- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 10 Mar 1932, p. 114-120
- Fleury, Count Serge, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Criticism of diplomats and the speaker's response to that criticism. The function and work of diplomats, with illustrative examples. The desire for hope, for strong men who are capable of seeing what will happen in the future, and the capacity of bringing those things to pass. The need for more common sense in the world, for more friendliness between the nations as far as the tariffs are concerned. The speaker's belief that everybody is honestly trying to find what is the best thing to do, but in doing that, they are inclined to forget their neighbours, and in forgetting their neighbours, perhaps they are forgetting themselves. The best policy a smile.
- Date of Original
- 10 Mar 1932
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
BUSINESS AND POLITICS
AN ADDRESS BY COUNT SERGE FLEURY.
Thursday, March 10, 1932
LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE A. DREW, President, introduced the speaker.
COUNT SERGE FLEURY: First of all let me express to you the pleasure I have today of finding myself again in Canada. During the war 1 came in contact so often with your people, both French and English-speaking, and the memory of those contacts lingers with me yet. One of my great pleasures today is to be seated near my old friend General Mitchell, with whom 1 had some very happy times and helpful times during the war. (Applause.)
Now, coming to Canada has never given to me the impression of coming to a foreign country; it gives me the impression that 1 have come to a second patria, where 1 can always secure valuable ideas to bring back to my own country.
Speaking on the subject "Business and Politics," which is the subject of my address today, reminds me of a story I read the other day in Memoirs of the Eighteenth Century. It seems that a lady was asked one day what she would do if she was on a ship which was sinking, with her mother and her mother-in-law, being only able to save one of the two, and she thought awhile, and then said that she would save her mother and drown herself with her mother-in-law. (Laughter.) That is the same sort of a feeling 1 have occasionally when I hear people from time to time becoming annoyed, at diplomats, and pretending they do not perform their duties, never remembering that every day brings its new tasks, and brings new problems to solve, which must he solved at once. If a problem would wait a week or two, if would be possible to work it out much easier.
I have often wondered why the diplomats have ceased to he popular amongst their fellow men, and why people turn up their noses at them, never thinking that diplomats do not have until the end of time to get out of their difficulties.
This reminds me of another story-and I know you like stories, and when 1 am telling you one I am not probably too much of a boreof an event which occured in the Eighteenth Century in connection with a man who was a great philosopher, named Mr. Sworr. One day he was working quietly in his study when his wife appeared on the scene and said, "Mr. Sworr, I do not like you any more". He, looked at her, and then continued with his work. So she insisted on having some sort of an answer, and he said, "Well, that will come back again," And then she saw that the impression she had made was not sufficient, so she said, "I am awfully sorry to tell you that I like somebody else," and he looked at her a moment, and then, he said "Well, that will pass too". In the same manner, after a little while, people will realize that if diplomats do arrive late, it only gives more time to people to make up their minds again' (Laughter.) It is like the story of a man who, when he was asked why he was always late in doing what the Emperor told him to, said that he always liked to give the kings and the great statesmen the opportunity of changing their minds. (Laughter.)
When I hear people criticising diplomats, 1 always think that people seem to still believe in fairy tales; they still believe they can come into a large room like this and find it absolutely empty, and simply by expressing a wish, they find the wonderful dishes such as we have enjoyed this noon. They want really too much, the people; they want the State to interfere with their difficulties, like the man who was on a fishing trip, and did not find any trout in the river where he formerly found them, and he declared seriously that a thing like that was absolutely disgraceful, that it was the fault of the State, and that the State should stock the rivers with trout.
Now, when people see the difficulties in the world they think the only ones to blame for them-because we all like to blame somebody else for our faults-are the diplomats, for not solving the problems immediately. What really happens is this; people have the wrong idea about diplomacy and its possibilities. It is a little like all the people, when they are ill, wanting the doctor to do all the work, and simply wanting to sleep if they are tired. But it has always appeared to me that you yourselves must help people if you are to be helped by them. In other words, the people have thought that diplomats are like hunters, passing through their difficulties in the same way that the hunters pass through the forests, and spending the balance of their time leading a society life, probably drinking cocktails, and perhaps dancing a great deal and working very little. Other people seem to have a nice idea that diplomats are sent by their countries to other countries to see what may be done, broadly speaking, with the nations where they are residing, and to attempt by every means within their power to make new friends and cement the old ones for their own country.
As to others, they think that diplomats like to create difficulties between nations, and then when everything is more or less upset, they come along with a sweet smile and make everything smooth again. It is a constant fight between, diplomats and other people, just as it is in some parts of the Zoo, as to which will eat the other. The experts pretend that diplomats cannot talk about anything but economics, and are absolutely unable to help their country. That really is the difficulty today. There are perhaps too many statistics and those are the things which are hurting the world.
It may be the diplomats do not always follow the example of Louis Forteille, who, when he signed the Treaty of the Pyrenees, wanted to have a certain number of economic sections written into the treaty, but as a rule, especially in recent years, most of the diplomats have shown that they know quite a lot, even more than is necessary, about economics, but if by any chance they are only political men, who have no special qualifications for that, they cannot be considered always as experts, nor can they always have experts at their side to consult with them on special occasions or on special missions.
