America and the World Crisis



Delivered over Station WSM, Nashville, Tennessee, January 7, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 254-255.

IN my first radio talk of the new year, I would like to discuss something which is supremely important, for in this tragic year of 1942 it is more than ever necessary to grapple with the big issues.

I know that there are some who say it is too early to talk about winning the peace; we had better win the war first. Of course we must win the war first. That is the number one job, upon which everything depends. Nor do I say "everything" in any casual sense. This is the first war in which we have had everything at stake—our free institutions, our civilian way of life, our Christian faith, our ability to trade with all the earth, our economic security, our very existence as a self-governing people. All these things were endangered by the German bid for world power in 1914, but not so fully as now. A few days ago I heard in New York a talk by Hanson Baldwin, the military critic of the New York Times, in which he warned that this is one war we can lose, and lose disastrously. It is our first total war and the urgency of winning it is greater than we have ever experienced. That is why it is a matter of life and death importance for us to produce quickly a superiority of ships and tanks, guns and supplies and—above all—planes. For more than a year, it has been clear that the war cannot be won without control of the air. And now the disasters to our side in the Pacific have etched that lesson deeply. We must achieve superiority in the air and each month of delay in achieving it may mean weary months of war to oust the Japanese and Germans from the strategic places for which they are now heading.

Yet only a shade in urgency behind the winning of the war is the necessity of winning the peace. The peace is what we are after—one that won't evaporate in our hands like the last one did. So it can't be too soon to be giving some of the best thought of which we are capable to what is to come after. Yesterday the President did his plain duty in calling upon us for colossal production of arms—75,000 tanks, 10,000,000 tons of ships and 125,000 planes in 1943. We must now sink incredible amounts of labor and materials in weapons which will save our civilization, but can never earn

a dime economically. The thing must be done, yet to leave ourselves open to the forced spending of a hundred billion dollars on arms, every twenty years is the sure road to disaster. No nation, however big and wealthy, can go on like that. If we do, in the end every kind of business and fruitful activity, especially every kind of saving, will be destroyed.

We must, therefore, not be deterred by those who tell us not to talk about the peace until the war is over. If by then we do not have a mighty determination to carry through this time, we shall lose the peace again. There is always reaction after the high endeavors of a great war, always mental and spiritual exhaustion, always a yearning just to get back to "normalcy" and to eschew everything so complicated as world politics, always many people whom the war has disturbed who will be angry and resentful against the powers that be and whatever they propose. Indeed some of those who are telling us to keep quiet about the peace are the very ones who will oppose any constructive organization of the peace.

A number of our senators, a few of our newspapers and the German radio are all united in ridiculing and rejecting Clarence Streit's plan for "Union Now". One would suppose that there was something wicked and treasonous in the idea of union between democratic peoples. But actually the "Union Now" proposal is pounced upon because it is the leading concrete program for keeping the peace after the war is won. Any other plan for world government would be fought in the same spirit—and any other plan for consolidating the peace will be killed after this war, as the League of Nations was, unless we are ready to fight for peace as we now fight for victory.

Victory we must have, but it is not enough to "Remember Pearl Harbor". Behind Pearl Harbor we must remember the scores of millions of patient Chinese people who had every indignity visited upon them while we did nothing effective about it. Behind Pearl Harbor, we must always be conscious of the dozens of free nations brutally suppressed in Europe and always aware that all liberty is having to fight for its life partly because we refused to interest ourselves in keeping

the peace after 1918. At long last we must be aware that peace is not something which exists automatically; it is a dynamic thing which must be defended and operated and made to work every year. That has been made as certain as anything ever was by the constant improvement of the means of destruction. There is not a particle of doubt in my mind that this planet will never see anything but war until strong international control of the big weapons of destruction is established. I believe, moreover, that this is the last chance we shall have ever to prevent the physical destruction of our own cities.

