Category Archives: history

The Melting Pot: a Failed Metaphor

“. . .The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent—that of total separation of Church and State. No religious Establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mahommedan, if he will come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the Constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so please him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institution. The fruits are visible in the universal contentment which everywhere prevails. Christians are broken up into various sects, but we have no persecution, no stake or rack—no compulsion or force, not furious or bigoted zeal; but each and all move on in their select sphere, and worship the Great Creator according to their own forms and ceremonies. The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid . . . and the Aegis of the Government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it . . . .”

President John Tyler
July 10, 1843 (1)

American cultural anthropology and sociology of the late 19th and early 20th centuries present some interesting challenges to the matter of religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural immigration into the landscape of the American experiment in liberty. The competing theories of Henry Platt Fairchild (2) (popularly described as Melting Pot borrowed from Fredrick Turner who applied his idea uniquely to the American west in the late 19th century) and Horace M. Kallen (3) (popularly described as ‘Cultural Symphony’) did battle in the early 20th century. Fairchild, primarily in his book Immigration, argued for the complete assimilation of the newcomer into the ‘native American’ ideal (by which he meant the idealized American/European). Whatever differences (i.e. cultural, morphological, religious, etc) the immigrant brought to America must be assimilated into the homogeneous cultural identity of what Fairchild thought to be a ‘national type’ as quickly as possible. Fairchild’s work was popularized in a 1908 play ‘The Melting Pot’ by Israel Zangwill. The theme of the play can be captured in a single line from the play “Understand that America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, your fifty languages, and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. But you won’t be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God you’ve come to – these are fires of God. A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American.” (4 & 5). Fairchild’s melting pot was reoriented by Edward Ross (‘The Old World in the New,’ 1914), a ‘progressive’ university sociologist of his day. Ross challenged and rejected the notion of non-European immigration. According to him, non-Europeans were “sub-common people of obviously low mentality who really belonged in animal skins, beside wattled huts . . . Ross was appalled by their ‘sugar-loaf heads, moon-faces, slit mouths, lantern jaws, and goose-bill noses.’ Jews he singled out as puny and sissified, the saddest possible contrast to the type of the American pioneer.” (6)

Rejecting Ross’s extension of Fairchild’s work, Horace M. Kallen, a former colleague of Ross’s at the University of Wisconsin and later on faculty at Harvard University, published an essay in the Nation (February 1915) titled ‘Democracy versus the Melting Pot.’(7)  Kallen gave his thesis the name ‘Cultural Pluralism.’ His basic theory is composed of three essential parts: 1) he denied there was any unique, archetypal American; there was no collective identity into which immigrants must seek transformation. America, in his theory, was a political state containing a great diversity of distinct nationalities, religious, cultural traditions, ethnicities, etc, 2) these distinct aspects of the human community should be allowed to perpetuate themselves indefinitely, 3) because of 1 & 2, governmental policy should be guided by two distinct concepts: unison and harmony. Unison would be limited to basic patterns of social/governmental/economic functions—e.g. language, government structure, monetary policy, etc as examples of unison policy. Of much greater interest to Kallen was harmony (which gave Kallen’s theory the popular name ‘Cultural Symphony Theory’). For him, this was the brilliance of the American experiment. In matters of opinion “Its form would be that of the federal republic; its substance a democracy of nationalities, cooperating voluntarily and autonomously through common institutions in the enterprise of self-realization through the perfections of men according to their kind . . . each nationality (religion, culture, etc) would have for its emotional and involuntary life its . . . own individual and inevitable esthetic forms . . . Thus, American civilization may come to mean the perfection of the cooperative harmonies . . . a multiplicity in a unity, an orchestration of mankind” (8). Kallen offers a brilliant understanding of the Founders’ imagination in using e pluribus unum as a national motto; holding of equal value both the many and the one.

As often happens in history, unforeseen circumstances influence outcomes. While we might imagine Kallen’s theory of a grand cultural symphony creating a rich and vibrant American culture capturing the imagination of the American people, circumstances in Europe and the world leading to World War I created an environment of social and political fear fostering an atmosphere of anxiety and xenophobia. (9) Fairchild’s Melting Pot augmented by Ross’s xenophobia became the prevailing metaphor and, sadly, the political context for immigration policy and American self-awareness in the ensuing decades.  Kallen’s Cultural Symphony almost completely disappeared by 1924. To this day, the Melting Pot is the collective mental paradigm for immigration and cultural assimilation into the America landscape. The inherent fear of and limitations to diversity contained in the Melting Pot theory, whether consciously or unconsciously engaged, continue to inhibit broad intercultural comfort, trust, or cooperation.

Sadly, resistance to the Melting Pot encourages suspicion and flames up xenophobic fears. The President’s poorly planned and executed executive order on refugees and immigrants, born of fear and xenophobia, affirms the operative persistence and power of this inadequate Melting Pot metaphor. In contrast, the immediate and powerful response of the citizenry suggests Kallen’s work, a Cultural Symphony, describing a fearless cultural symphony may be gaining traction in these United States even if the original theory for this paradigm shift is yet unrecognized.  Kallen’s Cultural Symphony encouraging and celebrating diversity, multiculturalism, and pluralism provides a context for serious reconsideration of immigration and refugees policies. But the hard work is not done. Progress will require an informed and well differentiated citizenry to constructively embrace, engage, and advocate for the opportunity to discover new harmonies possible in intercultural, interethnic, interracial, interfaith, etc., relations, collaboration, cooperation, and dialogue. The reward of this hard work will be, to borrow again from Tyler’s letter, a continuation of our great and noble experiment, the fruit of which will be an even more perfect union, an even grander Cultural Symphony.

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1 John Tyler. A letter from President John Tyler to Joseph Simpson of Baltimore. The American Jewish Historical Society, New York City, New York.
2 Philip Gleason, Speaking of Diversity: Language and Ethnicity in Twentieth Century America [Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992], 50-51.
3 Ibid.
4 Gary Gerstle. American Crucible; Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century [Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press, 2001], 51.
5 C. Hirschman. America’s Melting Pot Policy Reconsidered, Annual Review of Sociology, 9 (1983), 397-423.
6 Philip Gleason, Speaking of Diversity: Language and Ethnicity in Twentieth Century America, [Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992], 50-51.
7 Ibid., 50-52.
8 Ibid., 52.
9 Ibid., 53.

