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An Ounce of Prevention . . .


Professor Roscoe Pound is one of the most eminent jurists of the generation. But Professor Pound, by his own admission, discusses matters outside the realm of the Law with "individual imbecility." Having recently completed a legal code for the Chinese Central Government, Professor Pound returned to this country and dropped minor words of wisdom that cannot be considered imbecilic, but can certainly be tossed in with the "inside dope" brought back by scores of junketing Congressmen, visiting firemen, and just plain tourists.

Warmly endorsing the Nanking government, the Professor paints an encouraging picture of the reconversion of the Chinese nation to an efficient peacetime basis. Were efficiency the highest criterion of government there would be little reason for Americans to withhold judgment on the Nanking government. It does appear to be the strongest single force in China. But Professor Pound forgets, and this is the same omission that permitted praise of early Fascist Italy by some "for making the trains run on time," that the United States is interested in China not as a smoothly-running machine but as a two-party, democratic republic. If the Nanking government, as it stands, contains the answer to Chinese difficulties, Washington might have taken advantage of the Moscow-Chungking agreement of 1945 to shed the Communist element entirely. As it stands, this country is on the fence in China, and while it might be worthwhile to encourage Chiang Kai-shek in his attempt to rehabilitate the country, Americans, and their government, seem to be more interested in encouraging Chiang to reach an agreement with the Communists.

The Professor's rose-tinted view of Chinese politics comes close to dangerous naivete when he proclaims that the friction between the two opposing elements is overrated in this country and actually involves only "one corner of the country." Most authorities will dispute the Professor's facts; all will contend with his interpretation. Whether it be in one city or over a dozen provinces, the inability of the Communists and Chiang to come to an agreement is preventing the Chinese from constructing a government that can be termed representative of a majority of the Chinese. If this were open civil war, Professor Pound's view, however disputed, might be welcome as a sign of near-victory. But you do not measure a democratic nation's unity by the number of square miles of territory controlled by varying factions. You measure it by the very existence of factions outside the jurisdiction of the central government, or operating in sub rosa opposition to that government. On that basis, no matter who is to blame, it is difficult to deny that extreme disunity exists in China.

And the danger in these claims lies in the susceptibility of many elements of the American public, much less a trained legal mind, toward underrating the complexities of the Chinese dilemma. If Professor Pound states that Chiang Kai-shek is achieving reconversion, that the Communist question is overrated, and that the Kuomintang government is deserving of greater American support, he is bound to influence great segments of American thought, even if he does speak with the limited knowledge that he admits. The extremely narrow limits of his view, and the dangers inherent in it can be seen in the presence of General Marshall in China. He is there to effect a compromise agreement, he has publicly shown awareness of the importance of the Communist element, and his mission must be taken as a more mature approach to the Chinese problem than the slant of an amateur, if learned statesman.

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