The Truman Era

by I.F. Stone

Vintage Books, 1973, paper


How could it be that a nation proclaiming itself the champion of freedoms everywhere was so indifferent to, and even actively engaged in, the destruction of its own? The American philosopher William James once provided a useful clue to an explanation. He said that there was a difference between feeling free, and acting as a free person. People feel most free, said James, when they respond with the least effort, reacting "unhesitatingly in a certain stereotyped way." We act as a free people when we make an effort to affirm and adopt a difficult task, to work against the lines of greatest resistance. Perhaps the true nature of the Truman years can be summed up in these very terms: Americans learned to define freedom as feeling free, escaping from difficult choices by embracing stereotypes, rather than struggling to act and think as free people.

... the philosophical assumptions which had lain for almost two centuries at the foundations of American life. These were secular, skeptical, democratic, and optimistic. They had bred distrust for the priest and contempt for the bureaucrat. They had developed a healthy suspicion of government and a lively irreverence about all dogma. They were reflected in separation of Church and State, and respect for individual belief and conscience. They implied belief in the efficacy of reason, the essential goodness of man, and the ultimate victory of truth. The First Amendment, the cornerstone of the American constitutional system, rested on the assumption that since men were reasonable and good they could be trusted to choose among freely competing ideas. American optimism and belief in social reform drew their strength from the happy conviction that men were made evil, rebellious, violent, or criminal only by the miseries of material circumstance, not by some mysterious and innate quality predestining them to damnation. To improve man one had only to improve his conditions. The corollaries affirmed the futility of force against human aspiration and new ideas, and asserted the indispensability of social amelioration and free discussion to a healthy and progressive society.

Those who had spoken out most strongly against regimentation during the New Deal were the foremost proponents of the new regimentation which began with the Truman era. Those who objected most to the regimentation of property were the first to encourage the regimentation of mind; and the reader will see ... how much of what happened in the sphere of thought control was forecast and blueprinted in advance by the United States Chamber of Commerce. The 1946 report of its Committee on Socialism and Communism charts a program to drive out of opinion-forming agencies-schools, radio, movies, television, newspapers, and libraries-all Reds, pinks, and liberals. Socialists were considered as dangerous potentially as Communists, though the Socialist New Leader was recommended highly. Liberals were damned for protecting the freedom of speech of both, and the report took exception to those who thought revolutionary ideas could be "appeased by improvements in the standard of living of the people." While Truman and his advisers feared to "plan" for full employment in peacetime (the horrid word "planning" is notably absent from the collected reports of the President's Council of Economic Advisers), Big Business planned to establish a glacial conformity, a chrome-plated American version of what George Orwell saw ahead for mankind.

In this respect the postwar period merely brought to dominance tendencies already apparent, though held in check, during the Roosevelt period and before. The developments exposed by Upton Sinclair in The Brass Check, which showed the "Gleichschaltung" of the pre-World War I journalistic muckrakers, had continued. Life was already precarious during the '20s for liberal and radical writers and journalists. There had always been a strongly antidemocratic tendency in American life from Hamilton on. The old Whig spirit, the belief in government by the rich and well-born, had never died out, though it was no longer politic to express it frankly. In the pre-World War II period, the extensive if forgotten volumes of the La Follette Committee hearings showed how widespread, well organized, and well heeled were the tendencies toward a native kind of fascism. These un-American tendencies paraded in the name of Americanism and soon found an effective vehicle. The Dickstein-McCormack Committee, set up to investigate purveyors of racist and fascist views, was converted in the hands of Martin Dies into a means of attacking the New Deal and the left-of-center.

The House Un-American Activities Committee showed its real direction by making its debut in the 1938 campaign with the defeat of Frank Murphy for reelection as Governor of Michigan. The governor who refused to expel the sit-down strikers from the auto plants with blackjack and bullet was to be punished for his temerity in failing to do the bidding of what Henry Demarest Lloyd once called The Lords of Industry. Out of the same context grew the long attempt to deport Harry Bridges, an attempt which led to the passage, over FDR's veto in 1940, of an alien registration bill, the Smith Act, which also embodied the first peacetime sedition provisions in American history since the days of John Adams.

