Ford and Fun

Henry Ford, Detroit automobile manufacturer, yesterday helped the Times to scoop its rivals with an exclusive interview, the first he has given out, on the administration's recovery plans. Naturally, all those who read his words had hopes of finding out the reasons for his refusal to sign the NRA code, and for his generally uncooperative attitude toward the government. These reasons were not given: Mr. Ford expressed himself heartily in accord with the "ideal behind the NRA"; he added that the present efforts were, although crude, a start in the right direction. "Why should we be opposed to the NRA," cried the great manufacturer; "President Roosevelt is only trying to make industry do what we were doing twenty years ago."

Although Henry wouldn't give his reasons, they seem fairly evident, if one wishes to read between the lines. Henry believes in the "ideal behind," although he falls to explain whether he believes this ideal to imply government or self-control of industry; he has, by his own admission, taken many years ago the first tiny footsteps that the country is now taking. In short, Henry was in on the ground floor, and the public will know it, or else, Henry feels that if he signs, there will be no opportunity for delayed and dignified explanations in the Times, and Henry is quite right. Had he appended his name to the code, he would have been, not a leader, but a neatly cooperating cog in the machine; his remarks on the subject of what has already been done at Dearborn would not have carried the weight they now do. Henry, of course, believes that years from now, when the President's fair weather friends have left him, when the storms of capitalist opposition howl mercilessly about the White House, he will come to the fore with his support; we will then move on to the new social era, which is going to be "a millennium of justice and plenty."

The fact that Ford's theories rest on the assumption, as he himself says, that mankind is fundamentally good, is his own justification. The industrial system, he feels, is wrong "because it is devoted to making money instead of to making human values." An old timer in the automobile trade once told me that in New York, at some of the first auto shows, there was not such a firm belief in the goodness of human nature among those whom Ford took occasion to visit on his interfering expeditions. He was not such a recognized philosopher in those days, of course, and was generally known as "nosy-posy Henry." There was little at that time, they tell me, to indicate the genius which was to place Henry where he now roosts, flapping triumphantly on the shoulders of the prostrate blue eagle.

But apparently, all Ford's growth has not yet run its course. Aldous Huxley, in his picture of the future, "Brave New World," paints a modernized world where one of the Gods is Ford; that surely, will be the final step in a great career. Perhaps it will be well to close this with a hymn, devoutly brought to us out of the future by Mr. Huxley; the emphasis on "human values" is quite evident in this hymn:

"Orgy-porgy, Ford and Fun;

Kiss the girls and make them one.

Girls at one with boys at peace;

Orgy-porgy brings release."