Steffens Says Students Argue and Think Too Much---Will Speak Tonight in Lecture Hall
Experiment With Theories, and Test Convictions, Is Advice
"Don't think never think. Go look and see for yourself." This advice to undergraduates was give by Lincoln Steffens, noted journalist and "muckraker," in an interview with the CRIMSON Friday.
"There is no Youth in American today," said Steffens, "and no undergraduate feeling. There is no burning curiosity, no searching interest in political and economic problems. At Harvard, liberalism is a stronger tradition than at any other American college. Yet the students don't take advantage on the opportunities this tradition affords them. The college man prefers to sit in his room and think and talk; instead of going out and seeing things as they really are, and putting his ideas to work in the practical laboratories of life.
"Be socialist, communist, or conservative; but for God's sake go out and experiment with your theories and test your convictions. By arguing what is right or wrong you never get anywhere. Theoretical ethics is the bank. There is no right or wrong in international law. I can prove that Japan had a perfect right to do into Manchuria, in spite of the fact that it was entirely wrong from China's point of view."
Steffens spoke of Lenin, with whom he has talked at length. "All of Lenin's confederates are narrow minded and decent communists; and so is Lenin himself, for all practical purposes. That is the only way be can find out how communism works. Yet underneath it all, Lenin's is perhaps the most liberal mind I have ever encountered."
Whom asked about New York city's new mayor, Steffens commented, "La Guardia is a fine fellow, progressive, and has some excellent ideas; but sooner or later he will become 'mayor of New York.' It will take him a year, or perhaps, if he is especially strong, two years; but eventually he cannot escape acting like a 'mayor of New York' and thinking like a 'mayor of New York.' Likewise Roosevelt ceases being Roosevelt and becomes president of the University States. In this capacity he is merely a factor in the continually undulating evolutions of American political thought."
Steffens will speak on "How Communism Works" tonight at 7.45 o'clock in New Lecture Hall. The talk is sponsored by the Liberal Club and the Harvard Inquiry. In honor of Mr. Steffens a dinner will be held at Kirkland House preceding the lecture. Guests at the dinner will be Edward S. Mason, associate professor of Economics; Sidney B. Fay '96, professor of History; Arthur N. Holcombe '06, professor of Government; and Bruce Bliven, editor of the "New Republic."