The red menace in our history is older than the Reds. No small part of the Constitution was dictated by fear of legislation in the interest of the poorer classes, fear of such debtor uprisings as had occurred under Shays in Massachusetts. "My opinion," New York's great conservative jurist Chancellor Kent had declared in the 1830s during the fight to enable non-property-owners to vote, "is that the admission of universal suffrage and a licentious press are incompatible with government and security to property." In the 1890s the first federal income tax law was attacked before the Supreme Court as communistic. The American Liberty League in the 1936 campaign carried on in the same tradition against the New Deal, and John W. Davis, one of the leading personalities in the League, also helped to father the Un-American Activities Committee... What the cry of the red menace was unable to accomplish in Roosevelt's day, it succeeded in doing in Truman's. The laborer, white-collar worker, or farmer could not be deterred by the red bogey from demanding higher wages and better social security, these were bread-and-butter issues he understood too well. But in a postwar America of high living standards and full employment, in which worker and farmer enjoyed the fruits of the New Deal, it was easy to put over the same campaign in the distant field of foreign policy. The average man knew little of Russia, China, or Reds. He shared the general fear of that strange new thing in the world, socialism. He felt impelled by patriotic impulse in a struggle for world mastery between his own country and the only other great power left. The Church, which had been unable to swing the urban Roman Catholic workers against the New Deal, was able to swing them against the menace of Communism abroad.

Though the apparent purposes lay in the field of foreign policy, the new crusade against Communism was shot through with domestic considerations. In an America being mobilized emotionally for war against Russia, it was easy to drive radicals and liberals of all kinds out of positions of influence and thus make a new successful period of peaceful reform impossible. The Republicans fought Russia in order to prevent a New Deal, while the Democrats fought Russia as a kind of rearguard action against the Republicans. As long as Truman made faces at Stalin, it was more difficult to accuse the Democrats of being communistic. Few seemed to notice and even fewer dared to say that, in the process, America and American law were being distorted into the image of that against which both parties claimed to be crusading. In the sphere of civil liberties, America began to conform far more closely to Vishinsky than to Jefferson. The ideas expounded by Vishinsky in his famous treatise on Soviet law, his naive conception that of course one does not grant the basic freedoms to those who oppose the regime in power, were followed faithfully if unconsciously by American anti-Communists. The notion that the security of the state outweighs justice to the individual began to be accepted by the Circuit and Supreme Courts in the House Un-American contempt cases and in the cases growing out of the loyalty purge.

There are moments, looking backward, when ... wars seem as inevitable and as irrational as the crashing of the waves upon the turbulent sea. There are moments when the traditions of liberty seem to exercise very little real hold upon the American mind.

If people do not achieve some vivid conception of what hell has reigned in parts of Europe and Asia during the past decade or so, how can one expect them to think hard enough and act firmly enough to prevent it from happening again?

One cannot understand what one has not suffered. How many of us are thankful that our own country was spared, that our children did not jump from their beds as the warning air-raid sirens screamed in the nights, that we did not huddle with our families in the subways, that our daughters were not shipped into slavery and our mothers sealed into death cars for the extermination camps, that our cities are not gutted by bombs, our children's faces pinched by hunger?

I wish it were possible to throw on some gigantic screen for all to see some fraction of the suffering, the treachery, the sacrifice, and the courage of the past decade. For how are we in America to fulfill our responsibility to the dead and to the future, to our less fortunate allies and to our children's children, if we do not feel a little of this so deeply in our bones that we will be unswervingly determined that it shall never happen again?

Turner Catledge quoting Senator Harry Truman, New York Times, June 24. 1941
"If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible ... "

American Big Business and the Future of the Reich

Washington, March 19,1945

To a large extent, the personnel chosen by the State Department, the Army, OSS (Office of Strategic Services), and FEA (Foreign Economic Administration) to plan the future of Germany is being drawn from those circles in Big Business, finance, and the corporate bar which did a great deal of business with the Reich before the war.

Here are a few hitherto undisclosed examples. Allen W. Dulles of Sullivan & Cromwell is in Switzerland, where we have been trying to stop the leak of German capital abroad. Important agencies are depending on Dulles to advise them on facts and policies in connection with German finance and industry. Sullivan & Cromwell is our leading corporation law firm and before the war served many corporations and banks dealing with the Reich.

Dulles is also a director of the J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation of New York, the American branch of an old British banking house of German origin, whose operations helped Hitler obtain raw materials and foreign exchange before the war.

Another director of the Schroder bank, Samarkand-born V. Lada-Mocarski, has just been appointed vice-consul in Zurich by the State Department after many months in the supersecret OSS, where he was an adviser on German matters.

