Skip to main content

Full text of "Our British Ally"

See other formats

2 8 V 



EM 41 


Prepared for 

The United States Armed Forces 



This pamphlet is one of a series made available by the War Department 
under the series title GI Roundtable. As the general title indicates, GI Round- 
table pamphlets provide material which information-education officers may 
use in conducting group discussions or forums as part of an ofT-duty education 
program, and which operators of Armed Forces Radio Service outlets may use 
in preparing GI Radio Roundtablr discussion broadcasts. 

The content of this pamphlet has been prepared by the Historical Service 
Board of the American Historical Association. Each pamphlet in the series has 
only one purpose: to provide factual information and balanced arguments as a 
basis for discussion of all sides of the question. It is not to be inferred thai 
the War Department endorses any one of the particular views presented. 

Specific suggestions for the discussion or forum leader who plans to use this 
pamphlet will be found on page 40. 


Washington 25, D. C, 2 August 1944 

(AG 300.7 <2 Aug 44). J 

EM 41, GI Roundtable: Our British Ally. 

Current War Department instructions authorize the requisition of 
additional copies of this pamphlet for use by military personnel on the 
basis of two to a company or similar organization. Additional copies 
should be requisitioned from USAFI, Madison 3, Wisconsin, or 
nearest Oversea Branch. 

Distributed for use in the educational and informational programs of the 
Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. This distribution is not to be construed 
as an endorsement by the Navy Department of the statements contained therein. 

Educational Services Section, Standards and Curriculum Division, 
Training, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washincjton 25, D. C. 

( Copies for Navy personnel are to be requisitioned from Educational Services 
Section. ) 

Education Section, Welfare Division, Special Services Branch, 
United States Marine Corps, Washington 25, D. C 

(Distributed to Marine Corps personnel by Special Services Branch. Addi- 
tional copies or information may be obtained from unit Special Services 

Training Division, Office of Personnel, Coast Guard Headquartkrs, 
Washington 25, D. C 

(Copies for Coast Guard personnel should be requisitioned from the Com- 
mandant (PT), U. S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington 25, D. C.) 




Her march is o'er the mountain waves, 
Her home is on the deep. 

THOMAS CAMPBELL (1777-1844) 




^/INCE the middle of 1940 we have rapidly grown conscious of 
the place of the British in the world and in our world. In the 
early months of the war we took it for granted either that the 
conflict was no concern of ours or that of course the French and 
British would win it. But when the German blitz swarmed over 
western Europe, crushed the French, and seemed only to pause for 
breath before striking down England, Scotland, Wales, Northern 
Ireland — yes, and the rest of Ireland as well, in spite of Dublin's 
neutrality — it suddenly dawned on us that the British people, their 
industries, and their navy were our front line of defense against 
Axis ambitions. The collapse of that line, we began to realize, 
would be the prelude to a mighty attack on the Americas from east 
and west alike. In that onslaught Germany and Japan would con- 
trol the resources of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and be 
masters of all the oceans. We should, as the President put it, be 
"living at the point of a gun,'* or rather of two guns, an island with 
enemies on both sides. 

"Hard-headed concern for our own security and for the kind of 
safe and civilized world in which we wish to live" therefore dictated 
the need for giving Britain every possible support short of war. This 
policy was not based on any unselfish or sentimental regard for the 
harassed British or on our admiration of their dogged ability to 
take it on the ground and to dish it out in the air. An American 
poet could let her heroine declare that "in a world where England 
is dead T do not wish to live." But American political prose said 
that "in a world where England is dead, it is going to be very 
much harder for us to keep alive." 

By winning the Battle of Britain in the air, the British saved 
themselves, and gave us time to make the necessary investments in 
our own security. We traded old destroyers for the use of British 
bases in the western Atlantic. Wc gathered up guns, ammunition, 
and planes to help reequip the British army which had left most of 
its stores behind at Dunkirk. We invented Lcnd-Lease to cut the 
cash out of "cash and carry" purchases of munitions. We took over 
more and more of the work of patrolling the western Atlantic to 
make the "carry" part of Lend-Leasc less dangerous, and on the 
eve of Pearl Harbor we decided that our own merchantmen could 
arm themselves and take cargoes all the way to Britain. Thus step 
by step a growing realization that our interests were tied up with 
those of Britain led us to stand behind her. Then Pearl Harbor and 

the declaration of war on us by the Axis powers forced us to stand 
alongside the British. 

Meanwhile the British also rapidly realized their need for us. 
In the early days of the war, if an American said to a Briton, "We 
are not going to be in this one," the reply would probably be, "I 
hope not." When Germany bared her full might, that hope had to 
be abandoned. But for a time the Briton thought he might be able 
to pull through if we w r ould relax the restrictions on his purchase of 
supplies. "Give us the tools and we will finish the job," said Mr. 
Churchill in the spring of 1941. Yet tools would probably not have 
been enough. As events developed there was no chance to see if 
they were, but we may doubt whether the 47,000,000 people of 
Great Britain, supplemented by the men from the dominions, would 
have been able to defeat an enemy which had the manpower and 
industrial plant of central and western Europe at its disposal. 

For more than two years now we have been allies on the basis of 

common dangers, mutual aid, and similar interests. We are mixed 
up together in a manner unknown in World War I. The British 
have accepted our generals as supreme commanders in the South- 
west Pacific and Europe, regardless of the relative numerical 
strength of British, Australian, and American contingents in these 
battle zones. Our Lcnd-Lease materials go to help supply their 
needs, while their goods and services are handed over to meet our 
requirements in lands where our men are stationed. The political, 
administrative, and military leaders of the two nations are fre- 
quently in conference — an interesting contrast to World War I, 
when President Wilson met none of the Allied prime ministers until 
more than a month after the Armistice. This mingling is likely to 
continue long after the last shot has been fired and the last bomb 
has been dropped. Americans will probably be working with Britons 
and people of other nations, making plans, and generally helping to 
get the world back onto its feet. 

In such circumstances it is natural that we should ask: What sort 
of fellow is this partner of ours? Can we understand him? In what 
ways is he like us, in what ways different? What did he do in 
peacetime? What sort of government has he? Can it be demo- 
cratic with its king, lords, dukes, knights, and other titled folk? 
Is he conservative, class-ridden, hidebound, Tory? If he is, why do 
some of our people come back from London and tell us Britain is 
headed straight for socialism? And what really is this Empire, Com- 

monwealth of Nations, or whatever he calls it? Why should he be 
proud of governing other peoples, sometimes even against their will, 
or at any rate he so determined to hang on to his empire? Finally, 
why didn't he do something to stop Mussolini and Hitler before 
they grew too powerful?' 

Asking Questions about Each Other 

The Briton must not mind our asking such questions, since he 
himself is asking a lot of similar ones about us. If we have much 
to learn about him, and many misconceptions to correct, he is in 
the same fix about us. He has not in the past given us much 
sustained thought or study. In his schools he might get a fair 
amount of American geography, but we dropped out of his history 
books at the time of the American Revolution. From that event 
onward we appear in them only when some really important Anglo- 
American problems crop up, and on a panorama that covered 2,000 
years of history, such problems didn't crop up often. The War of 
1812, for instance, would not receive more than a paragraph in a 
British high school history text. 

If the Briton went to college he would learn a good deal more 
about us, in patches rather than in whole cloth, but his teachers 
would prefer that he studied a few things intensively rather than 
spread a smattering of superficial knowledge over the universe. 
There was so much to be learned about his native land, about 
Europe, and the Empire that his time was almost fully occupied on 
those topics. In fact he did not show much eagerness to learn about 
his own Empire, and when Australians or Canadians went to Eng- 
land they were often startled at the average Briton's ignorance about 
the dominions. 

Today, from the youngsters upward, Britons are trying to learn 
more, to get at something nearer the truth, and if possible the whole 
truth. Recent accounts tell of an exhibition called "America 
Marches," put on in London by our Office of War Information and 
its British counterpart, of a series of conferences attended by thou- 
sands of high school students in provincial towns to learn about 

669440" 4. r . 2 5 

American conditions, of countless lectures, of the demand for 
more American news in the shrunken newspapers, of questions put 
to our men who arc over there, and of the best-seller position gained 
by books on American conditions. 


Yet the questions asked often indicate how difficult is the road 
to understanding. Our men sometimes puzzle the British by asking 
about things the British simply take for granted. The same is equally 
true the other way round. Suppose, for example, that you were 
host to an intelligent observant young Briton. He would be puzzled 
by many features of our politics, sports, education, and meals, and 
might ask such things as die following: Why does a small state like 
Nevada have the same number of senators as a populous one like 
New York? Why do you begin to get excited about your national 
elections more than a year before die votes are cast? Why do you 
have czars of baseball and movies? Why do you allow substitutes 
in football; why do you need such elaborately drilled signal plays; 
and what is the purpose of organized rooting? Why are boys in the 
upper grades and in high school not taught chiefly by men? 

These questions would all spring from the fact that he had 
noticed something to which he was not accustomed, and was curious 
to know the reason — and they would probably puzzle most of us. 
The best that we could reply would doubtless be that there was 

some perfectly good reason — historical, political, economic, social, 
or otherwise — the nature of which we could not at the moment 
recall. And we should make a mental note to put him on a similar 
spot if we were ever his guest in England. 

Understanding another people is no easy task. It is often difficult 
for those of us who live in one region of the United States to under- 
stand the attitudes, ways of life, or even the speech of those who 
belong to other regions. Understanding the British is a much harder 
task. It requires a knowledge of a stretch of history at least three 
or four times as long as our own slory since the settlement of James- 
town or the coming of the Pilgrim Fathers. We need to remember 
that many peoples have found their way to the British Isles and 
helped to produce its mixed stock — Celts, Angles, Saxons, Scandi- 
navians, Normans, Jews, and Protestant refugees. Who is a typical 

Briton? The royal family is of German ancestry, the leading news- 
paper proprietor is Canadian, the most famous cartoonist is a New 
Zcalandcr, the first woman in Parliament is a Virginian, and Mr. 
Churchill is half American. We can perhaps picture a typical Scot, 
Welshman, or Irishman; hut who is typical of England — Charles 
Laugh ton, C. Aubrey Smith, Gracie Fields, or the late Leslie 
Howard ? 

