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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 8, No. 2 (Summer 1941)

From social theory, where it figured ominously in the last few decades, increasingly displacing the social contract as a theory of the origin of the state, conquest has moved into the headlines of the newspapers. It is not the conquest of some faraway country in Africa or Asia, but rather the conquest by one European power of other European powers. To be sure, instances of conquest were not altogether unknown even to the nineteenth century, but its methods had become humanized in that most gentle period of European history, as had war in general and its termination. Therefore, if we desire to understand what is going on today in the European countries which have come under Hitler’s rule in the last few years, we have to turn back to the records of conquest undertaken in infinitely less humane periods of history.

It may be in order to recall that prices do not rise like temperature. Prices are written up by men. If this is made a criminal offense and conspicuously punished, prices will not rise. We know that the totalitarian countries have proceeded along this principle, but we also know that such an enforced price stability does not mean that the problem of inflation is solved. If we continue to sell shoes for $4 a pair, but have shoes for only half of the prospective buyers, the other half of the buyers will go without shoes but will also keep their purchasing power. Outlawing price rises does not exclude this hidden inflation, which might become even more disturbing than price rises. Stables prices of great value only if at the time the demand for commodities does not outrun the supply. This is really the problem -- to keep the aggregate demand low enough that it does not exceed the commodity supply multiplied by its old price level. So far totalitarian countries have failed to show that this can be done by a single law.

There is now but little more than another decade before the end of the second century of Japanese-western contact, and the unbiased foreign observer who is willing to learn the lessons of history cannot afford to overlook the strong tendencies which are now at work, not--as is generally assumed within and without Japan--to establish the island empire of the Far East as one of the great world powers of the twentieth century, but to throw Japan back into another seclusion. This is not meant to be a prophecy, but it is set forth as a plausible possibility based on a conviction that in following contemporary Japanese developments it is necessary to observe their sequence and to discard false and misleading western analogies and idle catchwords.

Housing has entered a new stage. A new demand for construction emerges mainly from the neighborhood of defense areas or of manufacturing plants operating for defense purposes, and the need is urgent because any retardation in the housing of workers impedes a quick expansion of defense production. In confronting this new task two questions arise. First, are the building and the building materials industries in their present shape able to cope with this new demand without being forced to disrupt normal housing business? And second, would it be better to defer normal housing until after the emergency, in order to avoid an amassment of demand for materials, labor and credit?

The downfall of the French republic, which gives rise now to much the same kind of contemplative wonder as the collapse of the Roman empire aroused in writers of the eighteenth century, has been explained so far by three theories. The first theory proclaims that France was betrayed, sold down the river, by her leaders; the second that the French people lacked the moral cohesion and vitality necessary for self-defense. The third theory asserts that the downfall was the result of the failure of the democratic system. But each of these theories stresses only a partial aspect, and none of them alone can account for France’s fall.

On September 25, 1939, in the fourth week of the war, the German censorship authorities in 'the Protectorate' issued to the editors of the Czech newspapers a strictly confidential document of some twenty typewritten pages, which had to be returned after circulation under penalty of disciplinary proceedings. The summary published here was made at that time. It comes from a source which guarantees its authenticity, but which cannot be disclosed at present.

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