In Pads there is a group of American bankers and Big Business men in uniform, dealing with questions of German policy. Among them are Paul Mellon and his brother-in-law, David K. E. Bruce, both of the Aluminum Company of America; Alfred duPont, of E. I. duPont de Nemours & Company; Junius Spencer Morgan, of J. P. Morgan & Company; Lester Armour, of the meat-packing Armours; Edward Bigelow, of the State Street Trust Company of Boston; Lloyd Cabot Bdggs, of Abbott, Proctor & Paine, and a number of other upper-bracket socialites and Big Business figures.

Three men, Allen Dulles, David Bruce, and Irving Sherman, vice-president of A. G. Becker & Company, Chicago, are doing a considerable share of the military and intelligence masterminding in connection with the coming occupation of the Reich. Sherman was once head of the Becker firm's Berlin office.

The reason given for leaning so heavily for German intelligence on upper-crust business, finance, and law is that these circles alone had contact with the Reich before the war and can alone provide information we need in planning the future of the Reich.

But anyone who reads the story of the Strasbourg meeting may well doubt whether men from firms which had close and profitable relations with German business before the war can be relied upon for the policies necessary to make the Strasbourg plans impossible.

Very few American businessmen dealt with Germany before the war because they favored Nazism. They dealt with it on a business-business basis. But there were very few German businessmen who dealt with the USA on the same basis. There were very few whose economic transactions were not geared into the political program of the Third Reich, who did not help in economic warfare, in the financing of propaganda, and in espionage.

Let us look at the Strasbourg meeting in the light of the past. It shows, first, that German Big Business is again preparing to play a political role, that unless stopped it will secretly help the Nazi underground in preparation for World War III.

This makes it essential to treat as war criminals those German businessmen and financiers who collaborated in the rise of Nazism and are prepared to provide the money for its rebirth. Can their old associates on this side of the water, most of them politically naive, be expected to deal ruthlessly with the men they knew only as cultivated gentlemen, jolly gemutlich burghers, able architects of business policy?

The Strasbourg meeting makes it clear, secondly, that the Germans hope to resume their old cartel and patent ties abroad and use these as sources of funds and influence with which to rebuild Germany's power to fight again.

These cartel and patent agreements were weapons of German imperial policy. But they looked different from this side of the water. Here they were regarded as profitable means of dividing markets, stabilizing prices, eliminating competition. Can the American firms which were linked with German agreements of this kind in the past be relied upon to support rigorous treatment of these cartel and patent ties in the future?

The third important point brought to light by the Strasbourg meeting is the fact that the German government is now encouraging the flight of German capital abroad to provide funds and centers of action for the future, especially in Latin America. But from this side, this export of capital is often a means of making profit, of recovering on German assets, of helping old friends and business associates of the prewar period. Can we depend on American Big Business and financial firms to help block this flow of funds?

Security agencies in Washington know that there have been communications between American and German firms in recent months arranging for transactions that enabled Reich businessmen to get their funds out of Germany. Such transactions obviously can be mutually profitable.

Security agencies in Washington also know that conferences between representatives of Axis and Allied firms have been held in Lisbon during the past year.

Evidence of this may be reflected in Attorney General Biddle's able and outspoken annual report to Congress. The Attorney General warns, "many international agreements allocating world territories are merely in abeyance during the war . . . in numerous instances negotiations have already been carried on for their resumption."

Blessed Land: Blind People

Washington, September 14, 1947

As I read the stories on the growing food crisis, I recall my feelings on returning home from abroad last spring.

When my plane circled-over Washington, I saw first the broad blue Potomac and then the green fields along its banks, and what had been a commonplace seemed a revelation. Here was plentiful water and fertile earth. One no longer took these for granted after seeing the parched desert lands and the eroded mountains of Palestine.

As we swung down over the city, I saw the wide familiar avenues, the great dome of the Capitol, the pleasant lawns of the White House, the traffic swarming ant-like in the streets. Here were sweet evidences of peace one no longer took for granted after seeing the devastated acres around St. Paul's in London and catching the sickish smell that betrays still unburied bodies in the nightmarish ruins around the Bahnhofplatz in Munich.

The country seemed blessed, but its people seemed blind. To talk with people, to hear the debates in Congress, to read the papers again, to listen in on the constant tidal roar of yammer and complaint that is politics in America, was a sour experience.

I felt that America had never been less worthy of its past, more small-minded; that America was unappreciative of its blessings and heedless of its responsibilities, the responsibility of the more fortunate for the less, the duty of the strong toward the weak, the obligation of the rich toward the poor.

Everywhere in the huge mass of Eurasia, from England to China, human beings were struggling with real and terrible problems. I had seen the one-inch square of butter that is an Englishman's ration for a week. I had heard of the dank cellars from which the indomitable Poles were emerging to rebuild their country. I had been humbled by the courage among the ragged Jews of the illegal immigration. I had seen how thin the people are on the boulevards of Paris.

