Port Huron Statement Draft
This is the text of the original draft of the 1962 Port Huron Statement, as distributed by Alan Haber to the attendees at the SDS Northeast Regional Conference, April 23, 2006. For the final, published Port Huron Statement, click here.
A PDF file of a scan of the original document is also available. (Large – 5.6 MB)
Introduction: Agenda for a Generation
Every generation inherits from the past a set of problems - personal and social – and a dominant set of insights and perspectives by which the problems are to be understood and, hopefully, managed. The critical feature of this generation’s inheritance is that the problems are so serious as to actually threaten civilization, while the conventional perspectives are of dubious worth. Horrors are regarded as commonplace; we take universal strife in stride; we treat newness with a normalcy that suggests a deliberate flight from reality.
How can the magnitude of modern problems be best expressed? Perhaps by means of paradox:
With nuclear energy whole cities could easily be powered, but instead we seem likely to unleash destruction greater than that incurred in all wars in human history;
With rockets we are emancipating man from terrestrial limitations, but from Mississippi jails still comes the prayer for emancipation of man on earth;
As man’s own technology destroys old and creates new forms of social organization ,man still tolerates meaningless work, idleness instead of creative leisure, and, educational systems that do not prepare him for life amidst change;
While expanding networks of communication, transportation, integrating economic systems, and the birth of intercontinental missiles make national boundaries utterly permeable and antiquated, men still fight and hate in provincial loyalty to nationalism;
While two-thirds of mankind suffers increasing undernourishment, our upper classes are changing from competition for scarce goods to reveling amidst abundance;
With world population expected to double in forty years, men still permit anarchy as the rule of international conduct and uncontrolled exploitation to govern the sapping of the earth’s physical resources;
Mankind desperately needs visionary and revolutionary leadership to respond to its enormous and deeply-entrenched problems, But America rests in national stalemate, her goals ambiguous and tradition-bound when they should be new and far-reaching, her democracy apathetic and manipulated when it should be dynamic and participative.
These paradoxes convey tensions which demand the attention of every individual concerned with the future condition of man. The newness of them demands intellectual self-reliance from a younger generation that fears to be its own leadership. The complexity of them’ requires a radical sense of appreciation, of facts and values, that few thinkers want to undertake. The dangers in them, that this is the first generation to know it might be the last in the long experiment at living, call not for detachment and retreat but for humility and initiative, not for hypnotic adoption of the politics of past and ranking orders, but for reflective working out of politics anew.
We are people of this generation, in our late teens and early or mid-twenties, bred in affluence, housed not in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.
We are dismayed by the timidity of our elders and the privatism of our peers. The organizations we know, in which we are to be socialized as citizens, are unradical, in that they treat only of symptoms, not roots, or unpolitical, in that they are impelled more by outrage and static protest than measured analysis and assertive program, or simply hesitant, skirting the issues and blurring them with rhetoric, rather than admitting of problems both intellectual and political and nevertheless seeking a broad analysis of social issues.
We write, debate, and assert this manifesto, not as a declaration that we have the Final Cure, but to affirm that problems must be faced with an expression of knowledge and value, and in action.
In this affirmation we deny that problems can be faced by claiming they don’t exist anymore, or that the government through expertise will solve what problems there are.
We do this as a basis for an organization, because as students we feel that only as we find some structured way of working together, sharing ideas, formulating program and engaging in action will the left become visible and responsible in America*
Our form is tentative — it will change as a response to growth, as we extend beyond our own age group — as we find ways to work with those whom the academic structure identifies as our teachers, as bridges can be extended to labor, the church, the liberal reform-and socialist political groups, as we form the necessary amalgamations with other liberal and radical centers on the campus and beyond. Our goal is to stimulate a left — new and, we think, young.
We seek to be public, responsible, and influential — not housed in garrets, lunatic, and Ineffectual; to be visionary yet ever developing concrete programs — not empty or deluded in our goals and sterile in Inaction; to be idealistic and hopeful — not deadened by failures or chained by a myopic view of human possibilities; to be both passionate and reflective — not timid and intellectually paralytic; to vivify American politics with controversy — not to emasculate our principles before the icons of unity and bipartisanship; to stimulate and give honor to the full movement of human imagination — not to induce sectarian rigidity or encourage stereotyped rhetoric.
On this basis we offer this document: as an effort in understanding the new, but an effort rooted in the ancient, still unfulfilled conception of man as a being struggling for determining influence over his circumstances. That man should creatively encounter the forces. new and old, challenging, his reason and menacing his freedom, is the hope underlying this paper; which is our beginning — in argument, in identifying friends and opponents, and most essentially in carrying on our own education — as democrats In a time of upheaval.
In the last few years, thousands of American students demonstrated that they at least felt the urgency of the times. They moved actively and directly against racial injustices, the threat of war, violations of individual rights of conscience and, less frequently, against economic manipulation. They succeeded in restoring a small measure of controversy to the campuses after the stillness of the McCarthy period. They succeeded, too, in gaining some concessions from the people and institutions they opposed, especially in the fight against racial bigotry.
The significance of these scattered “movements” lies not in their success or failure in gaining objectives-at least not yet. Nor does the significance lie in the intellectual “competence” or “maturity” of the students involved - as some pedantic elders allege. The significance is in the fact that the students are breaking the crust of apathy and overcoming the inner alienation that remain the defining characteristics of American college life.
In truth, student movements far reform are rarities on the campus. What is commonplace on the campus? How do “apathy’ and “inner alienation” manifest themselves? The real campus, the familiar campus, is a place of people engaged in their notorious “inner emigration”. It is a place of commitment to business-as-usual, getting ahead, playing it cool. It is a place of mass affirmation of the Twist, but mass reluctance toward the controversial public stance. Rules are accepted as “inevitable”, bureaucracy as “just circumstances”, irrelevance as “scholarship”, selflessness as, “martyrdom”, politics as “just another way to make people, and an unprofitable one, too”.
According to recent studies, almost no students value being active as a citizen, Passive in public, they are hardly more idealistic in arranging their private lives: Gallup concludes they will “settle for low success and won’t risk high failure.” There is not much willingness to. take risks (not even in business), no setting of dangerous goals, no real conception of personal identity except one made in the image of others, no real urge for personal fulfillment except to be almost as successful as the very successful people, Attention is paid to social status, the quality of shirt collars, meeting people, getting wives or husbands, making solid contacts for later on); much, too, is paid to academic status (grades honors, the med school rat race). Neglected generally is the intellectual status, the personal cultivation of excellence of the mind.
“Students don’t even give a damn about the apathy”, one of us has said. Apathy toward apathy begets a privately constructed universe, a place of systematic study schedules, tow nights a week for beer, a girl or two, and early marriage; a framework infused with personality, warmth and under control, no matter how unsatisfying it may be.
Under these conditions, university life loses all relevance to some. Four hundred thousand of us leave college every year.
But apathy and alienation are not simply attitudes; they are products of our social institutions, of the structure and organization of higher education. The extracurricular life is ordered according to in loco parentis theory, which ratifies the Administration as the moral guardian of the young. The accompanying “let’s pretend” theory of student extra-curricular affairs transforms student government” into a training center for those who want to spend their lives pretending politically, and discourages initiative from more articulate, honest, and sensitive students. The bounds and style of controversy are delimited before controversy begins. The university “prepares” the student for “citizenship” through perpetual rehearsals and, usually, through evisceration of what creative spirit there is in the individual.
The academic life contains reinforcing counterparts to the way in which extracurricular life is organized. The academic world is founded in a teacher-student relation analogous to the parent-child relation which characterizes in loco parentis. Further, academic life is founded in a radical separation of student from the “object” he studies. That which is studied, the social reality, is “objectified”, theory divorced from the stuff of practice, the unity of human’ understanding submitted to compartmentalizing, specializing, and the quest for little questions. Thus is the student divided from life by his professor, as the anxious administrator attempts to do through in loco parentis.
The academia bureaucracy - the administrators and their pervading systems - extends throughout the academic and extracurricular structures, contributing to the sense of outer complexity and inner powerlessness that transforms so many students from honest searching to ratification of convention and, worse, to a numbness to present and future catastrophes.
Almost invisibly, too, huge foundations and other private financial interests shape the money-hungry universities, making them more commercial. Less disposed to diagnose society critically, less open to dissent, Defense-contractors, too, bring many universities into tacit cooperation with the interests supporting the arms race. In summary, the actual intellectual effect of the college experience an the student is barely distinguishable from that of any other communications channel—say, a television set—passing on the stock truths of the day. Students leave college somewhat more “tolerant” than others, but basically unchanged in their values and political orientations. This is unsurprising, since the real function of the educational system—as opposed to its more, rhetorical function of “searching for truth” — is to impart the key information and styles that will help the student get by, modestly but comfortably, in the big society beyond.
Look beyond the campus, to America itself. That student life is more intellectual and perhaps more comfortable, does not obscure the fact that the fundamental qualities of life on the campus reflects the habits of society at large, The fraternity president is seen at the junior manager levels; the sorority queen has gone to Grosse Pointe; the serious poet burns hopelessly far a place any place, to work; the once-serious and never-serious poets are at the advertising agencies or the slick magazines. The desperation of people threatened by forces about which they know little and of which they can say less; the cheerful emptiness of people forced to close their identities to modern stress; the hostile surrender of people “giving up” all hope of changing things; the faceless polled by Gallup who listed “international affairs” fourteenth on their list of “problems”, but also expected thermonuclear war in the next few years in these and other forms, Americans are in withdrawal from public life, from any collective effort at directing their own affairs.
Some regard this national doldrums as a sign of healthy approval of the established order-but is it approval by consent or manipulated acquiescence? Others declare that the people are withdrawn because compelling issues are fast disappearing-perhaps there are fewer breadlines in Americas but is Jim Crow gone, is there enough work and work more fulfilling, Is world war a diminishing threat, and what of the new peoples and their aspirations? Still others think that the national quietude‘ is a necessary consequence of the need for elites to resolve complex and specialized problems of modern industrial society—but, then, why should business elites decide foreign policy: and who controls the elites anyway, and are they solving mankind’s problems? Others, finally, shrug knowingly and announce that full democracy never worked anywhere in the past-but why lump qualitatively different civilizations together, and how can a social order work well if its best thinkers are skeptics and is man really doomed forever to the domination of today?
There are no convincing apologies for the contemporary malaise. While the world tumbles toward the final war, while men in other nations are trying desperately to alter events, while the very future qua future is uncertain America is without community impulse, with the inner momentum necessary for an age when societies cannot successfully perpetuate themselves by their military weapons, when democracy must be viable because of its quality of life, not its quantity of rockets.
The apathy here is, first, subjective---the felt powerlessness of ordinary people, the resignation before the enormity of events. But subjective apathy is encouraged by the objective American situation---the actual structural separation of people from power, from relevant knowledge, from the pinnacles of decision-making. Just as the university influences the student way of life, so do major social institutions create the circumstances in which the isolated citizen will try helplessly to understand his world and himself.
The very isolation of the individual-from power and community and ability to aspire-means the rise of a democracy without publics. With the great mass of people structurally remote and psychologically hesitant with respect to democratic institutions, those institutions themselves attenuate and become, in the fashion of the vicious circle, progressively less accessible to those few who aspire to serious participation in social affairs. The vital democratic connection between community and leadership, between the mass and the several elites, has been so wrenched mid perverted that disastrous policies go unchallenged time and again.
Look beyond the campus, to America itself. That student life is more intellectual, and perhaps more comfortable, does not obscure the fact that the fundamental qualities of life on the campus reflects the habits of society at large. The fraternity president is seen at the junior manager levels; the sorority queen has gone to Grosse Pointe; the serious poet burns for a place, any place, to work; the once-serious and never serious poets work at the advertising agencies. The desperation of people threatened by forces about which they know little and of which they can say less; the cheerful emptiness of people to close their identities to modern stress; the hostile surrender of people “giving up” all hope of changing things; the faceless ones polled by Gallup who listed “international affairs” fourteenth on their list of “problems”, but also expected thermonuclear war in the next few years: in these and other forms, Americans are in withdrawal from public life, from any collective effort at directing their own affairs.
Some regard this national doldrums as a sign of healthy approval of the established order—but is it approval by consent or manipulated acquiescence? Others declare that the people are withdrawn because compelling issues are fast disappearing - perhaps there are fewer headlines in America, but is Jim Crow gone, is there enough work and work more fulfilling, is world war a diminishing threat, and what of the revolutionary new peoples? Still others think the national quietude is a necessary consequence of the need for elates to resolve complex and specialized problems of modern industrial society—but, then, should business elites decide foreign policy, and who controls the elites anyway, and are they solving mankind’s problems. Others , finally, shrug knowingly and announce that full democracy never worked anywhere in the past—but why lump qualitatively different civilizations together, how can a social order work welt if its best thinkers are skeptics, and is man really doomed forever to the domination of today?
There are no convincing apologies for the contemporary malaise. While the world tumbles toward the final war, while men in other nations are trying desperately to alter events, while the very future qua future is uncertain -America is without community impulse without inner momentum necessary for an age when societies cannot successfully perpetuate themselves by their military weapons, when democracy must be viable because of its quality of life, not its quantity of rockets.
The apathy here is, first, subjective — the felt powerlessness of ordinary people, the resignation before the enormity of events. But subjective apathy is encouraged by the objective American situation—the actual structural separation of people from power, from relevant knowledge, from pinnacles of decision-making. Just as the university influences the student way of life, so do major social institutions create the circumstances in which the isolated citizen will try helplessly to understand his world and himself.
The very isolation of the individual - from power and community and ability to aspire—means the rise of a democracy without publics. With the great mass of people structurally remote and psychologically hesitant with respect to democratic institutions, those institutions themselves attenuate and become, in the fashion of the vicious circle, progressively less accessible to those few who aspire to serious participation in social affairs. The vital democratic connection between community and leadership, between the mass and the several elites, has been so wrenched and perverted that disastrous policies go unchallenged time and again.
Historically and currently, American politics are built on a desire to deploy and neutralize the “evil drives” of men. Paradoxically’ the have instead tended to diminish general interest in citizenship and have encouraged the consolidation of irresponsibility at higher levels of government. Politics today are organized for policy paralysis and minority domination, not for fluid change and mass participation. The major parties contain broader differences within them than between themselves. What exists instead of two parties an undeclared “third party” alliance of Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans, blessed by a seniority system that guarantees Congressional committee domination to conservatives (10 of 17 committees in the Senate and 13 of 21 in the house are currently chaired by Southern Democrats), For one hundred years the going bargain has given he liberals the Presidency, the conservatives the Congress, and the general public a system of unrepresentative government. Confusion necessarily is built in to political discussion. Relevant issues are not raised and debated in a way that affords the voter a genuine political choice: politics of personality transcends the politics of issues. Calcification (under the name of “responsible progress with stability”) dominates flexibility as the principle of parliamentary organization. Frustration is the expectancy of legislators intending serious liberal reform. In a world demanding rapid change, Congress becomes less and less central in American decision-making—in foreign policy Congress has but a minor role since World War II.
