The Relative Position of the Individual Under Democratic and Totalitarian States
EFFICIENCY IS THEIR GOD
By MAJOR GENERAL J. G. HARBORD, Chairman of the Board, Radio Corporation of America Delivered at Institute of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, July 11, 1939
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. 5, pp. 679-684.
WHEN I say that it is a pleasure and a rare privilege to address an audience in this historic temple of learning, I am not indulging in the conventional introductory remark.
It is a pleasure to visit this alert, modern institution, where the atmosphere of the Old South still lingers. The pleasure is enhanced by the conviction that America's greatest educational institutions—carrying on our country's worthy traditions and ideals—are becoming more and more valuable to us. In the present troubled world it is reassuring to look upon a home of enduring principles.
So, too, I state a literal truth when I mention the prized privilege of addressing you. The simple sad fact is that the nations which have open forums, such as yours, where individual opinions on public affairs can be freely expressed are now outnumbered by the nations where individual opinion is rigidly suppressed. With every passing year of recent time, the once ascendant principle of free speech has lost ground on our globe.
I speak of "ascendant" principles as my generation was brought up to think of them—the freedom of the Bill of Rights, the existence of personal rights maintained against majorities, a freedom for which men were willing to fight. A freedom beyond mere peace and the absence of personal restraint. I shall try to contrast the situation of the individual under that kind of government and that which exists under what we call Totalitarian States. I take no note of the fact that the groups in our own America which constitute the "Left" appear to have abandoned belief in rights that once were valid even against the will of the majority, and have become, possibly unconsciously, totalitarian in philosophy and conscience. Nor do I recall any distinctly anti-totalitarian movement actually contending for such ideals of freedom as were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence,—personal rights once at the very foundation of our American life.
It is the status of the individual as he lived under the democracy of that vanishing day, and his status under the Totalitarian governments to which I invite your attention. A paper on that subject thirty years ago would have been surprising at a session of this kind. A university group then might conceivably have been comparing the rights of citizens under democracy and under limited monarchy. It would not have seemed necessary to study the totalitarian idea seriously.
The era of absolute rulers was waning so rapidly it appeared to be doomed. Dictatorship was not considered possible in any country then generally regarded as enlightened.
The right of citizens of the enlightened nations to think as they pleased and to vote as they thought was so firmly entrenched that the most pessimistic prophet would not have forecast its overthrow on any large sections of the earth. So potent had the ideals of personal liberty become that an appeal for democracy's protection—rather than a protest against the indignities America itself had suffered from the Central Powers—became the rallying cry of our people in the World War.
Of course, those of us who know soldiers are aware that their conversation is more notable for pungency than for beautiful phrases and inspiring slogans. I have living memories that our army at the front devoted a major part of its spicy day-by-day comment to incidents connected with fighting an effective fight—an ambition it gloriously accomplished. But somewhere in the minds of those boys was also a vision of a world of free individuals. In 1917 the hope of a "world safe for democracy" sent a whole nation of unpretentious young Lafayettes to be its champions on foreign soil.
The direct appeal of President Wilson to the German people to shake off the rule of the Kaiser was probably the most effective weapon of the War—outside of the physical combat of battles themselves. The people of Germany already had been touched by liberalizing influences that then were in the air. The call of America inviting them to join the world democracies diluted their devotion in a struggle to preserve a comparatively autocratic form of government.
It is beside the point that many in America and elsewhere felt then—and still more have felt since—that President Wilson's idealistic aspirations went too far beyond existing realities in Central and Eastern Europe to achieve permanent influence there. Nevertheless the strength of the democratic philosophy at the time was shown by the enthusiasm with which a large part of the world responded to it—however soon the reaction followed.
As the peace conference opened at Paris, the concepts of the rights of the individual reached a zenith which most of us who are gathered here today may not live to see again. At least another generation must pass before such unanimity is regained, in the expressed concern about tolerance and about justice to minorities, as existed when the peace makers assembled in early 1919.
But before the conference closed discordant notes had marred the harmony of the chorus in praise of liberalism and dispassionate plans for the general good of mankind. Some of them came from hardheaded democratic statesmen within the conference itself. The most disturbing ones, perhaps, werethe echoes of shots by firing squads in Russia. The early Communist regime was already washing out disbelief in the totalitarian idea of ballyhoo, brutality, banishment—and by bullets for those who seemed to them unreasonably skeptical.