Here no one seemed to appreciate what it meant to have a roof over one's head, a job, a secure life for one's children, food ample by any reasonable standard, cities untouched by war, a home, a country. America seemed like one of those idle, dissatisfied rich women with no babies to mind and no dishes to wash and lots of time to nurture neuroses.

I recall these feelings now because this food crisis is more than a problem in food supply. It is, in a very real sense, a moral crisis and a political crisis, a test of the intelligence of the average American, the measure of his heart as well as his head.

In any system of society, it is safer, more tactful, more expedient, to criticize the ruler by indirection, to find scapegoats, to blame advisers. The ruler here is demos, the people, and it is customary when things go wrong to blame politicians, the wicked "interests," reactionaries, and so forth.

But this is a free country. The people have power, when they want to use it. When they want something deeply, they can and do get it, despite the obstacles and the weight of wealth in the scales of ordinary politics. And when things go wrong, the people must share their part of the blame; they are adults, they have voices- they are neither gagged nor children.

Why did we get rid of price control and rationing so much earlier than we should have? Basically because that's what people wanted; they were tired of wartime restrictions. And, as the mail to Congress during the OPA fight indicated, people were far more interested ;D getting theirs as farmers, producers, and workers than ;D stabilizing prices as consumers.

The politicians in Washington deserve their due occasionally. They've been afraid to tell the truth about the world situation, about the special session of Congress needed to meet it, about the necessity for reimposing some kind of rationing and controls at home. They've been afraid to tell the truth because ordinary Americans don't want to face up to unpleasant facts and don't want to make even minor sacrifices to help the less fortunate elsewhere, to help those who suffered in the war from which we profited.

We need to ration meat to save grain, but meat rationing is unpopular. We need to darken our bread in order to save wheat, but gray bread is unpopular. We need to reimpose price and wage controls, but people only want to control the other fellow's price or wage, not their OWD. We need to forget political prejudice and recognize that loans to get more Polish coal and Romanian wheat are at least as necessary to stem world shortages as loans to rehabilitate industry and agriculture in our own sphere of influence, but it's unpopular to say a sane word about the "Reds."

Our failure to meet the crisis is fundamentally the failure of average Americans to face up to their responsibilities in a free country and a devastated world.

The lag in European recovery, the growing food shortage abroad, the failure to take steps in time to conserve food here and control its price, the unwillingness to plan production for reconstruction needs are destroying the hope that we could escape with a quick price recession from the war's impact on our economy. Inflation is spreading as surely as a plague; the food on our own tables grows dearer, the price spiral dizzier. We may pay with a really severe crash for having answered as Cain answered: "Am I my brother's keeper?"


Toward an American police state

The Master Plan for American Thought Control

New York, March 13, 1952

The new report on Communism issued to its members by the United States Chamber of Commerce is a carefully worked out master plan for the extension of thought control in America. It would bar Communists, fellow travelers, and "dupes" from all agencies and professions affecting public opinion "such as newspapers, radio, television, book and magazine publishing, and research institutions." It would bar them as "teachers or librarians," and from posts in "any school or university." It would forbid their employment in "any field which gives prestige and high salaries" such as "the entertainment field." It also says they should not be employed in "any plant large enough to have a labor union."

These proposals would impose on every agency of public education and discussion the same "sterile conformity" foreshadowed in the schools by the Supreme Court decision upholding the Feinberg Law. It would subject renowned artists and scientists to ideological snooping.

While making a clean sweep of the left intellectuals, it would also make it difficult for any radical workingman to make a living. To bar Communists and fellow travelers from employment "in any plant large enough to have a labor union" would be to put industrial workers on notice to be careful what opinions they express in the shop or the union meeting lest these be considered "communistic" and grounds for loss of employment.

The United States Chamber of Commerce proposals would ring down a Big Business iron curtain on the thinking of America.

The source and the past record show that these proposals need to be taken very seriously. The Chamber of Commerce does not speak for a lunatic fringe of the Right. Its members and directors make up a veritable Social Register of American Big Business.

General Mills, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Monsanto Chemical, General Motors, New York Telephone, First National of Chicago are a few names picked at random from one of its "brain trust" committees.

Except for the National Association of Manufacturers, there is no business group in this country which has so well and widely organized a network for influencing legislation and opinion. The Chamber is in some ways more powerful and more responsible than the NAM since the Chamber speaks for American finance as well as American industry.

