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How Should The Democracies Deal With The Dictatorships? Linda Littlejohn, Major George Fielding Eliot, Quincy Howe, Marilyn Josselyn

December 8, 1938


America’s Town Meeting On The Air – How Should the Democracies Deal With the Dictatorships? With Linda Littlejohn, Major George Fielding Eliot, Quincy Howe, and Marilyn Josselyn.

Emma Linda Palmer Littlejohn (known as Linda) born Emma Linda Palmer Teece became Emma Linda Palmer Tilden (1883 – 1949) was an Australian feminist, journalist and radio commentator. A feminist, Littlejohn launched the League of Women Voters in 1928 to support female candidates for public office and to press for feminist reforms. The United Associations of Women (UAW) was formed in 1929 by Littlejohn and other radical feminists who were disappointed by the progress made by similar organisations.

George Fielding Eliot (June 22, 1894 – April 21, 1971) was a second lieutenant in the Australian army in World War I. He became a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and later a major in the Military Intelligence Reserve of the United States Army. He was the author of 15 books on military and political matters in the 1930s through the 1960s, wrote a syndicated column on military affairs and was the military analyst on radio and on television for CBS News during World War II. He is the author of the recently published and widely reviewed, “The Ramparts We Watch,” and of “If War Comes.”

Quincy Howe (August 17, 1900 – February 17, 1977) was an American journalist, best known for his CBS radio broadcasts during World War II. Howe served as director of the American Civil Liberties Union before the Second World War, and as chief editor at Simon & Schuster from 1935 to 1942. He once said that life began for him in 1939, when he began to broadcast news and commentary on WQXR radio in New York City.

Marilyn Joselit (born 1922), a fifteen-year-old Chicago high school girl, will be heard during America’s Meeting of the Air this evening at 3:30 o’clock over WAGA (NBC). And, in that way, young America will have an important voice in a discussion of democracies and dictatorships. After hearing a discussion of “American and the European Situation” on November 11, 1937. Miss Joselit sent Town Hall four poems, addressed to each of the four speakers. Since then the poems have been widely quoted over the air and in print. One of the poems was addressed to Major Eliot.


[PAUSE] [BELL RINGING] >> Town meeting tonight, town meeting tonight.

How should the democracies deal with the dictatorships?

Democracies and dictatorships.

Town meeting tonight.

America’s town meeting is on the air.

Welcome once again to historic town hall in New York City and another frank and open discussion of a great world problem.

I take pleasure at this time in presenting our moderator, Mr. George V. Denny, Jr., president of town hall and founder and director of America’s town meeting of the air, Mr. Denny.

[APPLAUSE] >> Good evening, neighbors.

The president of the United States this week reminded us that what America does or fails to do in the next few years has a far greater bearing and influence on the history of the human race for centuries to come than most of us who are here today can ever conceive.

We are not only the largest and most powerful democracy in the whole world, but many other democracies look to us for leadership that world democracy may survive.

The president then made it plain that he was not speaking of the external policies of the United States, but rather the necessity for maintaining successful democracy at home.

In these weekly meetings, the town hall and the national broadcasting company are attempting to do their part to make democracy successful at home.

Only through a frank and open discussion of all of our common problems can we hope to make our democracy successful.

We are frequently reminded of our obligations to take an active part in politics and vote on election day.

Well, if there’s one thing worse than not voting at all, it is casting an uninformed and unintelligent vote.

Democracy presupposes an honestly informed public opinion, and we share the president’s conviction that the security and well-being of the American people can best be preserved by the democratic processes which have made this country strong and great.

But we do not live in this world alone.

None of us who listen to the progress of the European crisis by radio during those trying September days can fail to feel the closeness of these people to us.

We live in a world where several hundred millions of our fellow human beings have delegated their sovereignty to a single leader or a small group in their desperate search for security.

These totalitarian governments are efficient, militantly aggressive, and have set about the task of conducting their foreign policies by means of force or threat of force.

In a world where modern science is welding closer and closer together every day, how will America meet this challenge to the very principles upon which this nation rests?

Is it to America’s interests to unite with the remaining democracies of the world to stop the westward march of totalitarianism?

Are our American interests identical with the interests of the other democracies?

Are our interests primarily in this hemisphere?

Or do they reach horizontally around the world as well?

To a greater extent than we can possibly realize, our future depends upon our ability to find the right answers to these questions, and we must find them as a democracy.

We are fortunate this evening in having as our speakers Mrs.

Linda Littlejohn of Australia, a preeminent feminist and reality as citizen of the world, for so much of her time is spent living in foreign countries.

Major George Fielding Elliott, formerly of the Military Intelligence Service and author of the new book “The Ramparts We Watch,” and Mr.

Quincy Howe, a distinguished editor and author of the much discussed book “England expects every American to do his duty.”

And as a representative of our radio audience, Miss Marilyn Joslet, a 16-year-old high school girl who last year wrote four poems addressed to each speaker on our program of November 11.

I now take pleasure in presenting our first speaker, Mrs. Linda Littlejohn of Australia.

Mrs. Littlejohn. [applause] Now there are two interpretations to the word “deal.”

Do we mean “deal” in relation to trade, to economic relationships, or do we mean “deal” with the inroads of dictatorship ideology and methods into our democracies?

