Research on Postwar Reconstruction
IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC OPINION IN A DEMOCRATIC STATE
By DR. SUN FO, President of the Legislative Yuan, China
Delivered in the Committee on Postwar World Reconstruction, Chungking, January 31, 1943
[Translated by Ho Shao-ja]
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 597-600.
IT is, we may say, an initial gesture in this State that a group of specialists gathers to study the problem of Postwar Reconstruction in accordance with schedule. The meeting today is, therefore, of utmost significance. The Comrades participating in this meeting are, with the exception of two gentlemen, members of the staff of the Legislative Yuan. The job of the Legislative Yuan is mostly research. So it is quite suitable that you gentlemen are to take up thistask. I hope you all will exercise your genius and wisdom in this work in order to bring about a result satisfactory to us.
The British and Americans often said that the Allied Nations have been unprepared for war and that they must not be unprepared for peace. As a consequence, both the Government and the people of Britain and of America have started their study on postwar problems since their nations have entered into this war. In Britain and the United States, not only individual specialists have published from time to time their opinions on postwar reconstruction in newspapers and magazines but also their Governments have set up special mechanisms for the reconstruction of the world after the conclusion of the war and their private cultural bodies and universities have established like organizations. This explains that "the restoration of domestic stability and prosperity after the war" and "the achievement of lasting world peace after the war" are now the problems over which far-sighted people are deeply concerned.
As the world realizes, China is the nation which loves peace most. This is evidenced not only by China's political philosophy that has reigned this State for thousands of years but by the history of the amicable relations between China and her neighbors in the past several thousand years. With her traditional love of peace and with her baptism of the THREE PRINCIPLES OF THE PEOPLE in these 50 years, China will, no doubt, become one of the toughest pillars supporting the lasting world peace in the future, and, in fact, she has already taken up the task of defending world peace.—The fact that China alone has carried on the war against Japan for over 4 years is the signal of China's peace-loving spirit.
On the eve of the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War some friendly peoples advised us to exercise our patience for the time being in the interest of our country. We were not unaware of the heavy cost that we should have to pay in a Sino-Japanese war; but for the extinction of the fire of aggression and in the defense of world peace, we have but assumed our obligations of upholding righteousness in defiance of bitter sufferings unprecedented in Chinese history or in the history of the world! China's love of peace and righteousness has never been moved by the inducement of selfishness. We do esteem out own existence and we are at the same time deeply concerned over the existence of mankind as a whole. For the salvation of mankind from catastrophe, we have been contented to face ourselves the catastrophe. We were not indiscernible of our own strength; but we did not wish to abandon our mission. Being influenced by the advice of our forefathers that "even drops of water can possibly form a river," we have, in spite of our low industrial power, started to fight for the time of preparation on the part of the anti-aggression nations and for the prevention of an unremediable situation that would have been created through their then hesitancy and inaction. All this is not a self-boasting on our part but a fact also admitted by the Allied peoples who have realized the significance of the sacrifices we have made.
Today the World War has reached its turning point. The victory of the United Nations is in sight. But how to make use of the bitter lessons we have learned in the past and how to build up a lasting, worldwide peace have now become a grave problem to the peace-loving peoples. If we have merely succeeded in checking aggression and if we cannot build up a lasting world peace, we have not yet fulfilled our obligations of defending peace. The Chinese people have sacrificed innumerable lives, blood and flesh in this anti-aggression war. Undoubtedly, they are obligated to make further contributions of spirit and genius to the achievement of lasting world peace.
We cannot say definitely that after this war human wisdom will never again be covered by human selfishness, which, as history explains, leaves room for war. But progress is, we may say, the ironic rule of human history. To push forward the mankind of today to the road to progress is the duty of each member of this generation and also the privilege of each member of this generation. Since we are sensible of our duty to postwar reconstructions, our contribution thereto, if any, even small, would be of some significance.