Apart from these human considerations, we need to know the 
influence exerted by a mild climate, never very hot or very cold, 
but often rainy, raw, or foggy, too fickle for the planning of picnics, 
but good to work in. We have to take account of the variety of 
natural resources, some of them rich and abundant. Finally we 
must keep in mind (he effect of being surrounded by sea and of 
being located on the edge of an ocean. The ring of sea has given 
security from invasion for nearly a thousand years, and let the 
British get on with their work, play, and politics with a sense of 
safety which made unnecessary the keeping of a large army and 
bred a feeling of isolation and of insularity. There is a stock joke 
about a weather report which once appeared in the London Times: 
"Dense fog over English Channel. Continent isolated." The posi- 
tion on the edge of the Atlantic fostered seafaring enterprise and 
offered an open gate to all the seven seas. 

There is no Space here for an examination of all these influences. 
But we can make some progress toward understanding the British 
by examining the following four aspects of their life: (1) the land 
and its inhabitants; (2) the country's economic activities; (3) its 
social structure; and (4) its political institutions, methods, and 

A Crowded Country 

Our concern is not with the whole of the British Isles, but only 
with that part of the two chief islands which comprises the political 
unit known as "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern 
Ireland." This unit contains all three parts of the larger island — 
England, Wales, and Scotland — which make up Great Britain. It 
also includes the six counties of Northern Ireland which insisted on 
remaining part of the United Kingdom when the other twenty-six 
counties of Ireland became a self-governing dominion, called the 
Irish Free State, in 1922. Northern Ireland obtained what was 
equivalent to a state government, with its own legislature, adminis- 
tration, etc., but still continued to send a few members to the 
British Parliament in London. The rest of Ireland, containing four- 
fifths of the area and seven-tenths of the population, gained the 
same dominion status as was enjoyed by Canada, with complete 
control over its own internal and external affairs. It used this con- 
trol in 1937 to declare itself a republic and changed its name to 
Eire. In 1939 it exercised its sovereign right to declare itself neutral, 
and has remained so. Hence the British and then we ourselves have 
had to by-pass Eire and use only Northern Ireland as a base. 

The total area of the United Kingdom is less than 95,000 square 
miles. England contains just over 50,000 of them, and is about the 
size of Alabama or a little larger than New York. Scotland is about 
as big as Maine, Wales has the area of New Jersey, and Northern 
Ireland is a bit larger than Connecticut. Lumped together, the 
four parts are equal to the area of Oregon, or to that of New York 
and Pennsylvania combined. 

Small though the country is to begin with, its area of useful land 
is still smaller. A quarter of the whole kingdom is classified by 
statisticians as "rough grazing land," and the emphasis should be 
placed on the word "rough." Half of Scotland, a third of Wales, 
and a ninth of England is covered with mountains, moorlands, or 
gloomy valleys, swept with rain and wind or shrouded in mist; 
picturesque perhaps, but of little use to man or beast. 

Yet this small patch of Europe, one-thirtieth the size of the 

United States, carries a population of 47,000,000, which is more 
than a third the size of our own. It is equal to that of our five most 
populous states — New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and Cali- 
fornia — and of our six least populous states — Nevada, Wyoming, 
Arizona, Delaware, Vermont, and New Hampshire — all eleven put 

In this contrast between small area and large population we have 
the first outstanding feature of British life. Britain is a crowded 
country. It has an average density of 500 people to the square mile, 
but in England, where nearly 40,000,000 out of the 47,000,000 live, 
the figure rises to 770. The density for the United States is only 
45, and that of our five most populous slates is about 140. Only 
three states — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey — exceed 
the average for all Britain; and even the most crowded of them, 
Rhode Island, falls a little short of the average for England. Thus, 
the Briton, in at least four cases out of five, docs not live in quaint 
thatched cottages or stately mansions; he is a townsman or a 
suburbanite. In 1931 two out of every three lived in towns of more 
than 20,000 people, and four out of ten in centers with at least 
100,000 inhabitants. A quarter of the whole Scots population was 
in Glasgow and its suburbs, and nearly a quarter of the people of 
England and Wales resided in the vast expanse that is Greater 

What Do the People Do for a Living? 

The second characteristic of the British people goes hand in hand 
with the first. They are overwhelmingly a nation of manufacturers, 
miners, traders, and transport workers, or are engaged in those 
countless professional and personal services which flourish in urban 


communities. Very few of them arc farmers. In the prewar years 
only six out of every hundred gainfully employed persons worked 
on the land. 

The rest of them were distributed as shown in the first column of 
the following table. In the second column we have the distribution 
of workers in the United Suites. 


Great Britain United States 

Agriculture 6 18 

Mining 5 2 

Manufacturing and 

construction 33 29 

Trade and 

transportation .... 23 26 

Professions, personal 

service, and all others 33 25 

In each country the overwhelming majority of the people are 
engaged in industry, trade, transportation, or service occupations. 
In each the relative numerical strength of the farming class has 
declined steadily during the last fifty years. But our farm families 
still comprise about a fifth of the whole nation; in Britain they 
constitute not more than one-fifteenth. 

It is obvious that these few farmers, working intensively the small 
area of good land available, simply cannot supply all the food and 
raw materials needed by the rest of the 47,000,000 people. In 
peacetime they did manage to produce about two-fifths of the coun- 
try's food supply: but even their most heroic efforts have been 
unable to provide more than about two-thirds of the shrunken food 
supply available during the present war. They cannot provide 
enough hides for leather or enough wool for cloth; and it is impos- 
sible for them to grow such tropical or subtropical products as 
oranges, silk, cotton, rubber, cofTce, tea, or bananas in a climate 
where 80° in the shade is regarded as a deadly heat wave. The 
rest of the food and raw materials must be imported, and they 








••■■■" it rm-i< 



®*&^ --■■■■■ -■-•: 

f 40% WERE 




40% HAD TO RE 


'**?■* ' 





46% ARE 




.clinic it nut. 


must be paid for by the export of coal and manufactured goods or 
by the rendering of shipping, banking, insurance, and commercial 
services to people overseas. So wc come to the third basic charac- 
teristic of British life — the great dependence of the country on its 
ability to sell and serve abroad in order to be able to buy and import. 
In technical jargon, Great Britain lives largely in an "export- 
import economy." 

It was not always so. There was a time when the country fed its 
less than ten million people and when most industries catered 
chiefly to the domestic market. But conditions began to change 
about two hundred years ago, as Englishmen and Scotsmen devised 
new industrial methods or invented new equipment. Their ma- 
chines, water wheels, steam engines, and applied science gave them 
the power to produce iron, steel, cloth, crockery, hardware, etc., in 
far greater quantities, more quickly, more cheaply, and often of far 
better quality. Having transformed production, they turned to 
revolutionize transportation. They put a steam engine on wheels 
and created the railroad. They put another engine into the hull of 
a vessel and produced the steamship. In short, they discovered a 
new frontier for their energy and enterprise; on it they built a huge 
workshop, or factory, which for a long time was almost the only 
one of its kind in the world; and into it they gathered a population 
that was doubling itself every fifty years. 

To supply that workshop and its workers the outside world was 
combed for food and raw materials. Tariffs were abolished, and 
the ports were thrown open to welcome, free of duty, supplies from 
any continent. The grain or pork of the North American prairies, 
the Iamb, beef, wheat, and wool of Australia and Argentina, the 
butter, eggs, and cheese of Denmark, Siberia, and New Zealand, 
cotton from our own South, lumber from the Baltic or Canada, 
iron ore from Spain or Sweden, and a score of other products of 
farm, forest, ranch, plantation, or mine flowed into Britain in an 
ever broadening stream. In the pre-World War year of 1913, for 
instance, the country imported the wheat or flour it needed for 
forty-two weeks out of the fifty-two. For every man, woman, and 
child there arrived 1 70 pounds of sugar, 65 pounds of meat, 23 of 

r.ii'.iii" tr>- :t 13 


. . . back from a global shopping trip 

potatoes, 20 of butter or cheese, 7 of tea, but only 10 ounces of 
coffee. When the British housewife went marketing she was a global 
shopper. She drew on domestic, imperial, or foreign supplies, and 
bought what seemed the best value for her money, regardless of 
where it came from. In her basket she probably carried home some 
food from every continent. 

For every dollar's worth of food imported another dollar's worth 
of raw materials was brought in, and about fifty cents' worth of 
finished manufactured articles from those other workshops which 
gradually grew up in Germany, France, Belgium, Japan, and the 
United States. If these newer industrial countries could make arti- 
cles which were better or cheaper than those made in Britain, the 
British readily bought them, and no tariff stood in the way to raise 
the purchase price. 


Thus Britain became a tremendous customer of the fanners and 
miners of the outside world and a good customer of the other indus- 
trial lands. Of every six dollars' worth of goods that people in all 
countries sold beyond their own borders in 1913, Britain bought one. 
In return she exported about one-third of her coal output; 4,000,000 
miles of cotton piece goods, which went especially to the Far East; 
100,000 miles of woolens; vast quantities of iron and steel, engines, 
machines, chemicals, and steamships built for foreign buyers; and a 
great variety of articles, such as books and beer, clothes and crock- 
cry, shoes and Scotch (or Irish). All told, these exports absorbed 
one-third of the country's total output from farm, mine, or factory. 
It would probably not be far wrong to say that in 1913 one worker 
out of every three was engaged in producing goods for export or 
carrying them to the overseas consumer. 

With these exports Britain paid for most of her Imports, but not 
all of them. For nearly a hundred years she has always bought 
more goods than she sold. The difference has been paid for by 
selling services of various kinds. In 1913 Britain owned two-fifths 
of the world's ocean tonnage, and earned money by carrying passen- 
gers and cargo for every nation. London was the banking, com- 
mercial, and insurance center of the world, and earned large sums 
for the trading and financial services it rendered to clients scattered 
over the globe. Finally Britain was the world's leading foreign 
investor. Its capital flowed abroad to be invested in colonial or 
foreign government loans, or into the stocks and bonds of industries, 
mines, railroads, banks, oil fields, rublwr plantations, tea gardens, 
ranches, shipping lines, etc. In all, about $20,000,000,000— at least 
a fifth of the country's wealth — was invested overseas in 1913. 

