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   Chapter 17 No.17

The Free Press By Hilaire Belloc Characters: 2276

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Much more important than this clearly applicable test of vocabulary is the more general and less measurable test of programmes and news. The programme of National Guilds, for instance-"Guild Socialism" as "The New Age," its advocate in this country, has called it-is followed everywhere, and is everywhere considered. Journalists employed by Harmsworth, for instance, use the idea for all it is worth, and they use it more and more, although it is as much as their place is worth to mention "The New Age" in connection with it-as yet. And it is the same, I think, with all the efforts the Free Press has made in the past. The propaganda of Socialism (which, as an idea, was so enormously successful until a few years ago) was, on its journalistic side, almost entirely conducted by Free Papers, most of them of small circulation, and all of them boycotted, even as to their names, by the Official Press. The same is true of my own effort and Mr. Chesterton's on the "New Witness." The paper was rigidly boycotted and never quoted. But every one to-day talks, as I have just said, of "The Servile State," of the "Professional Politician,"

of the "Secret Party Funds," of the Aliases under which men hide, of the Purchase of Honours, Policies and places in the Government, etc., etc.

More than this: one gets to hear of significant man?uvres, conducted secretly, of course, but showing vividly the weight and effect of the Free Press. One hears of orders given by a politician which prove his fear of the Free Press: of approaches made by this or that Capitalist to obtain control of a free journal: sometimes of a policy initiated, an official document drawn up, a memorandum filed, which proceeded directly from the advice, suggestion, or argument of a Free Paper which no one but its own readers is allowed to hear of, and of whose very existence the suburbs would be sceptical.

Latterly I have noticed something still more significant. The action of the Free Press takes effect sometimes at once. It was obvious in the case of the Spanish Jew Vigo, the German agent. On account of his financial connections all the Official Press had orders to call him French under a false name. One paragraph in the "New Witness" broke down that lie before the week was out.

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