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What, Oh What! !

ITHE "PLEBS" MAGAZINE.I

IJ I The New Censorship 1

Go-operators and Trade Unionists

Motoring to a Fair.

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The New Censorship Order

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The New Censorship Order FUOM the way the straws are blowing at the moment it is appewent that the Government has succeeded in its Northcliffian new Censor- ship Order in arousing an opposition in Parlia- mentary Press and liberal-minded circles the whole country over, that premises to effectively remove the many objectionable features of this latest dictatorial tinkering with the constitu- tional and political rights of the British public. And whilst some of us, remembering that it was a Liberal Government that firgt began the in- vasion of those rights, may smile at the Liberal pan calling the Georgian kettle black, it is still our duty to range ourselves strongly by the side of the Opposition, in this struggle, for this latest infringement carries the abuse of bureaucratic control far beyond those s-paoy confines that "moderate" men are inclined to set in times such as the present war has found us. in. Hitherto the whole weight of Munitions Acts, and the evergrowing bulk of the Defence of the Realm Regulations, with their vague termin- ology, have operated against the Democrat pub- licist but, were he convinced enough to brave the dangers that these enactments exposed him to, he was still able to promulgate his ideas and ideals in pamphlet or book. Certainly, the dan- gers were manifold, and called for a moderation and suppression that did place him at a disad- vantage. in his appeal to the populace. Now he is not to have this little latitude. Not only is he compelled to attach his name and that of his printer to his literary worli-,a p,,i-,ovrion to which no one will take exception—but before he can even send his matter through the press he must submit his work to the sub-editorial care of a Government department. Put bluntly it means that the GovernAient have vetoed the ex- pression of any opinion not palatable to itself. No criticism of Governmental action; no exami- nation of the International situation unfavour- able to the present regime would, if the Cen- sorship as proposed decided against it, be al- lowed to appear before the people for their judgment. The new censorship would constitute a trap through which the tame pamphleteers of the Government would scamper unharmed; but which would close with deadly silencing power upon the handful of writers who happen to be ll tl-ie Government," and all that the Gov- ernment stands for. And this would extend to every department of real life; and in particular to every phase of industrial propaganda, for it is utterly impossible to isolate the consideration of any important present or future problem from the war. A trade union manifesto; a La- bour Party circular, would come just as much within the scope of the new Order as a new pamphlet by Macdonald, Ponaonby or Morel; and in so far as it dared to state a position true to the conditionr. of industrial and political proletarian life of to-day it would stand about as much chance of coming through the tral), as would the pamphlets of that small body of sin- cere pacifists whose names are so often execrated by the Westminster mandarins and Fleet Street pooh-bahs, and whose arguments are so con- veniently left unanswered. It is impossible to adequately present the dangers to which this order would expose Democracy, by handing it over bound hand and foot for spoon-feeding by the official opinion manufacturers .of the Georgian bureaucracy. We have had far too much of that already; what is the most essen- tial need of the time is not a further restriction of the freedom of expression, but an extension of this elementary condition of a democratic state. And it is in that direction that it is imperative that such progressive areas as South Wales should turn its immediate attention. By all means let us take advantage of the valuable assistance that the front Oppositional benches so adventitiously offers us at this juncture; but let it be not an absolute reliance upon, but a co-operation with those forces. Let us always and ever remember that in our united strength, however feebly articulated, resides more power than in the silvern throats of a hundred Asquithian orators; and that even when we have learned to be geese enough to hiss together we shall but have to raise our heads to prevent such measures as is this from proceeding beyond the realm of desire on the part of the reaction- aries who would thus strangle discussion by the power of the State.

I - Kenfig Hill Notes.