What We fight For
"EACH AGE DEMANDS A NEW FREEDOM"
By HENRY A. WALLACE, Vice President of the United States
Delivered before a meeting sponsored by the Chicago United Nations Committee to Win the Peace, Chicago, Illinois, September 11, 1943
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol IX, pp. 754-757.
THOSE of you who must read the McCormick press know the inevitable conflict is here. Now,—not tomorrow. We shall soon know whether the Common Man shall have "democracy first" or whether under the smooth phrase "America first," the Common Man shall be robbed. Beautiful advertisements and slick editorials say "Let our soldiers come home to America as it used to be. What they are really saying is "Let us go back to normalcy, depressions, cartels and a war every twenty-five years."
In World War One, we fought to make the world safe for democracy. We failed, Hitler rose, and the Second World War came on because we were not sufficiently concerned with the plight of the Common Man the world over. We did not realize that economic democracy must be combined with political democracy or political democracy would die. Hitler exploited our failure to establish an economic democracy by starting World War Two. If we are to prevent a second Hitler and World War Three, we must be more daring than we were twenty-five years ago. We must fight not merely to make the world safe for democracy but to give democracy first place in the world. Some people say "America first." Under that slogan we can have only war because under it envious, hungry peoples, the have-not nations with per capita resources less than one-fifth our own, will inevitably rise up to tear us down. The battle cry, "America first," means that sooner or later we shall find ourselves alone, encircled by and fighting against a hostile combination. But the slogan "democracy first," intelligently followed up and vigorously applied, can lead to peace. As a matter of fact, it is only by applying the principles of "democracy first" that we can have any chance of lasting peace.
The slogan "democracy first" means the supremacy of freedom in both the economic and the political world. Freedom means respect for the dignity of the individual. No man should be free to take another man's freedom away from him. God gave everyone of us certain rights. He gave all of us a world rich in soil and minerals. And to many of us he gave such scientific understanding that we know it is now possible to build health, comfort and happiness for everyone. If we plan aright, there can be freedom from hunger and freedom from the fear of a poverty-stricken old age. The farmer can be free of his fear of impossibly low prices for what he sells and outrageously high prices forwhat he buys. The businessman can be free from the fear of those monopolies and international cartels which use unfair practices in buying from him, selling to him or competing with him.
In the world of modern technology, the possibilities of abundant production are so great that it is only a question of time until we can bring the blessing of freedom from want to everyone. Two hundred years ago, freedom of discussion and freedom of religion meant more to people than freedom from want. Those were the days when men on the farm and in the work shop were only about one-tenth as efficient as they are today. There was little talk about freedom from want in those days because nearly everyone thought scarcity was the will of God. Therefore, attention was centered on political freedom, on freedom of expression and freedom of religion, on the right to be secure in one's own home. With the old line Tories having things their own way in England and France, it was necessary to have a people's revolution to launch the idea of political freedom. We in the United States told the world what we were fighting for in the Declaration of Independence. Our first action after adopting the Constitution was to improve that Constitution by adding to it the Bill of Rights so as to make it certain that political democracy would always be the fundamental law of the United States. We shall never give up the freedom embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the pill of Rights. But that freedom is not enough. Each age demands a new freedom. The time has come for a new declaration of freedom which adds to and makes secure, in an age of airplanes, radio, and abundance, the freedoms for which our fathers fought. Our new declaration must go on to cover freedoms we haven't got now but which we must have.
Three of the President's famous Four Freedoms deal with freedoms which we in the United States have long enjoyed. The fourth freedom which must be the essence of the new declaration of freedom is freedom from want, which I would spell out as follows:
1. Freedom from worry about a job.
2. Freedom from worry about a dependent and poverty-pinched old age.
3. Freedom from unnecessary worry about sickness and hunger.
4. Freedom from strife between workers and businessmen, between farmers and businessmen, and between workers and farmers.
5. Freedom from strife between the races and creeds.
6. Freedom from fear of bankruptcy caused by over-production of necessary materials.
7. Freedom for venture capital and for inventors of raw ideas to expand production of needed goods without fear of repressive cartels, excessive taxation or excessive government regulation.
