2 JANUARY 1932, Page 7

Liberty and Politics

The question of whether English Professors should so far intervene in the controversies of another country as to protest against the action of the Italian Government in requiring all university teachers in Italy to swear allegiance to Fascism—indeed, to pledge themselves to propagate Fascism—is, no doubt, a little delicate. But scholarship knows no frontiers, and an attempt to fetter free thought anywhere is a blow dealt at free thought everywhere. That in itself is justification for the very temperate representations made over signatures of such distinction as those of Sir William Beveridge, Sir Alfred Hopkinson, the Master of Balliol, the Warden of New College, Dr. Gooch, Dr. Seton-Watson, and nearly thirty others to the Committee on Intellectual Co-operation at Geneva. It is no tribute to the stability of Fascism that it should need to buttress itself by such measures as demanding from the teachers in the universities of Italy a pledge to fulfil their duties with the design of forming active and valiant citizens devoted to their country and the Fascist regime." That, it will be observed, goes far beyond an undertaking not to oppose Fascism actively. To put men of strong political convictions, which they have a perfect right to hold, in a position in which they must either be false to themselves or forfeit their liveli- hood is a moral outrage. Signor Mussolini has done much for Italy, but in so far as he is responsible for this decree he is dealing a blow both at his country's prestige abroad and her moral strength at home.

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