ON THE SHELF
Outstanding in an outstanding issue of the Guardian is an article by Professor William Y. Elliott on "The Defense of America." Stimulating as always, Professor Elliott proffers a number of ideas with which agreement will not be unanimous.
Arguing that there can be small doubt "that Hitler intends to move upon this country," and that accordingly "it only remains as to whether we let him choose the time and circumstances of battle or carry it to him," Professor Elliott indicates his own preference for "carrying it to him." Nevertheless he concludes that "the chances of our remaining neutral in theory" are very great.
"If we are not to capture unity of morale through deciding to act--the best of all methods--what remains? Only, I think, to hold on to such unity as we have."
From this point, Professor Elliott proceeds to a discussion of America's "capacity for democratic cooperation." Essentially his conclusion is that "we have been remiss in not according an outlet for the legitimate emotional desire, so deep-rooted in grown-ups as well as in children, for symbolic participation" in community life.
To remedy this failing, Professor Elliott favors mass demonstrations, patriotic exercises, directed play activities, and universal physical culture, all aimed at "the most important point in reestablishing national morale: the unleashing of the patriotic energies and emotions of ordinary citizens."
Essentially this is a borrowing from the dictatorships of much of their technique. Emphasis on the state, on "professional patriotism," on mass demonstrations and directed play, savers of the Hillerian rather than the American way. To be sure, Professor Elliott urges that these activities be kept on a voluntary basis, and warns against allowing them to become "ridiculous and futile."
"Create Social Compulsion"
But emotional stresses, once aroused in this fashion, tend to create a social compulsion not unlike state edict in its effect, while a brief look-see at the "God Bless America" excesses should convince anyone of the impossibility of maintaining this type of emotional patriotism within non-ridiculous bounds. (At one show currently on Broadway a magician pulls 20 Starred-and-Striped chorus girls out of a hat; they're honeys, but would Professor Elliott approve?)
One may also take exception to the conclusion that "American business has always been more integrated (than British or French) into the the democratic groups of our society and it has combined a sense of social responsibility rare in the experience of economic classes who possess such tremendous power." The frustration by industry of New Deal efforts toward recovery, and indeed the very conditions of profiteering and speculation which contributed to the depression that in turn gave rise to the New Deal, cast doubt on the validity of this assertion. Even more recent is the refusal of American businessmen to cooperate with the defense program until taxes have been adjusted to suit them, while Henry Ford's attitude in the matter of airplane contracts was hardly worthy of the designations "democratic cooperation" or "social responsibility." All in all it is difficult to see how, in all these instances, the leadership of American business has been unlike "that of the Chamberlains and the Lavals."
On the need for defense, few will differ. But whereas Professor Elliott wants organized emotion, many will point out that the elimination of the hysteria attendant upon the volunteer system was one of the principal reasons for adopting conscription.
And where Professor Elliott feels confident of unity, many envisage the need for drastic governmental control of the industrial power-group. On one premise, however, Professor Elliott will find whole-hearted accord: "The best defense of a democracy lies in a bringing home to its citizens, through deeds that speak louder than words, the reality of the democratic community in the making of a happy and free life."
Lester G. Hawkins '41 contributes an article on Liberalism and War, in which he concludes that "the liberals have come a long way in the past quarter century," and "in the event of full intervention by the United States there is reason to believe that the liberal movement will avoid another debacle and emerge instead with its nativist tradition developed and with a greatly enhanced access to political power." A discussion of more personalities and publication of both periods, plus a consideration of the actual war legislation (1916 and 1940) in connection with the issues of "undemocratic abuses" and "planning," would not have been amiss in the proving of Hawkins' thesis, but the article is interestingly and informatively written.
Professors Wild, Herring, and Haring offer excellent Faculty Footnotes; Arthur Cantor '40 has an article favorably sketching PM; Jack Bronston '42 denounces in not-so-new fashion Mayor Hague; and Thomas O'Toole '42 completes a very worthwhile issue with his essay on the New France