Proclaim Liberty!

By Gilbert Seldes

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Title: Proclaim Liberty!

Author: Gilbert Seldes

Release Date: January 8, 2011 [EBook #34890]

Language: English


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On Related Subjects

      Your Money and Your Life
      The Years of the Locust
      Against Revolution
      The Stammering Century
      The Seven Living Arts
      The United States and the War
          (London, 1917)
      This is America
          (Moving Picture)


      The Movies Come From America
      The Movies and the Talkies
      The Future of Drinking
      The Wings of the Eagle
      Lysistrata (A Modern Version)





Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the
inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto them....
                                      Leviticus xxv, 10.




      who will have
      to live in the world
      we are making


Thanks are given to the Macmillan Company for their permission to
quote several paragraphs from Arthur Koestler's _Darkness at Noon_ in
my first chapter. _The Grand Strategy_ by H.A. Sargeaunt and Geoffrey
West, referred to in chapter two, is published by Thomas Y. Crowell




   CHAPTER I  TOTAL VICTORY                                    13

  CHAPTER II  STRATEGY FOR THE CITIZEN                         29

 CHAPTER III  UNITED...?                                       44

  CHAPTER IV  "THE STRATEGY OF TRUTH"                          61

   CHAPTER V  THE FORGOTTEN DOCUMENT                           77


 CHAPTER VII  ADDRESS TO EUROPE                               111

CHAPTER VIII  THE SCIENCE OF SHORT WAVE                       119

  CHAPTER IX  DEFINITION OF AMERICA                           129

   CHAPTER X  POPULARITY AND POLITICS                         156

  CHAPTER XI  THE TOOLS OF DEMOCRACY                          163

 CHAPTER XII  DEMOCRATIC CONTROL                              170

CHAPTER XIII  THE LIBERTY BELL                                199



Total Victory

The peril we are in today is this:

For the first time since we became a nation, a power exists strong
enough to destroy us.

This book is about the strength we have to destroy our enemies--where
it lies, what hinders it, how we can use it. It is not about
munitions, but about men and women; it deals with the unity we have to
create, the victory we have to win; it deals with the character of
America, what it has been and is and will be. And since character is
destiny, this book is about the destiny of America.

The next few pages are in the nature of counter-propaganda. With the
best of motives, and the worst results, Americans for months after
December 7, 1941, said that Pearl Harbor was a costly blessing because
it united all Americans and made us understand why the war was
inevitable. A fifty-mile bus trip outside of New York--perhaps even a
subway ride within its borders--would have proved both of these
statements blandly and dangerously false. American unity could not be
made in Japan; like most other imports from that country, it was a
cheap imitation, lasting a short time, and costly in the long run; and
recognition of the nature of the war can never come as the result of
anything but a realistic analysis of our own purposes as well as those
of our enemies.

What follows is, obviously, the work of a citizen, not a specialist.
For some twenty years I have observed the sources of American unity
and dispersion; during the past fifteen years my stake in the future
of American liberty has been the most important thing in my life, as
it is the most important thing in the life of anyone whose children
will live in the world we are now creating. I am therefore not
writing frivolously, or merely to testify to my devotion; I am
writing to persuade--to uncover sources of strength which others may
have overlooked, to create new weapons, to stir new thoughts. If I
thought the war for freedom could be won by writing lies, I would
write lies. I am afraid the war will be lost if we do not face the
truth, so I write what I believe to be true about America--about its
past and present and future, meaning its history and character and
destiny--but mostly about the present, with only a glance at our
forgotten past, and a declaration of faith in the future which is, I
hope, the inevitable result of our victory.

We know the name and character of our enemy--the Axis; but after
months of war we are not entirely convinced that it intends to destroy
us because we do not see why it has to destroy us. Destroy; not
defeat. The desperate war we are fighting is still taken as a gigantic
maneuvre; obviously the Axis wants to "win" battles and dictate "peace
terms". We still use these phrases of 1918, unaware that the purpose
of Axis war is not defeat of an enemy, but destruction of his national
life. We have seen it happen in France and Poland and Norway and
Holland; but we cannot imagine that the Nazis intend actually to
appoint a German Governor General over the Mississippi Valley, a
Gauleiter in the New England provinces, and forbid us to read
newspapers, go to the movies or drink coffee; we cannot believe that
the Axis intends to destroy the character of America, annihilating the
liberties our ancestors fought for, and the level of comfort which we
cherished so scrupulously in later generations. In moments of pure
speculation, when we wonder what would happen "at worst", we think of
a humiliating defeat on land and sea, bombardment of our cities,
surrender--and a peace conference at which we and Britain agree to pay
indemnities; perhaps, until we pay off, German and Japanese soldiers
would be quartered in our houses, police our streets; but we assume
that after the "shooting war" was over, they would not ravish our

  _Victory_ (_Axis Model_)

All this is the war of 1918. In 1942 the purpose of Axis victory is
the destruction of the American system, the annihilation of the
financial and industrial power of the United States, the reduction of
this country to an inferior position in the world and the enslavement
of the American people by depriving them of their liberty and of their
wealth. The actual physical slavery of the American people and the
deliberate taking over of our factories and farms and houses and motor
cars and radios are both implied in an Axis victory; the enslavement
is automatic, the robbery of our wealth will depend on Axis economic
strategy: if we can produce more _for them_ by remaining in technical
possession of our factories, they will let us keep them.

We cannot believe this is so because we see no reason for it. Our
intentions toward the German and Italian people are not to enslave and
impoverish; on the contrary, we think of the defeat of their leaders
as the beginning of liberty. We do not intend to make Venice a
tributary city, nor Essen a factory town run by American government
officials. We may police the streets of Berlin until a democratic
government proves its strength by punishing the SS and the Gestapo,
until the broken prisoners of Dachau return in whatever triumph they
can still enjoy. But our basic purpose is still to defeat the armed
forces of the Axis and to insure ourselves against another war by the
creation of free governments everywhere.

(Neither the American people nor their leaders have believed that a
responsible peaceable government can be erected _now_ in Japan. Toward
the Japanese our unclarified intentions are simple: annihilation of
the power, to such an extent that it cannot rise again--as a military
or a commercial rival. The average citizen would probably be glad to
hand over to the Chinese the job of governing Japan.)

Fortunately, the purposes of any war alter as the war goes on; as we
fight we discover the reasons for fighting and the intensity of our
effort, the cost of victory, the danger of defeat, all compel us to
think desperately about the kind of peace for which we are fighting.
The vengeful articles of the treaty of Versailles were written after
the Armistice by politicians; the constructive ones were created
during the war, and it is quite possible that they would have been
accepted by Americans if the United States had fought longer and
therefore thought longer about them.

We shall probably have time to think out a good peace in this war. But
we will not create peace of any kind unless we know why an Axis peace
means annihilation for us; and why, at the risk of defeat in the field
and revolution at home, the Axis powers had to go to war on the United

If we impose our moral ideas upon the future, the attack on Pearl
Harbor will stand as the infamous immediate cause of the war; by Axis
standards, Pearl Harbor was the final incident of one series of
events, the first incident of another, all having the same purpose,
the destruction of American democracy--which, so long as it endured,
undermined the strength of the totalitarian powers.

Why? Why are Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo insecure if we survive? Why
were we in danger so long as they were victorious? The answer lies in
the character of the two groups of nations; in all great tragedy, the
_reason_ has to be found in the character of those involved; the war
is tragic, in noble proportions, and we have to know the character of
our enemy, the character of our own people, too, to understand why it
was inevitable--and how we will win.

Our character, molded by our past, upholds or betrays us in our
present crisis, and so creates our future. That is the sense in which
character is Destiny.

We know everything hateful about our enemies; long before the war
began we knew the treachery of the Japanese military caste, the jackal
aggression of Mussolini, the brutality and falseness of Hitler; and
the enthusiastic subservience of millions of people to each of these

But these things do not explain why we are a danger to the Axis, and
the Axis to us.

  "_Historic Necessity_"

The profound necessity underlying this war rises from the nature of
fascism: it is a combination of forces and ideas; the forces are new,
but the basic ideas have occurred at least once before in history, as
the Feudal Order. Democracy destroyed Feudalism; and Feudalism,
returning in a new form as Fascism, must destroy democracy or go down
in the attempt; the New Order and the New World cannot exist side by
side, because they are both expanding forces; they have touched one
another and only one will survive. We might blindly let the new
despotism live although it is the most expansive and dynamic force
since 1776; but it cannot let us live. We could co-exist with Czarism
because it was a shrinking force; or with British Imperialism because
its peak of expansion was actually reached before ours began. We could
not have lived side by side with Trotskyite Communism because it was
as aggressive as the exploding racialism of the German Nazis.

As it happened, Stalin, not Trotsky, took over from Lenin; Socialism
in one country supplanted "the permanent revolution". Stalin made a
sort of peace with all the world; he called off his dogs of
propaganda; he allowed German Communism to be beaten to death in
concentration camps; and, as Trotsky might have said, the "historical
obligation" to destroy capitalist-democracy was undertaken not by the
bearded old Marxian enemies of Capital, but by Capital's own young
sadists, the Storm Troopers, called in by the frightened bankers and
manufacturers of Italy and Germany. That is why, since 1932, realist
democrats have known that the enemy had to be Hitler, not Stalin. It
was not a choice between ideologies; it was a choice between degrees
of expansion. Moreover, Stalin himself recognized the explosive force
of fascism in Germany and shrank within his own borders; he withdrew
factories to the Urals, he dispersed his units of force as far from
the German border as he could. By doing so, he became the ideal ally
of all those powers whom Hitler's expanding pressure was discommoding.
The relatively static democratic nations of Europe, the shrinking
semi-socialist states like France and Austria, were bruised by contact
with Hitler; presently they were absorbed because the Nazi geography
demanded a continent for a military base.

The destruction of America was a geographical necessity, for Hitler;
and something more. Geographically, the United States lies between
Hitler's enemies, England and Russia; we are not accustomed to the
thought, but the fact is that we are a transatlantic base for
England's fleet; so long as we are undefeated, the fleet remains a
threat to Germany. Look at the other side: we are a potential
transpacific base for Russia; our fleet can supply the Soviets and
China; Russia can retreat toward Siberian ports and join us. So we
dominate the two northern oceans, and with Russia, the Arctic as well.
That is the geographic reason for Hitler's attack on us.

The moral reason is greater than the strategic reason: the history of
the United States must be destroyed, its future must turn black and
bitter; because fasci-feudalism, the new order, cannot rest firmly on
its foundations until Democracy perishes from the earth.

So long as a Democracy (with a comparatively high standard of living)
survives, the propaganda of fascism must fail; the essence of that
propaganda is that democratic nations cannot combine liberty and
security. In order to have security, says Hitler, you must give up
will and want, freedom of action and utterance; you must be
disciplined and ordered--because the modern world is too complex to
allow for the will of the individual. The democracies insist that the
rich complexity of the world was created by democratic freedom and
that production, distribution, security and progress have not yet
outstripped the capacity of man, so that there is room for the private
life, the undisciplined, even the un-social. The essential democratic
belief in "progress" is not a foolish optimism, it is basic belief in
the desirability of _change_; and we, democratic people, believe that
the critical unregimented individual must have some leeway so that
progress will be made. The terror of change in which dictators live is
shown in their constant appeal to permanence; we know that the only
thing permanent in life is change; when change ceases, life ceases. It
does not surprise us that the logic of fascism ends in death.

So long as the democratic nations achieve change without revolution,
and prosperity without regimentation, the Nazi states are in danger.
In a few generations they may indoctrinate their people to love
poverty and ignorance, to fear independence; for fascism, the next
twenty years are critical. Unless we, the democratic people, are
destroyed now, the fascist adults of 1940 to 1960 will still know that
freedom and wealth co-exist in this world and are better than slavery.

So much--which is enough--was true even before the declaration of war;
since then the nazi-fascists must prove that democracies cannot defend
themselves, cannot sacrifice comfort, cannot invent and produce
engines of war, cannot win victories. And we are equally compelled,
for our own safety, to destroy the _principle_ which tries to destroy
us. The alternative to victory over America is therefore not
defeat--or an inconclusive truce. The alternative is annihilation for
the fascist regime and death for hundreds of thousands of nazi party
men. They will be liquidated because when they are defeated they will
no longer have a function to perform; their only function is the
organization of victory.

The fascist powers are expanding and are situated so that with their
subordinates, they can control the world. And the purpose of their
military expansion is to exclude certain nations from the markets of
the world. Even for the "self sufficient" United States, this means
that the standard of living must go down--drastically and for ever.

The policy is not entirely new. It develops from tariff barriers and
subsidies; we have suffered from it at the hands of our best
friends--under the Stevenson Act regulating rubber prices, for
instance; we have profited by it, as when we refused to sell helium to
Germany or when our tariff laws kept Britain and France out of our
markets, so that they never were able to pay their war debts. This
means only that we have been living in a capitalist world and have
defended ourselves against other capitalists, as well as we could.

  _Revolution in Reverse_

The new thing under nazi-fascism is the destruction of private
business, buying and selling. As trade is the basic activity of our
time, nazi-fascism is revolutionary; it is also reactionary; and there
is nothing in the world more dangerous than a reactionary revolution.
The Communist revolution was radical and whoever had any stake in the
world--a house, a car, a job--shied away from the uncertainty of the
future. But the reactionary revolution of Mussolini and Hitler
instantly captivated the rich and well-born; to them, fascism was not
a mere protection against the Reds, it was a positive return to the
days of absolute authority; it was the annihilation of a hundred and
fifty years of Democracy, it blotted out the French and American
Revolutions, it erased the names of Napoleon and Garibaldi from
Continental European history, leaving the name of Metternich all the
more splendid in its isolation. The manufacturers of motor cars and
munitions were terrified of Reds in the factories; the great bankers
and landowners looked beyond the momentary danger, and they embraced
fascism because they hoped it would destroy the power let loose by the
World War--which was first political and then economic democracy.

This was, in theory, correct; fascism meant to destroy democracy, but
it had to destroy capitalism with it. The idiots who ran the
financial and industrial world in the 1920's proved their incompetence
by the end of 1929; but their frivolous and irresponsible minds were
exposed years earlier when they began to support the power which by
its own confessed character had to destroy them. It is a pleasant
irony that ten minutes with Karl Marx or Lenin or with a parlor pink
could have shown the great tycoons that they were committing suicide.

Only an enemy can really appreciate Karl Marx. The faithful have to
concentrate on the future coming of the Communists' Millenium; but the
sceptic can admire the cool analysis of the past by which Marx arrived
at his criticism of the Capitalist System. In that analysis Marx
simplifies history so:

No economic system lives for ever.

Each system has in it the germ of its own successor.

The feudal system came to its end when Columbus broke through its
geographical walls. (Gutenburg and Leonardo and a thousand others
broke through its intellectual walls at about the same time, and
Luther through the social and religious barriers.)

With these clues we can see that Democratic Capitalism is the
successor to Feudalism.

From this point Marx had to go into prophecy and according to his
followers he did rather well in predicting the next stages: he saw, in
the 1860's, the kind of capitalism we enjoyed in 1914. He did not see
all its results--the enormous increase in the number of prosperous
families was not in his calculations and he might have been surprised
to see the least, not the most, industrialized country fall first into
Communism. But to the sceptic only one thing in the Marxian prophecy
is important. He says that in the later stages of Capitalism, it will
become incompetent; it will not be able to handle the tools of
production and distribution; and suddenly or gradually, it will change
into a _new_ system. (According to Marx, this new system will be

There were moments under the grim eyes of Mr. Hoover when all the
parts of this prophecy seemed to have been fulfilled. There are
apparently some Americans who wish that the New Deal had not
interposed itself between the Gold Standard and the Red Flag.

These are the great leaders (silenced now by war) who might have
studied Marx before flirting with the fascists. For even the
rudimentary analysis above shows that Capitalism cannot _grow into_
fascism; fascism moves _backward_ from democratic capitalism, it moves
into the system which democracy destroyed--the feudal system. The
capitalist system may be headed for slow or sudden death if it goes on
as it is; it may have a long life if it can adapt itself to the world
it has itself created; but in every sense of the words, capitalism has
no future if it goes back to the past. And fascism is the discarded
past of capitalism.

We think we know this now because the fasci-feudal states have
declared war on us. Now we see how natural is the alliance between the
European states who wish to restore feudalism and the Asiatic state
which never abandoned it. Now we recognize the Nazi or Fascist party
as the equivalent of feudal nobles and in "labor battalions" we see
the outlines of serfs cringing from their masters. But we do not yet
see that a feudal state cannot live in the same world as a free
state--and that we are as committed to destroy fascism as Hitler is to
destroy democracy.

We strike back at Japan because Japan attacked us, and fight Germany
and Italy because they declared war on us; but we will not win the war
until we understand that the Axis had to attack us and that we must
destroy the system which made the attack inevitable.

  _Walled Town and Open Door_

At first glance, the feudal nature of fascism seems unimportant. In
pure logic, maybe, feudal and democratic systems cannot co-exist, but
in fact, feudal Japan did exist in 1830 and the United States was
enjoying Jacksonian democracy. There must be something more than
abstract hostility between the two systems.

There is. Feudalism is a walled town; democracy is a ship at sea and a
covered wagon. The capitalist pioneer gaps every wall in his path and
his path is everywhere. The defender of the wall must destroy the
invader before he comes near. In commercial terms, the fascists must
conquer us in order to eliminate us as competitors for world trade. We
can understand the method if we compare fascism at peace with
democracy at war.

In the first days of the war we abandoned several essential freedoms:
speech and press and radio and assembly as far as they might affect
the conduct of the war; and then, with more of a struggle, we gave up
the right to manufacture motor cars, the right to buy or sell tires;
we accepted an allotment of sugar; we abandoned the right to go into
the business of manufacturing radio sets; we allowed the government to
limit our installment buying; we neither got nor gave credit as freely
as before; we gave up, in short, the system of civil liberty and free
business enterprise--in order to win the war.

Six hundred years ago, all over Europe the economy of peace was
exactly our economy of war. In the Middle Ages, the _right_ to become
a watchmaker did not exist; the guild of watchmakers accepted or
rejected an applicant. By this limitation, the total number of watches
produced was roughly governed; the price was also established (and
overcharging was a grave offense in the Middle Ages). Foreign
competition was excluded; credit was for financiers, and the
installment system had not been invented.

The feudalism of six hundred years ago is the peace-time fascism of
six years ago. The fascist version of feudalism is State control of
production. In Nazi Germany the liberty to work at a trade, to
manufacture a given article, to stop working, to change professions,
were all seriously limited. The supply of materials was regulated by
the State, the number of radios to be exported was set by the State
in connection with the purchase of strategic imports; the State could
encourage or prevent the importation of coffee or helium or silk
stockings; it could and did force men and women to raise crops, to
make fuses, to learn flying, to stop reading. It created a feudal
state far more benighted than any in the actual Middle Ages; it was in
peace _totally_ coordinated for production--far more so than we are
now, at war.

The purpose of our sacrifice of liberty is to make things a thousand
times faster than before; to save raw materials we abolish the cuff on
our trousers and we use agate pots instead of aluminum; we work longer
hours and work harder; we keep machines going twenty-four hours a day,
seven days a week--all for the single purpose of maximum output.

For the same purpose, the fascist state is organized _at peace_--to
out-produce and _under-sell_ its competitors.

The harried German people gave up their freedom in order to recover
prosperity. They became a nation of war-workers in an economic war. A
vast amount of their production went into tanks and Stukas; another
segment went into export goods to be traded for strategic materials;
and only a small amount went for food and the comforts of life. Almost
nothing went into luxuries.

  _Burning Books--and Underselling_

That is why the _internal_ affairs of Germany became of surpassing
importance to us. Whether we knew it or not, we were in competition
with the labor battalions. When we denounced the Nazi suppression of
free speech, the jailing of religious leaders, the silencing of
Catholics, the persecution of Jews, we were as correct economically as
we were ethically; the destruction of liberty had to be accomplished
in Germany as the comfort level fell, to prevent criticism and
conflict. Because liberals were tortured and books burned and Jews and
Catholics given over to satisfy a frightful appetite for hatred, the
people of Germany were kept longer at their work, and got less and
less butter, and made more and more steel to undersell us in Soviet
Russia or the Argentine; they made also more and more submarines to
sink our ships if we ever came to war. Every liberty erased by Hitler
was an economic attack on us, it made slave labor a more effective
competitor to our free labor. The concentration camp and the
blackguards on the streets were all part of an _economic_ policy, to
create a feudal serfdom in the place of free labor. If the policy
succeeds, we will have to break down our standard of living and give
up entirely our habits of freedom, in order to meet the competition of
slave labor.

It means today that we will not have cheap motor cars and presently it
may mean that we will not have high test steel or meat every day.
Victory for the Axis system means that we work for the Germans and the
Japanese, literally, actually, on their terms, in factories bossed by
their local representatives; and anything less than complete victory
for us means that we work harder and longer for less and less, paying
for defeat by accepting a mean standard of living, not daring to fight
our way into the markets of the world which fascism has closed to us.

Readers of _You Can't Do Business With Hitler_ will not need to be
convinced again that the two systems--his and ours--are mutually
incompatible. Fortunately for us, they are also mutually destructive.
The basis of fascism is, as I have noted, the feudal hope of a fixed
unchangeable form of society which will last forever; the basis of
democracy is change (which we call progress). Hitler announces that
nazism will last a thousand years; the Japanese assert that their
society has lasted longer; and the voice of Mussolini, when it used to
be heard, spoke of Ancient Rome. We who are too impatient of the past,
and need to understand our tradition, are at any rate aware of one
thing--it is a tradition of change. (Jefferson to Lincoln to Theodore
Roosevelt--the acceptance of change, even of radical change, is basic
in American history.)

We might tolerate the tactics of fascism; the racial hatred, the false
system of education, the attack on religion, all might pass if they
weren't part of the great strategic process of the fascists, which is
our mortal enemy, as our process is theirs. They exclude and we
penetrate; they have to _destroy_ liberty in order to control making
and buying and selling and using steel and bread and radios, and we
have to _create_ liberty in order to create more customers for more
things. They have to suppress dissent because dissent means difference
which no feudal system can afford; we have to encourage criticism
because only free inquiry destroys error and discovers new and useful

These hostile actions make us enemies because our penetration will not
accept the Axis wall thrown up around nations normally free and
friendly to us; and the Axis must make us into fascists because there
can be no exceptions in a system dedicated to conformity. The whole
world must accept a world-system.

In particular, we must be eliminated because we do expose the fraud of
fascism--which is that liberty must be sacrificed to attain power.
This is an open principle of fascism, as it is of all dictatorships
and "total" states. It is very appealing to tyrants and to weaklings,
and the ruthlessness of the attack on liberty seems "realistic" even
to believers in democracy--especially during the critical moments when
action is needed and democracies seem to do nothing but talk. The
truth is that our Executive is tremendously prompt and unhampered in
war time; the appeaser of fascism does not tell the truth; he wants an
end to talk, which is dangerous, because he is always at war and the
secret fascist would have to admit that his perpetual war is against
the people of the United States. So he says only that in modern times,
liberty is too great a luxury, too easily abused; he says that a great
State is too delicately balanced to tolerate the whims and
idiosyncrasies of individuals; if the State has discovered the best
diet for all the citizens, then no citizen can "prefer" another diet,
and no expert may cast doubt on the official rations. To cause
uncertainty is to diminish efficiency; to back "wrong" ideas is

One of the best descriptions of this state of mind occurs in a page of
Arthur Koester's _Darkness at Noon_. It is fiction, but not untrue:

     "A short time ago, our leading agriculturist, B., was shot with
     thirty of his collaborators because he maintained the opinion
     that nitrate artificial manure was superior to potash. No. 1 is
     all for potash; therefore B. and the thirty had to be
     liquidated as _saboteurs_. In a nationally centralized
     agriculture, the alternative of nitrate or potash is of
     enormous importance: it can decide the issue of the next war.
     If No. 1 was in the right, history will absolve him, and the
     execution of the thirty-one men will be a mere bagatelle. If he
     was wrong....

     "It is that alone that matters: who is objectively in the
     right. The cricket-moralists are agitated by quite another
     problem: whether B. was subjectively in good faith when he
     recommended nitrogen. If he was not, according to their ethics
     he should be shot, even if it should subsequently be shown that
     nitrogen would have been better after all. If he was in good
     faith, then he should be acquitted and allowed to continue
     making propaganda for nitrate, even if the country should be
     ruined by it....

     "That is, of course, complete nonsense. For us the question of
     subjective good faith is of no interest. He who is in the wrong
     must pay; he who is in the right will be absolved. That is the
     law of historical credit; it was our law."

Intellectual fascists are particularly liable to the error of thinking
that this sort of thing is above morality, beyond good and evil. The
"cricket-moralists" are people like ourselves and the English, who are
agitated because "innocent" men are put to death; the hard-headed ones
answer that innocence isn't important; effectiveness is what counts.
Yet the democratic-cricket-morality is in the long run more realistic
than the tough school which kills its enemies first and then finds out
if they were guilty. The reason we allow a scientist to cry for
nitrates after we have decided on potash is that we have to keep
scientific investigation alive; we cannot trust ourselves for too long
to the potash group. In five years, both nitrate and potash may be
discarded because we have found something better. And no scientist
will for long retain his critical pioneering spirit if an official
superior can reject his research. (An Army board rejected the research
of General William Mitchell and it took a generation for Army men to
recover initiative; and this was in an organization accustomed to
respect rank and tradition. In science, which is more sensitive, the
only practical thing is to reward the heretic and the explorer even
while one adopts the idea of the orthodox.)

This question of heresy, apparently so trifling, is critical for us
because it is a clue to the weakness of Hitlerism and it provides us
with the only strategy by which Hitlerism can be destroyed.


Strategy for the Citizen

There is a tendency at this moment to consider Hitler a master
strategist, master psychologist, master statesman. His analysis of
democracy, however, leaves something unsaid, and the nervous strong
men who admire Hitler, as well as the weaklings who need "leadership",
are doing their best to fill in the gaps. The Hitlerian concept of
totality allows no room for difference; an official bread ration and
an official biochemistry are equally to be accepted by everyone; in
democracy Hitler finds a deplorable tendency to shrink from rationing
and to encourage deviations from the established principles of
biochemistry. This, he says, weakens the State; for one thing it leads
to endless discussion. (Hitler is an orator, not a debater; dislike of
letting other people talk is natural; his passion for action on a
world-scale, immense in space, enduring for all time, has the same
terrific concentration on himself.) Hitler's admirers in a democracy
take this up with considerable pleasure; in each of his victories they
see an argument against the Bill of Rights. Then war comes; sugar is
wanting and we accept a ration card; supreme commands are established
in various fields; and the sentiment spreads that "we can only beat
Hitler by becoming a 'total' State". (No one dares say "Nazi".)

Hitler, discerning in us a toleration of dissent, has driven hard into
every crevice, trying to split us apart, like cannel coal. He has
tried to turn dissent into disunion--and he has been helped by some of
the most loyal and patriotic Americans almost as much as he has been
helped by bundists.

We have not known how to deal with dissent; we stopped looking for the
causes of disagreement; even when war came, we confused the areas of
human action in which difference is vital with the areas in which
difference is a mortal danger.

The moment we saw the direction of Hitler's drive, which was to
magnify our differences, we began to encourage him by actively
intensifying all our disagreements; the greater our danger, the more
we were at odds. The results were serious enough.

No policy governing production had been accepted by industry;

No policy governing labor relations had been put into practise so that
it was operating smoothly;

No great stock of vital raw materials was laid up;

No great stock of vital war machinery had been created;

No keen awareness of the significance of the war had become an
integrated part of American thought;

No awareness of all the possibilities of attack had become an
integrated part of military and naval thought.

To this pitch of unreadiness the technique of "divide and disturb" had
brought us--but it had, none the less, failed. For the purpose of
disruption in America was to paralyze our will, to prevent us from
entering the war, to create a dangerous internal front if we did enter
the war.

What we proved was this: dissent is not a symptom of weakness, it is a
source of strength. It is the counterpart of the great scientific
methods of exploration, comparison, proof. Our dissents mean that we
continue to search; they mean that we do not rule out improvement
after we have accepted a machine or a method. (We carried this
"dissent" to an extreme in "yearly models" of motor cars and almost
daily models of lipstick; but we did manufacture in quantity, and the
error of _change before production_ which stalled our aircraft program
of 1917 was not repeated.)

  _Why We Can't Use Hitler_

If we "need a Hitler" to defeat Hitler, we are lost, at this moment,
irretrievably, because the _final_ triumph of Hitlerism is to make us
need Hitler. The truth is we cannot use a Hitler, we cannot use
fascism, we cannot use any form of "total" organization except in the
one field where totality has always existed, which is war. So far as
war touches the composition of women's stockings or children's
ice-cream sodas, we need unified organization in the domestic field;
but not "total government". We have to be told (since it is not a
matter of individual taste) how many flavors of ice-cream may be
manufactured; but the regimentation of people is not required. (The
United States Army has officially declared against complete
regimentation in one of its own fields; every soldier studies the
history of this war and is encouraged to ask questions about it,
because "the War Department considers that every American soldier
should know clearly why and for what we are fighting.")

We cannot use a Hitler because we lack the time. We cannot catch up
with Hitler on Hitlerism. We cannot wait ten years to re-condition the
people of America, the ten vital years which Hitler spent enslaving
the German mind were spent by us in digging the American people out
from the ruined economic system which collapsed on them in 1929. We
are conditioned by the angry and excited controversy over the New
Deal; we are opinionated, variant, prejudiced, individual,
argumentative. We cannot be changed over to the German model. Perhaps
in a quieter moment we could be captivated (if not captured) by an
American-type dictator, a Huey Long; in wartime, when people undergo
incalculable changes of habit without a murmur, the old framework and
the established forms of life must be scrupulously revered. Otherwise
people will be scared; they will not respond to encouragement. That is
why we cannot take time to learn how to love a dictator.

The alternative is obvious: to re-discover the virtue which Hitler
calls a vice, to defeat totality by variety (which is the essential
substance of unity). I do not mean five admirals disputing command of
one fleet or one assembly line ordered to make three wholly different
aeroplane engines. I mean the combination of elements, as they are
combined in the food we eat and the water we drink; and as they are
combined in the people we are.

We have lived by combining a variety of elements; we have always
allowed as much freedom to variety as we could, believing that out of
this freedom would come a steady progress, a definite betterment of
our State; so, we have been taught, the human race has progressed, not
by utter uniformity, and not by anarchy, but by an alternation of two
things--the standard and the variant.

Now we face death--called totality. For us it is death; and we can not
avoid it by taking it in homeopathic doses, we can only live by
destroying whatever is deadly to us.

It is hard for a layman to translate the "strategy of variety" into
terms of production or naval movement. The translation is being made
every day by men in the factories and in the field; instinctively they
follow the technique of variety because it is natural to them. All the
layman can do is to watch and make sure that out of panic we do not
betray ourselves to the enemy.

It is not a matter of military technique, but of common sense that we
can only destroy our enemy out of our strength, striking at his
weakness; we can never defeat him by striking with our weakest arm
against his strongest. And our strong point is the variety, the
freedom, the independence of our thought and action. Hitler calls all
this a weakness, because he has destroyed it in his own country; and
so gives us the clue to his own weak spot.

  _Has Hitler a Weakness?_

In the face of the stupendous victories of Germany, it is hard to say
that Hitler's army has a weak spot; but it did not take London or
Moscow in its first attempts, nor Suez. Somewhere in this formidable
strength a weakness is to be discovered; it will not be discovered by
us if we are intimidated into imitation. We have to be flexible,
feeling out our adversary, falling back when we have to, lunging
forward in another place or on another level; for this war is being
fought on several planes at once, and if we are not strong enough
today on one, we can fight on another; we are, in fact, fighting
steadily on the production front, intermittently on the V (or
foreign-propaganda) front, on the front of domestic stability, on the
financial front (in connection with the United Nations); and the war
front itself is divided into military and naval (with air in each) and
transport; our opportunity is to win by creating our own most
effective front, and keep hammering on it while we get ready to fight
on the ones our enemies have chosen.

Every soldier feels the difference between his own army and any other;
every general or statesman knows that the kind of war a nation fights
rises out of the kind of nation it is. This is the form of strategy
which the layman has to understand--in self-defense against the
petrified mind which either will not change the methods of the last
war, or will scrap everything in order to imitate the enemy. The
layman knows something of warfare now, because the layman is in it. He
knows that the tank and the Stuka and the parachute troop were
separate alien inventions combined by the German High Command; but
combinations of various arms is not an exclusively German conception.
The new concept in this war is ten years old, it is the sacrifice of a
nation to its army, the creation of mass-munitions, the concentration
on offensive striking power. All of these are successful against
broken and betrayed armies in France, against small armies unsupported
by tanks and planes; they are not entirely successful against huge
armies, fighting under trusted leaders, for a civilization they love,
an army of individual heroes, supported by guerillas on one side, and
an incalculable production power on the other. Possibly the Soviet
Union has discovered one weakness in the German war-strategy; it may
not be the weakness through which we can strike; we may have to find
another. We have to find the weakness of Japan, too--and we are not so
inclined to imitate them.

There is a famous picture of Winston Churchill, hatless in the street,
with a napkin in his hand, looking up at the sky; it was in Antwerp in
1914 and Churchill had left his dinner to see enemy aircraft in the
sky--an omen of things to come. At Antwerp Churchill had tried to head
off the German swing to the sea, but Antwerp was a defeat and
Churchill returned to London, still looking for some way to refuse the
German system of the trench, the bombardment, and the breakthrough. He
tried it with the tank; he tried it at Gallipoli; finally the Allies
tried it, half-heartedly, at Salonika. The war, on Germany's terms,
was a stalemate and Germany might have broken through; the war ended
because the balance was dislocated when America came in and,
simultaneously, both England and America began to fight the war also
on the propaganda level. By that time Churchill was "discredited"; he
had tried to shorten the war by two years and the British forces, with
success in their hands, had failed to strike home, failed to send the
one more battleship, the one more division which would have insured
victory--because Kitchener and the War Office and the French High
Command wanted to keep on fighting the war in the German way.