Considering the distractions, and the sordid political outlook of most of its members, the Paris Peace Conference did rather well, on the whole. No one can say that its Treaty was faultless. But it may be conceded that the boundary lines of European states after the Versailles Treaty were more justly placed than before the War. The outlook for democracy was in the ascendant.
And yet, an unlucky thirteen years after representatives of thirteen nations hopefully organized the League of Nations under the Treaty, Germany poured itself into the totalitarian mold. In theory the pattern into which the individuality of citizens there was melted down is as opposite as the poles from Russia's "dictatorship of the proletariat." In actual practice —as it turns its flame upon dissenting subjects—Russia's communal dictatorship and Germany's fascistic one are closely similar.
Ten and one-half years earlier, Italy had slid into fascism. And now—two decades since statesmen fashioned an illusory peace following a most decisive military victory in the "war to make the world safe for democracy"—there remains no such thing as liberal democracy in lands covering more than half of Europe. We must remind ourselves that liberal democracy is a form of government but recently acquired in man's long climb from savagery.
Today in their justified anxiety, Americans are talking a great deal about democracy as opposed to totalitarianism. These popular discussions should result in stimulation of a much-needed revival of patriotism. They would be more useful if so many of them did not depend upon a personal and rather nervous emotional approach.
The times call for an earnest re-examination of the basic principles of democracy—its strengths in comparison with totalitarian systems, and its possible weaknesses as well.
We must have a clear conception of the path democracy set for itself before we can be sure we are following it.
The signers of our Declaration of Independence mapped that path plainly for us:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
The shining novelty of our nation-wide application of that doctrine in the period of our Revolution was reflected in Tom Paine's remark that "a new creation is entrusted to our hands," and in the statement of the French liberal, Turgot, who spoke of America as the "hope of the human race."
First of all, democracy is an affirmation of the surpassing value of human liberty. Under its concept no conceivable material prosperity can offset to the citizen the loss of his freedom. Even Plato's theoretical description of the "Perfect State," with the mass of the people doing what it was told to do by the ruling "Guardians," elected by the party, was not democratic, although Plato's optimistic idea was that the selected voters would choose only men of supreme intellect and good will as "Guardians."
A sense of truth and justice—unalienable rights-which excel any state's authority is the guiding motive of democracy. It is based on faith in human achievement. It feels that— given an unrestricted choice—the sovereign majority can be trusted to move in the right direction, without variation serious enough to effect the ultimate trend.
Any step away from personal liberty; any slackening of the state's dependence upon the self-reliant strength of its citizens; any growing financial dependence of the citizens upon the state; any restriction upon the free expression of individual choice in government affairs, is a step away from true democracy.
No one could be so blindly enthusiastic as to assert that perfect exemplification of democratic theories has been achieved in actual practice. We can say with pride, however, that it has been approximated, and that the accomplishments of democracies have been a vindication of their ideals. Under no other type of government have men had Life so full, Liberty so rich, and Happiness so general.
The totalitarian have completely reversed practically every principle upon which the free countries stand. Instead of regarding the citizen as the basic unit who rules the state and for whom the state exists, the totalitarian thinks of the government itself as supreme and of citizens as pawns. From birth to death the individual is servant to the state. Germany put the idea bluntly in a decree of February, 1937— "the individual's ambitions or desires are subservient to the state's interests."
Under Germany's compulsory labor service, for example, no worker is free to change his job—much less to move to another town—without the consent of the Nazi regime. He is not permitted to solicit higher pay, and his employer is not permitted to offer it. Trade unions have been crushed. Outspoken protests—not to mention strikes—are prohibited.
The employer and the man of property is no more his own master than the laborer. Industrialists are told flatly what they can manufacture, what and where they can sell, and at what prices. They cannot hire a new worker without permission. They are told when and how much they may expand plants, and whether or not they may use foreign exchange in conducting businesses that ironically are still called "their own." As Junker landlords see their estates cut up, they receive iron-clad orders on what they can and cannot feed their chickens and their live stock.
In Italy there has been seizure of certain kinds of property, government control of others, and twice a direct levy upon capital.
None of these restrictions upon individual liberty are in the least inconsistent with totalitarian doctrine. Totalitarian dictators do not even make the pretense of promoting personal liberty. Efficiency is their god—and it means building their own personal power and the power of their own party, which they invariably identify with the supreme state. A dictator can never back down, not even while fighting with his back to the wall. No compromise is possible. There can be no peaceful change or evolution. It must be overthrow or nothing. To be "partly totalitarian" is a contradiction in terms.
