The opening of the academic year has been so frequently the occasion of violent disorders in the universities that they have almost come to be regarded as normal and have ceased to attract that reprobation which they undoubtedly deserve, the organ of the International Students’ Service which appears here writes in its editorial in the current month’s issue over the signature of James Parkes. This year far from being an exception, he says, has seen serious trouble in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Roumania, disorders beginning from student groups in which several persons have lost their lives and several hundred have been injured.
The cause underlying these disorders is two-fold. The deepest is undoubtedly the prevailing political chaos of the Continent, the uncertainty of the validity of all ideas, the discontent with existing circumstances, which lends violence a meretricious halo of imaginary heroism. Some students in Vienna, threatened by the Rector with a semester’s suspension, replied that their comrades in the war had to face a longer suspension than that, and seemed to consider the answer not only relevant but noble.
Some among the National Socialists of Germany, the National Democrats of Poland, and the Iron Guard of Roumania seem to think that there is something fine in violence itself. As it is always a minority which is attacked, the delusion is a strange one.
As a secondary cause, but one which each year augments in gravity, there is the unemployment of University graduates, a problem of ever-increasing seriousness, and which is actively occupying the attention of the International Students’ Service at the present moment.
The fear of having no job is at the bottom of the oft-repeated demand for a numerus clausus against Jewish students. When unrest takes this form it may be explicable, but in the form of rioting it is indefensible.
Except in Austria and Hungary, Mr. Parkes continues, the rioting begun by students has extensively involved the rest of the population, and here the evil influence of older leaders has a very large share of moral and actual responsibility. The perpetual incitements to violence addressed to a rash and inexperienced youth, predisposed to political and economic discontent, are the real sources of these disorders. Some of the agitators are journalists, but some are university professors. These riots