  _Escape from Despair_

The desperation which overcomes the inexpert civilian at the thought
of fighting the military machines of Germany and Japan is justified
_only_ if we propose to fight them on their terms, in the way they
propose to us. Analogies are dangerous, but there is a sense in which
war is a chess game (as chess is a war game). White opens with Queen's
pawn to Qu 3, and Black recognizes the gambit. He can accept or
decline. If he accepts, it is because he thinks he can fight well on
that basis, but Black can also reject White's plan of campaign. The
good player is one who can break out of the strategy which the other
tries to impose.

We have felt ourselves incapable of fighting Hitler because we hate
Hitlerism and we do not want to think as he does, feel as he does, act
as he does--with more horror, more cruelty, more debasement of
humanity, in order to defeat him. And the public statements of our
leaders have necessarily concealed any new plan of attack; in fact we
have heard chiefly of super-fascist production, implying our
acceptance of the fascist tactics in the field; the best we can expect
is that soon we, not they, will take the offensive. If this were all,
it would still leave us fighting the fascist war.

The civilian's totally untrained dislike of this prospect is of
considerable importance because it is a parallel to the citizen's
authoritative and decisive objection to the Hitlerian strategy of
propaganda; and if the civilian holds out, if he discovers our native
natural strategy of civil action in the war, the army will be
constantly recruiting anti-fascists, will live in an atmosphere of
inventive anti-fascism, and therefore will never completely fall under
the spell of the enemy's tactics. That is why it is important for the
citizen to know that he is right. _We do not have to fight Hitler in
his way_; that is what Hitler wants us to do, because _if we do we can
not win_. There is another way--although we may not have found it yet.

In its celebrated "orientation course" the United States army explains
the strategy of the war to every one of its soldiers, not to make them
strategists, but to make them better soldiers. The civilian needs at
least as much knowledge so that he is not over-elated by a stroke of
luck or too cast down by disaster. The jokes about amateur strategists
and the High Command's justifiable resentment of ignorant criticism
are both beside the point; civilians do not need text books on
tactics; they need to know the nature of warfare. They needed
desperately to know in February, 1942, why General MacArthur was
performing a useful function in Bataan and why bombers were not sent
to his aid; and this information came to them from the President. But
the President is not the only one who can tell civilians how long it
takes to transport a division and put it into action; how air and sea
power interact; what a beach action involves; and a few other facts
which would allay impatience and give the worker in the factory some
sense of the importance of his work. The civilian in war work or out
of it should know something about war, and in particular he should
know that there are several kinds of war, one of which is correct and
appropriate and effective for us.

  _Military Mummery_

It might be a good thing if some of the mumbo-jumbo about military
strategy were reduced to simple terms, so that the civilians, whose
lives and fortunes and sacred honor are involved, would know what is
happening to them. The military mind, aided by the military expert,
loves to use special terms; until recently the commentator on strategy
was as obscure and difficult as a music critic, and despatches from
the field as obscure as prescriptions in Latin. It is supposed that
doctors wrote in Latin not only because it was an exact and universal
language, but because it was not understood by laymen, so it gave
mystery and authority to their prescriptions. Latin is still not
understood, but the simple art of advertising has destroyed a vast
amount of business for the doctors because ads in English persuaded
the ignorant to use quack remedies and patent and proprietary
medicines, without consulting the doctor.

A rebellion like this against the military mind may occur; experts are
now writing for the popular press, and talking in elementary terms to
millions by radio. They cannot teach the techniques of correlated tank
and air attack any more than music critics can teach the creation of
head tones. But they can expound the fundamentals--and so expose the
military leadership to the _criticism it desperately needs_ if it is
to function properly. The essentials of warfare are dreadfully
simple--the production manager of any great industrial concern deals
with most of them every day. You have to get materials and equipment;
train men to use certain tools and instruments; bring power to bear at
chosen points, in sufficient quantity, at the right time, for the
right length of time; you have to combine the various kinds of force
at your disposal, and arrange a schedule, as there is a schedule for
chassis and body work in a motor car factory, so that the right
chassis is in the right place as its body is lowered upon it; you have
to stop or go on, according to judgments based on information. The
terrifying decisions, the choice of place and time, the selection of
instruments, the allocation of power to several points, are made by
the high command on the grand scale or by a sergeant if his officer is
shot down; and the right judgments distinguish the great commander or
the good platoon leader from the second rate. The civilian, without
information, cannot decide what to do; but, as Britain's _civilian_
courts of inquiry have shown, he can tell whether the right decisions
have been made. He can tell as well as the greatest commander, that
indecision and dispersion of forces made success at the Dardanelles
impossible in 1916; or that lack of a unified plan of tank attack made
the wreck of France certain in 1940. The civilian American who has
taken a hundred detours on motor roads can understand even the purely
military elements of a flanking movement; the industrial American need
not be baffled by the problems of fire-power, coordination, or supply.
We can understand the war if the mystery is stripped away, and if we
are allowed to understand that the wrong strategy is as fatal to us as
the wrong prescription.

I believe that we will have to strip the false front from
international diplomacy, from warfare, from all the inherited
"mysteries" which are still pre-Revolutionary in essence. We will have
to bring these things up to date because our lives depend on them, we
can no longer depend on the strategy of Gustavus Adolphus or the
diplomacy of Metternich. Five million soldiers in khaki, with a
nation's life disrupted for their support, require a different
strategy from that of Burgoyne's hired Hessians; and a hundred and
thirty million individuals simply do not want the intrigue and
Congress-dances diplomacy which traded territory, set up kings, and
found pretexts for good wars.

We have destroyed a good deal of the mummery of economics--not without
help; politics has become more familiar to us, we now know that a
thief in office is a thief, that tariffs are not made by abstract
thinkers, but by manufacturers and farmers and factory workers; we
know, with some poignancy, that taxes are paid by people like
ourselves and we are beginning to know that taxes are spent to keep
people alive and healthy and in jobs and, to a minute extent, also to
keep people cheerful, their minds alert, their spirits buoyant. The
very fact that we are now _all_ critics of spending is a great
advance, because it means we are all paying; when we are all critics
of foreign policy it will mean that we are all signing contracts with
other nations; and when we are all critics of war, it will mean that
we are all fighting.

As a student, I know what a layman can know about strategy; less about
tactics; as a citizen I should be of greater service to my country if
I knew more. What I have learned, from many sources, seems to hold
together and to demonstrate one thing: behind strategy in the field is
a strategy of a people in action; and victory comes to the leaders who
organize and use the national forces in keeping with the national

I have gone to several authorities to discover whether the "tactics of
variety" (a "natural" in propaganda) has any counterpart in the field.
I cannot pretend that it is an accepted idea; it is hardly more than a
name for an attitude of mind; but I did find authority for the feeling
that an American (or United Nations) strategy need not be--and must
not be--the strategy of Hitler. So much the civilian can take to his
bosom, for comfort.

  _A Variety of Strategies_

The greatest comfort to myself was in a little book published just in
time to corroborate a few guesses and immensely to widen my outlook;
it is called _Grand Strategy_; the authors are H.A. Sargeaunt, a
specialist in poison gas and tank design, a scientist and historian;
and Geoffrey West, biographer and student of politics; both British.
Although there are some difficult pages and some odd conclusions, this
book is a revelation--particularly it shows the connection between war
and the social conditions of nations making war; in the authors' own
words, "war and society condition each other"; they connect war with
progress and show how each nation can develop a strategy out of its
own resources. The hint we all got at school, that the French
revolution is responsible for vast civilian armies, is carried into a
history of the nineteenth century--and into this war.

The authors have their own names for each kind of war--each is a
"solution" to the problem of victory. Each adds a special factor to
the body of strategy known at the time, and this added special factor
rises from the country which uses it--from its methods of production,
its education, its religion, its banking and commercial habits, and
its whole social organization. Napoleon's solution was based on the
revolutionary enthusiasm of the French people; he added zeal, the
intense application of force, speed of movement, repeated hammering,
throwing in reserves. All of these things demand devotion, patriotic
self-sacrifice, and these qualities had been created, for the French,
by the Republic; they were not qualities known to the mercenaries and
small standing armies of Napoleon's enemies.

Against Napoleon's total use of the strategy of force, the British
opposed a strength based on the way they lived; it was a sea-strength
of blockade, but also on land they refused to accept the challenge of
Napoleon. They would not come out (until they were ready at Waterloo)
and let Napoleon find their weak spot for the exercise of his force.
Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, but the turning point came
years earlier at Torres Vedras in Spain; as Napoleon increased force,
Wellington increased "persistence"; it is called the "strategy of
attrition" and it means that Wellington's "aim was to wear down the
enemy troops by inducing them to attack [where Wellington] could
withdraw to take up positions and fight again."

Today, getting news of a campaign like Wellington's in Spain, the
average man would repeatedly read and hear headlines of retreat; he
would get the impression of an uninterrupted series of defeats. But
the Peninsular War was actually a triumph for British arms. It was a
triumph because Wellington refused to fight in any way not natural to
the British; his masterly retreats did not disturb the "inborn
toughness and phlegm, that saving lack of imagination" which makes the
British, as these British authors say, "good at retreats". Moreover,
this war of slow retreats gave Britain time to develop a tremendous
manufacturing power, to organize the blockade of Napoleon and the
merchant fleet for supply to Spain. The whole history of modern
England, its acceptance of the factory system, its naval supremacy,
its relation to the Continent, and its internal reforms--all rise from
the kind of war Wellington made, and the kind he refused to make.

For the curious, the later "solutions" are: under Bismark and Moltke,
increased training and use of equipment and material resources; under
Hitler, "synchronized timing" (connected with air-power and the
impossibility of large-scale surprise; also connected with "alertness
and intelligence" in the individual soldier, a frightening development
under a totalitarian military dictatorship); and finally, under
Churchill, "the national sandbag defense", increasing "usable morale
and initiative". Sandbag defense gets its name from the battle of
London; but it refers to all sorts of defensive operations--a bullet
is shot into sand and the dislodged grains of sand form themselves
again so that the next bullet has the same depth of sand to go
through--unless the bullets come so fast in "synchronized timing" or
blitzkrieg that the sand hasn't time to close over the gap again. The
defense "demands that every person in the nation be capable of
sticking to his task even without detailed orders from others,
regardless of the odds against him and though it may mean certain
death. _Every_ person--not merely the trained minority. This happened
at Dunkirk...." At Dunkirk the grains of sand were hundreds of small
yachts, motor boats, trawlers, coasting vessels, many of which were
taken to the dreadful beach by civilians virtually without orders;
some of them became ferry-boats, taking men off the shore to the
transports which could not get close enough, going back and forth,
without stop--the grains of sand reforming until an army was rescued.

These examples drive home the principle that a form or style of
warfare must be found by each nation corresponding to the state of the
nation _at that time_; the "psychology" of the nation may remain
constant for a century, but the way to make war will change if the
methods of production have changed. If the nation has lost (or won)
colonies, if education has reached the poor, if child labor has ended
(so that youths of eighteen are strong enough for tank duty), if women
are without civil rights, if a wave of irreligion or political
illiberality has swept over the country--if any vital change has
occurred, the style of war must change also. Every social change
affects the kind of war we can fight, the kind we must discover for
ourselves if we are to defeat an enemy who has chosen his style and is
trying to impose it on us. The analysis of Hitler's war-style must be
left to experts; if its essence is "synchronized timing", our duty is
to find a way of upsetting the time-table, not only by months, but by
minutes. Possibly the style developed by Stalin can do both--by
pulling back into the vast spaces of Russia, Stalin created a
battlefield without shape or definition, which may have prevented the
correlation of the parts of Hitler's armies; by encouraging guerillas,
he may have upset the timing of individual soldiers, tanks, and
planes. The success of the Eighth Route Army in China was based on a
totally different military style, the only completely Communist style
on record; for the army was successful because it built a Communist
society on the march, actually and literally, establishing schools,
manufacturing arms, bearing children, and fighting battles at the same
time, so that at the end of several years the army had extricated
itself from a trap, crossed and recrossed miles of enemy territory,
reformed itself with more men and arms than it had at the
beginning--and had operated as a center of living civilization for
hundreds of thousands.

The operations of Chiang Kai Chek against the Japanese are another
example of rejecting the enemy's style; over the enormous terrain of
China, the defending armies could scatter and hide from aircraft; the
cities fell or were gutted by fire; but the people moved around them,
the armies remained. Japan's attack on Britain and ourselves began
with islands, where the lesson of China could not be applied; and the
islands were dependencies, not free nations like China, so the
psychology of defense was also different; in the opening phases there
was no choice and the Japanese forced us to accept their way of making
war. Their way, it appears, is appropriate to their beliefs, their
requirements in food, their capacity to imitate Europe, and dozens of
other factors, not precisely similar to ours. Their experience and
outlook in life and ideas of honor may lead to the suicide bomber;
ours do not. Our dive bombers feel no shame if they miss a target;
they have a duty which is to save their ships and return for another
try; it is against the whole natural tradition of the west that a man
should kill himself for the honor of a ruler; we would not send out an
army with orders to gain honor by death, as we prefer to gain honor by
victory. So in the true sense it would be suicidal for us to imitate
the Japanese; our heroism-to-the-death is the arrival, at the final
moment, of a last reserve of courage and devotion; it is not a planned
bravery, nor a communal devotion, it is as private as liberty--or

Our heroism rises out of our lives. Our science of victory will have
to be based on our lives, too, on the way we manufacture, play games,
read newspapers, eat and drink and bring up children. It is the
function of our high command to translate what we can do best into a
practical military strategy. The civilian's function is to provide the
physical and moral strength needed to support the forces in the field.
Here the civilian is qualified to make certain demands, because we
know where our intellectual and moral strength lies; we can work to
keep the tactics of variety operative in the field of public emotion.

The next two chapters are a translation of the tactics of variety into
terms of propaganda and its objective, which is unity of action.



When I began to write this book the unity "made in Japan" was
beginning to wear thin; when I finished people were slowly accustoming
themselves to a new question: they did not know whether an illusion of
unity was better than no unity at all.

We know now that we were galvanized into common action by the shock of
attack; but to recoil from a blow, to huddle together for
self-protection, to cry for revenge--are not the signs of a national
unity. Before the war was three months old it was clear that we were
not united on any question; while we all intended to win the war, the
new appeasers had arrived--who wanted to buy themselves off the
consequences of war by not fighting it boldly; or by fighting only
Japan; or fighting Japan only at Hawaii; we disagreed about the
methods of warfare and the purpose of victory; there were those who
wanted the war won without aid from liberals and those who would
rather the war were lost than have labor contribute to victory; and
those who seemed more interested in preventing profit than in creating
munitions; it was a great chance "to put something over"--possibly the
radicals could be destroyed, possibly the rich; possibly the President
or his wife could be trapped into an error, possibly a sales tax would
prevent a new levy on corporations, possibly labor could maneuvre
itself into dominance; the requirements of war could be a good excuse
for postponing all new social legislation and slily dropping some of
the less vital projects; and the inescapable regimentation of millions
of people, the necessary propaganda among others, could be used as an
opportunity for new social experiments and indoctrination. In these
differences and in the bitterness of personal dislike, people
believed that the war could not be won unless their separate purposes
were also fulfilled; our activities were not designed to fit with one
another, and we were like ionized particles, held within a framework,
but each pulling away from the others.

The attack on Pearl Harbor silenced the pacifists; not even the most
misguided could suggest that the President had maneuvred Japan into
the attack; the direct cause of the war, including the war which Italy
and Germany declared on us, was self-protection. We were not fighting
for England, for the Jews, for the munition makers. But did we know
what we _were_ fighting for? The President had said that we did not
intend to be constantly at the mercy of aggressors; and the Atlantic
Charter provided a rough sketch of the future. But we did not know
whether we were to be allied with Britain, reconstruct Europe, raise
China to dominance in the Far East, enter a supernational system,
withdraw as we did at the end of the last war, or simply make
ourselves the rulers of the world.

Matching our casual uncertainty was the dead-shot clear-minded
intention of our enemies--to conquer, to subjugate, to rule; by
forgetting all other aims, eliminating all private purposes; by
putting aside whatever the war did not require and omitting nothing
necessary for victory; by making war itself the great social
experiment, using war to destroy morals, habits and enterprises which
did not help the war, destroying, above all, the prejudices, the
rights, the character of civilized humanity as we have known them.

Have we a source of unity which can oppose this totality? According to
Hitler, we have not: we are a nation of many races and people; we are
a capitalist country divided between the rich and the poor; we break
into political parties; we reject leadership; we are given up to
private satisfactions and do not understand the sacrifices which unity

Therefore, in the Hitlerian prophecy, America needs only to be put
under the slightest tension and it will fall apart.

The strains under which people live account for their strength as well
as their weakness; we are strong in another direction precisely
because we are not "unified" in the Nazi sense. Actually the Nazis
have no conception of unity; their purpose is totality, which is not
the same thing at all. A picture or a motor has unity when all the
_different_ parts are arranged and combined to produce a specific
effect; but a canvas all painted the same shade of blue has no
unity--it is a totality, a total blank; there is no unity in a
thousand ball-bearings; they are _totally_ alike.

If the Nazi argument is not valid, why did we first thank Japan for
unity, and then discover that we had no unity? Why were we pulling
against one another, so that in the first year of the war we were
distracted and ineffective, as France had been? If outright pacifism
was our only disruptive element, why didn't we, after we were
attacked, embrace one another in mutual forgiveness, high devotion to
our country, and complete harmony of purpose? Months of disaster in
the Pacific and the grinding process of reorganizing for production at
home left us unaware of the sacrifices we had still to make, and at
the mercy of demagogues waiting only for the right moment to start a
new appeasement. Perhaps next summer, when the American people won't
get their motor trips to the mountains and the lakes; perhaps next
winter when coal and oil may not be delivered promptly; perhaps when
the first casualty lists come in....

We were not a united people and were not mature enough, in war years,
to face our disunion. When we become mature we will discover that
unity means agreement as to purpose, consent as to methods, and
willingness to function. All the parts of the motor car have to do
their work, or the car will not run well; that is their unity; and our
unity will bring every one of us jobs to do for which we have to
prepare. We can remember Pearl Harbor with banners and diamond clasps,
but until we forget Pearl Harbor and do the work which national unity
requires of us, we will still be children playing a war game--and
still persuading ourselves that we can't lose.

  _The Background of Disunion_

In the urgency of the moment no one asked how it happened that the
United States were not a united people. No one wondered what had
happened to us in the past twenty years to make religious and racial
animosities, political heresy-hunts, and class hatreds so common that
they were used not only by demagogues, but by men responsible to the
nation. No one asked whether the unity we had always assumed was ever
a real thing, not a politician's device, for use on national holidays
only. And, when the disunion of the people's leaders began to be
apparent, and the people began to be ill-at-ease--then they were told
to remember Pearl Harbor, or that we were all united really, but were
helping our country best by constructive criticism. The fatal
circumstance of our disunity we dared not face. No one who _could_
unite the people was willing to work out the basis of unity--and
everyone left it to the President, as if in the strain of battle, a
general were compelled to orate to the troops. The President's work
was to win over our enemies; it should not have been necessary for him
to win us over, too.

The situation is grave because we have no tradition of early defeat
and ultimate victory; we have no habit of national feeling, so that
when hardships fall on us we feel alone, and victimized. We do not
know what "all being in the same boat" really signifies; we will, of
course, pull together if we are shipwrecked; but the better way to win
wars is to avoid shipwrecks, not to survive them.

We cannot improvise a national unity; we can only capitalize on gusts
of anger or jubilation, from day to day--these are the tactics of war
propaganda, not its grand strategy. For our basic unity we have to go
where it already exists, we have to uncover a great mother-lode of
the true metal, where it has always been; we have to _remind_
ourselves of what we have been and are, so that our unity will come
from within ourselves, and not be plastered on like a false front. For
it is only the strength inside us that will win the war and create a
livable world for us when we have won it.

We have this deep, internal, mother-lode of unity--in our history, our
character, and our destiny. We are awkward in approaching it, because
in the past generation we have falsified our history and corrupted our
character; the men now in training camps grew up between the Treaty of
Versailles and the crash of 1929; they lived in the atmosphere of
normalcy and debunking; of the Ku Klux Klan and Bolshevism; of boom
and charity; and it is not surprising that they were, at first,
bewildered by the sudden demands on their patriotism.

  _Losing a Generation_

We have to look into those twenty years before we can create an
effective national unity; what we find there is a disaster--but facing
it is a tonic to the nerves.

What happened was this: for the first time since the Civil War,
progressivism--our basic habit of mind--disappeared from effective
politics. The moral fervor of the Abolitionists, the agrarian anger of
the Populists, the evangelical fervor of William J. Bryan, the
impulsive almost boyish Square Deal of Theodore Roosevelt, the
studious reformism of Woodrow Wilson, all form a continuity of
political idealism; from 1856 to 1920 a party, usually out of office,
was bringing the fervor and passion of moral righteousness into
politics. The passion was defeated, but the political value of
fighting for morally desirable ends remained high; and in the end the
wildest demands of the "anarchists" and enemies of the Republic were
satisfied by Congresses under Roosevelt and Wilson and Taft.

This constant battle for progressive principles is one of the most
significant elements in American life--and we have unduly neglected
it. James Bryce once wrote that there was no basic difference in the
philosophy of Democrats and Republicans, and thousands of teachers
have repeated it to millions of children; intellectuals have neglected
politics because the corruption of local battles has left little to
choose between the Vare machine in Philadelphia, the Kelly in Chicago,
the Long in Louisiana. For many years, in the general rise of our
national wealth, politics seemed relatively unimportant and "vulgar";
and the figure of the idealist and social reformer was always
ludicrous, because the reformers almost always came from the land,
from the midwest, from the heart of America, not from its centers of
financial power and social graces.

So constant--and so critical--is the continuity of reformist politics
in America, that the break, in 1920, becomes an event of extreme
significance--a symptom to be watched, analysed and compared. Why did
America suddenly break with its progressive tradition--and what was
the result?

The break occurred because the reformist, comparatively radical party
was in power in 1918 when the war ended; all radicalism was
discredited by the rise of Bolshevism in Russia, with its implied
threat to the sanctity of property. Disappointment in the outcome of
the war, Wilson's maladroit handling of the League of Nations, and his
untimely illness, doomed the Democratic Party to impotence and the
Republicans to reaction, which is often worse. So there could be no
effective, respectable party agitating for reform, for a saner
distribution of the pleasures and burdens of citizenship; in the years
that followed, certain social gains were kept, some laws were passed
by the momentum gained in the past generation, but the characteristic
events were the Ohio scandals, the lowering of income taxes in the
highest brackets, the failure of the Child Labor Amendment, and the
heartfelt, complete abandonment of America to normalcy--a condition
totally abnormal in American history.

It is interesting to note that the only reformer of this period was
the prohibitionist; the word changed meaning; a derisive echo clings
to it still. The New Deal hardly ever used the word; and the reformers
of the New Deal were called revolutionists because reform was no
longer in the common language--or perhaps because reforms delayed
_are_ revolutionary when they come.

The disappearance of liberalism as an active political force left a
vacuum; into it came, triumphantly, the wholly un-American normalcy of
Harding and Coolidge and, in opposition, the wholly un-American
radicalism of the Marxists; the Republicans gave us our first touch of
true plutocracy and the Reds our most effective outburst of debunking.
Between them they almost ruined the character of an entire generation.

For 150 years the United States had tried to do two things: first,
allow as many people as possible to make as much money as possible and,
second, prevent the rich from acquiring complete control of the
Government. As each new source of power grew, the attempt to limit kept
pace with it; under Jackson, it was the banking power that had to be
broken; under Lincoln the manufacturing power was somewhat balanced if
not checked by the grant of free land; the Interstate Commerce
Commission regulated rates and reduced the power of the railroads; the
Sherman Act, relatively ineffective, was directed against trusts;
changes in tariff laws occasionally gave relief to the victims of
"infant industries". Under Theodore Roosevelt the railroads and the
coal mine owners were held back and a beginning made in the recognition
of organized labor; under Wilson the financial power was seriously
compromised by the Federal Reserve Act, and industrial-financial power
was balanced, a little, by special legislation for rural banking; under
Taft the Income Tax Amendment was passed and an effort made to deduct
from great fortunes a part of the cost of the Government which
protected those fortunes.

  _Robbers and Pharisees_

The era of normalcy was unique in one thing, it made the encouragement
and protection of great fortunes the first concern of Government.
Nothing else counted. Through its executives and administrators,
through cabinet members and those closest to the White House, normalcy
first declared that no moral standard, no patriotism, no respect for
the dead, should stand in the way of robbing the people of the United
States; and so cynically did the rulers of America steal the public
funds, that the people returned them to power with hardly a reproach.

The rectitude of Calvin Coolidge made his party respectable; his dry
worship of the money power was as complete a betrayal as Harding's. He
spoke the dialect of the New England rustic, but he was false to the
economy and to the idealism of New England; his whole career was an
encouragement to extravagance; he was ignorant or misled or
indifferent, for he watched a spiral of inflated values and a fury of
gambling, and helped it along; he refused even to admonish the people,
although he knew that the mania for speculation was drawing the
strength of the country away from its functions. Money was being
made--and he respected money; money in large enough quantities could
do no harm. Even after the crash, he could not believe that money had
erred. When he was asked to write a daily paragraph of comment on the
state of the nation, he was embarrassed; he had been the President of
prosperity and he did not want to face a long depression; he asked his
friends at Morgan and Company to advise him and they told him that the
depression would be over almost immediately, so he began his writings,
admitting that "the condition of the country is not good"; but the
depression outlasted his writing and his life. By the usual process of
immediate history, this singularly loquacious, narrow-minded,
ignorant, and financially destructive President stands in public
memory as the typical laconic Yankee who preached thrift and probably
would have prevented the depression if we had followed his advice.

His successor was a reformed idealist. He had fed the Belgians, looked
after the commercial interests of American businessmen, and promised
two cars in every American garage. At last plutocracy was to pay off
in comfort--but it was too late. Not enough Americans had garages, not
enough cars could be bought by the speculators on Wall Street, to make
up for the lack of sales among the disinherited.

  _No More Ideals_

Normalcy was a debasement of the normal instincts of the average
American; it deprived us of political morality, not only because it
began in corruption, but because it ended with indifference; normalcy
destroyed idealism, particularly the simple faith in ideals of the
common man, the somewhat uncritical belief that one ought "to have
ideals" which intellectuals find so absurd.

In the attack on American idealism, our relations with Europe changed
and this reacted corrosively on the great foundations of American
life, on freedom of conscience and freedom of worship, on the
political equality of man. By the anti-American policy of Harding and
Coolidge we lost the great opportunity of resuming communication with
Europe; a generation grew up not only hostile to the nations of Europe
("quarrelsome defaulters" who "hired the money") but suspicious of
Europeans who had become Americans. The Ku Klux Klan, Ford's and
Coughlin's attacks on the Jews, Pelley's attacks on the Jews and the
Catholics, and a hundred others--were reflections in domestic life of
our withdrawal from foreign affairs.

  _Left Deviation_

Parallel to normalcy ran the stream of radicalism, its enemy. Broken
from political moorings by the collapse of Wilsonian democracy,
progressives and liberals drifted to the left and presently a line was
thrown to them from the only established haven of radicalism
functioning in the world: Moscow. Not all American liberals tied
themselves to the party line; but few found any other attachment. The
Progressive Party of LaFollette vanished; the liberal intellectuals
were unable to work into the Democratic Party; and, in fact, when
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected and called his election a
victory for liberals, no one was more impressed than the liberals
themselves. That the new President was soon to appear as a
revolutionary radical was unthinkable.

What had happened to the constant American liberal tradition? What had
rendered sterile the ancient fruitful heritage of American radicalism?
The apoplectic committees investigating Bolshevism cried aloud that
Moscow gold had bought out the American intellectuals, which was a
silly lie; but why was Moscow gold more potent than American gold, of
which much more was available? (American gold, it turned out, was busy
trying to subsidize college professors and ministers of God, to
propagandize against public ownership of public utilities.)

It was not the gold of Moscow, but the iron determination of Lenin
that captivated the American radical. At home the last trace of
idealism was being destroyed and in Russia a new world was being
created with all the harshness and elation of a revolutionary action.
The direction in America was, officially, _back_ (to normalcy; against
the American pioneering tradition of forward movement); the direction
of Russia was forward--to the unknown.

Few reached Moscow; few were acceptable to the stern hierarchy of
Communism; but all American liberal intellectuals were drawn out of
their natural orbit by the attraction of the new economic planet. Most
of them remained suspended between the two worlds--and in that unhappy
state they tried to solace their homelessness by jeering at their

The American radical's turn against America was a new thing, as new as
the normalcy which provoked it. In the 19th century a few painters and
poets had fled from America; the politicians and critics stayed home,
to fight. They fought for America, passionately convinced that it was
worth fighting for. The Populists and later the muck-rakers and
finally the Progressives were violent, opinionated, cross-grained and
their "lunatic fringe" was dangerous, but none of them despised
America; they despised only the betrayers of America: the railroads,
the bankers, the oil monopolies, the speculators in Wall Street, the
corrupt men in City Hall, the bribed men in Congress. It was not the
time for nice judgments, not the moment to distinguish between a
plunderer like Gould and a builder like Hill. What Rockefeller had
done to _save_ the oil industry wasn't seen until long after he had
destroyed a dozen competitors; what the trusts were doing to prepare
for large-scale production and mass-distribution wasn't to be
discovered until the trusts themselves were a memory.

So the radicals of 1880 and 1900 were unfair; they usually wanted easy
money in a country which was getting rich with hard money; they wanted
the farmer to rule as he had ruled in Jefferson's day, but they did
not want to give up the cotton gin and the machine loom and the reaper
and the railroads which were transferring power to the city and the
factory. The radical seemed often to be as selfish and greedy as the
fat Republicans who sat in Congress and in bankers' offices and
juggled rates of interest and passed tariffs to make industrial
infants fat also.

Yet the liberal-radical until 1920 was a man who loved America and
wanted only that America should fulfill its destiny, should be always
more American, giving our special quality of freedom and prosperity to
more and more men; whereas the radical-critic of the 1920's wept
because America was too American and wanted her to become as like
Europe as we could--and not a living Europe, of course. The Europe
held before America as an ideal in the 1920's was the Europe which
died in the first World War.

  _Working Both Sides of the Street_

The radical attack on America completed the destruction begun by the
plutocrats; they played into each other's hands like crooked gamblers.
The plutocrat and the politician made patriotism sickening by using it
to blackjack those who saw skullduggery corrupting our country; and
the radical critic made patriotism ridiculous by belittling the
nation's past and denying its future. The politicians supported
committees to make lists of heretics, and tried to deny civil rights
to citizens in minority parties; and the intellectuals pretended that
the Ku Klux Klan was the true spirit of America; the plutocrats and
the politicians murdered Sacco and Vanzetti and the radicals acted as
if no man had ever suffered for his beliefs in France or England or
Germany or Spain. The debasement of American life was rapid and
ugly--and instead of fighting, the radical critic rejoiced, because he
did not care for the America that had been; it was not Communist and
not civilized in the European sense--why bother to save it?

In 1936 I summed up years of disagreement with the fashionable
attitude under the (borrowed) caption, _The Treason of the
Intellectuals_. Looking back at it now, I find a conspicuous error--I
failed to bracket the politician with the debunker, the plutocrat with
the radical. I was for the average man against both his enemies, but I
did not see how the reactionary and the radical were combining to
create a vacuum in American social and political life.

The people of the United States were--and are--"materialistic" and in
love with the things that money can buy; but the ascendancy of
speculative wealth in the 1920's was not altogether satisfying. More
people than ever before gambled in Wall Street; but considering the
stakes, the steady upswing of prices, the constant stories of success,
the open boasting of our great industrialists and the benign, tacit
assent of Calvin Coolidge--considering all these, the miracle is that
eight out of ten capable citizens did not speculate. The chance to
make money was part of the American tradition--for which millions of
Europeans had come to America; but it did not fulfill all the
requirements of a purpose in life. It wasn't good enough by any
standard; it allowed a class of disinherited to rise in America, a
fatal error because our wealth depended on customers and the penniless
are not good risks; and the riches-system could not protect itself
from external shock. Europe began to shiver with premonitions of
disaster, a bank in Austria fell, and America loyally responded with
the greatest panic in history.

Long before the money-ideal crashed, it had been rejected by some of
the American people. It would have been scorned by more if anything
else had been offered to them, anything remotely acceptable to them.
The longest tradition of American life was cooperative effort; the
great traditions of hardship and experiment and progressive liberalism
and the mingling of races and the creation of free communities--all
these were still in our blood. But when the plutocrat and politician
tried to destroy them by neglect or persecution, the intellectual did
not rebuild them; he told us that the traditions had always been a
false front for greed, and asked us to be content with laughing at the
past; or he told us that nothing was good in the future of the world
except the Russian version of Karl Marx.

  _We L'arn the Furriner_

The crushing double-grip of the anti-Americans of the Right and Left
was most effective in foreign affairs. Normalcy wanted back the money
which Europe had hired, as President Coolidge said; and normalcy
wanted to hear nothing more of Europe. At the same time the radical
was basically internationalist; the true believer in Lenin was also
revolutionist. Sheer isolationism didn't work; we were constantly on
the side lines of the League of Nations; we stepped in to save Germany
and presumably to help all Europe; we trooped to the deathbed of old
Europe (with the exchange in our favor); the sickness made us uneasy
at last--but we could not break from isolation because normalcy and
radicalism together had destroyed the common, and acceptable, American
basis of friendly independent relations with Europe.

Internationalism, with a communistic tinge, was equally unthinkable;
and presently we began to think that a treaty of commerce might
somehow be "internationalist". Europe, meanwhile, broke into three
parts, fascist, communist, and the victims of both, the helpless ones
we called our friends, the "democracies". By 1932 economics had
destroyed isolation and Hitler began to destroy internationalism. The
American people had for twelve years shrunk from both, now found that
it had no shell to shrink into--America had repudiated all duty to the
world; it had tried to make the League of Nations unnecessary by a few
pacts and treaties; it had flared up over China and, rebuffed by
England, sunk back into apathy. It was uninformed, without habit or
tradition or will in foreign affairs; without any ideal around which
all the people of America could gather; and with nothing to do in the

The New Deal repaired some of the destruction of normalcy, but it
could not allay the mischief and unite the country at the same time.
Loyalty to the Gold Standard and devotion to the principle of letting
people starve were both abandoned; the shaming moral weakness of the
Hoover regime, the resignation to defeat, were overcome. The direct
beneficiaries of the New Deal were comparatively few; the indirect
were the middle and upper income classes. They saw President Roosevelt
save them from a dizzy drop into revolution; a few years later the
danger was over, and when the rich and well-born saw that the
President was not going to turn conservative, they regretted being
saved--thinking that perhaps the revolution of 1933 might have turned
fascist, and in their favor.

