The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News and The Echo.
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 1909. THE CRISIS AND THE EMPIRE
For the cause that lacks assistance. For the wrong that needs resistance. For the future in the distance, And the good that we can do.
If the naval crisis at Home has done nothing else for the Empire, it has certainly helped the nation to realise in no ordinary way the community of interest that binds us nil together; and perhaps the most noteworthy expression of Imperialistic loyalty and patriotism that the agitation has evoked is the outspoken declaration just made by the Attorney-General of the Transvaal. Mr. de .Villiers, if not actually a Boer, is an Afrikander of the most pronounced type; and he has always been identified with the iocal movement that has taken as its objective, " South Africa for thc South Africans." As a member of tne Boer Ministry which now controls the Tiuusvaa.l, it might have been expected that such' a man would have hesitated to commit himself to a definitely Imperialistic policy. Yet, addressing a Parliament in which the Boers form a large majority and speaking for a Government composed chiefly of the " rebels " who eight years ago bore arms against England, Mr. de Villiers has publicly declared that if the need arose, " South Africa would stand as one man for the Empire." And not content with this avowal of Boer loyalty, he went out of his way to disabuse any and all of England's rivals of the idea that in any contingency they could count upon sympathy or aid from the Boers. Any European Power .which imagined that in the event of a European war it could look for help to any section of the inhabitants of South Africa would, he declared, find itself grievously mistaken; and this frank assertion of Boer fidelity to England disposes once and for all of the lingsfring hope that Germany'so long entertained of posing as the liberator of the Boers and the Cape Dutch from British tyranny. There are a* large number of people so unimaginative and so short-sighted that they can see no good to bo gained for the Empire or the nation by such an agitation as this naval crisis has caused. In our opinion, any influence which thus crystallizes patriotic sentiment into a definite shape and gives it articulate form and expression confer* a distinct benefit on the country
that it affects; and whatever "South. Africa may do or leave Undone' as'regards the British navy, it is an immense satisfaction and a genuine material gain to the Empire to have elicited this emphatic "confession of faith" from the Boers. Nor is Fouth Africa by any means the only, quarter of the Empire that has been roused to demonstrations of loyalty by the knowledge that England needs all the moral and material support that her dependencies can supply. Canada, which has always stood firmly for its constitutional right to refuse "taxation without representation" for Imperial purposes, has "been deeply stirred by the rumours of England's peril, and more especially we are assured by New Zealand's much-discussed Dreadnought offer; and even if the great American dominion, like Australia, decides that there are more effective ways of helping England than 'by building warships for her, it is clear that in Canada, as in Australia, the determination of the people, whether they contribute to the British navy or build a fleet for themselves, ia unalterably fixed to place all their resources at England's disposal as soon as ever the occasion demands the sacrifice.
But unfortunately there is another aspect of the question that we cannot •afford, ito ignore. The revelation of England's danger, and the demand for more energetic precautions against it, have produced in certain quarters an 'effect that could hardly have been anticipated by anyone unfamiliar with the eccentricities of class feeling and political prejudice at Home. The extreme section of the Independent Labour party has not only made up its -mind that the wage-earners ought not to be expected to fight for their country, but that for England to defend herself is "aggressive militarism," and for the colonies to offer to aid in her defence is a presumptuous interference with matters that are not their concern. We have on other occasions dealt at length with the deplorable views held by Mr. .Keir Hardie and his friends on the subject of patriotism and national defence, which are sufficiently notorious by this time; and we do not see why the "Pall Mall Gazette" shouht express amazement at the Labour party going out of its way to protest against the colonies offering to help in the defence of the Mother Country. To men so degenerate in spirit and so insensible to all the fine feelings and elevating impulses that patriotism implies, it is naturally an offence that anybody else should profess to be patriotic, and the action of the colonies, however it was intended, naturally becomes in their eyes an intolerable retlection upon their own apathy and self-indulgence. But. after all there is not much to choose between some of the Labour leaders at Home and :2\L C S> v, }cSe*«er.and Arbitration Society, which has-just congratulated Mr. T. E. Taylor upon his attempt, to console Mr. Asquith for New Zealand's Dreadnought offer, and is as convinced as Mr. Keir Hardie that if we venture to prepare against invasion we are wickedly challenging enemies and inviting hostile attack, and that on the whole we had better "take it lying down." It is diiucult to realise the condition of mind of the people who indulge in these fatuous denunciations of war and employ them to obstruct reasonable precautions against dangerous enemies. As Mr. Robert Blatchford has repeatedly said in tho "Clarion," it is the hate and dread of war that drives all rational men to prepare against it. And it is a consolation to those of us who would prefer to hope the best for Labour and Liberalism in England to reflect that Mr Keir Hardie and his blatant follies do not represent the whole or the best part- of public feeling among the wage-earners at Home. Mr. Blatchford, who is probably the most influential Labour leader in the British world to-day, has declared most emphatically in favour of an active and vigorous policy of national defence, and we are glad to see from our recent cables that he has chosen this present juncture to reiterate his demand for "a powerful fleet and a perfect army." Six months ago Mr. Blatchford carried on a spirited controversy on these questions in the "Clarion," in which Mr. Keir Hardie was hopelessly worsted. Blatchford quite correctly described Keir HardieS controversial tactics as "the method of the Yellow Press; the method of reckless personal abuse"; and he was strongly supported by Mr. Fred Jowett, the Labour member for Bradford, and Mr. Hyndman, chairman of the Social Democratic Federation and editor of one of the most extreme and widely read Socialistic papers in the world. Blatchford, Jowett, and Hyndman are entirely at one in the opinion that England stands in imminent peril of foreign invasion, that a hostile army might easily be landed on her shores, that her only effective defence must be armies and navies of overwhelming strength, and that it is the obvious duty of the whole nation, wageeamers and capitalists, rich and poor, to undertake the responsibilities and bear the burdens entailed by the necessity of self-defence. It.is not England, as Mr Blatchford has constantly said, that is responsible for Germany's huge shipbuilding programme or the threats that Germany constantly levels at England; and to ignore the danger is not to escape it. "i pro . test vehemently," wrote Blatchford in the "Clarion" last year, "against the conspiracy of official silence. I disdain to notice the juggling and disingenuous speeches of Liberal Ministers. Let us have light." And now that the light has come, it is some satisfaction to reflect that, in spite of Keir Hardie and his fellow sentimentalists, the whole Empire is inspired with patriotic feeling, and that the nation ha 8 never realised more fully the truth of that profound aphorism, "if you wisH for peace, make preparations against