To read the five reports on Communism which the Chamber of Commerce has issued since 1946 is to see that behind the antics of Congressional witch-hunters, responsible businessmen have been working in an intelligent and organized fashion. The 1946 report suggested the loyalty purge in the government and an investigation of Communist influence in Hollywood, a year before the President issued his executive order for the discharge of disloyal employees and a year before the House Un-American Activities Committee launched its Hollywood inquiry.

In January, 1947, the Chamber of Commerce issued a second report proposing among other things that the Department of Justice publish "at least twice-a-year a certified list of Communist-controlled front organizations and labor unions." In December, 1947, the Department of Justice began the practice of making public at regular intervals a list of "subversive" organizations which had formerly been utilized only for the private guidance of federal officials.

A separate report early that year on "Communists within the Labor Movement" carried a modest footnote saying, "It is probable that the 80th Congress will modify the Wagner Act so that employers can work more effectively and without fear of law violation, with American-minded employees in opposing Communists within the labor movement." It did.

In June, 1947, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Law over President Truman's veto. This deprived unions of the privileges of the National Labor Relations Act unless their officers took a non-Communist oath. It also weakened provisions of the Wagner Act designed to prevent employers from interfering with their employees in their choice of representatives for collective bargaining.

The 1948 report called for action to bar Communists as teachers, librarians, social workers, and book reviewers. It gave examples of "community action" for the guidance and inspiration of its affiliates. Among these were the banning of "pro-Communist commentators" from the radio, the discharge of Stephen Fritchman as editor of the Christian Register, the official Unitarian monthly, and the successful campaign initiated by Counterattack to get then Secretary of State George Marshall to refuse an award by The Churchman. Counterattack has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce ever since that sheet was founded. In addition, every anti-Communist report by the Chamber of Commerce has recommended the right-wing Socialist New Leader, along with the pro-China Lobby Plain Talk, to its members.

The new report proposes to bar fellow travelers and "dupes" as well as Communists from opinion-making fields. The wide orbit of the net cast by the Chamber is indicated by its attack on critics of the Smith Act and on those who criticize such informers as Louis Budenz. "Many liberals," the report says, "including one prominent industrialist, have fallen for the Communist bait of attacking former Communists as unreliable. Such converts are abused as 'professional informers.' . . . Abuse leveled against such persons discourages prospective converts from leaving the party, much less assisting our government in prosecuting traitors. In this matter again certain 'liberals' are giving aid and comfort to communism."

The CIO and the Americans for Democratic Action are criticized for opposing the Smith Act, and the report implies that the latter at least may be itself involved in a Communist plot. "As early as 1948," the report says, "when the Communist Party feared that it would be driven underground, its instructions to its members were to concentrate in the 'civil liberties' field." The Chamber of Commerce report then asks, "Is it merely a coincidence that today we have thousands of so-called 'liberals,' for example, Americans for Democratic Action, who are fighting the Communist battle precisely in this field?"

The Chamber suggests an organized investigation of all former Communists, which would study their records and make possible their use as informers.

"It cannot be ignored," the report says, "that we have in our midst several hundred thousand former Communist Party members." It says that only "a minority of these are known to have made a complete switch and are thoroughly loyal and in a few cases strong anti-Communist fighters."

The report says "we have research funds and programs to investigate everything under the sun, but little attempt has been made to study these former Communist Party members: why they joined, educational level, age, I.Q., what they did, how deeply they were involved, why and when they left the party, what they are now doing, etc."

An investigation of this kind would put all former Communists under surveillance, registering them with the FBI and requiring active anti-Communist action to prove their loyalty. The proposal may sound extreme at the moment but it is unwise to treat the proposals of this powerful Big Business body lightly.

Long before McCarthy and McCarran went to work on the State Department, the United States Chamber of Commerce in its 1947 report called for "exhaustive study" by Congressional committees into foreign policies "which appear to be more pro-Soviet than pro-American." The Chamber said such a Congressional investigation "could go into the influences which entered into such important decisions as the Potsdam agreement, the Argentine policy and the China policy." Long before the "China Lobby" became a familiar phrase the Chamber in these reports on Communism had begun to reflect on the loyalty of public officials hostile to Chiang Kai-shek.

In 1946 the Chamber began to call for a loyalty purge. Its new report has shifted the attack to the loyalty boards themselves. "The greatest weakness in our loyalty program," the new report says, "lies in the departmental and agency loyalty boards," and says that "Communists or doubtfully loyal persons may be coddled at the very time that other officials, in the tax or money-lending fields, are summarily dismissed for questionable associations."