On the platform with me tonight are two gentlemen who have written books touching this subject.

I propose to look at their viewpoint first and comment thereon, but can only spare a couple of minutes to each.

Mr. Quincy Howe advises American isolation.

I presume he includes South America.

He would have you withdraw from your Pacific possessions, naval and air bases, thus leaving you open to attack by Japan or any other power occupying these bases as a jumping-off spot.

Major Elliott advocates isolation as much as possible, but a very powerful navy.

Both, however, recommend trade with South America, and here you have definite German, Japanese and Italian penetration and propagandizing.

So in your dealings you must come up against those interests.

Thus, if you oppose them in any way, and you know how they word their demands, you are accused of acts of hostility, and so-called acts of hostility are then automatically construed as acts of hostility to the nation, be it Germany, Japan or Italy.

You simply cannot isolate yourselves, therefore, unless you confine your relations solely to the territory of the United States.

And that is impossible, for your country cannot provide you with all essential raw materials.

The defense of the Panama is vital to you, and the Panama rejoins South America.

Major Elliott believes your navy would be enough to deter the dictatorships in South America.

But it has not been enough so far, and reports this week are far from encouraging.

So why should he presume it will succeed if it has not done so already?

Modern science, the linking of the world by air, has banished isolation whether we like it or not.

We must face facts.

Now are we quite sure, however, that we believe in democracy, or are we disillusioned about it?

If not, what are we doing individually to prove our allegiance to it?

I am afraid, mighty little, that each one replies, “Of course I believe in democracy, but what can I individually do about it?

May I tell you?”

It will only permit, I will only have time for a couple of suggestions.

To begin with, I should not recommend democracies to organize an official boycott of totalitarian states.

Last sanctions failed, and we know why, but we cannot risk another failure.

But we should educate our peoples so that no individual would wish to buy a single article coming from a totalitarian country, and then the importer would soon stop importing them.

The country of origin must be marked on all goods so that we might select the goods of those countries who hold the same standards of the value of life and of truth and of justice as we do.

That resolves itself into an individual, not a national act.

Anyhow, how can we have satisfactory trade agreements with a country which tells you that agreements made yesterday are not binding today?

Or how can we deal with a country which organizes ruthless destruction of property and then demands that the insurance companies pay up, not to the persons who own the property, but to the ones who organize the destruction?

These are not our business ethics.

Secondly, I believe that democracies could send a polite note.

Now, well, let us first send it to Hitler, as he is the arch dictator, and it might run like this, “Dear Mr.

Hitler, recent events will cause us to take action which we would never have contemplated a few years ago.

You are exiling in a penniless condition thousands of former German citizens.

We are a nation still believing in decency, and we are endeavoring to find a safe home for many of these.

To do this satisfactorily, we should be obliged to return to you, they paying their own fare, which is your own technique, all those of German sympathy or German nationality whom we believe we can spare.

These will include all members of the German Bund and all who belong to or even attend a German organization, and also all, who though they may have taken a note of allegiance to a democracy, are abusing this honor and sheltering under its benefits while working against it.

These are all down upon the list.

They never will be missed.

We cannot run the risk of that fatherly love which you bear for all your children, desiring to claim a piece of our land or to set up a Nazi state within our democracy in order to protect your minorities.

So take them now.

We will get over the loss.”

[Applause] Having attended to these matters, we will have begun to deal with the democracies and dictatorships.

So let us now turn to the democracies.

We read and we talk incessantly of the evils of dictatorships.

But be quite assured of one thing, democracy cannot live on the evils of another system.

It must show strength of its own.

When and how and where shall we find this strength?

Is the task too great for our generation?

Those who believe in democracy must realize that it is based on respect for the individual.

That it offers the fullest measure of freedom to the individual to develop his maximum capacity for his eventual happiness and security.

But it doesn’t end there.

Surely it is also to develop these capacities that each may to contribute to the fullest to the eventual peace, prosperity and progress of his country.

We talk about liberty and freedom.

Liberty and freedom for what?

It doesn’t…

Liberty does not mean license.

License for greed, selfishness, disorder, subversive propaganda or unemployment.

But liberty, it is to achieve the highest and finest that this and other great democracies can offer but can only deliver if each realizes he is part of that whole.

And so our great task is to create in our people a love of country, not a love of self.

A love of service and not a love of getting.

So that under democracy we shall achieve voluntarily that great spirit of unity and service which dictatorships achieve by far less satisfactory methods.

Are our present methods completely satisfactory for revitalizing democracy?

I think not.

We are anti-dictatorship without knowing how to breathe fresh life into democracy.

And fresh life we must have.

And so we must plan.

We must know in detail what we hope to attain.

I have never yet seen a detailed plan of organization for successful democracy.

A business couldn’t exist on such lack of organization and cooperation.

So let us begin and bring the principles of business into the business of democracy.

I have a few suggestions but alas my time is short so I must leave them.

But above all the democracies must get together.

And the crisis moves so rapidly today that there is no time when crises occur for the democracies to run around and find if there is any unity of policy.

With the result that we buy peace on short term leases at an ever increasing price.