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Filed under American history, Failed immigration blockade, history, Immigrant, immigration, Justice, Refugee, US History

Hannah Arendt: “The Origin of Totalitarians”

img_0503Hannah Arendt was a German Jew born in 1906. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Heidelberg in the late ‘20s. Fearing the Nazis, she fled to Paris in 1933 and, when Germany occupied France, she fled to the US in 1941. In 1951, she published ‘The Origin of Totalitarianism,” a reflection of her observations of the rise of the National Socialist and Hitler in Germany and, more relevantly, the conditions required for such totalitarianism to ascend. Arendt noted several symptoms that appeared essential: expansion of exploitative capitalism more interested in itself than the state or people, a regionalization of national identity, and the decline of functional and engaged citizenry. According to Arendt, following WWI and the Great Depression, the normalcy and stability of German life was so disrupted that people were willing to reject the existing norms of governance and “open to the promulgation of a single, clear and unambiguous idea that would allocate responsibility for woes, and indicate a clear path that would secure the future against insecurity and danger.” Totalitarianism offered itself as a path to their former perception of greatness, real or imagined. Here are some of Arendt’s observations from “The Origins of Totalitarianism”:

“Just as terror, even in its pre-total, merely tyrannical form ruins all relationships between men, so the self-compulsion of ideological thinking ruins all relationships with reality. The preparation has succeeded when people have lost contact with their fellow men as well as the reality around them; for together with these contacts, men lose the capacity of both experience and thought. The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist . . .

. . . Terror can rule absolutely only over men who are isolated against each other… Therefore, one of the primary concerns of all tyrannical government is to bring this isolation about. Isolation may be the beginning of terror; it certainly is its most fertile ground; it always is its result. This isolation is, as it were, pre-totalitarian; its hallmark is impotence insofar as power always comes from men acting together…; isolated men are powerless by definition . . .

. . . While isolation concerns only the political realm of life, loneliness concerns human life as a whole. Totalitarian government, like all tyrannies, certainly could not exist without destroying the public realm of life, that is, without destroying, by isolating men, their political capacities. But totalitarian domination as a form of government is new in that it is not content with this isolation and destroys private life as well. It bases itself on loneliness, on the experience of not belonging to the world at all, which is among the most radical and desperate experiences of man.”

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Filed under Fascism, Hannah Arendt, history, Totalitarianism

Henry A. Wallace, Tell the People Who We Are

img_0502The last in my Wallace series: After losing the vice presidency to Truman in the 1944 election, Wallace served FDR as Secrectary of Commerce until his death.  He continued under Truman until their wildly parting policy positions, especially regarding Russia, finally resulted in Truman firing him from this position.  By 1948, the Progressive Party was ready to make a run for the White House and Wallace was their presidential candidate.  The speech below is from that 1948 campaign.  Tell Them Who We Are, Henry A. Wallace.  Speech delivered at Progressive Party Rally, New York, N. Y., September 10, 1948.  From Vital Speeches of the Day (October 1, 1948), v. 14, n. 24, p. 743.

Tell the People Who We Are:  Just two years ago I spoke to many thousands of you who are here tonight. I said then as I say tonight that peace is the basic issue of the 1948 election campaign. I say now that the first job of national defense: the most important job in maintaining the peace is the job of conquering hate here at home, the job of protecting the civil rights of all Americans.
This is a great American meeting.
It is a meeting in the best American tradition—a meeting of men and women of all races, of all creeds.

Last week—in smaller gatherings—we proved that such meetings can be held in the much-maligned Southern states. We proved that such meetings—meetings of all the people—can be held wherever men respect the Constitution of the United States; and wherever they respect the Christian principles of brotherhood on which so much of our modern civilization has been built.  The news reported from the South last week was news of eggs and tomatoes. It was news of violence and threats of violence.
And there were eggs. And there were tomatoes. And there was violence and there were threats of violence.  Yes, and there were the ugly spewings of hate and prejudice; and the sad sight of men and women and children whose faces were contorted with hate.

TRIP SOUTH–But the significance of our trip south was not the dramatic proof that there are seeds of violence and fascism and deep prejudice in the Southern states. The significance was not in proving what is known.  No. The significance of our Southern trip lies in the two dozen completely unsegregated, peaceful meetings which we were able to hold.
The significance lies in those meetings in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee which were held—even as this meeting tonight—in the best American tradition.  We held such meetings by insisting on our American rights to freely assemble and freely speak.  And if there is one message above all other messages which bring you as a result of that Southern trip, it is this: Fear is a product of inactivity and the greatest remedy for fear is to stand up and fight for your rights.  In the course of private and public life I have traveled many places. I have experienced many fields. I have had a wide variety of emotional experiences. But I have never had such deeply moving experiences as those of the first week of September, 1948, when I traveled South to campaign for peace.

I had seen the victims of mass prejudice in a DP camp.
I had seen and felt—as any decent human being must feel—for the Jewish orphans interned in Italy.
I had visited foreign lands—Latin America, China and many parts of Europe, and had my heart go out to victims of oppression.
I have deplored and felt that I truly understood the plight of workers who have faced picket line violence.