What matters really, if we want the world to progress, is to know really where we are, and we want to create a sane and good feeling between nations if we hope ever to come close to disarmament. We must have first disarmament of hearts and the disarmament of economics before we can hope for the other and greater disarmament to take place, which can only be possible when the first two obtain.
In thinking about economics, it means very often bringing a nation against another. So many nations, if you leave them in the hands of cold experts, are bound to be advised at certain times to do what possibly is not in the best interests of that nation. On the other hand, if you leave those things to be solved by the diplomats, you will be sure that everything will be done, even though you perhaps think it takes a little time to do it. You may be sure that the diplomat will study the proposal, not only from the point of view of how much revenue it will bring, from customs and so forth, but he will ,study both the possible harm and the possible benefit, from that point of view.
I can give you a very good example of that fact. Recently an increase of time was contemplated by France against a neighbour, when it appeared to our diplomats that the measure, which was after all just an ordinary economic measure, on account of the depreciation of the money of that country, was taken in sort of an unfriendly spirit and with the hope of avoiding any difficulty, they did some diplomatic work in connection with it, and succeeded in avoiding the creation of any hard feelings. (Applause.)
If you left the world only in the hands of the experts, where would the world go? It would certainly go to the dogs; there is no doubt about that, and you will find on occasions like that that at the proper time the poor diplomat, who always comes so late, comes in time to heal the wounds and make things look better than they are.
What we want actually in the world is hope. We do not want to listen to cold facts. We want more of the strong men who are capable of seeing what will happen in the future, and are capable of bringing those things to pass. Briand, whose death is regretted in France and other countries, belonged to that class of statesmen who work hand in hand with the diplomats, and who had common interest with them, and who availed himself of information after asking them to give the necessary knowledge of the facts about which he wanted to speak. The problems in this world will only be solved by men who have the right intentions, and who are endeavouring to create good will and happiness to those who belong in it, and who are capable of showing that the word "Peace" is not an empty word, but is and can be a wonderful reality. Those who have taken the place of Briand in France have the same aim, and diplomacy for them is really becoming an effort to create friendly relationships and understandings between the nations. (Applause.)
One of the reasons I cannot say that the politics of France are not going to be interfered with, are not going to change, is by the fact of the disappearance from the political scene of M. Briand, and by the way that conference of disarmament was prepared under his guidance. I happened, a few weeks before I left France, to he in touch with a lot of friends of mine who had been working hard in the preparation of the conference, and the resolution which was offered the other day by M. Dalgier shows the work that had already been done, and it also shows that many experts are doing good work (laughter), and it showed that the best way of bringing the world to believe in disarmament was to have the world protected. What we want in France actually, and I am not speaking from my diplomatic point of view, but from the point of view of the man on the streetnobody really wants to fight again, but we want only to feel that we are safe, and to feel that notwithstanding that Paris is only 500 kilometers from the frontier, there are ways of protecting that frontier besides the use of arms, for we are quite ready to hand to the League of Nations the protection of France and all the other countries of the world, if the League of Nations is capable of accepting it, andone of the reasons which I think will help the disarmament will be if certain proposals which were made the other day are accepted. If we can bring the big scientists of the world to realize that there is no good in talking about friendship between nations, and about good will between nations, if every other day the scientists of the world are discovering new ways for killing more of their neighbours.
What we want actually in this world is a little more common sense. There was once an attorney who said that pretty nearly everybody in the world pretends to have common sense. I suppose it has become like gold, something very difficult to find, but really if people could face the facts and compel the scientists to spend their time inventing something more definite in the way of peace, rather than in the way of killing men, a great deal of the problem would be solved. (Applause.)
I spoke the other day to some friends of mine in the country, to some peasants, about the disarmament, and if they thought it was possible, and tried to ascertain what they did think about it, and to my great astonishment, and I may say my great pleasure, I found that they had studied the matter most carefully, and they said that they wished it really was possible to find a way of stopping war. 1 said, "Do you not think it is impossible to stop all wars; there have always been wars in the history". They said that they felt everybody in the world was actually fighting just for the sake of fighting one another, and they said that they were perfectly content to stay in their fields and work them, and let the other men sit at their desks, and carry on their work as business men, but what they really want to be able to come back to the olden times when there was no hatred, and only good feeling between the nations.
There is one other thing which I am afraid will have to be attended to if nations are to be directed into the right direction, and that is to get a little more friendliness between the nations so far as the tariffs are concerned. Unfortunately, occassionally we do forget that trade means exchange. I do not want to criticize anybody, because there is an impression abroad today that perhaps some of the tariffs are too high, which accounts for the present position in which we find ourselves at the present time. For myself, 1 believe that everybody is honestly trying to find what is the best thing to do, but in doing that, they are inclined to forget their neighbours, and in forgetting their neighbours, perhaps they are forgetting themselves. It may be proving a little boomerang. You have to be nice to your neighbours for yourselves, because when you are nasty to them the time comes when he is bound to be nasty to you, even if he does not like it. After all, the best policy is a smile, and that is what I am glad to see on your faces today, as it gives me courage to go on], and ruin your beautiful language. (Laughter.)
If only people could come to some sort of an understanding, and realize that certain nations have certain things, and other nations possess other things, then there will be a real market in the world for all the produce of all the countries. If you say "I will give you so much wheat, and you allow me to get so much of the produce of your country, I think then you will find that the problem has gone a long way towards being solved. (Applause.)