I believe the day is coming when those who believe in moral sense and moral standards must be prepared to say so, must be prepared to take us great risks to preserve law and order as the dictatorships are prepared to take to destroy law and order.

There is no common meeting ground between democracy and totalitarianism.

To begin with they have not the equivalent of words in their dictionaries such as they’re in ours.

Such words as honor, justice, truth, fair play, tolerance, pledged word.

These are all missing from the totalitarian dictionaries.

They were evidently burnt in the public square when some of the world’s finest literature was destroyed there too.

I feel there may be many listening tonight who like myself once were pathologists.

For I am beginning to think we can no longer believe in peace at any price.

For such pathologists do not bring peace but they bring war with the advantage on the side of the aggressor.

So let us have a planned democracy with definite aims and organization which must also include a complete system of broadcasting to the world to prove and rebutting untruths.

Democracies must have an ever increasing unity with those who think alike in great things.

A wholehearted cooperation of citizens who will realize that each is not an isolated individual merely with private interests of his own but a member of a great system in which each has a definite place and function and if need be will pay the price of their faith.

Thus alone can we build a democracy and automatically deal with dictatorships.

But the main question is are we as individuals great enough for a democracy?

Let us not wait for a war to defend our country.

Let us begin here and now and defend it in peace.

[Applause] Thank you, Mr. Littlejohn.

Now I take pleasure in presenting our second speaker, Major George Fielding Elliott, author of The Ramparts We Watch.

Major Elliott.

[Applause] Well, in considering the attitude which a democracy such as ours must adopt for the dictatorial governments which are advancing their fortunes so rapidly beyond the seas, I think it might be well first of all to examine certain fundamental conditions in which a dictatorship differs from a democracy in its relation to other nations.

A dictator being answerable to no parliament or congress, in full possession of the public purse and the national resources, and immune from criticism either in the press or otherwise within his own state, may take a very long view in foreign affairs.

He may, to the accomplishment of his purposes, bring about a complete and complementary union between his diplomatic, financial, economic, and military policies, adapting each to the needs and exigencies of the other.

Insofar as it is possible for a democracy in any degree to offset these advantages of a dictatorship, it may be done only by the support of an enlightened public opinion, which, appreciating the fundamental principles on which the security of the state is based, insists upon adherence to these principles by the government.

Free governments are all but powerless to act in large matters of this kind without the support of such a public opinion.

And it is therefore of the first importance, especially in times of danger, for citizens to examine with attention the foreign and military policies of their nation and to determine the way in which its safety may best be assured.

In so doing, I think that the responsibility of the citizen, as well as the government, begins like charity at home.

If freedom is to remain alive in this world, in the face of the perils of which it is now beset, we Americans can make no greater contribution to that end than by making certain, first of all, that our own free institutions shall be preserved.

Their defense may be in part political, in part economic, in part military, but to the others, military policy is fundamental, for we live, alas, in a world in which it has been made abundantly apparent that force still rules, and it is by the instruments of force that freedom must be preserved.

Fortunately for our country, the conditions under which threats may be applied to us are essentially different from the conditions prevailing elsewhere.

We are not within reach of bombing airplanes proceeding from the bases of any great power, nor do we have any land neighbors from whom we need fear invasion.

We retain that privilege which for so long was Britain’s, and which was the key to her success as an imperial nation, the priceless privilege of first defending ourselves upon the sea.

No armies can come to our shores, save as the troops and guns which compose them may be brought hither in ships.

No great fleets of hostile airplanes may darken our skies and rain death and destruction upon our cities, save on the premise that an enemy first established in this hemisphere, within flying range of his objectives, a great air base, for which purpose again he must bring troops and planes in ships.

It is therefore upon a navy, a navy powerful enough at all times to command those routes of maritime communications by which, and only by which, danger may come to us that our safety depends.

This basic truth, which contains the key to our security, has also another fortunate bearing upon our status as a free nation, for it is possible to maintain a very large navy, complete in all things equal to it both in peace and in war, without that regimentation and centralized control of every department of public and private life, of all business, labor, industry and transportation, which a modern industrialized state must undergo, if either it is called upon to make the tremendous effort required to send vast armies overseas to fight on other continents, or is driven back to defend its own soil in a terrible war of resistance against an actual invader.

For either of these purposes, the combined and coordinated efforts of every man, woman and child must be at the disposal of the state if it is to attain victory in the one case or to survive in the other.

Nothing less will serve the purpose.

A free people, therefore, who permit themselves to be drawn into such a maelstrom of blood and fire, must begin their task by strangling with their own hands the very liberty they are fighting to preserve.

I think it may be safely asserted that there is growing among our own people an appreciation of their military position and of the importance of sea power to a free America in the years immediately before us.

That those years are charged with menace no man can deny.

The power of Germany is rising fast on the continent of Europe.

In Asia, Japan is engaged in a great struggle for the domination of the Chinese market and for the exploitation of Chinese sources of supply.

These things are dire threats to the powers whose immediate and vital interests are thereby threatened.

They are not, however, dire threats to this country save as they exclude our foreign trade from markets to which to the two it is head access.

They cannot become true threats to us unless and until these areas of conquest, of conquest in the new sense of which the military is but the foundation upon which the remainder stands, until these areas extend to the Western Hemisphere.

