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concerned in the case will in the end find their burdens substantially increased. They may even be penalized retrospectively, as in one notorious instance where the cumulative difference between the old and new rates of wages for a period of over eighteen months had to be paid to the employees. The conscientious worker, whose sense of duty has not been warped by evil influences, and who is satisfied with existing conditions, suffers perhaps even more through the prevailing uncertainty; for at any time he may be thrown out of employment by a strike in his or some other industry, organized by a small band of Communist mischiefmakers for purely political reasons. These conditions naturally deter enterprising men from accepting contracts, or undertaking constructive work involving the expenditure of large sums of money and the employment of much labour. Security is recessary for the carrying out of extensive developmental schemes intended to increase production; but that security is absent when powers of life or death over great industries are entrusted to two or three State functionaries, able and well-meaning indeed, but lacking the technical equipment necessary to enable them to regulate the complex activities of modern industry and, what is yet worse, denied the assurance that their decisions, if unfavourable to one particular class of suitors, will be enforced.

Briefly summing up the whole matter, it may be said that the Commonwealth's present embarrassments are mainly due to the extravagances of political humanitarianism. The attempt has been made to ensure for the Australian worker, by legislative means, a high standard of living, without requiring in return an equally high standard of efficiency. Misled by the sinister counsels of men whose real object is to bring about industrial chaos with a view to the accomplishment of their revolutionary designs, the credulous wage-earner in too many cases has fallen under the absurd delusion that he is the victim of capitalistic tyranny, and that the more he injures his employer the better for himself. He seriously believes that it is possible for him to receive a pound in wages in return for ten shillings' worth of service, and he confidently relies on his political champions to justify his primitive economics. These ideas have germinated freely, and produced an abundant crop of legislative wild oats. Special tribunals have been created to fix wages and hours of work in accordance with the wishes of the workers rather than

with the dictates of economic law. Employers in the industries most severely affected by their decrees have had to seek protection in a tariff designed to exclude as far as possible goods produced in outside countries under more favourable conditions. Whenever, through the partial or entire collapse of some over-burdened industry, unemployment has become serious, large sums of money have been borrowed and spent on unproductive work to afford relief to the victims, with the necessary result of an increase of public taxation to meet the yearly interest charge.

The primary producer, the mainstay of the Commonwealth, has had to bear the full burden of the benefits so liberally bestowed by political and judicial philanthropists on other sections of the community. At one end of the industrial chain stands the overpaid unskilled labourer; at the other the under-remunerated farmer. The enrichment of one class has meant the impoverishment of another; and since class favouritism always kindles class hatred, the moral results of so-called humanitarian legislation in Australia have not been conducive to general concord. Justice is the foundation of social peace as well as of dominion, and for the restoration of harmony among all classes of people in the Commonwealth it is essential that the laws now in force, favour certain classes of citizens at the expense of others, should be repealed.

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The old Greek poet, Epicharmus, preached a doctrine nobler, as well as economically sounder, than that of the "living wage when he declared that the gods sell us all good things at the price of toil. The Australian working man must cease to expect those good things as payment for his vote and rely, not on the legislature, but on his own efforts to improve his condition. The less politicians interfere in industrial matters the better. The inevitable result of too many laws is lawlessness and confusion. All that Australian industry needs in order to recover its old prosperity is freedom; it cannot make healthy progress so long as it is encumbered, as now, with legal shackles.

F. A. W. GISBORNE

Newtown,

Tasmania.

24

hene

FROM

THE SITUATION IN CHINA

ROM the conspicuous position, centre of world affairs, which she held a year ago, China has receded somewhat to the back of the stage. Papers, which a few months back "splashed " China across their principal pages, may now be searched in vain from week to week for so much as mention of her name. Barbed wire defences have largely disappeared; most of the British soldiers, who arrived nine months ago in the nick of time to save Shanghai from holocaust, have been recalled; missionaries and merchants are beginning, here and there, to venture back to their ruined homes in the interior. Last October, Sir Austen Chamberlain stated in the House of Commons that conditions on parts of the Yangtze had "distinctly improved, there being no sign of anti-foreign feeling." On the other hand, there is still no sign of a united government, and Sir Austen was obliged to confess that the government to whom the British Concession at Hankow was surrendered had vanished into Moscow and thin air.

Events seem to have convinced the Chinese that Communism "does not pay." Nothing is more remarkable than the unanimity with which Communism is now denounced in China, as contrasted with the ascendancy it held from the Yangtze southward as recently as last spring. Thus Wang Ching-wei, Chairman of that Canton administration which deliberately called in the Russians' help, and formerly accounted one of the most violent 'Reds," has now declared (see Times, November 8, 1927) :— We must change our methods. Workmen and peasants must not be encouraged to agitate. Too many of the uneducated have had their minds filled with extreme and impracticable ideas.

