"While retaining the advantages of constitutional rule, we have fully realized the advantages of centralized authority," J. J. Ryan, Jr. '33 said in his English Commencement Part this morning. Parts of his speech follow:
"Europe, spurred on by an almost fanatical nationalism, has hastened to the abandonment of its post-war democracies. In their stead has come a return to autocratic government, the system which has moulded political action there for centuries.
A Break With Democracy?
"And now it is said that our own country has broken with democracy--that the exigencies of the time have forced even the home of popular government to abandon the faith. Can we compare the course of events here with what has happened in Europe? Dictatorship has been a complete overthrow of representative government as we have come to know it. It is based upon the principle of the Organic State, in which the individual as an end in himself is forgotten. The State has become the Supreme end, and to its greater glory men have become mere instruments. The dictator is the embodyment of the deified state, and any opposition to his will must be stiffed as apostasy against the new religion. This philosophy is the direct antithesis of democratic rule. If we have adopted it, then democracy is no more.
No Abdication by Congress
"But what has actually happened at Washington during the past few months? Congress has not abdicated; rather has there been extraordinary activity on the part of that body. The forms of constitutional rule have not been discarded; but care has been taken time the new role of government have about it the strict sanction of legality. The emergency we are facing demands immediate action on the part of government if it is to be met successfully. The time-consuming processes of Congress, the divergent counsel of that body, must be replaced by the quick, decisive command of one man--intelligently responsive to the necessity of adapting his course to changes in circumstances.
The Strength of Democracy
"We have always said with pride that the peculiar strength of democracy lay in its ability to adapt itself to changed conditions. We are witnesses to a demonstration of the truth of that boast."