Outside of Congress, the parties view themselves not as vehicles for debate but as machines seeking power, not as outlets for individual work but as dispensers of rewards and elevators to status. But politics go beyond congressional inflexibility and party power lust. Involved, too, is the expanding force of lobbyists, predominantly representing business interests, spending hundreds of millions annually in a systematic effort to conform facts about our productivity, our agriculture, our defense, our social services, to the interests of private economic groupings.
In this contest of organized stalemate, party contradictions, insulated power and privilege, and deliberate falsifications, the most alarming fact is that few, if any, politicians are calling for a change, Rather than protesting conditions, the politicians aggravate them in several ways.
While in practice they go about rigging public opinion to their own interests, in word and ritual they enshrine “the sovereign public”. Their speeches and campaign actions are banal, based in a degrading conception of what people want to hear. They respond not to dialogue, but to pressure: and knowing this, the ordinary citizen feels even greater powerlessness. Perhaps the most criminal of political acts is the trumpeted appeal to “citizenship” and “service to the nation” which, since it is not meant to really rearrange power relations, only increases apathy by opening no creative outlet for real citizenship. Often, too, the appeal to “service” is justified not in terms of idealism, but in the crasser terms of “defending the Free World from Communism”—thus making future idealistic impulses impossible to justify in any but Cold War terms.
American economic life is not as it once was. Capitalism today advertises itself as the Welfare State. Ours la the first generation to comfortably expect pensions, medical care, unemployment compensations, and other social services throughout our lives. In many Places, workers need not experience the sweatshop conditions of the Thirties, the unrepaired machines, the unrestrained bosses. Most of our top unionists have assumed the roles and rhetoric of business leaders—a requisite of good bargaining, of course, Although our productive capacity is one-fourth idle, two-thirds of all Americans make enough to live in utter comfort, were it not for the nagging incentive to “keep up”. As they say, we are “making it pretty well”.
But we are younger, raised in the Boom of World War II. We take for granted the existence and desirability of the New Deal reforms, and we look with anger at the legacies, the unfinished reforms, of our liberal ancestors.
The American economy, more so than the political structure, is organized so that the individual “unit”, the consumer, is systematically excluded from the decisions affecting the nature of his work, his rewards, his economic opportunities. The modern concentration of corporate wealth is fantastic. The wealthiest one percent of Americans own more than 80 percent of all personal shares of stock. From World War II until the mid-Fifties, the 50 biggest corporations increased their share of manufacturing production from 17 to 23 percent of the national total, and the share of the largest 200 companies rose from 30 to 37 percent. Profits rise inexorably: United States Steel shipped half a million fewer tone of steel in 1957 than 1956, yet earned $419 million in net profits against the $348 million of the year before—even after suffering a strike and a grant of $160 million to the steelworkers in new wages!
To think that the decisions of these economic elites affect merely economic growth is delusion: their “economic” decisions affect all facets of social development. Foreign investments influence political policies in underdeveloped areas. The drive for sales spurs phenomenal advertising efforts: the “ethical drug” industry spent more than $750 million on promotions in 1960, nearly four times the total amount available to all American medical schools for their educational programs. The arts are organized considerably according to their commercial profitability. The tendency to over-production, to commodity gluts, requires the deliberate creation of pseudo-needs in consumers, and introduces inherently wasteful “planned obsolescence” as a permanent feature of business strategy.*
*Statistics on wealth reveal the have and have not gap at home. Only 5 percent of all those in the “$5,000 or less” bracket own any stock at all. In 1953, personally-owned wealth in the U.S. stood at $1 trillion. Of this sum, $309.2 billion (30.2 percent) was owned by 1,659,000 top wealth-holders (with incomes of $60,000 or more). This elite comprised 1.04 percent of the population. Their average gross estate estimate was $162,000, as against the national average of $10,000. They held 80 percent of all corporation stock, virtually all state and local bonds, and, between 10 and 33 Percent of other types of Property: bonds, real estate, mortgages, life insurance, unincorporated businesses, and. cash. They receive 40 percent of property, income-rent, interest, dividends. The size of this elite has been relatively constant: 31.6% (1922) 30.6% (1939) 20.8% (1949) 30.2%.
Within existing arrangements, the American business community cannot be said to encourage a democratic process nationally. Economic minorities not responsible to a public in any democratic fashion, make decisions of more profound social importance than even those made by Congress. The only influence that an individual can exert upon these corporate giants is by means of Congressional regulatory and investigating committees—whose powers are palliative, not preventative, and notoriously ineffective, American Telephone and Telegraph is an ideal example of both tendencies, that of irresponsible exercise of power and ineffective means of control. To protect its investments in existing facilities, A.T.&T. prevented the public use of one-piece telephones, modern switching equipment and dial phones long after such modern instruments were developed: nothing could be done to hasten the public use of the new equipment until such use was profitable to the corporation. Further the Federal Communications Commission negotiated a 6.5 percent increase in returns on phone rates with A.T.&T. in 1953 that has been consistently surpassed every year, resulting in an “overcharge” of $985 million to the American public.
In this situation, work is undertaken to fulfill desperate needs, for status or material goods, or both. Work is accepted for ulterior reasons, rarely for intrinsic qualities, its creative possibilities. In work the individual is regulated as part of the system. In leisure he is regulated as a consumer, the lift long target of hard-sell, soft-sell, lies and partial truths, appeals to his basest drives, always being told what he is supposed to like while being told, too, that he is a “free” man because of “free” enterprise. Thinking they follow the dictates of their own taste, men revel as consumers of things, centering their lives around a worship of things created rather than a reverence for the process of creation itself.
For all its debasing features, this condition is quite tolerable in comparison to the human misery which prevails, nearly unseen, just beyond the neon lights of modern affluence. At least 35 million people live beneath the levels of minimum subsistence in America, beyond the rehabilitating influence of the Welfare State which is only structured to meet the needs of the lower-middle classes, not of the truly desperate. Whether newcomers or social remnants who were not upgraded by the New Deal reforms, these are the “leftovers” of society, lacking significant Anion or polite al expression, becoming more obsolete with each technological advance, When “bad breaks” come for the American poor, they come “in plural and debilitating ways: substandard housing, poor health, unpleasant neighborhoods, broken families, bad schools, unemployment, the grinding plague of automation, inadequate retraining programs, social uprooting: all combine to kill personal aspirations.
In the midst of these conditions, the labor movement, historic spokesman for the exploited, is locked in growing inner crisis and outer lack of direction. To the American newspaper audience, “Big Labor” is a growing cancer that is at least equally evil as Big Business. Nothing could be more distorted (and more of a tribute to the opinion-manipulating skills of businessmen). To be sure, some unions are bigger than they were in the past. But the biggest of them are far smaller than the corporations they are supposed to countervail in the “free economy”: compare the auto workers to General Motors, the steelworkers to U.S. Steel, the communications workers to A.T.&T., the oil workers to Standard Oil. These enormous disparities still fail to give the accurate picture of the modern crisis of labor, however. First, the expectations of the newborn AFL-CIO of thirty million members by 1965 are suffering a reverse unimagined five years ago. The collapse of the dream of “organizing the unorganized” is dramatically reflected in the AFL-CIO decision, just two years after its creation, to slash its organizing staff in half. From 15 million members when the AFL and CIO merged, the total has slipped to 13.5 million. During the post war generation, union membership nationally has increased by four million—but the total labor force has jumped by 13 million. Today only 30 percent of all nonagricultural workers are protected by organization. Second, organizing conditions are going to worsen. Where labor is strongest—in industries, for example—automation is leading to an attrition of available jobs. As the number of jobs dwindles, so too does labor’s power of bargaining, since management can more easily handle a strike in an automated plant than in the old, humanly-controlled ones. In addition, the American economy has changed radically in the last decade: suddenly the number of workers producing goods became fewer than the number in the “unproductive” areas—government, trade, finance, services, utilities, transportation. Since World War II “white collar” and “service” jobs have grown twice as fast as have “blue collar” production jobs. Labor has almost no organization in the expanding occupational areas of the new economy, almost all its entrenched strength in contracting areas. As big government hires more and more, as big business seeks more office workers and skilled technicians, and as growing commercial America demands new hotels, service stations and the like, the conditions will become graver still. Further, there is little indication that the South is ripe for labor organization. Finally, there is considerable indication that big business, for the sake of public relations, has acknowledged labor’s right to exist, but has deliberately and successfully tried to contain labor to its Present strength, preventing strong unions from helping weaker ones, or from spreading to unorganized sectors of the economy. Business is aided in its efforts by a proliferation of “right-to-work laws at the state level, anti-labor legislation (the Landrum-Griffin bill) in Congress.
But along with all these developments, labor itself-as an historical agency of change—is faced with a crisis of vision. It is the most liberal mainstream” institution in modern America—but its liberalism is not much extended beyond its immediate self-interest, e.g. housing, favorable labor legislation, medical protection. More important, however, is the fact that much labor liberalism is vestigial, rote bather than radical. Labor’s social idealism has waned before the tendencies of bureaucracy, materialism, and business ethics. The moderate success of the last twenty years of struggle, has braked, instead of accelerating, labor’s zeal for reform. Even the House of Labor has bay windows. Not only is this true of the labor elite, but as well of the rank-and-file. The latter are indifferent unionists, willing to strike if the labor boss will take care of them while they are “out”, unwilling to attend meetings, confused by the bureaucratic complexity of labor-management negotiations, lulled to comfort by the accessibility of luxury and the opportunity for long-term contracts. The general absence of union democracy finalizes worker apathy.
Certain problems facing the economy and labor should be seen in a more detailed way. In their newness and urgency, two problems stand out: the revolution in automation, and the replacement of scarcity by the potential of material abundance.
Automation, the process of machines replacing, men in performing sensory, motoric, and complicated logical tasks, is transforming society in ways that cannot be fully comprehended. By 1959, industrial production regained its 1957 pre-recession level—but with 750,000 fewer workers required. In the Fifties as a whole, national production enlarged by 43 percent, but the number of factory employees remained stationary—only seven-tenths of 1 percent higher than in 1947. The electronics industry lost 200,000 of 900,000 workers in the years 1953-57. In the steel industry, productive capacity has increased 20 percent since, while the number of workers has fallen 17,000. Employment in the auto industry decreased in the same period from 76,000 to 614,000. The chemical industry has enlarged its productive powers 27 percent although its work force has dropped by three percent. A farmer in 1962 can grow enough to feed 24 people, where one generation ago only 12 could be nourished. The United States Bureau of the Census used 50 statisticians in 1960 to perform the service that required 4,100 in 1950. Automation is destroying whole categories of work—impersonal thinkers have efficiently labeled this “structural unemployment”—in blue-collar, service, and even middle management occupations. In addition, it is eliminating employment opportunities for a youth force that numbers one million more than it did in 1950, and rendering work far more difficult both to find and do for people in their forties and up. The consequence of this economic drama, strengthened by the force of three post-war recessions, are momentous: five million becomes an acceptable unemployment tabulation, and misery, uprootedness and anxiety become the lot of increasing numbers of Americans.
But while automation is creating social dislocation of a stunning kind, it paradoxically is imparting the opportunity for men the world around to rise in dignity from their knees. In the future, there will be fewer and fewer tasks beyond the scope of the machine—and fewer and fewer material impossibilities facing man, if they so choose. For the dominant optimistic economic fact of the epoch is that fewer hands are needed now in actual production although more goods and services are a real potentiality. Sadly, America has reacted to the coming of abundance in the same way it has to the effects of automation on unemployment: with tradition-oriented responses that indicate a lack of political imagination. Our reluctance to fully enter economic Utopia reflects a fear of leaving the “short, nasty, brutish” - but so familiar - world of Darwinian scarcity and capitalist competition. The very basis of traditional capitalism-profit incentives for private investors, a struggle for scarce resources, price and wage fighting, public progress through private planning—simply are not as relevant and efficient to the conditions of abundance as are cooperation, the rule of law, and democratic public planning How is it “free enterprise” and how is it democratic when millions of public dollars are poured into scientific research so that the resulting space communications system can be turned over to A.T.&T.? Fearing the change of life by abundance and technology, threatened by enormous corporate lobbyists, America’s leadership has hesitated tragically—and calcified the national mind with rhetoric and political genuflections before the myths of the free market economy.
A reformed, more humane capitalism, functioning at three-fourths capacity while one-third of America and two-thirds of the world goes needy, domination of politics and the economy by fantastically rich elites, accommodation to the system by organized labor, hard-core poverty and unemployment, automation bringing the dark ascension of machine over man as well as the dawn of abundance, technological change being introduced into a huge economy on the criteria of profitability—this has been our inheritance. However inadequate, it has brought quiescence—a reflection of the extent to which misery has been overcome. Now, as a better state becomes visible, a new poverty impends: a poverty of vision, and a poverty of political action to make that vision reality.
The Military-Industrial Complex
Not only is ours the first generation to live with the possibility of world-wide cataclysm---it is the first to experience the actual social preparation for cataclysm, the general militarization of American society. In 1948, just when many of us were becoming anxious about our manliness, Congress required a social test of it by establishing Universal Military Training, the first peacetime conscription. The military bureaucracy was beginning. Four years earlier, General Electric’s Charles E. Wilson had heralded the creation of what he called the “permanent war economy”, the continuous military spending as a solution to the economic problems unsolved before the post-war Boom, most notably the problem of the seventeen million jobless after eight years of the New Deal.
Since our childhood, these two trends—rise of the military apparatus and installation of the defense economy---have grown fantastically. The Department of Defense, ironically the world’s largest single organization, is worth $160 billion, owns 32 million acres of American land, employs half the 7.5 million persons directly dependent on the Military for subsistence, has an $11 billion payroll which is larger than the net annual income of all American corporations. Defense spending in the Eisenhower era totaled $350 billions and President Kennedy entered office pledged to go even beyond the present defense allocation of sixty cents from every public dollar spent. Except for a war-induced boom immediately after we bombed Hiroshima, American economic prosperity has coincided with a growing dependence on military outlay---from 1941 to 1959 America’s Gross National Product of $525 trillion included $700 million in goods and services purchased for the defense effort, a fraction of about one-seventh of the accumulated GNP. This Pattern has included the steady concentration of military spending among a few corporations. In 1961, 86 percent of Defense Department contracts were awarded without competition. The ordnance industry of 100,000 people is completely engaged in military work; in the aircraft industry, 94 percent of 750,000 are linked to the war economy; shipbuilding, radio and communications equipment industries commit forty percent of their work to defense; iron and steel, petroleum, metal-stamping and machine shop products, motors and generators, tools and hardware, copper, aluminum, and machine tools industries all devote at least 10 percent of their work to the same cause.
