SCHENECTADY, N. Y., April 21--In a lecture given at Union College Wednesday night. Communist Granville Hicks, recently appointed as an extra-curricular counselor by Harvard, told "Why I Like America," drawing excerpts from his as yet unpublished book of the same title.
Hicks began by saying that the idea for his book occurred after reading "Mainland," which "Nauseated me," and Harold Stearns' "Rediscovery of American," which displayed the author's renewed faith in American civilization. "My book," said Hicks, "states why I, as a radical, like America." He added that he wanted to look at his own position as a Communist and see whether his ideas held water.
Fond of New England
Three facts convinced him, he went on, that he liked America. First, he was used to the country; second, he particularly was fond of New England and the eastern strip of New York. Concerning the people in this section, he said, "I do not like all the people but many of them." Third, he had a nice home with electricity and running water. "The R. P. I. sent me out to pasture and I did rather well," he said, commenting on his dismissal from Rensselaer Institute. All this he boiled down to the single fact that he was having a very good time.
Criticizing the New Deal, he said that relief at its best was "only 40 per cent efficient, which is inadequate to support the health and morale of the people. In New York City there are some 500,000 living in tenements condemned in 1901; in Philadelphia there are 10,000 outside toilets. People lead such lives because they couldn't do otherwise."
Poverty Not Necessary
With these conditions in mind, he asked "how then can one say that I like American?" He answered his question by saying that he believed all this did not have to be. "Poverty isn't a necessity as it was 2000 years ago when there wasn't enough to go around. Today we can produce enough for all. On the threshold of plenty, we seem worse off than before," because American lacks consumers. The solution he felt, was not in "building monuments."
Under capitalism he felt that productive capacity could not be fully utilized. At least, "I don't think so." Nor could it erase depressions. "The best way," Hicks concluded, "of getting rid of capitalism is by joining communism."