Above everything we are fighting for peace. But the peace will not last long if it doesn't bring to the Common Man everywhere these seven freedoms. Neither will it last long if it is made before the Allied Armies reach Berlin and Tokio. We sympathize with pacifists and those who are anxious to get their boys home, but we have only contempt for those American Fascists who by their conditional peace talk strengthen the resistance of the enemy. The Middle West is not isolationist. Chicago is not mean and selfish and narrow. Here, remote from the oceans but in the heart of the war effort, we earnestly seek the road to lasting peace, not by isolationism but by cooperation with other nations.
The first step toward getting the seven new freedoms is to pass through the Senate of the United States some such resolution as No. 114, which provides for the United States taking the initiative in calling meetings of the United Nations. This resolution looks toward a court or board to listen to international disputes, a military force to prevent military aggression, and the gradual addition of such other machinery as may be necessary. I am for the resolution as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. There should be provision for joint action on the problem of unemployment and overproduction due to international causes. There muss be power to deal with those international cartels which are strangling production, competing unfairly or using methods which lead to war.
During the past two months Senators and Congressmen speaking on behalf of Resolution 114 have received a marvelous reception wherever they have gone. Next Tuesday Congress again takes up its duties. Ninety-six Senators and our President will determine what we are going to do about peace. Their action will largely depend on what they think you and millions like you are willing to do to get peace.
There is no time to be lost. Now is the time to strike while the war irons are hot. The war is costing us ten times what it should because the democracies were not prepared. The peace also will cost us ten times what it should if we do not begin preparing now. We can arrive at understandings now which we can't get next year. The memory of the airplanes, tanks, food and men from the United States is so recent and means so much to England, Russia, and China that they can't help being grateful. In like manner we are impressed today by the skill of the British airmen, the tremendous drive of the Russian armies and the patience of the Chinese after six years of fighting a treacherous foe. Today we all face reality and are grateful for the help of friends. But tomorrow millions of us may forget and curse Europe and Asia as the cause of our woes. All nations tomorrow will too easily slump back into the selfishness which makes peace merely an interlude to war.
On a worldwide scale today we face the same problem as the thirteen North American colonies faced in the closing years of the Revolutionary War. Out of the anarchy of conflicting opinion, the aspirations of the Common Man built the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so that free men might have a chance to go ahead on their own merit without fear or favor. Then when the dead hand of monopoly, backed by monarchy, was removed, free enterprise expanded into the Middle West. The tremendous growth of American industry was a tribute to the principle of free opportunity which for the first time in the world's history was applied in a big way here in the United States.
Isolationism is the screen behind which special privilege seeks to entrench its control. When I say this, I am not talking about people who honestly believe the United States could isolate itself from the problems of the rest of the world. Certain of these people whom I have known personally have devoted their lives to the elimination of special privilege. Senator Norris, who fought more vigorously against special privilege than any man of his generation, was at one time an isolationist. But men of Senator Norris' insight and motivation sooner or later realize that not only are isolationism and special privilege theoretically the same thing but that the men who back isolationism in the economic world have a very keen interest in special privilege. Isolationism and special privilege spoke with equal force to produce the peace of Munich. Wherever isolationism is being pushed most vigorously, there in the background can usually be found, furnishing money and power, monopolistic cartels. These cartels are customarily seeking tariffs, quotas, subsidies or other governmental favors which are the breeding ground of isolationism.
Chicago has been the home of many a stirring fight against monopolistic privilege. Here Theodore Roosevelt was nominated on the Bull Moose ticket in 1912. Here the LaFollette name whether it be father or son has a special significance. Here Franklin Roosevelt was nominated in 1932 and again in 1940. Here in this hall tonight are men and women in whose veins flows the blood of twenty European nations. The fight against special privilege is not confined to one party, race or region. Senator Ball, who is with me on this program here tonight, and who as far as I am able to discover has the same ideas on international monopoly as I, is a Republican. The difference between us is that he thinks the forces of monopoly are more likely to dominate the Democratic Party and I am sure that the same evil forces are in much greater danger of dominating the Republican Party. Wherever these forces are found, our job is to fight them. Those groups which rule over economic empires have usurped the sovereignty of the people in international relations. We talk about a foreign policy based on reciprocal trade treaties and on open covenants openly arrived at with the advice of the Senate responsible to the people. This is good as far as it goes but the facts have not squared with the principle.
