Dual Date With Destiny


By PAUL G. HOFFMAN, President, The Studebaker Corporation Delivered at the Annual Banquet of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce at Tulsa, Oklahoma, on January 14, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 232-234

I AM certain that you must feel gratified at the large volume of war contracts placed in this area. First, because they offer you an opportunity to do your part in the defense of our country. Secondly, because the expansion in manufacturing facilities necessary to fill these contracts presages a great industrial future for Tulsa and the whole Southwest in the post-war era. But let not this gratification blind you to the job you have at hand.

The temptation to escape from the harsh realities of the present tragic moment by discussing post-war potentialities is very great indeed. However, this is no time for dreaming. We must face realities. We have a present and pressing jobwhich must be taken care of now—an assignment which must be met in order to insure a reasonable probability of a postwar world worth living in. We must win this war.

When Mr. C. A. King, your president, asked me in November for the subject of my talk, I told him it would be "Double Date for Industry." After Pearl Harbor, I decided to change it to "Dual Date with Destiny", believing it a more appropriate title. But as I began to prepare this address, I came to the realization that actually America has but one date with destiny—in effect, a double date. We must win this war. To win it we must realize at once that it is total war; that it involves every single one of us Americans.

Our fighting men cannot do the job alone. They must have the full support of our entire adult civilian population of roughly ninety million. To win the war we must not only greatly expand our armed forces and equip them adequately, but, at the same time, we must build up the morale of our civilian population to a level equally as high as that of our fighting forces.

Our armed forces face a tremendous task. Never before in its history has our nation been called upon to wage a war on such a gigantic scale—to fight on so many fronts. Before we have won this war the boys in our air corps, in our navy and in our army will have seen action on practically every one of the seven continents and on practically every one of the seven seas. Thank God there is no question about the morale of these boys. The indomitable courage displayed by our first hero of World War II, Captain Colin P. Kelly, Jr., who gave his life in a successful attack on a Japanese battleship, and the valiant fight put up by a small group of marines at Wake Island, testify to that.

The industrial segment of our civilian front has a whale of a job. President Roosevelt has told us that to beat the Axis we must produce 60,000 airplanes this year, 125,000 in 1943. You may appreciate what a job that represents when I tell you that until 1939 this country seldom had produced more than 1,000 military airplanes in any one year. He has told us we must produce 8,000,000 tons of merchant shipping this year and 10,000,000 tons in 1943. Last year we produced only 1,100,000 tons. Insofar as tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and ordnance of all types are concerned, the job is even more difficult because until two years ago we had practically no facilities for producing these items. President Roosevelt has told us we must do it. Mr. Knudsen and Mr. Hillman have told us we can do it and industry will do it. That must be our answer.

Big as this industrial job is, those engaged in it, along with every other adult civilian, have added responsibilities. Every one of us, as civilians, will be called upon to perform specific assignments. Every one of us faces numerous dislocations which we must accept willingly. Every one of us must make a sizable contribution toward the cost of carrying on the war by paying greatly increased taxes and buying defense bonds to the limit of our ability. Some of us will be called upon to do civilian defense work. Most of us will be asked to participate in drives for voluntary contributions for one purpose or another, and we must do it. None of us is too busy to work for the Red Cross, for the British Relief, the China Relief, or the Russian Relief, if that should come along.

These are the tangible jobs we, as civilians, can and must do to help win this war. They are important—in fact they are vital. But the big job the civilian population must accomplish, a job which is just as vital to winning the war as that assigned to our fighting forces, is to strengthen the sinews of free society; that's the kind of job that will bring out the Best in all of us, that will insure the kind of morale we must have to win this war. And now is the time to do it. "Remember Pearl Harbor" may be a good slogan but for enduring morale, we must dedicate ourselves to a higher purpose than revenge. We must remember Pearl Harbor not merely as a treacherous attack on our Navy, but as a challenge to so fortify our freedom that there will be no question as to our continued existence as the "Land of Liberty"—the kind of land we Americans have been fighting for ever since 1776.

This job has long needed doing. Free society has been losing ground throughout the world ever since the last world war. Tens of millions of people who were once free are now slaves in dictator states. Here in the United States before this war started, there were gloomy predictions in many quarters that it was only a matter of time until the so-calledwave of the future would make us all servants of the state, rather than the state our servant.

