After Peace: Competition Or Cooperation?


By COLBY DORR DAM, Psychologist, Editor, Economist

Delivered before the National Womans' Party, Washington, D. C., October 18, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 81-85.

THE kind of international society we have today is an exact expression of the kind of people we have in the world. Make no mistake about this! Wherever in the universe of suns and planets, we find a humanity that is slightly intellectual but primarily emotional and physical in its consciousness, you may be sure we shall see just what we have here and now on earth. There will be savage and inhuman wars; control of wealth and political power by the few with poverty and ignorance among the many; a weak, dogmatic religion and a vigorous laboratory science, closely allied with big capital; a violent and selfish nationalism fighting to get and hold wealth-bearing land; a political economy dedicated to satisfactions of the physical man; and a utilitarian educational system that is pragmatic, objective, agnostic, strong in the natural sciences and weak in the human sciences. These things are all natural conditions of the natural man; they are part of the instinctive, sensory, physical, possessive aspects of people everywhere. The struggle between these animal aspects and the human spirit is the inner cause of the current war; and this war is the big crisis in the world wide struggle between our animal past and our boundless, spiritual future. This is a battle to the death between the brute slave man and the politically free man. The animal and the spirit are fighting blindly for control of the future civilization. If the spirit, which is freedom, wins, there will be an opportunity to establish a better age in human affairs.

We are not ready for this opportunity, and we dare not miss it. How shall we get ready? There is only one way—by discovering and releasing part of our frozen spiritual assets; and by applying these faculties to the human problems of the technical age.

What are these inner assets? What are the problems? And how shall we bring the two together? You have heard that those who follow the inner life frequently discover in themselves unexpected power, wisdom, joy, peace and truth. This is indeed a fact. The wise men of the earth have achieved these attributes. As a result, their lives have lighted up the dark pages of history with beacon lights of hope, faith and courage. Today there are few wise men. They aregreatly needed; without their vision, their power to arouse the human spirit and eliminate conflict we cannot safely build the post-war system. Without their inspiration we cannot live or think beyond the limits of the natural man whose fatal leadership has brought disaster to the earth.

Now these wise men have nothing within them that we cannot have, if we give the same attention to our consciousness that we give to our bodies and our senses. We should deal deliberately with our minds and hearts and find out what we are doing with our thoughts and feelings, both to ourselves and to others. We should train ourselves to think in terms of society and our specific relations with it. We should be as accurate in subjective analysis as we are in scientific analysis. We can then begin to really understand our lives and find out what parts of them are physical, instinctive and sensory; what parts are individual, selfish, and personal, and what parts are ideal, aspiring and reaching out for universal truth.

The Integrated Personality

In this analysis, the first thing to work for is balance. We have four things to look after—a physical body, a set of emotions, an intellect and the Spirit. There is a close, vital relation between them; they are all important and what happens to one instantly affects the others. If our body is sick, our emotions are apt to go haywire. If our emotions are violent and unstable, we cannot think straight. If our mind is narrow or sluggish or foggy, the Spirit is paralyzed. Today most of us either think too selfishly or love too blindly. Our hearts and minds are out of balance or working in opposite directions. To restore balance we must think lovingly and love intelligently.

After balance is restored between the body, the emotions and the intellect, we can begin to look for the Spirit within. As we look, important changes begin to occur. We become harmonious people. Our character begins to manifest itself in action; we can think logically; our emotions become definite, clear and strong. We know where we stand at all times, in all situations; and life no longer takes us by surprise. People are attracted by the harmony we radiate; bythe reasonableness of our opinions and the sympathy of our magnetism. We become flexible, integrated personalities, useful to those around us and to the world. We begin to live in, through and for other people; and our little personal problems are gradually absorbed into the larger problems of humanity.

At this point we are ready to begin the search for wisdom, power and truth which are the secret substance of our Spirit. This is the great adventure, for which time, destiny, experience and effort have prepared us. No other adventure is comparable to it in any way.

This adventure, for which thousands of sincere, unselfish, intelligent people are now ready, is a pioneer job today, because we have no adequate, practical education to show us the way. We are still babies in spiritual faculty; we need a simple, working psychology to help us find and develop the God-Forces within. We have thousands of specialized knowledges; but they tend to confuse the intellect rather than awaken the Spirit, because they are essentially physical and there is no wisdom in them.