The intermingling of Big Military and Big Industry is evidenced in the 1,400 former officers working for the 100 corporations who received nearly all the $21 billion spent in procurement by the Defense Department in 1961. The overlap is most poignantly clear in the case of General Dynamics, the company which received the best 1961 contracts, employed the most retired officers (187), and is directed by a former Secretary of the Army. A Fortune magazine profile of General Dynamics said: “The unique group of men who run Dynamics are only incidentally in rivalry with other U.S. manufacturers, with many of whom they actually act in concert. Their chief competitor is the USSR. The core of General Dynamics corporate philosophy is the conviction that national defense is a more or less permanent business.” Little has changed since Wilson’s proud declaration of the Permanent War Economy back in the 1944 days when the top 200 corporations possessed 80 percent of all active prime-war-supply contracts. Little, except the menace.
The military and its supporting business foundation have numerous forms of distinctly political expression, and we have heard their din endlessly. There has not been a major Congressional split on the issue of continued defense spending spirals in our lifetime. The triangular relation of the business, military and political arenas cannot be better expressed than in Dixiecrat Carl Vinson’s remarks as his House Armed Services Committee reported out a military construction bill of $808 million, distributed through 50 states, for 1960-61: “There is something in this bill for everyone”, he announced. President Kennedy had earlier acknowledged the valuable anti-recession features of the bill.
Imagine, on the other hand, $808 million suggested as an anti-recession measure, but being poured into programs of social welfare: The impossibility of receiving support for such a measure identifies a crucial feature of defense spending: it is beneficial to private enterprise, while welfare spending is not. Defense spending does not compete” with the private sector; it contains a natural obsolescence; its “confidential” nature permit easier boondoggling; the tax burdens to which it leads can be shunted from corporation to consumer as a “cost of production”. Welfare spending, however, involves the government in competition with private corporations and contractors; it conflicts with the immediate interests of private pressure groups; it leads to taxes on business. Think of the opposition of private power companies to current proposals for river and valley development, or the hostility of the real estate lobby to urban renewal; or the attitude of the American Medical Association to a paltry medical care bill; or of all business lobbyists to foreign aid; these are the pressures leading to the schizophrenic public—military, private-civilian economy of our epoch. The politicians, of course, take the line of least resistance and thickest support: warfare, instead of welfare, is easiest to stand up for: after all, the Free World is at stake (and our constituency’s investments, too).
Business and politics, when significantly militarized, affect the whole living condition of each American citizen. Worker and family depend on the Cold War for life. Half of all research and development is concentrated on military ends. The press mimics conventional cold war opinion in its editorials. In less than a full generation, most Americans accept the military-industrial structure as “the way things are”. War is still pictured as one more kind of diplomacy, perhaps a gloriously satisfying kind. Our saturation and atomic bombings of Germany and Japan are little more than memories of past “policy necessities” that preceded the wonderful economic Boom in 1946. The facts that our once-revolutionary 20,000 ton Hiroshima Bomb is now paled by 50 megaton weapons, that our lifetime has included the ballistic missiles, that “greater” weapons are to follow, that weapons refinement is more rapid than the development of weapons of defense, that soon a dozen or more nations will have the Bomb, that one simple miscalculation could incinerate mankind: these orienting facts are but remotely felt. A shell of moral callous separates the citizen from sensitivity of the common peril: this is the result of a lifetime saturation with horror. After all, some ask, where could we begin, even if we wanted to? After all, others declare, we can only assume things are in the best of hands. A coed at the University of Kentucky says, “we regard peace and war as fairy tales”. And a child has asked in helplessness, perhaps for us all, “Daddy, why is there a cold war?”
Past senselessness permits present brutality; present brutality is prelude to future deeds of still greater inhumanity; that is the moral history of the twentieth century, from the First World War to the present.
A half-century of accelerating destruction has flattened out the individual’s ability to make moral distinctions, it has made people understandably give up, it has forced private worry and public silence.
To a decisive extent, the means of defense, the military technology itself, determines the political and social character of the state being defended—that is, defense mechanisms themselves in the nuclear age alter the character of the system that creates them for protection. So it has been with America, as her democratic institutions habits have shriveled in almost direct proportion to the growth of her armaments. Decisions about military strategy, including the monstrous decision to go to war, are more and more the property of the Military and the industrial arms race machine, with the politicians assuming a ratifying role, instead of a determining one. This is increasingly a fact not just because of the installation of the permanent military, but because of constant revolutions in military technology. The new technologies allegedly require military expertise, scientific comprehension, and the mantle of secrecy. As Congress relies more and more on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Department Pentagon, their hired science machine and lobbying troops the existing chasm between people and decision-makers becomes irreconcilably wide, and more alienating in its effects.
A necessary part of the military effort is propaganda: to “sell” congressional appropriating committees, to conceal various business scandals, and to convince the American people that the arms race is important enough to sacrifice civil liberties and social welfare. So confusion prevails about the national needs, while the three major services and their industrial allies jockey for power - the Air Force tending to support bombers and missilery, the Navy Polaris and carriers, the Army conventional ground forces and invulnerable nuclear arsenals, and all three feigning unity by support of the policy of weapons agglomeration called “the mix”. Strategies are advocated on the basis of power and profit, usually more than on the basis of military needs. In the meantime, Congressional investigating committees—most notably the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee—attempt to curb the little dissent that finds its way into off-beat magazines. A huge militant anti-communist brigade throws in its support, patriotically willing to do anything to achieve “total victory” in the Cold War, the Government advocates peaceful confrontation with international communism, then utterly pillories and outlaws the tiny American Communist Party. University professors withdraw prudently from public issues; the very style of social science writing becomes more qualified, studies show. Needs in housing, education, minority rights, health care, land redevelopment, hourly wages, are all subordinated - though a political tear is shed gratuitously — to the primary objective of the “military and economic strength of the Free World”.
What are the governing policies which supposedly justify all this human sacrifice and waste? With few exceptions they have reflected the quandaries and confusion stagnation and anxiety, of a stalemated nation in a turbulent world. They have shown a slowness, sometimes a sheer inability to react to a sequence of new problems.
Of these problems, two of the newest are foremost: the existence of poised nuclear weapons and the revolutions against the former colonial powers. In the both areas, the Soviet Union and various national communist movements have aggravated international relations in inhuman and undesirable ways, but hardly so much as to blame only communism for the present menacing situation.
The accumulation of nuclear arsenals, the threat of accidental war, the possibility of ‘limited war becoming illimitable holocaust, the impossibility of achieving real arms superiority or final invulnerability, the near nativity of a cluster of infant atomic powers—all of these events have tended to undermine tradition concepts of international relations. War can no longer be considered as an instrument of international politics, a way of strengthening alliances, adjusting the balance of power, maintaining national sovereignty, or defending any values, War guarantees none of these things today. Soviet or American “megatonnage” is sufficient to destroy all existing social structure as well as human values; missiles have thumbed (figuratively) their nosecones at national boundaries, America, however, still operates by means of national defense and deterrence systems. These are effective only so long as they are never fully used: unless we can convince Russia that we will commit the most vicious action in human history, we will have to do it.
“They are not meant to be used. They keep the peace because nobody is mad enough to wish the end of the world. In our jargon, if you will, no one dares to strike first because no one is prepared to accept retaliation”. Can international stability be pivoted around Doomsday weapons? How long? What will happen when China, Germany, Poland, France, Japan, Egypt, Israel and ten other countries get the Bomb? What about mechanical failures then? What about being able to distinguish accident from aggression then?
“We in the Air Force especially favor being prepared to win the war, though we do grant to prevent its coming, if at all possible. The trick, as we see it, is to get invulnerable weapons of our own, then be prepared to strike at Russia’s military bases only”. Do you really think you can just hit atomic installations with your counterforce designs? What about tie nearby cities? Do you think those Russians will respond in the rational way you expect, by attacking only our military centers? If they are so rational, why do you say they won’t negotiate with us? Do you really think the arms race can go on permanently?
“We favor an invulnerable deterrent, too, so that all wars of the future will be fought conventionally. We expect a series of struggles, a protracted conflict with the Reds. A long twilight struggle—that’s what the President calls it all”. If a country is losing a small war—and what does it mean to discuss small or conventional wars today? - will it decide against using atomic weapons and risking escalation to thermonuclear conflict? What will you do about accidents, or about the little countries with the big weapons? Why hasn’t any nation ever achieved satisfactory vulnerability, and why do you expect that we will be the first?
“I’d rather be dead than red personally, and I think that most likely we’ll avoid both if we sit tight until Russia opens up in a few years. But let’s be realistic. If war comes, it comes. It will be bad, maybe 100 million dead, but the nation will recover as it did after the last war”. Is such patriotism truly realistic? Doesn’t sitting tight abdicate all chance of intervening in the arms race? In what sense does a nation “recover” when 100 million of its people are dead? You only mentioned the dead people when you referred to recovery-what of the rest of the system, the communications, the disease among the living and unborn, the psychological chaos, the ruined path of social relations, the transportation system? If it will be possible to recover in that infernal moment, why is it not possible to recover now from the less awful predicaments gripping us?
Not since the years immediately after World War II, when the Soviet Union was without atomic weapons and the United Nations was overwhelmingly pro-Western, have we committed ourselves convincingly and unequivocally to the goal of a disarmed world. We have blamed our reluctance on the inadequacies of international rule-making institutions—institutions which could have been improved. We have blamed faulty inspection mechanisms—when the mechanisms were not faulty in the minds of others, or when they were easily refutable, especially, we have blamed the Russians—while it has become steadily clearer that the Russians, their tyrannies and cynicisms granted, a their foreign policy zigzagging as well, find disarmament to be more in their economic and political interests than the armaments race.
We do not contend that the Cold War predicaments are solely the fault of the West. We do not contend that disarmament would come tomorrow if only America would will it—the Russians do not trust us., and there are significant groupings in the Soviet Union who favor a “hot” arms race to the reconciling qualities of disarmament. We do contend, as Americans, that our government blamed everything but its own hesitation, its own anachronistic dependence on weapons, its own fears of the uncertain world beyond the Cold War. That our government has not blamed is its own theory that the risks of the present ax fewer than the risks of serious change. Again, at a time demanding vision and flexibility, America hesitates in policy paralysis. But now even hesitation itself has changed—where once it boded safety of transition, today it perpetuates the drift towards conflict. We are edging toward a war which will not be fought between American and Russia, not externally between two national entities, but the first international civil war, within the unexpected and unestablished human civitas which spans the world.
The Colonial Revolution
While weapons have accelerated man’s opportunity for self-destruction, the counter-impulse to life and creation are superbly manifest in the revolutionary feelings of many Asian, African arid Latin American peoples. Against the individual initiative and aspiration, and social sense of organicism characteristic of these upsurges, the American apathy and stalemate stand in embarrassing contrast.
It is difficult today to give human meaning to the welter of facts that surrounds us. That is why it is especially hard to understand the facts of “underdevelopment”: In India, man and beast together produced 65 percent of the nation’s economic energy, and of the remaining 35 percent of inanimately produced power almost three-fourths was obtained by burning dung. But in the United States, human and animal power together account for only one percent of the national economic energy—that is what stands humanly behind the vague term “industrialization”. Even to maintain the misery of Asia today at a constant level will require a rate of growth tripling the national income and the aggregate production by the end of the century. For Asians to have the (unacceptable) 1950 standard of Europeans, less than $2,000 per year for a family, national production must increase 21-fold by the end of the century, and that monstrous feat only to reach a level that Europeans find intolerable.
What has America done? During the years 1955-57 our total expenditures in economic aid were equal to one-tenth of one percent of our total Gross National Product. Prior to that time it was less; since then it has been a fraction higher. Immediate social and economic development is needed—we have helped little, seeming to prefer to create a growing gap between “have” and “have not” rather than to usher in social revolutions which would threaten our investors and our military alliances. The new nations want to avoid power entanglements that will open their countries to foreign domination—and we have often demanded loyalty oaths. They do not see the relevance of uncontrolled free enterprise in societies without accumulated capital and a significant middle class—and we have looked salumniously on those who would not try “our way”. They seek empathy—and we have sided with the old colonialists, who now are trying to take credit for “giving” all the freedom that has been wrested from them, or we “empathize” when pressure absolutely demands it.
With rare variation, American foreign policy in the Fifties was guided by a concern for foreign investment, a negative anti-communist political stance linked to a series of military alliances, both under girded by military threat. We participated unilaterally—usually through the Central Intelligence Agency-in revolutions against governments in Laos, Guatemala, Cuba, Egypt, Iran. We permitted economic investment to decisively affect our foreign policy: fruit in Cuba, oil in the Middle East, diamonds and gold in South Africa (with whom we trade more than any African nation). More exactly: America’s “foreign market” in the late Fifties, including exports of goods and services plus overseas sales by American firms, averaged about $60 billion annually. This represented twice the investment of 1950, and it is predicted that the same rates of increase will continue. The reason is obvious; Fortune said in 1958, “foreign earnings will more than double in ten years, more than twice the probable gain in domestic profits”. These investments are concentrated primarily in the Middle East and Latin America, neither region being an impressive candidate for the long-run stability, political caution, and lower-class tolerance that American investors typically demand.
Our pugnacious anti.-communism and protection of interests has led us to an alliance not entirely appropriately called “the free world”. It includes four major parliamentary democracies: ourselves, Canada, Great Britain, and India, It also has included through the years Batista, Franco, Verwoerd, Salazar, De Gaulle, Boun Oum, Ngo Diem, Chiang-Kai-Shek, Trujillo, the Somozas, Saud, Ydigoras—all of these non-democrats separating us deeply from the colonial revolutions.