FOUND FASCISM –I had been South before—many times—and I thought I understood the plight of our Negro citizens.  But I discovered last week that my understanding was only the limited understanding; the sympathetic feeling of a friend for a man who is afflicted.  To me fascism is no longer a second-hand experience—a motion picture, a photograph or the deeply moving words of a great writer.  It is no longer a mere definition of an economic and political system in which freedom is stifled by private power; in which prejudices are bred and nourished; in which man is set against man for the profit of powerful and greedy forces.  No, fascism has become an ugly reality—a reality which I have tasted.  I have tasted it neither so fully nor so bitterly as millions of others. But I have tasted it.  And in tasting it I have reinforced my solemn resolution to fight it wherever and whenever it appears so long as I live.
Last week—when I had a chance to live—to live very briefly and relatively mildly—the kind of life which millions of Americans live every waking hour, last week I learned what prejudice and hatred can mean. I learned to know the face of violence, although I was spared the full force of violence. I saw the ugly reality of how hate and prejudice can warp good men and women; turn Christian gentlemen into raving beasts; turn good mothers and wives into jezebels.  I didn’t like that part of what I saw. I didn’t like to see men and women fall victims to the catchwords of prejudice and the slogans of hate, even as the poor people of Germany were victimized by the catchwords and slogans of Hitler and Streicher.

HATE MONGERS IN ACTION–I saw how a few hate mongers carefully placed in a crowd of decent folks can set off a dangerous spark.  I saw a young college student—a Progressive party worker—who was severely cut across his chest and arms by the agents of hate.  I was a passenger in the car of a prominent businessman in a Southern city as he raced down dark streets and alleys to elude all who might be following us so that he could take me, unknown to anyone else, to his home for dinner.  He was a courageous man. The precautions he took were necessary. His business in that Southern town would have been ruined, if it were known that a candidate for the Presidency, a former Vice President, was having dinner at his home.  I saw an irate landlord rouse a quiet neighborhood where I had gone quietly to rest and work on a radio speech at the apartment of a young couple.  I saw how fear is bred and perpetuated and capitalized—and I didn’t like it.

MET COURAGE THAT BRINGS HOPE–But I also saw the kind of courage; the kind of real, deep human fighting spirit which promises a new day for the South and for the world.  I saw men and women, white and Negro, who have been leading the fight against hate and prejudice and intolerance in the South.  I saw them standing up and fighting for the very foundations of our American way of life—standing up to all kinds of intimidation. And from them radiates a contagious spirit; the same kind of spirit of resistance which stopped the armies of Adolf Hitler in half a dozen European countries.  I heard Clark Foreman say so truthfully that “Down here, to believe in the Constitution means you are automatically called a Communist”; and I heard a young college student, a veteran, add: “It’s like General Carlson said, ‘To be called a Red here is a badge of honor.’ ”  I am confident that their spirit—the spirit of the progressive Southerners—will triumph in the South. I am hopeful that our trip helped to build their forces; helped rally new strength; helped along the movement which will free the South. Rich in resources—proud and courageous, the South must be—and will be—freed from the shackles in which it has been held by huge corporations with headquarters only four miles south of here—not in Virginia, not in Tennessee, but in Wall Street.
STEEL KEEPS PEOPLE DIVIDED –The free South and the feudal South live side by side in the State of Alabama. In one day we received courteous receptions and held free meetings in the best American tradition in Decatur and Huntsville and Gunthersville in the great TVA area; and on the same day we could not hold meetings in Gadsden and Birmingham and Bessemer, cities which are dominated by Northern-owned steel corporations. We did not hold meetings because the police insisted on dividing Americans by the color of their skins. We did not hold meetings because the constitutional right to freely assemble and speak was denied by the police authorities of those company towns.
Here—in Alabama—in a single day, we saw the economic basis of hate and segregation.  In the steel towns it is profitable to keep labor divided.
North against South, race against race, farmer against worker—the profits of the men who own the South are multiplied by keeping the people divided.  But their days are numbered.  The good people of the South have learned their scriptures. They know the fundamental Christian doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. They know that “God hath made of one blood all the nations to dwell upon the face of the earth.” They know that we are all members, one of another. Just as surely as men everywhere, they want the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth; and they are not going to be stopped any longer by those who spew hate.  It is the owners of the mines and mills, the great plantations, and newspapers who incite violence.
OWNERS DON’T FIGHT, BUT INFLAME–They don’t personally engage in lynching either free speech or human beings, just as they don’t personally engage in fighting the wars from which they profit.  But they inflame the passions of others. They have had others do their dirty work. But the ranks of new recruits for their dirty work are narrowing as more and more men and women of the South see how they have been victimized by prejudice—as they see how it has profited the few, and brought misery for themselves and their neighbors.  And the workers and farmers and independent businessmen of the South are turning from the false leadership of those who have been styled “Southern liberals”—they are turning from those who have preached the tolerance of intolerance, tolerance of segregation; tolerance of murderous Jim Crow. They are learning that such men are only slightly to the left of Hitler and Rankin.
They are learning that no man can believe in both segregation and democracy.
In a radio interview the editor of an Arkansas paper asked me about FEPC. He wanted to know if I would interfere with the right of men to choose their own associates. And I replied that I considered that a most Important right. I replied that it was precisely my devotion to that right that leads me to fight segregation—segregation which deprives both white and Negro from freely choosing their own associates.  I told this same man; this same champion of segregation that while I knew we couldn’t legislate love, we most certainly could and will legislate against the acts of hate.
PLEDGE TO CUT CONGRESS–Throughout the South we spoke for the full protection of all citizens under the Constitution of the United States. Tonight, I want to call upon the candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties to pledge with me that whosoever shall be elected, he will enforce the second section of the Fourteenth Amendment no less than the other provisions of the Constitution. That section of our Constitution calls for the reduction of the number of Congressmen for each state where the right to vote is abridged.
In 1946 the votes cast to elect fourteen Congressmen. from Louisiana and Mississippi were less than the votes cast in the Twenty-fifth Congressional District here in New York.  John Rankin and thirteen others, all together, received less votes than are cast here in the Twenty-fifth District.  That is not only unfair to the people of New York’s Twenty-fifth District; it is grossly unfair to the people of the Southern states whose freedom has been limited by the failure of the Congress to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment.
If every Congressional candidate, if each of the Presidential candidates will take a pledge to secure constitutional reapportionment on the basis of the next census, I predict that we shall see an end to the many hindrances to free suffrage in the South.
We pledge ourselves to enforce this constitutional right.