Skill in the Human Sciences

Under the adverse pressures of the machine age, focused intensively on a higher standard of living, definite training is needed before we can cut our way through the jungles of greed, competition, and hard-boiled skepticism in which the animal man struggles to identify himself. Within this jungle we must learn to define clearly those qualities of heart, those faculties of mind which indicate the upward struggle of the soul and furnish the seeds of wisdom. These positive faculties of kindness, sincerity, intelligence, honesty, courage, character and enthusiasm, hold the spiritual and moral assets of the nation. They are priceless for the future, because they alone can lead us into wisdom. They alone promote that creative skill in the human sciences which must furnish the post-war leadership. We should understand, encourage and identify these faculties within ourselves and our associates, wherever they occur. We should apply them regularly in our dealings with groups, organizations and events. Without this applied training, our mind and Spirit are cut off from one another.

Because the whole future of civilization is involved in the appreciation and application of the positive human qualities, they will, I think, become the basis of a Psychology of the Spirit that will be taught in every school in the land. This kind of training in human relations will rapidly promote research in the extra-sensory perceptions which has already begun in some of our colleges. These perceptions are necessary, because without them, we cannot understand the human organism as it actually functions in life; without them we cannot develop the human sciences to a point where they can collaborate intelligently with the laboratory sciences in the conduct of human affairs.

The separation of these great groups of sciences has been a calamity for the human race, because man himself is not separated. He is a vitally unified being. If he cannot harmonize the values and ideals in his soul with the facts he learns in the laboratory, he tears himself apart with skepticism, frustration and confusion. He becomes a materialist, a defeatist, whether he knows it or not. He loses his faith; and the animal gradually overwhelms the God within him. This has happened to millions today; and the vast destruction of the war is simply a repetition on the physical plane, of the wide destruction of the soul which the technical age has brought to the industrialized nations of the earth. To educate and direct the human animal; to prevent him from destroying himself with war and greed, we must know his soul and spirit as accurately as we know his body, instinctsand appetites. Without this inner knowledge, the leaders of our nation can never release the great spiritual resources of our people or put them to work to build a co-operative society.

Spiritual Research

For constructing the post-war order, this moral and spiritual research will be far more important than scientific research. We know quite enough about nature for the time being; we know quite enough about the human animal and his weaknesses; but we know very little of the great powers, the limitless faculties and high attributes of the human Spirit. Here is a field for research which, if properly pursued, can eventually produce inspired American leaders, wise and strong enough to make this nation into a true democracy, worthy of our tradition of freedom and of the price we are paying to save freedom for civilization.

From the long range point of view, the economic and political objectives of this war are incidental to its moral and spiritual objectives. This greatest of human catastrophies is essentially a show-down fight between the Powers That Be and the long accumulated evil in the soul of the race. Faced with an ultimate choice between slavery and death, the United Nations are putting all they have and are, into world-wide battle for freedom. But they fight with one arm tied behind their backs because they do not know what freedom is; because they suspect the kind of freedom we had before the war is not worth fighting for; because they believe in their bones, this kind of freedom can never bring a lasting peace. It was mostly freedom to get the other fellow's money away from him or the other nation's markets and raw materials away from them. No, my friends, the freedom we have known is not good enough for tomorrow. If the post-war leaders offer only this freedom to a broken, starved and shell-torn world, then indeed, will the dark ages return; then indeed, we shall know we have given our lives, our labor and our wealth to save a system which could not save us. Why? Because economic and political freedom, unrestrained, without direction from thinkers identified with the spiritual universe, turns into license, flounders into triviality and greed, and consumed itself with selfishness. To keep politically free, we must have not only equality of economic opportunity; the citizen must voluntarily control his animal nature and his material wants, in the interest of the national group. When he refuses this sacrifice, when he follows his greed for money, wealth or land, at the other fellow's expense, he is always a slave within himself; and all the Constitutions, Declarations of Independence and Bills of Rights ever written can never make him free. If we could make men free by passing laws, that would be simple; but freedom, in its very nature, requires a cooperative society where citizens are trained to meet their mutual obligations. Freedom is a competitive society is a contradiction in terms; and this is why we, supposedly the greatest and strongest free people on earth, have hundreds of thousands of laws administered by 175,000 government units to control virtually everything we do from catching fish to parking our cars. In 1939, 57,925 new bills were considered by the state legislatures and of these 16,921 were enacted. Why are we the most law-ridden, free people on earth? Because our children are not trained in school to consider the other fellow and live a co-operative life. Today our children are playing with toy machine guns and tanks and going to gangster movies. Do you think we can build leaders for tomorrow out of this stuff? If it takes hundreds of thousands of laws to keep us from "gypping" our fellow citizens at home, do you think we are fit to reorganize free nations abroad after peace! The place to begin to establish the post-war order is in our own hearts and minds.