In the field of labor the Chamber asks amendment of the Taft-Hartley Law to tighten up the anti-Communist provisions, and prosecutions for perjury where affidavits have been filed. "Since the proof that even one national officer perjured himself," the report says, "would debar all locals from NLRB facilities, it should not be too difficult for the Department of Justice to prove that any purported resignation [from the Communist Party] was not bona fide."

In the field of free speech for workers the Chamber makes two proposals. One is "a collective bargaining clause" in union contracts which would permit "the discharge of any worker who is a Communist or who continues to join in pro-Communist activities." The other is an amendment to the Taft-Hartley Act "to permit a union to expel and demand the discharge of a Communist member under a union-shop contract." The Chamber of Commerce complains that at present employers "are bound by contract to submit protested discharge cases to grievance procedure." It says, "Unions have sometimes defended discharged Communists and arbitrators have upheld the claim."

In the field of opinion-making professions, the Chamber gave the cue long ago to the Peglers and McCarthys. Thus the 1946 report said "a prominent and highly regarded metropolitan newspaper has followed the Communist line in its reporting and editorials on foreign affairs." The Right's lunatic fringe attacked the New York Herald Tribune as the "uptown Daily Worker."

The attack on Little, Brown which led to the discharge of Angus Cameron was foreshadowed in that same report, which took sideswipes at "a well-known conservative magazine from a conservative city, and a book firm in the same city . . ." The 1948 report also gave the cue to similar attacks on the literary pages. It said public libraries were in danger not so much from the librarians themselves as from "the fact that many of their important book review sources are infiltrated by Communists or sympathizers." This was later widely amplified by the spokesmen for the China Lobby.

The Chamber of Commerce and its allies are out to surpass the success achieved by Big Business after World War 1, when anti-Red hysteria enabled it to establish its "American Plan" open-shop philosophy in industry and to control all the agencies of American public opinion, restricting dissent largely to peripheral and precarious publications.

This time the campaign must contend with a more powerful labor movement, but is helped by big-power rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

Another new factor is the new political power of the Catholic Church and Catholic parties in Western Europe and the United States. The chairman of the Chamber's Committee on Communism from 1941 to 1950, the chairman of the committee which prepared the first four postwar reports on Communism, was Francis P. Matthews, a papal chamberlain and former head of the Knights of Columbus, a man who lost his job in the Truman cabinet as Secretary of the Navy because he took MacArthur's side against Truman and publicly advocated preventive war against Russia in August, 1950.

The Chamber, representing most of America's richest banks and corporations, wields great power in Congress and seeks also to build a grass-roots community "anti-Communist" organization "among business, labor, service, veteran, patriotic and religious groups."

It advises its members to "be on the alert for Communist sympathizers in your community," to "find out from reputable sources such as Counterattack, Alert or the American Legion about Communist sympathizers in the entertainment field," to watch out for Communists "promoting appeasement in the name of peace," to "support patriotic ex-Communists who cooperate with the FBI," and to "identify public officials . . . displaying softness towards Communism."

This is a clear invitation to terrorize radicals and to make it unsafe to voice radical views. The Chamber is digging in well in advance to fight any new period of reform, even if it has to create an American variety of fascism to do it.

[1951] The government has a right to a man's cooperation in dealing with ordinary crime. It has no such right in dealing with political prosecutions. The law of other free societies has long recognized the difference between crime and political cases.

Political prosecutions deal with men's thoughts. Such prosecutions violate the oldest traditions and arouse the deepest misgivings of free society. A man may disagree with another's thinking; he may abhor its assumptions and hate its tendencies. Yet he may, and if a true libertarian he will, fear the greater danger in allowing the state to police men's thoughts. To inform under such circumstances is as much a violation of conscience and moral obligation as it once was to return an escaped slave to his master.

Can we have prosperity without war?
New York, June 24,19S2

Can the United States keep its economy going without war alarms, war orders, and war?

If the United States cannot prosper without war, then the rest does not matter. It does not matter whether Russia is Communist or capitalist. It does not matter whether Stalin is intransigent or conciliatory. It does not matter whether Russian power retreats to its old borders or remains on the Elbe and the Danube. It does not matter whether China remains Communist or Mao Tse-tung invites Chiang Kai-shek to come back and take over.

If the United States cannot prosper without war, then new excuses for war fevers will be manufactured as the old ones disappear, just as at Panmunjom new obstacles to agreement have been found when older ones were cleared away.