The income from these services and investments — these "invisible 
exports" as they are called — paid for the excess of visible imports 
of food, raw materials, etc., over the visible exports of coal and 
manufactured articles. In fact, that income often more than paid 
for the excess. When all the bills had been settled there was still 
some money due from the outside. This money the British usually 
left overseas to be lent or invested in further developing the New 
World or in modernizing more of Asia and Africa. 


MINING 1,120,300 

AGRICULTURE 1,352,900 



INDUSTRY 5,375,900 

TRANSPORT 1,830,200 

COMMERCE 2,318,800 

SERVICE 2,628,500 

BUILDERS ft C. 1,089,900 

CLERICAL 1,522,100 

OTHER TRADES 2,692,170 




By developing and expanding this world-wide exchange of goods 
and services for goods, the British prospered, and never more so 
than on the eve of the first World War. They were able to maintain 
a growing population on a rising standard of living, a standard 
which was the highest in Europe. But war upset the exchange. 
Exports had to be reduced. Foreign customers had to do without 
British supplies, get them from us or the Japanese, or begin to make 
the goods for themselves. After the war some nations raised their 
tariffs, and others were too poor to buy. Consequently the British 
found it difficult to win back their old customers or to find new 
ones to replace the old. Japan, India, and China now made their 
own cheap cottons, and the Oriental market was lost to Lancashire. 
The demand for woolens was injured by changes in clothing fash- 
ions; the need for coal was reduced by the growing use of oil or 
electricity; the shipyards were idle, for the world had too many 
ships. By 1929 none of the old staple export industries had regained 





= goods. 

= shipping, insurance, banking, 
and similar earnings. 

— income from overseas invest- 

= gold. 

The scale on the left side is in millions 
of pounds sterling. For all years except 
1932 the pound was a little less than $5. 

NOTE: (1) In 1913 and 1929 there was 
a surplus left over for further investment. 
In 1932 there was a deficit. 
(2) In 1913 the "invisible exports" paid 
for about two-fifths of the imports, in 1932 
for one-third, and in 1938 for one-third. 
But in 1938 gold was also exported in large 
quantities to balance the account. 






its prewar position, and when the depression, which began in 1929 
widened and deepened in every part of the world, Britain's visible 
and invisible exports alike dropped again by half. 

This collapse brought Britain to the acute crisis of 1931. While 
the exports were down by half, the imports had fallen only a 
quarter. Hence the country did not have enough exports to pay 
for its imports; it was about $500,000,000 short. It had 3,000,000 
unemployed, and its stock of gold was being drained out of the 
country. Obviously the export-import formula no longer worked. 
If the country could not sell, ship, and serve abroad in its old 
volume, it could not buy abroad in the grand old easy manner. Or, 
to put it another way, if people overseas would not buy from Britain 
they could no longer expect to sell duty free to her. She must pro- 
duce more goods at home, import only what she could afford to 
pay for, and buy from countries which were willing to take her 
goods in exchange. 

The free trade policy which had been the basis of British "free 
enterprise" for eighty years, and which had left manufacturers, 
miners, farmers, and shipowners to seek their own salvation in a 
competitive world without any state protection, was discarded. 
Tariffs were imposed on most imports. Commodities from the 
dominions and colonies were admitted duty free or at preferentially 
lower duties, and at an imperial conference held in Ottawa in 1932 
the various pacts of the British Commonwealth of Nations agreed 
to treat each other's goods more favorably than they did those from 
other lands. The British farmer was helped by tariffs, by limiting 
the amount of imported foods, and by subsidies. Trade treaties were 
negotiated with countries which were willing to make reciprocal 
tariff concessions. 

The years between the two wars have thus seen Britain's foreign 
trade become a less important part of the country's economic life. 
The fraction of the total output that was exported fell from 33 per 
cent in 1913 to 22 per cent in 1930, and possibly to 15 per cent on 
the eve of the present war. Coal mining, cotton weaving, and ship- 
building became generally regarded as "declining industries," which 
would never again be as large or flourishing as they had been. But 


by way of consolation for this loss, there was a great expansion in 
many new industries between the two wars. In Britain as in the 
United States, there was the coming of die automobile and of all 
die industries and occupations which the car and truck brought into 
being. There was a widening use of electricity and electrical appli- 
ances; a vast spread of cycling; a great increase in the commercial 
production of bread, cakes, candies, and canned goods; a widespread 
spending of more time and money attending movie houses, playing 
or watching games, going on hikes or holidays, or seeking other 
forms of relaxation; and there was a vigorous effort to overcome 
the shortage of houses hjk\ to wipe out slums. 

The first World War impoverished the old rich and many of the 
middle class; but it raised the wages of many workers, and vari- 
ous other factors helped to improve the condition of the general 
population outside the depressed industries. Hence there was more 
money to spend on the activities and commodities listed above. 
Between 1923 and 1938 the number of persons working in these 
"expanding" occupations rose 50 per cent, while the number in the 
"declining" industries dropped nearly 25 per cent. Some of the 
new industries might export goods, but most of Uicm served only 
the domestic market. They helped Britain to recover more quickly 
than did any other country from the depression of 1929-32, and 
the nation discovered that it could do a lot more work for itself at 
home instead of relying so heavily on overseas buyers. 

Yet the old order is still vitally important Britain can creep part 
way into the shelter of its domestic economy; but the country is too 
small to be a foxhole for 47,000,000 people. The British cannot live 

B0844U i:< 4 21 

alone, unconcerned with the rest of the world, or even the rest of 
the world outside the Empire. They cannot feed themselves, they 
cannot produce all the raw materials they need, and they have no 
domestic supply of gasoline. Britain must continue to import on a 
large scale, and the problem of paying for those imports is one 
of her fundamental postwar problems, perhaps the fundamental 
problem. Many of her foreign markets are gone for the duration, 
and will be hard to regain. Her invisible exports will be grcady 
shrunken; for in the first place her merchant marine has been 
greatly reduced and she will face the competition of a vast new 
fleet of American freighters; and in the second place her income 
from overseas investments has declined, may disappear entirely if 
the war lasts long, and may be replaced by a debt to foreign 
creditors. It is estimated that 70 per cent of her overseas invest- 
ments have been sold to pay for war supplies; she owes India more 
than she had invested there, and perhaps the same is true in the 
case of Canada, the Argentine, and possibly Australia. Consequently 
the invisible exports which used to pay for over a third of the 
visible imports will be very much smaller; in place of the old inward 
excess flow of goods to pay interest, etc., there may have to be an 
outward excess flow of British goods to pay interest on top of the 
flow which goes out to pay for food and raw materials. 

If postwar conditions are such as to make international trade 
possible on a large scale, the British will go after it eagerly in order 
to pay what they owe and to buy what they need. Under the stress 
of war they have scrapped much that was old in their industrial 
equipment, organization, and methods, and have shown ingenuity 
and efficiency of the very highest order. The nation which designed 
the Spitfire and the Rolls Royce engine, which had radar all ready 
for use in 1940, which built the Queen Mary, which discovered the 
value of penicillin, and which is producing more ship tonnage per 
man-hour than any other country is far from finished in the world's 
markets, provided there are any markets. 

If there are few markets, the outlook will be gloomy, and the 
British will have to do without many things they would like to 
import. If this hurts them, it will also hurt the countries whose old 


customer or now debtor Britain is, for if she cannot afford to buy 
from them there will probably be no other good customer available. 
In the prewar world there was virtually no other place to which 
Danes, Argentineans, New Zealanders, Australians, Canadians, and 
many others could sell their farm produce. What they got for it 
depended in large measure on what the British could afford to pay 
them. Britain's poverty as exporter in the twenties and thirties 
accounted for some of the low prices of farm produce in those days. 
So it may be after this war. If Britain is too poor to buy or pay 
good prices, sellers the world over will share her poverty, and the 
task of adjusting themselves to new conditions will be long and 

The Social Landscape 

If a nation lives chiefly by manufacturing, mining, and trading, 
its social conditions, its class structure, its politics, and its general 
outlook on life will be different from those of a country mainly 
devoted to farming. Yet there will be features which have come 
down from the days when it was rural and agricultural, when 
feudal landlords ruled their villages of serfs, when die church was 

a great property owner as well as a shepherd of souls, when mon- 
archs wielded as much power as they could obtain or keep, and 
when the population was neatly divided into recognized classes. 
Revolutions may destroy much of the old order, but they rarely 
wipe it out entirely; and the British have never had anything com- 
parable to the French or Russian revolutions. Their changes have 
come gradually; it has been said that they always leave the initial 


V off their revolutions. Hence the large landlords, the church, 
and the monarchy are still there; but the pressure of events and the 
inevitability of gradual change have made them very different from 
their ancestors of 1215 (the year of Magna Carta), of 1776, or 
even of 1900. 

The landlord is one important legacy of the past. Often, but not 
always, he owns many acres; it was recently stated that twenty-six 
dukes own in all over a million acres, or about one-fiftieth of the 
whole country. Through the centuries, land has been an attractive 
form of property, for the income it yielded, the political power it 
carried, or the social prestige it gave its owner. Consequently suc- 
cessful merchants, manufacturers, bankers, and others have always 
been eager to "buy a place in the country," and the landlord class 
has thus been constantly sustained with new blood and fresh capital. 
Sometimes the owner is the crown, the church, the universities, or 
some other endowed institution. 

The landlord docs not usually work his estate. He divides it into 
farms, provides the capital needed for permanent improvements 
and buildings, and then leases the farms to tenants. They supply 
their own working capital and equipment, and if the farm is too 
large to be worked by their families — as is often the case — they hire 
the necessary number of laborers. This trinity of landlord-tenant- 
laborer has had its merits and its defects. If times are good the 
landlord can raise the rent, and the laborer may hope for an 
increased wage. If times are bad, the landlord will have to reduce 
the rent, thus cushioning the blow struck by falling prices or bad 
crops at the farmer's head, and the laborer will have to take a cut 
in his wages. 

