Editorials

The Year of Decision?

January 1 1944
Editorials

The Year of Decision?

January 1 1944

The Year of Decision ?

Editorials

A LOT of people are convinced that the end of the war with Germany will come in 1944. We doubt it, but would be happy indeed were we shown to be a poor prognosticator.

Our Ottawa observer reports that the politicians are not taking any chances; that, just in case, they are warming up for a general election.

Should an election be sprung, what issues will be raised by the Liberals and Progressive-Conservatives we do not know. The Bloc Populaire, in the platform set forth by its leader in this number of Maclean’s, leaves no doubt as to what it would do, given the chance.

More importantly, because of its wider range, the CCF has not minced matters either. It has made it crystal clear that its fundamental plank is State Socialism; the elimination of free enterprise and the so-called profit system.

It is unlikely that either Mr. King or Mr Bracken will be able to provide an issue dazzling enough to dim that raised by Mr. Coldwell and his Party. The electorate will have to decide oh one or other of two vitally different concepts of national economy and individual rights.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the CCF has gripped the imagination and harnessed the hopes of a large number of people. Its organization is highly efficient. Its workers are fervently enthusiastic. Its story, whether you agree with it or not, has been hammered home with unfailing persistence and through every kind of propaganda device.

On the other hand, the proponents of Free Enterprise in too many instances have let their case go by default; or depended too much on others to present it. That case, embracing great industrial and social achievements, is so obviously part and parcel of modern life that one is apt to take it for granted.

WITH FEW exceptions it is a proud, inspirational story that Canadian industry, trade and business has to tell. It is not a story about scheming cliques callously disregarding the rights of others. It is a story of vision, of courageous investment in the future; of inventiveness of development, of steady improvement of living standards of better and cheaper products brought about by competition.

It is the story of thousands of men who by diligent work by hard study, by self-sacrifice, have risen from humble beginnings to head businesses giving employment to legions. It is the story of this country’s growth, and of the character that has converted a vast, sparsely populated half-a-continent into the third trading nation of the world.

That is the story that has been inadequately bid. It is up to Business to tell it. Tell it everywhere; to everybody. Tell it under its own name.

Our school children, our high school and college youth, know little of that story.  They know plenty about the CCF. It is significant that so many teachers and professors are identified with the socialist movement. Let us be blunt about it. Under the present system the men and women to whom our children are entrusted in the most formulative period of their lives have been grossly underpaid—to the point that often the best trained and best equipped members of the profession get out of it and those who remain in many cases consider themselves, and often with justification, an underprivileged class with a grievance against society. There have been blind spots in public thinking and public policy in this respect.

FROM TIME to time this magazine has expressed its faith in the Free Enterprise system and its opposition to Socialism. The beginning of a new year is a good time to reiterate that faith. We believe that the world’s work can be done better under a system that encourages individuals to think, act and achieve via their own inspiration and initiative, than by the CCF’s proposed system. Our opposition to State Socialism does not in any respect imply opposition to the continuous, inevitable and wholly desirable process of social reform, to which all our major political parties are committed. The CCF is by no means alone in its desire to protect the weak against the strong; assure equality of opportunity; improve health, living conditions and educational facilities.

It is a question of which “climate” will best enable such results to be achieved.

Strictly speaking there really is no such thing as Free Enterprise. There are restrictions on all business activities. We mean Free Enterprise in the sense of personal liberty, initiative and selfreliance, all dedicated to the Common Good. We are just as much opposed to any selfish or improperly restrictive business or trade practice as we are opposed to state monopoly of everything and peacetime regimentation of a nation. We believe in a partnership of Labor and Management; in responsibility for both. We believe in the principle of incentive; in a fair profit, for workers and employers alike, on every job well done.

Things have happened under the Free Enterprise system which must not be permitted to reoccur. Reasonably full employment must be provided. There must be more bread lines. We believe that under that system there can be security, opportunity and liberty in the postwar age. And we likewise believe that private enterprise must, by demonstration of record, present action, and planning for the future, convince Canadians of that fact.

The flaws are visible; can be remedied. In our opinion they can be remeded much more easily than the flaw in State Socialism. Writing in these pages recently Bruce Hutchison put it this way.

Once a single power—the state or the capitalists or the labor unions, or any other group--undertakes to run everything according to a central plan, and guarantees by that plan to produce certain specific results, then, of course, it can brook no interference which would undermine the plan; for if the plan collapses the guaranteed results are aborted and the rulers have lost their only claim to power.

In other words, what is involved is Totalitarianism; the complete domination and regimentation of the people; the ultimate suppression of individual freedom. And that is what we are opposed to.

Nomination

Editorials

Smuts as Chairman of the Peace Conference.

“A man, later described as ‘The only peacemaker at Versailles,' prophesied in 1917; ‘We shall win this war but lose the peace, and all who are directing in this war will lose their reputation.’

“The peace treaties were dishonored; the ideals for which millions bled became ashes in the mouths of a dead generation; the statesmen and peacemakers were written off as failures or fools, and in desperation the world returned to battle. Out of these cataclysmic years one figure emerges untouched by the iconoclastic fury of a frustrated age—Jan Christiaan Smuts, the author of that prophecy.”

These words, written by William D. Bayles in preface to an account of his interview with Field Marshal Smuts, and the terms of Smuts’ own Declaration of Faith (both published in the December 15 issue of Maclean’s) have given us an idea.

Field Marshal Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa, is the only leader living who has participated in two peace conferences and will take part in a third. He was at the conference which followed the Boer War, a representative of the losing side. He was at Versailles. He will be among those who will decide the fate of nations when this present conflict ends.

By experience, by his philosophy, by his vision, it seems to us that no man is better fitted than he to he the presiding officer, the chairman, of that peace conference.

We like to visualize a scene in which the Prime Minister of Canada, senior Dominion and Neighbor of the United States, rises and says, “Gentlemen, I move that Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts preside over the deliberations of this conference.” Whereupon there would be unanimous and enthusiastic assent.