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Our Philosophy and Theirs

Tribunals and Business Men

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Tribunals and Business Men IT is surprising at. thi" late day to find that the business men meeting in Ixmdon to consider the extension of the age limit under the new Mili- tary Service Act should have fallen into that specious and foolish error that plunged the na- tion into such bitter sectional hatreds during the agitated days of the married versus the single controversies. The remark ma-do by one of these gentlemen that Grandpa goes to the war whilst Johnny goes to the War Office, only secured the applause and endorsement, of Grandpa's cowardly sidt", his reason repu- diated it directly it was brought to bear upon the problem. kla,, tlit, cowardly side of nature has a, habit of expressing itself at, such times, a.nd a. clever recognition of this hateful side of national psychology has enabled the smart Alecs among our politician's to play the sections to secure their ends. Personally, we have an infinitely greater preference in thinking -of the healthy and vigorous man of from 45 to 48 as suitable material for the soldier's occupation, than we have of thinking of the callow boy of 18 to 181, in the same position, but our object is not to assist in the demarcation of the nation into age groups, each anxious to hide behind the. other; and each seeking an excuse that will camouflage the real cowardice that'actuates the antagonism. It is because we fo;P(> an acrimonious remembrance of these things after the war that we plead now that this folly shall cease, and that the much saner view of the Chairman of the Bristol Tribunal shall prevail when he says, in arguing for the retention of discretionary powers by the Tribunals: "We have compelled many men to close then- shops, lose their all and ,join up. but if this is to develop into a general procedure I apprehend the gravest disaster." It is foolish to pretend that age determines busi- ness iuiht. financial genius, or the technical efficiency* of good management. If grandpa goes to the war it is because urra.nd.pa has been thought fit to go by the Medical Boards, who determined Johnnie's fitness a-No and if Johnnie goes to the War Office, it is safe to say, within the limits of a negligible residue, that Johnnie had the technique that made him of more ser- vice to the nation there than in the front line trenches. The whole philosophy of compulsion is false as false can be. but if we are to have it, then let the burden be equal, and do not let us corrupt an already evil tiling still further by endeavouring to fallaciously argue distinctions that are the outcome of purely subjective1 desire, and have no objective relationship to the facts of life. What is wanted is not a panic cry of the young skulker first, or comb-out. the funk- holes—which no one seriously believes to exist— but the institution of a discriminating machin- ery that will really determine on jhe facts as they arc as to the relative communal value of a man in business, trade, occupation and so forth, and in the army. Such machinery the Tribunals were set up to represent., and to oiiii, extent they succeeded in their purpose. What is wanted now that the Tribunals are to continue, is to seek to make them more efficient in their work of discrimination irrespective of the foolish error of age prejudices, and panic fear. More- over. it should be clearly borne in mind that poverty-stricken in initiative as the Triounals as a whole have proved themselves, dominated as they have been by a misguided bias towards militarist desire, they offer much more demo- cratic freedom to the individual than docs the Government departments that wore to take their place. We do not want the soulless, name- less domination of bureaucratic nonentities we prefer the continuance of the safeguard of the seeming Democracy of the Tribunal, which we know. The English right, of determination by open court is too hoary an institution to be al- lowed to fall to pieces even under the fretful hysteria of war as we are learning to know it.

John Scurr for North Bucks

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W. C. Anderson, M.P., and…