PROUD OF OUR ENEMIES–In pledging to live by the Constitution, we have earned enemies. And we are proud of our enemies.
The men who stand for Jim Crow.
The men who stand for Taft-Hartley.
The men who support fascists in Greece and China.
The men who prefer an atmosphere of war, because they profit by it.
The men who hated Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal and who now find their unity in hatred for the Progressive party.
These men, Republicans and Democrats bound together by hate, are using every mechanism which bipartisan fear can suggest to defeat congressional candidates who stand for peace.
The Democrats, the Republicans, and the self-styled Liberals have joined hands to support single candidates against the candidates of the Progressive party; against candidates of the American Labor party.  They have joined hands in their bipartisan wrath against two men with the best liberal and labor voting records in the Congress of the United, States.  They have honored—these corrupt and dangerous men—they have honored two real servants of the people, Vito Marcantonio and Leo Isacson. They have honored Leo Isacson with a single opponent. They have honored Vito Marcantonio with a joint campaign of vituperation and hate.  They are afraid of our strength. They saw what the people could do last February when they sent Leo Isacson to the Congress.  They have seen, time and again, the devotion of Vito Marcantonio’s constituents to that dynamic champion of progressive principles. They have reason for their fear—and though they have combined their resources and efforts, we shall lick them on election day and return Vito Marcantonio and Leo Isacson to the Congress.
BIPARTISANS’ NEW ALLIES–It is with great sadness that I note that the bipartisans have some new allies; fearful men who call themselves liberals and leaders of labor; men who cry out against Wall Street running the country and then ask workers to give dollar bills to keep President Truman and his Wall Street gang in Washington.
I say such action, such double talk, such duplicity is shameful, immoral, and corrupt.
These illiberal liberals; these labor leaders who fight monopoly with words, but whose actions support the candidates of monopoly, these men make possible the Truman double talk. They make it possible for Truman to condemn Taft-Hartley while using it to destroy unions and the Wagner Act; to call for civil rights, while maintaining segregation in the Armed Forces and conducting loyalty purges; to call for price controls after killing them; to call for peace, while preparing for war.
The surest proof that we of the Progressive party are not impractical in our politics is in the alliances of hate which have been formed against us.
Some of the liberals, some of the Pied Pipers of labor will tell us that they have compromised because Roosevelt compromised; but they slander a great man when they draw that comparison.  Roosevelt, by the deftest political maneuvering in all history, made many a political deal, but always advancing the cause of the common man.

NOT FOR SALE–The men who are bargaining with corruption today hope for no gains, no advancements. They are bargaining to minimize losses. They are fearful men. They are men who might well heed the lesson that the only cure for fear is to stand up and fight for right.
The bipartisans have learned that the Progressives are not for sale. They have found out—through their leading agent in New York City, Mayor O’Dwyer, that the party in which Fiorello LaGuardia was proud to enroll himself is not for sale.
Bill O’Dwyer found it out when he tried with his fanciest offers to get John Rogge to quit the race for the surrogate’s bench. Bill O’Dwyer heard Vito Marcantonio say “no.” He heard John Rogge say “no.” And he knows that John Rogge will conduct the kind of dynamic, fighting campaign against corruption which he himself should have fought against Tammany.
O’Dwyer, who has Trumanized his local administration by serving the same interests as the Republicans, by pitting police against strikers, by fighting inflation with increased subway fares, by invoking local loyalty orders; Bill O’Dwyer has found that Progressives know double-talk when they hear it.
As President Truman has demonstrated that he could not fill the shoes of Roosevelt; so Mayor O’Dwyer has shown that he cannot fill the shoes of LaGuardia.

NAME CALLING DISCOUNTED–Yes, our “no sale” sign has earned us many names. But it does not matter if they call us red or black, if they lie about us or egg us or stone us. We will not join the Republican-Democratic poker match which governs out of the backroom—from the bottom of the deck.
The shop-worn, the discredited, the cheap political tricksters have joined with those who all their lives have practiced black reaction. They have set up one camp, though there are many banners.
And what are they joined against? What are we that they should forget old feuds to fight against us?
We are those who stand against the course which leads to war.
We are those who would take from the hands of monopoly the power to say who shall starve and who shall feast. We are those who protest a policy toward minority groups that is administered by a policeman’s nightstick. We are those who feel attacked whenever the color of man’s skin or the color of his political beliefs is the official excuse for brutality, whether in Mississippi or in Harlem, whether at home or abroad.
We must go now into every building of this city, into every suburban home; onto every street corner. We must tell the people who we are. We will stand up and take the jeers of hirelings.
We must work—we will work, so that on Nov. 2, Americans can clearly choose.

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Filed under Fascism, freedom, Henry A. Wallace, history, Justice, labor movement, labor unions, patriotism, police violence, racism, US Constitution, US History

Henry A. Wallace, America Can Get It

img_0502Continuing in the “America” series.    If you persevere, you will find some interesting observations on how American labor and industry must work to achieve the potential of America.  Again, if you find any part particularly relevant, make a comment.

America Can Get It, Henry A. Wallace.  Delivered at Los Angeles Seattle on Wednesday, February 9, 1944.  From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 30.

