A resemblance not merely superficial exists between August, 1914, and November, 1931. A rapid orientation in our national outlook marks both dates. Imminence of national disaster was and is the cause in both cases. The analogy may perhaps be pressed a step further if the quickness and the certainty of national response be considered. The introduction by a National Government of universal military service in 1914 has an analogue in the introduction by a National Government of the Abnormal Imports Act of 1931. At this point the analogy would seem to end. The crisis of 1914 demanded the mobilisation of the man power of the country in many fields of activity to prevent the threat to our existence as a nation from being put into execution. In 1931 with a similar threat to our existence the strongest government of all time is content to avail itself of only part of the power that would willingly be placed at its disposal and to discourage the rest. Perhaps we may be permitted to express the hope that so far as duration may be concerned the analogy will also fail. We cannot afford to take four years over this matter. For some time past the nation has been a beggar on horseback, and during the last ten years it has made a considerable amount of progress in the direction towards which beggars in that position are popularly supposed to be riding. Progress in this direction has been much aided, if not accelerated, by means of a strong and increasingly developed inferiority complex whereby it appeared to us that anyone could do anything much better than we could do it ourselves, and we were, under its influence, rapidly becoming on the one hand merely agents for foreign manufacturers, the products of whose fields or factories were being distributed on the other hand to people whose purchasing power, owing to excessive taxation and other causes, was rapidly diminishing. In spite of the results of the general election we still seem to be in a large measure deficient in healthy optimism, that belief in our own powers which is usually a condition of success. It has apparently become necessary to assure an English audience that an English hen can lay as good an egg as a Russian or Chinese hen. May we add the further information that English bacon is the best in the world. That plums are grown best at Pershore and strawberries in Kent and Hampshire. That we thoroughly despise the fear that was publicly and gravely expressed by a public man that if we attempted to set our house in order by means of a protective tariff the dreadful foreigner would retaliate and even go to war with us over the matter.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 1931
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