"At a great price have I obtained this freedom"—Are you now willing to pay that freedom as the price of collectivism?
Murray R. Chipman
MANY sincere citizens today seem to accept as inevitable a trend toward a planned society or socialized state control. It is vitally important to all of us that we examine this trend.
I write not as one who wants to go back to the imperfections of the past but as a realist; in the interests of maintaining our free society, in the benefits of which labor, management, the farmer, and those in the white-collar group all share, and in which all have a mighty stake.
Why has this cult toward collectivism arisen—this feeling that we shall have to exchange our personal freedom for the hope of security, in the belief that only large-scale state control can meet the difficult problems of tomorrow? It stems from various reasons:
We have accepted a large measure of state control to win and to finance the war, therefore is not a plan inevitable to win the peace?
We have demonstrated, for a small nation, a stupendous power to produce both industrially and agriculturally. Therefore it is assumed that only planning can help us to increase our power to consume.
We concede that we cannot make heroes of our youth, and have them return with all their vigor and initiative—our greatest asset for tomorrow—to the bread lines of unemployment.
I believe we need to explore these areas of thought personally because they have a profound bearing on each of us individually, on our families, on our future.
There is another reason why people have acquired a belief in a plan. The Russian experiment of collectivism has caused many to believe that their notable victories and achievements have been the result of fheir state control or Communistic approach—these same people tending to forget or to belittle the astounding production record of the free peoples of this continent.
All of us concede the necessity of a determined effort to win the peace.
The point of challenge is—does a state-controlled or socialistic approach offer a better answer than the enlightened efforts of the members of a free society?
You will note the distinction between socialism and a free society. This freedom we enjoy in which the individual stands free before his God; enjoys the right of assembly and to speak; to appear before the throne of impartial justice; and to strive and to achieve and to be rewarded through freedom of enterprise—this freedom which man has won from the feudalistic or tyrant past cannot, and will not, exist in a collectivized society, no matter how benevolent or well-intentioned its early concept.
Freedom Is an Experience
FREEDOM, of course, must be defined. It is not only a concept—it is an experience. People’s power to understand it, or to value it, differs from their experience. This is an imperfect world but a free society offers the fullest play for the immense variation and development of human talent.
But we know that freedom means a vastly different thing to any of the following:
To the bewildered, brutalized victims of Nazi oppression now released to call their soul their own.
To the person of honest intent and willingness to work who remembers his frustration in the early 1930’s in this country.
To the socialist who thinks he can centralize authority, institute an economic plan and thus make people free.
To the parents who have lost their boy and who, in the still watches of the night, proudly but painfully rest in the shadow of their loss because he gave of his substance for freedom.
To the Canadian citizen who, having the right to vote, takes his freedom so much for granted that he fails to exercise his franchise.
Freedom, therefore, means many things to many people.. But this much experience does teach. That state control of economic and political power means the loss of personal freedom.
Do you believe that? Many sincere idealists do not, or at least they are confused. They say, “We have organized under state control to win the war, why can’t we do that to win the peace?”
I believe we should clear up this point first. Wars are a powerful stimulus for unified effort. The objective is simple and agreed upon. The motive is backed by fear and inspired by survival. Especially potent is this motive if it is your own country which is invaded. Think what would have happened here in Canada if the enemy had landed in force in Quebec. I can assure you we would have been fighting with magnificent unity, recognizing in our fellow Canadians of a different racial tradition those proud and gallant qualities which have made national unity no problem in the Canadian forces fighting overseas.
But when the war is won and the profoundly unifying stimulus is gone—especially in this country where though we have suffered grievously the loss of loved ones, yet the country itself has not been ravaged—our objectives become diffuse, our will and our motives more personalized. We will not maintain the singleness of purpose which war provides.
The Case of Russia
BUT WHAT about Russia, you ask? All honor to the Russians’ magnificent valor and all reverence for the extent of her sàcrifice, but she has won not because Communism has a unique advantage we must
emulate but because she was fighting on her own soil for her survival—and where she has advanced recently in stupendous achievement she has done so with the great incentive that the enemy which has ravaged her country and her people may be crushed as a menace to Russia’s future and the peace of the world. We are entitled to remember that equipment on a vast scale has flowed from the factories of our free society in a quantity and in a quality which in Russia and on all the fighting fronts has added to the collapse of the enemy; that Russia long since has changed its methods to include capitalistic incentive for individual reward.
Russia has state control because it was not, and is not yet, ready for democratic government as we understand it. But Russia offers no method for us preferable to our long years of experience of government of the people, by the people, for the people, which is our heritage as members of a free society.