Since the Kennedy administration began, the American government seems to have initiated policy changes in the colonial and underdeveloped areas. It accepted “neutralism” as a tolerable principle; it sided more than once with the Angolans in the United Nations; it invited Souvanna Phouma to return to Laos after having overthrown his neutralist government there; it implemented the Alliance for Progress that Eisenhower had proposed when Latin America appeared on the verge of socialist revolutions; it made derogatory statements about the Trujillos; it cautiously suggested that a democratic socialist government in British Guiana might be necessary to support; in inaugural oratory, it suggested that a moral imperative was involved in sharing the world’s resources with those who have been previously dominated. These were hardly sufficient to heal the scars of past activity and present associations, but nevertheless they were motions away from the Fifties. But quite unexpectedly, the President ordered the Cuban invasion, and while the American press railed about how we had been “shamed’ and defied by that “monster Castro”, the colonial peoples of the world wondered whether our foreign policy had really changed from its old imperialist ways(we had never supported Castro, even on the eve of his taking power, and had announced early that “the conduct of the Castro government toward foreign private enterprise in Cuba would be a main state Department concern). Any heralded changes in our foreign policy are now further suspect in the wake of the Punta d’el Este foreign minister’s conference where the five countries representing most of Latin America refused to cooperate in our plans to further “isolate” the Castro government.
Ever since the colonial revolution began, American policy makers have reacted to new problems with old “gunboat’s remedies, often thinly disguised. The feeble but desirable efforts of the Kennedy administration to be more flexible are coming perhaps too late, and are of too little significance to really change the historical thrust of our policies. The hunger problem is increasing rapidly mostly as a result of the worldwide population explosion that cancels out the meager triumphs gain so Par over starvation. The threat of population to economic growth is simply documented: in 1960-70 population in Africa south of the Sahara will increase 14 percent; in South Asia and the Far East by 22 percent; in North Africa 26 percent; in the Piddle East by 27 percent; in Latin America 29 percent, Population explosion, no matter how devastating, is neutral. But how long will it take to create a relation of trust between America and the newly-developing societies. How long to change our policies? And in what length of time?
The world is in transformation, But America is not. It can race to industrialize the world, tolerating occasional authoritarianisms, socialisms, neutralisms along the way -or it can slow the pace of the inevitable and default to the eager Soviets and, much more importantly, to mankind itself. Only mystics would guess we have opted for the first, Consider what our people think of this, the most urgent issue on the human agenda. Fed by a bellicose press, manipulated by economic and political opponents of change, drifting in their own history, they grumble about “the foreign aid waste”, or about “that beatnik down in Cuba”, or how “things will get us by” ... thinking confidently, albeit in the usual bewilderment, that Americans can go right on like always, five percent of mankind producing forty percent of its goods.
Barely after we learned to read, we learned to hate communists: they supplanted Indians and bogymen (including Japs and Nazis) in our juvenile warring. As we grew up, we discovered that our childlike caricatures were not too unlike those of our parents and politicians. In national attitude we have abstracted Russians to demonic proportions, projecting upon them all blame for the Cold War. We righteous) criticize “atheistic materialism” while we turn our own churches into centers of status for the opulent. The ease with which the arms race; is “sold” to the public rests on the dominant paranoia toward the Soviet Union. Violations of free speech and association are justified because of the “threat to democracy”. President Kennedy, following the secretly-planned invasion of Cuba, was brash enough to ask that the press impose self-censorship to that this open society can compete with the closed society of Russia. In this atmosphere, even the most intelligent Americans have feared to join political organizations, sign petitions, speak out on serious issues—and social apathy has been deepened by prevailing fear of using the prerogative of free speech and free association. In this context, the major popular movements to arise (excepting the sit-in movement, where oppression was too great to endure in silence) have been those organized around the image of the Soviet Demon and propelled by the desperate need to “get things over with”.
Since Cold War America does not encourage an honest facing of the issues of communism, vast numbers of liberals and socialists have retreated in fear, giving at least tacit support to the conventional thinking. Many have avoided issues by simply taking public loyalty oaths—beginning any speech or article on public affairs with an anti-communist disclaimer (even in speeches against the attachment of loyalty oaths to National Defense Education Act grants many critics began with hand-washings).
This prefatory denunciation of communism, which infects nearly every liberal utterance, is justified as being effective—no mention is made of its intellectual quality, nor of its contribution to the mood of public hysteria, the hysteria that shuts off public analysis of world politics because almost nowhere in politics can we talk tentatively, inquiringly about “Russia”.
The people who should be our friends in the enterprise of under standing rival ideologies are often of little help. The radicals, socialists, and liberals of an earlier generation—those to whom we might turn for understanding—blur their analysis of “the Russian question” with a curious rhetoric and sectarian overtone. They have fought the battles with, or against, the Communists—in labor unions civic and welfare groups, and political campaigns. They have struggled ideologically as members or fellows of the communist movement in the United States before making their personal break. They have perhaps made their peace with the order they once fought against and find occupation with the communists to be a mask for their own timidity in fact-of a new generation of radicals not ready to make the same peace with society. They are trying to “get by” in a society that would be hostile in the extreme were they to ever let down their anti-communist shield. So while the older radicals are indispensable for information and advice, and while our sympathies parallel theirs on nearly every domestic issue, they tragically coalesce with the less-informed, conservative and even reactionary forces in performing a static analysis, in making Russia a “closed question”.
It is true undeniably that there exists a small cluster of people who, tired of Official America, project their wishful humanism onto the Soviet Union—without serious regard for critical evaluation. But the first two tendencies-the paranoiac quest for decontamination and the replays of the old fights—are more menacing in, many ways than the third, the uncritical hopefulness, The first two induce stultifying fear irk the community and direct the verges of, the left away, from relevant contact with liberals and uncommitted personalities they contribute directly to the public quietude and anxiety, and trigger the precise disenchantment with America that leads a tiny minority to uncritically support the, Soviet Union.
It would seem reasonable to expect that in America the basic issues of the Cold War should be rationally and fully debated, between persons of all opinions—on television, on, platforms, and through other media. It would seem, too, that there should be a way for a person or an organization to oppose communism without contributing to the common fear of associations and public actions. But these things do not happen; instead, there is finger-pointing and comical debate about the most serious of issues. This trend of events on the domestic scene, towards increased irrationality on major questions, moves us to greater concern than does the problem of communism itself domestically. Democracy, we are convinced, requires every effort to set in peaceful opposition the basic viewpoints of the day; only by conscious, determined, though difficult, efforts in this direction will the issue of communism be met appropriately.
Conventional discussion, to be sure, sometimes corresponds with realities especially the attacks on the Soviet failure to establish democratic institutions, the irresponsibility of Soviet military policy, the phony Soviet equation of Centralized, bureaucratic planning with the “triumph of true socialism”; and the numerous small and large denials of human dignity rationalized inadequately by appeals to history, posterity, or the “imperatives of revolution”.
But the occasional coincidence of conventional wisdom and the situation being described is not sufficient for the creation of sensible national attitudes and policies towards the various communisms and authoritarianisms in the world. In no instance is this better illustrated than in our national and policy-making assumption that the Soviet Union is inherently expansionist and aggressive and implements its desires by military means. Upon this assumption rests the monstrous American structure of “military preparedness”; because of it we insist that Russians cannot be trusted; because of it, too, we have sacrificed values and social programs to the alleged needs of military might. But the assumption, however, is not true - or at least it is false enough to challenge severely the basis of our foreign policy.
Because of an unfortunate national secrecy and related communications problems, it is not easy to assess the strategy and purpose of the Soviet Union. But available information does not justify the claim of Soviet military aggressiveness; rather it suggests that Russia is confronted with the dilemma of representing a revolution while becoming a conservative status quo nation. state, that the Soviet Union places the avoidance of thermonuclear war ahead of its sincere desire to eliminate capitalism that the soviet Union wants to conduct its competition with capitalism not with rockets but with comparative abilities to Fulfill then world’s needs. The forceful take-over of East Europe signaled not the first stage of European conquest but a clumsy and brutal establishment of a security zone by a harassed and weakened nation. Stalin did not seem to support the Chinese Revolution. The exercise of force in Iran, Korea, and Berlin has been controlled always by a desire to avoid escalating war. The savage repression of the Hungarian Revolution was a defensive action rooted in Soviet fear that its empire would collapse.
Despite this evidence, some will claim that “defensive” is too broadly defined, that eludes virtual aggression by a different name. This is not an insensible criticism, but it still fails to establish the veracity of the counter-claim, that Russia is out to gobble up the world. If these is even ambiguity about the Russian intention—and, to any but the completely blind, there is ambiguity—then our foreign end domestic policies rest on shaky foundation. In the same way would Russian policy be unsound if it assure ed that American inspired coups in Iran, Cuba, Guatemala, and Laos were the products of a necessarily militaristic and expansionist system. (By these actions and others, incidentally, America has given the Soviets understandable reason to believe such an estimate, just as Soviet actions have given fodder to the “tough” faction in American strategy studying circles.)
Thus there is considerable reason to believe that the Soviets are not as interested in the forceful conquest of the world as the NATO and American military-industrial complex seem to want Americans to wish. It appears that many of those calling students “communist dupes” are “dupes” themselves of extensive propaganda effort against intellectual independence and serious, dispassionate reflection on international problems. What does this mean in terms of the most pressing current issue, that involving war and peace? It means that the Soviet Union, despite various vacillations, is today more interested in disarmament than our policy-makers indicate. First of all, the Soviet Union says it wants disarmament, a statement the United States has been unwilling to make until 1961. For the Soviet Union, disarmament makes political and economic sense. Their people are restless for an end to the intolerable austerities of the Stalin era. The Russian economy is not large enough to spend on warfare and welfare (Russia’s smaller budget allocates 15% to defense spending, while the far larger American one allocates 10%): thus disarmament of some kind is the only means by which Russia can better satisfy the material needs of its population. Further, the Soviet Union perceives the world-wide colonial revolution as leading to the end of capitalism, and wants to give more economic aid to those revolutions without the menace of thermonuclear war impending. Further, Russian-Chinese debate suggests that the Chinese, not the Russians, support colonial revolutions even at the immediate risk of world war.
It is very hard, without the use of force, to encourage the development of skepticism, anti-war, or pro-democratic attitudes in the Soviet and communist systems. America has done a great deal to foment the easier, opposite tendency: suspicion, Stalinism, and a “hard” nuclear policy. We have created a system of military alliances which are of even dubious deterrence value. It is quite reasonable to suggest the “Berlin” and “Laos” have become earth-shaking situations precisely because rival systems of deterrence make impossible the withdrawal of threat. The “status quo” is not cemented by mutual threat but by mutual fear of receding from pugnacity—since the latter course would undermine the “credibility” of our deterring systems. Simultaneously, while billions in military aid was propping up right-wing Laotian, Formosan, Iranian, and other regimes, American leadership never developed a purely political policy for offering concrete alternatives to the colonial revolutions. The results have been: fulfillment of the Communist belief that capitalism is stagnant and only capable of defense by dangerous military adventurism; destabilizing incidents in numerous developing nations; an image of America allied with corrupt and undemocratic oligarchies counter posed to the Russian-Chinese image of rapid, though brutal, economic development in less than half a century. Again and again, America mistakes the static area of defense, rather than the dynamic area of development, as the master need of two thirds of mankind.
In a sense, the charge of military aggressiveness might just as easily be hung on America as on the Soviet regime. For throughout modern history, with the shaky exception of World War II, Americans have attempted crudely to exterminate the Soviets—from the invasion of Russia by the United States and other Western nations at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution down to the present day. At the root of our policies has been the attitude that Communism, being evil, could be exterminated by action of the Good: Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the popular theory that Communist China be kept from the family of nations while Chiang Kai Shek prepares for his quixotic return. This is representative of the domestic attitude that, while no one is sure of the long-range outcome, we will “muddle through” because we are the United States of America. The stymie at home, the multiple threats abroad: these will be overcome “somehow.” President Kennedy’s description of the Cold War as a “long twilight struggle” is seen as an apt and profound image, not as a sign of a policy without teleology, without a sound estimate of what will be happening in the world during the rest of the 20th Century, without a set of ultimate values defined in terms not relevant to the immediate and approaching human experience.
The celebrated American innocence remains.
The Discrimination Problem
Our America still is white.
Consider the plight, statistically, of its greatest nonconformists, the “nonwhite” (a census Bureau word).
1. Literacy One of every four “nonwhites” is functionally illiterate; half do not complete elementary school; one in five finishes high school or better. But one in twenty whites is functionally illiterate; four of five finish elementary school; half go through high school or better.
2. Salary In 1959 a “nonwhite” worker could expect to average $2,844 annually; a “nonwhite” family, including a college-educated father, could expect to make $5,654 collectively. But a white worker could expect $4,487 if he worked alone; with a college degree and a family of helpers he could expect $7,373 (the approximate 1:2 pay ratio has remained substantially the same, with the exception of the World War II Boom, for generations).
3. Work More than half of all “nonwhites” work at laboring or service jobs, including one-fourth of those with college degrees; one in 20 works in professional or managerial capacity. Fewer that one in five of all whites are laboring or service workers, including one in every 100 of the college-educated; one in four is in professional or managerial work.
4. Unemployment Within the 1960 labor force (about 72 million, including five million unemployed), one of every 10 “nonwhites” was unemployed. Only one of every 20 whites suffered that condition.
5. Housing The census classifies 57 percent of all “nonwhite” houses substandard. Of white houses, 27 percent are substandard.
Even against this background, some will say progress is being made. The facts belie it, however, i (sic) unless it is assumed that America has another 100 years to solve her “race problem”. Others, more pompous, will blame the situation on “those people’s inability to pick themselves up”, not understanding the automatic way in which the American system is racist. The one-party system in the South, attached to the Dixiecrat-Republican complex nationally, cuts off the Negro’s hope for real political expression and representation. The fact of economic dependence on the white, with little labor union protection, cuts off the Negro’s independent powers as a citizen. Discrimination in employment, along with labor’s accommodation to “lily-white” hiring practices, guarantees the lowest slot in the economy to the “nonwhite”. North or South, those oppressed are conditioned by their inheritance and their surroundings to expect more of the same: in housing, schools, recreation, travel all their potential is circumscribed, thwarted, and often extinguished. Automation grinds up job opportunities, and ineffective or nonexistent retraining programs makes the already-handicapped “nonwhite’ even less equipped to participate in “technological progress”.
Horatio Alger Americans typically believe that the “nonwhite=” are gradually being “accepted” and “rising”. They see more Negroes on television and so assume that Negroes are “better off”. They hear the President talking about Negroes and so assume they are politically represented. They are aware of black peoples in the United Nations and so assume that men are much more tolerant these days. They don’t drive through the South, or through the slum areas of th (?) so they assume that squalor is disappearing. They express generalities about “time and gradualism” to hide the fact that they don’t know what is happening.