Such an effort, even in its beginnings, will rest entirely or almost entirely upon sea communications.

While we dominate these, the only means by which we or our neighbors to the southward may be really threatened is in our hands.

Let us make no mistake about the fact that the security of all the Americas is bound up with ours.

Once let the basis of conquest be established.

Once let a secure foothold be found on American shores north or south for these new systems of integrated military, political, and economic aggression, and we have already thrown away half our advantages.

This, in the physical sense, we may deal with by military power, and while that power is strong enough and our will to use it resolute enough, we and our neighbors may live, if not in serenity, at least in security.

But the subtler advances of the propagandists, which strike not at the bodies but at the souls of men, which seek to weaken not their arms but their wills, these also we must guard against.

We are at this moment engaged in efforts to unite around us the countries of Latin America in a mutual defensive agreement by which the danger of one becomes the concern of all.

And we do not fail to hear enraged voices from across the sea, loudly proclaiming that this is but a device of what they are pleased to call American imperialism, seeking to dominate our neighbors under the plea of a danger which does not exist.

There is, however, another form of propaganda which is not less dangerous to us, and in which many of our own people are, unfortunately, participating.

And that is the propaganda which tells us that it is our duty to rescue distressed China, to bolster up threatened Britain and frightened France, to pour out our gold, and if need be the blood of our young men, once more on the battlefields of the old world.

It is here that we must remember the necessity for foreign policy to consider military exigency.

For just as force underlies all diplomacy, so must diplomacy recognize the limitations of force.

This country of ours, strong as it is, vast or as hard as resources might easily waste that strength and drain those resources in so terrible and hopeless a struggle.

Hopeless for the future, whatever its outcome, for when it was done, the victory gained, we should no longer be either strong or free.

To resist the appeal of emotion and of sentiment is ever a difficult task for Americans.

It will be even more difficult, perhaps, as time goes on.

But resist we must, for every day that passes makes plainer, that if freedom is to live, it is in our own land that she must find her citadel.

Our liberties are not ours to throw away.

They are a priceless heritage for which the blood of five generations of our people has been shed.

We have no right to mortgage that heritage in the hopeless struggles of the old world.

We have, on the contrary, the sacred duty of preserving it, of cherishing it, and of handing it on, unblemished, to those who shall come after us.

(Applause) Thank you, Major Elliott.

Now I take pleasure in presenting our third speaker, Mr. Quincy Howe, editor and author of that provocative book, “England expects every American to do his duty.”

Mr. Howe.

(Applause) Ladies and gentlemen, the creation of a common front of democratic nations against the dictatorships would destroy the national interests of the United States and betray American democracy.

Consider the position of the United States in the Western Hemisphere, and you will see the utter nonsense of talking about a common front of democracies.

Tomorrow at Lima, Secretary Howe will try to act the part of good neighbor toward about 20 Latin American governments, almost every one of them a dictatorship.

There is to be no nonsense about a common front of democracies at Lima.

The United States fears that overseas dictatorships are threatening the dictatorships of Latin America.

It therefore prepares to support the new world dictatorships against the dictatorships of Europe and Asia.

(Laughter) This makes good sense in terms of American business interests and in terms of national defense.

The United States delegation at Lima is trying to increase our exports to Latin America.

It is trying to make Latin America safe for North American investments.

It does not propose to let any European or Asiatic power establish itself in the Western Hemisphere.

In pursuit of these aims, the United States stands ready to crush any kind of opposition to the Latin American dictatorships, whether that opposition comes from a dictatorship overseas or whether that opposition comes from a domestic democratic government.

England and France have followed exactly the same policy in Europe that the United States is following in Latin America.

At the recent Munich conference, the two chief European democracies made a common front with the two chief European dictatorships against Czechoslovakia, against the Soviet Union, against the League of Nations.

Britain and France have no more concern with making Europe safe for democracy than the United States has with making Latin America safe for democracy.

British foreign policy and French foreign policy are governed by those same considerations of national interests that govern American foreign policy in the New World.

But there is this difference between the national interests of the United States and the imperial interests of France and Great Britain.

It is physically possible, as Major Elliott has shown tonight, to maintain American interests in the New World.

It is physically impossible, as Major Elliott has also indicated, to maintain the overseas empires of Britain and France.

Because Britain and France, but especially Great Britain, fear the loss of their empires, their propagandists invite the United States to defend democracy with them against the dictators.

This appeal is 100% false.

To begin with, the British Empire is no democracy.

In the second place, every British government for the past seven years, including the one in which Mr.

Anthony Eden served for two years as foreign secretary, has consistently made common cause with the dictators and betrayed democracy every time it suited British imperial interests to do so.

But an American has no more right to take an attitude of moral superiority toward Great Britain than an Englishman has to take an attitude of moral superiority toward the United States.

The British Empire embodies many high ideals.

It has borne the white man’s burden and brought light to dark places.

The United States also embodies high ideals, but they are different from the ideals embodied in the British Empire.

American ideals have to do with developing a way of life on this continent.

They have to do with equality, freedom, and democracy for all our people.

We have not achieved all of our ideals any more than the British Empire has achieved all of its ideals.

But I can think of no more certain way of sacrificing American liberty, destroying American equality, and betraying American democracy than to enlist with the British Empire in behalf of a lost cause which is not even our own.