Far from looking toward abstract truth and justice that transcend the aspirations of any single party or nation, the totalitarian envisions no rights that rise above the so called "necessity" of his state and the dogma of that state. He is not anxious to invite comparisons between the principles underlying the totalitarian state and democracy.
Any citizen who thinks in terms of the abstract right and wrong that exist eternally in American conception is branded as a victim of "false mentality." And the totalitarian party is quick to force his public statements and actions—if not his secret opinion—into line with the dictator's almighty truth.
This worship of the supremacy of the state's immediate desires—above which there is recognized no higher moral verity—has showed itself in the utter disregard of fascist governments for the rights of weaker nations.
It is behind the heartless robbery, persecution, and exile of the Jews that has been stirred up by the racial myths incorporated in the Nazis' self-made "gospel."
It reveals itself also in war upon the Christian religion in both Russia and Germany. The strained relations between the government and the Vatican in Italy—where Catholicism is too strong to be carelessly flaunted—have not yet reached the open stage.
Russia's attack upon religion is made by propaganda expressing contempt for such "childish" beliefs, and by severe restrictive measures. The church is refused the right to answer the vilification. Many religious workers are in prison camps or exile. There are no missions and no institutions for the training of theological students. Still Russia has not forbidden public worship. And not since the failure of the state-controlled church in the early days of the Revolution has she attempted a dilution of Christianity to promote the government's ends.
Dilution is the method employed in Germany—a method which may be more dangerous to religion than a franker antagonism. Unlike Russia, the Hitler regime is not avowedly anti-Christian. It calmly seizes upon the Christian forms of worship as another opportunity to promote the political aims of the Third Reich.
The British journalist, F. A. Voight, in close touch with religious leaders on the Continent, writes in the Survey Graphic that "The German state does not even halt at the foot of the altar or the Cross, but would place the swastika over the altar and side by side with the Cross, or even over it. The essence of the German religious conflict is thereby symbolized. According to the German state, the swastika is supreme and demands complete allegiance, spiritual and temporal. But according to Christian teaching ... all the symbols of this world are under the cross."
Many indignities have been suffered by the clergy in the struggle to defend Christian Doctrine from this secular and political adulteration by a Nazi dictatorship to which politics has become a fanatical religion. Bishop Niemoeller, leader of the Protestant Confessional group, has spent more than a year in solitary confinement—and remains courageously unrepentant. Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich and Cardinal Innitzer of Vienna have been bravely outspoken on the position of the Catholic Church, but Hitlerites have hesitated at open punishment of representatives of a religion still so potent in Germany. Yet the Catholic clergy, especially in the lower branches, are handicapped as heavily as the state dares in delivering to German youth the message of a truth greater than Hitlerism.
The totalitarian states—with its vision limited to its own fixed aims, denying the ability of its citizens to govern themselves wisely and repudiating the value of their faiths and their opinions—inevitably ends in minority rule upon fundamentals of public policy. The Nazi, for instance, were elected to power primarily because, in the unrest of that period, the vast majority feared that the growing German Marxist party would suspend the capitalistic system and install socialism. Once in power, the Nazis themselves immediately began to wreck the capitalistic system the majority had asked them to guard, and to substitute their own brand of rigid state socialism.
This is only the old familiar story of dictatorships. No people have ever knowingly voted away their freedom. They surrender it—for an emergency only, so they think—to a dictator who promises certain reforms. Then they are helpless while the dictator makes a mockery of the promised reforms and turns his attention to self-aggrandizement and the perpetuation of his own rule.
Long ago Cicero remarked: "He who, through fear of poverty, forfeits liberty, which is better than mines of wealth . . . will be a slave forever." He is certain to be a slave for a long time—if not forever—because dictatorships are practically impelled to resort to force, or threats of force, to keep the opinion of individual citizens enchained.
Under a representative democracy the minority is disinclined to acts of violence by the knowledge that it may one day become the majority. It is accorded every peaceful means of persuading converts to adopt its beliefs. If it gets enough converts, there is a peaceable change of administration.
Contrast to this, the situation under totalitarian governments. They are committed in advance to a theory in which the opinions, ambitions, and ideals of the individual citizen are entirely subservient. They scoff at the democratic notion of majority rule. They transform the vote into an empty echo and announce brazenly that nothing can stop their party's plans. The only way left to overthrow them is by force—or an imminent threat of force against which they dare not stand. Of course they will go to any lengths to prevent the opinions of dissenting individuals from gaining enough followers to exert such pressure.