The advancement of the Negro and the other “nonwhites” in America has not been altogether by means of the crusades of liberalism, but rather through unavoidable changes in social structure. The economic pressures of World War II opened new jobs, new mobility, new insights to Southern Negroes, who then began great migrations from the south to the bigger urban areas of the North where their absolute wage was greater, though unchanged in relation to the white man in the same stratum. More important than the World War II openings was the colonial revolution. The worldwide upsurge of dark peoples against white colonial exploitation stirred the aspiration and created urgency among the Negroes of America. At the same time it threatened the power structure of the United States enough to concede gains to the Negro, thus spurring his spirit. Produced by outer pressure from the newly-moving peoples rather than by the internal conscience of American governments the gains were keyed to improving- “the American image” more than to reconstructing a society that prospered on top of its minorities. Thus came the historic Supreme Court decision of 1954, desegregating (theoretically) Southern schools. That the decision was more a proclamation than ‘a harbinger of social: change is reflected in the fact that only a fraction of Southern school districts have desegregated-and federal officials have done very little to hasten the process.
It has been said that the Kennedy Administration did more in two years than the Eisenhower Administration did in eight, Of this there can be no doubt-but it is analogous to comparing a whisper to silence when humanity demands forcefulness in statement and deed, Kennedy leapt ahead of the Eisenhower record when he made his second reference to the race problem; Eisenhower did not utter a meaningful public statement until his last month in office when he mentioned the “blemish” of bigotry.
To avoid conflict with the Dixiecrat-Republican alliance, Kennedy has developed a civil rights philosophy of “enforcement, not enactments’, implying that existing statutory tools are sufficient to change the lot of the Negro. So far he has employed executive power usefully to appoint Negroes to various offices, and seems actively interested in seeing the Southern Negro registered to vote although he has appointed a racist judge in Mississippi and seems disinclined to support voter registration- unless pressured). While campaigning the President criticized the Eisenhower administration for not signing a federal order forbidding the use of public funds in building houses—but since his election, the promised housing order has several times been delayed so as to avoid conflicts. Only two civil rights bills, one to abolish the Poll tax in five states and another to prevent unfair use of literacy tests in registration, have been proposed—Kennedy giving active public support to neither (the more important, that involving literacy tests, was crushed in the Senate). The Administration is decidedly “cool” (a phrase of Robert Kennedy’s) toward any mass nonviolent movement in the South, though by the support of racist Dixiecrats the Administration makes impossible gradual action through conventional channels. The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the South is composed of southerners: their intervention in situations of “racial tension” is always after the incident, not before. Kennedy has refused to “enforce” the legal prerogative to keep federal marshals active in Southern areas before,’ during and after any “situations” (this would invite Negroes to exercise their right: and it would infuriate the Southerners in Congress because of its “insulting” features).
While corrupt politicians, together with business interests happy with the absence of organized labor in southern states and with the $50 billion in profits that results from paying the Negro half a “White wage”, stymie or slow fundamental progress, what occurs among the people at large? While hungry “nonwhites” the world around assume rightful dominance, the American Fights to keep integrated housing out of the suburbs. While a fully interracial world becomes a biological probability, the American persists in opposing marriage between the races. While whole cultures gradually interpenetrate, white America is ignorant still of non white America-and openly, if necessary, glad of it, The white lives almost completely within his immediate, close-up world where things are tolerable, there where no Negroes, except on the bus corners going to and from work, and where it is important that his daughter marry “right”. White, like might, makes right.
Not knowing the “nonwhite”, however, the white knows something less than himself. Not comfortable around “different people”, he reclines in whiteness instead of preparing for diversity. Refusing to yield objective social freedom to the “nonwhite”, the white loses his personal, subjective freedom by turning away from “all these damn causes”.
But the right to refuse service to anyone is no longer reserved to the Americans. The minority groups, internationally, are changing place.
At the End of an Era
When we were kids the United States was the strongest country in the world: the only one with the atom bomb, the least scarred, the only major country untouched by modern war, the wealthiest and boomingnest country, and once entering a United Nations which would distribute American and British influence throughout the world. As we grew and perceived more, our country’s virtue was denuded: the ugliness began to show, sometimes glaringly, sometimes imperceptibly. Most concretely, it was there in the alliance with the old colonialists as the new revolutionaries were emerging in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The denuding, however, was the result of our hard efforts to see, not of America’s desire to show herself. The ugliness was observed; America did not introspect, although it became fashionable to examine national purposes. Almost as if the truths about America were too much to bear, many turned to concentration on image, on posture, on outer relations rather than on inner realities.
We have tried to describe what our observations led us to conclude. America is locked in a world crisis. The dimensions of crisis are huge and new: the menace of thermonuclear war, over-population, international anarchy, the demise of ancien regime before new radicalism, supertechnology altering the relation of man to man, man to work, man to community. Instead of trying to understand and abate the crisis, American economic and military elites, with the ratification of the politicians and the indirect reinforcement of the communications, advertising and educational systems, have contributed to its aggravation.
Domestically, the militarization of society, the stalemated and unrepresentative Congress, the domination of major corporations, the mimicry of convention by churches, schools and the mass media, all induce a severe sense of apathy into the national life, a glaze above anxieties. The apathy is not contentment amidst prosperity, as opinion formers would have us believe. A capitalist prosperity creates anxiety, the anxiety which can find no outlet save in “more of the same”, and it is this sense of “more of the same”, the closed room, the giant rat race effect of modern society, that brings on real apathy, real, developed indifference to human affairs. The fact that each individual sees apathy in his fellows perpetuates the common reluctance to organize for change. The dominant institutions in society are complex enough to whither most potential critics, so there are few charismatic proponents of change. The same institutions are so monstrous that they swiftly dissipate or repel the energies of protest ad and reform, limiting human expectancies.
Then, too, we are a materially stranger society, a fact that in its implication of success carries with it the implication of stagnation. By our own expansion we seem to have diminished the case for still more change.
Beneath the expressed notion that America will “get by somehow”, beneath the helplessness of those who are convinced that the world will soon blow up, beneath the stagnation of those who close their minds to the future, is the rarely articulated feeling that there are no alternatives to the present. Feeling the press of complexity upon the emptiness of life, people are very fearful of the thought that at any moment things will thrust out of control. They are fearful of change itself, since change might smash whatever invisible framework seems to hold back chaos for them now. For most Americans, all crusades are suspect. For some, the only crusade that is not suspect is that of the reactionaries, going backwards to consolidate Old America from the modern fates that seem to beset her. Curiously, contemporary anxiety produces not only suspicion, but its opposite as well, the yearning to believe there is an alternative, that something can be done to improve circumstances. The push and pull between suspicion of change and desire for change, between dogmatism and radicalism, is the restless force, and perhaps the dynamic force, in Americans today.
It is the faith that alternatives exist, and can be discerned, that must move men. The grasp of human values, of the nature of man, of the makeup of modern society, is the urgent task before reformers. What do we ourselves believe; what should we urge others to believe, and how shall we organize to make our values operate in human affairs?
The Case for Values
Making values explicit—that is, creating and defending a vision of what ought to be is a task that has been devalued and undervalued. The conventional moral terms of the age, the politician moralities—“free world”, “peoples democracies”—reflect realities poorly, if at all, and seem to function more as ruling myths than as descriptive principles. But neither has our experience in the universities gained us moral enlightenment—the old promise that knowledge and increased rationality would liberate society seems hollow. Our professors and administrators sacrifice controversy to public relations; their curriculums change more slowly than the living events of the world; their skills and silence are purchased by investors in the arms race; passion is ruled unscholastic. The questions we might want raised—what is really important? can we live in a better way than this way? What should we regard as beautiful? - are not questions of a “fruitful, empirical nature”, and thus are brushed aside.
Unlike youth in other countries we are accustomed to moral leadership being exercised and moral dimensions being clarified by our elders. But today the preachments of the past seem inadequate to the forms of the present.
Consider the old liberal and socialist slogans: Capitalism Cannot Reform Itself, United Against Fascism, General Strike, All Out on May Day, Or, more recently, NO Cooperation with Commies and Fellow Travelers, Ideologies Are Exhausted, Bipartisanship, No Utopias. These are incomplete, and there are few new prophets.
It has been said that our liberal and socialist predecessors were plagued by vision without program, while our generation is plagued by programs without vision. There is today astute grasp of method, technique—the committee, the ad hoc group, the lobbyist, the hard and soft sells, the make, the image projected—but, if pressed critically, such expertise is incompetent to explain its unstated ideals. It is highly fashionable to identify oneself by old categories, or by naming a respected political figure, or by explaining “how we would vote” on various issues.
Theoretic chaos has replaced idealistic thinking—and, unable to reestablish theoretic order, men have condemned idealism itself. The retreat from ideals and utopias is in face one of the defining features of social life in America. The reasons are various: the older dreams of the left were perverted by Stalinism and never recreated; the congressional stalemate makes men limit their definitions of “the possible;” the specialization of activity leaves no place for sweeping thought; the very horrors of the twentieth century, notably the gas ovens and concentration camps and atom bombs, have blasted hopefulness and ushered in the mood of despair. To be hopeful is to be considered apocalyptic, deluded. To have no aspiration, on the contrary, is to be considered “tough-minded.”
In suggesting social goals and theories, therefore, we are aware of entering a realm of disrepute. Perhaps matured by the past, we have no sure formulas, no closed theories—but that does not mean values are beyond discussion and tentative determination. We are convinced that a first task of any new social movement is to convince people that the search for orienting theories and the creation of human values are both possible and worth while. We propose that the world is not too complex, our knowledge not too limited, our time not so short, as to prevent the systematic building of a structure of theory, one for man and about man. The inner thoughts of men and appreciative communicating between men can be regenerated. Men can integrate their confused sentiments and discrete notions, becoming creators and self-makers, rather than pitiful, buffeted things unable to understand the forces that control.
Our social goals involve conceptions of man, human relationships, and social systems.
We regard Man as infinitely precious and infinitely perfectible. In affirming these principles we are countering perhaps the dominant conceptions of man in the twentieth century: that he is a thing to be manipulated, and that he is inherently incapable of directing his own affairs. We oppose the depersonalization that reduces human beings to the status of things, and we regard it as a preface to irresponsibility; if anything, the brutalities of the twentieth century teach that means and ends are intimately related, that vague appeals to “posterity” cannot justify the mutilation of the present. We oppose, too, the notion of human incompetence because it rests essentially on the modern fact that men have been manipulated into incompetence.
We see little reason why men cannot meet with increasing skill the complexities and responsibilities of their situation, society is organized not for minority, but for majority, participation in decision-making.
Men have infinite potential for self-cultivation, self-direction, self-understanding, and creativity. It is this potential that we regard as crucial and to which we appeal, not to the human potentiality for violence, unreason, and submission to authority. The goal of man and society should be human independence: a concern not with image of popularity but with finding a meaning in life that is personally authentic; a quality of mind not compulsively driven by a sense of powerlessness, nor one which unthinkingly adopts status values, nor one which represses all threats to its habits, but one which has full, spontaneous access to present and past experiences, one which easily unites the fragmented parts of personal history, one which openly faces problems which are troubling and unresolved; one with an intuitive awareness of possibilities, an active sense of curiosity, and the ability and willingness to learn.
This kind of independence does not mean egoistic individualism---the object is not to have one’s way so much as it is to have a way that is one’s own. Nor do we deify man—we merely have faith in his potential.
Human relationships should involve fraternity and honesty. Human interdependence is contemporary fact; human brotherhood must be willed however, as a condition of future survival and as the most appropriate form of social relations. Personal links between man and man are needed, especially to go beyond the partial and fragmentary bonds of function that bind men only as worker to worker, employer to employee, teacher to student, American to Russian.
Loneliness, estrangement, isolation describe the vast distance between man and man today. These dominant tendencies cannot be overcome by better personnel management, nor by improved gadgets, but only when a love of man by man overcomes the idolatrous worship of things by man.
As the individualism we affirm is not egoism, the selflessness we affirm is not self-elimination. On the contrary, we believe in sacrifice of a kind that imprints one’s unique individual qualities in the relation to other men, and to all human activity. Further, to dislike isolation is not to favor the abolition of privacy; the latter differs from isolation in that it occurs or is abolished according to individual will. Finally, we would replace power and personal uniqueness rooted in possession, privilege, or circumstance by power and uniqueness rooted in love, reflectiveness, reason, and creativity.
As a social system we seek the establishment of a participatory democracy, governed by two central aims: that the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life; that society be organized to encourage independence in men and provide the media for their common participation.
In a participative community, social decision-making is carried on not through private groupings but through public ones. The political experience is not viewed as separate and “lower” than other private experiences, nor are the instruments of politics mere tools by which man defends himself from his fellows. Rather, the political life involves men commonly engaged in the art of creating an acceptable pattern of social relations and arrangements. Political life should be a necessary, though not sufficient, part of the total experience by which men find meaning in their personal and collective life and by which they establish a society to meet their collectively-determined needs. Politics, therefore, is the effort to clarify and solve problems facing the community. Institutionally, it should provide outlets for the expression of personal grievance and aspiration, opposing views should be organized so as to illuminate choices and facilitate the attainment of goals, channels should be commonly available to relate men to knowledge and to power so that private problems-from bad recreative facilities to personal alienation—are formulated and considered as general issues.
Violence is an abhorrent form of social interchange. We seek, through participative community, to prevent elite control of the means of violence, but more importantly, to develop the institutions—local, national, international—that encourage and guarantee nonviolence as a condition of conflict.
As political life does not make power the incentive to political action in a participatory democracy, the economic life should involve incentives worthier than money or survival, such as creative satisfaction and personal growth from work. With the political experience, the economic one is of such relevance that the individual must share in its j determination. His work, both present and future, should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; self-directed, not manipulated. Around this experience men invariably will come to form their habits, their perceptions, their social ethics. It is imperative that work encourage independence, respect for others, a sense of dignity and a willingness to accept social responsibilities. Again, as with politics, the economy is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation. Private enterprise is not inherently immoral or undemocratic—indeed, it may at times contribute to offset elitist tendencies—but where it decisively affects the society’s functioning it should be democratically responsible to the needs and aspirations of society, not to the private interests of profit and productivity.
As with the political and economic spheres, all parts of a participatory democracy should have as a goal the fullest development of independence and social responsibility in the individual.
A) The educational system should impart a sense of common human culture through the liberal arts and technical studies, as well as one or more specialized skills for each student. The measure of university greatness should not lie in the quantity of buildings, athletes, fraternities and sororities, but in the quality of independence and control which characterizes the teachers and students who actually participate in the educational process. The goal is neither specialized robots nor dispassionate eclecticism, but human beings with values and skills sufficient to live fully in the world.
B) Prisons, mental health institution, and hospitals should be directed to rehabilitation and restoration rather than to punishment or aggravation of human problems.
C) Minimum needs in food and housing, or in case of debilitating accident, should be met by society for each of its members.
D) Systems of transportation and communications should be shaped according to human need, not according to efficiency or profitability alone.