These were extremists. The superior common man was not a reactionary
when he voted for Landon or Willkie. After the Blue Eagle was killed
by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court was saved by resignations,
the average American could accept ninety percent of the objectives of
FDR--and ask only for superior efficiency from the Republican Party.

The newspapers of the country were violent; Martin Dies was violent;
John L. Lewis was violent; but labor and radicals and people were
_not_ violent. We were approaching some unity of belief in America's
national future when the war broke out.

  _Quarterback vs. Pedagogue_

The New Deal had no visible foreign policy, but President Roosevelt
made up for it by having several, one developing out of the other,
each a natural consequence of events abroad in relation to the state
of public opinion at home. To a great extent this policy was based on
the President's dislike of tyranny and his love for the Navy, a
fortunate combination for the people of the United States, for it
allied us with the Atlantic democracies and compeled us to face the
prospect of war in the Pacific. So far as we were at all prepared to
defend ourselves, we are indebted to the President's recognition of
our position as a naval power requiring a friend at the farther end of
each ocean, Britain in the Atlantic, Russia and China in the Pacific.

The President's policy, singularly correct, was not the people's
policy. It was not part of the New Deal; it was not tied into domestic
policies; it subsisted in a dreadful void. Mr. Roosevelt, who once
called himself the nation's quarterback, never had the patient almost
pedantic desire to teach the American people which was so useful to
Wilson. The notes to Germany, scorned at the time, were an education
in international law for the American people; by 1917 the people were
aware of the war and beginning to discover a part in it for
themselves. Mr. Roosevelt's methods were more spectacular, but not as
patient, so that he sometimes alienated people, and he faced a wilier
enemy at home; Wilson overcame ignorance and Roosevelt had to overcome
deliberate malice, organized hostility to our system of government,
and a true pacificism which has always been native to America. Racial,
religious, and national prejudices were all practised upon to prevent
the creation of unity; it was not remarked at the time that class
prejudice did not arise.

The defect of Roosevelt's method led to this: the American people did
not understand their own position in the world. The President had
appealed to their moral sense when he asked for a quarantine of the
aggressors; he appealed to fear when he cited the distances between
Dakar and Des Moines; but he had no unified body of opinion behind
him. The Republican Party might easily have nominated an isolationist
as a matter of politics if not of principle; and it was a stroke of
luck that politics (not international principles) gave the opportunity
to Wendell Willkie. Yet the boldest move made by Mr. Roosevelt, the
exchange of destroyers for bases, had to be an accomplished fact, and
a good bargain, before it could be announced. Even Mr. Willkie's
refusal to play politics with the fate of Britain did not assure the
President of a country willing to understand its new dangers and its
new opportunities.

Nothing in the past twenty years had prepared America; and the
isolationists picked up the weapons of both the plutocrat and the
debunker to prevent our understanding our function in a fascist world.
The grossest appeal to self-interest and the most cynical imputation
of self-interest in others, went together. There were faithful
pacifists who disliked armaments and disliked the sale of armaments
even more; but there were also those who wanted the profit of selling
without the risk; there were the alarming fellow travelers who wished
America to be destroyed until they discovered the USSR wanted American
guns. There were snide businessmen who wanted Hitler even more than
they wanted peace, and a mob, united by nothing--except a passion for
the cruelty and the success of the Nazis.

The spectacle of America arguing war in 1941 was painful and ludicrous
and one sensed changes ahead; but it had one great redeeming quality,
it was in our tradition of public discussion and a vast deal of the
discussion was honest and fair.

The war did not change Americans over night. The argument had not
united us; but in the first days we dared not admit this; we began a
dangerous game of hypnotizing ourselves.


"The Strategy of Truth"

The consequences of building on a unity which does not exist are
serious. We have discovered that all war is total war; we have also
found that while our enemies lie to us, they do not lie to their High

Total war requires total effort from the civilian and we have assumed
that, in America, this means enthusiasm for our cause, understanding
of our danger, willingness to sacrifice, confidence in our leaders,
faith in ultimate victory. We may be wrong; total effort in Germany is
based more on compulsion and promise than on understanding. But we
cannot immediately alter the atmosphere in which we are living. If we
could, if our leaders believed that total effort could be achieved
more quickly by lies than by truth, it would be their obligation to
lie to us. In total war there is no alternative to the most effective
weapon. Only the weapon must be effective over a sufficient length of
time; the advantage of a lie must be measured against the loss when
the lie is shown up; if the balance is greater, over a period of time,
than the value of the truth, the lie still must be told. If we are a
people able to recognize a lie too fast for it to be effective, the
lie must not be used; if we react "correctly" to certain forms of
persuasion (as, say, magazine ads and radio commercials), the
psychological counterparts of these should be used, at least until a
new technique develops.

This is a basis for "the strategy of truth" which Archibald MacLeish
set in opposition to the Nazi "strategy of terror". The opposition is
not perfect because the Nazis have used the truth plentifully in
spreading terror, especially by the use of moving pictures. Their
strategy, ethically, is a mixture of truth and lies, in combination;
practically speaking, this strategy is on the highest ethical plane
because it saves Nazi lives, brings quick victory, protects the State
and the people. It is, however, ill-suited to our purposes.

  _Ethics of Lying_

Mr. MacLeish is being an excellent propagandist in the very use of the
phrase, "strategy of truth", which corresponds to the President's
"solemn pact of truth between government and the people"; there are a
hundred psychological advantages in telling us that we are getting the
truth; but propaganda has no right to use the truth if the truth
ceases to be effective. Lies are easier to tell, but harder to handle;
in a democracy they are tricky and dangerous because the conditions
for making lies effective have not been created; such conditions were
created in Germany; they came easily in other countries where no
direct relations between people and government existed.

Before propaganda can lie to us, safely and for our own preservation,
honorably and desirably, it must persuade us to give up our whole
system of communication, our political habits, our tradition of free
criticism. This could be done; but it would be difficult; no
propagandist now working in America is cunning and brutal enough to
destroy our civil liberties without a struggle which would cost more
(in terms of united effort) than it would be worth. We cannot stop in
the middle of a war to break down one system of persuasion and create
another; the frame of mind which advertising men call "consumer
acceptance" is, as they know, induced by a touch of newness in a
familiar framework; the new element catches attention but it has to
become familiar before it is effective.

Our propagandists, therefore, must use the truth, as they incline to
do, but they have to learn its uses. We gain prestige by advertising
the truth, even though the use of truth is forced upon us; but we have
not yet won approval of the suppression of truth. It is good to use
truth as flattery ("You are brave enough to know the truth") but truth
also creates fear which (advertisers again know this) is a potent
incentive to action. Finally, the use of truth requires the
canalization of propaganda; it is too dangerous to be handled by

The propagandists of our cause include everyone who speaks to the
people, sells a bond, writes, broadcasts, publishes, by executive
order or private will; they vary in skill and in detailed purpose;
they blurt out prejudices and conceal information useful to the
citizen. They have not, so far as any one has discovered, lied to the
people of America, contenting themselves at first with concealing the
extent, or belittling the significance, of our reverses; presently the
same sources began to abuse the American people for not being aware of
the danger threatening them; and no one officially recognized the
connection between ignorance and concealment.

  _Maxims for Propagandists_

It is easy to mark down the detailed errors of propaganda. The more
difficult work is to create a positive program; and it is possible
that we have been going through an experimental period, while such a
program is being worked out in Washington. A few of the requirements
are obvious.

_Propaganda must be used._ Our government has no more right to deprive
us of propaganda than it has to deprive us of pursuit planes or
bombers or anti-aircraft guns or antitoxin. Propaganda is the great
offensive-defensive weapon of the home front; if we do not get it, we
should demand it. If what we get is defective, we should protest as we
would protest against defective bombsights.

_Propaganda must be organized._ Otherwise it becomes a diffused babel
of opinion.

_Propaganda must be unscrupulous._ It has one duty--to the State.

_Propaganda must not be confused with policy._ If at a given moment
the Grand Strategy of the war absolutely requires us to offer a
separate peace to Italy or to make war on Rumania, propaganda must
show this need in its happiest light; if the reverse is required,
propaganda's job does not alter. Policy should not be made by
propagandists and propagandists should have no policy.

_Propaganda must interact with policy._ If at a given moment, the
Grand Strategy has a free choice between recognizing or rejecting a
Danish Government-in-exile, the action which propaganda can use to
best advantage is the better.

_Propaganda must have continuity._ The general principles of
propaganda have to be worked out, and followed. The principle, in
regard to direct war news, may be to tell all, to tell nothing, or to
alter the dosage according to the temper of the people. The choice of
one of these principles is of the gravest importance; it must be done,
or approved, by the President. After the choice is made, sticking to
one principle is the only way to build confidence. Except for details
of naval losses, the British official announcements are prompt and
accurate; the British people generally do not go about in the fear of
hidden catastrophe. The Italian system differs and may be suited to
the temper of the people; the Russian communiques are exactly adapted
to Stalin's concept of the war: the Red soldier is cited for heroism,
in small actions, the Germans are always identified as fascists, the
vast actions of the entire front are passed over in a formal opening
sentence. The German method has its source in Hitler; the
announcements of action are rhetorical, contemptuous, and sometimes
threatening; the oratory which accompanies the official statements
has, for the first time, had a setback, since the destruction of the
Russian Army was announced in the autumn of 1941, but no one has
discovered any serious reaction as a result. The German people have
been conditioned by action; and action has worked with propaganda for
this result. The concentration camp, the death of free inquiry, and
the triumph of Munich have been as potent as Goebbels' lies to prepare
the German people for total war; so that they have not reacted against
Hitler when a prediction has failed or a promise gone sour.

Each of these methods has been consistently followed. Our
propagandists on the home front began with the knowledge that a great
part of the country did not want a war; a rather grim choice was
presented: to frighten the people, or to baby them. The early
waverings about Pearl Harbor reflected the dilemma; the anger roused
by Pearl Harbor gave time to the propagandist to plan ahead. The
result has been some excellent and some fumbling propaganda; but no
principle has yet come to light.

_Propaganda must supply positive symbols._ The symbol, the slogan, the
picture, which unites the citizen, and inspires to action, can be
created by an individual, but can only be made effective by correct
propaganda. The swastika is a positive symbol, a mark of unity
(because it was once a mark of the revolutionary outcast); we have no
such symbol. Uncle Sam is a cartoonists' fiction, too often appearing
in comic guises, too often used in advertising, no longer
corresponding even to the actuality of the American physique. The
Minute-man has an antique flavor but is not sufficiently generalized;
he is a brilliant defensive symbol and corresponded precisely to the
phase of the militia, an "armed citizenry" leaping to the defense of
the country. With my prejudice it is natural that I should suggest the
Liberty Bell as a positive symbol of the thing we fight for. It is
possible to draw its form on a wall--not to ward off evil, but to
inspire fortitude.

_Propaganda must be independent._ It is a fighting arm; it has (or
should have) special techniques; it is based on researches,
measurements, comparisons, all approaching a scientific method. It
should therefore be recognized as a separate function; Mr. Gorham
Munson, preceded by Mr. Edward L. Bernays in 1928, has proposed a
Secretary for Propaganda in the Cabinet, which would make the direct
line of authority from the Executive to the administrators of policy,
without interference. The conflicts of publicity (aircraft versus Navy
for priorities, for instance) will eventually force some organization
of propaganda. The confusion of departmental interests is a constant
drawback to propaganda, even if there is no direct conflict.

_Propaganda must be popular._ Since the first World War several new
ways of approaching the American people have been developed. These
have been chiefly commercial, as the radio and the popular illustrated
magazine; the documentary moving picture has never been popular,
except for the March of Time, but it has been tolerated; in the past
two years a new type, the patriotic short, has been skilfully
developed. The full length picture has hardly ever been used for
direct communication; it is a "morale builder", not a propaganda

_Propaganda must be measured._ At the same time the method of the
selective poll has been developed in several forms and a quick,
dependable survey of public sentiment can be used to check the
effectiveness of any propaganda. Recent refinements in the techniques
promise even greater usefulness; the polls "weight" themselves, and,
in effect, tell how important their returns should be considered. The
objections to the polling methods are familiar; but until something
better comes along, the reports on opinion, and notably on the
fluctuations of opinion, are not to be sneered away. To my mind this
is one of the basic operations of propaganda; and although I have no
evidence, I assume that it is constantly being done.

  _Who Can Do It?_

An effective use of the instruments is now possible. We may blunder in
our intentions, but technical blunders need not occur; the people who
have used radio or print or pictures are skilled in their trade and
they can use it for the nation as they used it for toothpaste or
gasoline. And the people of America are accustomed to forms of
publicity and persuasion which need not be significantly altered.
Moreover, we can measure the tightness of our methods in the field,
not by rejoicing over "mail response", or newspaper comment, but by
discovering exactly how far we have created the attitude of mind and
the temper of spirit at which we aim.

The advertising agency and the sampler of public opinion can supply
the groundwork of a flexible propaganda method. They cannot do
everything, because certain objectives have always escaped them. But
they are the people who have persuaded most effectively and reported
most accurately the results of persuasion. They cannot create policy,
not even the policy of propaganda; but they can propagandize.

All of this refers to propaganda at home. It need not be called
propaganda, but it must _be_ propaganda--the organized use of all
means of communication to create specific attitudes, leading to--or
from--specific action.

  _What Is Morale's Pulse?_

This is, of course, another way of saying that morale is affected by
propaganda. I avoid the word "morale" because it has unhappily fallen
into a phrase, "boosting morale", or "keeping morale at a high level."
We have it on military authority that morale is an essential of
victory, but no authority has told us how to create it, nor exactly to
what high level morale should be "boosted". The concept of morale
constantly supercharged by propaganda is fatally wrong; it confuses
morale with cheerfulness and leads to the dangerous fluctuations of
public emotion on which our enemies have always capitalized.

Morale should be defined as a desirable and effective attitude toward
events. As despair and defeatism are undesirable, they break up
morale; as cheerfulness leads at times to ineffectiveness, it is bad
for morale. To induce cheerfulness in the week of Singapore, the
burning of the Normandie, and the escape of the German battleships
from Brest, would have been the worst kind of morale-boosting; to
prevent elation over a substantial victory would have been not quite
so bad, but bad enough.

There is a "classic example" of the effect of belittling a victory.
The British public first got details of the Battle of Jutland from the
German announcement of a naval victory, including names and number of
British vessels sunk. The first British communique was no more subdued
than usual, but coming _after_ the German claims and making no
assertions of victory, taking scrupulous care to list _all_ British
losses and only positively observed German losses, the announcement
pulled morale down--not because it gave bad news, but because it put a
bad light on good news; it did not allow morale to be level with
events. The best opinion of the time considered Jutland a victory
lacking finality, but with tremendous consequences; and Churchill was
called in as a special writer to do the Admiralty's propaganda on the
battle after the mischief was done. The time element was against him
for a belated explanation is never as effective as a quick capture of
the field by bold assertion and proof. Mr. Churchill was himself
belated, a generation later, when he first defended the Navy for
letting the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst escape and then, a day later,
asserted that the ships had been compelled to leave Brest and that
their removal was a gain for the British. The point is the same in
both cases: the truth or an effective substitute may be used; but it
has to correspond to actuality. The Admiralty underplayed its
statement at Jutland. Churchill over-explained the situation at Brest.
Both were bad for morale.

  _The Hypodermic Technique_

The "shot-in-the-arm" theory of morale is a confession of incompetence
in propaganda. For the healthy human being does not need sudden
injections of drugs, not even for exceptional labors; and the
objective of propaganda is to create an atmosphere in which the
average citizen will work harder and bear more discomfort and live
through more anxiety and suffer greater unhappiness _without
considering his situation exceptional or abnormal_.

To "boost morale", to give the public a shot of good news (or even a
shot of bad news), is an attempt to make us live above our normal
temperature, to speed up our heart-beat and our metabolism. War itself
raises the level; and all we have to do for morale is to stay on the
new level.

The principle that the citizen must not consider his situation
exceptional is one of the few accepted by democratic and autocratic
States alike. Hitler announces that until the war is over he will wear
a simple soldier's uniform; Churchill refuses to accept a hoard of
cigars; the President buys a bond. In every case the conspicuous head
of a nation does what the average citizen has to do; and because each
citizen is like his leader, all citizens are like one another. A unity
is created.

  _Re-Uniting America_

This completes the circle which began with our need for unity, and
proceeded through propaganda to morale. For the foundation of our war
effort has to be unity and the base of good morale is the feeling of
one-ness in the privations and in the triumphs of war. We can now
proceed to some of the reasons for the breaks in unity, which
propaganda has not seen, nor mended.

First, the propagandists have rejected certain large groups of
Americans because of pre-war pacifism; second, they have failed to
recognize the use to which isolationism can be put; third, they have
not thought out the principles of free criticism in a democracy at
war. To rehearse all the other forms of separatist action would be to
recall angers and frustrations dormant now, just below the level of
conscious action. Moreover, a list of the causes of separation, with a
remedy for each, would repeat the error of civilian propaganda in the
early phases of the war--it would still be negative, and the need now
is to set in motion the positive forces of unity, which have always
been available to us.

_The accord we need is for free and complete and effective action, for
sweating in the heat and crying in the night when disaster strikes,
for changing the face of our private world, for losing what we have
labored to build, for learning to be afraid and to suffer and to
fight; it is an accord on the things that are vital because they are
our life: what have we been, what shall we do, what do we want--past,
present, future; history, character, destiny._

The propaganda of the first six months of the war was not directed to
the creation of unity in this sense; it was not concerned with
anything but the immediate daily feeling of Americans toward the day's
news; the civilian propagandists insisted that "disunity is ended"
because all Americans knew what they were fighting for, so that it
became faintly disloyal to point out that reiteration was not proof
and that disunity could end, leaving mere chaos, a dispersed
indifferent emotion, in its place. The end of dissension was not
enough; unity had to be created, a fellow-feeling called up from the
memory of the people, binding them to one another because it bound
them to our soil and our heroes and our myths and our realities; and
the act of creation of unity automatically destroyed disunion; when
the gods arrive, not only the half-gods, but the devils also, depart.

  _Myth and Money_

Faintly one felt a lack of conviction in the propagandists themselves.
They were afraid of the debunkers, under whose shadow they had grown
up. They did not venture to create an effective myth. Myth to them was
Washington's Cherry Tree, and Lincoln's boyish oath against slavery
and Theodore Roosevelt's Wild West; so they could not, with rhetoric
to lift the hearts of harried men and women, recall the truth-myth of
America, the loyalty which triumphed over desertion at Valley Forge,
the psychological miracle of Lincoln's recovery from self-abasement to
create his destiny and shape the destiny of the New World; the health
and humor and humanity of the west as Roosevelt remembered it. At
every point in our history the reality had something in it to touch
the imagination, the heart, to make one feel how complex and fortunate
is the past we carry in us if we are Americans.

The propagandists were also afraid of the plutocrats--as they were
afraid of the myth, they were afraid of reality. They did not dare to
say that America was an imperfect democracy whose greatness lay in the
chance it gave to all men to work for perfection; they did not dare to
say that the war itself must create democracy over again, they did not
dare to proclaim liberty to this land or to all lands; in the name of
unity they could not offend the enemies of human freedom.

Moreover, the propagandists for unity had to defend the
Administration. The rancor of politics had never actually disappeared
in America, during wars; it was barely sweetened by a trace of
patriotism three months after the war began. As a good fight needs two
sides, defenders of the President were as happy as his opponents to
call names, play politics, and distress the country. The groundwork
for defeating the nation's aims in war was laid before those aims had
been expressed; and one reason why we could make no proclamation of
our purpose was that our purpose was clouded over; we had not yet gone
back to the source of our national strength; and we had not yet begun
to use our strength to accomplish a national purpose.

We were effecting a combination of individual capacities--not a unity
of will. We were adding one individual to another, a slow process: we
needed to multiply one by the other--which can only be done in
complete union of purpose.

Some of the weakness of propaganda rose from its mixed intentions: to
make us hate the enemy, to make us understand our Allies, to harden us
for disaster, to defend the conduct of the war, to make us pay, to
assure us that production was terrific, and then to make us pay more
because production was inadequate; to silence the critics of the
Administration, to appease the men of violence crying for Vichy's
scalp or the men of violence crying for formulation of war aims. All
these things _had_ to be done, promptly and effectively. They would
have to be done no matter how unified in feeling we were; and they
could not be done at all unless unity came first.

  _Call Back the Pacifists_

Small purposes were put first because the propagandists suffered from
their own success. They had gone ahead of all and had brilliantly been
teaching the American people the meaning of the European war; they
were among the President's most potent allies and they deserve well of
the country; the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies and
the other active interventionist groups were a rallying point for the
enemies of Hitler, and a strong point for attack by all the pacifists.
But the moment the aim of these committees was accomplished and war
was declared, the first objective must have been the re-incorporation
of the pacifist 40% of our population into the functioning national
group. The actual enemies of the country soon declared themselves; the
hidden ones could be discovered. The millions who did not want to go
to war had to be persuaded first of all that _we_ understood why
_they_ had been pacifists; we could not treat them as cowards, or
pro-Germans, or Reds, or idiots. We needed the best of them to unite
the country, and all of them to fight for it.

Our propagandists did not know how to turn to their advantage the
constant, native, completely sensible pacifism of the American people,
especially of the Midwestern Americans. If the history of the United
States has meaning, the pacifism of the Midwest is bound to become
dominant; our part in the first World War achieved grandeur because
the people of the Middle West, at least, meant it to be a war to end
war, a war to end pacifism also, because there would be no need for
it. The people of the Middle West want our position in the world to
keep us out of the wars of other nations; they saw no wars into which
we could be drawn. They were wrong--but their instincts were not
wrong. They do not believe that the wars of the United States have
been like the wars of other nations; nor that the United States must
now look forward to such a series of wars as every nation of Europe
has fought for domination or survival. This may be naive, as to the
past and the future; but it is a naivete we cannot brush aside. It
rises from too many natural causes. And the people of the Middle West
may, if need be, fight to make their dream of peace come true; they
will have to fight the American imperialists, whom they have fought
before; and this time they will have new allies; for the pacifist of
the Midwest will be joined by the pacifists of the industrial cities;
and the great hope of the future is that the pacifists of America will
help to organize the world after the war.

_They will not help if they remain isolationists; and they will remain
isolationist, in the middle of a global war, until they are certain
that a world-order they can join is to be the outcome of the war._
Again, our propagandists have to understand isolationism, an historic
American tradition in one sense, a falsehood in another. Our dual
relation to Europe is expressed in two phrases:

    We _came from_ Europe.
    We _went away from_ Europe.

For a time we were anti-European; now we are non-Europe; if Europe
changes, we may become pro-European; but we can never be part of
Europe. Isolation is half our story; communication the other. On the
foundation of half the truth, the isolationist built the fairy tale of
physical separation; the interventionist, on the basis of our
communication with Europe, built more strongly--the positive overbore
the negative. Yet the whole structure of our relation to Europe has to
be built on both truths, we have to balance one strength with the
other. We cannot make war or make peace without the help of the
isolationists; and to jeer at them because they failed to understand
the mathematics of air power and sea-bases is not to reconcile them
to us; nor, for that matter, is it peculiarly honest. For few of those
who wanted us to go to war against England's enemy warned us that we
should have to fight Japan also; and none, so far as I know, told us
that the task of a two-ocean war might be for several years a burden
of losses and defeat.

The defeat of pacifist isolationism was not accomplished by the
interventionists, but by Japan. The interventionists, because they
were better prophets, gained the appearance of being truer patriots;
they were actually more intelligent observers of the war in Europe and
more passionately aware of its meaning. But they can be trusted with
propaganda only if they recognize the positive value of their former
enemies, and do not try to create a caste of ex-pacifist
"untouchables." That is the method of totality; it is Hitler declaring
that liberals cannot take part in ruling Germany, and Communists
cannot be Germans. Unity does not require us to destroy those who have
differed with us, it requires total agreement as to aims, and
temporary assent as to methods; we cannot tolerate the action of those
who want Hitler to defeat us, just as the body cannot tolerate cells
which proliferate in disharmony with other cells, and cause cancer. We
cannot afford the time to answer every argument before we take any
action, so temporary assent is needed (the Executive in war time
automatically has it because he orders action without argument). In
democratic countries we add critical examination after the event, and
free discussion of future policy as correctives to error. None of
these break into unity; none requires the isolation of any group
except the enemies of the State.

The purpose of unity is effective action--more tanks and planes,
delivered more promptly; more pilots, better trained; more people
helping one another in the readjustments of war. It is part of the
groundwork of morale; in a democracy it is based on reconciliation,
not on revenge.

  _The Limits of Criticism_

The pacifists and the isolationists are being punished for their
errors if their legitimate emotions are not recognized as part of the
natural composition of the American mind. Criticism presents a problem
more irritating because it is constantly changing its form and because
no principle of action has been evolved.

At one of the grimmest moments of the war, a correspondent of the _New
York Times_ wrote that "for a while not politics but the war effort
appeared to have undergone an 'adjournment'". At another, the
President remarked that he did not care whether Democrats or
Republicans were elected, provided Congress prosecuted the war
energetically, and comment on this was that the President wanted to
smash the two-party system, in order to have a non-critical Congress
under him as he had had in 1933.

Both of these items suggest, that propaganda has not yet taught us how
to criticize our government in war time. The desirable limits of
criticism have not been made clear. Every attack on the Administration
has been handled as if it were treason; and there has been a faint
suggestion of party pride in the achievements of our factories and of
our bombers. Neither the war nor criticism of the war can be a
party-matter; and no party-matter can be tolerated in the path of the
war effort. All Americans know this, but the special application of
this loyalty to our present situation has to be clarified. It has been
left obscure.

For the question of criticism is connected with the problem of unity
in the simplest and most satisfying way. The moment we have unity, we
can allow all criticism which rises from any large group of people.
Off-center criticism, from small groups, is dangerous. It does not ask
questions in the public mind, and its tendency is to divert energies,
not to combine them; small groups, if they are not disloyal, are the
price we pay for freedom of expression in war time; it is doubtful
whether, at present, any American group can do much harm; it is even a
matter of doubt whether Eugene V. Debs or several opposition senators
were a graver danger to the armies of the United States in 1917. Small
groups may be tolerated or, under law, suppressed; large groups never
expose themselves to prosecution, but their criticism is serious and
unless it is turned to advantage, it may be dangerous.

The tendency of any executive, in war time, is to consider any
criticism as a check on war effort. It is. If a commanding officer has
to take five minutes to explain an order, five minutes are lost; if
the President, or the head of OPM, has to defend an action or reply to
a critic, energy is used up, time is lost. But time and energy may be
lost a hundred times more wastefully if the explanation is not given,
if the criticism is not uttered and grows internally and becomes
suspicion and fear. Freedom of criticism is, in our country, a
positive lever for bringing morale into logical relation to events.
The victims of criticism can use it positively, their answers can
create confidence; and best of all, it can be anticipated, so that it
can do no harm.

But this is true only if the right to criticize is subtly transformed
into a duty; if, in doing his duty, the citizen refuses to criticize
until he is fully informed; if the State makes available to the
citizen enough information on which criticism can be based. Then the
substance and the intention of criticism become positive factors in
our fight for freedom.

Since it is freedom we are fighting for.

Freedom, nothing else, is the source of unity--our purpose in the war,
our reason for fighting. On a low level of survival we have forgotten
some of our differences and combined our forces to fight because we
were attacked; on the high level which makes us a nation we are united
to fight for freedom, and this unites us to one another because it
unites us with every American who ever fought for freedom. Most
particularly our battle today unites us with those who first
proclaimed liberty throughout the land.


The Forgotten Document

To distract attention, to put people's minds on useless or bewildering
projects is a bit of sabotage, in a total war. It is well enough to
divert people, for a moment, so that they are refreshed; but no one
has the right to confuse a clear issue or to start inessential
projects or to ask people to look at anything except the job in hand.

For five minutes, I propose a look at the Declaration of Independence,
because it is the one document essential to our military and moral
success; it is the standard by which we can judge the necessity of all
projects; and although our destiny, and the means to fulfill it, are
written into it, the Declaration is the forgotten document of American
history. We remember the phrases too often repeated by politicians and
dreamers; we do not study the hard realistic plan of national action
embodied in every paragraph of the instrument.

The famous phrases at the beginning give the moral, and revolutionary,
reason for action; the magnificent ground plan of the character and
history of the American people is explained in the forgotten details
of the Declaration; and nothing in the conservative Constitution could
do more than delay the unfolding of the plan or divide its fruits a
little unevenly.

I suggest that the Declaration supplies the _motive_ of action for
today; the moment we understand it, we have a definition of America, a
specific blueprint of what we have been, what we are, and what we can
become--and the action necessary for our future evolves from this;
moreover the unnecessary action is likewise defined. Our course before
we were attacked and our plans for the world after the war may seem
the mere play of prejudice and chance; but the destiny of America
will be determined not by the affections of one group or the fears of
another, nor by hysteria and passion; our fate will be determined by
the whole course of our history--and by our decision to continue its
direction or to reverse it.

The rest of this book flows out of this belief in the decisive role of
the Declaration, but it does not attempt to indicate a course of
action in detail. For the sake of illustration I cite these instances.

_Q._ Should the U.S. try to democratize the Germans or accept the view
that the Germans are a race incapable of self-government?

_A._ The history of immigration, based on the Declaration, proves that
Germans are capable of being good and great democratic citizens.

_Q._ Can the U.S. unite permanently with any single nation or any
exclusive group of nations?

_A._ Our history, under the Declaration, makes it impossible.

_Q._ Can the U.S. join a world federation regulating specific economic
problems, such as access to raw materials, tariffs, etc.?

_A._ Nothing in the Declaration is against, everything in our history
is for, such a move.

_Q._ Can the U.S. fight the war successfully without accepting the
active principles of the Totalitarian States?

_A._ If our history is any guide, the only way we can _lose_ the war
is by failing to fight it in our own way.

I have already indicated the possibility that our whole military grand
plan must be based on variety, which is the characteristic of America
created by specific passages in the Declaration; I am sure that the
whole grand plan of civilian unity (the plan of morale and propaganda)
has to return to the leading lines of our history, if we want to act
quickly, harmoniously and effectively; and the peace we make will be
another Versailles, with another Article X in the Covenant, if we make
it without returning to the sources of our strength.

So, if we want to win in the field and at home, win the war and the
peace, we must be aware of our history and of the principles laid down
in 1776 and never, in the long run, betrayed.

  _To Whom It May Concern_

The Declaration is in four parts and all of them have some bearing on
the present.

The first explains why the Declaration is issued. The words are so
familiar that their significance is gone; but if we remember that days
were spent in revision and the effect of every word was calculated, we
can assume that there are no accidents, that the Declaration is
precise and says what it means. Here is the passage:

     "_When, in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for
     one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected
     them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth,
     the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and
     of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions
     of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which
     impel them to the separation._"

The first official utterance of America is based on _human
necessity_--not the necessity of princes or powers.

It is the utterance of a people, not a nation. It invokes first Nature
and then Nature's God as lawgivers.

It asks independence and equality--in the same phrase; the habit of
nations, to enslave or be enslaved, is not to be observed in the New

And finally "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind"; the first
utterance of America is addressed not to the nations of the world, but
to the men and women who inhabit them.

_Human--people--Nature--Nature's God--mankind._

These are the words boldly written across the map of America. A
century and a half of change have not robbed one of them of their
power--because they were not fad-words, not the catchwords of a
revolution; they were words with cold clear meanings--and they
destroyed feudalism in Europe for a hundred and sixty years.

The practical application of the preamble is this: whenever we have
spoken to the people of other nations, as we did in the Declaration,
we have been successful; we have failed only when we have addressed
ourselves to governments. The time is rapidly coming when our only
communication with Europe must be over the heads of its rulers, to the
people. It does not seem practical; but we shall see later that, for
us, it has always been good politics.

  _The Logic of Freedom_

The next passage in the Declaration is the one with all the
quotations. There can be little harm in reprinting it:

     "_We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
     created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
     certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
     and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights,
     Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just
     powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form
     of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the
     Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
     new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
     organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
     likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed,
     will dictate that Governments long established should not be
     changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all
     experiences hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to
     suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by
     abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a
     long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the
     same object, evidence a design to reduce them under absolute
     Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off
     such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future
     security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these
     Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them
     to alter their former System of Government The history of the
     present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries
     and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment
     of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let
     Facts be submitted to a candid world._"

Starting off with a rhetorical device--the pretense that its heresies
are acceptable commonplaces, this long paragraph builds a philosophy
of government on the unproved and inflammatory assumptions which it
calls "self-evident". The self-evident truths are, in effect, _the
terms agreed upon by the signers_. These signers now appear for the
first time, they say "_we_ hold", they say that, to themselves,
certain truths are self-evident. The first three of "these truths" are
some general statements about "all men"; the fourth and fifth tell why
governments are established and why they should be overthrown. These
two are the objective of the first three; but they have been neglected
in favor of adolescent disputation over the equality of men at birth,
and they have been forgotten in our adult pursuit of happiness which
has often made us forget that life and liberty, no less than large
incomes, are among our inalienable rights.

The historians of the Declaration always remind us of John Locke's
principle that governments exist only to protect property; when States
fail they cease to be legitimate, they can be overthrown; and Locke is
taken to be, more than Rousseau, the inspiration of the Declaration.
The Declaration, it happens, never mentions the right to own property;
but the argument for revolution is essentially the same: when a
government ceases to function, it should be overthrown. The critical
point is the definition of the chief duty of a government. The
Colonists, in the Declaration, said it is to secure certain rights to
all men; not to guarantee privileges granted by the State, but to
protect rights which are born when men are born, in them, with
them--inalienably theirs.

So the Declaration sets us for ever in opposition to the totalitarian
State--for that State has all the inalienable rights, and the people
exist only to protect the State.

The catalogue of rights is comparatively unimportant; once we agree
that the State exists to secure inherent rights, the great
revolutionary stride has been taken; and immediately we see that our
historic opposition to Old Europe is of a piece with our present
opposition to Hitler. The purpose of our State is not the purpose of
the European States; we might work with them, side by side, but a
chemical union would result only in an explosion.