What are the dangers of a socialized state? There are three negations which I believe will forcefully impress themselves on your judgment and imagination.
First, the socialist believes in a plan. In practice, of course, this plan must express itself through a party. The party must then perpetuate itself to make sure that the plan works. And since the socialist insists that the major enterprises of the nation be nationalized—the railways, public utilities, steel industry, the flour and milling industry, the sugar industry, the insurance companies, the oil and gas companies, etc.— this means the major economic life of the nation is in the control of those directing the planned economy.
This brings us to another characteristic of the collectivized state. The party control tends to get into the hands of the tough boys. Why? Because the idealist is not sure of which alternative to choose in complex situations. He gives way to the man of action. The tough boy is willing not only to act but to seize the fruits of power at hand.
You say this cannot happen here, that the socialist party in power would be benevolent and subject to the elected will of the people. May I suggest that with their policies put into effect, the economic strength of the nation socialized and with both economic and political power in their hands, their concept of the general welfare would override the rights of the individual. And the plan would then be theirs in perpetuity because not only would the tough boys see to that but also their doctrinaire socialist leaders. For example and quoting from Harold Laski, the English Socialist leader: “Parliament would have to be
abolished in the socialist state unless opposition parties agreed never to change or repeal the great socialist plan.”
Radical changes in the political and economic life of a nation produce a new set of bosses. But we do not need revolution or a collectivized society here with a new set of bosses to set the tune for a vigorous and successful future in Canada—a Canada in which the rights of the individual are protected and the power of democratic criticism intact.
Under a collectivized state any one of you might be put into the same position as Dr. Boemer, the head of the foreign press bureau, whom I met in Berlin before the war. He was young—in his early thirties— graduate of Heidelberg in the days when it was still a university. He was given the opportunity to join the Nazi Party. Because of his university background he found it a difficult decision to make. He was told to make up his mind in 12 hours.
He finally said “yes” and forthwith wrote a book, “The Fallacy of the Freedom Continued on page 50
Continued on page 50
Continued from page 12
of the Press,” which became the Nazi classic in that field. You, too, might well have to face a similar decision concerning your traditional beliefs right here in Canada if it became a wholly socialist state.
Secondly, collectivism bogs down in the field of efficient production where the state is the boss. This is quite the reverse of Nazi propaganda which sneered at the power of the decadent democracies to achieve anything because they lacked the will and a central direction.
Free men, with their initiative and ingenuity and self-reliance, have outproduced the totalitarian world.
Under the bureaucracy of collectivism, where one must await decisions from above, this stifling influence is far removed from the demands of the postwar world where efficient and low-cost production will be Canada’s imperative need.
Thirdly, collectivism, or socialism, with its planned society has a profound effect on freedom of choice. Here I do not mean the traditional personal rights of the individual, much as they are affected, but your freedom of choice in the things you buy.
Socialism, with its central plan as to which is best for all, does stop man’s initiativeand inventiveness, his willingness to assume risk, both of time and capital—those characteristics which have enabled you, especially the women, to have wide freedom of choice in what you buy and where you buy it.
It interested me in Sweden—an example of a progressive free society— that while the co-operatives were doing a number of useful things, over 75% of the retail trade was “non-cooperative” because of consumer pre-
ference for variety and for service convenciences and courtesies.
But while we agree that Canada should not be poured into the mold of a rigid and confining collectivized plan, this in itself is not enough. A free society must have a positive faith.
And this is where you come in. You are a vital part of the life and opinion of your community. What you think and feel and do does matter, does reflect itself in the community, and through your vote affects greatly the life of your town or city, your province and, in a federal election, the nation as a whole.
Therefore you have a very farreaching influence and responsibility. What is required of you in this drama of the trend toward the collectivized socialist state?
First, you need to reaffirm your own convictions about the importance of a free society to you, to your community and to this Canada of yours. Without strong convictions on your part you are not going to be able to pass on your faith to others—whether in your daily contacts in the home, with your neighbors, your fellow workers, or in your lodge, your church, or in the schools.
Secondly, yours is a steadfast and continuous part to see that you, your business or any organization you belong to stands for something and not simply against something. One thing you will be most jealous of is that you exercise your right to vote. This is the most personal expression of your freedom. It is putting what you stand for, and believe in, into action. It is freedom speaking through you. Let the voice of your vote be heard in these critical times !
Why Business Silence?
In business a firm standing for something is largely a matter of management viewpoint. Why then do so many national firms accept in silence the all too prevalent criticisms of today’s socialist spokesmen? Most management does not merit the title of “Robber Barons” bestowed upon it by some of the socialist brethren. Most businesses, the ones you know in your community or through the things you have bought through the years, are decent and run by decent people. A great many more of the leaders in business throughout Canada are aware of the need of public understanding of business and good will toward it than was the case.