During the last war the farmers did well, and the government 
set up machinery which gave the laborers higher wages. But the 
landlords were hit hard by new land taxes, and by much heavier 
income taxes. Some tenants were therefore willing and able to buy 
their farms. Many landlords were willing to sell, and a great trans- 
fer took place. In 1913 only one farmer in nine owned his land; 
but by 1927 one in three was a cultivating owner. Between the two 
wars, however, agriculture became much less profitable in England, 


as in ihc United Stales. Farmers had difficulty in meeting their 
mortgages and obtaining working capital, and the landlords had no 
cash to spare for improvements. In spite of tariffs, subsidies, and 
other state-aid schemes, agriculture was far from healthy in 1939. 
Some leading agricultural economists were convinced that the land 
should be "nationalized." If the state owned the land, they argued, 
it could provide the capital needed for drainage, reclamation of 
wastes, reorganization of fields, merging of small farms into larger 
operating units, modern buildings, belter roads, etc., and thus make 
it possible for the tenant farmer to get the greatest possible yield 
from the soil, and use his own funds for working expenses instead 
of spending them to buy the land. 

Many of these suggested changes have been made under the stress 
of war. The results have proved the value of the proposals; but 
the land has not been nationalized. Whether it will be, only time 
can tell. But it is evident that the landlord class, burdened heavily 
with taxes, cannot now discharge its old function of supplying the 
capital needed for keeping the agricultural plant in first-class order. 
A class which cannot do its job effectively may not last long. 

This pattern of rural life is strange to us, as we do not have its 
characteristic features, or at least do not have them so highly 
developed. Three-fifths of our farms arc owned by their cultivators, 
against one-third in Britain. Our landlords are mostly ex-farmers, 
banks, and insurance companies, and often they hold the land 
unwillingly because some debtor has failed to meet his mortgage. 
Finally, hired labor plays a smaller part in our farming life. 

When we turn to British urban, industrial, and commercial life 
we arc more familiar with the social landscape. It is much more 
like what we know. The British picture began to be painted at 


least half a century before we started ours; the styles are different, 
and the paint on ours is not yet all dry. But the general features, 
the composition, and the colors are very much alike. 

The British were the first people to encounter and wrestle with 
the problems of modern industrial society. In that society industry, 
trade, transportation, and most other forms of enterprise came to 
be organized in the hands of individuals, partnerships, or corpora- 
tions, who got together the necessary sums of capital and credit, 
bought equipment and materials, and then employed as many wage 
or salary earners as they needed. Sometimes an enterprise needed 
little or no hired help, as for instance in the small retail store, the 
repair shop, or the legal, medical, and other professions. But often 
hired workers were needed by the score, hundred, or thousand. 
Consequently society sorted itself out into classes. The largest by 
far consisted of persons who owned little or no capital, land, or 
property of their own, and who therefore depended for their income 
on their ability to sell their labor for wages or salaries. The second 
class consisted of those who ran their own little business or pro- 
fessional service. The third were the larger employers — personal, 

corporate, or governmental — who ran the business themselves or 
used paid managers and officials. Finally there was a small class of 
people who owned so much capital or real estate that they were 
able to live on the interest, profit, or rent they collected. 

The relative size of these groups is well known. Of 49,000,000 
gainfully employed in 1930 in the United States, 6.000,000 were 
farmers, about 3,000,000 were employers or employed themselves, 
while 40,000,000 — or 80 per cent — depended chiefly or wholly on 
wages or salaries for their sustenance. The British distribution is 


about the same. Of 21,000,000 engaged in all kinds of work on the 
eve of the war, over 16,000,000 were wage or salary earners. Thus 
each country had about four-fifths of its working population in the 
employed class. 

For the members of this largest group in modern society, two 
questions arc important: How can I improve my welfare inside my 
class? How can I improve it by getting out of my class? The 
second may be asked more frequently in the New World than in 
the Old, since climbing the economic ladder, going from rags to 
riches, or passing from hired man to hirer of men has been much 
easier in North America or Australia than in Europe or Asia. It is 
not as easy now as it was in the days when free or cheap land was 
abundant, when the frontier was moving westward, and when an 
industry, a store, or a bank could be started on a shoestring. But 
there is still opportunity for a few to climb the whole ladder, for 
some to go up a few rungs, and for wage earners' children to obtain 
the education which may help them to rise to well-paid executive 
or technical positions or to independent professional practice. Yet 
the overwhelming majority of wage and salary earners must remain 
dependent on a pay check or pay envelope. 

The situation in Britain has not been very different from our 
own, save for the fact that there were no such opportunities 
as were offered by our vast public domain. In the industrial frontier 
days of the nineteenth century poverty need not be a bar to 
advancement for the man who combined ability, love of hard 
work, and a passion for thrift. The British textile, metalware, cloth- 
ing, and mercantile occupations were well sprinkled with self-made 
men, and the new industries of the twentieth century have provided 
some similar opportunities. British radio sets carry the names of pio- 
neer makers who started in small sheds. The British counterpart of 
Henry Ford began his working career as a repairer of flat tires in 
a bicycle shop. The spread of public high schools and universities 
since 1900 has ended the days when higher education was dispensed 
almost solely by expensive private schools and two ancient univer- 
sities to the sons of the middle and wealthy classes. The provision 
of scholarships has made it possible for the talented son of poor 


parents to attend high school and university without paying a penny 
in fees or having to "work his way through." Consequently the 
professions, the public services, and the technical or administrative 
jobs in industry, commerce, and finance contain an increasing num- 
ber of men whose fathers were artisans, small shopkeepers, or "lower 
middle class" white-collar workers. Britain is far more a land of 
equal opportunity than it was forty years ago. Yet there is little 

prospect that more than a few wage and salary earners will ever 
be other than what they are. 

To them, therefore, the vital question has always been : How can 
I improve my welfare inside my class and my job? Two answers 
were possible. In die first place wage earners might band together 
and through their labor organizations strive to protect and improve 
their working conditions and standard of living. In the second 
place, those who were unable to organize — children, young persons, 
women, and unskilled workers — could be protected and helped by 
the state. 

The results of more than a century of voluntary labor organiza- 


tion and of state interest in living and working conditions arc 
evident on every hand in Britain today. Labor organized in five 
main ways. The first was the trade union, which sought to protect 
and help the individual as wage earner. The second was the con- 
sumers' cooperative society which helped him as wage spender. The 
third was the friendly society — or sick club — which looked after 
him when he was ill or old and thus unable to earn wages. The 
fourth develojK'd facilities for workers' education. The fifth was the 
political movement, which sought to mobilize wage earners in sup- 
port of a labor party with its own distinctive program. Of the five, 
the first, second, and fifth call for further comment. 

Trade unionism first found its feet about 1850, grew steadily 
among skilled workers, and after 1890 spread to unskilled employ- 
ments, white-collar workers, and, in a less degree, to women workers. 
The total membership in 1939 was over 6,000,000. which is equiva- 
lent to 18,000,000 in the United States. The strength of the 
movement is well described by G. D. H. Cole as follows: "Wages 
and conditions in all the big industries are habitually settled by col- 
lective bargaining; and even the few big employers who refuse to 
recognize trade unionism commonly observe trade union rates. The 
right of the workers to organize and to bargain collectively is not a 
matter of dispute. Trade unionism is as much part of British indus- 
trialism as the joint stock company; and consultation of the unions 
by the government in all matters of labor policy is a well-established 
practice, whatever the complexion of the Ministry in power." Yet 
there is no legal compulsion on workers to join unions or on employ- 
ers to recognize them. Even during the present war there has been 
no attempt to limit the. operation of collective bargaining. Strikes 
and lockouts can still take place if negotiations break down. The 
government has provided arbitration machinery to which the dis- 
putants may submit their case if direct discussions fail; but there is 
no formula which limits the verdict the arbitrator can give or the 
wage increases he can grant. 

Consumers' cooperation celebrates its hundredth birthday in 1944. 
Its founders, a handful of Lancashire flannel weavers, started with 
a one-room store in a mean street, selling flour, butter, sugar, oat- 


meal, and candles to themselves, thus eliminating the retailer's 
profit. Similar groups in other towns and villages dug a few shillings 
out of their pockets to finance stores. Soon the movement spread 
from retailing to wholesale dealing, to manufacturing the goods the 
stores needed, to banking, a bit of farming and shipowning, and a 
lot of insurance. At every point the consumers provided the capital 
and received a fixed rate of interest on it; they managed the busi- 
ness democratically and received back in dividends on their pur- 
chases whatever surplus was left when operating costs and interest 
charges had been met. By 1939 over a thousand societies were at 
work, with nearly 8,500,000 members. Over half the British people 
bought much or all their food, clothing, furniture, fuel, comforts, 
and luxuries from the "co-op," and employed more than a quarter 
of a million persons to produce or distribute these goods under a 
system which retained interest but had done away with profit. 

The political labor movement is much younger, scarcely fifty 
years old. Any description of it must be prefaced by a brief account 
of the British political system. 

What about the British System of Government? 

If we were explaining our government to a Briton we might start 
off by handing him a copy of our Constitution. If he was doing the 
same for us, he could not start in that way, for the British have no 
such basic document. Their political system has been in the making 
for over a thousand years. During that time the methods of law- 
making, administration, justice, and tax collecting have taken shape 
and the relations between the government and the governed have 
been developed. Occasionally some dispute concerning those rela- 
tions or some friction between different parts of the political ma- 
chinery started a fierce political struggle. This might lead to civil 
war, to the execution or eviction of a monarch or minister; or it 
might end in nothing more serious than the writing down of rules 
to prevent the point at issue from causing a dispute in future. 
Hence there are bits of a written constitution, such as the Bill of 
Rights, habeas corpus, and a law defining the relations between 


the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Ye,t these laws 
could be repealed by Parliament if it wished to do so. For the rest, 
the constitution is unwritten; there is no comprehensive document, 
and no supreme court to prevent other parts of the government 
from doing things on the ground that they arc unconstitutional. 
But there are countless traditions and precedents and well-accepted 
understandings which bind — sometimes like a rubber band, some- 
times like a ring of steel. 

