restricted access A Commentary (July 1927)
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[ 133 A Commentary The Monthly Criterion: A Literary Review, 6 (July 1927) 1-3 Internationalized Intellect We have received a small pamphlet published in Paris by the League of Nations, and entitled: The International Institute for Intellectual Co-­ operation.1 This Institute, which is housed not in Geneva but in the Palais Royal in Paris, appears to be a department of the League. The pamphlet is a preliminary one, stating that the Institute has been at work only for several months.Thenamesoftheofficersaregiven;aswemightexpect,mostofthem are unknown to us: but we are not surprised to find that Professor Murray represents the British Empire (although India, which we had supposed to be still a part of the Empire, has a separate representative, the eminent botanist , Sir J. C. Bose). Great Britain is further represented by Mr. Zimmern (wetrustthatthisisAlfredZimmern)andbyMrs.James,andbyMr.Vetch.2 ButwearemoreconcernedwiththetwelveproblemsonwhichtheInstitute is engaged. As not everyone will have seen the pamphlet, we quote these in full: (a) The international organization of bibliography and scientific information. (b)The extension of the international exchange of publications. (c) The unification of scientific nomenclatures. (d)International measures to facilitate the circulation of books and printed matter. (e) The adoption of a general scheme for the exchange of professors and students, and for the equivalence of degrees and credentials. (f) The possibility of creating rights of scientific property. (g)The extension of the laws and regulations protecting works of art and the rights of the artist in their productions. (h)The development of instruction on international questions. (i) The regulation by international agreement of archaeological research, and the protection of historic buildings. (j) International co-operation among museums and exhibitions. 1927 134 ] (k)International co-operation among libraries. (l) International measures for the development and improvement of the cinematograph. [6-8] Our first suspicion is that the Institute, after founding itself, has cast about forcausestofurther.Thismaybeunjust,butcertainlythereisalackofcoherence , of any unifying idea; some of the causes seem rather trifling to occupy the time of an Institute in the Palais Royal; others seem more adapted to specialized bodies; and all are vague. Even though the Institute has been in existence only a few months, it must know what it means by “The extension of the international exchange of publications”; but the uninstructed reader would like to know too. We are frankly sceptical about the improvement of the cinema by any such sanctified organization. (a), (b), (i) and (j) seem good, but vague. (h) depends on the instructors. As for (c) we should think that that might be dealt with by international scientific congresses of the various sciences. If (d) is concerned with the difficulties of sending books fromcountrytocountry,thatisagoodpoint.(e)“theequivalenceofdegrees and credentials” in the present state of education, seems pernicious; until education is far more standardized there can be no equality: even inside America alone, the value of any degree varies indefinitely according to the university which gives it. Of all these proposals, the most needed and hopeful reforms appear to be contained in (f) and (g), which deal with scientific property and copyright. Copyright Law in America Here is a matter which touches closely anyone who publishes a book, or even a periodical article, in Great Britain. Yet here, perhaps, we may find our ray of hope deceptive. The Institute does not “in any way concern itself with the private relations of one nation to another.” (In this it seems more cautious than the League itself, which undoubtedly concerned itself with the private relations of Sweden and Finland over the Åland Islands).3 So that if this problem proves a ticklish one it will probably be referred to the “private relations” of Great Britain and America. Yet the present Ameri­can Copyright Law is a flagrant injustice to British and still more to Irish writers , and one of the first particulars to which “International Intellectual Co-operation” should be directed.4 We still hope that it may claim some of the attention of Professor Murray, and Mr. Zimmern, and Mrs. James, and Mr. Vetch. [ 135 A Commentary (July) We must not forget, however, amongst these glorious public meetings, proposals and resolutions, that real intellectual co-operation is something far less conspicuous in its time. It is something created by the state of mind of men of letters, men of science, education and art. It is not, in any country, the vogue of a foreign dramatist or a foreign novelist, that counts; but the state of mind which is strongly conscious of a national and...