There is one word artfully placed in the description of the State; the
Declaration does not say that governments derive their powers from the
consent of the governed. It says that governments instituted among men
to protect their rights "derive their _just_ powers from the consent of
the governed". Always realistic, the Declaration recognizes the
tendency of governors to reach out for power and to absorb whatever the
people fail to hold. The idea of consent is also revolutionary--but the
moment "inalienability" is granted, consent to be governed _must_
follow. The fascist state recognizes _no_ inalienable right, and needs
no consent from its people.

It is "self-evident", I think, that we have given wrong values to the
three elements involved. We have talked about the "pursuit of
happiness"; we have been impressed by the idea of any right being ours
"for keeps", inalienable; and we have never thought much about the
fundamental radicalism of the Declaration: that it makes government
our servant, instructed _by us_ to protect our rights. The chain of
reasoning, as the Declaration sets it forth, leads to a practical

  All men are created equal--their equality lies in their having

  these rights cannot be alienated;

  governments are set up to prevent alienation;

  power to secure the rights of the people is given by the people
    to the government;

  and if one government fails, the people give the power to

So in the first three hundred words of the Declaration the purpose of
our government is logically developed.

  _Blueprint of America_

There follows first a general and then a particular condemnation of
the King of England. This is the longest section of the Declaration.
It is the section no one bothers to read; the statute of limitations
has by this time outlawed our bill of complaint against George the
Third. But the grievances of the Colonials were not high-pitched
trifles; every complaint rises out of a definite desire to live under
a decent government; and the whole list is like a picture, seen in
negative, of the actual government the Colonists intended to set up;
and the basic habits of American life, its great traditions, its good
fortune and its deficiencies are all foreshadowed in this middle
section. Here--for the sake of completeness--is the section:

"_He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good._

"_He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and
pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his
Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly
neglected to attend them._

"_He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large
districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of
Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and
formidable to tyrants only._

"_He has called together legislative bodies at places, unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public
Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with
his measures._

"_He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with
manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people._

"_He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of
Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise;
the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of
invasion from without, and convulsions within._

Here I omit one "count", reserved for separate consideration.

"_He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his
Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers._

"_He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of
their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries._

"_He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of
Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance._

"_He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without
the Consent of our legislatures._

"_He has affected to render the Military Independent of and superior
to the Civil power._

"_He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign
to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent
to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For quartering large bodies of
armed troops among us: For protecting them by a mock Trial from
punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants
of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the
world: For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by
jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended
offenses: For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a
neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government,
and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and
fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these
Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable
Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For
suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with
power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever._

"_He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his
Protection and waging War against us._

"_He has plundered our seas, ravished our Coasts, burnt our towns, and
destroyed the lives of our people._

"_He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries
to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun
with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the
most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized

"_He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high
Seas to bear Arms against friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves
by their Hands._

"_He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored
to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian
Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction
of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these Oppressions
We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated
Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose
character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is
unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in
attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to
time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable
jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of
our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native
justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our
common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably
interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf
to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore,
acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our Separation, and hold
them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace

The eighteen paragraphs of denunciation fall into seven general

  The King has thwarted representative government;

  he has obstructed justice;

  he has placed military above civil power;

  he has imposed taxes without the consent of the taxed;

  he has abolished the rule of Law;

  he has placed obstacles in the way of the growth and prosperity
    of the Colonies;

  he has, in effect, ceased to rule them, because he is making war
    on them.

So the bill of complaint signifies these things about the Founders of
our Country:

  They demanded government with the consent, by the
    representatives, of the governed.

  They cherished civil rights, respect for law, and would not
    tolerate any power superior to law--whether royal or military.

  They wished for a minimum of civil duties, hated bureaucrats,
    wanted to adjust their own taxes, and were afraid of the
    establishment of any tyranny on nearby soil.

  They wanted free trade with the rest of the world, and no
    restraints on commerce and industry.

  They intended to be prosperous.

  They considered themselves freemen and proposed to remain so.

These were the rights to which lovers of human freedom aspired in
England or France; they were the practical application of Locke and
Rousseau and the Encyclopedists and the Roundheads. Little in the
whole list reflects the special conditions of life in the colonies;
troops had been quartered in Ireland, trial by jury suspended in
England, tyrants then as now created their Praetorian guard or Storm
Troops and placed military above civil rights, and colonies from early
time had been considered as tributaries of the Mother Country.

  _The Practical "Dream"_

The American Colonists were about to break the traditions of European
settlement, and with it the traditions of European government. And,
with profound insight into the material conditions of their existence,
they foreshadowed the entire history of our country in the one
specification which had never been made before, and _could_ never have
been made before:

"_He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for
that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;
refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and
raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands._"

This amazing paragraph is placed directly after the sections on
representative government; it is so important that it comes before the
items on trial by jury, taxation, and trade. It is a critical factor
in the history of America; if we understand it, we can go forward to
understand our situation today. The other complaints point toward our
systems of law, our militia, our constant rebellion against taxes, our
mild appreciation of civil duties, our unswerving insistence upon the
act of choosing representatives; all these are details; but this
unique item indicates how the nation was to be built and what its
basic social, economic, and psychological factors were to be.

This brief paragraph condemns the Crown for obstructing the two
processes by which America was made:


With absolute clairvoyance the Declaration sets Naturalization, which
means political equality, in between the two other factors.
Naturalization is the formal recognition of the deep underlying truth,
the new thing in the new world, that one could _become_ what one
willed and worked to become--one could, regardless of birth or race or
creed, _become an American_.

So long as the colonies were held by the Crown, the process of
populating the country by immigration was checked. The Colonists had
no "dream" of a great American people combining racial bloods and the
habits of all the European nations. They wanted only to secure their
prosperity by growing; they constantly were sending agents to
Westphalia and the Palatinate to induce good Germans to come to
America, one colony competing with another, issuing pamphlets in
Platt-Deutsch, promising not Utopia with rivers of milk and honey, not
a dream, but something grander and greater--citizenship, equality
under the law, and land. Across this traffic the King and his
ministers threw the dam of Royal Prerogative; they meant to keep the
colonies, and they knew they could not keep them if men from many
lands came in as citizens; and they meant to keep the virgin lands
from the Appalachians to the Mississippi--or as much of it as they
could take from the Spaniards and the French. So as far back as 1763,
the Crown took over _all_ title to the 250,000 square miles of land
which are now Indiana and Illinois and Michigan and Minnesota, the
best land lying beyond the Alleghenies. Into this territory no man
could enter; none could settle; no squatters' right was recognized; no
common law ran. Suddenly the natural activity of America,
uninterrupted since 1620, stopped. The right of Americans to move
westward and to take land, the right of non-Americans to become
Americans, both were denied. The outcry from the highlands and the
forest clearing was loud; presently the seaboard saw that America was
one country, its true prosperity lay within its own borders, not
across the ocean. And to make the unity clear, the Crown which had
taken the land, now took the sea; the trade of the Colonies was
broken; they were cut off from Europe, forbidden to bring over its
men, forbidden to send over their goods. For the first time America
was isolated from Europe.

So the British Crown touched every focal spot--and bruised it. The
outward movement, to and from Europe, always fruitful for America, was
stopped; the inward movement, across the land, was stopped. The
energies of America had always expressed themselves in movement; when
an artificial brake on movements was applied, friction followed; then
the explosion of forces we call the Revolution.

And nothing that happened afterward could effectively destroy what the
Revolution created. The thing that people afterward chose to call "the
American dream" was no dream; it was then, and it remained, the
substantial fabric of American life--a systematic linking of free
land, free trade, free citizenship, in a free society.

A grim version of our history implies that the pure idealism of the
Declaration was corrupted by the rich and well-born who framed the
Constitution. As Charles Beard is often made the authority for this
economic interpretation, his own account of the economic effects of
the Declaration may be cited in evidence:

  the great estates were broken up;

  the hold of the first-born and of the dead-hand were equally

  in the New States, the property qualification was never accepted
    and it disappeared steadily from the old.

And the Ordnance of 1787, last great act of the Continental Congress,
inspired by the Declaration, created the Northwest Territory, the
heart of America for a hundred years, in a spirit of love and
intelligence which the Constitution in all its wisdom did not surpass.

That is what the Declaration accomplished. It set in action _all_ the
forces that ultimately made America. The action rose out of the final
section, in which, naming themselves for the first time as
"Representatives of the United States of America", the signers declare
that "these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and
Independent States...." In this clear insight, the Declaration says
that the things separating one people from another have already
happened--differences in experiences, desires, habits--and that the
life of the Colonies is already so independent of Britain that the
purely political bond must be dissolved.

"_WE, THEREFORE, the Representatives of the United States of America,
in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the
world for the rectitude of our intentions do, in the Name, and by
authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and
declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be,
Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all
Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection
between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally
dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full
Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish
Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States
may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm
reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to
each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor._"

So finally, as a unity of free and independent States, the new nation
arrogates to itself four specific powers:

    To levy war
      conclude peace
      contract alliances
      establish commerce.

Only these four powers, by name; the rest were lumped together, a
vast, significant et cetera; but these were so much more significant
that they had to be separately written down; three of
them--war--peace--alliances--are wholly international; the fourth,
commerce, at least partly so. The signers of the Declaration made no
mistake; they wished to be independent; and in order to remain
independent, they were fighting _against_ isolation.

The error we must not make about the Declaration is to think of it as
a purely domestic document, dealing with taxes and election of
representatives and Redcoats in our midst; it is the beginning of our
national, domestic life, but only because it takes the rule of our
life out of English hands; and the moment this is done, the
Declaration sets us up as an independent nation among other nations,
and places us in relation, above all, to the nations of Europe.

At this moment our intercourse with the nations of Europe is a matter
of life and death--death to the destroyer of free Europe or death to
ourselves; but if we live, life for all Europe, also. Like parachute
troops, our address to Europe must precede our armies; we have to know
what to say to Europe, to whom to say, how to say it. And the answer
was provided by the Declaration which let all Europe come to us--but
held us independent of all Europe.


"The Population of These States"

In the back of our minds we have an image labeled "the immigrant"; and
it is never like ourselves. The image has changed from generation to
generation, but it has never been accurate, because in each generation
it is a political cartoon, an exaggeration of certain features to
prove a point. We have to tear up the cartoon; then we can get back to
the picture it distorts.

  _English-Speaking Aliens_

The immigrant-cartoon since 1910 has been the South-European: Slavic,
Jewish, Italian; usually a woman with a shawl over her head, her
husband standing beside her, with slavic cheekbones or a graying
beard; and eager children around them. This is not a particularly
false picture of several million immigrants; among them some of the
most valuable this country has had. But it erases from our mind the
bare statistical fact that the largest single language group, nearly
_one third of all_ the immigrants to the United States, were
English-speaking. For several decades, the bulk of all immigration was
from Great Britain and Ireland. If one takes the three principal
sources of immigration for every decade between 1820 and 1930, one
finds that Germany and Ireland were among the leaders for sixty years;
Italy for forty; Russia only thirty; the great Scandinavian movement
to the middle west lasted a single decade; but Great Britain was one
of the chief sources of immigration for seventy years, and probably
was the principal source for thirty years more--from 1790 until
1820--during which time no official figures were kept.

Out of thirty-eight million arrivals in this country, about twelve
spoke the dominant tongue, and most of them were aware of the
tradition of Anglo-Saxon self-government; some had suffered from
British domination, more had enjoyed the fruits of liberty; but all
knew what liberty and respect for law meant. Many of these millions
fled from poverty; but most were not refugees from religious or
political persecution. Many millions came to relatives and friends
already established; and began instantly to add to the wealth of the
country; many millions were already educated. The cost of their
upbringing had been borne abroad; they came here grown, trained, and
willing to work. They fell quickly into the American system, without
causing friction; they helped to continue the dominance of the
national groups which had fought the Revolution and created the new

It is important to remember that they were, none the less, immigrants;
they made themselves into Americans and helped to make America; they
helped to make us what we are by keeping some of their habits, by
abandoning others. For this is essential: the British immigrant, even
when he came to a country predominantly Anglo-Saxon, did not remain
British and did not make the country Anglo-Saxon. The process of
change affected the dominant group as deeply as it affected the
minorities. It was a little easier for a Kentish man to become an
American than it was for a Serbian; but it was just as hard for the
man from Kent to remain a Briton as it was for the Serbian to remain a
Serb. Both became Americans. Neither of them tried to remake America
in the mold of his old country.

  _Who Asked Them to Come?_

The next image in our minds is a bad one for us to hold because it
makes us feel smug and benevolent. It is the image of America, the
foster-mother of the world, receiving first the unfortunate and later
the scum of the old world. It is true that the oppressed came to
America, and that in the forty million arrivals there were criminals
as well as saints. The picture is false not only in perspective, but
in basic values. For in many generations, at the beginning, in the
middle, and at the end of the great inrush of Europeans, the United
States actively desired and solicited immigration.

Obviously when people were eager to emigrate, the solicitation fell
off; Irish famine and German reaction sent us floods of immigrants who
had not been individually urged to come. But their fathers and elder
brothers had been invited. The Colonies and the States in their first
years wanted settlers and, as noted, wrote their need for new citizens
into the Declaration; between two eras of hard times we built the
railroads of the country and imported Irish and Chinese to help the
Civil War veterans lay the ties and dig the tunnels; in the gilded age
and again at the turn of the century, we were enormously expanding and
again agents were busy abroad, agents for land companies, agents for
shipping, agents for great industries which required unskilled labor.

Moreover, the Congress of the United States refused to place any
restrictions upon immigration. The vested interest of labor might
demand restrictions; but heavy industry loved the unhappy foreigner
(the nearest thing to coolie labor we would tolerate) and made it a
fixed policy of the United States not to discourage immigration. The
only restriction was a technical one about contract labor. It did not
lower the totals.

  _America Was Fulfilment!_

The moment we have corrected the cartoon we can go back to fact
without self-righteousness. The fact is that arrival in America was
the end toward which whole generations of Europeans aspired. It did
not mean instant wealth and high position; but it did mean an end to
the only poverty which is degrading--the poverty which is accepted as
permanent and inevitable. The shock of reality in the strike-ridden
mills around Pittsburgh, on the blizzard-swept plains of the Dakotas,
brought dismay to many after the gaudy promises made by steamship
agents and labor bosses. But in one thing America never failed its
immigrants--the promise and hope of better things for their children.
America was not only promises; America was fulfilment.

No one has measured the exact dollar-and-cents value of believing that
the next generation will have a chance to live better, in greater
comfort and freedom. In America this belief in the future was only a
projection of the parallel belief in the present; it was a reaction
against the European habit of assuming that the children would, with
luck, be able to live where their parents lived, on the same income,
in the same way. The elder son was fairly assured of this; war and
disease and colonies and luck would have to take care of the others.
The less fortunate, the oppressed, could not even hope for this much.
At various times the Jew in Russia, the liberal in Germany, the
Sicilian sulphur-miner, the landless Irish, and families in a dozen
other countries could only expect a worse lot for their children; they
had to uproot themselves and if they themselves did not stand
transplanting, they were sure their children would take root in the
new world.

And this confidence--which was always justified--became as much a part
of the atmosphere of America as our inherited parliamentary system,
our original town-meetings, our casual belief in civil freedom, our
passion for wealth, our habits of movement, and all the other
essential qualities which describe and define us and set us apart from
all other nations.

The immigrant knew his children would be born Americans; for himself
there was a more difficult and in some ways more satisfying fate: he
could _become_ an American. It was not a cant phrase; it had absolute
specific meaning. The immigrant became in essence one of the people of
the country.

As soon as he was admitted, he had the same civil rights as the
native; within a few years he could acquire all the basic political
rights; and neither the habits of the people nor the laws of the
government placed anything in the way of social equality; the
immigrant's life was his own to make.

This did not mean that the immigrant instantly ceased to be a Slav or
Saxon or Latin any more than it meant that he ceased to be freckled or
brunette. The immigrant became a part of American life because the
life of America was prepared to receive him and could not, for six
generations, get along without him.

  _America Is Various_

During the years in which big business solicited immigration and
organized labor attacked it, the argument about the immigrant took an
unfortunate shift. The question was whether the melting pot was
"working", whether immigrants could be Americanized. There were people
who worried if an immigrant wore a shawl, when "old Americans" were
wearing capes; (the "old Americans" wore shawls when they arrived,
forty years earlier); it was "unfortunate" if new arrivals spoke with
an "accent" different from the particular American speech developed at
the moment. There were others who worried if an immigrant too quickly
foreswore the costume or customs of his native land. Employers of
unskilled labor liked to prevent superficial Americanization;
sometimes immigrants were kept in company villages, deliberately
isolated from earlier arrivals and native Americans; wages could be
kept low so long as the newcomers remained at their own level of
comfort, not at ours. Others felt the danger (foreseen by Franklin and
Jefferson) of established groups, solidified by common memories,
living outside the circle of common interests. The actual danger to
the American system was that it wouldn't work, that immigrants coming
in vast numbers would form separate bodies, associated not with
America but with their homeland. (This is precisely what happened in
Argentina, by the deliberate action of the German government, and it
is not an invention of Hitler's. Thomas Beer reports that "in 1892 ...
a German imperialist invited the Reichstag to secure the ...
dismemberment of the United States by planting colonies of civilized
Europeans" within our borders, colonies with their own religious
leaders, speaking their own language; German leaders never could
accept the American idea of change; in Hitler's mind a mystic "blood"
difference makes changing of nationality impossible.)

The first World War proved that the "new immigrants", the masses from
South Europe, as well as the Germans, could keep their ancient customs
and be good Americans; then observers saw that their worries over
"assimilation" were beside the point; because the essence of America's
existence was to create a unity in which almost all variety could find
a place--not to create a totality brooking no variation, demanding
uniformity. In the flush of the young century William James, as
typical of America as Edison or Theodore Roosevelt, looking about him,
seeing an America made up of many combining into one, made our variety
the base of his religious outlook. He had studied "the varieties of
religious experience", and he began, experimentally, to think of a
universe not necessarily totalitarian. He saw us building a country
out of diverse elements and found approval in philosophy. He saw
infinite change; "it would have depressed him," said a cynical and
admiring friend, "if he had had to confess that any important action
was finally settled"; just as it would have depressed America to admit
that the important action of creating America had come to an end.
James "felt the call of the future"; he believed that the future
"could be far better, totally other than the past". He was living in
an atmosphere of transformation, seeing men and women becoming "far
better, totally other" than they had been. He looked to a better
world; he helped by assuring us that we need never have one King, one
ruler, one fixed and unalterable fate. He said that there was no proof
of the one single Truth. He threw out all the old totalitarians, and
cast his vote for a pluralistic universe. We were building it
politically every day; without knowing it, James helped to fortify us
against the totalitarians who were yet to come.

This was, to be sure, not Americanization. It was the far more
practical thing: becoming American. Americanization was something
celebrated on "days"; it implied something to be done _to_ the
foreigners. The truth was that the immigrant needed only one thing, to
be allowed to experience America; then slowly, partially, but
consistently, he became an American. The immigrant of 1880 did not
become an American of the type of 1845; he became an American as
Americans were in his time; in every generation the mutual experience
of the immigrant, naturalized citizens and native born, created the
America of the next generation. And in every generation, the native
born and the older immigrants wept because _their_ America and their
way of becoming American had been outmoded. The process passed them
by; America had to be reborn.

So long as the immigrant thought of "taking out citizen papers" and
the native born was annoyed by accents, odd customs, beards and
prolific parenthood, the process of becoming American was not
observed, and the process of Americanization seemed obvious and
relatively unimportant.

The tremendous revolution in human affairs was hidden under social
discords and economic pressures. People began to think it was time to
slacken the flow of immigrants until we had absorbed what we had. Good
land was scarce; foreigners in factions began to join unions;
second-generation children grew up to be great tennis players and took
scholarships; the pure costless joy of having immigrants do the dirty
work was gone. The practical people believed something had to be done.

But the practical people forgot the great practical side--which is
also the mystical side--of our immigration. For the first time since
the bright days of primitive Christianity, a great thing was made
possible to all men: they could become what they wished to become. As
Peter said to the Romans, and Paul to the Athenians, that through
faith and desire and grace they could become Christians, equal, in the
eyes of God, to all other Christians, so the apostles of Freedom
spoke to the second son of an English Lord, to the ten sons of a
Russian serf, to old and young, ignorant and wise, befriended or
alone, and said that their will, their ambition, their work, and their
faith could make of them true Americans.

The instant practical consequences of this new element in human
history are incalculable. They are like the practical consequences of
early Christianity, which can be measured in terms of Empires and
explorations and Crusades. The transformation of millions of Europeans
into Americans was like the conversion of millions of pagans to
Christianity; it was accompanied by an outburst of confidence and
energy. The same phenomena occurred in the Renaissance and
Reformation, a period of conversion accompanied by a great surge of
trade, invention, exploration, wealth, and vast human satisfaction.

This idea of becoming American, as personal as religion, as mystical
as conversion, as practical as a contract, was in fact a foundation
stone of the growth and prosperity of the United States. It was a
practical result of the exact kind of equality which the Declaration
invoked; it allowed men to regain their birthright of equality,
snatched from them by tyrants. It persuaded them that they could enjoy
life--and allowed them to produce and to consume. In that way it was
as favorable to prosperity as our land and our climate. And it had
other consequences. For, as it stemmed from equality, it went deep
under the roots of the European system--and loosened them so that a
tremor could shake the system entirely.

  _Change and Status_

For the European system stood against _becoming_; its objective was to
remain, to be still, to stand. Its ancient greatness and the tone of
time which made it lovely, both came from this faith in the steady
long-abiding changelessness of human institutions. All that it
possessed was built to endure for ever; its cathedrals, its prisons,
its symbols, its systems--including the symbols and the systems by
which it denied freedom to its people. Each national-racial-religious
complex of Europe was a triple anchor against change; it prevented men
from drifting as the great winds of revolution and reform swept over
Europe. Nor were men permitted to change, as they pleased. Nations
waged war and won land, but neither the Czars nor the German Emperors
thought of the Poles as their own people; the Poles were irrevocably
Poles, excluded from the nobler society of Russians, Austrians and
Germans. Religious societies made converts, but looked with fear or
hatred or suspicion against the very people from whom the converts
came--the Jew was irretrievably a Jew, the Catholic a Catholic. In
each country one religion was uppermost, the rest tolerated. In each
country one folk-group was dominant, the rest tolerated or persecuted.
And in each country one class--the same class--ruled, and all other
classes served.

By ones or twos, men and women might be accepted into the established
church, marry into the dominant race, rise to the governing class; but
the exceptions proved nothing. The European believed in his _station_
in life, his civil _status_, the _standing_ of his family in the
financial or social world. The Englishman settling in Timbuctoo
remained an Englishman because the Englishman at home remained a
middle-class bank clerk or "not a gentleman" or a marquess; and while
an alien could become a subject of the King, he never for a moment
imagined that he could become an Englishman--any more than a Scot. The
English knew that names change; men do not.

_Only when they came to America, they did._

They did because the basic American system, the dynamics of becoming
American, rejected the racialism of Europe; it rejected aggressive
nationalism by building a new nation; it rejected an established
religion; and almost in passing it destroyed the class-system.

To the familiar European systems of damnation--by original sin, by economic
determinism, by pre-natal influence--has been added a new one--damnation by
racial inferiority; the Chamberlain-Wagner-Nietzsche-Rosenberg-Hitler myth
of the superior race-nation means in practise that whoever is not born
German is damned to serve Germany; there is no escape because the
inferiority is inherent. This is the European class-system carried to
its loftiest point.

We say that this system is inhuman, unscientific, probably suicidal.
The poverty-system on which Europe "prospered" for generations and
into which we almost fell, was also inhuman, unscientific and probably
suicidal; there is no logic in the British aristocratic system coupled
with a financial-industrial overlordship and universal suffrage; there
is little logic even in our own setup of vast organizations of labor,
huge combinations of money, unplumbed technical skill hampered by both
capital and labor, and some forty million underfed and half sick human
beings in the most productive land in the world. It is not logic we
look for in the framework of human society; we look for operations.
What does it do? For all its failures, our system works toward human
liberty; for all its success, the Nazi system works against human
liberty. We tend to give more and more people an opportunity to change
and improve; their system is based on the impossibility of change. Our
system is a nation built out of many races; theirs is a nation
excluding all but one race. Our system has lapses, we do not grant
citizenship to certain Orientals nor social equality to Negroes; but
we do not write racial inferiority into our laws, we do not teach it
in _our_ schools (it may be taught in sectional schools we tolerate,
but do not support); and this is important. So long as we accept the
ideal of political equality, hope lives for every man. The moment we
abandon it, we nazify ourselves--and destroy the foundation of the

  _Americans All_

Turning from the brutal leveling and uniformity of the Nazis, good
Americans have begun to wish that more of the folk qualities of our
settlers had been preserved. At every point America is the enemy of
fasci-feudalism, and this is no exception. Our music, our dancing, the
language we speak, the foods we eat, all incorporate elements brought
from Europe; but we have not deliberately encouraged the second
generation to preserve clothes and cooking any more than we have
encouraged the preservation of political habits. There has been a loss
in variety and color; and now, while there is still time, efforts are
being made to create a general American interest in the separate
cultures combined here. It has to be carefully done, so that we do not
lose sight of the total American civilization in our enthusiasm for
the contributing parts. There is always the chance that descendants of
Norwegians, proud and desperate as they consider the plight of their
country, will become nationalistic here; and that they will not be
interested in the music or the art of Ukrainians in America; and that
Americans of Italian descent may be the only ones concerned in adding
to the Italian contribution to American life. This is the constant
danger of all work concerned with immigrant groups; and the
supersensitiveness of all these groups, in a period of intense
100%-ism, tends to defeat the purpose of assaying what each has done
to help all the others.

Yet some success is possible. In 1938 I worked with the Office of
Education on a series of broadcasts which drew its title from the
President's remark to the Daughters of the American Revolution, that
we are all the descendants of immigrants. (The President also added
"and revolutionaries", but this was not essential in our broadcasts.)
Everything I now feel about the focal position of the immigrant in
American life is developed from the work done on the Immigrants All
series and, especially, from the difficulties encountered, as well as
from one special element of success.

I set down some basic principles: that the programs would not
_glorify_ one national group after another; that the interrelation of
each arriving group to the ones already here would be noted; the vast
obligation of every immigrant to those who had prepared the way would
be stressed; cooperation between groups would be dramatically rendered
if possible; the immigrants' contribution to America would be
paralleled by America's contribution to the immigrant; and the making
of America, by its natives and its immigrants, would overshadow the
special contribution of any single group.

These were principles. In practise, some disappeared, but none was
knowingly violated. From time to time, enthusiasts for a given group
would complain that another had been more warmly treated; more serious
was the indifference of many leaders of national and folk groups to
the general problem of the immigrant, to any group outside their own.
We were, by that time, in a period of sharpened national
sensibilities; but this did not entirely account for an apparently
ingrained habit of considering immigrant problems as problems of one's
own group, only. Suspicion of other groups went with this neglect of
the problem as a whole; the natives born with longer American
backgrounds were the ones who showed a clearer grasp of the whole
problem; they were not bothered by jealousies and they were interested
in America.

On the other side, the series had an almost spectacular success. More
than half of the letters after each weekly broadcast came from men and
women who were _not_ descendants of the national group presented that
week. After the program on the Irish, some 48% of the letters were
from Irish immigrants or native-born descendants of the Irish; the
other 52% came from children of Serbs and FFV's and Jews and
Portuguese, from Sicilians and Germans and Scots, Scandinavians and
Englishmen and Greeks. It was so for all of the programs; the defects
of the scripts were forgotten, because the people who heard them were
so much better Americans than anyone had dared predict. Of a hundred
thousand letters, almost all were American, not sectarian in spirit;
the bitterness of the cheap fascist movements had not affected even a
fringe of the listeners. All in all, we were encouraged; it seemed to
us that the immigrant was accepted as the co-maker of America.

Much of our future depends on the exact place we give to the
immigrant. It has been taken for granted that immigration is over and
that the proportions of racial strains in America today are fixed for
ever. It is not likely that vast immigration will head for the United
States in the next decade; but the principle of "becoming American"
will operate for the quotas and the refugees; and it is now of greater
significance than ever because the great fascist countries have laid
down the principle of unchangeable nationality. The Nazi government
has pretended a right to call German-born American citizens to the
colors; and a regular practise of that government is to plant
"colonies" as spies.

If we do not re-assert the principle of change of nationality (the
legal counterpart to the process of becoming American) we will be lost
in the aggressive nationalism of the Nazis, and we will no longer be
safe from racialism. Preposterous as it will seem to scholars,
degrading as it will be to men of sense, racialism can establish
itself in America by the re-assertion of Anglo-Saxonism (with

  _Are We Anglo-Saxon?_

At this point the direct political implications of "becoming American"
become evident. Toward the end of this book there are some questions
about union with Britain; the point to note here is that so far as
Union-now (or any variant thereof) is based emotionally on the
Anglo-Saxonism of the United States of America, it is based on a myth
and is politically an impossible combination; if we plan union with
Britain, let it be based on the actuality of the American status, not
on a snobbish desire. We cannot falsify our history, not even in favor
of those who did most for our history.

There is a way, however, of imputing Anglo-Saxonism to America, which
is by starting with the great truth: the English and the Scots--and the
Scots-Irish--founded the first colonies (some time after the Spaniards
to be sure, but that is "a detail"); they established here certain
basic forms of law and cultivated the appetite for freedom; they were
good law-abiding citizens, and accustomed to self-discipline; they were
great pioneers in the wilderness; they suffered for religious liberty
and more than any other national or racial group, they fought the War
of Independence.

Can we say these men created the true, the original America; and
everything since then has been a corruption of its 100% goodness and
purity? This would allow us to rejoice in Andrew Carnegie, but not in
George W. Goethals; in Hearst but not in Pulitzer; in Cyrus McCormick
but not in Eleuthère Dupont; in the Wright Brothers, but not in Boeing
and Bellanca; in Edison (partly as he was not all Scot) but not in his
associate Berliner; in Bell who invented the telephone but not in
Pupin who created long distance. We should have to denounce as
un-American the civil service work of Carl Schurz and Bela Schick's
test for diphtheria and Goldberger's work on pellagra (which was
destroying the pure descendants of the good Americans); we would have
to say that America would be better off without Audubon and Agassiz
and Thoreau; or Boas and Luther Burbank; or John Philip Sousa and Paul
Robeson and Jonas Lie.

When we have denied all these their place in America, we can begin to
belittle the contribution of still others to our national life. For
the later immigrants had less to give to transportation and basic
manufactures and to building the nation. These things were done by the
earlier immigrants. The later ones gave their sweat and blood, and
presently they and their children were troubling about education, or
civil service, or conservation of forests, or the right of free
association, or art or music or philanthropy. If our own special
fascists lay their hands on our traditions, the burning of books will
be only a trifle; for they will tear down the museums and the
settlement houses, the kindergartens and the labor temples--and when
they are done they will say, with some truth, that they have purged
America of its foreign influence. All reform, all culture will be
destroyed by the New Klansmen, and they will re-write history to make
us believe that wave after wave of corruption came from Europe
(especially from Catholic and Greek Orthodox and Jewish Europe) to
destroy the simple purity of Anglo-Saxon America.

That is why, now, when we can still assess the truth, when we need the
help of every American, we must declare the truth, that there never
was a purely Anglo-Saxon United States. Frenchmen and Swedes and
Spaniards and Negroes and Walloons and Hollanders and Portuguese and
Finns and Germans and German Swiss were here before 1700; Quakers,
Catholics, Freethinkers and Jews fought side by side with Huguenots,
Episcopalians, Calvinists and Lutherans in the wars with the Indians.
In the colony of Georgia, in the year Washington was born, men of six
nations had settled: German Lutherans, Italian Protestants, Scots,
Swiss, Portuguese, Jews and English. In 1750 four times as many
Germans arrived in Pennsylvania as English and Irish together.

  _The Creative Anglo-Saxon_

The greatness of the Anglo-Saxon contribution to America--the gift
greater than all their other great gifts--was the conception of a
state making over the people who came here, and made over by them. By
the end of the Revolution, power and prestige were in the hands of the
Anglo-Saxon majority; and in three successive instruments they
destroyed the idea of Anglo-Saxon superiority: the Declaration of
Independence, the Ordnance of 1787, the Constitution. "Becoming" was
not an ideal and it was not the base of Anglo-Saxon society in
England; the concept of change and "becoming" was based on actuality;
on what was happening all over the colonial dominion. People were
becoming American, even before a new nation was born.

All that followed--the vast complexity of creating America, would have
been impossible without that first supreme act of creative
self-sacrifice. When the statesmen of our Revolutionary period
established the principles of statehood and naturalization and
citizenship in terms of absolute equality, they knew the risk they
ran. In Pennsylvania the official minutes were printed in both English
and German; in Maryland the Catholics were dominant; there were still
some influential Dutch along the upper Hudson who might secede from
New York. On the western boundary, unsettled, uneasy, lay the
Spaniards and the French. There was danger of division, everywhere;
but the great descendants of the English immigrants did not withdraw.
Their principle was equality; since men were born free, they could
_become_ equal if artificial barriers were removed. The statesmen of
that day declared for America; they knew that men did not, in this
country, remain Dutch or Portuguese; but grew into something else.
With their own eyes they had seen it happen. They pledged their lives
and sacred honor that it would happen again.

So, if ever we re-write history to prove that all the other nations
contributed nothing and failed to become Americans, we will also have
to write it down that the Anglo-Saxons failed more miserably than the
others. For the great idea, the practical dynamics of equality, was
theirs; they set it in motion, guarded it, and saw it triumph.

In the next ten years it will be impossible to extemporize an
immigration policy for the United States. The world economy will
change all around us; the dreadful alternations of plenty and
starvation may be adjusted and controlled; we may enter a world order
in which we will be responsible for a given number of souls, and some
of these may be admitted to our country. By that time we will have
learned that nationalist fascism and international communism are
powerless here; and no one but professional haters of America will be
left to bait the foreigners and persecute the alien.

But above all, by that time we will have had time to reassert the
great practical idea behind immigration and naturalization--the idea
of men making themselves over--as for a century and a half they have
made themselves into Americans.