. . . Curiously enough, the full utilization of our resources, manpower and skill is the formula both for our necessity and our blessing. Its application will require a great spiritual strength, and in the process of developing that strength in a practical way we shall bless ourselves and the world. The problem of full utilization of all resources is first economic and second political.
The economic explanation of how civilized nations drifted into practices of scarcity goes back to the rise of factory mass production, the great corporation, vast investment and banker control in behalf of investment security. Modern factory civilization has become highly geared and there is always danger of tremendous over-production unless mass purchasing power is geared to match it. This fear can vanish only if as much imagination is put into the art of distribution as into the science of production. Many who have tried to finance a business in Wall Street have found that scarcity economics is the very heart of the system. The Wall Street financing house will demand control of the most important type of stock issue, and then will want to make sure that a loan to the new concern will not imperil, because of competition and new methods, the loans to older concerns. Wall Street calls this system “businesslike.” I deny that it is businesslike, and say that it is the dead hand of the past trying to make a profit by blocking the progress of business. The day has now come when we must release the business system to act through increased production for the benefit of all the people. Many businessmen now understand this as they couldn’t have understood it in 1929 . . .
. . . The problem is whether we can modernize the backward areas in our present system so as to make it stand from top to bottom for full use of resources, full use of skills, full use of inventions, without the bottlenecks created by cartels, unfair banking control, unwise labor restrictions, or unenlightened farm leadership. As we face the future, the leaders of the great pressure groups must ask themselves continually, “Is my pressure group in its demands helping the general good? Is my corporation in its program doing what it can to bring about full employment? Or are we just trying to get a rake-off by obstructing full activity? Are we fighting for the biggest piece of the pie as it is, or are we also trying to increase the present size of the whole pie?”
One aspect of modern scarcity economics is the belief that men will work only when they are hungry and that they will stop work when they have enough money to keep their bellies full for three or four days. This cynical attitude of exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few has no place in modern civilization. The moment the many are taught to read and write, to build better homes, to eat better food, to see an occasional movie, to listen to the radio, desire is created and markets are enlarged. People want more and are willing to work to get what they want. This increased longing of the people for light and abundance is going an at an increased tempo all over the world. . .
. . . One serious danger of unemployment, for example, is in those industries producing machine tools and machinery for big construction jobs. These industries did a marvelous job preparing us for a magnificent war effort. Their services will be needed all over the world—in China, Russia, India, all Latin America and Africa, and in the United States, building flood control, irrigation and power projects, building roads and equipping factories. At the end of the war we shall have a tremendous surplus of these goods and services. The whole world has a great hunger for them. The question is to discover some sound method by which the world can pay for them. Our young men shall open undreamed-of frontiers which will unleash tremendous purchasing power to keep the world economy revolving for a half century. But these dreams will not come true unless the world can discover some practical method of paying the United States. The basic method of payment is of course through goods. If we keep our people fully employed, we shall require fully twice as much in the way of imports in 1949 as in 1929 in order to keep our factories running. Furthermore, from the standpoint of national security we must purchase certain strategic materials. The United States must build up large permanent stockpiles of those materials of which this country has been proved to be short in time of war and which can be preserved without loss. . .