[Applause] Thank you very much, Mr. Howell.

Now, we have to stop at exactly 10 o’clock to make a station break.

The next speaker on the program is Miss Marilyn Joslet, a 16-year-old high school junior in the University of Chicago High School who did as an assignment, listened to the town meeting of the air last November, and wrote four poems addressed to each of the four speakers on the program “America and the European Situation.”

I wish we had time to hear her read those poems tonight, but we’d ask her to come and present a condensation of those poems and a five-minute address which she will give to you just after 10 o’clock.

Major Elliott, incidentally, was one of the speakers on that particular program, and he took his ribbing in perfectly good grace.

As all town hall speakers do, I think you will agree tonight that nobody pulled their punches, and nobody’s going to pull their punches in the question period.

The only rules we have here at town hall is that all questions should be pertinent, and not impertinent, and should be on the subject, and should be that we should conduct our affairs as gentlemen.

America’s Town Meeting of the Air, held in Town Hall in New York City.

[Piano plays] Back in Town Hall in New York City, this is your moderator, George B. Denney, Jr.

We’ve just heard three talks on the subject, “How Should Democracies Deal with the Dictatorships,” by Mrs.

Linda Littlejohn, Major George Fielding Elliott, and Mr. Quincy Howe.

Now I have the pleasure of presenting the first representative of our radio audience to appear on our program this season, Ms.

Marilyn Joslet of the University of Chicago High School.

Ms. Tusler.

[Applause] To answer a question which the most dispute statesmen of the day are puzzling over is far too imposing a task for anyone so young and unversed in political affairs as I.

The most I can hope to do is to suggest a few ideas which have occurred to me as possible steps in the solution of the problems we are facing.

From the beginning of all time, men have seen that to work together was of the most benefit to everyone.

Primitive men first formed little cooperative groups, families.

As the world grew more and more civilized, larger and more complex groups developed.

The tribe, the clan, the town, the city, and finally the nation.

Cooperation between the nations of the world then is the next step in civilization.

Germany and Nazism, Italy and fascism, Russia and communism have won the World War, and it’s taken us until now to realize it.

If these terrifying victors had not arisen from the crushing effects of the war, we might have said, “I am my brother’s keeper.

Let the world as one cast its swords into plowshares and its spears into pruning hooks, and let there be war no more.”

But nations once sane have grown mad, crazed by chaos and the desire for power, and the difficulty of cooperation with them presents itself as a formidable barrier to the democracies.

Hitler, of course, is his brother’s keeper.

He keeps his brother quite safely tucked away in a concentration camp, and by no stretch of the imagination can we believe that Mussolini would consent to have his swords cast into plowshares.

If cooperation then is so difficult, how are we to realize it?

The first requirement for a nation or group of nations who want to bring someone to their views is to agree upon just what those views are.

In each country by itself, as Karl Sonsberg said in “The People, Yes,” the poor hate the rich, the rich hate the poor, the South hates the North, the West hates the East, the workers hate their bosses, the bosses hate their workers, the country hates the towns, the towns hate the country.

We are a house divided against itself.

We are millions of hands raised against each other.

We must be millions of hands plaste in the desire of a common object, peace and justice for all the nations of the world.

We must be a million voices chanting in perfect unison, “Have we not all one Father?

Hath not one God created us all?”

And when our country speaks with one voice, let her speak first to the countries who will be her compatriots in the proposal for cooperation with the dictatorships.

It is most important to the future of the entire world that America, England, France, and the smaller democracies be in perfect accord with one another, have perfect confidence in one another.

It not only strengthens the morale of each country to have the backing of each other, but it will prove highly persuasive to the object of our disapproval.

Then, of course, we must make some sort of proposal to the dictatorships, a proposal of cooperation presupposes the participation of two parties.

To say that we must cooperate means not that we are to give, nor either that we are to receive, but that we are to expect just recompense for what we offer.

We can give food to those who hunger for food.

They must give peace and security to us who hunger for peace and security.

And so I believe that if the democracies should make a fair proposal to the dictatorships, reinforce their stand with the strong arm of the united front, the dictators would listen.

Unison and determination are the most effective tools with which the democracies can deal with the dictatorships.

It may in time that us help the world realize that two countries with two flags are nevertheless one land, one blood, one people, and the earth belongs to the family of man.

[Applause] I think your applause seems to say that if we are as fortunate in selecting other representatives of our radio audience as we were this time, we’ll be fortunate indeed.

[Applause] And if you want to read those four poems that this young lady wrote, they are contained in the first volume of “Town Meeting” this year, the Bulletin of America’s Town Meeting of the Air.

Now, we’re ready for the questions.

Please rise, state the name of the person to whom your question is directed.

Question, please.

Major Allian.

Yes, if the dictatorships were proceeding by peaceful methods, but that has not been their record so far.

Unfortunately, we have to, as Al Smith says, look at the record in order to judge where we’re going.

Question right here.

Little John.

Ms. Little John.

You spoke very passionately of the dictionary of the democracies using one word, “pledged word.”

What happened to the pledged word of England and France in regard to Czechoslovakia?

With regard to Czechoslovakia, Britain had no pledged word to Czechoslovakia whatsoever.