Why has our free society been losing ground? Any attempt to answer that question at this time would bring us into the realm of politics, economics and other controversial subjects. However, regardless of whether it is the cause or effect, there are two brutal facts that we must face. First, a free society cannot be maintained except by a people who are industrious, self-reliant and courageous. Secondly, regardless of why it happened, no realistic observer can deny the fact that the America of 1941, before we entered the war, was less self-reliant than the America of 1917, before we entered the first World War. It is our immediate and pressing job to see that when this war ends, American people will be at least as self-reliant as they were twenty-five years ago.

How are we going to do it? I say there is only one way we can do it. We must once again learn how, as Plato stated, "to rule and be ruled as free men." That's a high-sounding phrase—but exactly what does it mean? We can best understand its exact meaning by comparing the manner in which the slaves of a dictatorship are ruled and the manner in which the free members of a democracy are governed. A dictator dictates. He has no respect whatsoever for human dignity. In ruling he imposes his will in such a manner as to break the spirit, weaken the character, and destroy the initiative of his slaves. In a free society the members voluntarily delegate powers to their chosen representatives. The most important responsibility that falls upon these representatives is to govern in such a manner as to uplift the spirit, strengthen the character and stimulate the initiative of the people.

When we speak of leadership in a free society, we speak not only of political leadership, but of leadership in the home, in the school, in business, in labor; in fact, in almost every phase of human activities. In a very real sense every one of us is a leader, every one of us is our brother's keeper. It is we, the people, who face the responsibility of seeing that we, the people, are strong and self-reliant.

To help achieve our objective, it is absolutely essential that all of us adopt a new yardstick to measure our every proposal and our every act will contribute to the fortifying of the character of our people. We must apply this yardstick in our every-day activities, in our homes, in our businesses, in our schools, and constantly keep in mind the fact that anything we may do which leans towards the methods of a dictator or a Gestapo contributes toward the inevitable collapse of our free society. America has no place for little Hitlers or sawdust Caesars in business or labor. Conversely, if our conduct towards those with whom we have constant contact is such that it strengthens their character, to that extent we have the assurance of developing the kind of character which will make us worthy of our free institutions. Only by so doing can we develop a nation of self-reliant individuals, able to rule and be ruled as free men.

Political leadership has the responsibility of clearly defining our objective and of telling us what our job is. It has a right to demand of industry that every man and every machine be fully utilized for war production at the earliest possible moment. But the means by which this is to be accomplished is just as important as the end. There are those who believe we must adopt totalitarian methods to beat the totalitarian states. That I reject utterly. I believe with all my heart that free men can outproduce slaves. I say we must avoid Hitler's methods to surpass Hitler's results. In raising this issue, I am not thinking of something that may happen. I am thinking of today. I am thinking of a proposal recently made by a member of the House of Representatives, presumably a proposal for the conversion of the full facilities of theautomobile industry to the production of war materials. Under this proposal the operation of the automobile industry would be taken out of the hands of tried and experienced management and placed into the hands of a super-committee, a joint government-industry-labor council.

lt would be unfair to communism to label this scheme as communistic, because under communism one at least knows who is boss. The state is the boss. It has a somewhat closer analogy to fascism, or the corporative state which Mussolini once planned, under which industry operates through an intricate set of contracts and an infinite number of bureaus. But it's even unfair to fascism to label this scheme as Fascistic. It's unique in that it proposes to substitute for a responsible management a tripartite control which could bring only one result—turmoil, or shall I say turmoilism, in which all of the three parties—labor, management and government —would spend all their time blaming each other for the resulting mess.

Am I wrong in my belief that such an experiment at a time like this would have a devastating effect on morale? Am I wrong in my deep conviction that it would stifle the initiative and the self-reliance of good Americans, qualities which are so desperately needed at this moment? No, Gentlemen, I am right when I say that industry's job must be done under an experienced management, a management which recognizes that collective bargaining is an essential element in our free economy, a management willing and eager to provide every member of every organization an opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions as to how the job can best be done. There must be the utmost cooperation between government, management and labor, but the responsibilities of each must be clearly defined.

If we dedicate ourselves to making this country of ours a better country in which to live, we will keep our date with destiny. We will win the war! And this time we'll also win the peace.