"A future worth fighting for is a world of opportunity . . . not a world of supreme authority continuously offering pie"-—Berle
HON. ADOLF A. BERLE, JrOctober11943
FOR THIS WE FIGHT
By HON. ADOLF A. BERLE, Jr.
Assistant Secretary of State for the United States.
"A future worth fighting for is a world of opportunity . . . not a world of supreme authority continuously offering pie"-—Berle
IN THIS war, as in all wars, the immediate aim must be to smash the enemy and assure safety and freedom. In this war, as in most modern wars, the travail and struggle of fighting make men think and dream of a world to be reborn and reshaped in the hour of victory.
There is danger in dreaming of a world to come. Such dreams too easily become a cloudland which tempts all of us to escape from the driving and frequently terrible anxieties of the day and the hour. A balance has to be kept. It is well to take thought for the morrow, but we must not on that account stop passing the ammunition.
Also, it is well to remember that never in history has it been possible to plan a world order. Men and nations, governments and races, commerce and culture, are not confined by schemes or devices. The forces which guide them are too complex and run too deep. In any case the tomorrows will bring new ideas and new means of putting them into action. The Nazis, the Fascisti and the Japanese proposed to freeze the earth into a “New World Order” which was to last 1,000 years. Practically all civilized nations of the earth are now joined in a common struggle against that notion. The first and basic premise of the world we fight for is a world free to develop. This means a world of opportunity rather than a world of static arrangement.
Yet we do have the right and perhaps the duty to peer forward a little into that world of opportunity; to try to understand the opportunities which nations and men wish to have and the means by which they can be assured. Certainly we have the duty and perhaps the right to note that conditions, capacities and desires differ and that generalizations rarely hold water.
The outstanding fact about the world in reconstruction is that its arrangements and institutions must have direct meaning to individual men and women. This sounds simple but actually it is relatively new in history. When England gained her right to exist by smashing the Spanish Armada and defeating the Hapsburg world-empire, the settlements were made in terms of thrones and sovereigns, and indivi-
duals were little considered. The arrangements following the wars against Louis XIV, when the Battle of Blenheim and the victories of Marlborough and Prince Eugene laid the foundations of independence for the nations of modern Europe, were made in terms of King-States. The treaties made at Vienna after Napoleon’s dream of conquest was ended at Waterloo were made in terms of modern nationalisms-—that is. of Governments. Undoubtedly these did reflect a steady progress. A European Emperor or feudal lord in the time of the Spanish Empire was almost literally the owner of his people. A despotic King supported by a group of nobles in the days of Louis XIV had substantially complete power though it was realized that his people had become a national entity. The Nineteenth Century national states acknowledged that a country existed because of the union of its people but did not go much beyond that point.
But the rise of democracy, the recognition of individual right to enter into the political process, and more recently the Social, Democratic and Communist insistence that individuals have economic rights, have brought matters farther. The arrangements of tomorrow must speak not only to nations and to Governments. They have to mean, within practical limits, expansion of opportunity—political, cultural and economic—to individual men and women. This is the new insistence which must be met. It is, in fact, the movement of “liberalism” which Hitler swore he would exterminate forever.
Cornerstones of the Future
ÏF THIS is an accurate analysis we can at least see the cornerstones of the coming structure.
Its chief objective must be wider opportunity for free men to increase the content of their lives while shouldering their own responsibilities. Opportunity without capacity means waste. Capacity without opportunity means frustration. Mere almsgiving;
Adolf Berle, Jr., is one of the most brilliant younger members
cf the U. S. State Department. He was delegate to the InterAmerican Conference of 1936-37 and the 1938 Pan American Conference at Lima. Author cf several books, he wrote this article specially for Maclean’s Magazine.
political or material, means pauperism and stagnation. Freedom must lie in the opportunity to share in the march of civilization, and the privilege of responsibility in achievement is as vital as is the privilege of sharing in the increase. This is the sound conception— but it is also the only practical conception.