  _An Experiment in Evolution_

NOTE: I have used the phrase "becoming American" and defined it as it
defined itself; legally, in the customs of the country, it seems to
mean becoming a citizen; experimentally "becoming" has happened to us,
we have seen it happen, it means that we recognize an essential
affinity between an immigrant and Americans, living or dead.

Yet to many people the words may be vague; to others they may seem a
particularly dangerous lie. Those who are interested in certain
foreign groups, less promptly "Americanized", will protest that for
all this "becoming", some are not accepted as American; those who are
basically haters of all foreigners will say that the _law_ accepts
citizens, but no power on earth can make them Americans.

It is my experience that the phrases created by poets, politicians and
people are often the truest words about America; and one of the
profound satisfactions of life is to see the wild imagery of the poet
or the lush oratory of the politician come true, literally and exactly
true, scientifically demonstrated and proved.

In this particular case, absolute proof is still lacking, because we
are dealing with human beings, we cannot make controlled experiments.
We can observe and compare. Under the inspiration of the eminent
anthropologist Dr. Franz Boas, the research has been made; so far as
it goes it proves that the children of foreigners do become Americans.
Specifically, their gestures, the way they stand and the way they
walk, their metabolism and their susceptibility to disease, all tend
to become American. In all of these aspects, there is an American norm
or standard; and the children of immigrants forsaking the norm or
standard of the fatherland, grow to that of America.

The most entertaining of these researches was in the field of gesture.
The observers took candid movie shots of groups of Italians and of
Jews; they differ from one another and both differ from the American
mode (which is a composite, with probably an Anglo-Saxon dominant).
The observers found that the extreme gesture of the foreign-born Jew
is one in which a speaker gesticulates with one hand while with the
other he holds his opponent's arm, to prevent a rival movement; and
one case was noted in which the speaker actually gesticulated with the
other man's arm. To the American of native stock this is "foreign";
and research proves that the American is right; such gestures are
foreign even to the American-born children of the foreigner himself.
The typical foreign gesture disappears and the typical American
gesture takes its place.

And this is not merely imitation; it is not an "accent" disappearing
in a new land. Because metabolism and susceptibility to disease are as
certainly altered as gait and posture. The vital physical nature
changes in the atmosphere of liberty--as the mind and the spirit

The frightened lie of racial doom which has fascinated the German mind
(under its meaner guise of racial superiority) was never needed in
America. Seeing men become Americans, the fathers of our freedom
declared that nothing should prevent them; they were not afraid of any
race because they knew that the men of all races would become
Americans. Their faith of 1776 begins to be scientifically proved
today; a hundred and sixty-six years of creative America proved it in

It is on the basis of what Europeans became in America, that we now
have to consider our relations with the Europeans who remained in


Address to Europe

The communications of America and Europe have always run in two
channels: our fumbling, foolish diplomacy, our direct, candid,
successful dealings with the people.

Our first word was to the people of Europe; the Declaration of
Independence tried to incite the British people against their own
Parliament; and the "decent respect to the opinions of mankind" refers
to citizens, not to chancelleries. The Declaration was addressed to
the world; it was heard in Paris and later in a dozen provinces of
Germany, and in Savoy and in Manchester, and presently along the
Nevski and the Yellow River. Since 1776, the people of the world have
always listened to us, and answered. We have never failed when we have
spoken to the people.

After the Declaration, the American people spoke to all the people of
Europe in the most direct way: they invited Europeans to come here,
offering them land, wages, freedom; presently our railroads and
steamship lines solicited larger numbers; and the policy of the
government added inducements. Free immigration, and free movement,
demanded in the Declaration, made possible by laws under the
Constitution, were creating America. In domestic life we saw it at
once; but the effects of immigration on our dealings with Europe were
not immediate.

We need only remember that for a hundred and twenty years the peoples
of Europe and the people of the United States were constantly writing
to one another; not merely doing business together, but exchanging
ideas, mingling in marriage, coming together as dispersed families
come together. Whatever went on in the Mississippi Valley was known
along the fjords and in the Volga basin and by the Danube; if sulphur
was discovered in Louisiana it first impoverished Sicily--then brought
Sicilians to Louisiana; Greeks knew that sponges were to be found off
Tampa. And more and more people in America knew what was happening in
Europe--a famine, a revolution, a brief era of peace, a repressive
ministry, a reform bill. The constant interaction of Europe and
America was one beat of our existence--it was in counterpoint to the
tramp of the pioneer moving Westward; immigration and migration meshed

Our government from time to time spoke to the governments of Europe. A
tone of sharp reproof was heard at times, a warm word for
revolutionaries was coupled with indignation against tyrants: Turkey,
the Dual Monarchy, the Tsar, all felt the lash--or Congress hoped they
felt it; in the Boer War, England was the victim of semi-official
criticism; and whenever possible, we were the first to recognize
republics, even if they failed to maintain themselves on the ruins of
monarchy. We fluttered official papers and were embarrassed by
protocol, not believing in it anyhow, and were outwitted or
out-charmed by second-rate diplomatists of Europe.

  _People and Protocol_

The campaign platforms always demanded a "firm, vigorous, dignified"
diplomacy; the diplomacy of Europe was outwardly correct, inwardly
devious, shifting, flexible, and in our opinion corrupt. But our
address to the _people_ of Europe was, in all this time, so candid, so
persuasive, that we destroyed the chancelleries and recaptured our
losses. The first great communication, after 1776, was made by
Lincoln--it was not a single speech or letter, it was a constant
appeal to the conscience of the British people, begging them, as the
Declaration had done, to override the will of their rulers. And this
appeal also was successful; few events in our relations with England
are more moving than the action of the starving Midlanders. Their
government, like their men of wealth and birth, like their press and
parliament, were eager to see America split, and willing to see
slavery upheld in order to destroy democracy. But the men and women of
Manchester, starved by the Northern blockade of cotton, still begged
their government not to interfere with the blockade--and sent word to
Lincoln to assure him that the _people_ of Britain were on the side of
liberty, imploring him "not to faint in your providential mission.
While your enthusiasm is aflame, and the tide of events runs high, let
the work be finished effectually. Leave no root of bitterness to
spring up and work fresh misery to your children." Nor did Lincoln
fail to respond; Americans who could interest Britain in the northern
cause were unofficial ambassadors to the people; and our minister,
Charles Francis Adams labored with all sorts and conditions of men to
make the government of Britain accept the will of the British people.
The Emancipation Proclamation was a final step in the domestic
statesmanship of the war; it was also a step in the diplomacy of the
war, for it insured us the good will of the British people; and that
good will was vital to the success of the Union. The North was coming
close to war with the _government_ of Britain, and the people's open
prejudice in favor of Lincoln and freedom kept England from sufficient
aid to the Confederacy.

The next address of the United States to the people of Europe is a
long tragedy, its consequences so dreadful today that we can barely
analyze the steps by which the great work for human freedom was

  _Wilson to the World_

Following the precedent of the Declaration, Woodrow Wilson began in
1916 to address himself to the people of the nations at war in Europe.
To ministries, German and British both, Wilson was sending
expostulations on U-boats and embargos; to the peoples of Europe he
addressed those speeches which were made at home; presently he wrote
inquiries to the ministers which they were compelled to make public
(since publication in neutral countries was certain). Then, after the
Soviets of Russia had gone over the heads of the Foreign Offices, to
appeal to the workers of the world, Wilson carried his own method to
its necessary point and, after we entered the war, began the masterly
series of addresses to the German people which were so effective in
creating the atmosphere of defeat.

They created at the same time the purposes of allied victory. The war
ended and one of the magnificent spectacles of modern times occurred:
the people of Europe were for a moment united, and they were united by
an American declaring the objectives of American life. The moment was
so brief that few knew all it meant until it had passed; in the
excitement of spectacles and events, of plots and processions, this
moment when Europe trembled with a new hope passed unnoticed.

What happened later to Woodrow Wilson is tragic enough; but nothing
can take away from America this great moment in European history--to
which every observer bears testimony, even the most cynical. The
defeated people of Germany saw in America their only defence against
the rapacity of Clemenceau, the irresponsible, volatile opportunism of
Lloyd George, the crafty merchandising of Orlando; the first "liberal"
leader, Prince Max, had deliberately pretended acceptance of the
fourteen points in order to embarrass Wilson; but he spoke the truth
when he said that Wilson's ideals were cherished by the overwhelming
majority of the German _people_; and quite correctly the Germans saw
that nothing but American idealism stood between them and a peace of
vengeance. The enthusiasm of the victorious peoples was less selfish,
but it was equally great; a profound distrust of their leaders had
grown in the minds of realistic Frenchmen and Britons, they sensed the
incapacity of their leaders to raise the objectives of the war above
the level of the "knockout blow" or the _revanche_. As the Germans
cried to be protected in their defeat, the victorious people asked to
be protected from such fruits of victory as Europe had known for a
thousand years. The demagogues still shouted hoarsely for a noose for
the Kaiser and the old order in Germany began to plan for the next
time--but the people of Europe were united; they had gone through the
same war and, for the first time in their history, they wanted the
same peace. It was the first time that an American peace was proposed
to them.

_How Wilson Was Trapped_

Woodrow Wilson made a triumphal tour of the allied capitals and by the
time he returned to Paris for the actual business of the peace, he had
become the spiritual leader of the world. He was not, however, the
political leader of his own country--he had lost the Congressional
elections and he allowed the diplomats of Europe to make use of this
defeat. They began to cut him off from the people of Europe; he fell
into the ancient traps of statesmanship, the secret sessions, the
quarrels and departures; once he recovered control, ordered steam up
in the George Washington to take him home; but in the end he was
outguessed--in the smart word, he was outsmarted. He had imagined that
he could defeat the old Europe by refusing to recognize its intrigues.
He had, in effect, declared that secret treaties and all commitments
preceding the fourteen points couldn't exist; he had hoped that they
would be cancelled to conform to his pious pretence of ignorance. And
Clemenceau and Lloyd George kept him quarreling over a mile of
boundary or a religious enclave within a racial minority; they stirred
passions; they starved German children by an embargo; they rumored
reparations; they promised to hang the Kaiser; they drew Wilson deeper
into smaller conferences; they promised him a League about which their
cynicism was boundless, and he let them have war guilt and reparations
and the betrayal of the Russian revolution and the old European system
triumphant. They had fretted him and tried him and they had made their
own people forget the passionate faith Wilson had inspired; they made
Wilson the agent of disillusion for all that was generous and hopeful
in Europe. They could do it because the moment Wilson began to talk to
the premiers, he stopped talking to the people. From the moment he
allowed the theme of exclusive war guilt to be announced, he cut
himself off from all Germany; he did not know the temper of the
working class in Europe, and he refused to listen to the men he
himself had sent to report on Russia, which did not help him with the
radical trade unions in France or the liberals in England. One by one
the nations fell back into their ancient groove, the Italians sullenly
nursing a grievance, the French whipping up a drama of revenge and
memory in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, the British "isolating"
themselves in virtual control of the Continent, everybody frightened
of Russia--and everyone still listening for another word of honest
truth from Wilson, who was silent; for America was starting on a long
era of isolation from Europe (the first in a century), an aberration
in American life, against all its actual traditions, in keeping only
with its vulgar oratory.

  _The Excommunication of Europe_

The United States had no obligations to the nations which emerged out
of the Treaty of Versailles, only a human obligation to their people
to keep faith with them. The people of Germany believed in all fervor
that they had gained an armistice and sought peace on the basis of the
fourteen points; the people of France and England believed that their
own governments had accepted the same points. And the same people
might have been stirred to insist on a peace of reconciliation--not
with princes and ministers, but with peoples--if Wilson and the
Americans had continued to communicate with them.

We withdrew into a stuffy silence. Just as we played a queer game of
protocol and refused to "recognize" the USSR, so we sulked because the
old bitch Europe wasn't being a gentleman--the only communication we
made to Europe was when we dunned her for money. We have seen how the
years of Harding and Coolidge affected our domestic life; they were
not only a reaction against the fervor of the war months; they were a
carefully calculated reaction against basic American policy at home
and abroad; they betrayed American enterprise, delivered industry into
the hands of finance, degraded government, laughed at corruption, and
under the guise of "a return to normalcy" attempted to revive the dead
conservatism of McKinley and Penrose in American politics.

In this period, it is no wonder that we failed to utter one kind word
to help the first democratic government in Germany, that we trembled
with fear of the Reds, sneered at British labor until it became
respectable enough to send us a Prime Minister, and excluded more and
more rigorously the people of Europe whose blood had created our own.

Slowly, as the depression of 1929-32 squeezed us, we began to see that
our miseries connected us with Europe; it was a Republican president
who first attempted to address Europe; but Mr. Hoover's temperament
makes it difficult for him to speak freely to anyone; the talks with
Ramsay MacDonald were pleasurable; the offer of a moratorium was the
first kindness to Europe in a generation of studied American
indifference. It failed (because France still preferred to avenge
herself on Germany); and thereafter we had too many unpleasant things
to do at home.

  _One Good Deed_

We had, in the interval, spoken once to all the world. On the day the
Japanese moved into Manchuria we had, in effect, notified the British
that we chose not to accept the destruction or dismemberment of a
friendly nation. The cynical indifference of Sir John Simon was the
first intimation of the way Europe felt about American "idealism". It
was also the first step toward "non-intervention" in Spain and the
destruction of Europe at the hands of Adolf Hitler. When we were
rebuffed by Downing Street, we sulked; we did not attempt to speak to
the people of Asia, or try to win the British public to our side. We
had lost the habit. We were not even candid in our talks with the
Chinese whose cause we favored because we had Japan (and American
dealers in oil and scrap iron) to appease.

In 1933 Adolf Hitler was elected leader of a Germany which had been
out of communication with us for a generation. The United States which
had been in the minds of generations of Germans, was forgotten by the
people. In a few years Hitler had overthrown the power of France on
the Continent, challenged Communism as an international force, and
frightened the British Empire into an ignoble flutter of appeasement.

To that dreary end our failure of communication had tended. We were
the one power which might have held Europe together--in a League, in a
mere hope of friendship and peace between nations, in the matrix of
the fourteen points if nothing more. The moment we withdrew from
Europe, its nations fell apart, not merely into victors and
vanquished, but into querulous, distrustful, and angry people, each
whipped into hysteria by demagogues or soothed to complaisance by
frightened ministers.

The obligation to address Europe is no longer a moral one. For our own
security, for the cohesion of our own people, for victory over every
element that works to break America into hostile parts--now we have
the golden opportunity again, to speak to Europe, and to ask Europe to
answer. As we look back on our ancient triumphs with the peoples of
Europe and the sour end to which we let them come, this new chance is
heaven-sent, undeserved, as if we could live our lives over again. And
it is nearly so--for if we want to have a life to live in the future,
if it is still to be the confident, secure life of a United America,
we must speak now to Europe.


The Science of Short Wave

What we say to Europe is to be an incitement to revolution, a promise
of liberation, a hope of a decent, orderly, comfortable living, in
freedom; but it must be as hard and real and un-dreamlike as the
Declaration, which was our first word to the people of the world.

We have to begin by telling all the peoples of Europe, our friends and
our enemies, what they have done for America, and what America has
done for them. We have to destroy the slander that the Italians were
kept at digging ditches, the Yugoslavs in the mills, the Hungarians
and Poles and Czechs in the mines and at the boilers, the Greeks at
the fruit stands; we must destroy the great lie that all the "lesser
races" whom Hitler now enslaves were first slaves to our economic
system. We can begin by reading the roster of the great names, the men
who came to America and were liberated from poverty and prejudice, and
made themselves fame or wealth, and deserved well of the Republic, and
were honored.

  _38 Million Freemen_

Directly after the great names, we have to tell the story of the
nameless ones, the thirty-eight million who came here and suffered the
pains of transportation, but took root and grew, understanding freedom
as it came to them, making their way in the world, becoming part of
America, deprived of no civil rights, fighting against exploitation
with other Americans, free to fight against oppression, and with a
fair chance of winning.

There is no need to prettify the record; the record, as it stands, in
all its crude natural colors, is good enough. The immigrant was
exploited, greedily and brutally; and twenty years later he or his
sons exploited other immigrants in turn, as greedily and brutally as
the law allowed.

The ancient passions of race and ritual were not dead in America; but
they were never embodied into law, nor entirely accepted by custom;
and as the unity of America was enriched by the blood of more races
and nations, prejudice had to be organized, it had to be whipped up
and put on a profit basis, as the Klan did, or it would have died

  _The New World was New_

For nearly a hundred and fifty years the peoples of Europe wanted to
come to America; they knew, from those who were already here, what the
plight of the foreigner was in Pittsburgh or in Tontitown, on Buzzards
Bay or Puget Sound. They knew that outlanders were sometimes mocked
and often cheated; that work was hard in a new land; that those who
came before had chosen the best farms and worked themselves into the
best jobs; they knew that for a time life would be strange, and even
its pleasures would be alien to them. They knew, in short, that
America was not the New Eden; but they also knew that it _was_ the New
World, which was enough. We have no apologies to make to the
immigrant; except for those incivilities which people often show to
strangers. Our law showed them nothing but honor and equity. The
errors we made were grave enough; but as a nation we never committed
the sin of considering an immigrant as an alien first, and then as a
man. The economic disadvantages he suffered were the common
misfortunes of alien and native alike. We could have gained more from
our immigrants if we and they were not in such haste to slough off the
culture they brought us. But we can face Europe with a clear

What we have to say to Europe is not only that "we are all the
descendants of immigrants"; we go forward and say that the hunkie, the
wop, the bohunk, the big dumb Swede, the yid, the Polack, and all the
later immigrants, created billions of our wealth, built our railroads
and pipe lines and generators and motor cars and highways and
telephone systems; and that we are getting our laws, our movies, our
dentistry, our poems, our news stories, our truck gardening, and a
thousand other necessities of life, from immigrants and from first
generation descendants of immigrants; and that they are respected and
rewarded, as richly as a child of the DAR or the FFV's would be in the
same honored and needed professions; we have to give to Europeans
statistical proof of their fellow-countrymen's value to us, and cite
the high places they occupy, the high incomes they enjoy, the high
honors we give them; all these things are true and have to be said, so
that Europe knows why America understands her people, why we can,
without smugness or arrogance, talk to all the people of Europe.

And when that is said, we have to say one thing, harder to say
honorably and modestly and persuasively:

_That all these great things were done because the Europeans who did
them were free of Europe, because they had ceased to be Europeans and
become Americans._

  _The Soil of Liberty_

This is the true incitement to revolution. Not that nations need
Americanize themselves; the image of Freedom has many aspects, and the
customs in which freedom expresses itself in France need not be the
same as those in Britain or Germany. But the base of freedom is
unmistakable--we know freedom as we know pure air, by our instincts,
not by formula or definition. And it was the freedom of America which
made it possible for forty million men and women to flourish, so that
often the Russian and the Irish, the Bulgar and the Sicilian, the
Croatian and the Lett, expressed the genius of their country more
completely in America than their contemporaries at home; because on
the free soil of America, they were not alien, they were not in exile.
One can ask what was contributed to medicine by any Japanese who
remained at home, comparable to the work of Noguchi or Takamine in
America; or whether any Spaniard has surpassed the clarity of a
Santayana; any Czech the scrupulous research of a Hrdlicka; any
Hungarian the brilliant, courageous journalism of a Pulitzer; any Serb
the achievements of Michael Pupin. The lives of all peoples, all over
the world, are incalculably enriched by men set free to work when they
came to America, And, it seems, only to America. The warm hospitality
of France to men of genius did not always work out; Americans and
Russians and Spaniards and English flocked to Paris and became
precious, or disgruntled; they felt expatriated; in America men from
all over the world felt repatriated, it was here they became normal,
and natural, and great.

Beyond this--which deals with great men and is flattering to national
pride--we have to say to the men and women of Europe that their own
people have created democracy, proving that no European need be a
slave. The great lie Hitler is spreading over the world is that there
are "countries which love order", and that they are by nature the
enemies of the Anglo-Saxon democracies. It is a lie because our
democracy was created by all these "order-loving" peoples; America is
Anglo-Saxon only in its origin; the answer to Hitler is in what all
the people of Europe have created here.

They have also annihilated the myth of race by which Hitler's Germany
creates a propaganda of hatred. _All_ the peoples of Europe have lived
together in amity in America, all have intermarried. Nothing in
America--not even its crimes--can be ascribed to one group, nation, or
race. Even the KKK, one suspects, was not 100% Aryan.

As the world has seen the German people, for the second time in twenty
years, support with enthusiasm a regime of brutal militarism, a
sinister retrogression into the bestiality of the Dark Ages, people
have wondered whether the German people themselves may not be
incapable of civilization. Their eagerness to serve any master
sufficiently ignorant, if they can brutalize people weaker than
themselves, is a pathological strain. Their quick abandonment of the
effort at self-government is sub-adolescent. So it seems.

  _Germans As Freemen_

If it is so, then the great triumph of America is that in America even
the Germans have become good citizens, lovers of liberty, quick to
resent dictation. They have fought for good government from the time
of Carl Schurz; for freedom of the press since the days of Zenger;
they have hated tyranny and corruption since the time of Thomas Nast;
they have fought for the oppressed since the time of Altgeld. Of the
six million Germans who emigrated, the vast majority were capable of
living peaceably and serviceably with their fellowmen. Of these six,
one million fled from reactionary governments after the democratic
revolution of 1848 had failed, millions of others came to escape the
harsh imperialism of victorious Germany after 1870. To them, the
Germany of the Kaiser was undesirable, the Germany of Hitler
unthinkable. Yet their countrymen, left behind, tolerated one and
embraced the other with sickening adulation. It is as if America had
drawn off the six million Germans capable of understanding and taking
part in a democratic civilization, leaving the materials for Hitlerism

In any case, the Germans in America have proved that Hitler lies to
the Germans; they are neither a superior race nor a people incapable
of self-government; they will not rule the world, nor be a nation of

  _The Brotherhood of the Oppressed_

We can say this to the Germans, destroying their illusions and their
fears at one stroke. How much more we can say to the great patient
peoples whom Germany now enslaves! They have seen the German conquest
of Continental Europe; the ascendancy of the Teutonic-Aryan is
complete. What can the Norwegian or the Bulgar or the Rumanian
believe, except that there is a superior race--and it is not his own?

Fortunately for us, the European has never ceased to believe in
America, in us. Not as a military race, not as a race at all; but as
people of incredible good fortune in the world. And we can say to
every man who has bowed his head, but kept his heart bitter against
Hitler, that we have the proof of the equal dignity of every man's
soul, a proof which Hitlerism can never destroy. We can say to the
Greeks who see the swastika over the Parthenon and the Norwegian whose
bed is stripped of its comforters, and to the Serb still fighting in
the mountain passes, the one thing Hitler dares not let them
believe--that they are as good as other men. We have the proof that
under liberty Croats and Finns and Catalans and Norwegians are as good
as Germans--because they are men, because under liberty there is no
end to what they and their children may accomplish.

If we ever again think that this is oratory, we shall lose our
greatest hope of a free world. The orators were too often promising
too much because they were betraying America on the side; still they
could not falsify the truth which the practical men and the poets both
had discovered: _America means opportunity_. Now we can see the vast
implications of the simple assertion. Because America meant
opportunity, we can incite riot against Hitler in the streets of Oslo
and Prague and even in Vienna; we have proved that given opportunity,
freed of artificial impediments, men walk erect, do their work,
collaborate to rule over and be ruled by their fellowmen; and that
there is no master race, no master class.

This is our address to the people of Europe--that we believe in them,
because we know them. We know they can free themselves because they
have shown the instincts of free men here; we know they are destined
to create a free Europe.

The people of Europe have to know that we are their friends. It will
be hard for us to make some of them believe it--as the French did not
believe it when we failed to break the British blockade in their
favor. But we must persuade them--we have their brothers and mothers
and sons here to speak for us.

It was not easy for Woodrow Wilson to speak to the Germans and the
Austrians. He had no radio; his facilities for pamphleteering were
limited. But he succeeded. Our task is formidable enough; because the
radio is so guarded, it may be harder for us to reach the captured
populations. But it can be done and will be, as soon as we see how
necessary the job is.

  _Our First Effective Front_

We have a job with Germans and Italians, too. Not with Germany and
Italy, which must be defeated; not with their rulers who must be
annihilated; but with the people, the simple, ignorant masses of
people, the day laborers and the housewives; and with the intelligent
section of the middle class which resisted fascism too little and too
late, but never accepted it. We have to revive the spirit of moderate
liberation which fell so ignominiously between Communism and fascism;
and we have to restore communication with the Socialists in Dachau,
the Communist cells in Italy and Germany.

I am not trying to predict the form of our propaganda. We shall
probably try to scare our enemies and to cajole them; to prove them
misled; to promise them security if they revolt. None of these things
will be of much use if we forget to tell _the people_ that their
brothers are here with us--and that we are not enemies. It has seemed
to us in the past year that we have a quarrel with more of the German
people than we had in 1918; we are contemptuous of the Italians; but
it is still our business to distinguish between the Storm Troopers and
their unfortunate victims, between the lackeys of fascism and the
easy-going Italian peasant who never knew what had hit him. There are
millions of Germans and Italians in America, who were once exactly
like the Germans and Italians in Europe; they have undergone the
experience of liberty while their brothers have been enslaved; but we
must be hard-headed enough to know that our greatest potential allies,
next to the embittered captives of the Nazi regime, are the Italians
and Germans who could not come to America in the past twenty years.

The golden opportunity of talking to the people of Europe before we
went to war has been missed. Now it is harder for us, but it is not
impossible. We have to counter the despair of Europe with the hope of
America. The desperation of the occupied territories rises from the
belief that the Germans are invincible and that they themselves are
doomed to servility; to that we reply with the argument of war--but in
the first part of our war, the argument will be hard to follow; we
shall be pushed back, as the British were, because we are not yet
ready for the offensive; so for a year perhaps our very entrance into
the war will tend to increase the prestige of our enemies. Therefore,
in this time, we must use other powers, our other front, to touch
sources of despair: our counter-propaganda must rebuild the
self-respect of the Europeans, of those who resisted and were
conquered and even of those who failed to resist. We can send them the
record of heroism of their fellow-countrymen in our armies; if we can
reach them, we should smuggle a sack of flour for every act of
sabotage they commit; and we should send them at once a rough sketch,
if not a blueprint, of a post-war world in which they will have a
part--with our plans for recovering what was stolen from them,
rebuilding what was destroyed, and restoring the liberty which in
their hearts they never surrendered.

And there is a special reason why we must speak promptly. We have to
declare our unity to Europe in order to destroy the antagonisms which
our enemies will incite at home. It will be good fascist propaganda to
lead us to attack Americans of German and Italian birth or parentage;
our enemies will say that the unity of America is a fraud, that we
have only welcomed Italians and Germans to make them support the
Anglo-Saxon upper classes--and that "good Europeans" can never become
good Americans. The moment we give any pretext for this propaganda,
our communication with _all_ of Europe is lost.

  _Short Wave to Ourselves_

We cannot afford to lose our only immediate weapon. We have to
anticipate the Italo-German blow at our national unity by our own
attack, led by Italians and Germans who are Americans. We have to
remain united so that we can deal effectively with Europe and every
time we speak to Europe, we can reinforce the foundations of unity at
home. We have not achieved a perfect balance of national elements, and
in the past few years we have tolerated fascist enemies, we have seen
good Americans being turned into fascists and bundists while our
leaders made loans to Mussolini or dined with Goering and came back to
talk of peace. It is possible that a true fifth column exists and,
more serious, that a deep disaffection has touched many Americans of
European birth. We have to watch the dangerous ones; the others have
to be re-absorbed into our common society--and we can best take them
in by the honesty and the friendliness of our relation with their
fellowmen abroad. We have to tell the Italians here what we are saying
to the Umbrian peasant and the factory worker in Milan and the clerk
in a Roman bank whose movements are watched by a German soldier; the
Germans, too. And what we say has to be confident and clear and
consistent. For months the quarrel about short wave has continued and
Americans returning from Europe have wept at the frivolity and
changeableness and lack of imagination in our communications to men
who risk their lives to hear what we have to say; it was incredible to
them that this vital arm of our attack on Hitler should have been left
so long unused, that anyone who could pay could say something to
someone in Europe, within the limits of safety, to be sure, but not
within the limits of a coordinated policy. One could advise the
Swedes to declare war or assure them that we understood why they did
not; one could do almost as much for France.

Short wave to Europe is a mystery to the average citizen; he does not
pick it up, and would be only mildly interested if he did. In his
mind, that sort of propaganda should be left to the experts; as it is
in other lands. But in our case, there are re-echoes at home. Not a
"government in exile" speaks from America, but we have here part of
many nations, emigrated and transformed, but still with understanding
of all that was left behind. We have to think of the Norwegians in
Minnesota when we speak to the Norwegians in the Lofotens; the Germans
in Yorkville and the Poles in Pittsburgh should know what we say to
Berlin and to Warsaw. Our words have to help win the war, and to begin
the reconciliation of Europe without which we are not safe. That
reconciliation we have turned into a positive thing, a cooperative
life which has made us strong; we have to tell Europe what we have
done, how Europe has lived in us. We may have to promise and to
threaten, too; but mostly we will want to destroy the myth of
America-Against-Europe by showing the reality of Europe-in-America; we
will want to destroy the lie of an Anglo-Saxon America by letting all
the voices be heard of an American America; we will want to destroy
the rumor of a disunited America by uniting all the voices in one
declaration of ultimate freedom--for Europe and for ourselves.

Europe will ask, if it can reach us, what freedom will mean, how we
will organize it, how far we mean to go. If we want to answer
honestly, we will have to take stock quickly of what we have--and can


Definition of America

We have two prodigious victories to gain--the war and the world after
the war. The chatter about not "defining war aims" because specific
aims are bound to disturb us, is dangerously beside the point, because
the kind of world we will create depends largely on the kind of war we
wage. If we nazify ourselves to win, we will win a nazified world; if
we communize ourselves, we will probably share a modified Marxian
world with the Soviets; and if we win by intensification of our
democracy, we will create the only kind of world in which we can live.
And, as noted in discussing the strategy of the war, the chances are
that we can only win if we divine the essential nature of our people
and create a corresponding strategy.

In addition to the direct military need for knowing what kind of
people we are, there is the propaganda need, so that we can create a
national unity and put aside the constant irritation of partisanship,
the fear of "incidents", the wastage of emotional energy in quarrels
among ourselves. And there is a third reason for an exact and candid
review of what we are: it is our future.

When this war ends we will make, in one form or another, solemn
agreements with the nations of the world, our allies and what is left
of our enemies. We know almost nothing about any of them--we, the
American people. Our State Department knows little enough; what it
knows, it has not communicated to us; and we have never been
interested enough to make discoveries of our own. We are about to
commit a huge international polygamy, with forty picture brides, each
one in a different national costume.

Some conditions of this mass marriage are the subject of the next
section of this book. Here I am concerned with the one thing we can do
to make the preliminary steps intelligent. We cannot learn all we need
to know about all the other nations of the world; but we can reflect
on some things within ourselves, we can know ourselves better; and on
this knowledge we can erect the framework into which the other nations
will fit; or out of which they will remain if they choose not to fit.
We can, by knowing a few vital things about ourselves, learn a lot
about South America and Europe and Asia and Australia; what _we_ are
will determine whom we will marry, whom reject, and whom we will set
up, if agreeable, in an unsanctified situation. The laws of man, in
many states, require certificates of eligibility to marry, the
services of the church inquire if an obstacle exists. Before we enter
into compacts full of tragic and noble possibilities, we might also
make inquiries. Something in us shies away from the pomp of the old
diplomacy--what is that something? We used to like revolutionaries and
never understood colonial exploitation--how do these things affect us
now? Are we prepared to deal with a government in one country and a
people in another? Is it possible for us to ally ourselves to
Communists, reformed fascists, variously incomplete democracies,
cooperative democratic monarchies, and centralized empires, all at the
same time? Is there anything in us which requires us to make terms
with Britain about India, with Russia about propaganda, with Sweden
about exports, before we make a new world with all of them? Can we,
honorably, enter any agreement, with any state or with all states,
while they are ignorant of our character--as ignorant, possibly, as we
are of theirs?

The difficulty we are in is nicely doubled, because introspection is
no happy habit and we say that we _know_ all about America, or we say
that America cannot be known--it is too big, too varied, too
complicated. And these two opposite statements are in themselves a
beginning of a definition. America, by this testimony, is a country,
large, varied, complex, inhabited by people who either understand
their country perfectly or will not make an effort to understand it. I
would not care to rest on this definition--but it shows the need of

  _Mathematics of Character_

By "definition of America" I mean neither epigrams nor statistics; we
are defined by everything which separates and distinguishes us from
others. We are, for instance, the only country lying between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and 25° 35' and 49° north latitude. This
definition is exact and complete; it is neither a boast nor a
criticism; it establishes no superiority or inferiority; it is a fact,
the consequences of which are tremendously significant (our varied
climate, our resources, our bigness with _its_ consequences in the
temper of the people, all go back to this mathematical _fact_.)

Not all the distinguishing marks of our country can be expressed in
mathematical terms; if they could be, we would avoid the danger of
jingo pride, the logical error of making every difference into a
superiority. Moreover, if we had mathematics, we should be able to put
on one side what we have in common with other countries, on the other
what is exclusively ours--and make a comparison, a guide to
international conduct "on scientific principles". We would know how
far our likeness joined us to others, so that we could lay a firm
basis for action; and how far our differences required compromises or
made compromise impossible.

We lack mathematics; our physical boundaries are fixed, but our social
boundaries are fluid, our national "genius" escapes definition. Yet we
can describe these imponderables even if we cannot force them into a
diagram, and their vital significance is as great as any statistics
can be. It is a fact that millions of people came to America in the
hope of a better life--the number who came can be written down, the
intensity of hope can be guessed; and only a compassionate imagination
can say what this country gained by the hopes fulfilled or lost by
those which ended in despair. Yet the elation and the disillusion of
men and women are both reflected in our laws and customs; and so far
as they did not occur in other lands, they are factors in defining the
great complex of our national character.

We are defined by events--immigration was an event. But immigrants
came to other countries as well, to Canada and Brazil and England.
When they came and in what numbers becomes the defining mark for us.
It is self-evident that we are different from all other nations both
absolutely and relatively; no other nation lies within our boundaries
or has all our habits, because none has had our history--that is the
base of absolute difference; all other nations share something with
us, but we differ from each relatively--in some degree. This would not
be worth mentioning if chauvinism did not insist that we differed (and
were superior) in all things, while a base cosmopolitanism insisted
that we were alike in all things and should be made more so. The
corrective for each of these errors is to see what we are.