In view of the difficulties in transportation, we cannot read in full some of the articles by the Europeans and Americans on postwar reconstruction. As far as I know there are people who make candid judgment of the world affairs and uphold justice. But there are, on the contrary, people who have been influenced by their selfishness and their old traditional prejudice. In the not distant past I published in the newspaper an article entitled "A Dangerous Thought on Postwar Reconstruction" in which their arguments were discussed and which, I presume, you all have read over. Recently I read the book review on the book by Prof. Spykman of Yale University entitled "America's Strategy in World Politics" from which I learn that he advocates postwar peace be built on the basis of a new equilibrium. His general idea is: The present unification of China, the United States, Britain and Soviet Union is based on a temporarily common interest. They entertain their respective aims in the war. As a consequence, they will certainly depart one another after the conclusion of the war. For this reason, he urges that the United States must in time think of her own interest from the standpoint of realism. A powerful China is, in his eyes, as dangerous to America as a powerful Japan. So after the defeat of Japan, help must be rendered to her in order to restore her military strength. This will put China and Japan in a rivalry position in which they watch each other. Then the Far Eastern peace will be maintained. And European tranquility will, he feels, be achieved only through a new equilibrium between Soviet Union and Germany. He also warned his fellow-countrymen with an old proverb that ally today would become enemy tomorrow.
You all, no doubt, know that the so-called new equilibrium is but an old song. It is only the repetition of the advocacy of the German geopoliticians. However, we cannot ignore the consequence of Spykman's statement. He is the chief of the Institute of International Studies of the Yale university. Both the Yale and the Harvard universities play an important role in American politics. His argument for realism would possibly have some effect.
Of course, in America there are many people whose opinion is in absolute contrast of Spykman's. Prof. Peffer of Columbia University is, for instance, the most prominent one. In his book entitled "Prerequisites to Peace in the Far East," he strongly objects to equilibrium. He finds that only through the existence of a powerful China can Far Eastern peace be maintained. Taking the American continent for example, he said that with the existence of the powerful United States, the nations in the two Americas live together peacefully. The East and West Association directed by Miss Pearl Buck has published many articles against Spykman's theory. In addition, I recently read a book by Prof. Carr of Britain entitled "Conditions of Peace." His opinion on postwar reconstruction is impartial and even, in part, in consonance with the fundamental spirit of the THREE PRINCIPLES OF THE PEOPLE. As we study the problem of Postwar Reconstruction, we must, I feel, pay attention to the public opinion of the foreign nations in this respect. We must support the statements impartial and denounce those fallacious, particularly those harmful to China. I deplore the indifference of our culturists to the problem, especially the inaction of the governmental bodies concerned. And our organizations situate on foreign soil do not take much interest in the acquisition of this material to meet the needs of their home.
As we know, the public opinion of a democratic State usually affects its national policy. Once a fallacious argument has developed into a public opinion, even the wiseprincipal of the Government can hardly regulate it within a short space of time. The history of America's participation in this war is the best explanation in this regard.
President Roosevelt is, as a matter of fact, a far-sighted statesman. As far back as in October, 1937 he delivered his famous Chicago speech in which he urged to do away with the hysteria of aggression in order to save world peace. He has realized that in the world politics today the United States can, by no means, keep herself away from entanglement. However, the American public opinion was then influenced by isolationism. After the publication of his speech President Roosevelt was attacked almost by the whole of the public opinion of his country. He could not take any counter-action but kept quiet for some time. The Neutrality Bill he then submitted was put aside by the Congress. In the summer of 1940 when France collapsed there were only 360,000 regulars in the United States Army. The American Conscription Bill was not passed by the Congress until September, 1940.
The foresight of President Roosevelt, for instance, was not accepted by his people before it had conquered a lot of difficulties. From this we may realize that we cannot ignore the influence of the public opinion in its national policy.