. . . In order to get full employment, together with the maximum of free enterprise and profits for the many instead of the few, it will be necessary after the war to use our taxation system for economic objectives much more skillfully than we have in the past. There is just one basis for judgment of our taxation in the postwar period and that is, “Will this system of taxation over a period of years give us the full employment of people producing the kinds of things which the people of the United States most need and want?”
Undoubtedly we shall have to continue with heavy, steeply graduated taxes on personal incomes after the war. But in the case of corporations it would seem to be wise policy to tax in such a way as to force corporate reserves either into the building of plant and equipment or into distribution as dividends. Huge corporate reserves, beyond legitimate business needs, which are held out of use are subtracted from the purchasing power of the nation. In a time of unemployment each billion dollars stored up as savings means at least half a million men unemployed for a year. Unemployed men mean less goods produced and a smaller market. By our taxation system we must encourage the small and rapidly growing enterprise because such enterprises are the seedbed of the employment of the future. But corporations which have lived far beyond the life of the founding father, and which have huge corporate reserves and which no longer expand, represent the dead hand of the past. They should be prodded awake by the right kind of taxation system so that they will find incentive for putting their money to work instead of letting it lie idle.
To get full utilization of all resources for the benefit of all the people, the most important single economic readjustment is to do away with internal trade barriers. I am referring to those monopolistic practices on the part of some manufacturers, bankers, labor unions, doctors and farm organizations which serve their own welfare without regard to the welfare of the unorganized. I don’t say that each member of each of these groups deliberately practices scarcity economics. But enough of them do it so that there is continually sand in the bearings of the economic machine. There is enough sand so that ten million families are continually living in poor houses with inadequate clothing, without enough to eat. Except in time of war, ten million families, whether living on the land or in the city, are given an opportunity to produce only about one-tenth as much as their more fortunate fellows. The war has demonstrated what these families can do for themselves, and for the entire nation, provided they are given an opportunity to work without the continuous imposition of bottlenecking controls.  It is not necessary to break up the big organizations which have deliberately produced bottlenecks. But it is necessary that in time of peace there be created a moral climate, backed up by a big stick in the Department of Justice, to convince every monopoly group that in the future its welfare can be served only by that all-out production which serves the welfare of all.
Everyone must recognize that it is sound government policy, even in terms of the large monopolistic groups themselves, for government to stimulate the economic activity of the weak on behalf of abundance economics while restraining the economic freedom of the strong to practice scarcity for temporary self-profit. There is a growing and vigorous support of this position within industry itself. . . The leaders of the respective groups must become experts in determining how the activities of any particular group are affected by the public good and how they affect the public good. When the respective pressure groups are led by men who know that the size of the whole pie is more important than the size of the slice they want for themselves, our fear of bread lines and soup kitchens will be over. Then every worker in the United States will have the creative satisfaction of doing his part in helping the common cause.
In many parts of the world there is a small land-owning military clique, composing one percent of the population, sitting on top of the pile exploiting the rest of the population, part of whom are workers and part farmers. The task of the century of the common man is to bring these oppressed people into the market. As their productivity and consumptive power are gradually increased, they will within a few years create for the postwar world new frontiers of unimagined richness—new frontiers of peaceful abundance. It is up to us in the United States to demonstrate by our own example the tremendous productivity and happiness of a general-welfare economy. Latin America will follow our example faster than we think, and as she follows it her economy will benefit ours and our economy will benefit hers. Speaking here in Seattle, I may say the same applies to our relations with China and Siberia. Here at the port which is the closest of all American ports to the Far East, it is important to mention that general-welfare economics and modern technology will make the Far East a market of such vast proportions that eventually there will be as much trade across the Pacific Ocean as there is now across the Atlantic. Private enterprise is dependent upon these broadening markets for its very survival.
The political aspect of getting full utilization of all our powers is more important in some ways even than the economic. By politics I mean the mechanism whereby the people, themselves, thinking in terms of the needs and the welfare of all of the people, make clear their will to the state legislatures and to Congress so that the lawmakers will serve the people more than they do the high-pressure groups which are continually selling the people down the river. The people, standing for just one thing, namely “the maximum use of all our resources in the service of the general welfare,” must guide Congress to stand for that objective at all times and to resist all pressure groups except the one big pressure group—the general-welfare pressure group. In action this means that constituents will have the good sense to re-elect Congressmen more for their national statesmanship than for their service to their local groups which are a minority even in the particular Congressional district.
The general-welfare pressure group must believe in democratic planning and must engage in it at the precinct level, the county level, the state level, the regional level. Wall Street and the Wall Street stooges say that such planning is un-American. I say that it is only by such planning that we can preserve and further develop the American way of life. It is only by such planning that we can prevent American fascists from taking us over. When I refer to American fascists I mean those who believe that Wall Street comes first and the country second and who are willing to go to any length through press, radio and demagogue to keep Wall Street safely sitting on top of the country. American fascists at this very moment are desperately striving to control the delegates to the county conventions so that they may in turn control the delegates to the state and national conventions of both parties.
Operating on the precinct level, the people, thoroughly aroused, can at any time they wish throw the American fascists out of control. They can put the man above the dollar and march straight up from the precinct to the county, to the state and to the national convention. They can see that the right men are nominated for Congress and the Senate. They can see that the Congressmen and Senators after they reach Washington are kept informed and eager to respond to Main Street instead of to Wall Street. Dollar principles are all right insofar as they serve human principles, but when they fail in such service they have no meaning except to American fascists.
The issue is very simple. The question is whether the people, keeping themselves fully informed, can operate through democratic government to keep the national interest above the interest of Wall Street. Or will the old-line politicians, financed from Wall Street, again succeed in making Washington the servant of Wall Street. What we need in this country is a new partnership in which Main Street and Wall Street, as well as Washington, will put nothing ahead of all-out production in our America of tomorrow.
The people can come out on top provided they remain continually awake and really believe they can have a higher standard of security and a higher standard of living, and if they will not let up in their fight until they get what they want and must have. They must hold their Congressman responsible for getting that higher standard of living. They must make him feel responsible at all times to the general welfare and above everything to the principle of complete utilization of all resources, all manpower, all skills, in the service of the common man in his search for jobs. In this fight of the people it is quite possible for those who control the big corporations to gum up our system so that it cannot work. It is possible for an incipient American fascism to precipitate a depression which will defeat all the desires of labor and government and most of business. Personally, I think the big corporations are too enlightened today to do a thing of that kind. Statements by the Presidents of the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers indicate that they realize there has been a great change in the moral as well as the business climate. Thousands of businessmen subscribe wholeheartedly to the principle of full utilization. And so I am sure that the managers controlling our great corporations will not deliberately produce a situation where there are twenty million men unemployed. Nevertheless, the people will smash their system unless they are willing to furnish such active leadership in wholehearted co-operation with labor and government as will prevent serious unemployment.
We are in for a profound revolution, partly as a result of the aftermath of two great wars and partly as a result of 150 years of modern technology and democratic thinking about the rights and duties of man. Those of us who realize the inevitability of revolution are anxious that it be gradual and bloodless instead of sudden and bloody. We believe it can be gradual and bloodless if the makers of public opinion, if the politicians, if the pressure-group leaders will only influence their millions of followers on behalf of the public good instead of regional and class prejudices. It would be simple if light could come down from heaven, but we all know that. God helps those who help themselves. The people themselves will have to educate their leaders on behalf of the general welfare, measuring every article in the press, every statement over the radio, every act of Congress by the one yardstick: “Does this help use all our resources, employ all our men, develop all our skills?” If the people everywhere hold these judgments up as a measure, we shall gradually find this principle of “goodness” permeating our national life like a leaven. In no other climate can there be profits for our private-enterprise economy. We must fight with all our might to do this thing. Otherwise we shall have a bloody revolution and slavery. Time is pressing. Victory will bring problems on us so thick and fast that we must be prepared to make instant and correct decisions.
Today we can take the necessary steps. Tomorrow will be too late. We have the resources, both material and human. We have the machines, the tools, and the skills. We have a hundred billion dollars of savings. All we need to do is press forward in confidence, believing in the complete use of all our resources. That confidence must come first; once we have it, the many specific actions on many specific fronts will all add up to a total picture that makes sense.
But if we do not press forward toward total peace in the same complete spirit as we have pressed toward total war, the 100 billion dollars will melt like snow in April and the machines and skills will become a mockery. I can’t over-emphasize the time factor. We must have the full-employment, total-use peacetime system ready to begin its march the moment the wartime system slackens. Halfway measures will produce chaos, and a democracy which is afflicted with pressure-group sickness does not have the vitality to stand that chaos. There is one yardstick by which we can judge those who would lead us in the future. Are they or are they not in favor of using our resources to the utmost? When they oppose this or that specific program, are they ready with a concrete alternative to achieve the same end? It is the job of the common man to ask these questions again and again in the years ahead.
Job, before he could enter into his period of abundance when he was to be twice as rich, had to go through his time of misery and then have a change of heart toward God. We are not yet through our misery, but I have faith that we will have sufficient change of heart in all sections of the country and among all groups of our people to correct our pressure-group sickness. We are eager to save ourselves. It was never easier, and it was never more urgent. If all groups know how vitally important is a complete, full-use peace system, if we put the same energy into the peace effort as the war effort, all the rest will be easy. We are the hope of the world. We must set our own house in order so that our light may shine as a comfort and a beacon to the whole world.

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Henry A. Wallace, America Tomorrow

Henry Wallace speeches on the possibilities for America. Again, if you find any part particularly relevant, make a comment.