She had a pledged word to support France.

France refused to stand by Czechoslovakia, and Great Britain had therefore was completely absolved.

She never had any pledge or any treaty with Czechoslovakia.

Mr. Balkan.

Mr. Howe.

Mr. Howe.

In the countries of Europe, including Russia, prior to communism, those countries were generally classified as democracy, the two-party system.

Communism, socialism, and labor groups formed together and gave us communism under Stalin in Russia.

They were trying to force the way into Italy through a three-party system.

Likewise, the same in Germany, the same in France, the same in France under Leon Blumen, the same in England under the labor groups.

Isn’t it the only way that we can stop the same thing from coming around here by having a constitutional amendment to prevent or eliminate the possibilities of a three-party system here, the same as we had under Mr.

Roosevelt when we got the labor groups and the democracy joined together to give us the New Deal?

All right, how can we prevent a three-party system in this country that might degenerate into communism or fascism?

I think is the point that the gentleman’s raising.

It is exactly the kind of suppression of three-, four-, five-, or ten-party movements that the speaker indicates, which is the surest method of encouraging the growth of dictatorial tendencies inside this country.

Mr. Howe.

Mr. Howe.

You have spoken of dictatorships in Latin America.

I would like to know on what basis of personal knowledge just as life in the Latin American nation, you speak of these governments as dictatorships.

I think the answer would be enlightening to the audience inasmuch as you speak of Latin American democracies in the same breath as European dictatorships.

I speak of Latin American dictatorships as being not in the same classification with the North American democracy.

The Latin American dictatorships are not like the old world dictatorships.

I would refer you, unfortunately I have not been to Latin America.

I have not been to many places that I talk about in common with a good many other people who do a good deal of talking.

I would refer you to an article I just read in the current New Republic by Catherine Carr who went down to Latin America conducting a survey for Fortune magazine in which she indicates very clearly the distinction, A, between the democracies of North America and the dictatorships there, and B, between the dictatorships of Latin America which are feudal, old-fashioned dictatorships based on an agrarian system, a land-owning system, and the dictatorships of the old world which are based primarily on finance capital and now on a middle class in revolt.

The two systems are quite different.

My whole point is that it is not ideological resemblances that determine national interest.

It is the interests of the people, their geography, their technology, and so on.

So on.

Those are the bases of a sound national policy, not ideological considerations.

Thank you.

Major Elliott.

What can a big Navy do against the sandbag methods used so successfully against Austria and Czechoslovakia?

And where was the French Maginot Line and the British Navy when Munich rolled around?

I don’t think that the sandbag methods applied against Austria and Czechoslovakia by a nation which has merely to step across the frontier are comparable with the methods to be applied against a nation like ours when it is a matter of covering from three to eight thousand miles of sea before you can get within reach to swing your sandbag.

I think there is a definite difference there to be noted.

As far as the Maginot Line is concerned or the British Navy, the question was one which had other than military considerations, but it is well to note that all of the centers of France and Britain were easily within reach of the German air power and that those governments had in the military sense to consider the possibility of their cities being immediately bombed, the blood of their women and children flowing immediately in their streets, which we do not, fortunately, have to consider.

Yes, sir?

This question for Mrs. Littlejohn.

Mrs. Littlejohn, you stated England had no obligation to Czechoslovakia.

I did.

If England had no obligation to Czechoslovakia, why was Mr. Chamberlain in such a hurry to appease the demands of Mr. Hitler?

Chamberlain was not.

I agree with what Mrs. Littlejohn said.

Chamberlain was not.

Probably he was in a hurry to appease the demands of Mr. Hitler because the democracies have no unified policy.

Also because he knew Czechoslovakia had been made in America and handed into Europe, and France had promised to look after Czechoslovakia, as I’ve just said, and she failed in that, and Chamberlain was most anxious that we should not have a repetition of the World War if we could possibly avoid it, probably seeing in the long run that eventually even you people would have been brought into it, and we had no desire to have you or our people completely murdered.

Last row in the balcony, yes?

Mr. Howe?

I’d like to ask Mr. Howe for a few more constructive comments.

Just what would he do if you were in Mr. Hull’s shoes down there in Lima?

[Laughter] Are you asking him a question or asking him to make a speech?

Mr. Howe, will you just comment on what you would do if you were in Mr. Hull’s shoes down at Lima?

I think I should do exactly what I think Mr. Hull is going to do.

[Laughter] [Laughter] Question about…

All right, quiet please.

[Laughter] Mrs. Littlejohn?

Mrs. Littlejohn?

If the democracies should stand together, which great nation would you consider the democracies and especially would you consider the Madrid government one of the democracies?

What great nations would you consider democracies if democracies should stand together, and would you consider the Madrid government a democracy?

I would not consider, I don’t consider there’s any really, when you’re in the middle of a war, I should put it this way, you can’t really be conducting a very stable government, especially if that government has never really had a time to function in peace.

I would class as the nearest that we have ever got to a democracy, because we haven’t yet in any country got a perfect democracy.

The nearest I would class would still be America, Great Britain and France, but France is in such a disordered state that she is in danger of probably losing hers too.