This does not mean that American disagreements with Russia are not real, or that American leaders are "insincere" when they claim to want peace, or that there are not genuine difficulties in the way of reaching a settlement. But nations, like men, cannot be judged merely by what they say.

Anxieties, lines of least resistance, unconscious convictions too fearful to be faced in the full daylight of the mind, affect the conduct of nations as well as men. It is said to be Communist propaganda that America fears peace. But no one can read the commercial and financial journals of this country with any regularity without seeing the extent to which business is haunted by a fear of what will happen if the armament boom falls off.

These anxieties cannot be attributed to something that businessmen read in Pravda, or hear about on Radio Moscow.

The problem is muddied because people often confuse two closely related but different questions. One question is: Can America prosper without war? To this the answer is Yes.

We had prosperity without war in the '20s. We had recovery without war in the '30s. We learned from both experiences. It would be defeatist in the struggle for peace, and it would be untrue from the standpoint of logic and economics, to say that America cannot prosper without war alarms, war orders, and war.

The other question, however, is a harder one. Can the American people and the American government muster the will, the intelligence, and the sense of common purpose to solve their economic problems without war?

The United States has been on an inflationary binge. The main component in the drink which has kept its economy "high" is preparation for a new war. It would be wrong to say that the United States cannot possibly pull itself together. But it would also be wrong not to see that it is a lot easier for that rosy gent at the bar to go on drinking himself to death.

The United States can prosper without war alarms, war orders, and war, but only at the cost of some painful adjustments. It is the painfulness of these adjustments which makes the outlook for peace so precarious.

In a sense it might be said that we need to allow more free enterprise in our foreign trade while accustoming ourselves to less in our domestic economy. The non-Communist world cannot go on forever living on the handouts which war alarms extort from Congress. Ultimately, in peacetime, it can be a stable market for American goods only if permitted to earn dollars in return by trading more freely in the American market. Lower tariffs are essential to a prosperous peacetime America, but American business is even now asking greater restrictions against foreign imports.

The non-Communist world cannot prosper unless the United States government, working with, through, and on occasion against, private business, keeps the American economy at a high level of activity. This, like the lowering of tariff barriers, can only be achieved by overriding private interests. There's the rub.

In last Sunday's New York Times, Professor J. K. Galbraith wrote an article which purported to answer "the Communist argument that we fear peace would bring on depression." Professor Galbraith said that if peace broke out we could promote prosperity by such measures as "a vigorous housing and public works program." He said, "The Missouri, as we have recently been reminded, is still untamed." More untamed than the Missouri are the private interests which block such alternatives to war orders.

Professor Galbraith "proves" that fear of peace is a Communist lie by saying that government-directed spending to raise living standards at home and abroad could take the place of war orders and war alarms. So they could.

But it is a lot easier to make faces at Stalin than at the power trust. It is a lot easier to get appropriations out of Congress to contain Communism than to contain the Missouri and the St. Lawrence.

American productivity has grown terrifying in its enormity. Where war would ruin America, peace would now make possible within our lifetimes the complete eradication of poverty in our own land and much alleviation of misery elsewhere. But this is where Roosevelt came in and Wallace went out. This is the old New Deal program long ago hooted down as "communistic."

To replace war orders at anywhere near the present level would require far more than marginal public works. Either we create new slums in war or wipe out the old ones in peace. The magnitude of spending and planning necessary is enough to make any politician falter. Taft himself was called a Red for a very minor housing program. Who today would dare talk of the domestic improvements necessary to replace the billions being spent on armament?

It is not difficult to plot on paper the economic measures necessary for prosperity in a peaceful world. It is difficult to muster the political resolution to make those measures feasible. The Cold War has created an atmosphere which makes it more comfortable to drift on to catastrophe. Here lies the main roadblock to peace.

The Horrid Word "Socialism"

Chicago, March 3, 1950

The panic which is sweeping over the American people does not have its origin in atom bomb or H-bomb, though both have intensified it. The panic has its origin in fear of this new force let loose in the world called socialism. Until this fear is overcome, the chances of peace abroad and permanent prosperity at home are slight. It is the difficult, unpleasant, but necessary task of a third-party movement like the Progressives to tackle that fear.

In a two-party system, neither party willingly assumes the task of leadership. The Republicans try to rope in as many liberals as they can without antagonizing too many conservatives and the Democrats try to rope in as many conservatives as they can without antagonizing too many liberals. "Me-too-ism" is inseparable from two-party politics in normal times, as may be seen from the British election just over, in which the Tories outbid the Laborites in social welfare promises.