Independent and sovereign nations organized according to the choice of free men who have shown their capacity to organize national life must be the second concept. No country voluntarily relinquishes its right to order its own affairs and free men in those countries—where they can—decline to permit any interference. In part, at least, this is because the opportunity of free men is usually greatest in a group which speaks a common language and in which their ideas can be more easily understood and therefore can gain appraisal and acceptance. There is talk in some circles of abandonment of sovereignty but I think this is partly a confusion of words. Sovereign states may and do adopt self-denying ordinances in their own and in the common interests and these self-restraints may indeed limit the sovereign freedom of action to some extent. To be sound, any voluntarily accepted restraints should be such as to increase rather than decrease the opportunity of national self-development. All of us may have to consider some limitations but they will be valid only if each of us gains in security, in freedom from fear, and in economic opportunity—and if by accepting such limitations all of us are safeguarded from interruption of the necessary processes of national life. But this in no way limits the conception of independent and sovereign right.
Our third foundation stone must consequently be that of international order. No invasion of opportunity and no invasion of individual life could be greater than the calculated anarchy into which the world fell just before the opening of the present war. The national problem was also personal. No country could deal with its affairs save in the sinister shadow of possible attack. No child could be born except with the knowledge that at any time a war would draw the boy to the battlefield, or quite likely kill mother and child behind the lines. Armament costs laid a crushing
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For This We Fight
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weight on the business of the cities and the life of the farms. To lift this fear is to release for constructive work a huge reservoir of ability, human and economic, which until now has been destined to inevitable waste.
Need International Order
We shall, therefore, be seeking a basis for international order which offers ground for sober hope that the peace may be kept and that the peacebreaker may be restrained. This implies that international law shall cease to become an affair of books and students and will be given vitality and validity—rules by which nations can act; rules by which they must abide. The vitality of law is always the price of peace, locally, nationally and internationally.
The fourth cornerstone in this structure must be some arrangement by which necessary force can be used in accordance with common agreement to assure the maintenance of international order. This development is logical. The problem is whether we have the will to do and the wit to devise the necessary arrangements which will appeal alike to the common sense and best instincts of the great bulk of the peoples of the world. The problem is difficult for here we wrestle with the task of giving practical form to an idea born long ago. Great dreams of world government have been
elaborated, yet pretty plainly the time is not ripe for “world government.” Few nations will be willing to place themselves at the mercy of force in the hands of others. More likely we shall be seeking to find common standards; to foresee circumstances in which individual nations will know that it is to their interest to act and will agree to use their several forces to a common end.
To me these four elements seem to represent the basic political desires for which the free nations are presently fighting—free and responsible man; independent and sovereign states; voluntary willingness by free nations to accept the restraints of international law designed to create a world of peace and order; and agreements by which free nations are prepared to act together to maintain and uphold that order.
Free men acting through freely constituted governments; free governments voluntarily accepting arrangements to maintain security and peace; understandings by which these governments act together to make sure that deeds as well as words can be counted on—within this frame it would become possible to conceive a better-ordered economic system.
In economic as well as political life the fundamentals are pretty much the same. Men worthy of freedom insist on the right to live their lives according to their own lights. In practice this means having the freest practicable range of work choices; the continuous possibility of getting a job; the con-
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tinuous possibility of changing a job; the continuous possibility of setting oneself up in business or professional life; the chance to have good work recognized; the chance for a man to use his pay envelope as he wants to use it and not as someone thinks he ought to want to use it-—all, of course, subject to the general limitations which are needed if men are to live harmoniously together. This means that there will always be a certain amount of hazard in economic life. The right to make your own mistakes necessarily carries with it the risk of standing the consequences. Free men not only assume that risk but insist on it.