Again, Dr. George Hsu Chien, hitherto regarded as head and forefront of Chinese Bolshevism and repeatedly referred to as such in both Chinese and foreign papers, wrote to the North China Herald, of October 22, protesting that he was not, and never had been, a member of the Communist party, and that he "always criticized and opposed the activities of the foxy Borodin." Borodin, it must be added, was Moscow's principal agent, and the virtual dictator of the now defunct Nationalist Government at

VOL. 247. NO. 503.

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Hankow. As a further example, we find the Nationalist Government at Nanking, in a long declaration of policy, published on September 24, attributing the party split which began in April, entirely to "the machinations of the Communists and their frustrated dream of a dictatorship of the Kuomintang." The declaration goes on to say :—

The poisonous scheme of the Communists is to take advantage of the simple-minded peasants and the ignorant riff-raff, teaching them the means of destruction and intrigue and then luring them on with promises of ease and comfortable living, sending them finally to be slaughtered-in short, using them as objects of experiment for their party. Thus, wherever Communism runs rampant, it strips the people of that locality of their security of life and property, their freedom of speech and religion, robbing them even of their very existence.

Yet the simple fact is that it was the Communist organization, not military success, which won the Cantonese armies their way to Hankow in the autumn of 1926, and thence all down the Yangtze. The fighting was, according to Western notions, and even as it had been known in earlier Chinese civil war, trivial. Strenuous propaganda in the rear of opposing armies, the famous "cell " system of Moscow, disaffection easily instilled into unpaid troops and a civil population sick of mis-government and official extortion, undermined all thought of serious resistance to the inflowing tide of Southerners. The Northern troops, incomparably better fighting material than the Southern, retreated last March from the Shanghai area, almost without striking a blow; and the three chief cities on the road to Nanking were clean evacuated twenty-four hours before the Nationalist armies had reached their gates. The terror which mere mention of Nationalism then evoked was extraordinary; but it was Communist organization and propaganda which inspired it. Generals dared not stand on ground visibly quaking beneath their feet; the civilian population, though for the most part fully alive to the danger, appeared hypnotized.

Fallen though the Communists now are from this high estate, it would be a mistake to suppose that the last has been heard of them. Borodin and his agents have gone back to Moscow; the bitter and envious Eugene Chen has gone there too, and from that retreat launches vituperation at the former associates whom he never really understood and who never really admitted him as a fellow-countryman. But the evil that they did lives after them.

In a country where "the submerged tenth " constitutes so formidable a social problem as it has always done in China, there is no lack of "lawless resolutes " whom a bold leader may summon to aid him in self-enrichment, and their numbers have naturally been increased by national disorganization and the consequent disruption of trade and industry. In happier days these people found employment in the recognized and almost respectable field of piracy and brigandage, whence at any moment they might pass into the wholly respectable service of a Viceroy, who, when their depredations became too notorious, found it cheaper and easier to enrol them as his soldiers than to hunt them down in their mountain retreats. To-day, politics have opened to them a more profitable field. The strike pickets and labour unions of the great boycott year of 1925 discovered what enormous pickings might be made in the sacred name of patriotism by seizing "imperialist" imports, and levying tribute alike on foreign merchants for the passage of their goods and on Chinese merchants for their acceptance. So it is that we read from time to time of sporadic revivals of the boycott, and of "Red" coups in this town or that. But as a political creed, Communism has become thoroughly disreputable and, although it is always rash to prophesy in China, one may safely say that it will be a very long time, if ever, before Russian Bolshevism recovers the grip on Chinese politics which it recently enjoyed.*

This remarkable change is, one ventures to think, another instance of that mysterious power which the Chinese people have always revealed of putting a stop to their rulers' excesses when, by general consent, they are going too far. As a matter of historical record, the decline of Communism dates from the arrival of the Southern Generalissimo, Chiang Kai-shek, in the Shanghai-Nanking area last April, when, finding that the foundations of his kingdom were threatened by the "blackgowned "guerillas and propagandists, he incontinently shot them down by hundreds. His example was immediately followed by

*Since the above was written, events at Canton suggest that the Communists are still far from being subdued. But their very violence should prove their undoing and excite the Chinese horror of Bolshevist teaching more hotly than before. The Nanking Nationalist Government plainly are dead against the Communists. Of the feelings of the mass of the Chinese people there can be no doubt whatever.

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