So in these times we see once more the spectacle of powerful private armies of dictators—not answerable to the people, but ready instead to oppose any move against the dictator they serve. So we see the once gay Vienna—for centuries a center of cosmopolitan life and culture—now drably existing with its streets and cafes patrolled by browbeating storm troopers.
To suppress the average citizen's expression of ideas is not enough. The totalitarian strikes at the sources from which the citizens may obtain the ideas. We witness the degradation of great universities into propaganda mills sawing out thin props for autocratic theory. Free science ceases to exist. The man of research who discovers any important fact that does not fit into the government's dogma, and dares to report it, suffers the consequences. Books are thrown into bonfires.
The world-famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra which Austrian Emperors spent a century and a half in building is deprived of its illustrious leader, Bruno Walter, and two-fifths of its members. Why? Because listeners at its concerts could hardly avoid concluding that these gifted artists, whom for racial reasons the state reviles so bitterly, actually contributed tremendously to the richness of life.
The most direct and universally popular sources of ideas for the average citizen in the modern world are the press and the radio. It was to be expected that broadcasting and newspapers would be placed under iron-bound control in totalitarian states. Through these great agencies those governments constantly pump propaganda. The individual is allowed to hear and read only what the governments approve. Censorship goes beyond deletion and distortion to the outright suppression of news of vital importance. The German people were given no hint, for example, that the British fleet had been mobilized in the Czecho-Slovakian crisis last Fall. The information might have been a wet blanket upon public confidence in the German leader's arrogant and boastful defiance.
Ownership of radio receivers capable of tuning in on foreign broadcasts is discouraged by direct taxes on the receivers and by state control of factory production. The actual limitation with regard to news considered detrimental from the German point of view is that a listener who hears such reports and passes them on is liable to fine and imprisonment. The law provides punishment for group-listening to a banned
foreign station, which is called subversive propaganda. German newspapers and magazines are not permitted to publicize foreign short wave programs.
Overshadowing all other infringements upon the freedom of the individual, stands the terror. The final, conclusive answer to those who—for any reason—do not fit into regimented plans is a knock on the door by uniformed party men, and then exile, the prison camp, or death—with or without the semblance of a trial.
To reconcile citizens to oppressive personal restriction and intimidation the totalitarian paints the picture of his theory as the ultimate destiny of all governments. He speaks of his state as on its way to assured prosperity. He boasts of a military power which will compel awed acquiescence from those whom he describes as jealous nations bent on delaying his country's triumph. He eulogizes as the ideal of all creation the culture and "pure" racial heritage he may—with utter disregard of history and ethnology—claim for himself.
If shorn of twisted appeals to false cultural and intellectual values, the totalitarian's cynical emphasis upon promises of economic security, upon uniforms, and mass parades is in line with the contemptuous statement made by Juvenal eighteen hundred years ago.
"Two things only the people earnestly desire," said he— "bread and circuses."
Dictators have guessed wrong in the past in thinking those two things were all that the people wanted. It is possible they are guessing wrong again. The most ironic fact about the totalitarian repudiation of majority rule is that the majority can still rule—by revolution or near-revolution —if it becomes strong enough and desperate enough to shake off fear.
Just how near is the growth of an overwhelming opposition in a news-muzzled totalitarian state is never apparent to those outside. But purges, group trials, and individual assassinations do prove from time to time that no power on earth can keep human beings from forming opinions. Those men are murdered because their views became known—or merely suspected. Sometimes the killing is secret, for public martyrdom is itself a dramatic shout of belief for which a man will die. But no man can be shot for thoughts he keeps to himself. Denied the right of open comment, individuals and rival factions within totalitarian states can gain power only when conditions and known incidents are so bad that they cause more and more people to have exactly the same unspoken objections. Dictators are especially likely to make moves that are against the convictions of a gagged populace. They are without the aid a democratic leader receives from the frank counsel of free advisers, or from outspoken protest by a free people.
Many foreign observers believe that a step that shook German confidence was made by Hitler in the first Czecho-Slovakian crisis. They are convinced that a courageous stand by the European democracies at that time would have found a multitude of apprehensive Nazi subjects unwilling to risk war. It has been strongly doubted that Hitler would have dared to go to war with the public temper as it was then— or whether he would have ventured his later aggressions if his defiance then had failed.