Fields Of Hazard
Yet students of modern economic life have long realized that there are great fields of hazard and misfortune arising directly from obstructions and from malorganization. These can occasion hardship and misfortune to great numbers of people who are nevertheless living up to every obligation which free men bear toward civilization. Unquestionably, much can be done both within nations and by agreement between nations which will remove barriers and blind, indiscriminate force.
There can be progressive reduction of trade barriers. There can be reasonable measures toward stabilizing currency. There can be sane arrangements so that capital and capital development will continue to flow according to necessity. It is possible to assure reasonable access to the materials by and with which men who work with their hands or their heads, in the towns or on the land, can obtain what they need against the exchange of the goods and services they produce. It is possible to progress toward an arrangement of affairs in which anyone who really wants a job can find it, and having found it, need not live in perpetual fear of a layoff due to no fault of his own.
It is possible also to bracket these things with a steadily increasing exchange of the general benefits of civilization—the increase in measures for public health and for better feeding and the greater availability of education.
Already we know that the future holds astonishing technical developments. We cannot foresee how these will work or what they will do. If a group of automobile manufacturers in 1905 had forecast what the automobile would do to the life of North America by 1940 they would probably have been regarded as lunatics. Now we have to cope with the possibilities of air navigation not only over the great long lines but in short and intimate usage; with new materials of construction and changed methods in putting things together; new kinds of communication and new uses of communication; with a whole range of added mechanical impact on life. No living being can understand, still less plan, all the possible implications of these developments. Wrestling with them will be indeed a large part of the work of the next generation. We are at liberty to hope that these continuing developments will be handled so they will tend to make men freer, more alert, more nearly citizens of the world better able to deal with the problems of the future.
All Races Affected
This quest for opportunity, this new battle in the age-old defense of freedom, has wider scope perhaps than any
previous war in history. Among other j things it includes in its great sweep regions and races which for many centuries have not been uppermost in the historical consciousness of the western world.
There are some brave souls who see victory as producing in a single stroke world-wide freedom in every colony, for every race in every region. To me it seems wiser to hope that victory may produce a greater opportunity for every race in every part of the world to achieve its freedom. The whole experience of history has been that freedom is not given but is achieved. In every case there are distinct and difficult elements and in some situations the complexities are extreme. The activating principle seems to me to be moral rather than mechanical. The world we are fighting for should include a greater appreciation of the need for general freedom; a more direct sensitiveness to the problems of all races; a great willingness—perhaps even enthusiasm—to realize alike the qualities of races and their distinguishing differences. The quality of recognizing that no race is common or unclean is a moral one and goes back to the days of the New Testament. The attitude taken and the methods used in each case will be the measure of the capacity for freedom of the various races involved, including the white races of the western world which have hitherto insisted on (or perhaps still worse, taken for granted) a dominant position.
There are grounds for believing that we may see a little more clearly in this regard in tomorrow’s world for certainly we shall achieve victory not at the hands of any one race or group, but at the hands of a great coalition composed of practically every race group in the world. Some groups are able to shoulder greater responsibilities than others but the development of all groups toward that capacity should be recognized. It seems to me this becomes evident as each makes the contribution it can toward a freer world.
If this brief review does not outline a millennium, my defense must be that no frozen millennium can be anything other than a particularly ornate prison.
A world worth fighting for is a world which contemplates continued work and continued growth. It is primarily a world of opportunity and not by any means a world in which a supreme authority continuously provides pie. All of the great values of life are realized as much in the toil of achievement as in the contemplation of the result. We can steadily widen opportunity to realize these values. The values themselves do not lie in anyone’s gift.
The world we are fighting for will still be a world made by us and by our children. It will be no better and no worse than we and our children make it. We can go some distance toward rectifying mistakes, injustices and stupidity. We cannot, if we would, dictate to those who come after us the work they will do, the poems they will write, the dreams they will cherish, or the hopes they will strive to fulfill. We may perhaps give them a measure of freedom to do all these things according to their several capacities; to realize themselves in a world community which recognizes the worth of every human life.
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