E) The creative arts should be given high importance in human experience, and should be promoted by the whole society.
In all areas the society’s goal should be to guarantee equality of opportunity, and the basic freedoms to think and communicate. To make these freedoms and opportunities for participation appealing, societies should seek eventual decentralization as a principle in political and economic life.
What Is Needed?
How to end the Cold Tar? How to increase democracy in America? These are the decisive issues confronting liberal and socialist forces today. To us, the issues are intimately related, the struggle for one invariably being a struggle for the other. What policy and structural alterations are needed to obtain these ends?
1. Universal controlled disarmament must replace deterrence and arms control as the national defense goal. The strategy of mutual threat can only temporarily prevent thermonuclear war, and it cannot but erode democratic institutions here while consolidating oppressive institutions in the Soviet Union. Yet American leadership, while giving rhetorical due to the ideal of disarmament, persists in accepting mixed deterrence as its policy formula: under Kennedy we have seen first-strike and second-strike weapons, counter-military and counter-population intentions, tactical atomic weapons and guerilla warriors, etc. The convenient rationalization that our weapons potpourri will confuse the enemy into fear of misbehaving is absurd and threatening. Our own intentions, once clearly retaliatory, are now ambiguous since the President has indicated we might in certain circumstances be the first to use nuclear weapons. We can expect that Russia will become more anxious herself, and perhaps even prepare to “preempt” us, and we (expecting the worst from the Russians) will nervously consider “pre-empting” ourselves. The symmetry of threat and counter-threat leads not to stability but to the edge of hell.
It is necessary that America make disarmament, not nuclear-deterrence, “credible” to the Soviets and to the world. That is, disarmament should be continually avowed as a national goal; concrete plans should be presented at conference tables; real machinery for a disarming and disarmed world — national and international — should be created while the disarming process itself goes on. The long-standing idea of unilateral initiative should be implemented as a basic feature of American disarmament strategy: initiatives that are graduated in their risk potential, accompanied by invitations to reciprocation, done regardless of reciprocation, openly planned for a significant period of future time. Their function should not be to strip America of weapons, but to induce a climate in which disarmament can be discussed with less mutual hostility and threat. They might include: a unilateral nuclear test moratorium, withdrawal of several bases near the Soviet Union, proposals to experiment in disarmament by stabilization of zones of controversy; cessation of all apparent first-strike preparations, such as the development of 41 Polaris by 1963 while Naval theorists state that “about 45” constitutes a provocative force; inviting a special United Nations agency to observe and inspect the launchings of all American flights into outer space; and numerous others.
There is no simple formula for the content of an actual disarmament treaty. It should be phased: perhaps on a region-by-region basis, the conventional weapons first. It should be conclusive, not open-ended, in its projection. It should be controlled: national inspection systems are adequate at first, but should be soon replaced by international devices and teams. It should be more than denuding: world or at least regional enforcement agencies, an international civil service and inspection service, and other supranational groups must come into reality under the United Nations.
2. Disarmament should be seen as a political issue, not a technical problem. Should this year’s Geneva negotiations have resulted (by magic) in a disarmament agreement, the United States Senate would have refused to ratify it, a domestic depression would have begun instantly, and every fiber of American life would be wrenched drastically: these are indications not only of our unpreparedness for disarmament, but also that disarmament is not just another “policy shift”. Disarmament means a deliberate shift in most of our domestic and foreign policy.
a. It will involve major changes in economic direction. Government intervention in new areas, government regulation of certain industrial price and investment practices to prevent inflation, full use of national productive capacities, and employment for every person in a dramatically expending economy all are to be expected as the ”price” of peace.
b. It will involve the simultaneous creation of international rule-making and enforcement machinery beginning under the United Nations, and the gradual transfer of sovereignties—such as national armies and national determination of “international” law---to such machinery.
c. It will involve the initiation of an explicitly political as opposed to military---foreign policy on the part of the two major superstates. Neither has formulated the political terms in which they would conduct their behavior in a disarming or disarmed world. Neither dares to disarm until such an understanding is reached.
3. A crucial feature of this political understanding must be the acceptance of status quo possessions. This will be primarily an American task and an unpleasant one. All present national entities—including North Viet Nam, North Korea, East Germany and Communist China—should be brought into the United Nations as sovereign, no matter how undesirable, states. Russia cannot be expected to negotiate disarmament treaties for the Chinese. We should not feed Chinese fanaticism with our reactionary encirclement but Chinese bellies with the aim of making war contrary to Chinese policy interests. Everyday that we support anticommunist tyrants but refuse to even allow the Chinese communists representation in the UN marks a greater separation of our ideals and our actions.
Second, we should recognize that a military, expansionist West Germany insisting on re—unification only generates German nationalism and frightens the Soviets who have understandable reason to suspect Germanic intentions. President Kennedy himself told the editor of Izvestia that the fears an independent Germany with nuclear weapons, but American policies have not demonstrated cognizance of the fact that Chancellor Adenauer seeks continued East-West tension offer the Berlin problem precisely because a relaxation would threaten German aspirations to become an independent nuclear power. As recently as 1958 it appeared that the long stalemate over Berlin was being solved. The West had not met Khrushchev’s demand for recognition of East Germany and the end to West German re-armament, but the four western ministers had agreed to reduce the number of soldiers in Berlin to store no nuclear weapons there, and to stop using the city as a propaganda and spy center inside the Soviet world. The “spirit of Camp David” evolved—but then Western policy inexplicably changed to a no-concession attitude. This was followed by a militant speech by Khrushchev, then by the U-2 flight, Western Denials, Khrushchev’s exposure of pilot Powers, then Western affirmation of the flight and, finally, the collapse of the Summit that might have come to conclusions about Berlin.
A world war over Berlin would be absurd. Anyone concurring with such a proposition should demand that the West cease its contradictory advocacy of “reunification” of Germany through free elections” and “a rearmed Germany in NATO”. It is madness to assert Russia will hand over East Germany so that a rearmed, reunited German state will enter the Western camp. Further, we ourselves should not welcome the existence of a West German deterrent, either independent or NATO-linked, only one generation after the defeat of the Nazis.
As for Berlin itself, Russia cannot expect the United States to tolerate its capture by the decadent Ulbricht regime, but neither can America expect to use Berlin within East Germany as a fortress within the communist world indefinitely. The Berlin problem cannot be solved without a radical change in Berlin itself, either this ugh internationalization or literal transplantation or other similar means.
Third, national self-determination should: be advocated by both power blocs as the only sensible principle of government and national development at the present time. Though defied by American support of unpopular dictators and by Russian totalitarianism, even lip-service advocacy of self-determination would make revolution-from-without less a threat in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and might establish precedents toward international, order.
Finally, the United Nations must be accepted as the best arbiter of disputes and agency of orderly world development. This perhaps will be more distasteful to the Russians than to the Americans-as it means the rejection of the “troika” principle of government, which considerably obstructs the conduct of nations. Both the Russians and the Americans, presumably, will find the attenuation sovereignty palatable only if it increases their security—therefore the need for acceptable international institutions to grow while armaments recede. The United States should always attempt to channel negotiation through the UN. It should take the lead in respecting the Charter provision that all defense and regional agencies shall report to the Security Council regularly on their activities, thus establishing the principle if not the practice of UN authority. The United States should lead in creating international rules; the American withdrawal: in 1953 from the UN effort to draft a Covenant on Human Rights should be reversed here and now. The United States should advocate the admission of all states to the UN, recognizing (as it does not recognize now) that the more oppressive the state the more important that it be engaged into the UN apparatus. The Security Council, with the addition of India and China, could become a permanent summit of foreign ministers—if the United States desires. The best must be forsaken increasingly: “entangling alliances” today are a condition of world peace.
4. Experiments in disarmament and demilitarization must be conducted as part of the total disarming process. These “disarmament experiments” can be of several kinds, so long as they are consistent with the principles of containing the arms race and isolating specific sectors of the world from the Cold War power play. First, it is imperative that no more nations be supplied with or locally produce atomic weapons. A 1959 report of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences predicted that 19 nations would be so armed in the near future. Should this prediction be fulfilled, the prospects of war would be unimaginably expanded. For this reason the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union should bind against France (which wants its own independent deterrent) and seek, through United Nations or other machinery, the effective prevention of the spread of atomic weapons. This would involve not only declarations of “denuclearization” in whole areas of Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe, but would attempt to create inspection machinery to guarantee the peaceful use of atomic energy.
Second, the United States should reconsider its increasingly outmoded European defense framework, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Since its creation in 1949, NATO has assumed increased strength in overall determination of Western military policy, but has become less and less relevant to its original purpose, which was the defense of central Europe. To be sure, after the Czech coup of 1948 it might have appeared that the Soviet Union was on the verge of a full-scale assault on Europe. But that onslaught has not materialized, not so much because of NATO’s existence but because of the general unimportance of much of central Europe to the Soviets. Today, when even American-based ICBMs could smash Russia minutes after an invasion of Europe, when the Soviets have no reason to embark on such an invasion, and when “thaw sectors” are desperately needed to brake the arms race, one of the least threatening but most promising courses for America would be toward the gradual diminishment of the NATO force, coup led with the negotiated “disengagement” of parts of central Europe. It is especially crucial that this be done while America is entering into favorable trade relations‘ with the European Economic Community: such a gesture, combining economic ambition w with less dependence on the military, would demonstrate the kind of competitive “coexistence” America intends to conduct with the communist-bloc nations. If the disengaged states were the two Germanys, Poland and Czechoslovakia, several other benefits would accrue. First, the United States would be breaking with the lip-service commitment, to “liberation” of Eastern Europe which has contributed so much to Russian fears and intransigence, while doing too little about actual liberation. But the end of “liberation” as a proposed policy would not signal the end of American concern for the oppressed in East Europe. On the contrary disengagement would be a real, rather than a rhetorical, effort to ease military tensions, thus undermining the Russian argument for tighter controls in East Europe based on the “menace of capitalist encirclement”. This policy, geared to the needs of democratic elements in the satellites, would develop a real bridge between East and West across the two most pro-Western Russian satellites. The Russians in the past have indicated some interest in such a plan, including the demilitarization of the Warsaw Pact countries: Their interest should be publicly tested. If disengagement could be achieved, a major zone could be removed from the Cold War, the German problem would be materially diminished, and the seed for NATO would diminish, and attitudes favorable to disarming would be generated.
Needless to say, these proposals are much different than what is currently being practiced and praised. American military strategists are slowly acceding to the NATO demand for an independent deterrent, based on the fear that America might not defend Europe from military attack. These tendencies strike just the opposite chords in Russia than those which would be struck by disengagement themes: the chords of military alertness, based on the fear that NATO (bulwarked by the German Wermacht) is preparing to attack Eastern Europe of the Soviet Union. Thus the alarm which underlies the NATO proposal for an independent deterrent is likely itself to bring into existence that very Russian posture that was the original cause of fear. Armaments spiral and belligerence will carry the day, not disengagement and negotiation.
The Industrialization of the World
Many Americans are prone to think of industrialization of the newly-developing nations as a modern form of American noblesse, undertaken sacrificially for the benefit of others. On the contrary, the task of world industrialization, of eliminating the disparity between have and have-not nation, is as important as any issue facing America. The colonial revolution signals the end of an era for the old Western powers, and a time of new beginnings for most of the people of the earth. In the course of these upheavals, many problems will emerge: American policies will be revised or accelerated in several ways.
1. The United States principal goal should be creating a world where hunger, poverty, disease, ignorance, violence and exploitation are replaced as central features by abundance, reason love, and international cooperation. To many this will seem the product of juvenile hallucination but we insist it is a more realistic goal than is a world of nuclear stalemate. Some will say this is hopeful beyond all bounds: but to us it is far better to have positive vision than a “hard Headed” resignation. Some will sympathize, but claim it is impossible if so, then we, not Fate, are the responsible ones, for we have the means at our disposal. We should not give up the attempt for fear of the failure.
We should undertake here and now a fifty-year effort to prepare for nations the conditions of industrialization. Even with far more capital and skill we now import to emerging areas, serious prophets expect that two generations will pass before accelerating industrialism is a worldwide fact. The needs are numerous: every nation must build an adequate infrastructure (transportation, communication, land resources, waterways) for future industrial growth; agriculture must be modernized, expanded in productiveness, and diversified; there must be industries suited to the rapid development of differing raw materials and other resources; education must begin on a continuing basis for everyone in the society especially including engineering and technical training; technical assistance from outside sources must be adequate to meet present and long-term needs; atomic power plants must spring up to make electrical energy available. With America’s idle productive capacity, it is possible to begin this process immediately without changing our military allocations. This might catalyze a “peace race” since it would demand a response of such magnitude from the Soviet Union that arms spending and “coexistence” spending would beets strenuous, perhaps impossible, for the Soviets to carry on simultaneously.
3. We should not depend significantly on private enterprise to do the job. Many important projects will not be profitable enough to entice the investment of private capital. The total amount required is far beyond the resources of corporate and philanthropic concerns. The new nations are suspicious, legitimately, of foreign enterprises dominating their national life. World industrialization is too e an undertaking to be formulated or carried out by private interests. Foreign economic assistance is a national problem, requiring long range planning, integration the other domestic and foreign policies, and considerable public debate and analysis. Therefore the federal government should have primary responsibility in this area.
4. We should not lock the development process into Cold War conflict: we should view it as a way of ending that conflict. When President Kennedy declared that must aid those who need aid because it is right, he was unimpeachably correct the principle must become practice. We should reverse the trend of aiding corrupt anti communist regimes. To support dictators like Diem while trying to destroy ones like Castro will only enforce internationalism about American ’principle”, and is and to lead to even more authoritarian anti-American revolutions, especially in tin America where we did not even consider foreign aid until Castro had challenged the status quo. We should end the distinction between communist hunger and anti-communist hunger. To feed only anti-communists is to directly fatten men like Boun Oum, incur the wrath of real democrats, and to distort our own sense of human values. We must cease seeing development in terms of communism and capitalism. To fight communism by capitalism in the newly-developing areas is to fundamentally misunderstand the international hatred of imperialism and colonialism, and to confuse the needs of 19th century industrial. America with those of contemporary nations.
Quite fortunately, me are edging away from the Dullesian “either or” foreign policy ultimatum, towards an uneasy acceptance of neutralism and nonalignment. If we really desire the end of the Cold War, we should now welcome nonalignment—that is the creation of whole blocs of nations concerned with growth and with independently trying to break out of the Cold liar apparatus.