Correspondents of unquestionable ability and integrity report also that a tremendous revulsion of feeling was apparent on the faces of great numbers in the street crowds that watched the organized anti-Jewish raids that began last November 10th. This was the first time Nazi brutality had been so public and so widespread.
But we who enjoy the blessings of democracy are foolishindeed if we are comforted by the possibility that dissenting individuals will soon become so numerous that they can again demand their rights in totalitarian states. We are foolish indeed if we think the fact that "peaceful penetration" by totalitarian dogma and the armed spread of totalitarian rule are putting democracies everywhere to a test.
Infiltration to democratic lands of zealots who preach totalitarianism as a religion unavoidably has some effect. This is true whether these zealots are supported or encouraged by their motherlands or are acting solely on their own initiative. It remains true whether they preach their ideology under the impression that they are "enlightening the world"—or in the notion that their propaganda will promote more friendly trade relations for their own lands.
A greater menace to liberty around the globe is in the power drives that have forced unwilling democracies into the totalitarian straight-jacket. No matter how distant geographically these conquests may seem to Americans, we cannot deny that every downfall of a democracy weakens the position of the remaining ones. This is not a question of ideology alone. Rapid transportation, instantaneous communication and intricately interdependent trade have made near neighbors of lands on all sides of the seven seas. The drive for trade and the drive for power can become twin obsessions to a dictator.
Behind the two dangers just mentioned is a third one— present in all democracies, but perhaps most widespread in the United States because of our supposed remoteness from the European strife. This third and underlying danger is implicit in every phase of our discussion here. It is that the individual citizens in a democracy may not appreciate fully the contrast between their position and that of individuals under totalitarianism.
Perhaps a slight tendency to indifference is inherent in a theory of government based upon free choice by a majority. It cannot be trusted to vote inevitably in the general direction of a somewhat vaguely defined abstract truth. Tolerance of the views of others—which is one of the brightest jewels of civilization—can disappear under lazy unconcern. There is especially an American inclination to feel deep down inside ourselves that our blessings "just happen," so let the majority take care of them; the majority is sure to go in the right direction and be victorious in the long run anyway.
Americans, especially, are prone to find fault with the time lag of democracies as compared with the effectiveness and decisiveness of the totalitarian state which has the immediate advantage of suppression of dissent and the centering of authority in one man. We mistake deliberation for vacillation at times and breed doubts in the minds of over-critical citizens. The tendency to disregard proper channels and methods in the haste to get things done, is a serious menace to democratic institutions. The flexibility of our institutions compared with totalitarianism is a safety guarantee.
The quickness of our era's pace has increased the cogency of the words of the Irish judge, John Philpot Curran in 1790 echoing a sentiment voiced by our own Jefferson and Patrick Henry: "It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God has given liberty to man is eternal vigilance."
As an elemental vigilance in protecting ourselves from possible invasion or bullying by states who deliberately choose to glorify military power, we are forced to maintain an Army and Navy that will command the respect of aggressors. With wise prescience the President and Congress have recognized our woeful lack in this field and have initiated adequate preparedness. Yet in our intense preoccupationswith security one may infer some loss of the old time self, reliance and boldness of the American character.
A carefully planned selective service act—frequently urged unavailingly by men who understand our defense problems-should be voted by Congress into permanent statute without delay. It should empower the President to augment our comparatively small Army and Navy by an application of the act immediately upon a declaration of war by Congress. This would eliminate the chance of a disastrous delay while Congress, already having declared war, voted for selective service, as it inevitably would as soon as possible.
Need I say that Congress should continue to quash the efforts of well-meaning pacifists to require a referendum before war can be declared? The elected representatives of the American people have never yet authorized a war which public opinion in our peace-loving nation did not support—and they never will. The requirement of a referendum vote would end all opportunity of defense until an enemy—possibly a dictatorship striking swiftly under the whim of a single man—had brought actual war to our homes. The passage of such a law would fatally cripple the diplomatic powers of the President and the State Department.
Behind our essential barrier of military safety, our eternal vigilance must center upon the basic freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights—the ultimate stronghold of the individual under our democracy, erected in the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Three of the fundamental freedoms established in Article One of that Bill of Rights are: freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, and freedom of the people peaceably to assemble.
The very first of these—freedom of religion—is almost inseparably connected with racial understanding and good will toward men. The individual who allows prejudice, hate, and malicious lies against any creed or race to flare in him is directing a disintegrating flame—for what his influence is worth—at a corner stone of America's liberty.