Building Co-operative Citizens

Is it not time for our great and wealthy colleges and universities to educate cooperative citizens, trained in those qualities of mind and spirit which build wise leaders and universal thinkers? Tomorrow we must become active, informed, world-citizens. Are we ready for this? There is no possible basis for a stable world order except the common brotherhood of man; this brotherhood is a working fact only for men and women endowed with the wisdom, authority and vision of the Spirit. How many do you think there are in the world? Compared with the desperate need of the hour, there are pitifully few.

Because of this need and because we all know that the war symbolizes a moral and spiritual failure which is written in blood around the earth, may I suggest tonight some of the benefits that might accrue for educated Americans from a realistic Psychology of the Spirit, established gradually, as the basis and premise of higher education? Is not the purpose of education to lead the inquiring soul out of many contradictory knowledges into one wisdom? Is it not time that our great universities moved on from analysis to synthesis; from objects to values; from the particular to the universal; and from the laboratory to the human sciences? Do you think perchance that we can build the post-war society on our knowledge of atomic attraction, chemical affinity and electrical polarity? If corpses could think and hope and plan and love, we might do this; for these physical properties apply only to our corpses; to the animals we ride. It is the soul rather than the body, of the human animal, which must concern our seats of learning after peace. The soul feeds on the Psychology of the Spirit as the body feeds on milk and bread. This psychology, once established, will enable the soul of the nation to predominate over the wealth of the nation. It will write a new and deeper meaning into our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and our Declaration of Independence. It will eliminate hypocrisy in public office and waste of the peoples' substance by public officials. It will put character, courage, integrity and vision into our federal government. It will make big business more conscious of its social obligation to the nation. It will help greatly to harmonize the national group conflicts which throttle and stifle the democratic process. These things are guaranteed because, if we give it a chance, the Spirit controls and directs human consciousness.

To understand how the Spirit works among thinkers, when released to active expression, we have only to look back to recent history. The whole progress of the industrial era from the middle ages to the present, has been due to the daring, creative spirit of a mere handful of great scientists. Thinking in line with nature's laws, these pioneers have not only built the basis of the technological society; they have wrought such miracles in our standard of living and our daily habits that their philosophy has dominated our age both morally and intellectually. It is no fault of the scientist if the human animal uses his discoveries to devise bigger and better instruments with which to blow himself to bits. The point I wish to make is that the physical sciences can never produce a realistic Psychology of the Spirit or develop thinkers equipped to promote the cooperative society. So far, we have used the creative Spirit only in the laboratory and in production. But we cannot find human quality under a microscope nor human faculty in a test tube; and there is no laboratory for the cooperative man but his own soul. Our seats of learning which endeavor to prepare leaders for the post-war world should concentrate their efforts not on chemistry, biology and physics but on philosophy, sociology, ethics, religion and the psychic faculties. These sciences whichdeal with human values and qualities are destined, 1 believe, to discover the human soul as a fact in nature and reveal the psychic and nervous structure of people as the basis of the evolution of personality. This research approaches the ancient science of wisdom which is synthetic, subjective and universal. All the great thinkers of the past have pursued it, in one form or another.

Psychological Basis of Greed

Now it is no more difficult to teach the elements of wisdom to the natural man than it is to teach him reading and writing; but before we can do this, our churches and colleges will need to discover the psychological basis of greed and take measures to correct it in our youth. Greed results from domination of our thoughts and emotions by the five physical senses. The spirit of greed, of competition, of beating the other fellow to the gun, is the spirit of war. For the natural man, greed is logical as arithmetic. Why should he bother about the other fellow? Why not get what he can while the going is good? As an objective thinker the natural man lives and works for himself, for money, land and goods. Because he cannot turn them into tangibles, the values which relate him to society, do not concern him. This is the so-called practical man whom we have allowed to manage western civilization and bring it down in ruin and disaster on our heads. Isn't it time we realized how impractical he has been in business, education, religion, law, government and international relations? Can we afford to allow practical men to manage the post-war order? Do we want leaders who are property conscious or thinkers who are human-value conscious? For those who can read the signs, the answer explodes around the earth in bombs, torpedoes and mines. Through the power of wealth and the political controls which attend it, the practical man has built the machines for his own destruction; out of his greed, he has created the only thing on earth he fears—raw, brute force, backed up by huge resources of men, money and materials. The only power strong enough to control or transform the greed of the natural man is the power of God within his soul. Wise leaders and statesmen could evoke this power.

The Animal Dream

We have been ruled too long by the animal dream. Our businessmen and scientists are practical dreamers; they dream of unlimited production, of conquering time and space. Their dreams are physical, technical, objective. This cycle has nearly run its course; it has been of great value to the nation and the world; but it will not do for tomorrow. There is a better dream in store for us when our vigorous creative energies are turned away from things to values; away from products to people; away from the natural to the human sciences.