In reality, much of our economic relationship with the rest of the world has been governed by a small group seeking to parcel out the resources and markets of the world so as to control production, prices, distribution and the very life blood of world industry. These cliques have their own international government by which they arrive at private quotas. Their emissaries are found in the foreign offices of many of the important nations of the world. They create their own system of tariffs and determine who will be given permission to produce, to buy and to sell. When I attack these monopolists, these creators of secret, super government, I am not attacking business. I am speaking for business because the overwhelming majority of businessmen as well as practically all consumers are forced to pay tribute to these international freebooters. They talk about freer trade but by dividing up world markets, restricting production, stifling investment, playing one nation against another, they have unwittingly fostered world depression and maintained economic feudalism. By eliminating competition, they have replaced true capitalism with the dead hand of monopoly. Pope Pius XI thirteen years ago spoke truly about thesemen when he said:—"This concentration of power has led to a three-fold struggle for domination. First, there is the struggle for dictatorship in the economic sphere itself; then, the fierce battle to acquire control of the State, so that its resources and authority may be abused in the economic struggles; finally, the clash between States themselves."
Take rubber for example. Long before Pearl Harbor many of us in government had done our best to build up a rubber stockpile, to encourage the growing of natural rubber in this hemisphere and to get synthetic rubber production started. As Secretary of Agriculture I personally took the initiative in some of this work including the trading of 600,000 bales of cotton for 90,000 tons of rubber. In the summer of 1940 I urged on Ed Stettinius the desirability of his looking into and pushing the production of butyl rubber. Later as a member of WPB I continued to push for prompt butyl rubber expansion. I took this interest in butyl because of the information I had obtained when Secretary of Agriculture from the co-inventor of butyl rubber who in 1940 was working for the United States Department of Agriculture.
What I didn't know and what 130,000,000 Americans did not know was that the private rulers of world industry had their own private approach to synthetic rubber. Synthetic rubber was the subject of a private treaty between a great American oil company and I. G. Farben, the German chemical colossus. These two great concerns made a deal. The Germans were given a world monopoly on synthetic rubber. The Americans were given a monopoly on synthetic gasoline. This monopoly was good over the entire world, with the exception of Germany. The Germans knew what they were after. They would not yield their own development in their own country to foreign interests.
This secret agreement between an American monopoly and a German cartel was submitted to no public authority in this country. It was far more important than most treaties but it was never acted upon by the United States Senate. The peoples and the governments of the world had unwittingly let the cartels and the monopolies form a super government by means of which they could monopolize and divide whole fields of science and carve up the markets of the world at their own sweet pleasure. The people must get back their power to deal with this super government. This super government has misused the people of the United States not only with regard to rubber but in a host of other critical industries as well. Today I shall deal only with rubber, particularly with buna rubber.
Buna rubber is the German rubber which the American oil company got control of when it made its trade with I. G. Farben.
As a result of its deal, the American oil company had to choose between loyalty to the United States and its commercial obligation to its German partner. Because of its commitments to its German partner the oil company did threethings:
1. It misled the government as to the restrictive character of the patent situation.
2. It assured government officials that every effort would be made to bring about a large production of synthetic rubber for tires and then offered licenses which were deliberately oppressive in order to prevent the production of tires from this robber. It sued one company and threatened to sue a second for daring to produce buna rubber.
3. For five years the production of butyl rubber was held back although the American company had interned butyl and knew that it possessed greater possibilitiesthan buna. Full information and regular reports about butyl were given to the German cartel partner but at the time the American company tried to mislead the representative of the United States Navy who was sent specifically to learn about butyl.