The second basic right—freedom of speech and of the press—is a staunch shield against the violation of all other freedoms pledged by our Constitution. Dictatorship cannot flourish where a free press and unintimidated speakers reach the mass of the people.
The achievements of radio science since 1920 have added enormously to the importance of this guaranty of free speech. Broadcasting systems like those built in America by independent enterprise in open competition in the service of the public, as yet unfettered by intrusive government control and censorship, have become new phalanxes of democracy. Yet radio's great power for free enlightenment can be used under unjustified government control as an equally powerful enslaver of the citizen's right to know the truth and make his own decisions.
The third basic individual freedom—that of the people peaceably to assemble—is put under a rather severe strain for many of us in our righteous indignation at such spectacles as the recent Bund rally in Madison Square Garden. There is one consolation, generally applicable to all such affairs. The mouthings of these misguided hotheads serve only to stir the antagonism of all true Americans, including the great mass of intelligent, loyal, valuable citizens of German ancestry. Out in the open, they are harmless. It is when they are hidden away that they thrive and breed. The right of peaceable assembly we must protect—in the interests of liberty of all lawful opinion.
Earlier in this talk I mentioned the straight path for our democracy laid down in the Declaration of Independence. I hinted then in general terms that there are turns where we may stray. I have reserved until now aspecific reference to these dangerous by-ways, believing that they can be recognized more readily after a review of what ture democracy is and what its opposites are.
I should be false to my convictions, however, if I failed to point out very definitely the prevailing trend away from the individual liberty and the individual responsibility the founders of America sought to create. This is the drift toward governmental paternalism, and the increasing tendency of great numbers to look to the state for support. A fine line divides government services that are necessary and wholesome, from those that destroy character and weaken it.
I am not bringing this question forward as a partisan appeal or in a spirit of carping criticism. Frankly, the existence of a great body of unemployed seems to me to call for a certain amount of paternalism which, before our time, has been inherent only in a totalitarian government. Still, the essential truth holds; that every move toward paternalism— however necessary—is a move away from individual liberty and self-reliance in the direction of state direction of the destinies of men.
We do not have to deny that some relief measures are unavoidable, for instance, to see that they carry the seeds of a milder form of the regimentation for state work practiced in its extreme form by totalitarian governments. We do not have to select isolated instances where intimidation by politicians has come to light to see that dependence upon government relief and government work projects is capable of blunting the keen and independent formation of political opinion by the voters who are on the government rolls. We may well ponder on the effect on the younger generation whose parents are on relief. Do they look forward to an independent career, or do they expect to inherit jobs on government relief?
We should—on general principles—preclude any chance that personal dependence, rather than personal independence, is registered in our vote. Government Relief will never be ended when more than a certain percentage of the electorate are receiving it. I intend no slur upon worthy individuals, whom misfortune beyond their control has brought to actual need, when I say that those on government relief should— like the citizens of the District of Columbia—surrender their right to vote. It is too much like a judge sitting in an action in which he has a financial interest. They should regain the suffrage when they have again found their place in enterprises independent of the government.
There is even a good case for those students of government who would carry this precaution further, and who believe that all persons drawing salaries from the government should give up their votes during that term. I recognize, of course, that the chances of getting this legislation enacted by any party in power would be about as great as the chances of the proverbial snowball in a super-heated future.
We must—and I feel sure we will—continue to build our democracy upon the independence of our citizenry; upon the principles of free speech and individual liberty; upon a system of checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of a government reflecting the untrammeled will of the majority.
So long as we retain our self-reliance, cherish our Bill of Rights, respect the remainder of our Constitution—and provide reasonable precautions against attack from outside our borders—the individual American can be confident of his country's democratic future.
In the existing world situation every citizen should remember that liberty for the individual did not just "come to pass." It has been won, step by step,—and dearly won— through the centuries. It can be lost—and dearly lost—ina fraction of the time taken to build it. It can slip away through unnoticed infringements upon the individual's rights —step by step.
If great numbers of our citizens cease to believe deeply in individual liberty, tolerance, self-respect and self-reliance; if great numbers of them cease to thrill with thankfulness for the inestimable freedoms they enjoy, we may lose these priceless privileges—even as citizens of other nations have.
None of us expects that calamity to overtake America. But every one of us owes it to his countrymen and to the cause of liberty everywhere to do everything in his power—by his serious thinking, his daily actions, and his vote constantly to reaffirm our American heritage of individual and national freedom.