The political system of today is the result of five important his- 
torical developments. The first was the gradual emergence of 
Parliament as a tax-levying and lawmaking body, and the estab- 
lishment of its supremacy over the king and his ministers. The 
second was the development of the cabinet, as a committee of mem- 
bers of Parliament headed by the prime minister, entrusted with 
the task of running the affairs of the country, but subject always 
to the approval of its actions by Parliament. The third was the 
gradual widening of the franchise to allow the whole adult popu- 
lation, first male and more recently female, to vote for candidates 
for the House of Commons. The fourth was the recognition by 
the unelccted House of Lords of its subordination in legislative 
matters to the House of Commons. The fifth was the growth of 
strongly organized parties, with distinctive and permanent policies 
and with central and local machinery for getting out the votes and 
for keeping the party alive between elections. 

As a result of these developments, the House of Commons, nor- 
mally elected at intervals of not more than five years, virtually rules 
the country. Since 1911 the Lords may not alter or reject any 
measure passed by the Commons for raising or spending money. 
They can reject twice, in two successive sessions, any other bill; but 
if the Commons passes it a third time, the measure then goes to the 
king, who automatically assents to it as he does to all other bills, 
for he has no veto power. 

The House of Commons controls the administration. There arc 
more than twenty departments, and each has a minister as its politi- 
cal head. Most of the ministers are members of the cabinet. The 
prime minister picks them and presides over cabinet meetings. But 


1066-1100 ENGLAND 

England has been invaded 
in historic times by Ro- 
mans, Jules, Angles, Sax- 
ons, Danes, and Normans. 
The last invasion occurred 
in 1066 under William the 
Conqueror. He succeeded 
in bringing all England un- 
der his rule. 

1154-1189 COMMON 

In feudal society local bar- 
ons administered the law— 
pretty much as they 
pleased. Henry II appointed 
trained judges to apply the 
"king's justice" equally to 
all. The jury system was 
developed at Ihis lime, loo. 

King John had overridden 
the rights of the church, 
nobility, gentry, and towns- 
folk. All united to force 
his assent to Magna Carta. 
This great charter of lih- 
erly required the king to 
rule according to law. 


The Stuart kings thought that they were ahovc law and 
could levy taxes without the consent of Parliament. The 
struggle that ensued— part civil war and itart revolution — 
cost Charles I his head ami Janus II his throne. After the 
right of habeas corpus was established in I(i79 citizens 
could not be imprisoned without trial. In 16RK the Hill of 
Rights set forth the constitutional supremacy of Parliament 
over king. 


In 1K24 the so-called "Com- 
bination Laws?' of 1799 and 
1800 were repealed. These 
had made it illegal for 
workmen to unite for the 
purpose of improving their 
wages. BOUTS, and working 




Women over 30 were given 
the vote in 1 918. In !'>_'» 
the voting age for women 
was lowered to 21. Now 
every adult eiti/en in Hrit- 
ain has the vote and can 
help govern the country. 


Edward I said, "What 
touches ;ill must be ap- 
proved by all." So he called 
lordlier representatives of 
all classes with political 
rights to confer with hmi 
aliout making laws and 
levying taxes. 

1300-1400 PARLIAMENT 

Karly Parliaments met only 
to hear the king's wishes 
and to present grievances 
of the people. During this 
century the power of Par- 
liament grew by practice 
and precedent. 

1500-1600 CHURCH OF 
Jn the 15th and 16th cen* 
turies parts of Europe re- 
volted from the papacy. 
Kni. I. mil became Protestant 
with its^ own national and 
official Church of England. 
The pope was deniccf both 
influence in and revenue 
from England. 


Before 1S29 only members 
of the Church of England 
were allowed to vote, bold 
office, and the like. Since 
then these righls of citizen- 
ship have not .been limited 
because of religious belief. 


The Reform Bill of [832 
fixed new election districts 
by population. " Rotten bor- 
oughs" (ghost towns) lost 
their members of Parlia- 
ment to new factory cities 
which had nunc. Later bills 
gave the vole to all men. 

Power to veto lulls passed 
three times by the popu- 
larly elected House of Com- 
mons was denied to the 
hereditary Lords. Salaries 
provided for members of 
Commons allowed poor men 
to run for Parliament. 



he and they arc responsible to Parliament, especially to the Com- 
mons. All of them must be members of Parliament, most of them 
arc in the Commons, and it is now the rule that the prime minister 
must be a member of that House. The Commons controls the min- 
isters in three chief ways; by asking them questions for an hour 
each day when Parliament is in session, and by making trouble if 
the answers seem unsatisfactory; by refusing to grant all the money 
the cabinet asks for or to accept the tax proposals submitted to it 
by the chancellor of the exchequer if it does not like what the 
ministers have done or plan to do; and by drastically amending or 
even rejecting measures submitted for passage by the Commons. 
By any one of these three methods Parliament can voice its approval 
or disapproval of the ministry. Disapproval would force the cabinet 
either to resign in favor of another group of parliamentarians, or 
to ask the king to dissolve Parliament in order that a general elec- 
tion could decide between the ministry and its critics. 

Parliamentary control of the executive is thus the accepted theory 
of British government. But who controls Parliament? Here the 
party system exerts its influence. The real line of division is not 
between parts or branches of government, but between parties, poli- 
cies, programs, and personalities. The people choose the party they 
prefer; it has even been said that they choose the prime minister 
they prefer. The party which wins most seats dominates the Com- 
mons, and from its members the prime minister and most of the 
cabinet are chosen. The ministers and their departmental officials 
frame bills to carry out the party policy, and their supporters natu- 
rally vote for these measures, just as the minority party naturally 
opposes them. Some, perhaps most, of the supporters are yes men, 
who vote faithfully as required. Others may be more independent 
and critical; but they would not vote with the Opposition if such 
action meant the defeat of their own party, resignation of the cabi- 
net, or the wear and tear, cost, and uncertainty of a premature 
general election. Hence the party in power must support its cabinet, 
critically perhaps, but loyally. There must be give-and-take between 
the majority and the cabinet, but in general the cabinet's leader- 
ship and initiative must be accepted. In effect this results in cabinet 


control of the Commons, especially in time of crisis or emergency. 

The cabinet is thus the core of the system. The prime minister 
is the center of the core. His responsibilities, burdens, and power 
have become enormous in the recent decades of war and postwar 
dislocation. He has to be his party's mouthpiece at election time. 
He names and manages the cabinet. He has to be well informed 
on the main problems of the day and have a general idea about 
the minor ones. He has to keep the king informed of what is going 
on. Yet in addition he has to play the star role in the House of 
Commons — leading debates, meeting attacks, and planning strategy. 

To discharge these many duties as driving force and directing 
head, he must be a good debater, and be well-grounded in parlia- 
mentary procedure and methods. Wealth, good social connections, 
and education at a famous school and ancient university were once 
indispensable, but today humble birth is no bar and high birth no 
sure passport to the oflice. Of the nine prime ministers since 1900, 
five belonged to the industrial or business upper-middle class, and 
two were born in poor men's cottages. Only four had been to Ox- 
ford or Cambridge. Three entered the Commons in their mid- 
twenties, thus starting young on a political career. Nearly all held 
minor posts and then cabinet positions before becoming prime 
minister. Thus they served a long and varied apprenticeship in the 
House, in office and in Opposition, in the departments, and in the 
cabinet room at 10 Downing Street. For example, Mr. Churchill 
entered the House in 1900, when he was twenty-six years old. At 
one time or another he was in charge of colonial affairs, of home 
affairs, of foreign trade, the navy, munitions, the air force, and the 
exchequer. In the intervals he was an ordinary member and a far 
from tame one. At last, at the age of sixty-six, he became prime 
minister in the nation's darkest hour. 

Prime minister, cabinet, and Commons are the three most im- 
portant parts of the British constitution; but three other parts call 
for brief description. The first is the king. George VI is the forty- 
fifth person to sit on the throne in the last thousand years. During 
the last three or four centuries the royal power has been so whittled 
that only one important constitutional function remains. When a 


Changing the Guard 

Pageantry and ceremony 


at Buckingham Palace 

link the past with the present 


prime minister dies or resigns, the king picks his successor. Yet even 
that choice is usually automatic because, if the old government has 
been defeated, the leader of the Opposition is the inevitable suc- 
cessor and, if there is a general election, the leader of the party 
that wins it is obviously the people's choice, and the king must 
choose him. His other constitutional acts are all done on the advice 
of his ministers. He has "the right to be consulted, the right to 
encourage, the right to warn," and if he has accumulated knowl- 
edge, experience, and understanding by spending ninny years on 
the job he may be a valuable counselor and elder statesman. The 
ministers need not take his advice, since they are responsible to 
Parliament, not to him; but at least they may have to admit that 
his views are not likely to Ik- based on short-run party-political 

As the king has lost his old power he has found other tasks to 
fulfill. The occasional displays of pageantry and ceremony link the 
past with the present, much ;is does our own ritual on Thanksgiving 
Day, Inauguration Day, or the Fourth of July. They satisfy that 
love of a parade, of gorgeous colors and ordered movement, that 
plays a part in religious worship, in graduation exercises, or in the 
conventions of some fraternal orders. Their central figure embodies 
the unity of the nation in a person, rather than in a flag. The king 
can be patron of philanthropic, intellectual, or social-service organi- 
zations, tour the Empire, lay foundation stones, go to the big races 
or football matches, visit bombed areas or battle fronts, and at every 
point serve as a tic to bind a nation together as no elected person 
could ever do. 

That tie binds more than Great Britain. When the leading Brit- 
ish colonies reached the status of self-governing dominions, the 
only constitutional link that bound them and Great Britain to- 
gether was the fact that they were "united by a common allegiance 
to the crown, and Freely associated as members of the British Com- 
monwealth of Nations." The same man was king of the United 
Kingdom, king of Canada, king of Australia, and so on. Further, 
he was the same sort of constitutional monarch in every capital, 
acting on the advice of his local ministers who in turn were rc- 


sponsible to their local legislatures. As a distinguished Canadian 
said recently, "We went to war as a free people of our own free 
will, fighting for freedom. King George the Sixth of England did 
not ask us to declare war for him. We asked King George the 
Sixth of Canada to declare war for us." No British prime minister 
could serve as such a bond between the dominions. Australians 
and Canadians have often disliked intensely the policies and leader 
of the party in power in London. If there has to lx; a head accept- 
able to all and above party politics, there is none so serviceable as a 

Most Britons would stoutly defend the monarchy so long as the 
king docs his job well. Attempts to advocate republicanism have 
always failed because there did not seem to be anything to be 
gained by the change. But they would be hard pressed to make 
out a strong case for that other ancient institution, the House of 
Lords. This House is as old as the Commons, and the two have 
grown up side by side. They began as tax-granting bodies; the big 
landlords and high clergymen met in one group to consider how 
much they could afford to give the king out of their own pockets; 
the representatives of the smaller landlords and of »hc townsmen 
met in another group to decide how much they were willing to 
promise the king out of the pockets of the folk hack home. This 
separate deliberation continued when Parliament developed into a 
lawmaking body. 