Therefore it’s all the more essential, as I said in my speech, that we should get quickly together and decide what is a plan for democracy, so that we know what we are going for, the dictatorships know exactly what they are going for.

But the question is do we know in everything, housing, unemployment, security in old age, national defence, have we got everything set out how to achieve it under a democracy?

No, we have not.

Major Elliott.

Do you believe that dossel democracies and ruthless dictatorships can live side by side?

Do you believe that dossel democracies and ruthless dictatorships can live side by side?

Well, I wouldn’t say that I am very much in favour of dossel democracies in the present world.

In fact, I am rather in favour of hard-boiled democracies.

I don’t think that the lion and the lamb can lie down forever together, and I prefer not to be a lamb.

Mrs. Littlejohn.

Don’t you think the fascist argument that they must rob their neighbours because of their own lack of resources is answered partly by countries like Sweden and Finland, who also have very limited resources, but by their own social and economic reforms have raised their people’s standards of living peacefully above those of Germany?

I definitely think they are answered, but it is very much easier, of course, for a country like Sweden and Norway and the Scandinavian countries, which have had at any rate for many years a fairly peaceful existence, and are a highly educated people, it is very much easier for them to handle the situation now and to foresee the future than it is for a country which has got into such a state as the dictatorships have got into.

But naturally, I do think we can all look to the Scandinavian countries as the ideal democracies of Europe.

Thank you.

Yes, sir.

Major Elliott.

What would you consider the most effective means of protection for our nation, a very strong naval force or aeroplane, or both?

A very strong naval force, indeed, one amply superior to any possible concentration against it in either ocean.

I don’t think we need a two-ocean navy because we have a very short line of communications between those oceans.

And the aeroplane?

And of course, such a navy as a part of the fleet has a proper air force.

Then the army needs an adequate air force for the defence of our own territory and especially of the bases of the fleet and of such outlying positions as Panama and Hawaii, which must be very strongly defended indeed.

You have to have an army air force for that purpose.

And the ground for the Panama Canal Zone.

Yes, of course.

The Panama Canal Zone is vital to us and must be strongly defended.

It is now quite strongly defended and will be more so, I think, in the very near future.

Thank you.

Next question.

No, the gentleman on the end.

Miss Joslin.

[Laughter] Do you favor gatherings of you, like the recent World Union Congress in Basar, in order to blot out, in order to make an attempt to blot out dictatorships?

I don’t know anything about that, so I don’t know.

[Laughter] That’s the beginning of wisdom.

I don’t know.

Yes, over here.

Mr. Howe.

Mr. Howe.

I’d like to ask, Mr. Howe, what is his definition of democracy?


What’s your definition of democracy, Mr. Howe?

Have you got one just like that?

Just like that, no.

But I would say offhand, it was a capitalistic system in which there was a free ballot for everybody, regardless of age, religion, or sex.

I think that that is the main thing, and through that free ballot, the government, the effective government, is instituted.

It seems to me it’s a capitalist system plus a free ballot with no property or other qualifications.

Where is it, my lady?

Lady, yes.

Lady, here.

Major Elliott.

You spoke of something sacred bequeathed to this nation and to be passed on, and with the last answer, previous question.

And another speaker saying that communism, fascism, and Nazism had won the last war, and we were part of it, and this is essentially a Christian nation.

What is the challenge to Christians all over the world?


I think that is rather a difficult question.

Now, let me tell her that that will be answered in a later broadcast when we discuss the subject, “How should religion deal with totalitarianism?”

I think that’s the tentative title of a subject to be discussed on this program later.

Let’s hold that for next time.

The man there in the box.

Mr. Howe.

What are, in his opinion, the reasons that brought about fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany?

And are there some reasons…

But one question at a time.

What are your reasons?

Why do you feel?

What was the cause of Nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy?

I think it was substantially the same in both countries, that there had been a certain amount of radical activity, which in both countries was not on the increase at the time that the fascist powers came in.

Rather, it was on the decrease, and that the certain powerful groups inside those countries, rich people of one kind or another, got together and financed a movement against any kind of extension of the democratic system somewhere along the lines that I was indicating a little while ago.

That is, really free parties and free vote and that sort of thing.

And that what finally happened was, having started this movement, having created this movement, it got totally out of hand.

It was based on a middle class, which had revolutionary potentialities that no one had foreseen.

And that that middle class proceeded to take charge of the revolution, of the movement, of whatever you choose to call it, and made of this thing, which was simply meant to keep out not communism, not socialism, but just a rather liberal democracy, it made a Frankenstein monster worse than the thing that it originally hoped to prevent.

Major Elliott.

Major Elliott, you seem to be willing to face the consequences of abandoning the bulk of America’s foreign trade for the safety of isolation.

Wouldn’t such a course involve all the government controls necessary to economic self-sufficiency that you’re trying to avoid?

No, I didn’t say I was in favor of abandoning the bulk of America’s foreign trade at all.

I don’t see how you can possibly read such a statement into what I said.

I’m afraid there are cross purposes there.

I merely said that I thought we ought to have a very strong Navy and be prepared to defend ourselves.

I did not say that I was willing to abandon the bulk of our foreign trade. [applause] Question here.

Mrs. Littlejohn.

