Books

Jews are in the habit of making a mental distinction between Hitlerism and Fascism. Their attitude toward the Italian brand of modern despotism is naturally tinged by the consideration that Fascism lets Jews alone, Hitlerism oppresses them. Some years ago, I believe, Otto Kahn returned from a trip to Rome with golden words about Mussolini, but the events in Germany have saddened him. But to the non-Jew, and especially to the non-Jewish radical, there is no such distinction between Fascism and Hitlerism; they are two names for the same thing: despotism of a national majority for the benefit of a small minority.

John Strachey, of the noble breed of English Stracheys, among which number Lytton Strachey, the biographer and essayist, was the most outstanding, wrote a book a year or so ago entitled “The Coming Struggle for Power” which attracted considerable attention. It was the kind of book to send a cold economic shudder down your spine, or, perhaps, a cold shudder down your economic spine, especially if you were one of those who had some stakes in the capitalist system, so-called. He has followed this book with another, “The Menace of Fascism”, likewise published by Covici, Friede.

Mr. Strachey points out the curious conjunction of the rise of Fascism with the surrender of the illusion, or hope, of past generations in the inevitability of progress. Consciously and unconsciously, Fascism and Hitlerism are returns to the past. They mock at the idea that the only guide to political conduct is the greatest good of the greatest number, they sneer at the democratic concept. From the point of view of the working classes, Fascism is not only to be mistrusted, but fought, because it cancels the gains made over a hundred-year period in collective bargaining, the right of trades union organization, with the implied right to strike, and in the right to buy and sell co-operatively. Setting the Fascist deed against the Fascist word, Mr. Strachey comes to the conclusion, and makes that conclusion plain, that Fascism is the bludgeon of the possessing and exploiting class against the greatest interest of the greatest number.

Fascism means war to Strachey, it means enforced labor, it implies the denial of human rights to women, cancelling the gains of feminism—as Hitler has eloquently shown According to Mr. Strachey, Fascism cannot plan for the good of the greatest number, the only clear plank in the so-called corporative state being the denial of the right to strike. But is Fascism moving westward, to England and the United States? He points out that during the past years the labor movement in Britain has been spending all its efforts in the defense of old gains rather than in the winning of new ones and that the social planning of the Roosevelt administration’s NRA is a desperate effort to keep the American Ship of State off the shoals of Fascism, but that the “Social Fascism” of a Roosevelt may often prepare the way for the undiluted Fascism of capitalist anarchism. After all, some of Hitler’s best friends are the steel makers and the armament manufacturers.

Mr. Strachey describes in detail the processes by which Sir Oswald Mosley turned from a Left Labor position to a Fascist position. Strachey was for a time Sir Oswald’s secretary and had particular opportunities for observing how the transition was made. Incidentally, it is the transition made by Mussolini himself, when conservative labor leaders blocked him. Maybe Mussolini means well. Well, some of his best enemies think even Hitler means well—but the question is: What does he mean?

Harry Salpeter.

THE JUNIOR PRAYER BOOK

Volume 1 of the Junior Prayer Book for use in services for the Sabbath, festivals and all other holidays on the Jewish calendar has appeared under the by-line of Morris Silverman, rabbi of the Emanuel Synagogue in Hartford. The volume is useful because of what it omits Only the most essential of the prayers are included, in a very satisfactory arrangement. (The United Synagogue of America, The Junior Prayer Book, by Morris Silverman $1.00).

Another handsome little book which is a handbook of frequently heard Hebrew words and their meanings, has been issued by the Bloch Publishing Company. (Wonder Words, by Benjamin L. Winfield, New York, 1933). Many of the phrases are fast becoming part of the current tongue of the modern Jew. Knowledge of their usage is indispensable to one who wishes to understand Jewish affairs.

H. S.

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