It was so powerful in the past and it would not be entirely different in the future. I therefore urge that we must not ignore the effect of the opinion of the British and American peoples on postwar reconstruction. If the idea like that of Spykman were to develop into such a strong public opinion as to affect the national policy of a State, the postwar world and the present world situation as well will be put in a clearly dangerous position which even the most inferior artist can depict easily.
If the arguments of the so-called realists do affect the Allied international policy, the situation, I think, will possibly be: In Europe, the Russo-German War be put in stagnancy in which neither will win, thus giving the third selfish Power or Powers a free hand to settle the struggle in its or their own interest. Recently I heard a strange argument that there is no need to open a second front before the Soviet Union has won her decisive victory. This is, perhaps, the deduction of Spykman ism. In Pacific, support to China must be continued; otherwise the equilibrium cannot be maintained. But serious consideration must be given to the advocacy by the far-sighted statesmen of the Allies, of most urgent aid to China in order to strengthen her offensive strength, as such aid must be dictated by the needs of equilibrium. After the conclusion of this war, the old system of balance of power is, of course, to be restored. Everything is to be based on self-interest. When we move, against A, we may, in our own interest, take B as our ally and vice-versa.—This is the dogma of equilibrium!
To care exclusively for one's own interest is, no doubt a wisdom, in the eyes of somebody. But can it secure a lasting world peace after the war? No, because it is only a repetition of the old play!
The characteristic of human progress is human's avoidance of the repetition of its failure. Had the aforesaid equilibrium secured lasting world peace, the present war would not have happened. If the equilibrium as discussed above were translated into reality, the blood shed by our fighters and by those of our Allies will be rendered senseless, the sacrifices made by the peoples of the world will be wasted and the ideal of the great statesmen will become but a cloud of smoke in the air.
China does not cherish such thought. Our aim is very simple. We exclusively hope for our peaceful contacts with all peoples of the world as I have stated above.
To speak in concrete terms, we earnestly hope that we will permanently maintain our unity with our great Allies, Britain, the United States and Soviet Union to exercise unreservedly the spirit of the Atlantic Charter in the establishment of peaceful relations between the nations in the Far East. As regards Japan, there are two alternatives in our ideal. The first course is: The Big Four jointly reform the Japan now under the rule of her militarists into a democratic Japan and invite her to join the Democracies Bloc on the basis of equality so as to maintain the lasting peace in the Far East through collective security. Should this be found inapplicable, we shall pursue the second course: To annihilate Japan's forces completely and to prevent her forever from becoming the disaster to peace.
Ideal is always opposed by extreme realists. If and when the state of affairs develops to the degree which forces us to abandon our ideal, we will but, also, pursue a course of "realism" which is open to us. It is: Firstly, in consideration of geographic factor we will unite closely with Soviet Union to stabilize the tranquility in the Far East and to prevent the rebirth of Militaristic Japan; secondly, we will possibly unite with defeated Japan and the Japanese people who have been seriously menaced by their militarists' aggression policy.
Our "realism" is also simple, because we merely aim at our own security and peace. However, this "realism" is, in fact, not our free wish, because we fully understand that "realism" is absolutely not the instrument that would build up a lasting world peace but is a road to failure.
We have in this war received from our Allied peoples enthusiastic encouragement and material support to which we are permanently grateful. But I must state with frankness that there still exist some isolationism from the standpoint of postwar world reconstruction ideal, because there are, as mentioned in my recent speeches, some persons in the Allies imagining that a powerful China would possibly become a menace to the world. Here I recollect the proverb that a man who had once been bit by a snake is afraid even of a rope when it comes into his sight. As a matter of fact, a rope cannot bite anybody. His fear is but the result of his nervousness.
After the conclusion of World War I, the Western scholars like Wells, Laski and Russell were anxious over the uneasiness arising out from the guiding principle of the Western politics and paid close attention to the Chinese political philosophy. They are the men who wish and can realize China's good traditional thought although their judgment is, in some cases, not right. However, their feeble voice was overwhelmed by the flood of chaos. At present, China's spirit is, in the eyes of the Westerners, still a mystery.—Of course, we ourselves are principally responsible for this state of affairs.