What is this better dream? It lies partly in educating cooperative citizens, trained from childhood to understand their true, interdependent position in the social order. We have measured everything but human nature; we have harnessed everything except the creative powers of the soul. We must use and apply these moral and spiritual assets of our people as effectively as we have used and applied our material assets. It is just as easy to measure human quality as it is to measure time and distance. It is just as easy to build creative faculty into wisdom as it is to build muscles into the body. We simply haven't used our national intelligence and energy in this direction. As a result, we have no sense of direction, no high leadership in crisis, no vision to carry us forward except the animal dream. We are giving our wealth, our work and our lives for freedom, yet we don't know what freedom is. The animal dream can nevermake us free; only the cooperative human spirit, harnessed to human affairs, can do this.

Dr. Thomas C. McCormick, Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, puts the problem this way: "Such progressive development in the moral and spiritual nature of man himself, has not been at anything approaching the same rate as his material progress. Today a species of mammals at a low and primitive stage of evolution, finds itself in possession of colossal material powers and resources. The sociality of this mammalian species is so ill-kept, so badly organized, so lowly evolved that these enormous material powers fall completely under the control of single individuals or small groups who are selfish, greedy, vicious, dishonest and hypocritical."

A World to Rebuild

This indictment is serious but not exaggerated. Some of you will ask, "How did we get this way after nearly 2,000 years of Christianity?" We don't know much about Christianity yet and we have always been this way. Few have cared to tell us the unpleasant truth. As Carlyle said, "Society is very tolerant; it forgives everything but truth." Well, this is a time for truth, whether anyone forgives it or not. We remain human animals because we allow scientists, businessmen and politicians to do most of our thinking for us and establish the values for which we live and work. These men are physical thinkers and good ones, too. All the instruments of communication are at their disposal. They get thousands of tons of publicity every year. Their words and products have made them a lot of money; but they cannot lead this nation forward, out of its childhood into maturity. It is time we were growing up! We have been playing with mechanical gadgets long enough. We have a world to rebuild—morally, intellectually and spiritually. We cannot do that job on values manufactured by advertising agencies or qualities acquired in offices and banks. The only men who are fit to do our thinking for us are those who, in their hearts, desire neither wealth, power, fame nor property. No man can be a thinker as long as he thinks about himself. No man can awaken from his animal dream until he is more concerned with his fellow beings than he is with himself. Thinking is a spiritual process by which we discover our universal identity, quality and problem. Today we have identified our minds so closely with our bodies, that thinking is manufactured out of instinct, sensation, appetite and greed. Our so-called thinkers are busy as bees trying to build the future out of their animal dream. It cannot be done; and the quicker we find it out the better for all concerned. If we do not find it out after this peace, we may not have another chance.

The Rule of Competitive Men

You will notice we have been talking about men to an audience of women. This is because women can never understand themselves until they understand the men with whom they have to deal. As women who are struggling against odds, in a man's world, for equal rights before the law, you must learn to know the competitive man better than he knows himself. You must show him how to cooperate with you in body, mind and spirit. Remember it is men, not women, who have bathed the earth in hatred, blood and horror. After peace, I think the men should abdicate and turn control of human affairs over to the women of the earth; for no matter how badly you failed, you could never make such a mess of civilization as they have; and I have a notion you would improve on the job they have done about one thousand per cent. It is, therefore, essential for you to take control of men wherever you can; for they are not yet fit to control themselves. You must meet the competitive manfirst with his own weapons—with logic, reason and facts; and then you must show him a deeper logic, a higher reason and a lot of facts to which his vanity and selfishness have blinded him. You must work to build cooperative world-citizens out of greedy, competitive men. You must start at home with your children, because men who cannot cooperate as sons, fathers, husbands and brothers are unfit for freedom. I think you have seen abundant proof of this! Since 1917, when they finished their last adventure in brutality, you have watched free, competitive men rule the so-called free nations. They talked freedom, but they practiced isolationism. They made a League of Nations and abandoned it because it cramped their greedy style. They understood diplomacy as a delicate device by which governments and vested interests make national greed appear respectable and proper and drape it in the flags of patriotism. They represented property instead of populations. Now they are gone with the wind; their property has disappeared and their populations are dying like flies.

Ask your men why they are fighting for freedom and equality of opportunity in China and New Guinea when they haven't yet granted these rights to their women at home. We cannot have a free world until women are free to think and live and work and deal with men on a basis of absolute equality before the law. Your present status is a hangover from the middle ages when women were slaves, kept in ignorance and seclusion to feed the vanity of men.