  _The Revolution in Property_

When this country was settled the ownership of land was the most
important economic factor in the lives of all Western peoples. The
ruling class in Europe was a "landed aristocracy"; the poor had become
poorer because they had usually been gradually driven off the land (as
in England) or forced to pay outrageous rents (as in France). In the
thirteen original colonies alone we had almost as many square miles of
land as France and England together and this seemingly immeasurable
area was only the fringe, the shore line, of Continental America; the
Mississippi Valley had been explored, and the Southwest, so that the
French and Spanish people shared, to an extent, in the hopes which
unlimited land offered to the dispossessed.

Before the Declaration of Independence had been uttered, a revolution
in the deepest instincts of man had taken place--land became a
commodity of less permanence than a man's musket or horse. In Europe,
land was to be built upon (literally and symbolically; ducal or royal
Houses were founded on land); land was _real_ estate, everything else
was by comparison trifling; land was guarded by laws, property laws,
laws of inheritance, laws of trespass, laws governing rents and
foreclosures; far above laws governing human life was the law
governing property, and the greatest property was land; title to
property often carried with it what we call "a title" today; count and
marquis, their names signify "counties" and "marches" of land; and the
Prince (or _Princeps_) was often the first man in the land because he
was the first owner of the land. Land was the one universal permanent
thing; upon it men were born; over it they slaved or rode in grandeur;
in it they were buried.

The American pioneer began to abandon his land, his farm in the
clearing of the wilderness, before 1776. He moved away, westward, and
complained against King George's legal fence around the land beyond
the Alleghenies. The European transplanted to America often founded a
House, notably in the aristocratic tradition of the Virginia
tidewater; but most of the colonists lacked money or inclination to
buy land in quantities; they went inland and took what they needed
(often legally, often by squatters' right--which is the right of work,
not of law); and then, for a number of reasons, they left the land and
went further into the wilderness and made another clearing.

There is something magnificent and mysterious about this mania to move
which overtook men when they came to America. Perhaps the primal
instinct of man, to wander with his arrow or with his flock,
reasserted itself after generations of the hemmed-in life of European
cities; perhaps it was some uneasiness, some insecurity in
themselves--or some spirit of adventure which could not be satisfied
so long as a river or a forest or a plain lay unexplored. Romance has
beglamored the pioneer and he has been called rude names for his
"rape of a continent". I have once before quoted Lewis Mumford's
positively Puritan rage at the pioneer who did not heed Wordsworth's
advice to seek Nature "in a wise passiveness"--advice based on the
poet's love for the English Lake district, about as uncivilized then
as Northern Vermont is today. The raging pioneer, says Mumford, "raped
his new mistress in a blind fury of obstreperous passion". Our more
familiar figure of the pioneer in a coonskin cap, leading the way for
wife and children, is the romantic counterpart of this grim raper who
wasn't aware of the fact that Rousseau and Wordsworth didn't like what
he was doing.

He was doing more to undermine the old order than Rousseau ever did.
The moment land ceased to be universally the foundation of wealth and
position, the way was open for wealth based on the machine--which is
wealth made by hand, not inherited, wealth made by the _industry_ of
one man or group of men; it was wealth made by things in motion, not
by land which stands still. The whole concept of aristocracy began to
alter--for the worse. If wealth could be made, then wealth became a
criterion; presently the money-lender (on a large scale) became
respectable; presently money itself became respectable. It was
divorced from land, from power, and from responsibility; a few
generations later the new money bought up land to be respectable--but
not responsible.

  _The Consequences of Free Land_

This was the revolution in which America led the way and it had
astounding consequences. The American pioneer did not care for the
land--in two senses, for he neither loved it nor took care of it. The
European peasant had to nourish the soil before it would, in turn,
nourish him and his family; the American did not; he exhausted the
soil and left it, as a man unchivalrously leaves an aging wife for a
younger; there was so much land available that only an obstinate
unadventurous man would not try a hazard of new fortunes. This may be
morally reprehensible, but politically it had a satisfactory result:
the American farmer exhausted the soil, but did not let the soil
exhaust him; so that we established the tradition of waste, but
escaped the worse tradition of a stingy, frightened, miserly, peasant
class. The more aesthetic American critics of America never quite
forgave us for not having peasant arts and crafts, the peasant
virtues, the peasant sturdiness and all the rest of the good qualities
which go with slavery to the soil.

So the physical definition of America leads to these opening social

  we first destroyed the land-basis of wealth, position and

  we were the first nation to exhaust and abandon the soil;

  we were supremely the great wasters of the world;

  we were the first great nation to exist without a peasant class.

From this beginning we can go on to other effects:

  our myths grew out of conquest of the land, not out of war
    against neighboring states;

  we created no special rights for the eldest son (as the younger
    could find more and better land);

  the national center of gravity was constantly changing as
    population moved to take up new land;

  we remained relatively unsophisticated because we were
    constantly opening new frontiers;

  our society, for the same reason, was relatively unstable;

  we lived at half a dozen social levels (of comfort and
    education, for instance) at the same time;

  we created a "various" nation, and when the conditions of owning
    and working land changed, we were plunged into a new kind of
    political revolution, known then as the Populist movement.

The effects of a century of fairly free land are still the dominant
psychological factor in America; the obvious effects are that the land
invited the immigrant and rewarded the pioneer--who between them
created the forms of society and established half a dozen norms of
character. In addition, the opportunities offered kept us ambitious at
home and peaceful abroad. Once we felt secure within our territorial
limits, we became basically pacifist, and it took the "atrocities" of
the Spaniards in Cuba to bring us into our first war against a
European nation since 1814. This pacifism was more intense in the more
agricultural states and was fed by the settlement there of pacific
Scandinavians whose country's record of avoiding wars was better than
ours. Pacifism was constantly fed by other immigrants, from Germany
and Russia and minor states, who fled from compulsory military service
(for their children, if not for themselves). In revenge for this
un-European pacifism we created a purely American lawlessness--and a
toleration of it which is the amazement of Nazi Germany, where the
leaders prefer the sanctions of law for their murders; civilized
Europe, having lived through duels and massacres, is still shocked by
our constant disregard of law, which began with the absence of law in
pioneering days, and was met, later, by our failure to educate new
citizens to obedience or adapt our laws to their customs.

  _America on the Move_

One more thing, directly, the land did: it made us a mobile people and
all the changes of three hundred years (since the first settlers
struck inland from Plymouth and upland from Jamestown) have not
altered us. The voyage which brought us here often lost momentum for a
generation; but the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon was moving into the
Northwest Territory as soon as the Revolution was over; then New
England began to move to the west; the covered wagon followed trails
broken by outriders to the western ocean; the Gold Rush pulled men
through the wintry passes or around the Horn, and by then our passion
for moving swiftly over great distances had given us the Clipper ship;
after the Civil War the Homestead Act started a new move to the West,
and the railroads began to make movement less romantic, but regular
and abundant. If the 1870's were not marked by great migrations of
men, they were scored into the earth by the tremendous drives of
cattle, north from Texas in the summer, south from Wyoming as winter
threatened, hundreds of thousands of them, herded across state lines
and prairies and riverbeds, back and forth, until the last drive to
the railheads at Abilene or Kansas City. We were moving a bit more
slowly, chiefly from the country to the cities, but the far northwest
was beginning to grow; then, when it seemed that we could move no
more, the motor car, which had been a luxury for the few in Europe,
developed as a common tool for the average family, and America was
mobile again, first with naive pleasure in movement (and a
satisfaction in the tool itself), then in an extraordinary outburst of
activity which has not been sufficiently studied--the tin can tourist,
the first middle-class-on-the-march in history. This search for the
sun, with its effects on Florida and California, broke the established
habits of the middle-class and of the middle-aged; it wrote a new
ending to the life of the prudent, industrious American, it required
initiative and if it ended in the rather ugly tourist camp, that was
only a new beginning.

The great migration of Negroes to the north followed the first World
War; since then the mobility of Americans is the familiar, almost
tragic, story of a civilization allowing itself to be tied almost
entirely to one industry, and not providing for the security of that
one. Every aspect of American life was altered by the quantity-production
of motor cars; the method of production itself caused minor
mass-movements, small armies of unemployed marching on key cities,
small armies marching back; and the universal dependence on trucks,
busses and cars, which bankrupted railroads, shifted populations away
from cities, slaughtered tens of thousands annually, altered the
conditions of crime and pursuit, and, in passing, made the country
known to its inhabitants; moreover, the motor car which created only a
small number of anti-social millionaires, made some twenty million
Americans feel equal to the richest and the poorest man on the road.
Mobility which in the pioneer days had created the forms of democracy
came back to the new democracy of the filling station and the roadside

"Everybody" had a car in America, but there was no "peoples' car";
that was left for dictators to promise--without fulfilment. The cars
made in America were wasteful; they were artificially aged by "new
models" and the sales pressure distracted millions of Americans from a
more intelligent allocation of their incomes; these were the errors,
widely remarked. That the motor car could be used--was being used--as
a civilizing agent, escaped the general attention until the war
threatened to put a new car into the old barn, beside the buggy which
had rested there for thirty years--but might still be good for

In one field America seemed to lag: aviation. Because the near
frontiers of Europe made aircraft essential, all European
_governments_ subsidized production; the commercial possibilities were
not so apparent to Americans; no way existed for doing two
things--making planes in mass production, and getting millions of
people to use them. The present war has anticipated normal progress in
methods of production by a generation; it may start the motor car on a
downward path, as the motor car dislodged the trolley and the train;
but this will only happen if the aeroplane fits into the basic
American pattern of machines for mobility.

  "_The Richest Nation on Earth_"

From free land to free air, movement and change have produced a vast
amount of wealth in America. Because land could not be the exclusive
base of riches, wealth in America began to take on many meanings and,
for the first time in history, a wealthy people began to emerge,
instead of a wealthy nation.

We were, in the economist's sense, always a wealthy nation. The
overpowering statistics of our share of all the world's commodities
are often published because we are not afraid of the envy of the gods;
of coal and iron and most of the rarer metals used to make steel, we
have an impressive plenty; of food and the materials for shelter and
clothing, we can always have enough; from South America, we can get
foods we cannot raise but have become accustomed to use; of a few
strategic materials in the present war economy, we have nothing;
except for these, we are copiously supplied; but we should still be
poor if we lacked ability and knack and desire to make the raw
materials serviceable to all of us. So that our power to work, our way
of inventing a machine, our habit of letting nearly everybody in on
the good things of life, is specifically a part of our wealth.

We have a tradition about wealth, too. The Government, to some degree,
has always tried to rectify the worst inequalities of fortune; and the
people have done their share: they have not long tolerated any
artificial bar to enterprise.

  "_Rugged Individuals_"

Government's care of the less fortunate struck some twenty million
Americans as something new and dangerous in the early days of the
Hoover depression, and in the sudden upward spiral of the first New
Deal. Perhaps the most hackneyed remark was that "real Americans"
would reject Federal aid--a pious hope usually bracketed with remarks
about Valley Forge. It was forgotten that the men who froze and swore
at Valley Forge demanded direct Government aid the moment the Republic
was established; and that the Cumberland Road, the artery from
Fredericksburg, Maryland to Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was built by the
Government of the United States for its citizens. Government gave
bounties and free land; Government gave enormous sums of money to
industry by way of tariff, and gave 200 million acres of land to
railroads. There was never a time when the Federal Government was not
giving aid, in one form or another, to some of the citizens. The
outcry when Government attempted to save _all_ the citizens indicated
an incomplete knowledge of our history. In particular, the steady
reduction of the price of land was a subsidy to the poor, a chance for
them to start again. The country, for all its obedience to financial
power, never accepted the theory of inevitable poverty. After the era
of normalcy, when the New Deal declared that one-third of a nation was
ill clothed and ill fed, the other two-thirds were astonished--and not
pleased; the fact that two-thirds had escaped poverty--the almost
universal condition of man throughout the world--was not enough for

It is an evil thing that we have not conquered poverty or the
stupidity and greed which cause poverty; but our distinguishing mark
in this field is the expectation of success. We are the first large
nation reasonably planning to abolish poverty without also abolishing
wealth. The Axis countries may precede us; on the lowest level it is
possible that Hitler has already succeeded, for like the
Administration in 1931, Hitler can say that no one dies of starvation.
Our intention has always been a little different; it is to make sure
that no one lacks the essentials of life, not too narrowly conceived,
and that the opportunity to add to these essentials will remain. This
may betray a low liking for riches--but it has its good points also.
It has helped to keep us free, which is something.

  "_Ye Shall Live in Plenty_"

Wealth--and the prospect of wealth--are positive elements in the
American makeup. We differ from large sections of Europe because we
take a positive pleasure in working to make money, and because we
spend money less daintily, having a tendency to let our women do that
for us; this evens things up somewhat, for if men become too engrossed
in business, women make the balance good by undervaluing business and
spending its proceeds on art, or amenity, or foolishness.

The tradition that we could all become millionaires never had much to
do with forming the American character, because no one took it too
seriously; the serious thing was that Americans all believed they
could prosper. Those who did not, suffered a double odium--they were
disgraced because they had failed to make good and they had betrayed
the American legend. The legend existed because it corresponded to
some of the facts of American life; only it persisted long after the
facts had been changed by industrialism and the closing of the
frontiers and our coming of age as a financial power had changed the
facts. We were heading toward normalcy and the last effort to preserve
equality of opportunity was choked off when Wilson had to abandon
domestic reform to concentrate on the war.

Social security, a possible eighty dollars a month after the age of
sixty-five, are poor substitutes for a nation of spend-thrifts; we
accept the new prospect grimly, because the general standard of living
and the expectation of improvement are still high in most parts of
America. In spite of setbacks, the general belief is still, as Herbert
Croly said it was in 1919, "that Americans are not destined to
renounce, but to enjoy".

Normal as enjoyment seems to us, it is not universal. There have been
people happier than ours, no doubt, with a fraction of our material
goods; religious people, simple races, people born to hardship, have
their special kinds of contentment in life. But with minor variations,
most Western people, since the industrial revolution, are trying to
get a share of the basic pleasures of life; in a great part of the
world it is certain that most people will get very little; in America
it is assumed that all will get a great deal.

The struggle for wealth is so ingrained in us that we hate the thought
of giving it up; we are submitting reluctantly to rules which are
intended to equalize opportunity, if opportunity comes again.

  _America Invented Prosperity_

In this new organization of our lives, money becomes purely a device
of calculation, since the costs of the war exhaust all we have; we can
now look back on America's "money-madness" with some detachment;
without balancing the good and evil done to our souls by the effort to
become rich, we should estimate how powerful the incentive still
is--and then use it, or defeat it, for the best social advantage. For
it has its advantages, if we know how to use them, and fear of money
is not the beginning of a sound economy. People occasionally talk as
if the desire for money is an American invention; actually our
invention is the satisfaction of the desire, which we call prosperity.

For prosperity is the truth of which wealth is the legend, prosperity
is the substantial fact and wealth the distorted shadow on the wall.

The economics implied in the Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution alike indicate a new intent in the world, to create a
prosperous people. The great men who proclaimed liberty in 1776 have
often been blamed because they did not create "economic freedom" to
run beside their political freedom. Actually they did not create
either, leaving it to the separate States to say whether one man with
one vote was the true symbol of equality, whether he who paid ten
times the average tax should have ten times the voice in spending it.
As for economic equality, which is what later critics really want, it
would have been inappropriate to the undeveloped resources of the
country and impossible in the political climate of the time. The
people of the new nation had suffered from centralized government;
they would not have tolerated the only practical way of establishing
economic controls--a highly concentrated government over a single, not
a federated, nation. The men who fought the war of Independence did
not even set up an executive, only a committee of thirteen to act
while Congress was not in session; they erected no system of national
courts; and Congress, with the duty of creating an army and navy,
could not draft men to either, nor pay them if they volunteered. When
this system of Confederation broke down, the Constitution was
carefully built up, to prevent Government from regulating the lives of
the people; and the people, who were confident that they could make
their own way, wanted only to be secure against interference. They did
not ask Government to equalize anything but opportunity.

The "rich and well-born" managed to turn the Constitution to their own
advantage; their opportunities were greater than the immediate chances
of the poor farmer and the city rabble; but government by the men of
property was never made permanent, and the most critical historian of
the Constitution is the one who says that "in the long reach of time
... the fair prophecy of the Revolutionary era was surprisingly

The intention, so commonplace to us, was wildly radical in its time;
poets and philosophers had imagined a world freed from want (usually
also a world peopled by ascetics); the promise of the United States
was a reasonable gratification of the desires of all men. That was the
reason for giving land to migrants, and citizenship to foreigners, and
Statehood to territories. When the French Revolution began to settle
down, the people had acquired rights, they had been freed of
intolerable taxes, the great estates had been cut up; but the
expectation of steadily improving conditions of life did not become a
_constant_ in the French character; nor did the upheaval in England in
1832 and under the Chartists leave a permanent hope for better things
in the mind of the lower classes. The idea of class and the idea of a
"station in life", a "lot" with which one must be content, persisted
after _all_ the Revolutions in Europe in the 19th century. Only in
America the Revolution set out to--and did--destroy the principle of
natural inevitable poverty. We have not actually destroyed poverty,
and this gap between our intent and our achievement has been
publicized. But what we intended to do and what we accomplished and
what we still have power to do are more significant than the part we
failed to do. We created for the first time in history a nation which
did not accept poverty as inevitable.

This had profound effects on ourselves and on the rest of the world.
We became restless and infected Europe with our instability. We became
optimistic and Europe rather deplored our lack of philosophy. We
enjoyed many things and became "materialistic", and Europe sent us
preachers of renunciation and the simple life. It became clear that,
for good and evil, our character was departing from any European mold,
and parts of Europe were tempted to join the Confederacy in 1861 or
Spain in 1898 in the hope of destroying us.

  _Our Fifty Years of Class War_

From about 1880 to 1930 we were moving into a new system of
government; in the Midwest the children of New England and the
children of Scandinavia agreed to call this system plutocracy--the
system of great wealth which is based on poverty; it threatened to
displace the system of almost equally great wealth which is based on

The constant radicalism of America, based on free land, frequent
movement, and belief in the future, flared up in the 1880's and for
generations this country was engaged in a class war between the rich
and the poor (as it had been in Shays' time and in Jackson's). Our
political education was won in this time, but Populism died under the
combined effects of a war against Spain and a new process of
extracting gold; it was revived under Theodore Roosevelt, under
Woodrow Wilson, and under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, all of whom tried
to shift the base of wealth without cracking the structure itself.
Wealth had come into conflict with some other American desires, it had
begun to _limit_ enterprise and, in its bad spots, was creating a
peasantry and a proletariat. With some feeling that Europe must not
repeat itself in America, the people on three occasions chose liberal
Presidents and these men built on the "wild" ideas of the 1880's the
safeguards of economic democracy which seemed needed at the time.

We are a nation in which the Continental European class system has not
become rooted; it is socially negated and politically checked; we are
a democracy tempered by the special influence of wealth and, more
important, by the special position of working-wealth; (inherited money
counts so little that the great inheritors of our time fight their way
back into production or politics, with a dosage of liberal
principles). According to radicals we are still governed by massed and
concentrated finance-capital, and according to certain Congressmen we
are living under a labor-dictatorship. Very little perspective is
required to see that we are living as we always have lived, our
purposes not fully realized, our errors a little too glaring, our
capacity to change and improve not yet impaired.

  _Labor Troubles_

The reason we seem to be particularly unsure of ourselves now is that
we are creating a national labor policy forty years late. We are
hurried and immature; the depression drained our vitality because we
were told that change in our institutions meant death to our "way of
life"; the traditional American eagerness to abandon whatever he had
exhausted, died down; the investment was too great and the interests
were too complex. So the changes we had to make all seemed
revolutionary if not vengeful, and men whose fathers had lived through
the Populist rebellion often seriously felt that the recognition of
organized labor was the beginning of class warfare in America.

The forty year lag in the labor situation had evil effects on all
concerned: the Government was too often uncertain, and the leaders of
labor too often unfit. Like other organized groups, labor unions did
not always consult the public good and criminals were found among
them; but organized labor should be compared with organized production
or organized banking or medicine or law; all of these have long
traditions, all have the active support of the public; yet their
ethics are quite as often dubious, they act out of basic
self-interest, and the criminals among them, utility magnates stealing
from stockholders, doctors splitting fees, manufacturers bribing
legislators, are as shocking as the grafters and racketeers of the
labor unions.

The temporary dismay over labor's advances and obstinacy will pass,
the laws will finally be written; but we will still be a country
backward in the _habits_ of organized dealing between management and
labor. The advantage lies in the past; we did not create a basic
hostile relationship because the laborer was always on the point of
becoming a foreman or thought he would start his own shop; or a new
wave of high wages "settled" strikes without any settled
principles--to the dismay of the few statesmen among labor leaders.

Firm relations imply some permanence. The employer expected to retain
his business; the worker expected to better it. Consequently, the
basic American labor policy is not grounded in despair; it does not
represent endless poverty, or cruelty, or a desire to revenge ancient
wrongs. Nor does it represent fear. The disgraces of Memorial Day in
Chicago and of Gate Four in Detroit will come again if the laws we
create do not correspond to the facts; but the habits of Americans
have not created two sullen armies, of capital with its bullies, of
labor with its demagogues. These exist on the frontiers, where border
clashes occur. The main bodies are not hostile armies, but forces
capable of coordinated effort. Theodore Roosevelt was prepared to send
the troops of the United States to take over the Pennsylvania coal
mines, because the mine owners (with "Divine Right" Baer to guide
them) refused to deal with the unions under John Mitchell; as soon as
that was known, the possibility of creating a labor policy became
bright, because Roosevelt was, in effect, restoring the balance lost
when Cleveland sent troops to Pullman. The position of Government as
the impartial but decisive third party was sketched, and some forty
years later we are beginning to see a labor policy in which the
Government protects both parties and provides the machinery for the
settlement of all disputes.

Our immaturity and peevishness about an established routine for labor
disputes has to be counted on as a factor in our character, chiefly
because we shall remain for some time behind the other great
industrial countries in the smoothness of operation. In normal times a
British contractor did not have to allow for strikes, an American did;
and our present war effort, our propaganda, and our plans for the
future, all have to take this element into consideration. The false
unity of December, 1941, resulted in a serious pledge of "no strikes,
no lockouts"; but within three months the National Labor Relations
Board was admitting that it needed guidance to create a policy, and
worse than sporadic trouble was in the wind. So much the more did we
have to know what we were like in labor affairs, and without
self-imposture, act accordingly. The war gave an opportunity for
statesmen to make a new amalgam of the elements in the labor
situation; but the war also made people hysterical about unrealities,
and the labor situation was treated in two equally bad ways: as if we
could have maximum production without any policy, or as if no policy
could be evolved, and we would have to fight the Axis while the
Administration destroyed capital and Congress destroyed labor.

  _The Danger of Godlessness_

I am listing certain actualities of American life, with notes on their
sources, as a guide to conduct--particularly the conduct of the war
(which should be built on our character) and the conduct of civilian
propaganda which must, at times, effect temporary alterations in our
habits. I have, so far, named those aspects of our total outlook
which come from the size and many-sided wealth of the country, and
from our confident, unskilled attempts to deal with wealth and labor
and the shifts of power which are bound to occur in a democracy. I
come now to items which are no less potent because they are
impalpable. Any effort which counts on bringing the whole strength of
America into play must count also on these.

We are a profoundly irreligious people. We are highly sectarian and we
are a church-going people; but in the sense that religion rises from
our relation to a higher power, we are irreligious. We are not
constantly aware of any duty: to the state, to our fellowmen, to
Mankind, to the Universal Principle, to God. We live unaware even of a
connection between ourselves and anything we do not instantly touch or
see or hear; we have grown out of asking for help or protection, and
disasters fall on us heavily because we are separated from our
fellowmen, having no common needs, or faith.

The coming together, in freedom, of many faiths, and the rise of
material happiness in the great era of scepticism, left us without a
functioning state religion; the emancipation of each individual man
from political tyranny and economic degradation left us without any
sense of the universal; we have been able to gratify so many private
purposes, that we are unaware of any great purpose beyond. As for the
mystic's faith, it never makes itself felt, and the name "mystic"
itself, far from connoting a deeper insight into the nature of God, is
now associated with flummery and hoax.

We are irreligious because we have set out to conquer the physical
world and deliver a part of the spoils to every man. In our good
intention to create and to distribute wealth, creating democracy in
our stride, we approach a new relation to others. We are capable of
cooperation; but religious people do not cooperate with God; they seek
his will and bow to it. We exalt our own will.

This has to be taken into account, because it makes the creation of a
practical unity difficult. If we had felt ourselves linked through
God with one another, it would have been easier to join hands in any
job we had to do. I do not know whether any of the western democratic
countries had a remnant of this mystical religion; but the appeal to
the "blood" and the "race" of both Japan and Germany, the appeal to
universal brotherhood in both China and Soviet Russia, indicate what a
deep source of strength can be found in man if he can be persuaded to
abandon himself. And as this is the fundamental demand of the State in
war time, means must be found to compensate for the absence of deep
universally shared feeling in America. We shall not find a substitute
for religion and we will do well to concentrate on the non-religious
actions and emotions which bring men together. Common fears we already
have and we may rediscover our common hopes; common pleasures we are
enjoying and preparing to sacrifice them for the common good. (Fear
and hope and sacrifice and the common good all lie on the periphery of
religious feeling; and point toward the center.) But I doubt whether
the American people would accept "a great wave of religious feeling"
which would be artificially induced to persuade us that all our past
was a mistake and that our childish pleasure in good things was as
vain as our hope for better.

  _The Alger Factor_

The end result of all the separate elements, the land, the people, the
departure from Europe, the struggle for wealth, the fight against
wealth, was to make us a people of unbounding optimism, which was our
Horatio Alger substitute for religious faith. The cool realistic
appraisal of man's fate which an average Frenchman makes, the trust of
the Englishman that he will "muddle through", the ancient indifference
of the Russian peasant, the resignation of the Orient, are matched in
America by an intense and confident appeal to _action_, in the faith
that action will bring far better things than have been known. The
vulgar side of this is bustle and activity for its own sake and a
childish confusion between what is better and what is merely bigger
or newer or more expensive or cheaper; we have to accept all this
because on the other side our faith in action has broken the vise of
poverty in which man has been held since the beginning of modern
history; it has destroyed tyranny and set free the bodies and the
minds of the hundred millions who have lived in a new world. We have
rejected some of the most desirable and beautiful creations of other
peoples, the arts of Europe, the Asiatic life of contemplation, the
wisdom of philosophers, the exaltation of saints--but we have also
rejected the slavery on which these rest or the negation of life to
which they tend.

The "materialism" of America is not as terrible as it looks; and it
must be respected by those who want us to make sacrifices. What
aristocratic Europeans call gross in us is a hundred million hands
reaching for the very things the aristocrats held dear. In the
scuffle, some harm is done; the first pictures reproduced on magazine
covers were not equal to the Mona Lisa; within fifty years the Mona
Lisa could be reproduced in a magazine for ten million readers, but
the aristocrats still complained of vulgarizing. The first music
popularized by records or radio was popular in itself; within fifty
years records and radio will have multiplied the audience for the
greatest music, popular or sublime, ten thousand fold; it is possible
that on one Saturday or Sunday afternoon music, good even by pedantic
standards, is heard by more people than used to hear it in an entire
year. And both of these instances have another special point of
interest: each is creating new works on its own terms, so that
pictures, very good ones, are painted for multiple reproduction and
music, as good as any other, is specially composed for radio.

I shall return to the special field of creative work presently. On a
"lower" level, note that some (not all) Europeans and all American
expatriates condemn our preoccupation with plumbing. We multiply by
twenty million the number of individuals who can take baths agreeably,
without servants hauling inadequate buckets of hot water up three
flights of stairs; and are materialistic; but the aristocrat who goes
to an hotel with "modern comfort" is spiritual because he doesn't
think constantly of plumbing. The truth is that the few can buy
themselves out of worry, letting their servants "live for them"; and
it is equally true that the only way, short of sainthood, to forget
about the material comforts of life is to have them always at hand.

  _The Morals of Plenty_

We have never formulated the morals of prosperity, nor understood that
nearly all the practical morality we know (apart from religion) is
based on scarcity; it is intended to make man content with less than
his share, it even carries into the field of action and praises those
who do not try too hard to gain wealth. This was not good morality for
a pioneering country, so Poor Richard preached the gospel of industry
and thrift, which is not the gospel of resignation to fate. (Industry
clears the wilderness, thrift finances the growth of a nation;
Franklin was economically right for his time; in 1920 we were
preaching leisure and installment buying, the exact opposite; but we
never accepted the reverse morality of working for low wages and
living on less than we needed.) The morals of plenty, by which we are
usually guided, have created in our minds a few fixed ideas about what
is good: it is good to work and to get good wages, so as to have money
beyond our instant needs; it is bad to be ill and to be inefficient
and to disrupt production by demanding high wages. (Like most
moralities, this one has several faces; like most American products it
adapts itself to a variety of needs.) In a broader field our morality
denies that anything is too good for the average man (if it can be
made by mass production). Mass production put an end to the old
complaint that the poor would only put coal into the bathtub--mass
production of tubs and central heating in apartments. The morality of
scarcity reserves all that is good for the few, who must therefore be
considered "the best", the "elite" (which means, in effect, the
chosen), the "civilized minority". Democracy began by declaring men
born equal and proceeded in a hundred and seventy years to create
equality because it needed every man as a customer. Incomplete this
was, perhaps only two-thirds of the way; it was nonetheless the
practical application of the Declaration, by way of the system of mass
production; it was a working morality.

  _Merchant Prince to 5-and-Dime_

We came a long way from nabob-morality, based on a splendor of
spending; money is not our criterion of excellence, but the reverse;
cheapness is the democratic equivalent of quality, and the
five-and-ten cent store is the typical institution of our immediate
time. We may deplore the vanishing craftsman and long for the time
when the American will make clay pots and plaited hats as skillfully
as the Guatemalan; but our immediate job is to understand that the
process which killed the individual craftsman is also the process that
substituted the _goods_ of the many for the good of the few.

The five-and-ten had its parallels in Europe before the war, but it
remains a distinguishing mark of America, and whoever wants to enlist
us or persuade us has to touch that side of our life. It is as near to
a universal as we possess; I have known people who have never listened
to the radio (until 1939) and never went to the movies, but I have
never known anyone who did not with great pleasure go to the
five-and-ten. It is a combination of good value and attractive
presentation; it is shrewdly managed and pleasantly staffed. One finds
cheap substitutes, but one also finds new commodities made for the
five-and-ten trade. The chain five-and-ten is, moreover, big business.

In all these things the five-and-ten is a great American phenomenon;
characteristic of the twentieth century as the crossroads general
store was of the nineteenth. The hominess of the country store is gone
and is a loss; but the gain in other directions is impressive. It is
impressive, too, that a store should be so typical of American methods
and enterprise and satisfactions. Small commerce is not universally
held in esteem. When one remembers the fussiness of the average French
bazaar and the ancient prejudice against trade in England, the
five-and-ten as a key to our intentions becomes even more effective.

  _Prosperity and Politics_

Our persistent intention is to make good the Declaration of
Independence; often minor purposes get in the way, or we are in
conflict with ourselves. We attempted equal opportunity (with free
land) and at the same time contract labor in the mines; we fought to
emancipate the Negro and we created an abominable factory system in
the same decades; at times we slackened our check on abuses, because
in spite of them we flourished; all too often we let the job of
watching over our liberties fall into the hands of newcomers;
sometimes we were so engrossed in the fact, the necessary work, that
we forgot what the work was for; a ruling group forgot, or a political
party, or a generation--but America did not forget. Each time we
forgot, it seemed that the lapse was longer and it took more tragic
means to recall us to the straight line of our purpose; but each time
we proved that we could bear neglect and forgetfulness and would come
back to create a free America. There was reason always for the years
when we marked time; our prosperity increased so that the
redistribution of wealth was harder to do, but was more worth doing;
and even the black backward era of normalcy served us with proof that
America could create the materials for a high standard of life,
although we could not put them into the proper hands. We justified
supremely Stalin's compliment to capitalism: "it made Society
wealthy"; and we did it so handsomely as to leave questionable his
further statement that Socialism will displace capitalism "because it
can furnish Society with more products and make Society wealthier than
the capitalist system can."

We planned and eventually produced the machinery for making our lives
comfortable; our industrial methods interacted with our land and
immigration policy, from the day Eli Whitney put the quantity system
into action; and all of them required the same thing--equality of
political rights, indifference to social status, a high level of
education, the maximum of civil freedom. Our factories wanted free
speech for us as certainly as our philosophers did; a free people,
aware of novelties, critical of the present, anticipating the future,
capable of earning and not afraid to spend--these are the customers
required by mass production. And the same freedom, the same intention
to be sceptical of authority, the same eagerness to risk all in the
future, are the marks of a free man. Our economic system with all its
iniquities and stupid faults, worked around in the end to liberate men
from poverty and to uphold them in their freedom. The fact that
individual producers were afraid of Debs in 1890 and whimpered for
Mussolini in 1931 is a pleasing irony; for these reactionaries in
politics were often radicals in production; they had contributed to
our freedom by their labors and our freedom was the condition of their
prosperity. Only free people fulfill their wants, and it is not merely
a coincidence that the freest of all peoples should be also the freest

The consequences of the Declaration are now beginning to be
understood. The way we took the land and left it, or held it until it
failed us; the way we brought men of all nations here and let them
move, as we moved, over the face of a continent; our absorption in our
own capacities and our persistent endeavor to create national
well-being for every man; our parallel indifference to our fellowmen,
our State, and our God; our wealth and our endless optimism and our
fulfilment of Democracy by technology are some of the basic elements
in our lives. Whoever neglects them, and their meaning, in practical
life, will not ever have us wholeheartedly on his side; whoever starts
with these, among other, clues to discover what America is, will at
least be on the right way. All we have to do in the war will rise out
of all we have done in our whole history; our past is in the air we
breathe, it runs in our veins, it is what we are.


Popularity and Politics

There are some consequences of our history so conspicuous and so
significant that they deserve to be separated from the rest and
examined briefly by themselves.