Finally, while seeking disarmament as the genuine deterrent, we should shift from financial support of military regimes to support of national development. Real security cannot be gained by propping: up military defenses, but only through the hastening of political stability, economic growth, greater welfare, improved education. Military aid is temporary in nature, a “shoring up” measure that only postpones crises. In addition, it tends to divert the allocation of the nation being defended to supplementary military spending (Pakistan’s budget is 70-percent oriented to defense measures). Sometimes it actually creates crisis situations, as in Latin America where we have contributed to the growth of national armies which are opposed generally to sweeping democratization. Finally, if we are really generous, it is harder for corrupt governments to unfairly exploit economic aid-especially if it is so plentiful that the rulers cannot blame the absence of real reforms on anything but their own power lust.
5. The United States should be prepared to support authoritarian regimes. Where societies are without material goods, or an educated population, our criticism of authoritarianism should be constructive ones: that is, supportive of the revolutionary processes bringing new peoples into radically new social situations. We should acknowledge that freedom and democracy do not magically occur, but are consequences of historical development: therefore they can not always be demanded, but facilitated, nurtured. Equally important, we should avoid the projection of distinctly Anglo-American democratic forms willy-nilly into different cultures, e.g. Africa where there is little tradition of constitutionalism, but a dominant tradition of community consensus. Instead of democratic capitalism we should anticipate more or less authoritarian kinds of socialism in many of the emergent areas and offer our support in a non-doctrinaire manner (as it appears we are now doing in Guinea and Ghana). We should not support authoritarianisms in which a minority are the economic and educational beneficiaries (as is the case with many countries in Latin America) because only mass participation in struggles against poverty and illiteracy will bring about the conditions of a democratic social order. These distinctions are not thorough, but they point to a major intellectual task, the development of a reasonable theory to justify the acre of certain authoritarianisms, and how to measure the quality of progress under authoritarian rule. That is the terminal point beyond which we will not tolerate suppression of civil liberties? How can Western democracy be applied to revolutionary or even stable situations in different cultures, and how not? This and other questions confront the whole tradition of democratic theory in a challenging, not a subversive, way.
6. America should show its commitment to democratic institutions not withdrawing recognition of undemocratic regimes, but by making domestic democracy exemplary. Worldwide amusement, cynicism and hatred toward the United States a democracy is not simply a communist propaganda trick, but an objectively justifiable phenomenon. If respect for democracy is to be international, then the significance of democracy must emanate from American shores, not from the “soft sell” of the United States Information Agency.
7. America should agree that public utilities railroads mines and plantations and other basic economic institutions should be in the control of national, not foreign agencies. The destiny of any country should be determined by its nationals, not by outsiders with economic interests within. We should encourage our investors to turn over their foreign holdings (or at least 50 percent of the stock) to the national governments of the countries involved.
8. Foreign aid should be given through international agencies primarily the United Nations. The need is to eliminate political overtones to the extent possible, from economic development. The use of international agencies, with interests transcending those of American or Russian self-interest, is the feasible means of working on sound development. Second, internationalism will allow more long-range planning, integrate development plans adjacent countries and regions, and eliminate the duplication built into national system of foreign aid. Third, it would justify more strictness of supervision than now the case with American foreign aid efforts, but with far less chance of suspicion on the part of the developing countries. Fourth, the humiliating “handout” effect would be replaced by the joint participation of all nations in the general development of the earth’s resources and industrial capacities. Fifth: it would eliminate national tensions, e.g. between Japan and same Southeast areas, which now impair aid programs by “disguising” nationalities in the compooling of funds. Sixth, it would make easier the task of stabilizing the world market prices of basic commodities, alleviating the enormous threat that decline in prices of commodity exports might cancel out the gains from foreign aid in the new nations. Seventh, it would improve the possibilities of non-exploitive development, especially in creating “soft credit” rotating-fund agencies which would not require immediate progress or financial return. Finally, it would enhance the importance of the United Nations itself, just as the disarming process would enhance the UN as a rule-enforcement agency.
Towards American Democracy
Every effort to end the Cold War and expand the process of world industrialization is and effort hostile to people and institutions whose interests lie perpetuation of the East-West military threat and the postponement of change the “have not” nations of the world. Every such effort, too, is bound to establish greater democracy in America. The goals of a domestic effort would be:
1. America must abolish its political party stalemate. A genuine, two party system, centered around issues and essential values, demanding allegiance to party principles, must supplant the current system of organized stalemate which is seriously inadequate to a world influx. It has long been argued that the very overlapping of American parties guarantees that issues will be considered responsibly, that progress will be gradual instead of intemperate, and that therefore America will remain stable instead of torn by class strife. On the contrary: the enormous party overlap itself confuses issues and: makes responsible presentation of choice to the electorate impossible, that guarantees Congressional listlessness and the drift of power to military and economic bureaucracies, that directs attention away from more fundamental causes of social stability, such as a huge middle class, Keynesian economic techniques and Madison Avenue advertising. The ideals of political democracy, then, and the imperative need for a flexible decision-making apparatus makes a real two-party system an immediate social necessity. What is desirable is sufficient party disagreement to dramatize major issues, yet sufficient party overlap to guarantee stable transitions from administration to administration.
Every time the President criticizes a recalcitrant Congress, we must ask that he no longer tolerate the Southern conservatives in the Democratic Party. Every time a liberal representative complains that “We can’t expect everything at once” we must ask whether we received much of anything from Congress in the last generation. Every time he refers to “circumstances beyond control” we must ask why he fraternizes with racist scoundrels. Every time he speaks of the “unpleasantness of personal and party fighting,” we should insist that pleasantry with Dixiecrats is inexcusable when the dark peoples of the world cry for American support.
2. Mechanisms of voluntary association must be erected through which political information can be imparted and participation encouraged. Political parties, even if realigned would not provide adequate outlets for popular involvement. Institutions should be created that engage people with issues and express a political preference, not as with the huge business lobbies which now exercise undemocratic power, but which carry political influence (appropriate to private, rather than public, groupings) in the national decision making enterprise. Private in nature, these should be organized around single issues (medical care, transportation systems reform, etc.), concrete interest (labor and minority group organizations), multiple issues or general issues. These do not exist in quantity in America today. If they did exist, they would be a significant politicalizing and educative force, bringing people into touch with public life and affording them means of expression and action. Today giant lobby representatives of business interests are dominant, but not educative. The federal, government itself should counter the latter forces whose intent is often public deceit for private gain, but subsidizing the preparation and decentralized distribution of objective materials on all public issues facing government.
3. Institutions and practices which stifle dissent should be abolished and the promotion of peaceful dissent should be actively promoted. The first amendment freedom of speech, assembly, thought, religion and press should be seen as guarantors, not threats, to the national security. While society has the right to prevent active subversion of its laws and institutions, it has the duty as well to promote open discussion of all issues - otherwise it will be in fact promoting real subversion as the only means to implementing ideas. To eliminate the fears and apathy from national life it is necessary that the institutions bred by fear and apathy be rooted out: the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Senate Internal Security Committee, the loyalty oaths on federal loans, the Attorney General’s list of subversive organizations, the Smith and McCarran acts. The process of eliminating these blighting institutions is the process of restoring democratic participation. Their existence is a sign of the decomposition and atrophy of the participation.
4. Corporations must be made publicly responsible. It is not possible to believe that true democracy can exist where a minority utterly controls enormous wealth and power. The influence of corporate elites on foreign policy is neither reliable nor democratic; a way must be found to subordinate private American foreign investment to a democratically-constructed foreign policy. The influence of the same giants on domestic life is intolerable as well; a way must be found to direct our economic resources to genuine human needs, not the private needs of corporations nor the rigged needs of a maneuvered citizenry.
Americans cannot trust the promise of the corporate bureaucracy to be “socially responsible”. It must become structurally responsible to the people as well. Empirical study should determine the various ways in which this responsibility might be gained; strengthened congressional regulatory commissions; increased worker participation in management and other forms of multilateral decision-making; deliberate decentralization; actual transfer to public ownership, are a few major alternatives that must be considered.
5. A truly “public sector” must be established and its nature debated and planned. If war is to be avoided the “permanent war economy” must be as an “interim war economy.” At some point, America must return to other mechanisms of economic growth besides public military spending. The most likely, a least desirable, return would be in the form of private enterprise. The undesirability lies in the fact of inherent capitalist instability, noticeable even with the bolstering effects of government intervention. In the most recent of post-war recessions, for example, private expenditures for plant and equipment dropped from $16 billion to $11.5 billion, while unemployment surged to nearly six million. By good fortune, investments in construction industries remained level, else an economic depression would have occurred. This will recur, and our growth in national per capita living standards will remain unsensational while the economy stagnates. The main private forces of economic expansion cannot guarantee a steady rate of grow, nor acceptable recovery from recession especially in demilitarizing world. Government participation in the economy is essential. Such participation will inevitably expand enormously, because stable growth of the economy, demands increasing investments yearly. Our present output of $450 billion might double in a generation, irreversibly involving government solutions. And in future recessions, the compensatory fiscal action by the government will be the only means of avoiding the twin disasters of greater unemployment and a slackening of the rate of growth. Furthermore, a close relationship with the, European Common Market will involve competition with numerous planned economies, and may aggravate American unemployment unless the economy here is expanding swiftly enough to create new jobs.
All these tendencies suggest that our future expansion rests upon our willingness to enlarge the “public sector” greatly. Unless we choose war as an economic solvent, future public spending will be of a non-military nature of a major intervention into civilian production by the government. The issues posed by this development are enormous:
a. How should public vs. private domain be determined? We suggest these criteria: 1) when a resource has been discovered or developed with public tax revenues, such as the space communications systems, it should remain a public resource, not be given away to private enterprise; 2) when monopolization seems inevitable, the public should maintain control of and industry, 3) when national objectives contradict seriously with business objectives as to the use of a resource, the former should prevail.
b. How should technological advances be introduced into a society? By a public process, based on publicly-determined needs. Technological innovations should not be postpones from social use by private corporations in order to protest investment in older equipment.
c. How shall the “public sector” be made public, and not the arena of a ruling bureaucracy of “public servants”? By steadfast opposition to bureaucratic coagulation, and to definitions of human needs according to problems easiest for computers to solve. Second, the bureaucratic pile-ups must be at least minimized by local, regional, and national economic planning -- responding to the interconnection of public problems’ by comprehensive programs of solution. Third, and most important by experiments in decentralization based on the vision of man as master of his machines and his society. The personal capacity to cope with life has been reduced everywhere by the introduction of a technology that only minorities of man (barely) understand. How the process can be reversed—and we believe it can be—is one of the great sociological and economic asks before humane people today. Polytechnical schooling, with the individual adjusting to several work and life experiences, is one method. The transfer of certain mechanized task back into manual forms, allowing men to make whole, not partial, products, is not unimaginable. Our monster cities, based historically on the need for mass labor, might now be humanized, broken into smaller communities, powered by nuclear energy, arranged according to community decision. These are but a fraction of the opportunities of the new era: serious study and deliberate experimentation, rooted in a desire for human fraternity, may now result in blueprints of civic paradise.
6. America should abolish squalor, terminate neglect, and establish an environment for people to live in with dignity and creativeness.
a. A program against poverty must be just as sweeping as the nature of poverty itself. It must not be just palliative,’ but directed to the abolition of the structural circumstances of poverty. At a bare minimum it should include a housing act fax larger than the one supported by the Kennedy Administration, but one that is geared more to low- and middle-income needs than to the windfall aspiration of small and large private entrepreneurs, one that is more sympathetic to the quality of communal life than to the efficiency of city-splitting highways. Second, medical care must become recognized as a lifetime human rights just as vital as food, shelter and clothing—the Federal government should guarantee health insurance as a basic social service, turning medical treatment into a social habit, not just an occasion crisis, fighting sickness among the aged not just by making medical care financially feasible but by reducing sickness among children and younger people. Third, existing institutions should be expanded so that the Welfare State cares for everyone’s welfare according to need, Social security payments should be extended to everyone and should be proportionately greater for the poorest. A minimum wage of at least $1.50 should be extended to all workers (including the 16 million currently not covered at all).
b. A full scale public initiative for civil rights should be undertaken despite the clamor among conservatives and liberals) about gradualism, property rights, and law and order. The executive and legislative branches of the Federal government should work by enforcement end, enactment against any form of exploitation of minority groups. No federal cooperation with racism is tolerable, from financing of schools, to the development of federally-supported industry, to the social gatherings of the Present. Laws hastening school desegregation, voting rights, and economic protection for Negroes are needed right now. And the moral force of the Executive Office should be exerted against the Dixiecrats specifically, and the national complacency about the race question generally. Especially in the North, where one-half of the country’s Negro people now life, is not a problem to be solved in isolation from other problems. The fight against poverty, against slums, against the stalemated Congress, against McCarthyism, are all fights against the discrimination that is nearly endemic to all areas of American life.
c. The promise and problems of long-range federal economic development should be studied more constructively. It is an embarrass paradox that the Tennessee Valley Authority is a wonder to foreign visitors by a “radical” and barely influential project to most Americans. The Kennedy decision to permit private facilities to transmit power from the $1 billion Colorado River Storage Project is a disastrous one, interposing privately owned transmitters between publicly-owned power generators and their publicly (and cooperatively) owned distributors. The contrary trend, to public ownership of power, should be generated in an experimental way.
d. The Area Redevelopment Act of 1961 is a first step in recognizing the underdeveloped areas of the United States. It has been rejected by Mississippi already, however, because of the improvement it bodes for the unskilled Negro worker. This program should be enlarged, given teeth, and pursued rigorously by Federal authorities,
e. Mental health institutions are in dire need; there were fewer mental hospital beds in relation to the numbers of mentally ill in 1959 than there were in 1948. Public hospitals, too, are seriously wanting; existing structures alone need an estimated $1 billion for rehabilitation. Tremendous staff and faculty needs exist as well, and there are not enough medical students enrolled today to meet the anticipated needs of the future.
f. Our prisons are too often the enforcers of misery. They must be either re-oriented to rehabilitative work through public supervision or be abolished for their dehumanizing social effects. Funds are needed, too, to make possible a decent prison environment.
g. Education is too vital a public problem to be completely entrusted to the province of the various states and local units. In fact, there is no good reason why America should not progress now toward internationalizing, rather than localizing, its educational system—children and young adults studying everywhere in the world, through a United Nations program, would go far to create mutual understanding. In the meantime the need for teachers and classrooms in America is fantastic. This is an area where “minimal” requirements hardly should be considered as a goal—there always are improvements to be made in the educational system, e.g., smaller classes and many more teachers for them, programs to subsidize the education of the poor but bright, etc.
h. America should eliminate agricultural policies, based on scarcity and pent-up surplus. In America and foreign countries there exist tremendous needs for more food and balanced diets. The Federal government should finance small farmers cooperatives, strengthen programs of rural electrification, and expand policies for the distribution of agricultural surpluses throughout the world (by Food-for-Peace and related UN programming).
i. Science should be employed to constructively transform the conditions of life throughout the United States and the world. Yet at the present time the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the National Science Foundation together spend only $300 million annually for scientific purposes in contrast to the $6 billion spent by the Defense Department and the Atomic Energy, Commission. One-half of all research and development in America is directly devoted to military purposes. Two imbalances must be corrected—that of military over non-military investigation, and that of biological-natural-physical science over the sciences of human behavior. Our political system must then include planning for the human use of science: by anticipating the political consequences of scientific innovation, by directing the discovery and exploration of space, by adapting science to improved production of food, to international communications systems, to technical problems of disarmament, and so on. For the newly-developing nations, American science should focus on the study of cheap sources of power, housing and building materials, mass educational techniques, etc. Further, science and scholarship should be seen less as an apparatus of conflicting power blocs, but as a bridge toward supranational community: the International Geophysical Year is a model for continuous further cooperation between the science communities of all nations.