But there remains a substantial number of business executives who prefer to rest their case in silence. I wonder if that be leadership.
Whoever followed an anonymous leader or a cause with a nameless sponsor? How successful would our superb menof valor have been on D-Day or in the last great Victory march had they lacked faith in their cause and had not known their leaders? What magic there is in the name of a Churchill, a Montgomery; how great is the cause of freedom for which we have fought.
Industry in Canada has achieved miracles in producing the materials of war in this fight for freedom, yet many of the captains of industry who have criticized the Government for lack of leadership wring their own hands when the socialists challenge industry’s achievements and leadership. You, the public, have the right to expect the co-operation of the leaders of industry to speak out for the things in which they and you believe.
Some leaders are remaining silent because they are afraid of labor’s reaction. Labor has almost more at stake in a free society than any other group—for one thing the socialist state has demonstrated is that labor loses its prized freedom along with
the rest. Most labor leaders see this i clearly but there are some who, I am j sure, see themselves in the new socialist j state as the “totalitors,” if I may coin such a word.
I always remember an industrial leader I met in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1935. When I asked him about National Socialism he said it suited him fine, for he hadn’t had a strike since Hitler took over. Labor simply had no say. That can happen here were the totalitarian tough types to gain control of the socialist state. Business firms in Canada have every right and every responsibility to tell the story of the freedom at stake affecting all members of a free society, to speak out for freedom—openly, courageously and constructively—under their own name.
Start With Employees
Recently in Montreal, at a lecture marketing series at McGill University, James S. Adams, president of Standard Brands Inc., New York, was one of the speakers. In the question period he was asked, “How does management become public relations minded, and should a national company in the nonconsumer field tell its story to the public?” His reply was a classic of directness.
Quoting from him, “Your management had best start with its own employees. It will be amazed to find out what a lot of common sense coupled with ignorance or misconception they will have about your business. Obviously you will tell them all they want, to know. A good first step is to make your annual report complete, simple and human. Show, for example, what a high percentage of the dollar income goes into wages, raw materials, taxes; what you are doing to protect the employee’s interests in group insurance, bonus arrangements, holidays with pay, research to maintain your postwar position, plans for their postwar employment.
“Let them see the stake they have in the investment in the tools which enabled them to be producers; let them know their essential partnership in the success and continuance of the enterprise.”
And still quoting from Mr. Adams, “And if you do that, it’s simply an elemental step that if the employee needs to know a great deal in order to understand and appreciate the business then there will be similar areas for public comprehension and -good will in the community in which you operate and in the larger community of the nation which you serve. The public has ideas about business—your business —today whether you like it or not. So let the public know. It is waiting to hear.”
What has this got to do with a free society? Pretty nearly everything, I should think. Because if through silence the public grows to believe that business has nothing to say, you would be the first to agree that the allegiance of the public will go elsewhere.
Mankind is on the march—full of deep yearning that it fulfill some greater goal—that this time we win the fruits of peace. It is easy to promise too much. This time to the victors belong the toil. The socialist is not backward in promising too much. He says, because a broad objective is right, it must be so. But even as Lenin said, facts are stubborn things.
Freedom from want—social security —full employment are magnificent ideals toward which we are moving. But they cannot be had unless they come as byproducts of a system that releases the free energies of individuals. They will not be had if we collectivize men into the socialized state.
But people—you and I—do not live
by negations. We demand, and rightly, a positive faith.
There are three great positives of a free society: They are man’s and woman’s economic freedom: their personal freedom; their political freedom.
First—let us consider your economic freedom. Economic freedom is variable, but it is a great basic essential for the progress of free men.
In retrospect man’s economic status within the past 150 years — his personal opportunity -— his reward -— has progressed unbelievably. So much so in fact that the negative aspects have also been thrown into sharper focus. People say—and the socialist insists—why can we not bring these advantages to all by virtueofa planned society?—they forget this progress was the direct result of a free; society. There is much more we can and must do to control and direct economic policies, but we must not accept the socialist approach with its inevitable state control. It simply does not work.
You may have read the revealing comment of Will Durant in his recent book, “Caesar and Christ.”
In 284 A.D. the Roman emperor Diocletian instituted a managed economy. It completely nationalized factories and manned them with labor bound to the job. The state became a powerful employer. Its failure was rapid and complete. In the end over half the population was organized to run the giant bureaucracy. The bureaucrats found their task too great for human integrity. At last the power of Rome was a potential ghost surviving its economic death.