In the United States every week 34 million families listen on an
average four hours a day to the radio; 90 million individual movie
admissions are bought; 16 million men and women go bowling at least
once, probably oftener; thousands of couples dance in roadhouses,
juke-joints, and dance halls; in winter 12 million hunting licenses
are issued; millions of copies of the leading illustrated magazines
are sold; and, in normal times, some ten or fifteen million families
take their cars and go driving.

These are not mass enterprises; they are popular enterprises; there
are others: mass-attendance at sport, or smaller, but steady,
attendance at conventions, lodge meetings and lectures. For the most
part, all these can be divided into sport, games, fun; the search for
information in entertainment; and entertainment by mass-communication.

Sport is pleasant to think about; after all the scoldings we have had
because we like to watch athletic events (just as the ancient Greeks
did), it is gratifying to report the great number of people who are
actually making their own fun. The same ignoble but useful desire for
money which has so often served us has now built bowling alleys, dance
halls and tennis courts, so that we are doing more sports ourselves.
Sport began to come into its own after Populism and Theodore
Roosevelt's Square Deal; it is therefore not anti-social and even
withstood the prosperity of Harding and Coolidge.

  _Means of Communication_

The other elements I have mentioned, movies, radio and a new
journalism, are the products of our immediate time. Although the
moving picture was exhibited earlier, it began to be vastly popular
just before the first World War, and was promptly recognized as a
prime instrument of propaganda by Lenin as he began to build the
Socialist State in 1917; the moving picture may have been colossal
then, but it did not become prodigious, a social engine of
incalculable force, until the problems of speech had been mastered.

By that time another pre-war invention, the radio, had established
itself in its present commercial base. Radio was first conceived as an
instrument of secret communication; it began to be useful, as wireless
telegraphy, when the Soviets used it to appeal to peoples over the
heads of their governments--although this appeal still had to be
printed, the radio receiver did not exist. When the necessary
inventions were working (and the tinkering American forced the issue
by building his own receivers and his own ham-senders), radio began to
serve the public. Among its earliest transmissions were a sermon, the
election results in the Harding-Cox campaign, crop reports, and music.
The entrance of commerce was easy and natural; and before the crash of
1929 the decisive step was taken: the stations went out of the
business of creating programs and sold "time", allowing the buyer to
fill it with music or comedy or anything not offensive to the morals
of the community.

By the time commercial radio made its first spectacular successes, in
the early days of Vallee and Amos and Andy, a new form of publication
had established itself, a fresh combination of text and picture,
devoted to fact and deriving more entertainment from fact than the old
straight fiction magazine had offered.

These three new means of mass communication are revolutionary
inventions of democracy. To use them is the first obligation of
statesmanship. They have been seized by dictators; literally, for the
first move of a _coup d'etat_ is to take over the radio and the next
is to divert the movies into propaganda.

Before these instruments can be used, their nature has to be
understood and their meaning to the average man has to be calculated.

  _Words and Pictures_

Of the fact and picture publications _Life_ and _Look_ are the best
examples; _Time_ and _News-Week_ are fact and illustration magazines
which is basically different, although their success is also
important. The appetite for fact appears in a nation supposed to be
adolescent and given over to the silliest of romantic fictions; _Time_
and the _Readers' Digest_ become the great magazine phenomena of our
time, growing in seriousness as they understand better the temper of
their readers, learning to present fact forcefully, directing
themselves to maturity, and helping to create mature minds. Their
faults are private trifles, their basic editorial policies are public

The word and picture magazine is not yet completely realized; both its
chief examples grow and develop, but the full integration of word and
image is yet to come. It is probably the most significant development
in communication since the depression struck; it promises to rescue
the printed page from the obscurity into which radio, the movies, and
conservatism in format were pushing books and magazines and
newspapers. It is odd that book publication, the oldest use of
quantity production, should have so long been content with relatively
small circulations. Changes now are apparent. The most interesting
developments in recent years are mail-order selling (the basis of the
book clubs) and mass selling over the counter, the method of the
Pocketbook series. Both withdraw book-sales from the stuffiness of old
methods and the artiness of book "shoppes" which always got in the
way of good book-sellers.

The text-and-image publication need not be a magazine; the method is
especially applicable to argument, to the pamphlet and the report. The
art of visualization has progressed in the making of charts and
isotypes and in the pure intellectual grasp of the function of the
visual. The economic and technical problems of the use of color have
been solved and all the effectiveness of images has been multiplied by
the contrast and clarity which color provides. A new language is in
process of being formed.

Until television-in-color, which exists, becomes common, the need for
this new language is great. For neither the movies nor radio can be
used for reasoned persuasion; their attack is too immediate, the
listener-spectator does not have time for argument and contemplation.
Radio profits positively by its limitation to sound when it works with
the right materials; but when President Roosevelt asked his audience
to have a map at hand, television supplied the map and the meaning of
the map without diverting attention from the speech, which radio could
not do. The movies, great pioneer in text and sound, have mastered
none of the arts of demonstration or persuasion; they have the
immediate gain of a single method and a single objective: appeal to
the emotions by absorption in the visual; and the fact that the moving
picture's appeal is to a group, means that every element must be
over-simplified and every effect is over-multiplied by the group
presence. By this the movies also gain when they use the right

The use of the new combination of text and image, growing out of the
tabloid and the picture magazine, is, in effect, the creation of a
mobile reserve of propaganda. When the radio and the movies have
established the facts and aroused the desired emotion, the final
battery of argument comes in picture and print; and this, ideally, is
carried to the ward meeting, to the after-supper visit, the drugstore
soda counter and the lunch hour at the factory--where the action is
determined by men and women in private discussion.

  _Universal Languages_

Radio, which instantly creates the desired situation, and movies,
which so plausibly arouse the desired emotion, are the two great mass
inventions of America. The patents may have been taken out elsewhere,
but it was in America that these two forms of mass communication were
instantly placed at the service of all people. The errors of judgment
have been gross, but the error of purpose was not made; the movies
were kept out of the hands of the aesthete and radio was kept out of
the hands of the bureaucrat. For a generation we deplored the
vulgarity of movies made for morons' money at the box office, and
discovered that the only other effective movies were made by
dictators, to falsify history, as the Russians did when the miserable
Trotsky was cinematically liquidated, or to stir hate as did every
film made by Hitler. For a generation we wept over the commercialism
of radio and at the end found that commercial radio had created an
audience for statesmen and philosophers; and again the alternative was
the hammering of dictators' propaganda, to which one listened under

The intermediate occasions, the exceptions, are not significant. Some
great inventions in the realm of ideas were made by British radio
(which is government owned, but not government operated); some
exceptional and important films were made for the few. But the
dictators and the businessmen both had the right idea--movies and the
radio are for all men; they can be used to entertain, to arouse, to
soothe, to persuade; but they must not ever be used without thinking
of _all_ the people. This universality lies in the nature of the
instruments, in the endless duplication of the films, the unlimited
reception of the broadcasts; and only Hitler and Stalin and the
sponsors have been happy to understand this.

Like all those who are habituated to the movies, I have suffered much
from Hollywood, my pain being all the greater because I am so devoted;
like all those who work in radio, I am acutely conscious of its
faults; but the faults and the banalities are not in question now. Now
we have to take instruments perfected by others, and use them for our
purposes. We have to discover what the ignoramus in Hollywood and the
businessman in the sponsor's booth have paid for.

The one thing we cannot do is risk the value of the medium. We have to
learn how to use popularity; we have to learn why the movies never
could carry advertising, and adjust our propaganda accordingly; and
why radio can not quickly teach, but can create a receptive situation;
and why we may have to use rhetoric instead of demonstrations to
accomplish an end. Moreover, we have to study the field so that we
know when _not_ to use these instruments, what we must not take from
them, in order to preserve their incomparable appeal.

A coordinated use of _all_ the means of persuasion is required; to let
the movie makers make movies is good, but the exact function of the
movies in the complete effort has to be established, or we will waste
time and do badly on the screen what can be done well only in print or
most effectively on the air. There are many things to be done; we need
excitement and prophecy and cold reason, and they must not come
haphazard, but in an order of combined effect; we need news and
history and fable and diversion, and each must minister to the other.
If we fail to use the instruments correctly they can destroy us; one
ill-timed, but brilliantly made, documentary on production rendered
futile whole weeks of facts about a lagging program; and one
ill-advised news reel shot can undo a dozen radio hours. When the
means of communication and entertainment become engines of victory, we
have to use each medium only at its highest effectiveness; and we have
to use all of them together.

The movies, the radio, the popular publication are so new, they seem
to rise on the international horizon of the 1920's, to have no link
with our past, to be the same with us as they are all over the world.
With these, it is true, we return to the universals of human
expression and communication. But what we have done with them is
unique, and their significance as part of our war machinery is based
on both the universal and the special qualities they possess. That is
why I have treated them separately; because they are powerful and have
enormous inertia, the slightest error may accumulate tremendous
consequences, and the instinctively right use of them will be the most
complete protection against disaster at home.

We have to study the right use because these tools have never yet been
completely used for the purposes of democracy; and with them we have
to remind the American people of other tools and instruments they have
neglected, so many that it sometimes seems a passion with us to invent
the best instruments and to hand them over to our enemies to use
against us.


The Tools of Democracy

The tools of democracy are certain civil actions, certain inventions,
certain habits. They can be used against us--but only if we fail to
use them ourselves.

The greatest tools are civil liberties which we have been considering
as "rights" or "privileges". The right to free speech is a great one;
free speech probably was originally intended to protect property; it
preserves liberty; the rights of assembly, of protest for redress, of
a free press all have this double value, that they guarantee the
integrity of the private man and protect the State.

The great debate on the war brought back some long forgotten
phenomena: broadsides, street meetings, marches, and brawls. Before
they began, virtually _all_ the civil rights were being used either by
newcomers to America or by enemies of the American system. The poor
had no access to the radio; they used a soap box instead and genteel
people shrank away; the Bundist and the American Communist assembled
and protested and published and spoke; the believers in America waited
for an election to roll around again, and then did nothing about it.
The enemies of the people sent a hundred thousand telegrams to
Congressmen, signing the names of dead men to kill the regulation of
utilities, but the believer in the democratic process didn't remember
the name of his Congressman. Bewildered aliens got their second papers
and were inducted into political clubs; the old line Americans never
found out how the primaries worked.

  _Public Addresses_

A dangerous condition rose. No families from Beacon Street spoke in
Boston Common; therefore, whoever spoke on the Common was an enemy of
Beacon Street; all over America the well-born (and the well-heeled)
retired from direct communication with the people, and all over
America the privilege of talking to the citizens fell into the hands
of radicals, lunatics, and dangerous enemies of the Republic--so that
in time the very fact that one tried to exercise the right of free
speech became suspect; and Beacon Street and Park Avenue could think
of no way to protect themselves from Boston Common and Union
Square--except to abolish free speech entirely. They did not dare to
say it, but the remarkable Frank Hague, Mayor of Jersey City, said it
for them: "Whenever I hear anyone talk about civil liberties, I know
he's not a good American".

The dreadful humiliation was that it came so close to the truth. The
Red and the Bundist, clamoring or conspiring against America, were
almost the only ones doing what all Americans had the right to do. We
hated cranks, we did not want to be so conspicuous, we hadn't the
time, the police would attend to it, if they didn't like it here let
them go back ... we allowed our most precious rights to atrophy. When
suddenly they were remembered, as they were by the bonus marchers of
1932, we yelled revolution and the President of the United States
called out the troops to shoot down the defenders of our country. It
was the first time that a petition for redress had been offered by
good citizens, by veterans, by men of notable American stock--and it
frightened us because they were doing what "only foreigners" or
"dangerous agitators" used to do; they were in fact being Americans in

What is not used, dies. The habit of protecting our freedom was dying
in the United States. There was no conspiracy of power against us;
there was no need. We were carrying experimental democracy forward so
far on several planes--the material and social planes particularly--that
we let it go by default on the vital plane of practical politics. We
did not go into politics, we did not electioneer, we did not threaten
ward bosses or county chairmen, we did not form third parties, we did
nothing except vote, if it was a fair day (but not too fair if we meant
to play golf). As for private action to defend our liberties, it was
unnecessary and vulgar and bothersome.

The depression scared us, but not into free speech; by that time free
speech was Red; and the deeper we floundered in the mire of defeatism,
the more intimidated we were by shouting Congressmen and
super-patriots; it was only after the New Deal pulled us out of our
tailspin that we saw the light: we too could have been obscure men
speaking at street corners, we did not have to give all the soap boxes
to men like Sacco and Vanzetti; we too could have published pamphlets
like the dreadful Communists, and held meetings and badgered our
Congressmen. Suddenly the people were reincorporated into their
government; suddenly the people began to be concerned with government;
and the tremendous revitalization of political anger was one of the
best symptoms of democratic recovery in our generation.

  _Return to Politics_

The merciless pressure of taxation and then the grip of war have
pushed us forward and in a generation we will be again as politically
aware as our great-grandfathers were when they had one newspaper a
week, and only their determination to rule themselves as a principle
of action. Perhaps we shall take the trouble they took; they travelled
a day's journey to hear a debate and discussed it for a fortnight;
they thought about politics and studied the meaning of events. And
they quite naturally did their duties as citizens; they dug their
neighbors out of snow-blocked roads, they nominated their candidates,
they watched and rebuked their representatives. It was not a political
Utopia, but it was a more intelligent use of political power than ours
has been. The usual excuse for the breakdown of political action in
America is that so many "foreigners" came, to whom the politics of
freedom were alien. This may have been true of some of the later
arrivals; but the Irish were captivated by, and presently captured,
city politics wherever they settled; the Germans were the steadiest of
citizens and so were the Scandinavians, their studious earnest belief
in our institutions shaming our flippant disregard. The Southern
Slavs, the Russian Jews and the Italians were farthest removed from
our political habits; but their passion for America was great. It
could have been worked into political action, and often was worked
into political skulduggery by bosses of a more political bent. Many of
these immigrants came after the exhaustion of free lands; many were
plunged into slums and sweatshops and steel mills on a twelve hour
day; and they emerged on the angry side, as disillusioned with America
as some of its most ancient families.

That political action dwindled after the great immigrations is true;
but it was not the immigrant who refused to act; it was the old family
and the typical American; the grafting politicians and the sidewalk
radical both kept politics alive; the real Americans were slowly
smothering politics. We shall never quite repay our debt to Tammany
Hall and the Communists; between them political machines and saintly
radicals managed to keep the instruments of democratic action from
rusting. Now we have to take them back and learn how to use them
again. Fortunately we have no choice. We neglected our rights because
we wanted to sidestep our duties; today the war makes our duties
inescapable and we are already beginning to use our rights. For in
spite of censorship and regimentation, we will use more of our
instruments of democracy than ever; we will because we are fighting
for them and they have become valuable to us.

The radio, the movies, and popular print are the three tools by which
we can create democratic action. The action itself will be appropriate
to our time and our conditions; we will not travel ten miles to hear a
debate, so long as the radio lasts; but we will have to form units of
self-protection in bombed cities; we may need other associations, to
apportion food, to house the homeless, to support the bereaved. We
will have to learn how to live together, to share what was once as
private as a motor car, to elect a village constable who may have our
lives in his hands a dozen times a day. In the process we will be
reverting to old and good democratic habits--in a city block in
Atlanta or in a prairie village outside Emporia, or in a chic suburb
along Lake Michigan. Something like the town-meeting is taking place
in a thousand apartment houses where air-raid precautions and the
disposal of waste paper are discussed and mothers who have to work
trade time with wives who want to go to the movies; the farmers have,
since 1932, been meeting; the suburbanites are discussing trains and
creation of bus-routes. We are making the discovery that it is our
country and we can decide its destiny. We are not to let others rule
us; for in this emergency every man must rule himself; the man who
neglects his political duty is as dangerous today as the man who
leaves his lights on in a blackout.

In the early months of the war our democratic processes were
muscle-bound. We hadn't been doing things together; whenever we had
organized, it was against some one else; we didn't fall naturally into
a simple cooperative effort. And within two months we were breaking
into hostile particles, until, in desperation, we discovered that men
can work together. The obstructionist manufacturer and the stubborn
labor leader could hold up an entire industry; but two men, one from
each side, could set each factory going again. The creation of the
labor-management committees of two was the first light in the darkness
of our domestic policy.

Still to come was the spontaneous outbreak of fervor and the cold
organization for victory. We had forgotten the tools of democracy
which we had to work together, as simply as men had to work on a
snowbound country road together. In a small town of Ohio a pleasant
event occurred which had a stir of promise; Dorothy Thompson's report

"They got together in the old-fashioned American way: in the old opera
house. They warmed and instilled enthusiasm and resolution into one
another, by the mass of their presence, and by music, and prayer.

"Mr. Sweet had put the F.F.A. (The Future Farmers of America and the
older brothers of the Four-H clubs) to work, and they had made a
survey of the existing resources of the community, in trucks, autos,
combines, tractors. And he proposed to them that they use these
resources, _as a community_, getting the greatest work out of them
with the greatest conservation of them; organizing transportation to
the factory where war production was going on, so that no auto
travelled for its owner alone, but for as many workers as it could

  _Democratic Action_

There is a field of endeavor in war time where this sort of
spontaneous, amateur organization is best; and our Government will be
wise if it prevents the inexpert from building bombers but lets them,
as far as possible, get children to and from school by local effort.
We want to feel that we are being used, that our powers are working
for the common good. So far we have been irritated by sudden demands,
and frightened by long indifference to our offers--until an angry man
has done something, as Mr. Fred Sweet did in Mt. Gilead. A government
determined to win this war will create the opportunities for
democratic action without waiting for angry men. The combination of
maximum control (the single head of production) and maximum dispersion
(two men in each factory solving the local problem) is exactly what we
understand; to translate civilian emotion into terms of maximum use is
the next step.

Already this is happening to us: on one side we are grouping ourselves
into smaller units; on the other we are discovering that we are parts
of the whole nation. It is a tremendous release of energies for us; we
are discovering what we had hoped--that America is of indescribable
significance to us and that we for the first time signify in
America--we, not bosses or financiers or critics or cliques or groups
or movements--but we ourselves. Something almost dead stirs again and
we know that we shall be able to work with our fellowmen, and work
with our Government, and watch those we chose to speak for us, and
challenge corruption, and see to it that we, who are the people, are
not betrayed. We may not revive the _forms_ of democracy as they
existed in Lincoln's time, but we will never again let the _spirit_ of
his democracy come so near to being beyond all revival.

We will use the weapons we have and invent new ones; and we had better
be prompt. Because we have a victory to win with these weapons and a
world to make. We have to work Democracy because we have to create a
world in which democracy can live. There is no time to lose.


Democratic Control

The shape of this war was created in dark back rooms of cheap saloons,
in a lodging house in Geneva, in several prison cells, in small half
secret meetings, up back flights of stairs, behind drawn shades, in
boarding houses over the dining table, in the lobbies of movie-houses,
at lectures attended by the idle and the curious and the hopeless, in
the kitchen of a New York restaurant where waiters talked more about
the future than about tips; it was molded also in British pubs and by
the sullen lives of dole-gatherers; it took a definable shape and
could have been re-formed but was not, so that its shape today is the
result of the pressure of those who willed to act and the missing
pressure of groups which failed to meet and talk and plan.

The earth-shaking events of our time may have been created by the
great and mysterious forces of history, but their exact form was fixed
by obscure people: the Russian Revolution by Lenin and Trotsky,
students, impractical men, and the homeless Stalin; and the war by
Hitler, the house painter, the despised little man, the corporal who
couldn't get over his military dreams. These were the leaders, the
conspicuous ones. They planned--and wrote--and gathered a few even
more obscure followers, and talked and lived in utter darkness until
the time came for them to fight.

For a thousand years the destiny of mankind will be shaped by what
these men did in countries barely emerging into freedom--and we to
whom the gods have given all freedom, sit by and hesitate even to talk
about the future, folding our hands and piously saying that in any
case it will be decided for us. That is the result of forgetting our
democratic rights and duties; with them we have forgotten that the
future is ours to make.

It will not be made for us; it will not be made in our favor unless we
make it for ourselves; the weapons with which we fight the war will be
strong and terrible when we come to create the peace. And we will
create it either by using the weapons or by dropping them and running
away from our triumph, which is also our responsibility.

We will not escape the responsibility by saying that we cannot control
"the great forces", the "wave" of events. We can do what Hitler and
Lenin did, when they were starving and fanatic and obscure: we can
work and wait and work again. We must not say that we are helpless in
the face of international intrigue. We--not Churchill and
Roosevelt--wrote the Atlantic Charter, and we can un-write it and
write it over again; we the people, not Henry Cabot Lodge, crushed the
League of Nations by our indifference; we, not Congressmen bribed by
scrap-iron dealers, armed Japan by our greed, and we, all of us, let
Hitler go ahead by our ignorance. We have done all these things
without working; and the only thing we have not tried, is to put out
our hands and take hold of our destiny. In the first dreadful crisis
of our war, we saw China begin to plan the world after the war,
preparing a democratic center of 800 million people in Asia, putting
pressure on Britain to proclaim liberty for India, taking hold of the
future with faith and confidence--while we said not one open word to
Asia, and had barely spoken to our nearest friends, the oppressed of
Europe, to tell them that our purpose was liberty.

We cannot let the shape of the future be molded by other hands. The
price of living as we want to live is more than sweat and blood and
tears: we have to make the grim effort of thinking and take the risk
of making decisions. A painful truth comes home to us: we are no
longer the spoiled children of Destiny--our destiny is our action.

  _Record of Isolation_

For more than a hundred years the people of the United States did not
have to act and avoided the consequences of Democracy in international
affairs. Officially we had nothing to do with Europe, except on
special occasions when we snapped at Britain, frightened the Barbary
pirates, helped Napoleon I, drove Napoleon III out of Mexico. We had
no continuing policy and the details of foreign affairs were not
submitted to the voter. This was natural enough; the eyes of America
turned away from the Atlantic seaboard toward the Mississippi Valley;
turned back from the Pacific to Chicago and the east; turned again to
Detroit and Birmingham and Kansas City.

We have not yet got the habit of thinking steadily about other
nations. Our post-war suspicion of the League, our terror of the USSR,
our pious agreements with England and Japan, our weak dislike of
Mussolini and Hitler, still left us unconcerned with _policy_. We
remained in the diplomatic era of William Jennings Bryan while Europe
marched back into the era of Metternich or Talleyrand.

Yet the voters have, since 1893, determined some aspects of our
foreign policy. They did not vote on a loan to China, but they did
keep in power the party that made war in Spain, bought the
Philippines, protected Cuba, and policed Central America. This
tentative imperialism was never the supreme issue of a campaign; the
Republican Party had always a better one, which was prosperity. In the
early twentieth century, the American voter only accepted, he did not
directly approve, the beginnings of a new international outlook.

Our tradition is obviously not going to help us here; but there is
another--the tradition of democratic control. It has not begun to
operate in foreign affairs; before it can operate, we will have to
clear our minds of some romantic illusions.

Our future lies balanced between Europe and Asia; the disagreeable
certainty, like a chill in our bones now, is that we cannot escape
the world. We still think of participation in world affairs negatively
as a favor we may, if we choose, bestow on less favored nations, or as
a mere necessity to keep the plagues of war and tyranny quarantined
from our shores. The prospect is disagreeable because we, the people,
have no experience of international affairs; we have not yet made over
diplomacy as we have made over domestic politics. We have begun to
send newspapermen into foreign lands and to trust them more than we
trust our ambassadors--because the journalists have begun to
democratize diplomacy. They have told us more, they have often
represented us more completely, and represented international business
less; they have been curious, indiscreet, and generally unaffected by
the snobbery which used to ruin our ministers to smart European
capitals. The correspondents have taken the characteristic American
democratic way of altering an ancient European institution, by
shrewdly publicised disrespect. Whenever we have had a strong
Secretary of State, something further has been done; but the permanent
officials of our State Department have completely accepted the
European style of international dealings; they have been so aware, and
ashamed, of being born on the wrong side of the Atlantic sheets, that
all the brash independence of America has been hushed; our leading
career diplomats have never been Americanized by the middle west; they
came from an almost alien institution, the private school; they
represented smart cosmopolitanism disproportionately; they represented
the East, banking, leisure, intellectualism; they did not represent

On occasions, political chance brought a son of the wild jackass into
the State Department, or gave him an embassy; and the pained
professionals had to resort to the language of diplomacy for the
_gaffes_ and _gaucheries_ of American diplomacy. These awkward
Americans were slipping all over the polished floors of the
chancelleries of Europe; but they were not falling into the hands of
the European diplomats.

Neither the fumbles of our occasional ignorant envoys nor the correct
discretion of the career men gave us any habit of thinking about other
countries. On the west coast there is a tradition of wariness about
the Orient--but it rises from immigration, not international
relations. We have no habit of hatred as the French had for Germany,
no cultivated friendships except for the occasional visit of a prince.
We are not susceptible to European flattery if we live beyond the
Atlantic seaboard--or below the $50,000 income level; for crowds, a
Hollywood star is at least as magnetic as a Balkan Queen; and it is
not conceivable that we should ever treat the coming of a Russian
ballet as a part of a political campaign, as the French, quite
correctly, did in 1913.

We are now paying for our quiet unfortified borders, for the broad
seas so suddenly narrowed. We have to learn about foreign affairs,
about our own Empire (we hardly know that we have one). And this is
the hardest thing of all: that while we move in ignorance, _we have to
re-work all the basic concepts of international affairs_, or they will
destroy us. We will have some support in the people of Great Britain,
in the governments of Scandinavia, and in the diplomatic habits of the
USSR; but for the most part we must make our way alone.

  _Debunking Protocol_

Again, as in the case of military strategy, the average man must study
the subject to protect himself. He can no longer risk his life, and
the fortunes of his family, in the hands of a few career men in the
State Department, working secretly, studying protocol, forgetting the
people of the United States.

The amateur statesman is as laughable as the amateur strategist, but
the laugh is not always going to be on us. We will popularize
diplomacy or it will destroy us. We have first of all to destroy the
myth of "high politics". We have to examine Macchiavelli and
Talleyrand and Bismarck and Disraeli with as much realism as we
examine Benedict Arnold and James J. Hill and Edison and Kruger. We
need journalist-debunkers to do the work, a parallel, by the way, to
the process of simplifying military discussion, which is being done by
newspaper and radio experts. We have to learn that the great tricks,
the great arrangements of power, have been as shady as horse-trades,
as ruthless as robbery, and often as magnificent as building a
railroad--but in all cases they have represented the desires of
certain groups, powerful enough at any given time to impose their
wishes on the people. War, business, patriotism, medicine, sociology,
religion, and sex have all been re-examined and debunked in the past
two generations; but diplomacy which can destroy our satisfaction in
all of them, still parades as the perfect stuffed shirt, with a red
ribbon across it. At the moment no one can say whether Hitler has
blasted the Foreign Office and our State Department; if he has, it is
an achievement equal to taking Crete; and we ought to thank him for

We should learn that diplomacy has swapped national honor, and
betrayed it, and used it cynically for the advantage of a few--as well
as protected it. We should examine the assertion of "national destiny"
before the era of democracy, to see whether the private wealth of a
prince and the starvation of a people actually are predestined,
whether the mine-owners of France could have allowed German democracy
to live, whether Locarno satisfied national honor less than Munich.

And, above all, we should know that this great "game" of European
statesmanship, going on from the Renaissance to our own time, is a
colossal and tragic failure. At times it has brought incalculable
wealth to a thousand English families, to a few hundred Frenchmen, and
power to some others. But it has always ended in the desolation of
war--and the suspicion holds that to make war advantageously has been
the aim of statesmanship, not to avoid it with honor.

We have to rid ourselves of the intolerable flummery of the diplomats
because in the future foreign affairs are going to be connected by a
thousand wires to our domestic problems, and we propose to see who
pulls the wires. The old tradition of betraying a President at home
while supporting any stupidity abroad will have to be scrapped; and we
will be a more formidable nation, in external affairs, if we conduct
those affairs in our way, not in the way of our enemies.

  _A "Various" Diplomacy_

It will not be enough to destroy the myth of high diplomacy and reduce
it to its basic combinations of chicanery and power-pressure, its
motives of pride and honor and greed. We have to take the positive
step of creating a new diplomacy, based on the needs of America, and
those needs have to be consciously understood by the American people.
Out of that, we may create a layman's foreign policy executed by
professional diplomats; just as we are on the way to create a layman's
labor policy, executed by professional statisticians, mediators and
agents. We have to recognize diplomacy as a polite war; and, as
suggested in connection with actual war, we must not fight in the
style or strategy of our enemies. We have always imitated in routine
statesmanship; and only in the past twenty years have we begun an
American style of diplomacy. The "strategy of variety" may serve us
here as on the battlefield; it may not. But the strategy of European
diplomacy is their weapon, and their strength; we are always defeated
when we attempt it, as Wilson was, as Stimson was over Manchuria. Our
only successes have been when we sidestepped diplomacy entirely and
talked to people.

The first step toward creating our own, democratic, diplomacy will be
to convince the American people that they will not escape the
consequences of this war. Many of us believe that we actually escaped
the consequences of the first World War by rejecting the League of
Nations; a process of re-education is indicated, for background. This
education can begin with the future and move backward--for our
relation to post-war Europe can be diagrammed almost as accurately as
a fever chart. We withdrew from the League for peace and found
ourselves in an alliance for war. It can hardly be called a successful
retreat. Actually we were in Europe, up to our financial necks, from
the moment the war ended to the day when the collapse of an Austrian
bank sent us spiralling to destruction in 1929; we stayed in it,
trying to recover the benefits of the Davis and Young plans by the
Hoover moratorium. We did everything with Europe except recognize its
first weak effort to federalize itself on our model.

Decisive our part in this war will be, but if we withdraw as we did
the last time, leaving the nations of Europe to work out their own
destiny, we will, as a practical matter, destroy ourselves.

The only other certainty we have is that the prosperity of the United
States is better served by peace in the world than by war. This is
true of all nations; the only difference for us is that the
dislocation may be a trace more severe, and that we have no tradition
of huge territorial repayments, or indemnities, by which a nation may
recoup the losses of war, while its people starve.

Given that basis, we can observe Europe and Asia after the present

  _Phases of the Future_

We ought at once to make a calendar. This war will probably not follow
the tradition of the last one; it may not gratify us with an exact
moment for an armistice; we may defeat our enemies piecemeal and miss
the headlines and tickertape and international broadcasts and cities
alight again and all the gaiety and solemn emotion of an end to war.
This war breaks patterns and sets new ones, so the first date on our
calendar is a doubtful one; but let us say that by a certain day we
will have smashed Germany and Japan; Italy would have betrayed them
long before.

Our next step is the "peace conference" stage. Again this war may
disappoint us; we may have a long armistice and a reorganization of
the world's powers, without Versailles and premiers in secret
conferences; perhaps by that time the peoples of Europe and America
will have captured their diplomats. Still, let us say that an interim
between armistice and world-order will occur.

The phases of the future grow longer as we progress. We will celebrate
the armistice for a day; the interim period may well be a year,
because in that time we are going to create the organization which
will bring us peace for a century--or for ever. This middle period is
the critical one; without much warning, we will be in it; the day
after we recover from celebrating the armistice, we will have to begin
thinking of the future of the world--and at the same time think about
demobilization and seeing whether the old car can still go (if we get
tires) and sending food to the liberated territories and smacking down
capital or labor as the case may be, and planning the next
election--by this time we will have forgotten that the desperate
crisis in human history has not passed, but has been transformed into
the longer crisis of planning and creating a new world--for which
there are even fewer good brains than there are for destroying the old

We can take cold comfort in this: if we do not work out a form of
world-cooperation acceptable to ourselves and the other principal
nations, we will bring on an event in Europe beside which the rise of
Hitler will seem trivial; it will be world revolution, the final act
of destruction which Hitler began. And whatever comes out of it,
fascist, communist, or chaos, will be no friend to us; twenty years
later we can celebrate the anniversary of a new armistice by observing
the start of another European war, which will spread more rapidly to
Asia and ourselves. Those of us who went through the first World War,
and are in good moral status because we have been under shell fire,
may be resigned to a third act in the 1960's; but the men who fight
this war may be as revolutionary in England and America as they turned
out to be last time in Russia or in Germany. They may want assurance,
the day after the war ends, that we have been thinking about them and
the future of the world. They will give us the choice between world
organization and world revolution, and no amount of good intentions
will help us. We will have to choose and to act; fascism may be
destroyed, but an army returning to the turbulence of a disorganized
world will not lack leaders; we can have modified Communism or
super-fascism, all beautifully Americanized, if we have nothing
better, nothing positive to be achieved when the war ends. And by the
time it ends we may understand that disorganization at home or abroad
will mean starvation and plague and repression and death.

  _Seven New Worlds_

Forming now, openly or privately, are groups to put forth a number of
different alternatives to revolution and chaos. Some of these are
based on political necessity or the desire to punish the Axis; some
correspond to the necessities of a single nation, some are more
inclusive. They can be summarized so:

    Re-isolating America;
    Collaboration with Fascism;
    Collaboration with Communism;
    Anglo-American domination;
    American imperialism;
    Revival of the League of Nations;
    A federal organization of the world.

To some people in the United States, none of these seems possible, all
of them disastrous. If the confusion of propaganda continues, these
people will fall back on the principle of isolation; it is a fatal
backward step, but it is better than any of the seemingly fatal
forward steps; it is in keeping with part of our tradition; and if
Europe as always, with Asia now added, goes forward to another war,
the centre and core of America will say "we want out", and mean it.
But isolating America cannot be an immediate post-war policy; if we
plan to withdraw, we virtually hand over the world to revolution and
hand ourselves into moral and financial bankruptcy. Isolation can only
be a constant threat to the world, that we will withdraw unless some
of our basic terms are met. We have to know our terms, or our threat
is meaningless.

There is much to be said for isolation, or autarchy; I pass it over
quickly because I am not attempting to criticise each sketch of the
post-war world; only to note certain aspects of them all--notably
their relation to the America which I have described in earlier pages.
The next two programs are also easy to assay: they are at the opposite
extreme; they rise from no part of our basic tradition, and
collaboration with either fascism or communism would have to come
either by revolution after defeat or by long skillful propaganda which
would disguise the fact and make us think that we were converting the
world to our democracy.