An Alternative to Helplessness
The goals we have set are not realizable next month, or even next elections, but that fact justified neither giving up altogether nor a determination to work only on immediate, direct, tangible problems. Both responses are a sign of helplessness, fearfulness of visions, refusal to hope: and tend to bring on the very conditions to be avoided. Fearing vision, we justify rhetoric or myopia. Fearing hope, we reinforce despair.
The first effort, then, should be to state a vision: what is the perimeter of human possibility in this epoch? This we have tried to do. The second effort, if we are to be politically responsible, is to evaluate the prospects for obtaining’ at least a substantial part of that vision in our epoch: what are the social forces that exist, or that must exist’ if we are to be at all successful? And what role have we ourselves to play as a social force?
1. In exploring the existing social forces, note must be taken of the Southern civil rights movement as the most heartening and exemplary struggle in this time of inactive democracy. It is heartening because of the justice it insists upon, exemplary because it indicates that there can be a passage out of apathy.
This movement, pushed into a brilliant new phase by the Montgomery bus boycott and the subsequent nonviolent action of the sit-ins and Freedom Rides has had three major results: first, a sense of self-determination has been instill in millions of oppressed Negroes; second, the movement has challenged a few thousand liberals to new social idealism; third, a series of important concessions have been obtained, such as token school desegregation increased Administration help, new laws, desegregation of some public facilities.
But fundamental social change—that would break the props from under Jim Crow—has not come. Negro employment opportunity, wage levels, housing conditions, educational privileges—these remain deplorable and relatively constant, each deprivation reinforcing the impact of the others. The Southern states, in the meantime, are strengthening the fortresses of the status quos and, are beginning to camouflage the fortresses by guile where open bigotry announced its defiance before. The white-controlled one-party system remains intact: indeed, conservative Republicans may have a greater interest in maintaining their coalition with Dixiecrats than in organizing a Republican Party in the South. Rural dominance remains a fact in nearly all the Southern states. Southern politicians maintain a continuing aversion to the welfare legislation that would aid their people. The reins of the Southern economy are held by conservative businessmen who view human rights as secondary to property rights. A violent anti communism is rooting itself in the, South, and threatening even moderate voices. Add the militarist tradition of the South and its irrational regional mystique and one must conclude that authoritarian and reactionary tendencies are a real obstacle to the small, voiceless, poor, and isolated democratic movements.
The civil rights struggle thus has come to an impasse. To this impasse, the movement responded this year by entering the sphere of politics, insisting on citizenship rights, specifically the right to note, the new voter registration stage of protest represents perhaps the first major attempt to exercise the conventional instruments of political democracy in the struggle for racial justice. The vote, if used strategically by the great mass of now-unregistered Negroes theoretically eligible to vote, will be a decisive factor in changing the quality of southern leadership from low demagoguery to decent statesmanship.
More important, the new emphasis on the vote heralds the use of political means to solve the problems of equality in America, and it signals the decline of the short-sighted view that “discrimination” can be isolated from related social problems. Since the moral clarity of the civil rights movement has not always been accompanied by precise political vision, and sometimes not even by a real political consciousness the new phase is revolutionary in its implications. The greatest of these implications seems to be the threat posed to the Dixiecrat domination of the political channels. An increased Negro vote drive in and of itself is not going to dislodge the racist power, but an accelerating movement through the courts, the ballot boxes and especially the jails is the most likely means of shattering the crust of political irresponsibility and restoring a semblance of democratic order, on local and state levels.
2. The broadest movement for peace in several years emerged in 1961-62. In its political orientation and goals it is much less identifiable than the movement for civil rights: it includes socialists, pacifists, liberals, scholars, militant activists, middle class women, same professionals, many students, a few unionists. Some have been emotionally single-issues: Ban the Bomb. Some have been academically obscurantist. Some have rejected The System (sometime both Systems). Some have attempted, too, to “work within” The System. Amidst these conflicting streams of emphasis however, certain basic qualities appear. The most important is that the “peace movement” has operated almost exclusively through peripheral institutions-almost never through mainstream institutions. Similarly, individuals interested in peace have nonpolitical social roles that cannot be turned to the support of peace activity. Concretely, liberal religious societies, anti-war groups voluntary associations, ad hoc committees haw been the political unit of the peace movement, and its human movers have been students, teachers, housewives, secretaries, lawyers, doctors, clergy. The unit; have not been located in spots of major social influence, the people have not been able to turn their resources fully to the issues that concern them. The results are political ineffectiveness and personal alienation.
The organizing ability of the peace movement thus is limited to the ability to state and polarize issues. It does not have an institution or the forum in which the conflicting interests can be debated. The debate goes on in corners; it has little connection with the continuing process of determining allocations of resources. This process is not necessarily centralized is however much the peace movement is estranged from it. National policy, though dominated to: a large degree by the “power elites” of the corporations and military, is still partially founded in consensus. It can be altered when there actually begins a shift in the allocation of resources and the listing of priorities by the people in the Institutions which hand social influence, e.g., the labor unions and the schools. As long, as the debates of the peace movement form only a protest, rather than an opposition viewpoint within the centers of serious decision-making. Then it is neither a movement of democratic relevance, nor is it likely to have any effectiveness except in educating more outsiders to the issue, It is vital, to be sure, that this educating go on (a heartening sign is the recent proliferation of books and journals dealing with peace and war problems), As a domestic concern for peace grows, coupled to the heavy pressures from newly-developing countries, the possibility for making politicians responsible to “peace constituencies” becomes greater.
But in the long interim before the national political climate is more open to deliberate, goal-directed debate about peace issues, the dedicated peace “movement” might well prepare a local base: by establishing civic committees On the techniques of converting from military to peacetime production, especially, To make war and peace relevant to the problems of everyday life, by relating it to the backyard (shelters), the baby (fallout), the job (military contracts) and making a turn toward peace seem desirable on these same terms - is a task the peace movement is just beginning, and can profitably continue.
3. Central to any analysis of the potential for change must be an appraisal of organized labor. It would be un-historical to disregard the immense influence of labor in making modern America a decent place in which to live. It would be confused to fail to note labors presence today as the most liberal of mainstream institutions. But it would be irresponsible not to criticize labor for losing the idealism that once made it a driving movement. Those who expected a labor upsurge after the 1955 AFL-CIO merger can only be dismayed that one year later, in the Stevenson-Eisenhower campaign, the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education was able to obtain solicited $1 contributions from only one of every 24 unionists, and prompt only 40% percent of the rank-and-file to vote.
As a political force, labor generally has been unsuccessful in the post-war period of prosperity. It has seen the passage of the Taft-Hartley and Landrum-Griffin laws, and while beginning to receive slightly favorable National Labor Relations Board rulings, it has made little progress against right-to work laws. Furthermore, it has seen less than adequate action of domestic problems, especially unemployment.
This labor “recession” has been only partly due to anti-labor politicians and corporations. Blame should be laid, too, to labor itself for not mounting an adequate movement. Labor has seen itself as elitist, rather than mass-oriented, and as a pressure group rather than as an 18-million member body making political demands for all America. In the first instance, the labor bureaucracy is cynical toward, or afraid of, rank-and-file involvement in the work of the union. Resolutions passed at conventions are implemented only by high-level machinations, not by mass mobilization of the unionists. Without a significant base, labors pressure function is materially reduced since it becomes difficult to hold political figures accountable to a movement that can not muster a vote from a majority of its members.
There are some indications, however, that labor might regain its missing idealism. First, there are signs within the movement: of worker discontent with the economic progress of collective bargaining, of occasional splits among union leaders on questions such as nuclear testing or other Cold liar issues. Second; and more important, are the social forces which prompt these feelings of unrest. Foremost is the permanence of unemployment, and the threat of automation, but important too is the growth of unorganized ranks in white collar fields with steady depletion in the already-organized fields. Third, there is the tremendous challenge of the Negro movement for support from organized labor: the alienation from and disgust with labor hypocrisy among Negroes ranging from the NAACP to the Black Muslims (crystallized in the formation of the Negro American Labor Council) indicates that labor must move more seriously in its attempts to organize on an interracial basis in the South and in large urban areas. When this task was broached several years ago, “jurisdictional” disputes prevented action. Today, many of those disputes have been settled—and the question of a massive organizing campaign is on the labor agenda again.
These threats and opportunities point to a profound crisis: either labor continues to decline as a social force, omit must constitute itself as a mass political force demanding not only that society recognize its rights to organize but also a program going beyond desired labor legislation and welfare improvements. Necessarily this latter role will require rank-and-file involvement. It might include greater autonomy and power for political coalitions of the various trade unions in local areas, rather than the more stultifying dominance of the international unions now. It might include reductions in leaders salaries, or to rotation from executive office to shop obligations, as a means of breaking down thee hierarchical tendencies which have detached elite from base and made the highest echelons b$ labor more like businessmen than workers. It would certainly mean an announced independence of the center and Dixiecrat wings of the Democratic Party, and a massive organizing drive, especially in the South to complement the growing Negro political drive there.
But such is not the case at present. Few anticipate it, and fewer still exhort labor to begin. Labor continues to be the most liberal—and most frustrated—mainstream institution in America.
4. Since the Democratic Party sweep in 1958, there have been exaggerated but real efforts to establish a liberal-left force in Congress, not to balance but to at least voice criticism of the conservatives. The most notable of these efforts was the Liberal Project begun early in 1959 by Representative Kastenmeier of Wisconsin. The Project was neither disciplined, nor very influential, but it was concerned at least with confronting basic domestic and foreign problems, in concert with several liberal intellectuals.
The Project was nevermore than embryonic. If 1960 five of its members were defeated (for reasons other than their membership in the Project), Then followed a “post mortem” publication of a collection of The Liberal Papers, materials discussed by the Project when it was in existence. The Republicans called the book “further out than communism”. The New Frontier Administration repudiated any connection with the Papers. Former members of the Project even disclaimed their roles, except two, A hopeful beginning came to a shameful end.
But during the demise of the Project, a new spirit of Democratic Party reform was occurring in several places: New York City, Ithaca, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas, California, and even in Mississippi and Alabama where Negro candidates for Congress challenged racist political power. Some were for peace, some for the liberal side of the New Frontier, some for realignment of the parties—and in most cases they were supported by students.
Americans for Democratic Action and The New Republic, pillars of the liberal community, took stands against the President on nuclear testing. A split, slight thus far, developed in organic labor on the same issue. The Rev, Martin Luther King Jr. preached against the Dixiecrat-Republican coalition across the nation. Here and there were stirrings of unprogrammatic discontent with the political stalemate.
5. From 1960 to 1962, the campuses experienced a revival of idealism among an active few. Triggered by the impact of the sit-ins, students began to struggle for integration, civil liberties, students rights, peace and against the fast-rising right-wing “revolt” as well. The liberal students, too, have felt their urgency thwarted by conventional channels from student governments to congressional committees. Out of this sense of alienation from existing channels has come the creation of new ones; the most characteristic forms of liberal-radical student organizations are the dozens of campus political parties, political journals, and peace demonstrations. In only a few cases have students built bridges to powers an occasional election campaign, or a show of action by campus ADA or the Young Democrats, or infrequently through the United States National Student Association whose notable work has not been focused on political change,
These contemporary social movements—for peace, civil rights, civil liberties, labor — have in common certain values and goals. The fight for cavil rights is also one for social welfare for all Americans; for free speech and the right to protest; for the shield of economic independence and bargaining power; for reduction of the arms race which takes national attention and resources away from the settlement of domestic injustice. The fight of labor for jobs and wages is also one to end exploitation of the Negro as a source of cheap labor; for the right to petition and strike; for world industrialization; for the stability of peacetime economy instead of the insecurity of a war economy; for expansion of the Welfare State. The fight for a liberal congress is a fight for a platform from which these concerns can issue. And, the fight for student rights, for internal democracy in the university, is a fight too university a potential base and agency for a movement of social change.
1. Any new left in America must be, in large measure, a left with real intellectual skills, committed to deliberativeness, honesty, reflection as working tools. The university permits the political life to be an adjunct to the academic one, and action to be informed by reason.
2. A new left must be distributed in significant social roles throughout the country.
3. A new left must consist of younger people who matured in the postwar worlds and partially be directed to the recruitment of younger people. The university is the obvious beginning point.
4. A new left must include liberals and socialists, the farmer for their relevance, the latter for their sense of thoroughgoing reforms in the system. The university is a more sensible place than a political party for these two traditions to discuss their differences and look for political synthesis.
5. A new left must start controversy across the land, if national policies and national apathy are to be reversed. The ideal university is a community of controversy, within itself in its effects on communities .beyond.
6. A new left must transform modern complexity into issues that can be understood and felt close-up by every human being. It must give farm to the feelings of helplessness and indifference, so that people may see the political, social, and economic sources of their private troubles and organize to change society. In a time of supposed prosperity, moral complacency and political manipulation, a new left cannot rely on aching stomachs to be the engine force of social reform. The case for changes, for alternatives that will involve uncomfortable personal efforts, must be argued as never before. The university is a relevant place for all of these activities.
To turn these possibilities into realities will involve national efforts at university reform by an alliance of students and faculty. They must wrest control of the educational process from the administrative bureaucracy. They must legitimize the right to speak and act in public, partisan ways. They must make fraternal and functional contact with allies in labor, civil rights, and other liberal farces outside the campus„ They must import major public issues into the curriculum—research and teaching on problems of war and peace is an outstanding example. They must make debate and controversy, not dull pedantic cant, the common style of the educational life.
As students for a democratic society we are committed to stimulating this kind of social movement, this kind of vision and program in campus and community across the country.
If we appear to seek the unattainable, it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.
Transcribed by Jim Kalafus, May 2006