What happened on Friday is called "Peace." Actually it is an international Fascist coup d'etat.
The "Four-Power Accord" is not even a diplomatic document. It is certainly not a normal treaty. It is such a fantastic piece of paper that it is difficult to describe except as a hurriedly concocted armistice made in advance of a war to permit the occupation by German troops of a territory which by sheer threat and demonstration of force they have conquered by "agreement."
All of the territory where there are more than fifty per cent of German-speaking peoples will be evacuated by the Czechoslovaks and occupied by the German Army within ten days although there are hundreds of thousands of people in this territory who are either not German or are anti-Nazi and therefore constitute a racial and political minority.
This document provides no protection whatsoever for their lives, their properties or their existences.
Not a clause indicates that they are to be protected in any manner from this occupation.
Those of us who know and have seen what the Nazi authorities do to political minorities realize that this can only result in a panicky flight into the interior of Czechoslovakia. It means the open establishment of terror.
No consideration is paid anywhere in this fantastic document to the reapportionment of financial and industrial interests - banks or industries the ownership of which is not necessarily on the spot --and this in spite of the fact that the British and French governments know that in the occupation of Austria the property of political minorities, and in particular of Jews, was simply confiscated.
There is not the most elementary consideration of justice.
An international commission will determine further territories in which a plebiscite is to be held, and will fix the conditions.
This will give pelebiscites in areas containing more than fifty per cent Czechs, although no plebiscites will be held in areas containing more than fifty per cent Germans.
The pressure of the Nazis in contiguous territories occupied by German troops, their immense and cunningly organized propaganda, their house-by-house and name-by-name political organization; the ever-present threat that if the territories go German the political minorities will be exterminated, will assure the outcome of these plebiscites. One might just as well cede them to Germany in the first place.
Czechs and political minorities are given the right of option in and out of the ceded territories, but they must move within six months, and the conditions for exercising the option are left to a German-Czechoslovak commission. Which simply means that they are left to the Germans, considering the relative power position.
Compared with this the Treaty of Versailles is a great humane document and a normal and reasonable treaty.
The Treaty of Versailles allowed German nationals incorporated in the then new Czechoslovak state to opt for German nationality. They were given two years in which to make a decision and then twelve months in which to exercise it - three years in all - and the treaty guaranteed their right to retain ownership of their landed property in the territory of the state that they left, guaranteed their rights to carry with them movable property of every description and prohibited the imposition of any export or import duties to be made upon them in connection with the removal of such property.
We know that the political minorities in Austria since the Nazi occupation have not been allowed to move anything, and that the property left behind by those who fled was confiscated in the form of an "emigration tax," a treatment of property usually described as Bolshevism.
The Treaty of Versailles was made after five months of deliberations into which scores of experts were called - as experts and not as partisans.
But on Friday Czechoslovakia was disposed of by four men who in four hours made a judgment of the case in which the defendant was not even allowed to present a brief or be heard.
The very basis and spirit of Anglo-Saxon law was violated. What ruled that conference was Nazi law. Not one of the four men who thus arbitrarily disposed of a nation had ever set foot in Czechoslovakia, nor did any of them understand the other's language - except Mussolini. They had a German interpreter. They decided on the primary basis of a report issued by a man who also until two months ago had never spent any time at all in Czechoslovakia.
Furthermore, Lord Runciman's Report, though it recommends the ceding of the territories to Germany, categorically denies that the Germans had ever been "terrorized," fixes the blame for the failure of negotiations on the Germans, states that at the time of his arrival many Sudetens still desired to remain in Czechoslovakia and accuses the Sudeten extremists, egged on by Germany, of provoking the demonstrations which, on the German side, were made an excuse for demanding armed occupation.
Even on the basis of what by internal evidence would seem to be a rigged report, Germany is guilty of provoking what was nearly an all-European war. And the punishment for this guilt is that she received everything that she was going to fight the war over.
This "everything" is more than the Sudeten territories. It is more than a free hand in the east. It is the domination of Europe.
In this whole affair, described as an attempt to keep peace, the democratic process has been completely suspended. In both Britain and France the facts have been suppressed by the exercise of government pressure on the controlled radio and on the newspapers. The people of England and France are confronted with a fait accompli without even being able to gain in advance possession of the facts on which it is based.
The Runciman Report was published the day before the fait accompli!
Not only is Czechoslovakia dismembered - what is left is destroyed as a democratic republic. It will be utterly impossible for the new state to exist, under the conditions created, as anything except a military and semi-Fascist dictatorship. There will be no civil liberties. There will be enforced labor. There must be - in order to save the nation at all!
Let us not call this peace. Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is a positive condition - the rule of law.
This peace has been established on lawlessness, and can only maintain itself by further lawlessness.
This peace has been established by dictatorship, and can only maintain itself by further dictatorship.
This peace has been established on betrayal, and can only maintain itself by further betrayal.
"Peace" said Spinoza, "is virtue caused by strenght of spirit." This is not peace without victory, for the victory goes to Mr. Hitler.
This peace without virtue. Therefore it is not peace - but the imitation of a terrific world crisis.