It is, nevertheless, childish to assume that the thing can't happen.
Given a good unscrupulous American dictator we could have made peace
with the Nazis, and the Japanese, by squeezing Britain out of the
Atlantic and Russia out of the Pacific; our gain would have been the
whole Western Hemisphere; this would have gratified both the
isolationists and the imperialists; it would have preserved peace and
the Monroe Doctrine; the only disqualification is that it would
destroy freedom throughout the world--which is the purpose of fascism.
This was possible; it may become possible again. Unless Britain shows
more intellectual strength in the final phases of the war than she did
in the earlier ones, the chance to scuttle her will appeal to any
anti-European American dictator; liquidate Hitler, make peace with the
anti-Hitlerian Nazis, especially the generals, send our appeasers as
ambassadors, and in five years we can re-invigorate a defeated Germany
and start world-fascism going again.

The alternative is not so remote. It is a distinct and immediate

  _Red America_

A Socialist England after the war is promised, in effect, by everyone
except the rulers of the British Empire. Add a free China indebted to
Communist armies; add Russia victoriously on the side of democracy;
Red successor states will rise in Italy, Germany and the Balkans; and
our destiny would be the fourth or fifth international.

If we say these things are fanciful, we convict ourselves of inability
to break out of our own mythology. Either collaboration is as likely as
complete isolation; neither would shock us if a good American led us
into it. Sir Stafford Cripps is certain that the USSR and the USA fight
for the same ideals; and collaboration with Hitler's enemies is our
standing policy today. So that a "revolution" in Germany would
automatically lead us into friendly relations with the revolutionaries;
they will be either fascist or communist, quite possibly they will be
Hitler's best friends. Actually we may approach either a fascist or a
Communist world order by easy steps, our little hand held by proud
propagandists guiding us on our way.

  _Parva Carta_

The dominant American relation to Europe, now, is expressed in the
Atlantic Charter which is not an alliance, not a step toward union,
but a statement of principles. However, the Charter has been used as a
springboard and been taken as an omen; so it must be examined and its
true bearings discovered. It has, for us, two essential points:

One of these is the Anglo-American policing of the world; it is a curt
reminder that this war is not waged to end war; that future wars are
being taken for granted and preparations to win them will be made. The
Charter was, however, a pre-war instrument for us. Presently the
necessities of war may force us to go further and declare our
intention to prevent war entirely.

The specific economic point in the Atlantic Charter promises "all
States, great and small, victor and vanquished ... access, on equal
terms, to the trade and the raw materials of the world which are
needed for their economic prosperity."

This is a mixture of oil and the mercantile philosophy of a hundred
years ago. It has a moral value; it knocks on the head all theories of
"rights" in colonies; a nation subscribing to the Atlantic Charter and
attempting to isolate a source of bauxite or pitchblende, will have to
be hypocritical as well as powerful. "Access to", even on equal terms,
does not however imply "power to take and use". Lapland may have
access to Montana copper, unhindered by our law; and copper may be
deemed vital to Lapland's prosperity (by a commission of experts); but
Lapland will not get our copper unless we choose to let her have it.

In effect, the maritime nations, England and America, have said that
if they can get to a port in the Dutch East Indies, they propose to
trade there, for oil or ivory or sea shells; and they have also said,
proudly, that Germany can trade there also, after Germany becomes

No realistic attempt to face the necessity of organized production and
distribution is even implied in this point. Instead, President
Roosevelt was able virtually to write into an international document a
statement of his ideals; as Woodrow Wilson wrote his League of Nations
into the Fourteen Points.

Mr. Roosevelt's freedoms are specific; people (not "nations") are to be
free from want, from fear, from oppression. Freedom from want is the
actual new thing in the world; want--need--hard times--poverty--from
the beginning of European history these have been the accepted order,
the lot of man, the inescapable fate to which he was doomed by being

The Charter rose out of our history and out of England's need. Let me
outline again the connection with our history. In 1776, the
Declaration of Independence showed a way out of the poverty-labyrinth
in the destiny of man; the Declaration declared for prosperity (then
synonymous with free land) and offered it to all (citizenship and
equal rights to the immigrant, the chance to share in this new belief
in prosperity by becoming American). In a century and a half Europe
has scoffed and sneered at this (relatively successful) attempt to
break through economic damnation--and at the end, as Europe rocks over
the edge of destruction, an American offers this still new and
imperfect thing as a foundation stone of peace in the world: freedom
from want. It has not yet been completely achieved in America; but we
know it can be achieved; we have gone far enough on our way to say
that it can be achieved in the whole world.

The American standard is far above freedom from want. It is based, in
fact, on wanting too many things and getting a fair percentage of
them. But President Roosevelt's point does not involve "leveling"; it
is not an equal standard of living all over the world (which is the
implied necessity of international Communism). The negative freedom
from want is not freedom from wanting; it is explicit, as the words
are used: it means that men shall have food and shelter and clothes;
and medicine against plague; and an opportunity to learn and some
leisure to enjoy life; in accordance with the standards of their

This is a great deal. It was not too much for the Soviet Republics to
promise, and to begin to bring, to Kalmucks and Tartars and Georgians;
it is more than we have brought to our own disinherited in the South,
in mining towns, in the fruitful valleys of California. Our partial
failure is a disgrace, but not a disaster; our success, though
incomplete, is important. For we have carried forward in the light of
the other great freedom which Communism has had to sacrifice, which is
freedom from fear. All the specific freedoms--to think, to utter, to
believe, to act, are encompassed in this freedom from fear. Our basic
disagreement with Communism is the same as our attack on
nazi-fascism--both are based on illegitimate power (not power
delegated or given, not power with the consent of the governed): hence
both live on domination; on their capacity to instil fear. The war
will prove how far this fear penetrated in Russia and in Germany, and
how much longer it will be the instrument of coercion in either

The President's freedoms are a wide promise to the people of the
world--a promise made, like Woodrow Wilson's promises, before entering
any agreement with any foreign power. Into the Atlantic Charter, Mr.
Roosevelt also injected his basic domestic policies and, by some
astute horsetrading managed to make them _theoretically_ the basis for
international agreement. This point promises improved labor standards,
economic adjustment, and social security throughout the world.

Improvement, adjustment, security--they are not absolutes; freedom
from want is, in effect, security; any reasonable adjustment between
owners and workers will be an improvement in most countries. But the
principle behind the labor point is as clear as the inspiration of the
points on raw materials and freedom: it is that wars are caused by the
miseries of peoples; when the people rule, they will prevent wars
unless their miseries are acute; if they are not in dire want, if they
have a chance to work, if they are free of coercion and threat, they
will not make war--nor will they fall under the hand of the tyrant and
the demagogue.

In plain practical statesmanship, Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill
apologized for Versailles, which denied Germany access to raw
materials and prevented improvement in labor standards and drove
millions of Europeans into want and fear; and at the same time they
acknowledged the connection between high diplomacy and the food and
shelter and comforts of the citizen. The eight points reiterate some
of the fourteen; they withdraw from others; but the new thing is all
American, it is the injection of the rights of the common man into an
international document.

But there the Atlantic Charter ends. As an instrument of propaganda
and as a basis of making war and peace, it was outlawed by events; it
is forgotten.

  _What Is Lacking_

The Charter could not carry its own logic beyond a first step: since
we were not allied to Britain we could not discuss a World system--all
we could say was that aggressors would be disarmed (by ourselves and
Great Britain, neither gaining a military or naval predominance) and
later we also might disarm--when the world seemed safe. This was on
the power side; on the economic side, our role was gratifyingly vague.

Out of the Atlantic mists a few certainties rose, like icebergs. We
soon saw:

  1. That Britain has no method of organizing Europe; its
     tradition is isolation plus alliances.

  2. That Britain has no system of production parallel to the
     slave system of Germany, by which Europe would restore the
     ravages of war.

  3. That Britain cannot impose its relatively democratic habits
     and relatively high level of comfort on the Continent.

In effect, after an uprush of enthusiasm following the defeat of
Hitler, the democratic countries will face with panic their tragic
incapacity to do what the fascists have almost done--unify the nations
of Europe.

  _Slow Union-Now_

It was not the function of the Charter to outline the new map of
Europe. But the map is being worked over and the most effective of the
workers are those led by Clarence K. Streit toward Union-now. Long
before the Atlantic Charter was issued, Federal Union had proposed
free access to raw materials, even for Germans if they destroyed their
Nazi leaders; and the entire publicity, remarkably organized, has a
tone of authority which makes it profoundly significant. I do not know
that it is a trial balloon of Downing Street or of the White House;
but in America a Justice of the Supreme Court and a member of the
Cabinet recommend the proposal to the "serious consideration" of the
citizens and it has equally notable sponsors in England.

I believe that union with the British Commonwealth of Nations stands
in the way of America's actual function after the war; I see it as a
sudden reversal of our historic direction, a shock we should not
contemplate in war time; it does not correspond to the living
actualities of our past or present. But I think we owe the Unionists a
great deal; they have incited thought and even action; they serve as
the Committee to Aid the Allies did before last December, to supply a
rallying point for enthusiasts and enemies; we are doing far too
little thinking about our international affairs, and Federal Union
makes us think.

It has two aims: the instant purpose of combining all our powers to
win the war, using the fact of our union as an engine of propaganda in
occupied and enemy countries; and second, "that this program be only
the first step in the gradual, peaceful extension of ... federal union
to all peoples willing and able to adhere to them, so that from this
nucleus may grow eventually a universal world government of, by and
for the people". (It sounds impractical, but so did the Communist
Manifesto and Hitler's "ravings".)

As to the immediate program, it would instantly revive the latent
isolationism of tens of millions who used to insist that the Roosevelt
policy would end in the sacrifice of our independence; we should have
a unified control of production, but some 40% of our producers would
lose all faith in our government. In the midst of winning the war, we
should have to re-convince millions that we had not intentionally
betrayed them.

Military and productive unity can be independent of political unity.
Unified command was achieved in France in 1918 and in the Pacific in
1942, without unions.

As for effect abroad, propaganda could present a better case to
Frenchmen who believe Britain let them down if complete Anglo-American
union were not an accomplished fact; and the whole Continental and
Russian and Asiatic suspicion of our motives might be allayed if we
did not unite completely and permanently with "the people of Canada,
the United Kingdom, Eire, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of
South Africa" while we were not so fondly embracing the peoples of
India, China, and the Netherlands East Indies. The abiding union of
literate, superior, capitalist white men is not going to be taken as a
first step to world equality by Slavs and Orientals; and much as the
British Empire may wish not to acknowledge the fact, Communism has
completely undermined the idea of white supremacy, and has given a new
hope to Asia and Africa. It may have been a very bad thing to do, but
we cannot stop for recriminations now. There are new soldiers for
democracy in the world, and if they are fighting beside us, we cannot
ignore them and fall into the arms of their traditional oppressors. We
have a great work to do with the Chinese and the Indians, and all the
other peoples who can stand against our enemy; we cannot begin to do
it if our first move is accepting British overlordship in the East,
uncritically, without pledges or promises.

As a post-war program Federal Union is more persuasive. It begins with
a Wilsonian peace offer--the influence is strong and supplies the deep
emotional appeal of the organization. It guarantees free access to
rubber and oil and gold; it accepts any nation whose people had
certain minimal freedoms; it implies, of course, free trade--with new
markets for our manufactured products, and no duties on British
woolens; plans for the Union Congress "assure the American people a
majority" at the start. (As between the United States and the British
Commonwealth; as soon as "all peoples willing and able" to, enter, the
200 million American and British Commonwealthers would be swamped by
800 million Chinese and Indians and other Asiatics.)

The average American pays a great tribute to the largeness of the
concept of "Union-now"--he doesn't believe that anyone really means
it. He thinks it is a fancy name for a war alliance, or possibly a new
simplified League of Nations. The gross actuality of Iowa and
Yorkshire ruled by one governing body, he cannot take in. And as the
argument develops, this general scepticism is justified; for the
American learns that while he may be ruled, he will not be over-ruled,
and he wonders what Mr. Churchill and the man in the London street
will say to that, or in what disguise this plan is being presented to
the English or the Scots or the New Zealanders. So far no responsible
British statesman has offered union to the United States, but Mr.
Leslie Hore-Belisha has said that we need a declaration of
inter-dependence and our Ambassador to the Court of St. James's told
an international Society of writers that we need a sort of
international citizenship. Mr. Wendell Willkie however has said that
"American democracy must rule the world."

  _Entry Into Europe_

By union or by alliance, American or Anglo-American rule over the
world will have some strange consequences for us, citizens not
accustomed to worry over "foreign affairs". Perhaps the strangest
thing is that the results will be almost the same whether we are
partners with Britain or alone in our mighty domination, with England
as a satellite. An American or Anglo-American imperium can only be
organized by force; it is, in effect, the old order of Europe, with
America playing Britain's old star part, Britain reduced to the
supporting role of France or Holland or Portugal. In any controversy,
we step in, with our vast industrial power, our democratic tradition,
our aloofness from Europe, just as England used to step in with _her_
power and traditions; the Atlantic is to us what the Channel or North
Sea was to Britain. England's policy was to prevent the rise of any
single Continental power, so she made an alliance with Prussia to
fight France in 1814 and made an alliance with France to fight Prussia
in 1914. In an Anglo-American alliance, England would be our European
outpost, just as Prussia or France was England's Continental outpost.

Our policy would still be the balance of power. Like England, we
should be involved in every war, whether we take up arms or not--as
she was involved in the Crimea and the Balkans, and South Africa and
North Africa; we should have our Fashodas and our Algeciras and our
Mafeking; our peace will be uneasy, our wars not our own.

The Atlantic Charter suggests a "policing" of the world after the war;
it holds off from anything further; it does not actually hint that a
reorganization of power in the world is needed. Yet, at the same time,
the creation of an oceanic bloc to combat the European land bloc is
hinted. It is all rather like a German professor's dream of
geo-politics; Russia becomes a Pacific power and Japan, by a miserable
failure of geography, is virtually a Continental one, while the United
States is reduced to two strips of ocean frontage, like a real estate
development with no back lot, with no back country, with no background
in the history of a Continent.

The Sea-Powers unit is as treacherous as "the Atlantic group" or "the
Democratic countries"; the intent is still to create a dominant power
and give ourselves (and Britain) control of the raw materials and the
trade of the world. No matter how naturally the group comes together,
by tradition or self-interest, it becomes instantly the nucleus for an
alliance; and as the alliance begins to form, nations we omit or
reject begin to crystallize around some other centre, and we have the
balance of power again, the race for markets and the race for

This will be particularly true if we begin to play the diplomatic
game with the stakes greater than those ever thrown--since we are the
first two-ocean nation to enter world affairs. At the moment nothing
seems more detestable than the policy of Japan; but diplomacy
overcomes all detestation, and if we are going in for the game of
dealing with nations instead of peoples, we can foresee ourselves
years from now as the great balance between the Atlantic and the
Pacific, between Japan and England, or Japan and Germany, perhaps the
honest broker between the two sets of powers. In 1942 we are
independent, fighting for freedom, helping all those who fight against
tyranny; and we can do this because we have kept out of the groupings
and combinations of the powers. But we are being pushed into a
combination and we know now that there is only one way to avoid
entanglement: we must prevent the combination from coming into

  _Our Historic Decision_

In 1919 an attempt was made, by America, to put an end to all European
combinations of power. That attempt was unanimously approved by the
people of the United States, some of whom voted for the League while
the others endorsed a Society of Nations, to which W.G. Harding
promised our adhesion. The Society of Nations was never seriously
proposed, and Harding betrayed the American people; at the same time
it was monumentally clear that France, with England's help, had
sabotaged the actual League by making it a facade for a punitive
alliance. Between these two betrayals, the idea of world organization
was mortally compromised.

We may quarrel over the blame for the impotence of the League; did
France invade the Ruhr because, without us in the League, she needed
"protection"? or did we stay out of the League because we knew France
would go into the Ruhr? That can be argued for ever. We know
reasonably well why we kept out of the League; but no one troubles to
remember how earnestly we wanted the League and prayed for it and
wanted to enter, so that it remained always to trouble us as we tried
to sleep through the destruction of Ethiopia or Spain or

The League was not a promise of security to the _people_ of the United
States. Our Government may have felt the need of a world order; we did
not; the war had barely touched us, yet even those whom it had touched
least were enthusiasts for a new federation of nations. It was neither
fear nor any abstract love of peace. The League, or any other
confederation of Europe, corresponded to our American need, which was
to escape alliance with any single power or small group; to escape the
danger of Europe united against us; and to escape the devil's
temptation of imperialism--_because the people of the United States do
not want to rule the world_. There is an instinct which tells us that
those who rule are not independent; they are slaves to their slaves;
it tells us that we are so constituted that we cannot rule over part
of Europe or join with any part to rule the rest; it is our instinct
of independence which forbids us in the end to destroy the liberty of
any other nation.

This goes back to the thought of union with the British nations. If we
unite, and we are dominant, do we not accept the responsibility of
domination? The appetite for empire is great and as the old world
turned to us in 1941, as the War of the Worlds placed us in the centre
of action, as more and more we came to make the decisions, as
Australia, Russia, China, Britain called to us for help--the image of
America ruling the world grew dazzling bright. It was our duty--our
destiny; Mr. Henry Luce recognized the American century, seeing us
accepted by the world which already accepts our motor cars, chewing
gum and moving pictures. To shrink from ruling the world is abject
cowardice. Did England shrink in 1914? Or France under Napoleon? Or
Rome under Augustus? Or Sweden under Gustavus Adolphus?

No. No despotism ever shrank from its "destiny" to destroy the freedom
of other nations.

But the history of America will still create our destiny--and our
destiny is _not_ to rule the world.

_Our destiny is to remain independent and the only way we can remain
independent is by cooperation with all the other nations of the earth.
That is the only way for us to escape exclusive alliances, the pull of
grandiose imperial schemes, the danger of alliances against us, and a
tragic drift into the European war system which can destroy us._ There
is an area of action in which nationality plays no part: like labor
statistics--and this area is steadily growing; there is another area
jealously guarded, the area of honor and tariffs and taxes. We have to
mark out the parts of our lives which we can offer up to international
supervision and the parts we cannot. It will surprise us to see that
we can become more independent if we collaborate more.

  "_Far as Human Eye Can See_"

I have no capacity to describe the world order after the war. If, as I
have said, the war is fought by us in accordance with our national
character, we will create a democratic relationship between the
nations of the world; and our experience added to that of Britain and
the USSR will tend toward a Federation of Commonwealths; the three
great powers have arrived, by three separate experiences, at the idea
of Federation; two of them are working out the problems of sovereign
independent states within a union; the third, ourselves, worked the
problem out long ago by expunging States Rights in theory and allowing
a great deal in practise. As a result of our experience, we
dogmatically assert that no Federation can be created without the
ultimate extinction of independence; we may be right. But the thought
persists that independence was wanted for the sake of liberty; that
independence without security was the downfall of Czecho-Slovakia and
France; and that we have cherished independence because the rest of
the world did not cherish liberty as we did. Profoundly as I believe
independence to be the key to American action, I can imagine the
translation of the word into other terms; we are allied to Britain and
the Netherlands and the Soviets today, we have accepted alien command
of our troops and ships; we are supplying arms to the Soviets and
building a naval base in Ecuador and have accepted an agreement by
which Great Britain will have a word in the creation of the most
cherished of our independent creations, the tariff. Independence, so
absolute in origin, is like all absolutes, non-existent in fact; we
know this in private life, for the man of "independent means" may
depend on ten thousand people to pay him dividends; and only the mad
are totally independent of human needs and duties.

We will not willingly give up our right to elect a President; we may
allow the President to appoint an American member to an international
commission to allocate East Indies rubber; in return for which we will
allocate our wheat or cotton or motors--on the advice of other
nations, but without bowing our neck to their rule. We have always
accepted specific international interference in our affairs--the
Alabama claims and the Oregon boundary and the successive troubles in
Venezuela prove that our "sovereign right" to do what we please was
never exercised without some respect for the opinion of mankind--and
the strength of the British navy. Indeed recent events indicate that
for generations our independence of action, the reality of
independence, rested on our faith in the British fleet.

The moment we become realistic about our independence we will be able
to collaborate effectively with other nations. We got a few lessons in
realistic dealings in 1941--lend-lease and the trade for the naval
bases were blunt, statesmanlike but most undiplomatic--moves to
strengthen the British fleet, to extend our own area of safety, and to
give us time against the threat of Japan. They protected our
independence, but they also compromised it; the British by any
concession to Japan might have weakened us; we took the risk, and our
action was in effect an act of defensive war against Germany. Like
Jefferson, buying Louisiana to protect us against any foreign power
across the Mississippi, President Roosevelt acted under dire necessity
and as Jefferson (not Roosevelt) put it, was not too deeply concerned
with Constitutionality. The situation in 1941 required not only the
bases but the continued functioning of the British fleet in the
Atlantic; and we got what we needed.

The economic agreement of 1942 is probably a greater invasion of our
simon-pure independence of action; although it empowers a post-war
President to decide how much of lend-lease was returned by valor in
the field, it specifically binds us to alter our tariff if Britain can
induce its Commonwealth of Nations to give up the system of "imperial
preference". All our tariffs are horsetrades and the most-favored
nation is a sweet device; but heretofore we have not bartered our
tariffs in advance. Certainly a post-war economic union is in the
wind; certainly we will accept it if it comes to us piecemeal, by
agreements and joint-commissions and international resolutions which
are not binding, but are accepted and become as routine as the law of
copyright which once invaded our sacred national right to steal or the
international postal union which gave us the right to send a letter to
any country for five cents.

When we think of the future our minds are clouded by memory of the
League; we are psychologically getting ready to accept or reject the
League all over again. We are worried over the form--will it be Geneva
again or will headquarters be in Washington; will Germany have a vote;
will we have to go to war if the Supreme Council tells us to. These
are important if we are actually going to reconstitute the League; but
if we are not, the only question is what we want the new world
organization to do. In keeping with our political tradition we will
pretend that we want it to do as little as possible and put upon it
all the work we are too lazy to do ourselves; but even the minimum
will be enough.

  _Our Standing Offer_

Everything points to an economic council representing the free nations
of the world; the lease-lend principles in time of peace may be
invoked, as Harold Laski has suggested, to provide food and raw
materials for less favored nations; and the need for "economic
sanctions" will not be lost on the nation which supplied Japan with
scrap-iron and oil for five years of aggression against China and then
was repaid at Pearl Harbor.

If there is any wisdom--in the people or in their leaders--we will not
have a formulated League to accept or reject; we will have a series of
agreements (such as we have had for generations) covering more and
more subjects, with more and more nations. We have drawn up treaties
and agreements with twenty South American States, with forty-six
nations united for liberty; we can draw up an agreement with Russia
and Rumania and the Netherlands so that England and the Continent and
China get oil; and another agreement may give us tungsten; we may have
to take universal action to stop typhus--and no one will be an
isolationist then. If the war ends by a series of uprisings we may be
establishing temporary governments as part of our military strategy.
Slowly the form of international cooperation will be seen; by that
time it will be familiar to us--and we will see that we have not lost
our independence, but have gained our liberty.

We began the war with one weapon: liberty. If we fight the war well,
we will begin the long peace with two: liberty and production. With
them we will not need to rule the world; with them the world will be
able to rule itself. All we have to do is to demonstrate the best use
of the instruments--and to let others learn.

Before our part in the war began, it was often suggested that America
would feed and clothe Europe, send medicine and machinery to China,
and make itself generally the post-war stockpile of Democracy as it
had been the arsenal and treasury during the war; and the monotonous
uncrushing answer was about "the money". Realities of war have blown
"the money" question into atoms; no sensible person pretends that
there is a real equation between our production and money value; we
can't in any sense "afford" bombers and battleships; if we stopped to
ask where "the money" would come from, and if the question were
actually relevant, we would have to stop the war.

Another actuality of war relieves us of the danger of being too
generous--the actuality of rubber and tin and tungsten and all the
other materials critical to production in peace time. Since we will
have to rebuild our stocks of vital goods, our practical men will see
to it that we get as well as give; we may send food to Greece and get
rubber from Java, but on the books we will not be doing too badly.

Neither money nor the bogey of a balance of trade is going to decide
our provisioning of Europe and Asia; the cold necessity of preventing
revolution and typhus will force us to rebuild and re-energize; in the
end, like all enlargements of the market, this will repay us. The rest
of the world will know a great deal about mass production by the end
of the war: Indians and Australians will be expert at interchangeable
parts; but we will have the immeasurable advantage of our long
experience on which the war has forced us to build a true productive
system. We will jump years ahead of our schedule of increase and
improvement because of the war; and we will be able to face any
problem of production--if we want to, or have to. The choice between
people's lives and the gold standard will have to be made again, as it
was by many nations in the 1930's; only this time the choice is not
without a threat. After wars, people are accustomed to bloodshed; they
prefer it to starvation.

  _Alternative to Prosperity_

The greatest invention of democracy is the wealth of the people. We
discovered that wealth rested more firmly on prosperity than on
poverty and the genius of our nation has gone into creating a
well-to-do mass of citizens. Unfinished as the job is, we can start to
demonstrate its principles to others. In return they may refrain from
teaching us the principles of revolution.

Recovery and freedom are our concrete actual offer to the nations of
Europe, counter to the offer of Hitler. Without this literal, concrete
offer, we shall have to fight longer to defeat Hitler--and every added
day costs us lives and money and strength inside ourselves which we
need to create the new world; if we can defeat Hitler without the aim
of liberty, our victory will be incomplete; we will not automatically
emancipate France or Jugo-Slavia, or draw Rumania back into the orbit
of free nations. Within each nation a powerful group profits by the
Nazi-system; within each a vast population, battered, disheartened,
diseased, wants only the meanest security, one meal a day, shelter
only from the bitter days, something more than a rag for clothing--and
an end to the struggle; these are not heroes, they are old people, men
and women struck down and beaten and starved so that they cannot rise,
but can drag down those who attempt to rise. These we may save only by
giving them food and forgetfulness. On the other side there are the
young--carefully indoctrinated, worked over to believe that the offer
of fascism is hard, but practical; it is an offer of slavery and
security; whereas they are told the offer of the democratic countries
is an hypocrisy and--worse still--cannot be made good. We have to face
the disagreeable fact that the Balkan peasant in 1900 heard of
universal suffrage and high wages in America, and his grandchildren
know more about our sharecroppers and race riots and strike breakers
than we do--because the Goebbels machine has played the dark side of
our record a million times. The first year of the war was bound to
show the "superiority" of the German production technique over ours,
since Europe will not know that we are still at the beginning of
actual production. The mind of Europe knows little good of us; we
have not yet begun to undermine the fascist influence by words, and
our acts are not yet planned. Even after Hitler is destroyed, we will
have to act to overcome impotence in political action which years of
Nazi "conditioning" induces, and to compensate for the destruction of
technical skill in the occupied areas. To us the end of the war is a
wild moving picture of gay processions, swastikas demolished, prisons
opened, and the governments-in-exile hailed at the frontiers; all of
these things may happen, but the reality, after the parade, will be a
grim business of re-making the flesh and the spirit of peoples. The
children of Israel rejoiced and sang as they crossed the Red Sea; but
they had been slaves. So Moses led them forty years in the wilderness,
when he could have gone directly to the Promised Land in forty months,
because he wanted a generation of slaves to die, and a generation of
hardy freemen to be in full mature power.[A] The generation we will
raise to power in the occupied countries will have great experience of
tyranny, none of freedom; it will know all about our shortcomings and
nothing of our triumphs; it will distrust our motives and methods; it
will have seen the Nazis at work and know nothing of new techniques of
production; we will have to teach them to be free and to work.


[Footnote A: I have not traveled the route; but General Sir Francis
Younghusband who had, gave me the figures--and the motive.]


The Liberty Bell

Above all things our function is to proclaim liberty, to proclaim it
as the soil on which we grow and as the air we breathe, to make the
world understand that liberty is what we fight for and live by. We
have to keep the word always sounding so that people will not
forget--and we have to create liberty so that it is always real and
people will have a goal to fight for, and never believe that it is
only a word. We do not need to convert the world to a special form of
political democracy, but we have to keep liberty alive so that the
peoples who want to be free can destroy their enemies and count on us
to help. We will do it by the war we are waging and the peace we will
make and the prosperity of the peoples of the world which we will
underwrite. For in the act of proclaiming and creating liberty we must
also give to the world the demonstration we have made at home: that
there is no liberty if the people perish of starvation and that alone
among all the ways of living tried in the long martyrdom of man,
freedom can destroy poverty.

We have been bold in creating food and cars and radios and electric
power; now we must be bold in creating liberty on a scale never known
before, not even to ourselves. For we have to create enough liberty to
take up the shameful slack in our own country. We all know,
indifferently, that people (somewhere--where was it?--wasn't there a
movie about them?) hadn't enough to eat. But we assume that Americans
always have enough liberty. The Senate's committee report on the
fascism of organized big-farming in California is a shock which
Americans are not aware of; in the greater shock of war we do not
understand that we have been weakened internally, as England was
weakened by its distressed areas and its Malayan snobbery. We do not
yet see the difference between the misfortune of an imperfect economic
system and calculated denials of liberty. We have denied liberty in
hundreds of instances, until certain sections of the country, certain
portions of industry, have become black infections of fascism and have
started the counter-infection of communism. Most of the shameful
occasions we have cheerfully forgotten; in the midst of our war
against tyranny, any new blow at our liberty is destructive. Here are
the facts in the California case, chosen because the documentation
comes from official sources:

     "Unemployment, underemployment, disorganized and haphazard
     migrancy, lack of adequate wages or annual income, bad housing,
     insufficient education, little medical care, the great public
     burden of relief, the denial of civil liberties, riots, strife,
     corruption are all part and parcel of this autocratic system of
     labor relations that has for decades dominated California's
     agricultural industry."

The American people do not know that such things exist; no American
orator has dared to say "except in three or four states, all men are
equal in the eyes of the law"--or, "trial by jury is the right of
every man except farm hands in California, who may be beaten at will."
When the Senate's report is repeated to us from Japanese short-wave we
will call it propaganda--and it will be the terrible potent propaganda
of truth. We will still call for "stern measures", if a laborer who
has lost the rights of man on American soil does not go into battle
with a passion in his heart to die for liberty, and we will not
understand that we have been at fault, because we have not created
liberty. We have been living on borrowed liberty, not of our own

We have not seen that some of our "cherished liberties" are heirlooms,
beautiful antiques, not usable in the shape they come to us. We have
the right to publish--but we cannot afford to print a newspaper--so
that we have to create a new freedom of the press. We have the right
to keep a musket on the wall, but our enemies have ceased to prowl,
the musket is an antique, and we need a new freedom to protect
ourselves from officious bureaucrats. We have the right to assemble,
but men of one mind, men of one trade, live a thousand miles apart, so
we need a new freedom to combine--and a new restriction on
combination, too.

Freedom is always more dangerous than discipline, and the more complex
our lives, the more dangerous is any freedom. This we know; we know
that discipline and order are dangerous, too, because they cannot
tolerate imperfection. A nation cannot exist half-slave and half-free,
but it can exist 90% free, especially if the direction of life is
toward freedom; that is what we have proved in 160 years. But a nation
cannot exist 90% slave--or 90% regimented--because every degree of
order multiplies the power of disorder. If a machine needs fifty
meshed-in parts, for smooth operation, the failure of one part
destroys forty-nine; if it needs five million, the failure of one part
destroys five million.

That is the hope of success for our strategy against the strategy of
"totality"; the Nazis have surpassed the junkers by their disciplined
initiative in the field, a genuine triumph; but we still do not know
whether a whole people can be both disciplined and flexible; we have
not yet seen the long-run effect of Hitler's long vituperation of
Bolshevism, his treaty with Stalin, and his invasion of Russia--unless
the weakening of Nazi power, its failure to press success into victory
at the gates of Moscow and Leningrad reflect a hesitation in the
stupefied German mind, an incapacity to change direction.

Whether our dangers are greater than those of fascism may be proved in
war; it remains for us to make the most of them, to transform danger
into useful action. We have to increase freedom, because as freedom
grows, it brings its own regulation and discipline; the dangers of
liberty came to us only after we began to neglect it or suppress it;
freedom itself is orderly, because it is a natural state of men, it is
not chaos, it begins when the slave is set free and ends when the
murderer destroys the freedom of others; between the tyrant and the
anarchist lies the area of human freedom.

It is also the area of human cooperation, the condition of life in
which man uses all of his capacities because he is not deprived of the
right to work, by choice, with other men. In that area, freedom
expands and is never destructive. The flowering of freedom in the past
hundred years has been less destructive to humanity than the attempted
extension of slavery has been in the past decade; for when men create
liberty, they destroy only what is already dead.

I have used the phrase "creating enough liberty"--as if the freedom of
man were a commodity; _and it is_. So long as we think of it as a
great abstraction, it will remain one; the moment we _make_ liberty it
becomes a reality; the Declaration of Independence _made_ liberty,
concretely, out of taxes and land and jury trials and muskets.
Liberty, like love, has to be made; the passion out of which love
rises exists always, but people have to _make love_, or the passion is
betrayed; and the acts by which human beings make liberty are as
fundamental as the act of sexual intercourse by which love is made.
And as love recreates itself and has to be made, in order to live
again, liberty has also to be re-created, or it dies out. Whatever
lovers do affects the profound relation between them, for the passion
is complex; whatever we do affects our liberties, for freedom rises
out of a thousand circumstances; and we have to be not only eternally
vigilant, but eternally creative; we can no longer live on the liberty
inherited from the great men who created liberty in the Declaration of
Independence. All that quantity has been exhausted, stolen from us,
misused; if we want to survive, we must begin to make liberty again
and proclaim it throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof;
and it shall be a jubilee unto them.

       *       *       *       *       *

    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                    |
    |                                                            |
    | Page  54: "what the trust were" replaced with              |
    |           "what the trusts were"                           |
    | Page  83: "given by the the people" replaced with          |
    |           "given by the people"                            |
    | Page 156: enterprizes replaced with enterprises            |
    |                                                            |
    |            -------------------------------------           |
    |                                                            |
    | NOTE that on Page 85 there are words missing from the      |
    | quoted section of the Declaration of Independence.         |
    | The missing words "to our British brethren. We have warned |
    | them" have been inserted in the paragraph that begins:     |
    | "Nor have We been wanting in attention (to our British     |
    | brethren. We have warned them) from time to time of        |
    | attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable   |
    | jurisdiction over us."                                     |
    |                                                            |

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