About 750 peers are entitled to sit in the House of Lords; but 
the attendance rarely reaches a hundred. Some of the peers are 
bishops or archbishops, but over 700 of them hold hereditary titles. 
Few of these are very old; only 50 go back more than 250 years. 


The rest are less than a century old, and nearly half of them have 
been conferred since 1906. Some men were given their titles — lord, 
duke, or whatever it might be — for services rendered the state as 
admirals, generals, administrators, or statesmen; but often the serv- 
ice had been rendered to the party or to the party campaign chest. 
After the last war this sale of titles became a glaring scandal, and 
since that time awards have more frequently been made as a recog- 
nition of outstanding success in business, industry, public service, 
intellectual achievement, generous philanthropy, and the arts. Con- 
sequently the peerage is no longer chiefly a collection of descend- 
ants of landed aristocrats; it is far more a body of men who have 
done well for themselves, for the state, or for mankind. Behind a 
lordly title there probably lurks a businessman, a banker, or a 
brewer; but there may be an eminent surgeon, musician, economist, 
or even a labor leader. 

The tone of the House of Lords is likely to be aristocratic and 
plutocratic, and its politics Conservative. Early in the present cen- 
tury it rejected Liberal proposals for increasing the taxes on the 
rich in order to finance social reforms. This combination of party 
politics and self-defense led to the clipping of the Lords' wings so 
far as vetoing legislation was concerned. Yet it would be wrong 
to think of the House of Lords as nothing more man a home of 
deep-dyed reactionaries. It has frequently displayed real statesman- 
ship, independence and liberality of thought. Its members have no 
voters back home to please, can therefore say what they think, and 
some of them do think hard and well. At times they have been 
guardians of personal liberty when the Commons had been panicked 
into rash or vindictive measures. Consequently, while no one is 
satisfied with the House of Lords as it is today, the British cannot 
agree on what to do about it. Many would hesitate to entrust 
their welfare solely to cabinet and Commons. But no one knows 
what a perfect second chamber should be like, and the House of 
Lords therefore continues to meet, to carry on its business in a 
leisurely manner "not unlike that of a well-conducted funeral," and 
as W. S. Gilbert once said, to do nothing in particular but to do it 
very well. 


Finally, there is the civil service, that body of public employees 
of many ranks and classes which carries out the work of govern- 
ment. In the last forty years the British government, like our own, 
has greatly increased the number of things it does, either as a result 
of popular demand or under the pressure of events. Consequently 
the civil service has grown in size, importance, and power. Less 
than a hundred years ago the service was run on the spoils system, 
and was notorious for incompetence, ignorance, and red tape. Then 
the mess began to be cleaned up. A civil service commission set 
out to hunt for the best young brains available, to pick men by 
stiff competitive examinations out of the graduating classes at the 
universities, to set up fixed salary scales with regular raises, to offer 
security of tenure subject to good behavior, and generally to make 
the service attractive to well-qualified men. The result was that 
gradually the state secured a band of honest and able officials. No 
matter what party came into power they stayed on at their posts. 
Those in the higher ranks wielded great influence as aids to their 
political chieftains, especially since a new minister had to be taught 
his business by his permanent heads. It is sometimes said of them 
that they arc unadventurous and unimaginative, because of their 
dislike of parliamentary criticism and their desire to play safe. But 
few have questioned their combination of extraordinary high intelli- 
gence, competence, and character; and these qualities arc more 
precious than lighthearted enthusiasm for new stunts. 

Parties and Policies 

The two chief British parties today arc Conservative and Labor. 
A quarter of a century ago they were Conservative and Liberal, 
with Labor as a new challenger but not yet strong enough to seem 
a serious threat to the old parties. The party names tell a little 
about the policies. The Conservatives wanted to conserve their 
economic, political, and social vested interests, rights, and privi- 
leges, to look after the landlords, the church, and the Empire, and 
generally to resist as long as possible any change which might hurt 
them. But as the manufacturing and commercial classes grew 


strong, and as the middle class, wage earners, and villagers gained 
the vote, some of the "new rich" were welcomed into the Conserva- 
tive fold, while the party had to advocate popular measures if it 
wished to get enough votes to win or keep power. Hence important 
social or economic reforms were carried through by Conservative 
governments because they believed in them, because events made 
them necessary, or as a device for "dishing the Liberals." 

The Liberals included some landowners, hut represented rather 
the new industrial and commercial classes. They wanted liberty; 
they believed that men should be liberated from old restraints on 
their free development — free trade, freedom for the colonies, home 
rule for Ireland, and so on; but when freedom seemed to produce 
bad results they were willing to impose restraints to protect the 
sufferers. They were opposed to the old privileges of the church, 
the landlords, and to the power of the House of Lords. They were 
for peace, retrenchment, reform, and low taxes. But early in the 
present century they embarked on a program of social security, old- 
age pensions, etc., to be paid for partly by higher taxes on land 
and incomes. They did this partly because they believed in it, and 
partly to "dish Labor." 

These two old parties ran Britain politically, economically, and 
socially. The richer families formed a privileged section of society, 
which filled the good private schools and old universities, the diplo- 
matic services, the judiciary, the naval and military high posts, the 
colonial administration, the Lords and Commons, and "high so- 
ciety." Much of this class domination had always been there; there 
was nothing new about it, except that some people were beginning 
to doubt whether the "right people" should enjoy the thick end of 
such an unequal distribution of wealth, power, and opportunity. 

After 1900 the Labor Party arrived on the scene. It was the child 
of two parents, as is usual. In the first place some wage earners 
decided that their interests would never be adequately cared for 
by the old parties. In the second place new ideas about social bet- 
terment were floating around and conditions which had existed for 
decades or centuries were now being regarded as shameful. Here 
in the heart of a great empire there were widespread poverty, low 


wages, overlong hours, slums, ill health, malnutrition, inadequate 
education, acute misery. All this in spite of countless beneficial laws 
and widespread voluntary organization. The cure, said some men, 
was not in passing more reform laws, though these might help to 
case the situation. The real cure was socialism, a new economic 
order in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange 
would be owned by the state and worked for the benefit of all rather 
than the profit of a few. These reforms and this ultimate revolu- 
tion were to be brought about by building up a labor party, which 
might eventually be strong enough to form a cabinet and pass the 
necessary laws to "nationalize" whatever branches of enterprise 
seemed best suited for the change. 

So the Labor Party was born. Its main strength and much of 
its funds were provided by the trade unions, as were most of its 
candidates. It won a few seats before 1914, but at the end of the 
war it made a bold appeal to all "workers by hand or by brain," 
and attracted much wider support from salaried and professional 
people. In its growth it weakened the Liberals, for some joined 
Labor but others went Conservative. Twice it held office, in 1924 
and m 1929 31; but it did not have an absolute majority in the 
House of Commons, and had to rely on the support of the small 
Liberal Party. In 1931, when a terrible financial blizzard hit Brit- 
ain, the party split on the policies necessary to cope with the crisis. 
Some of the leaders joined hands with the Conservatives and Lib- 
erals to form a "National" government. Most of the Labor mem- 
bers remained loyal to their party and functioned as the Opposition. 

This government appealed to the people in a general election, 
and was returned with an overwhelming majority. The Conserva- 
tives soon dominated the coalition, and through the thirties they 
were in virtual control of the country, with Labor as the Opposi- 
tion. When however Mr. Churchill became prime minister in 
May 1940, he invited the Labor Party to join hands with him, to 
allow some of its leaders to enter a coalition cabinet, and generally 
to help in running the war. Labor said "Yes" unanimously, and 
since 1940 has shouldered its share of the task, with one man as 
deputy prime minister, others in the war cabinet and in charge of 










This chart records the growth of slate plans for social security 
in the last forty years. What was at first a limited plan to care 
for the destitute out of taxes gradually spread to cover most people 
from the risk of lack of income !>ecause of sickness, unemployment. 






SCHEME 1925 




or old age. Tt became a vast insurance scheme to which workers paid 
weekly contributions while they were well and busy, and to which 
employers and the state also made contributions. The Bevcridge Re- 
port of 1942 recommends still further extensions of such insurance. 


very important departments. Parliamentary criticism of the cabinet 
is not silenced, but it is no longer party criticism. In spite of provo- 
cation, the Labor Party has faithfully kept the truce it entered into 
in the days before Dunkirk. 

This united front has been possible not merely because a grave 
emergency called for it, but also because British party divisions do 
not cut as deep as they seem to do. Labor has had no chance to 
see if it could turn any part of its public ownership program into 
reality. Yet the Conservative Party, which has been in power for 
most of the last two decades, and which is professedly antisocialist 
when it talks of social theories, has taken Britain at least four steps 
along the road toward public enterprise. It organized radio as a 
state service in the British Broadcasting Corporation, financed by a 
small annual license fee paid by the owner of each radio set, rather 
than by selling time to advertisers. It reorganized the making of 
electricity by establishing a board which built a scries of super- 

power stations and distributed cheap electricity to every part of the 
country. It took over the jumble of busses, streetcars, and subways 
that served Greater London, and put them in the hands of a public 
transport board. It nationalized coal deposits as a prelude to reor- 
ganizing the mining industry. 

Some of these steps look like socialism; in fact the London trans- 
port plan was prepared by a socialist minister when Labor was in 


power, and was put through by his Conservative successor. But they 
were not taken because they fitted into any abstract theory of enter- 
prise, private or public. Such questions as "Is it constitutional?" 
or "Is it socialistic?" are less important to the British than the query 
"Is it necessary, is it desirable, and will it work?" In a country 
which has long had publicly owned streetcars, gaslight, electricity, 
telegraph, and telephone, and which in 1936 established a long- 
distance phone call service from any part of the country to any 
other for twenty-five cents after 7:00 p.m., there is no philosophical 
or "natural" objection to state action if the results promise to be 
satisfactory and if existing interests are fairly compensated for any 
injury that may be done them. 