Rut today is different, you say, that was 1,600 years ago. Fascism that was in Italy, Nazism which is, and soon won’t be, in Germany, both tried it and failed. Russia, with its revolution firmly rooted originally in the Marxist socialist doctrine, is still a state-controlled economy but make no mistake about its change to the methods which have provided the personal incentive to humans down through the centuries.
In 1937 when I was in Russia, the Stakhanovite movement was being given great prominence. It was called after a worker of that name who had discovered a better way to mine coal. He was held up as a model to be emulated. Naturally the question arose among the workers, “Sure, but what do we get out of it?” Thus he and all who used his methods successfully finally were given extra wages based on production—as did also the mine manager when production quotas were exceeded. He received a bonus in the form of extra income or a motor car or an opportunity for a holiday. I mention this not to belittle the strides Russia has made but to clear up the belief that somehow all are working joyously in a socialist equality in Russia and that we should emulate them. They have learned that people demand variable rewards for variable talents, even as we did years ago.
Also in Russia, on a collective farm, the most interesting thing to me was that each farmer had his own cottage and small plot of land, his garden, his pig, his chickens, They didn’t plan it that way when they collectivized the farms, but it proved to be imperative that this privilege of ownership be granted.
Property—and profit, which is the reward for excellence, a measure of consumer acceptance of what you offer —a recognition that the men and women of an enterprise, employees and management alike—have provided something that people want—property and profit are deep rooted in people as they are, not as the socialist thinks people should be. Property and profit
can be abused but they can be controlled.
The socialist says, “Let’s give man economic freedom by creating the monopoly of the state.”
Did you ever stop to realize the implication of that in relation to foreign trade upon which Canada is so dependent? When trade isthemonopoly of the state, then foreign business is conditioned by the Department of External Affairs rather than solely by the Department of Trade and Commerce. I saw that happening in Germany. The Reichsmark bounced around inside Germany with reasonable success. But externally the world market decided what it was worth and in the end Germany had to use every device of barter, intimidation, etc., to force foreign trade. Canada cannot build its world trade on political expediency but only on the basis of producing so efficiently and at such a cost that the world customer will want to buy.
Each Ilis Own Master
The second essential of a free society is that man be his own master, that he cherish his personal freedom, that he not be pushed around by the state— that within his powers he have the opportunity to develop,through hisown talents, initiative and self-reliance, and to himself reap his own reward. In this he must be conscious of his duty to his neighbor—a good citizen—a man of responsibility. It is in such an atmosphere that man’s and woman’s immense versatility finds widest expression.
Inherent in socialized control is one most vital factor frequently overlooked. The socialist confuses the brotherhood of man in the concept that men collectively must and will be good. Man is a spiritual being. He is at his best when he recognizes his own worth, his own moral responsibility. As in Diocletian’s time, Western civilized man loses his sense of moral responsibility when the state takes over.
Therefore, in its very essence, a man who is part of a free society is the man who can best envision his neighbor’s rights and freedom because he knows what freedom means.
The final essential is that men and women cherish their political freedom.
The right of criticism is one of the most powerful dynamics of a free society. This point perhaps above all others is the one I should like most to stress— —that the socialized state will choke the potent power of criticism, as historically it has always done.
It will probably be necessary in the future that there be areas of state control broader than we have heretofore experienced; that government and business, labor and the farmer work out their mutual destiny more closely. But the crux of the whole matter is that the controls be voluntary subject to the final verdict of public opinion.
Does public opinion work in a democracy? Of course it does. Witness its impact at the time of the Cabinet crisis last November. Or witness the public’s voluntary acceptance of the Government’s price control and antiinflation policies.
Consider silk stockings, or Nylons, for example. The Government freely admits that without the co-operation of the women and the merchants of Canada, the job could not have been done.
The point is not, as the socialist claims, that such controls as we have in this war prove that a planned economy does work. The secret has been our voluntary acceptance of the plan as members of a free society. Controls imposed by the arbitrary authority of the socialized state will not work without destroying the rights of free men and women.
Thus your personal, your economic, your political freedom are your heritage as members of a free society. If this great heritage means anything to you, if you cherish it and wish it to continue, then surely it is your responsibility to uphold it—that yours be a flaming faith for freedom, challenging those who would make us iriinions of the super state.
We Canadians almost always underestimate our country and ourselves. Yet we are emerging from this war as the greatest of the small nations. The future calls for more, not less of those qualities which have made us strong as free people. We—and those returning from the testing brunt of battle, adding lustre to the name of Canada—have the stuff within us to keep our country free and great.