Belgium would add fuel to the fires of racial aspirations. France has a big interest in Belgian coal. A close economic connection exists between the adjoining industrial areas of southern Belgium and northern France, and it is this part of Belgium which is French-speaking. fore the war, in a typical year, France exported to Belgium to the extent of 908,000,000 francs, while Belgium exported to France to the extent of 752,000,000 francs. That is to say, France was importing from Belgium more than from any other country with the exception of Germany. Clearly, it would be to the economic advantage of France to incorporate the Walloon portion of Belgium, if a racial separation should set it adrift as an international waif.
Holland, too, has an economic interest in Belgium. Before the war, in a typical year, Holland exported to Belgium to the extent of 356,000,000 francs, while Belgium exported to Holland to the extent of 367,000,000 francs. If the unified Belgium with which Holland has enjoyed this considerable trade were dismembered, it would clearly be to the economic advantage of Holland to tie up to herself the congenial Flemish portion.
In other words, if a racial split were effected, the racial contentions of Flemings and Walloons, now simply Belgium's vexing internal problem, would overnight become a vexing international problem. And we have enough vexing international problems already banked on our study-table.
The present situation in Belgium has many interesting angles. As the virility and sweep of the Socialist movement has become evident, there has been awak
ened in the Conservative party an active support of the interests and program of the Flemings. The Conservative party has lined up on the Flemish side of the language question for the very practical reason that most of the supporters of the Conservative party are found in Flanders. The Flemish Conservative priests are battling manfully for a Flanders of one language, and that language Flemish. The particular point of their support of the Flemish element in the racial conflict is that they think the best way to guard the people against the yeasty revolutionary ideas to be found in French newspapers and books is to have a people who cannot read French. The column of special correspondence referred to in the opening paragraph of this comment offers these points of information:
When the war broke out, the German Government, finding the field already sown, began to foment discord between the Flemings and the Walloons, and promised employment and money to those willing to strengthen the barrier between the two peoples. Numerous agents, mainly among the teachers, professors, and government officers were recruited by the German Government.
The Flemish propaganda reached as far even as the war zone and permeated the army, in which were included eighty per cent. of Flemings. A few desertions were recorded and several chaplains were deported. Under the protection of Berlin, a would-be "State of Flanders" was founded, governed by the socalled Council of Flanders. This entire Council was received in Berlin by the German Government during the war.
As soon as the Belgian troops returned to Flanders, the notorious "activists" fled either to Holland or to Germany. They were later condemned to capital punishment for high treason, and executed in effigy in the great market-place of Brussels. Many of their supporters not under arrest, however, formed the "War Front Party," of which the motto runs, "Flanders Free," for a state in the state. These men constitute the seditionmongers, secretly supported by the audacious Flemings, who have brought about the recent troubles.
The active elements of this faction are mainly found among the clergy and the young men of the Roman Catholic schools
and universities and former soldiers. A number of newspaper writers write in sympathy with this party, and five deputies openly defend it in the Chamber of Deputies, while many others lend it secret support.
There follows a list of facts which have not appeared in our newspapers. For instance, last June a lecture was scheduled under the auspices of university professors in favor of the French language. Feeling was running so high that the meeting was prevented by a band of opponents armed with sticks. On June 11 last language riots took place in Antwerp. The police were obliged to intervene. There was one fatality among the students. On July 29 last events of a more serious nature took place, resulting in an invasion of Parliament by the mob and assaults upon officials.
A touch reminiscent of war-days is given to the record by the statement that all these events were foretold in secret documents addressed to an agent of the crown prince. These documents, it is asserted, were found in a hotel in Antwerp shortly after the Spa conference. These documents were published in one of the Brussels newspapers.
But the really significant point in current developments in Belgium is the passage by the Chamber of a bill that is regarded as the opening wedge for a policy of thoroughgoing administrative separation of Belgium. Under its provisions the state officers in Flanders will be allowed to write in Flemish only. The appetite grows by what it feeds upon. So this victory is followed up by an agitation upon the part of the Flemings for the suppression of the French University of Ghent and the substitution of a Flemish university. If to the support of this agitation the weight of the Conservatives is given, there is a possibility that this may happen.
It is frequently remarked that newspapers are discouragingly undramatic in these post-war days. But the internal problem of Belgium is a good illustration of the innumerable dramatic issues scattered about the world to-day. student of world affairs to-day need not grow drowsy and nod as he follows the daily story.
THE HIGH COST OF RACIAL INTEGRITY
AST month, in these columns,
we commented upon the difficulty of handling questions of race, as in Australia and in California, in a manner that will avoid dangerous international tension. A note of news from Australia's intransigeant Premier, Australia" doctrine, suggests and emMr. Hughes, apostle of the "White phasizes this difficulty. He does not beat about the bush.
beat about the bush. He thinks a fight is somewhere in the offing as a result of the "White Australia" policy, and asserts that good Australians will not welch at paying such a price for their racial integrity. He says, in a discussion of Australia's defense needs:
The most vital point of our policy is the White Australia, and it is also the one which is calculated to be the most fruitful in provoking international complications. I do not believe there are five per cent. of Australians who will not readily admit that on this principle there can be no concession. . On this principle we must be always ready to defend ourselves. We cannot hope to maintain a White Australia by mere pious or blatant declarations of our intentions and determinations. Behind this there must be some force, and it cannot be anything less than the utmost resources of this nation.
What is this we hear? Is it the whirring of the wings of the dove of universal peace that was to follow the victory of arms consecrate to democracy? Has the modern quest of the holy grail ended in a blind alley?
We read with startled minds the news of a new rivalry of armaments that bids fair to be well under way before this year closes. Here is Australia asserting her willingness to spend £8,000,000 as one year's appropriation for defense of the "White Australia" policy. She talks of £3,959,000 for her youthful navy, of £3,250,000 for her army, of £600,000 on aviation, military and civil, to say nothing of her willingness to collaborate in a scheme of naval defense for the British Empire, to be determined by the Imperial Conference this year. The politicians have befuddled our minds on the League of Nations, but this we know-we need something beyond egotistic nationalism.
THE RUMFORD PRESS
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American Literature: Now and To Be. Part One... St. John Ervine
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