Now let me take advantage of this opportunity to speak a word to the peoples of our Allies: If the enterprise of peace after this war does not respect the idea of China who possesses 1/5 of the total population of the world, or if China is deprived of her chance to participate, on the basis of absolute equality, in this enterprise, the foundation of this enterprise will certainly not be very healthy. This is not only China's ideology toward the interest of the world but a simple arithmetic. I speak this word not only in the interest of China alone hut also in that of lasting world peace.
In closing, I wish to express my personal opinion in brief on the principle of Postwar Reconstruction for your refer-once.
Above all, the Postwar World must, in my opinion, be based on equality among nations. If in that world will still exist conquerors and conquered nations, the struggle between the conquerors themselves and the hatred and enmity between the conquerors and conquered nations can never be removed. In this situation, the realization of lasting world peace is unimaginable. To build up a new world after this war and to establish lasting peace of mankind, we must thoroughly eliminate the racial prejudice of the Axis Powers and thoroughly materialize the principle of national freedom and equality as stipulated in the Atlantic Charter. The advanced nations must, in the spirit of equality, render the backward nations help in order to enable them to climb up to the level of world civilization within the shortest possible movement. Christ teached man to love his neighbor as dearly as he loves himself. This is an axiom of dealings between man and man and particularly the maxim of contacts between nation and nation 1 History tells us that anyone who attempts to build up his own prosperity at the expense of others will at last be punished with sufferings. The approaching collapse of the Axis Powers is the explanation of this truth.
Moreover, the Postwar World must, I feel, be based on the happy livelihood of mankind as a whole. There are two tasks in this regard which we must accomplish. Firstly, to promote the standard of living of the peoples of all nations, or, in other words, to enable every nation to develop evenly in various fields of its national economy. Secondly, not to emphasize production alone but to emphasize the adjustment between consumption and distribution. The reason for this is very simple and clear. If consumption and distribution do not meet and if there is over production, it will result in internal uneasiness and, inevitably in external encroachment. If a nation does not develop evenly in various fields of its national economy, it would easily become the aim of external encroachment.—In these circumstances, we can, by no means, prevent the spread of the hysteria of war. On the contrary, if all nations will develop evenly in various
fields of their national economy in which consumption and distribution meet, it will certainly promote the standard of living of mankind as a whole and achieve the peaceful economic collaboration between nations. For instance, if China's postwar economic reconstruction were built on the basis of the LIVELIHOOD (embodied in the THREE PRINCIPLES OF THE PEOPLE), the Chinese livelihood will be promoted beyond doubt; when China's national economy develops evenly in various fields, China not only will not re-adopt her close-door policy but will extend her economic relations with the economically advanced nations. Therefore, in postwar reconstruction, we must, I feel, extirpate such thoughts as the "endemic economy" of Nazi Germany and the "industrial Japan and agricultural China" of Militaristic Japan. Because these thoughts are irreconcilable with the happy livelihood of mankind. Because these thoughts will surely cause a nation to ignore the adjustment between consumption and distribution and will surely cause a nation to obstruct the economic development of other nations by its own economic potency.
I The principal causes of the failure of the peace after the First World War is, as I find from my survey thereof, the absence of the two fundamental principles mentioned above. As I have said, the characteristic of human progress is human's avoidance of the repetition of its failure. Therefore, in research on postwar reconstruction we must strictly adhere to the principle stated above.
I have also stated that we cannot say definitely that after this war human wisdom will never again be covered by human selfishness, which, as history explains, leaves room for war. But to push forward the mankind of today to the road to progress is the duty as well as the privilege of everybody. We cannot predict that whether the conclusion of our research on Postwar Reconstruction will be accepted by the world or not. But we are obligated to exercise our greatest efforts in this direction. I therefore hope that you all will not take this task as a common thing, and I wish this Committee a distinguished success.