The world is in the grip of two evolutionary forces which are so powerful that no nation can escape them. One is the ever more rapid improvement of the means of destruction; the other is the economic unification of the world. Neither of these developments can be successfully resisted by any nation. The inventors are destroying the security of every city on the face of the globe, and no one nation can stop them. There is no group of isolationists in Chicago or Washington, in Moscow or Peking, which is stubborn enough or strong enough to give their neighbors security. That can be accomplished only by the permanent cooperation of many nations. The machines which are destroying us can be controlled, and the marvelous potentialities of science turned to productive use, but not by any one people. The undertaking is too big.

It is accordingly inescapable that there will be some kind of world government. That is not an argument; it is a fact. It will do no one any good to become apoplectic at the idea of world government, or at the idea that national sovereignty is a thing of the past. The bombing plane is destroying the sovereignty of every nation on earth, and it will keep on doing so until a world sovereignty is created. That is the inner essence of this war. The thing is coming about, but the way it is done is all important. It is no longer possible for anyone to deny that the Nazis and Japanese are reaching for control of the world itself. They mean to unify and govern it by brute force. They have also come very close to success. If they fail, then we shall have another chance to govern the world by the democratic method of federation, agreement and consent. The thing will be done, by one method or the other, and each time we fail to do the job, we pay two enor-

mous prices: One, the terrible price of another world war; and, two, the price of having to accept ultimately a more centralized world government than we rejected the last time. There were many who told us in 1919 that the League of Nations was a fearful super-state, a Juggernaut which would devour all our liberties. Tonight, who does not know that the League of Nations was too weak, and that our next structure of world government will have to have more power, not less? We do not know yet the details of the next world organization, but if those who are now campaigning against "Union Now" should succeed in defeating world organization again, they will ultimately have to accept something stronger than "Union Now."

The second force which dooms all isolationism to defeat is the economic unity of the world. That unity was already a clearly discernible fact in 1914. The first world war proved its existence beyond dispute and every intervening year has bound the peoples more tightly together economically. This fact is now being demonstrated to all of us by the Japanese threat to Singapore which tells every American that he may quite probably have to give up his car when his present tires wear out. This danger comes home to all of us, but rubber is only one of countless commodities which we must have, from every country on the globe—and every people is similarly dependent on other peoples. This, too, is a trend which can never be reversed. We can only set up political institutions to accord with the economic facts.

Here again we have a choice only of methods. The Germans and Japanese propose to establish an iron government over the bulk of the globe—walling off vast closed economic preserves for themselves. If they fail, we must attempt to make the other solution work—to open up the raw materials and markets of the entire planet to every people on fair and even terms. Nor can we be deterred by the fear that this solution might cost us something. Actually it may make us richer, not poorer.

In any event, we cannot go on from one bigger and better world war to another. By all means let us win this war, as soon as possible, in order that we may concentrate on the real business of building world institutions which will give us something more solid than a fitful breathing spell between wars.

Mental Preparedness in Wartime


By ERIC P. MOSSE, M. D., Assistant Psychiatrist, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hospital

Broadcast over Station WEVD, on January 2, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 255-256.

THE sudden reality of war has rocked the public of this country. We have been gradually accustomed to the idea, we saw it happen, we knew everything in advance and yet, this reality affects our emotions in a most unexpected way.

To put it bluntly, we are confronted with death. Bombs no longer rain death out of the moonlit sky merely in the papers, over the radio, on newsreels. This moon is no longer the sentimental symbol of a romanticized movie-love. It means an easier approach to our city for enemy planes, a more ominous danger to us. It is not the only symbol that has changed this way. We loved the penthouses, the highest floors of buildings and paid the highest rent for them. Now, we are running away from them and prefer the centrally located

floors. We loved our office in the exciting liveliness of downtown—or mid-town Manhattan and dreamed for the summer of our private Utopia on Long Island. Now, we think of a hidden place somewhere in the country. The symbol as well as their values have shifted.

The strange fact is that death, our death, the natural biological end of life, known to everybody, is seldom remembered in peacetime. We lived as if it would never happen. We repressed it, pushed it away from our conscious into the darkness of the unconscious.

This repression, as you might know, is one of the most important mechanisms of our psychic life. It occurs whenever something happens to us we don't want to notice. Something that is painful, hurts our pride, our self-esteem,