America Tomorrow, Henry A. Wallace.  A speech delivered in Detroit on July 25, 1943.
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 238.

img_0502Three months ago in South America I found that the lowliest peon looked on President Roosevelt as the symbol of his dearest aspirations in the peace to come. So it is also in China and occupied Europe. I have known the President intimately for ten years and in the final showdown he has always put human rights first. There are powerful groups who hope to take advantage of the President’s concentration on the war effort to destroy everything he has accomplished on the domestic front over the last ten years. Some people call these powerful groups “isolationists,” others call them “reactionaries” and still others, seeing them following in European footsteps, call them “American fascists.” Sooner or later the machinations of these small but powerful groups which put money and power first and people last will inevitably be exposed to the public eye.
My purpose today is to talk about the America of tomorrow. There are some who want to stick to what they would have us believe are the realities of the present. Their quick comeback to any question on our peace objectives is, “We must not discuss anything except the war.” There are others who want to stick to what they hold are the realities of the past. They have a stock reply when asked about the peace: “Let us wait and see what England and Russia do before we make our plans.”
Both opinions are fighting delaying actions against our destiny in the peace—a destiny that calls us to world leadership. When we as victors lay down our arms in this struggle against the enslavement of the mind and soul of the human family, we take up arms immediately in the great war against starvation, unemployment and the rigging of the markets of the world.
We seek a peace that is more than just a breathing space between the death of an old tyranny and the birth of a new one. We will not be satisfied with a peace which will merely lead us from the concentration camps and mass murder of Fascism into an international jungle of gangster governments operated behind the scenes by power-crazed, money-mad imperialists. Starvation has no Bill of Rights nor slavery a Magna Carta. Wherever the hopes of the human family are throttled, there we find the makings of revolt.
The world was waiting for us to take the initiative in leading the way to a people’s peace after World War I, but we decided to live apart and work our own way. Hunger and unemployment spawned the criminal free-booters of Fascism, Their only remedy for insecurity was war. Their only answer to poverty and the denial of opportunity became the First Commandment of the Nazis: “Loot Thy Neighbor.”
Much of our propaganda after the First World War proclaimed the ingratitude of our Allies. We had given of our best blood and our separate fortunes only to be labeled the land of Uncle Shylock. We changed it to Uncle Sap and said, “Never again.” How many of us after this second worldwide scourge of suffering and death will say; “Never again”? Shall it be “Never again” to joining in seeking world peace? Shall it be “Never again” to living alone on an island of false security? Shall it be our second retreat from our responsibility in world co-operation?
Ours must be a generation that will distill the stamina and provide the skills to create a warproof world. We must not bequeath a second bloodbath to our children.
World leadership must be more concerned with welfare politics and less with power politics, more attentive to equalizing the use of raw materials of nations than condoning the policies of grab and barter that freeze international markets, more interested in opening channels of commerce than closing them by prohibitive tariffs, more mindful of the need for a stable currency among all countries than in high interest rates on loans. World leadership must be more occupied with preventing the political house burners from setting oil the fires of revolt than stopping them after they start.
But world co-operation cannot enforce such standards of international justice and security by paper diplomacy and remote control. Our choice is not between a Hitler slave world and an out-of-date holiday of “normalcy.” The defeatists who talk about going hack to the good old days of Americanism mean the time when there was plenty for the few and scarcity for the many.
Nor is our choice between an Americanized Fascism and the restoration of prewar scarcity and unemployment. Too many millions of our people have come out of the dark cellars and squalor of unemployment ever to go back.
Our choice is between democracy for everybody or for the few—between the spreading of social safeguards and economic opportunity to all the people—or the concentration of our abundant resources in the hands of selfishness and greed. The American people have brought a brave and clear conscience to this crisis of all mankind. Every family, every community, feeling the denials and restraints of war, has been forced to search for a bed-rock of faith. And in that tomorrow when peace comes, education for tolerance will be just as important as the production of television. The creation of a decent diet for every family will take as much planning as the building of new cars and refrigerators and washing machines.
Along with Britain, Russia and China our nation will exert a tremendous economic and moral persuasion in the peace. But many of our most patriotic and forward-looking citizens are asking, “Why not start now practicing these Four Freedoms in our own backyard?”
They are right! A fuller democracy for all is the lasting preventive of war. A lesser or part-time democracy breeds the dissension and class conflicts that seek their solution in guns and slaughter.
We cannot fight to crush Nazi brutality abroad and condone race riots at home. Those who fan the fires of racial clashes for the purpose of making political capital here at home are taking the first step toward Nazism.
We cannot plead for equality of opportunity for peoples everywhere and overlook the denial of the right to vote for millions of our own people. Every citizen of the United States without regard to color or creed, whether he resides where he was born or whether he has moved to a great defense center or to a fighting front, is entitled to cast his vote.
We cannot offer the blueprints and the skills to rebuild the bombed-out cities of other lands and stymie the rebuilding of our own cities. Slums have no place in America.
We cannot assist in binding the wounds of a war-stricken world and fail to safeguard the health of our own people. We cannot hope to raise the literacy of other nations and fail to roll back the ignorance that clouds many communities in many sectors of our own nation. Democracy can work successfully for that future which is its predestined heritage only when all people have the opportunity for the fullest education. The world is a neighborhood. We have learned that starvation in China affects our own security—that the jobless in India are related to the unemployed here. The Post War Problems Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers (businessmen all) has wisely declared that increased production in other countries will not reduce living standards in the United States. Those twisters of fact who shriek that your Vice-President is a wild-eyed dreamer trying to set up T.V.A.’s on the Danube and deliver a bottle of milk to every Hottentot every morning should read that report. No business prospers without prosperous customers. That is plain common sense.
The average American may not be an expert on all phases of our economic and political life. He may not understand completely the complexities of money and markets. He may never feel completely at, home in the intricacies of world trade as they are affected by tariffs and cartels. He may not know too much about parity farm prices and subsidies. But the average American does know what happens when inflation comes—when prices rise faster than wages, and he knows that the worst lie of all is that the way to make money is to produce scarcity. The common man in America, and every American soldier overseas, wants free enterprise and full employment. He wants to see the great new war plants converted into plants producing peacetime goods. He knows that he and others have acquired new skills and they should be put to use. The average man of America knows that we can make and consume all goods which make for a higher standard of living. He wants and he must have a job, enough to eat and wear, decent shelter, his own home and automobile, and a chance to educate his children.
He knows that high tariff protection for our markets leads only to retaliation and boycotts by other countries. He knows that no coalition of nations can weather the innumerable impacts of money and trade monopolies. He witnessed the collapse of sanctions under the League of Nations and the growth of dictatorships that appealed to their. peoples by promising to free them from economic slavery. He is convinced that nations must be organized by something more, than trade pacts and non-aggression treaties. The peace-makers must have more daring and vision than the war-makers.
A year ago I cited the four duties of the people’s revolution as I saw them. They were:
The duty to produce to the limit.
The duty to transport as rapidly as possible to the field of battle.
The duty to fight with all that is in us.
The duty to build a peace—just, charitable and enduring.
Millions of our people from offices and factories, from farms, mines, oil fields and timber lands, have accepted those duties with typical American courage and fortitude. They are making heroic sacrifices to speed the victory. But if war has its duties, peace has its responsibilities. Three outstanding peacetime responsibilities as I see them today are these:
The responsibility for enlightenment of the people.
The responsibility for mobilizing peacetime production for full employment.
The responsibility for planning world co-operation.
The American press, radio, school and church, free from domination by either government or corporate interest, can hold up to our people the vision of the freedom and abundance of the America that is to be. These great agencies of enlightenment can educate us with regard to the fundamental decencies and understandings which are essential if our power is to be a blessing to the world and not a curse.
Labor is beginning to do its part in enlightening the public. It is beginning to make crystal clear that 97 percent of labor has co-operated 100 percent with our government in the war effort. More and more in the future labor will demonstrate that it can co-operate with both employers and with agriculture in those measures which lead to increased employment, increased production and a higher standard of living. The people of America know that the second step toward Nazism is the destruction of labor unions. There are midget Hitlers here who continually attack labor. There are other demagogues, blind to the errors of every other group, who shout, “We love labor, but. . .” Both the midget Hitlers and the demagogues are enemies of America. Both would destroy labor unions if they could. Labor should be fully aware of its friends and of its enemies.
The second responsibility, that of mobilizing the peace for full production and full employment will challenge the best brains and imagination of our industries large and small, our trade associations, our labor unions and our financial institutions.
When the guns stop; America will find itself with the following assets:

