WILL AMERICAN DEMOCRACY ENDURE?
Albert Einstein, summarizing the condition of our land and the world in 1939, says: “The production and distribution of commodities is entirely unorganized so that everyone must live in fear of being eliminated from the economic cycle, in this way suffering from want of everything.” But take no notice of him — the man is an alien.
Verily it is said: “Man is born free and is everywhere in chains.” And all the chains (chain hotels, chain drugstores, chain oil stations, chain radio stations, chain bakeries, chain barber shops, chain movie theatres, chain newspapers, etc.) howling in chorus that “the American way” is for the government to stop interfering with them, so that — there can be no other motive — they can still further enslave the slaves.
Do not be deceived by the specious arguments offered by newspapers and magazines which are themselves a branch of the corporative interests. In the same year as the Declaration of Independence was accepted Adam Smith wrote: “Civil government is maintained for the defense of the rich against the poor.” That is just as essentially true for America as for any other country under this system, all the cant about “the American way” to the contrary notwithstanding: except that now the owners of our corporations are not content with a mere five hundred slaves. They require and have thousands each, even though they know not who or where they are. Indeed, since the first world war our great fortunes have doubled and redoubled until those with an income of one million or more a year make a large directory.
Is that the “American way” to mortgage the lives of American boys for the sake of extra billions from Europe and South America and the Far East when we are not making use of half what the good Lord gave us right here at home? Is following England on the path of world imperialism the American way?
What is American about the insane scramble of the old imperialists to become a World Power? Who wants to be a World Power? What ordinary, normal American?
Being a world power has done nothing for the people of England. See how they live now. See how little they have of material things, how little democracy.
The world power business is an obsession. For world power means millions bowing down to you. It means dictatorship in your subject countries and leads by quick stages to dictatorship at home. It means competition in armaments building and that means war. Armaments have never yet been built to rust in storerooms and never will be. Every wise man drew that conclusion from the first world war. Lord Grey of Fallodon, British Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1915, wrote: “Great armaments lead inevitably to war. If there are armaments on one side, there must be armaments on other sides… The increase of armaments that is intended in each nation to produce consciousness of strength and a sense of security, does not produce these effects. On the contrary, it produces a consciousness of the strength of other nations and a sense of fear. Tear begets suspicion and distrust and evil imaginings of all sorts.”
A commonplace in the years following 1918. Forgotten now in the hysteria and panic of a new armaments race resulting from nothing but the interimperialist dog-fight to redivide the world. (Th. Dreiser America Is Worth Saving)