Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/83

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77
THE PERIL OF THE CENSORSHIP

Our military organisation, rightly or wrongly, is based upon the voluntary system. We cannot, under present conditions, obtain, as the conscriptionist countries do, the recruits we require merely by calling to the Colours, with a stroke of the pen, men who are liable for service. We have to request, to persuade, to advertise, and to lead men to see their duty and to do it. To enable us to do this satisfactorily, public opinion must be kept well informed, must be stimulated by a knowledge of the real situation. When war broke out, and volunteers were called for, a tremendous wave of enthusiasm swept over the country. The recruiting organisation broke down, and, as I have pointed out, the Government found themselves with more men on their hands than they could possibly train or equip at the moment. Instead of taking men's names, telling them the exact facts, and sending them home to wait till they could be called for, the War Office raised the physical standard for recruits, and this dealt a blow at popular enthusiasm from which it has never recovered. Recruiting dropped to an alarming degree, and, so recently as February, Mr. Tennant, in the House of Commons, despite the efforts that had been made in the meantime, was forced to drop a pretty strong hint that "a little more energy" was advisable.

Now the connection between the manner in which the recruiting question was handled, and the general methods adopted by the censorship, is a good deal closer than might be imagined at first sight. Both show the same utter failure on the part of the military authorities to appreciate the psychology of the civilian. Psychology, the science of the public opinion of the nation, must, in any democratic country, play a very large part in the successful