There is one sure way in which you can control the practical, competitive man—by finding in your hearts the wisdom to understand the values in his soul better than he understands them himself. These values are simple because, at heart, the practical man is a child. Being an objective thinker, an individualist, he knows everything, he understands everything but himself. He sees himself, a tiny thing, on a tiny planet hanging in infinite space, isolated alike from the past and future, struggling for economic survival, and wondering what it's all about. Sensing his utter insignificance as a person in the universe, he fortifies himself with information or opinions on everything under the sun; he builds his little shell of egotism about him; parades it up and down before you, and goes on a rampage whenever you attempt to look beneath it.

So remember the real crisis of this war is not on the worldwide battlefronts but in the soul of the human animal. His world, the practical values he stands for, the fruits of his greed, the methods he uses, the institutions he has built through centuries of effort, have all exploded in his face. In his heart he is frightened; and he ought to be! He knows his game is up; but he can't quite understand why. It is up to you to tell him.

Who Will Write the Peace?

The big question for you and the other free nations is: Can we afford to allow this competitive human animal to dominate the peace table and the post-war reconstruction? I say we cannot! If he cannot rule himself, he is not fit to rule anybody else. He had his chance in the free nations between his two wars; he used it to make this battle inevitable. Shall we let him do it again and wipe out the next generation of youth? If not, then we must have at the peace table men and women of spiritual vision and moral courage; thinkers for whom the brotherhood of man is a fact and not a phrase; men without concern for personal power or wealth; wise leaders who love mankind regardless of race, creed, color or class; men who will not trade human lives for markets, boundaries or raw materials. Where are these leaders? Are they in the Congress of the United States or the British Parliament or the Supreme Council of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? I do not know;but wherever they are they should speak up now, before the competitive human animal is able to gobble up the second peace. You know how the seeds of this fight were sown at Versailles by the free but greedy Allies; you know how their policies destroyed the German Democracy, brought the German inflation, and paved the way for Hitler; you know why the ruling, propertied classes of Britain and France allowed Germany to rearm as a bulwark against Communist Russia; you know why they slept till Munich awakened them to the awful truth that German capitalism was powerless and that Hitler really meant what he said. This pre-war record of the free human animal, as ruler of free nations, is one of the blackest pages in human history. It was this free human animal who freed the Beast of Berchtesgaden among the German people and provided the tools for the murder of Europe. Hitler is not an isolated phenomenon; he was made by his enemies; he is the cumulative effect of all the evils, the selfishness and wickedness wrought by the dominating, propertied classes of western capitalist society in the past two centuries. If we conquer the Beast of Germany and fail to conquer the animal in ourselves, this war will be fought in vain.

To keep our faith in God and man, we must, therefore, know how thoroughly humanity deserved this war, and the reasons why. There is absolute justice in it. From this fact, you may judge how madly we of the machine age, have violated the laws of God. The pre-war civilization was unfit in a thousand ways, to survive. In it, the cooperative man had no chance. To give him a chance, the competitive man and all his works, has to be beaten with brute force, and removed from authority over human affairs. He is not beaten yet either within or without our nation; and this is why the war will be long, bitter and exhausting.

The Basis of Freedom

After peace, the basis of political freedom must be economic freedom—a just distribution of wealth, land and property and the powers which attend it, among nations, races, groups and classes. We cannot separate the class struggle within nations from wars between nations; they are cut from the same pattern. The only basis of economic freedom is self-control by the competitive animal. To show him the way we should establish wise, unselfish, cooperative leaders in Congress and the seats of federal power.

So go back home and tell your men-folk what kind of freedom we are fighting for. Tell them one cannot be free while another takes more wealth from the common earth than he needs or uses. Tell them nations are brothers to one another and the strong must help the weak, instead of murdering them. Tell them economic and political freedom are diametrically opposed, as long as the free citizen values his property and land above the common welfare. Tell them there is enough to go around, if they will think and act cooperatively. If you do these things perhaps you will come to see a plan behind this war; perhaps you will see it as a necessary instrument for building the first, decent, humane civilization we have ever had on earth.

In your hours of doubt I ask you to take courage and remember the Laws of Life were not written in Washington or London or Berlin. There is a higher law which we must learn. That law still rules the universe. When we look within our hearts and find it, and put it to work in our lives, then and not until then, shall we have a world of joy and peace and freedom among men. Then, and not until then, shall we justify the blood of our youth and make them say, "This is peace! This is freedom! This is worth the price we paid!"