As in the past, so it is likely to be in the future. In the postwar 
years no matter w r hich party is in power, the plans for reconstruc- 
tion will probably contain much government aid to private enter- 
prise and much government enterprise as well. But if the state 
nationalizes the land, the banks, or the railroads, it will not do so 
because it has become converted by the socialist arguments of the 
Labor Party intellectuals, but because the step seems to be a neces- 
sary method of promoting the country's welfare. 

In domestic politics, therefore, parties differ in their views as to 
the expediency of a proposal and of the methods to be used, rather 
than in their fundamental aims. In imperial affairs the same is 
largely true. The British people in general give little thought to 
their Empire. Visitors to England from the dominions are so dis- 
mayed by this lack of knowledge and interest that they ask them- 
selves (a) How did the British ever put an empire together? and 
(b) How do they keep it together? Those who do think about the 
matter will readily admit that there arc dark chapters in the impe- 
rial story, but they will insist that at least they are no darker than 
the chapters telling how other people have handled black, brown, 
or redskinned races. They may remind us that if the British had 
not taken a particular area some other nation would have done so, 
and that historically it was not a matter of free and independent 
India versus British India, but of British India rather than French, 
Dutch, Portuguese, or even Russian India. They will point with 


pride to the developments which turned colonies into dominions, 
which have already transferred the greater part of Indian rule to 
the peoples of that peninsula, and will transfer the remainder when 
those peoples can agree on methods of using it. They will remind 
us that any picture of crude exploitation of natives has been out of 
date for at least half a century. And if they know much of our 
history, they may ask if our own hands are spotlessly clean. 

Imperial policy has largely been in the hands of the two older 
parties. The Liberals were much more favorable to colonial self- 
government than were the Conservatives; the latter were keener on 
plans for tightening imperial ties than in what seemed like loosen- 
ing them, and they bitterly opposed the granting of home rule to 
Ireland. Yet it was a Conservative prime minister who handed over 
to Eire three Irish naval bases, thereby seriously weakening the 
ability of the British fleet to fight the Battle of the Atlantic when 
war came. As for Labor, it approves self-government wherever pos- 
sible, and the recognition that Britain must serve solely as a trustee 
for the welfare of natives in regions not yet ready to rule them- 
selves. In short, no party is imperialist in any conceivable old- 
fashioned sense of that word; but no party would passively watch 
any part of the Empire pass into the hands of any other people 
than those who inhabit it, or would turn them adrift to sink or 

In foreign affairs the differences between party views have also 
been relatively small, until the Labor Party began to try out some 
of its ideas in the 1920's. A change in government from Liberal 
to Conservative brought little alteration in foreign policy. There 
were three basic needs that must guide any party in protecting the 
nation's vital interests: (1) Britain must guard its home base, the 


British Isles, against any attack, especially from across the Straits of 
Dover or the southern part of the North Sea. If a strong power held 
the other side of the Straits, Belgium, or the mouth of the Scheldt, 
it could hold a pistol at the head of England; and if any such 
power dominated the Continent, especially the western half, it 
might menace the British Isles. British policy therefore had to be 
watchful of France in the centuries when France was powerful. It 
had to guarantee the neutrality of Belgium, and take notice of 
Germany when that nation grew strong and built a large navy. 
(2) Britain must protect its overseas Empire. (3) It had to defend 
the lanes of sea communication with the Empire and with foreign 

These three lines of policy could easily and cheaply be pursued 
from the days when France ceased to be a menace till the time 
when Germany became one. A modest navy was all that was re- 
quired; the army could be small, and conscription was unnecessary. 
If any power threatened to become dangerously strong, Britain 
might throw its weight behind states that were endangered, and 
thus restore the balance of power. But this would be the limit of 
its willingness to play a part in Continental affairs. If we were 
isolationists, the British were limitationists. They would not tie their 
hands in any entangling alliances, but act only if their three inter- 
ests were threatened. 

All three were threatened when Germany rose as a power seek- 
ing to dominate the land mass of Europe and to challenge Britain's 
sea lanes as well. The British were slow to realize the new danger 
before the first World War, but once awake they did an amazing 
job. A country which began with an army of 250,000 regulars and 
250,000 spare-time volunteers eventually put 6,000,000 men in uni- 
form, while carrying most of the naval burden, making mountains 
of munitions, and financing a large part of her Allies' efforts. 

At the end of the first World War a million of the Empire's 
soldiers were dead, the export-import economy was badly damaged, 
and a national debt of $40,000,000,000 rested on Britain's shoulders. 
The country's three vital interests seemed to have been made se- 
cure again, and perhaps any future difficulties might be dealt with 


by the League of Nations. Many Britons, especially Liberals and 
Laboritcs, were enthusiastic supporters of the League. They be- 
lieved as much as we did that aggressors would in future be re- 
strained by signing pacts to "outlaw" war, by respect for treaty 
pledges, by membership in the League, and by fear of the public 
opinion of the rest of the world, especially if that opinion was voiced 
through the League and supported by some joint economic boycott 
of the offender. 

Britain and the Aggressors 

During the 1930's the world learned that aggressors care little for 
world opinion or for slaps on trie wrist. When the League and we 
ourselves scolded Japan for invading Manchuria, Japan simply 
walked out of the League and went on walking into China. This 
lesson was well learned by Germany and Italy and gave them the 
green light. Year after year they gathered speed. Italy invaded 
Ethiopia. Germany rearmed in defiance of her pledges and treaty 
obligations. Germany and Italy helped the rebels in the Spanish 
War. Germany annexed Czechoslovakia and Austria, Italy grabbed 
Albania, and Germany took Memel and finally set out to swallow 
Poland. And all the time Britain and France let them "get away" 
with plan after plan, while we publicly cried "Why doesn't some- 
body do something?" and wrapped ourselves round in neutrality 
acts. When at last the British and French and then the United 
States decided that the aggressors must be halted, we were taking 
on the job of stopping cars which were well tuned up, had plenty 
of gas, and were moving at a fast pace. The wonder is not that 
we were hit hard, but rather that we were not killed. 

It is still too early to know fully why the British acted (or 
inacted) as they did. At every step in the aggressors' advance. 
Liberals, Laboritcs, and even Conservatives demanded that their 
government take action to stop them, usually through the League. 
But they spoke as if they believed that words would be enough — 
and strong words arc wasted breath unless you are willing to back 
them up with deeds. The deeds may be only an economic and 


general boycott, but a boycott is a use of force to compel another 
nation to change its course of action, and it may be met with coun- 
tcrforcc, leading to shooting, and so a war begins. Further, a boy- 
cott is not likely to be effective unless everybody is in it against the 
aggressor, and at no time was there enough unity among the large 
nations, or between the League and the United States, to make a 
complete boycott possible. Our own laws, for example, did not 
permit an embargo on oil shipments to Italy in Ethiopia. 

Hence the British might well plead that League action against 
Japan and Italy would have to be enforced largely by the British 
navy, and that in doing that job it might have to start fighting, or 
at least might have to stop ships which were taking goods to the 
aggressor. And the British navy was not as strong as it had been, 
especially in comparison to other navies. It is generally agreed that 
a nation's foreign policy must be related to its military policy — 
and vice versa. That is, there must be a reasonably close balance 
between the foreign political commitments a nation is obligated to 
fulfill and the military force available to it for carrying them out. 
Thus, if a nation proposes to police the world's oceans, it must have 
a large navy; if it sets out to protect the boundaries of every small 
country, a tremendous army and air force are called for. Con- 
versely, if a nation lacks the requisite strength, it had better not 
undertake too much responsibility outside its own borders. 

The British in the 1930's did not have enough strength to take 
on the aggressors, even if they had been fully disposed to do so. 
The army was back to its old small size, the navy had been weak- 
ened, and the air force was good but probably far weaker than the 
one the Germans had secretly been building. Britain was slowly 
recovering from the combined effects of World War I and of the 
great depression, and was taxed up to the hilt. Its people had no 
desire to go fighting again, and many of those who insisted that 
.something be done to the peace-disturbers were vigorous oppo- 
nents of expenditure on armaments. There was a widespread 
pacifism in the land, and young men were solemnly announcing in 
their debating societies that under no circumstances would they 
fight for king and country. 


This attitude was not merely part of the general disillusionment 
after die previous war; it was part of a troubled conscience. The 
British had persuaded themselves, or had let themselves be per- 
suaded, that they treated Germany very shabbily in the Treaty of 
Versailles. Their love of sportsmanship made them feel that there 
were parts of that treaty which looked too much like kicking a man 
when lie was down, hitting him below the belt, or were just "not 
cricket." Hence they were not disposed to fight to prevent Germany 
from amending those parts of the treaty which they knew to be 
indefensible if there was any other way of doing the job; and the 
Nazis knew the British well enough to exploit that attitude to the 
limit. The British also knew that you cannot permanently keep 
down a nation of nearly 70,000.000 energetic industrious people, 
and that you ought not to try. Better meet their legitimate griev- 
ances and welcome them back into the family of European nations 
as a partner, as a balance against the expanded might of France, 
and as a possible barrier against Communist Russia. Then if Brit- 
ain, France, Germany, and Italy could reach agreement, iron out 
their differences and remove causes for complaint, the peace of 
Europe might be maintained by their joint strength and their com- 
mon purpose. 

British Conservative policy in the thirties was therefore dominated 
by these two considerations: first, that the country was not strong 
enough to serve as policeman extraordinary for the world, or to 
go running round like a knight-errant rescuing damsels in distress 
everywhere; and second, that she was willing to let Germany cor- 
rect the more glaring "mistakes" of Versailles on the assumption 
that when these grievances had been removed Germany would be 
"satisfied" to become a "good European." Unfortunately the British 
misread their Germany; or rather they read Hitler's book Mein 
Kampf only in an English translation, from which all the frighten- 
ing parts had been omitted. Hence it was possible for them to 
agree that there was nothing they could do to prevent Hitler from 
taking Austria, and that since Austrians were of German stock per- 
haps the union, although a shotgun wedding, was desirable. It was 
possible to accept the transfer of the Sudeten Germans from Czccho- 


Slovakia to the Reich, since they were Germans; the Sudetens and the 
Czechs would never get on well together, so it was best to let them 
be separated. And when Hitler said he had no further territorial 
ambitions in Europe, perhaps he meant what he said. 

