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Approximately 1899 Harvard alumni and exactly one alumna crowded into the balhroom of the Copley-Plaza, and overflowed into the other dining rooms Tuesday evening to hear Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson strike at some of the problems confronting peaceful world organization. Sharing the platform with President Conant, Acheson highlighted the banquet which climaxed the three day "Victory Meeting" of the Associated Harvard Clubs.
Giving jocular recognition to the one female graduate of the University who was accidentally invited to the banquet, Acheson began his address, "Lady and Gentlemen." He quickly passed to a more serious vein in an analysis of two basic dangers threatening the country. One he labelled the psychology of controversy, perfected by Hitler, which achieves unity by hatred. "And no controversy is safer than one with the foreigner," he explained." His defenders at once become suspect. So a field which is difficult enough, where more than anywhere widespread agreement is essential, becomes a peculiar prey to controversy."
Psychology of Crisis
Another basic danger, according to Acheson, is the new psychology of crisis in which the unendurable situation is created so that one may profit from the circumstances of relief. He concluded that frequent usage of such psychology diminishes the possibility "that we shall listen to the often difficult analysis of the facts and the always difficult consideration of duty." These practices, he said, bring only confusion, which in turn account for our failure to deal effectively with our national and international obligations.
Slashing at those who would "transfer one's attention to an insoluble (problem), such as doing away with all national sovreignty, he cited the admonition of Andrew Jackson at the battle of New Orleans--"Boys, elevate them guns a little lower." Rather, he insisted, we should "conduct our own affairs with. . . the type of judgement, as Judge Brandeis used to say, which leads a man not to stand in front of a locomotive." Directing attention toward problems of manageable dimensions "like the monetary fund, the bank, the trade organization, and, if possible, the control of atomic energy," will be an achievement "which will modify many situations which now concern us, including--and I am now guessing--our relations with the Soviet Union," Acheson asserted.
In a pre-banquet press conference, the Undersecretary refused to comment on the possibilities of his succeeding Stettinius as American delegate to the United Nations. He expressed little concern with the current troubles with the Soviet Union but viewed our relations with that country as a task of long term but not insoluble difficulty. Disparaging the proposal to sever relations or use economic sanctions against Franco as one which would not accomplish what we wished to achieve, he termed Spain "a very difficult problem."
President Conant concluded the program with an address on "Harvard's Contribution to the War Effort." Characterizing the University as "a fund of talent which, in an emergency, can be mobilized for all sorts of things," he went on to enumerate the specific achievements by Alumni and members of Harvard both at home and in the field. In particular he called attention to the more more than 100 projects at Harvard financed by the Office of Scientific Research and Development, with an expenditure of more than $28,000,000. He praised highly the training programs carried on by the departments and graduate schools of the University.
Turning to the world problems of security accentuated by the unleashed powers of science represented by the atomic bomb Conant concluded his address by calling for intelligent people to become oriented to the world in which we live. "We've got to live with the problems of the destructive power of modern science. . .Publication of the Lilenthal report gives hope we can meet this greatest challenge to mankind. On this hope we must build as courageously and wisely as we can."
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