Mrs. Littlejohn, do you think it was…

Liza, please. …

Chamberlain’s good feeling toward us, which has made his cabinet consistently revoke his war debt each time that he’s been in power?

[applause] I…

Mr. Denny doesn’t wish me to answer, but I’m perfectly prepared to answer.

I think the war debt question is a disastrous one, and I think it would be a very good thing and promote very much better feeling if we could come to some terms to settle it by a lump sum. [applause] Thank you very much.

I’m sorry, the gentleman back of you will take…

I would like to point out to Mr.


No, you’re going to ask him a question, aren’t you?

[laughter] What’s the situation of democracy?

Democracy can be logically hold either the United States, with several of its states having hold, actually, or England, or rather the British Empire, with the dominion or province of India, with 250 million people without a hold, and France, with there are some 80 million of colonials, can logically be called a democracy.

As I’ve endeavored to make clear in my talk, I do not consider that the British and the French Empires are democracies in any sense of the word whatsoever.

Furthermore, I would agree with Mrs.

Littlejohn in this one respect that there is no such thing as a perfect democracy anywhere.

Of course we haven’t got a perfect democracy in this country.

In fact, again, I tried to make that clear by saying it in exactly those words in my speech.

The back row of the balcony.

Mr. Elliott.

The back row.

Mrs. Elliott.

Mrs. Littlejohn.


[laughter] All right.

Mrs. Littlejohn, please, you are in Australia.

Well, last week at home I had the occasion to listen to the ex-premier of Anzal.

He came over here with a new economic plan for world peace.


He also said “we.”

Now, by “we,” now, just one more point there.

You claimed that we should settle a lump sum, but some debtor rather just didn’t get me right here.

Now, I believe we have 65 percent of the goal, and it seems you people come from the other side and always say “we” with our money.

I wonder how you figured that out.

No, no, no, no.

What she said was that “we” should have paid us, you know.

“We” meaning England. [laughter] I’m afraid that’s a misunderstanding.

Now, you get put in front.

All right.

Major Aliah.

You’re who?

Major Aliah.

You said that our greatest thing to do is defense for our shores and our navy.

Isn’t it more important that we defend ourselves so that the people in this country won’t want a dictatorship by delegating that to some person in the country by means of our democracy?

I don’t quite understand your question.

Isn’t it more important that conditions are made such in this country that the people won’t want a dictatorship?

Isn’t that more to be feared than invasion of a dictatorship?

Well, I…

Internal improvement rather than external defense is the essence of his question.

Well, I think you need both, and I know something about external defense, but internal improvement has a great many ramifications, which I’m afraid that a soldier isn’t competent to deal with.

In fact, that’s one reason why we have a democracy so that soldiers won’t deal with those things.

[Applause] Now, before our time is up, you’ve asked…

Several of you have asked for definitions of democracy.

I’m going to read a definition of democracy and one of dictatorship that is contained in our handbook for discussion leaders if I have time before we…

Our time is up.

Democracy is a constitutional form of government with a system of checks and balances, parliamentary assembly, popular suffrage, periodic election, and the Bill of Rights.

It is based upon respect for the individual, and while adhering to the principle of majority rule as a fundamental tenet of democracy, the rights of minorities to full privilege of citizenship are not abridged under this form of government.

It is the aim of democracy to give the fullest measure of freedom to the individual to develop his maximum capacities, so long as this development does not interfere with the welfare and rights of others.

Now, underscore.

Democracy presupposes a system of universal education and the dissemination of unbiased views and information on a basis which will permit of an honestly informed public opinion.

And I call your attention to the fact that without that last provision, you can have all the trappings of democracy, you can have universal suffrage and all those things, but without that last provision, we cannot have democracy.

And now we’ve enjoyed democracy for an hour, and we must yield to the dictatorship of the clock.

But of course this means that all of you who are members of town meeting discussion groups throughout the country may now have your turn to discuss this subject.

Each week we receive word from new groups, large and small, formal and informal, who are using the town meeting as a basis for their discussions.

We are anxious to hear from all of these groups and to know whether or not you are a member of our advisory service, what you are doing and how your program is conducted.

Remember, we do not organize discussion groups.

We simply place at their disposal many helpful discussion materials for the cost of providing and mailing them.

And this includes the thrilling news story of America’s town meeting of the air and town hall called “Town Meeting Comes to Town,” a book written by two eminent American educators, Dr. and Mrs. Harry A. Overstreet.

And now Mr. Cross, will you tell us about the program for next week?

Mr. Cross.

Next week at this hour we are going to give you four answers to a most interesting question by a philosopher, a minister, a scientist and a man of letters.

The question is, what is America’s greatest need today?

The speakers, Dr. Will Durant, Dr. Ralph W. Sockman, Dr. Gerald L. Wendt and Professor William Lyons Phelps.

A bulletin prepared by Columbia University Press called “Town Meeting,” containing all the speeches, questions and answers and a special section devoted to listeners’ opinions, will be available at a nominal charge of ten cents, or the entire series of 26 broadcasts may be subscribed for now and received weekly at a cost of two dollars and a half.

Send your orders to the Town Hall 123 West 43rd Street, New York City.

Town Hall 123 West 43rd Street, New York City.

What is America’s greatest need today?

This is the National Broadcasting Company.

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