In brief the civilian life and the war effort of the United Sates have been made more difficult because of private international rubber deals. Divided loyalty of this sort has been repeated many times. An American concern actually refused to advertise in anti-Nazi newspapers in South America because it felt obliged to comply with its commitments to a German partner. Another American cartel member felt obligated to send confidential information to Germany which the War Department of the United States had specifically requested it not to divulge. Still another agreed to assist the Germans in concealing true ownership of German property in the United States so that the Alien Property Custodian would not seize it, and so that it could be returned to the Germans after the end of the war. Let us not be deceived into thinking that attacks on cartels are attacks on American business. On the contrary, cartels are the greatest menace to the American business principles of free private enterprise and equal opportunity. Ask the American businessman who has felt the weight of monopoly, patent control, and cartel oppression.
This whole matter takes on great practical importance as we consider the terms under which monopolists will obtain United States government constructed war plants. These plants can be used to produce post-war abundance for the Common Man. The problem is whether the small businessmen are going to be elbowed to one side—whether free enterprise is to be smothered by monopolistic controls worked out by big businessmen holding government ring side seats. Planning to give small business its full, practicable post-war share of war plant facilities and equal access to raw materials must begin at once. Otherwise there can be neither free enterprise nor full employment in the peace to come. 1 And now let us focus on the immediate objectives of the Common Man:
1. Hitler, Mussolini, and what they stand for must be wiped out as soon as possible.
2. The time to dictate peace terms is when our armies are in Berlin and Tokio.
3. The International Monopolists should be conspicuous by their absence at the peace table.
4. The air space above this earth must be used to serve the needs of trade and travel for the Common Man. A proper degree of competition will insure the best service at the lowest cost. Government subsidies, if any, must be used to promote the Common Man's interest in trade and peace and not to preserve monopolies or to promote destructive international rivalries. If the airplane is to be an instrument of peace rather than an endless threat of war, there must be international cooperation,
5. International organization can build permanent peace only by serving continually the needs of the Common Man everywhere for jobs, opportunity, health and security.
6. Isolationism whether it be by stifled patents, cartel understandings, high tariffs, or any other method of restrictive greed, must continually be fought.
7. Arrangements made by international cartels should be publicly recorded. The Departments of State and Justice and the Patent Office must be continually alertto the possibility of secret agreements in addition to the written ones which should be on file.
8. Free enterprise demands freer travel between the nations and less passport, visa, and custom foolishness. We need more free moving, enterprising businessman and fewer secret agents and monopolists.
9. Backward peoples everywhere must be educated by example for full production. Free enterprise thoughtfully planned will result in power projects on the Danube, irrigation works in India, flood control in China, and as a result of it all, the Common Man in every country will prosper, jobs will be created in Chicago and Detroit, and there will be a better market for the Iowa farmer right here at home. Such self liquidating projects will not be gifts of the United States, but we can furnish engineering services and finance sales of machinery.
Senate Resolution 114 is a step toward a people's peace. A people's peace is the gateway on the path to the century of the Common Man. In the century of the Common Man, Rule NO. 1 is the full use of all natural resources on a sustained basis. Rule No. 2 is full use of all technologies. Rule No. 3 is to use these resources and technologies so that everyone working in hope can come every night to a peaceful rest in the expectation of another day of hopeful work tomorrow.
The Common Man will not let the governments, corporations and cartels of the world rest until these three rules are fulfilled. America cannot do this job by herself because in such case her standard of living, so far above the rest of the world, would bring on envy and finally war. America's only safety and guarantee of high living standards is in worldwide full use of natural resources, and a worldwide rise in living standards as rapid as her own.
There is certain to be revolution until the seven freedoms are obtained and the three rules are fulfilled. The only question is the speed of the revolution and whether it will be peaceful or violent. The returning soldiers and war workers will not tolerate bread lines, closed factories, and bursting grain elevators after the style of 1930-32. Leadership will arise. If it be of the thoughtless or demagogic Nazi type there are troubled days ahead. Monopolies which finance demagogues to cut the throat of progress and to despoil labor are playing with the fire which will burn down their own houses. And so I ask all the potential leaders of agriculture, business, and labor to take counsel with themselves and with the politicians. Time will not wait. The breath of the future is on us as it has never been before. We cannot escape. The day about which the prophets and seers of many nations have dreamed for 3,000 years is rapidly approaching. May wisdom and understanding guide our President and the ninety-six Senators as they try to make the dream of universal peace a reality.