But a third party in a two-party system cannot hope to get anywhere as a "me-too" party. It must have the courage of its nonconformist convictions. It does no good to curry favor with the powers that be; they are too well served by the major parties. To the extent that the radical party rids itself of the radical label, it rids itself of the enthusiasm of the spark-plug minority which can alone give a third-party movement vitality. This is why flight from ticklish truths to comfortable fantasies can only divert the Progressives from the one essential task they might perform without bringing them any closer to power.

"The big job on the domestic front in the United States," Wallace told the Progressive Party convention, "is to convert our present reactionary capitalism into progressive capitalism which is willing to plan effectively with government to prevent depression by expanding the peacetime production and trade of the entire world- including Russia and the new China."

This is pure unadulterated pie-in-the-sky. Wallace could hold prayer meetings in every Chamber of Commerce in the United States without ever getting that kind of a conversion. If we wait for the conversion of "reactionary" capitalism into "progressive" capitalism, we shall wait a long time. It will not be brought about by exhortations from the Progressive Party, however respectable and politically antiseptic it may become.

The Chambers of Commerce are interested in peddling another kind of firewater. They stake their all on the bogeyman. They fight government planning and public ownership for full employment- by the scare-word of socialism. They fight trade with Russia and the new China-by the scare-word of Communism.

The Progressive Party has to destroy the bogeyman if it is to succeed. If it accepts the bogeyman, even by implication, it loses the fight before the fight has hardly begun.

Every speech on international affairs always contains the word "understanding." Without some understanding of the other fellow's way of life there can be no peace. Understanding is necessary. But almost no one takes the effort to create it, because this involves the risk of being smeared as a Red or pink. Someone has got to begin to tell the American people that Communism and socialism are in the world to stay, to help them understand how they arose and what needs they serve.

Until these seem reasonable responses to the conditions that evoked them they will appear so monstrous that any weapons seem justified against them. This task of education for peace cannot be performed until Americans look on socialism and Communism in an adult way, as part of the facts-of-life of our era.

The world has been moving toward socialism for two generations, and every form of society, whether revolutionary or democratic or counter-revolutionary, ends by increasing the power of the state ova the economy at the expense of private rights in property. The more force is used to fight this trend, the more extreme becomes its final manifestation. Complex societies require complex controls. Traffic at 42nd Street and Broadway cannot be left at the mercy of the individual motorist's whims. The heavier traffic grows, the more the rules necessary to keep it moving smoothly.

There is no doubt that the movement toward statism involves genuine dangers. AU change is dangerous. Only death is changeless. The task of wise leadership is, while moving with the tide, to seek to anticipate and avert these dangers. This can be done only by a calm acceptance of the trend; otherwise energies are wasted in combating the inevitable. This calm acceptance is not possible until more people have the courage to use the scare-word of socialism, to explain it, to preach it, to apply it, until its terrors are overcome. Fears can be vanquished only by facing them.

The Progressive Party under current conditions of hysteria can hardly elect a dogcatcher outside of New York. This weakness can be its strength. It has nothing to lose by being honest. It is down to bedrock. People who are still Progressives are too tough to be frightened off. Many of them are old-time Populists, wobblies, anarchists, Socialists, or Communists who know the score better than their leaders. Others are thinking youngsters more likely to be held and attracted by a vigorous radicalism than by phony talk about "progressive capitalism."

It is better to win a few people thoroughly to real understanding of present problems than to collect a dozen times that many so thoroughly confused by illusory slogans as to be disarmed for real attack on concrete problems. Thus I plead for a strong infusion of socialism into the anemic veins of the Progressives. They're not kidding anybody but themselves anyway.

We Americans like to think of ourselves as rootin' tootin' individualists, but in a huge country of 160,000,000 people we all awake to the language of the same alarm clocks, listen to the same radio programs, gobble the same breakfast food, wear the same clothes, read the same news-agency reports in the same kind of newspapers, take in the same ideas from the same big national magazines, and listen solemnly to the same platitudes from the two big-and very much the same-political parties. The American in a mass production industrial society is not much less standardized than the Russian under Communism.

It is true that the American, unlike the Russian, can still buy a Compass, a Nation or a New Republic, or even a Daily Worker, but the small circulation of this nonstandardized opposition press speaks for itself, and many Americans are getting as nervous about buying a radical paper or magazine as a Russian is about being seen with a foreigner. "There is no room," Justice Douglas said of Russia, "for a crusading journalist." There is also very little room for a crusading journalist in America. On this, I can testify from experience. Five more years of the present trend and it will be as impossible for a dissident voice to be heard in Washington as it is in Moscow.

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