The first business of the Spring Term was to elect W.O.Jennings as Joint Secretary, in order to secure the continuity of the administration of the Society.
The first debate was held on Friday, January 22nd, Jennings submitting the motion, "That war is never justifiable." After emphasising the importance of the question, he demonstrated the truth of the old adage, that "it always takes two to make a quarrel," and asserted that on this principle war could be avoided. Day, who opposed the motion, attempted to resolve the question into the justifiableness of individual killing under any circumstances, giving several examples of supposedly justifiable murder. The supporters of the motion refused to admit these, further pointing out that war is more than a private conflict, and, since it produces wholesale murder, mutilation, and distress, is a means which no human end can justify. The opposition, while admitting the horrors of war, denied that any means is too terrible to use in the suppression of evil. They cited the wars which united Italy, brought internal peace to India and liberty to the American slaves. In reply, it was argued that no wars have been fought without an element of covetousness or pride, and Robinson, by means of striking symbolism, exposed the hollowness of the aims of those who incite to war. It was argued that as war is in itself evil, no good can ever come of it. The motion was carried by eight votes.
G. H. Taylor commenced the next debate by proposing, "That the future peace of the world depends upon the Federation of the British Empire." He declared that if the Empire were to break up, the colonies would be conquered by the great powers. An unstable state of affairs would ensue, there would probably be a rising of the coloured races, and world war would be inevitable. The opposer, however, argued that world unity is essential for world peace, and the British Empire could never be the means of unifying the whole world.
In spite of our support of the League of Nations, we should be regarded askance if we cultivated an exclusively imperial policy; an anti-British alliance would be formed, and world war would ensue. In support of the motion it was asserted that the Federation of the British Empire is a great step towards world unity, and a model for the League. To this Mr. Whitt replied that the Empire has been founded on force rather than on ideals, the bond of common race alone holding it together. Here Mr. Morgan objected that enthusiasm is by no means confined to its white people, and that British experience in governing extensive colonies makes us the best qualified to lead the League and give it a fine example of federation. The motion was carried by 22 votes.
At the next meeting Wright proposed that "Suicide is never justifiable," quoting the Mosaic Law, and asserting that the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," includes suicide. The opposition argued that those, such as Boadicea, who committed suicide rather than submit to an adverse fate, did a great thing, while the best course for those who disgrace their fellows is self-destruction. Lothian, in support of the motion, argued that the real reasons for suicide are cowardice and fear. The opposition quoted the action of Captain Oates on the South Polar Expedition as a ease of justifiable suicide. Others argued that there are times when men find themselves useless in the world, and are doing a fine thing in removing themselves. Supporters of the motion stated that the whole South Polar Expedition eventually perished, and that the action of Oates would have been to no purpose in any case. It was also pointed out that such suicides as Boadicea's are the outcome of pride, while the true course for life's apparent failures is to persevere and try to make amends. The motion was carried by two votes.
At the last meeting the Headmaster presided, Robson and Smith being absent. Payling proposed, "That there should be an International Language," and described the benefits of such a language, both for commercial purposes and peace conferences. Jennings, who opposed the motion, emphasised the difficulty of teaching a new language to the whole world, and predicted a loss of interest in the old literature when such a language was introduced. Subsequent speakers, advocating the use of Esperanto, showed the great strides which have been made with that language. The general opinion was that, could difficulties of teaching be surmounted, an international language would be extremely beneficial in commerce, travel, and international conference. The motion was carried.
The proposed mock-trial and mock-Parliament had to be postponed, otherwise the session was quite satisfactory. It is hoped, however, that in future the Fifth Forms will take that interest in the Society which their position in the School demands.
E.A.F.Wright, VIth (Sc.)
W.O.Jennings, VIth (Sc.)