Manpower by the million; skilled workers from war industries, military manpower and young people coming of working age.
The largest industrial plant capacity in the world.
The greatest resources both natural and artificial to make peacetime products-and thousands of new inventions waiting to be converted to peacetime use.
The largest scientific farm plant in the world.
The biggest backlog of requirements for housing, transportation, communications and living comforts.
The greatest reserve of accumulated savings by individuals that any nation has ever known.
With such wealth, who says this nation is now bankrupt?
If industrial management can bring the same wisdom in producing for peace that it has shown on many production fronts in the supply, program for war, the horizons we face are bright. We have witnessed many evidences of industrial statesmanship, of co-operation with labor to increase production and cut costs. In hundreds of industries the war has demonstrated that management and labor can be friends in the service of the nation.

Our industries, trade associations and lending institutions will open wider the gates of labor’s participation. They have the choice of approaching the new world of greatly expanded production with new energies and foresight—or they can hold back and fearfully await the stimulus of their government to expand production and consumption.

Whichever choice they consciously or unconsciously make, I believe they want to do their part in keeping this nation on solid ground when peace comes.
If we are to mobilize peace production in the service of all the people we must completely turn away from scarcity economics. Too many corporations have made money by holding inventions out of use, by holding up prices and by cutting down production.

I believe in our democratic, capitalistic system, but it must be a capitalism of abundance and full employment. If we return to a capitalism of scarcity such as that which produced both 1929 and 1932, we must anticipate that the returning soldiers and displaced war workers will speak in no uncertain terms.

The third responsibility—that of planning world co-operation—will stem from the open and full partnership between the people and their government.
We will face combustible realities when this struggle has passed. Even now there are millions in Europe and Asia who have only one thought, one question: “When do we eat?” Peace does not come where starvation stays. Peace is a mockery where millions of homeless and diseased are given only the freedom to die. America will have to fill many breadbaskets, help to restore homes and provide medical care here and in other lands before our own peace will be secure.

We know that a combination of countries seeking to limit our air commerce could shut off our international skyways. We know that a ganging-up by a group of international cartels at odds with us could wipe out our markets and sow the seeds of war. We know that we cannot close the doors on other nations and not expect them to close their doors on us. We know that imperialistic freebooters using the United States as a base can make another war inevitable.

In that knowledge we can create co-operation or conflict; unity of purpose or under-the-table dealing.

We must continue our teamwork with the British. We must become better acquainted with our new friends, the Russians. We can live peacefully in the same world with the Russians if we demonstrate to ourselves and the world after the war that we have gone in for all-out peace production and total consumer use of our products to bring about the maximum of human welfare.

Shouldering our responsibilities for enlightenment, abundant production and world co-operation, we can begin now our apprenticeship to world peace. There will be heartbreaking delays—there will be prejudices creeping in, and the fainthearted will spread their whispers of doubt. Some blueprints and many programs will be tested and found unworkable. Some men with selfish motives will use the propaganda of protest and the sabotage of delay to promote disunity in peace as they have in war.
But the day of victory for humanity will come just as this night of terror and desolation will pass. Nothing will prevail against the common man’s peace in a common man’s world as he fights both for free enterprise and full employment. The world is one family with one future—a future which will bind our brotherhood with heart and mind and not with chains, which will save and share the culture past and now aborning, which will work out the peace on a level of high and open cooperation, which will make democracy work for mankind by giving everyone a chance to build his own stake in it.

The challenge and the opportunity to win the battle of the peace has joined mankind. Victory demands our best thought, our best energies and our everlasting faith.

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