When, in March 1939, Hitler grabbed the rest of Czechoslovakia 
and showed that he did not mean what he had said, the scales fell 
quickly from British eyes, as did the mask from Hitler's face. There 
was little time to make up for the years of appeasement and of 
misplaced confidence; but there was no lack of courage in facing 
the inevitable. Poland, the next victim on Hitler's list, was given 
a pledge of support, a treaty of alliance was signed with Turkey, 
while Greece and Romania were promised help if attacked. 

A great heap of heavy commitments was thus shouldered, and a 
frantic attempt had to be made to gain the strength necessary 
for carrying them. Conscription was introduced, rearmament was 
speeded up, closer relations were established with France, and an 
attempt was made at long last to reach a defensive pact with Russia. 
But Hitler beat the British at Moscow by promising to leave the 
Russians alone and to let them take territory on their western bor- 
der. Meanwhile we turned a cold shoulder on Britain and France 
by reaffirming our intention to sell no munitions to them. There 
were many in France who were convinced that the great days of 
France were over, and that it had therefore better climb on the Ger- 
man band wagon and go along with its big neighbor next door. If 
ever the odds were stacked in favor of a country, they were in Ger- 
many's favor in September 1939. If ever a nation seemed in a 
hopeless position, Britain seemed so in that same month. The fact 
that she did not flinch is the measure of her quality. 


To the Leader 


This G. I. Round table pamphlet is intended to help you as a 
leader of off-duty forums or discussions. It contains in compressed 
and readable form much information about British political, eco- 
nomic, and social institutions. Discussions of the fundamental simi- 
larities and the obvious differences between our two peoples can be 
a great force in bringing about mutual understanding between us. 

The material in this manual is so arranged that you can develop 
more than one meeting from it. There are suggested below cer- 
tain main lines of inquiry together with subsidiary questions which 
you may wish to have considered under each. While it is possible 
that you may have time in your program for only one discussion on 
the subject, you would do well if it is practicable to plan a series 
of meetings on it. In carrying out the latter plan you may desire to 
select one of the major lines of inquiry for each meeting in the 


series. If you have time for only one meeting, you should limit the 
single session to the one major area which seems to offer the most 
fruitful results for your particular study group. 

(1) What are some specific things about Britain and the British 
that Americans may not understand? — Breakdown questions: Are 
there differences between us and the British that arc difficult for 
us to explain? How many of these are superficial differences in 
manners and customs? How many are differences based on an un- 
familiar social or political point of view? How may the observed 
differences be explained? By climate? By geographical location? 
By education? By differing traditions? By the length and character 
of British history? By crowded conditions of living? Are there 
similar points of misunderstanding between Americans from dif- 
ferent parts of the United States? How do we reconcile such differ- 
ences so as to maintain national unity? In trying to understand 
the British is there something we can learn from sectional differ- 
ences in the United States? Have you noticed that there are things 
about America and Americans that the British fail to understand? 
Do you think that such things should be serious obstacles to friendly 
understanding between our two peoples? Are there strong similari- 
ties between the customs and ideals of the British and our own? 
Would you say that the differences or the similarities are more im- 
portant? Why? 

(2) Are the conditions of living and the economic activities of 
the British similar to ours? — Breakdown questions: Can Britain 
be called a "crowded country"? Do the British earn their livings 
in the same way as Americans? Is Britain agriculturally self- 
sufficient? Why have manufacturing and trade been important 
British pursuits? Do the British have a protective tariff system simi- 
lar to ours? Is it true that the British believe in "free trade"? 
Does British prosperity depend more on foreign trade than ours 
does? Are British industry and science as efficient and ingenious as 
our own ? 

(3) What are British social institutions like? — Breakdown ques- 
tions: Does the British landlord system fit modern conditions in 
British agriculture? Is it in process of change? Is there anything 


in our system of operating farms that is similar to this pattern of 
rural life? Is British urban, industrial, and commercial life similar 
to ours? Is it more difficult for an individual Briton to improve 
himself than it is for an American? Does British organized labor 
hold a stronger position than American labor does? Why? How 
important are cooperatives in British life? To what extent is the 
titled aristocracy a legacy of the past? Is there any comparable 
group in the United States? 

(4) What about the British system of government ? — Breakdown 
questions: How can the British get along without a constitution? 
If the House of Commons virtually rules the country, is it reason- 
able for the British to have their king and House of Lords? Is the 
British cabinet system different from our method of administering 
our government? Is this system more or less democratic than ours? 
Which system reacts more quickly to a change in public opinion? 
Do you think civil service employees have greater influence on 
government policies in the United States or in Britain? Is the 
British Commonwealth something different from the British Em- 
pire? Are the British conservative, socialistic, or practical in their 
attitude toward social reforms? Why did the British government 
let the Nazis get away with so much before declaring war? In their 
attitude toward the Nazis before 1939 were they different from us? 

The four areas above have been broken down in the main by 
questions that are informational rather than controversial in type. 
The following questions may be used to develop discussion of the 
latter type: 

Should we continue close collaboration with the British after the 
war? — Suggested breakdown questions: Is the character of the 
British people such that Americans can easily reach an understand- 
ing with them? Does British dependence upon foreign trade mean 
that economically they must compete rather than collaborate with 
us? In particular, is British trade with Latin America a possible 
source of friction? Should we deal directly with the dominions or 
with the Commonwealth as a whole on economic problems? Is our 
attitude toward the place of smaller nations after the war essen- 
tially the same as that of the British? Should Britons and Amcri- 


cans cooperate in the postwar development of international air 
transportation? Is the British attitude toward provisions for social 
security similar to ours? Have they more acute problems of un- 
employment and dependency to face in the postwar period than we 

Types of discussion: If you have a small group, a well-conducted 
series of informal discussions is the best plan. If your group num- 
bers forty or fifty or more members, use panel discussion or forum 
type meetings. For a sizable audience a discussion by a panel has 
many of the advantages of informal discussion. If you choose to 
set up a series of forum meetings, be sure to have a speaker or 
speakers who arc experts on Britain and who can hold an audience 

Assuming that you present the question "Do you know the Brit- 
ish?" before a series of informal meetings, you will find it helpful 
to appoint at least one assistant leader for each meeting. He should 
be prepared, either in a five-minute talk or in the course of the 
discussion, to supply data that are necessary for intelligent consid- 
eration by the group. Locate for this job a man who knows Britain 
and the British. 

Start the discussion off yourself by some question like: 

Is the United States socially more democratic than Britain? 

Is it harder to make a living in Britain than in the United States? 

Has the prime minister more or less power in his country than 
the president has in ours? Is the British responsible cabinet system 
more democratic than our system of separating executive from 
legislative authority? 

Techniques for organizing and conducting all of the suggested 
types of discussion are outlined in EM 1, G. /. Roundtable: Guide 
for Discussion Leaders, a numbered Education Manual published 
in the same form as this pamphlet. This guide should be in the 
hands of every leader of discussion in the Army. 

Charts. Make full use of the illustrations in this manual. They 
will help you get the facts across. Reproduce the diagrams in a 
size large enough for easy reading from the back of the meeting 


room. The reproductions will be effective even if they arc crudely 
done. Fasten them to a handy wall, blackboard, or other stand. 

Reading by group members. Make a copy or two of this manual 
available for reading in the library or other reading center. The 
information about Britain possessed by members of your group is 
likely to be spotty and incomplete. Some individuals will have spe- 
cific prejudices toward things and persons British. Not many will 
have even a reasonably complete set of facts about these Allies of 
ours. So reading by the members will start your discussion off on a 
sounder basis. 

Suggestions for Further Reading on Great Britain 

These books are suggested for supplementary reading if it so 
happens that you have access to them. They are not approved nor 
officially supplied by the War Department. They have been se- 
lected because they give additional information and represent dif- 
ferent points of view. 

No. 24 of the Headline Books, published by the Foreign Policy 
Association, 22 East 38th Street, New York, N. Y. (1940) . 

THE ENIGMA OF THE BRITISH. By Harold Callender. No. 21 
of America in a World at War, published by the Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1 14 Fifth Avenue, New York. N. Y. ( 1942) . 

Published by the Oxford University Press, 114 Fifth Avenue, 
New York, N. Y. (1942). 

TURE. By Walter S. Hinchman. Published by Little, Brown 
and Company, 34 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass. (1941). 

WHY BRITAIN FIGHTS. By Richard H. Tawney. No. 13 of 
Macmillan War Pamphlets, published by Macmillan and Com- 
pany, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York II, N. Y. ( 1941 ). 


Published by the British Information Services, 30 Rockefeller 
Plaza, New York, N. Y. (1943). 

Allan Ncvias. Published by \V. W. Norton and Company, 70 
Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. (1943). 

VEY. Eleven essays (also available as separate booklets in which 
form they were originally published), published for The British 
Council by Longmans Green and Company, 55 Fifth Avenue, 
New York, N. Y. (1941). 

BRITAIN'S BALANCE SHEET. Two articles by John Davenport, 
in Fortune, November and December 1943. 

Published by Penguin Books, Inc., 245 Fifth Avenue, New York, 
N. Y. (1943). 

An article by Howard P. Whidden, Jr., in Foreign Policy Reports, 
vol. 19, December 15, 1943, published by the Foreign Policy 
Association, 22 East 38th Street, New York, N. Y. 

THE BEVERIDGE PLAN. By S. Stewart Maxwell. No. 79 of 
Public Affairs Pamphlets, published by Public Affairs Commit- 
tee, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N. Y. (1943). 


Trcvclyan. Published by Longmans Green and Company, 55 
Fifth Avenue. New York. N. Y. H943). 

O.t. 6G¥lfl*l*£Nf FW!MI!N<". OffKf -1B4S 

Fur sulc by tin- Kuporlnlemli'iit of I loriniiriils, IJ. S. (iiivrriiiiu-iil Printing Office 

Washington 25, D. C. 


The time will come when 
thou shalt lift thine eyes 

To watch a long-drawn 
battle in the skies.