TO-DAY, any visitor from the Old Country to the New is forced to jettison such ideas as the following: that American politics and business are imbued with a pioneer spirit of enterprise; that America is a ‘young country’ untrammeled by the traditions, conventions, and aspirations of Europe; that all the states beyond the eastern seaboard are solidly isolationist, uninstructed, and uncultivated; that the postwar generation of Americans is hectic, dynamic, and sure whither it is going.
In a country so vast, composed of racial and social groups varying between themselves as much as the nations of Europe, the visitor to the States to-day finds himself in an anomalous country — neither nation nor continent of nations; neither unitary State nor loose federation; neither quite young nor quite old in experience. And this country and its people he finds in the throes of a social, political, and economic convulsion, as critical for the future of America and Americans as anything which has yet developed in their three centuries of progress.
An English economist has certain advantages in trying to judge the significance of recent developments in the United States, and their probable effects. He comes from the oldest industrialized country in the world; from a country where the responsibility of the State for financial control and social security was earliest developed; from a country in which both employers and employed have for long recognized that in a democracy stability of incomes, profits, and business activity is the paramount concern of government. In England the British version of the conflict between the A. F. of L. and the CIO — between the older craft organization of trade-unions and the later organization of the mass of workers in their industries — was settled in favor of the latter method as long ago as in 1889, when the casual laborers in the London Docks won their strike for an extra 6d., the socalled ‘dockers’ tanner.’ In England, again, the hand of the central government ramifies to all parts of the country, and into all branches of social and economic activity; for there are no States’ rights, practically no conflicts of competence between central and local government bodies, the most highly integrated banking system in the world, and probably the most objective and efficient civil service.
Viewing American social, political, and economic problems from this standpoint, an Englishman runs the risk of transposing his terms from English experience to the American scene and of thinking them synonymous. This risk is increased by the use of what seems, at first sight, the same language. But the enormous differences of background and experience behind each of the two leading Anglo-Saxon powers have necessarily altered the content of the same terms.
The task of the English observer is rendered still more difficult by another consideration. The United States has telescoped into eight years a process of social and economic development which in the European industrial countries has taken two generations. Secondly, no economist should assess the significance of such changes in economic terms alone.
Unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, sickness and incapacity benefits, the machinery of highly organized collective bargaining for wages and hours and the necessary statutory requirements, large-scale public works, the intensification of progressive taxation and of the machinery which distributes the national income between social and economic classes, and the influence upon domestic party politics of such rapid economic and legislative changes — all these innovations have taken place in the United States within the short space of eight years or so. And they have not taken place during the long-run development of booms and slumps, as in England, Sweden, or Germany. They have taken place during the worst slump in the whole history of America.
Since the beginning of 1933, President Roosevelt’s two administrations have certainly adopted the supreme AngloSaxon motto, Solvitur ambulando. But America’s problems in this worst social and economic depression have had to be solved, not while the economic system was walking along, but while it was being kicked, bullied, and coaxed along in violent and erratic progress.
My impressions of the social and economic scene in the United States must be judged by Americans in the light of these opening remarks. Undoubtedly, the most striking impression on my mind during the six months I was in the States was the surprising extent to which Americans, American business and finance, American workers, have all become, like the British, obsessed with the idea of security in social and economic life. This may seem a hard saying. I can assure my American friends that it was as big a shock to me as it may now prove to them. I mean that American men and women from the age of twentyone up to the age of about sixty seemed to me to have swung into line with the mentality which has prevailed ever since the war in both the propertied and the working classes of the chief industrial states of Europe. That mentality has ceaselessly demanded for twenty years, not rising standards of living, not continuously increasing profits and production, but a guarantee from the State of security and stability; security of wages and incomes, of profits and interest, of prices and production, of employment and investment. In thus demanding security, people have automatically demanded stability, not progress. And this differentiated America from Europe between 1922 and 1929.
But just for this reason what happened in the United States after 1929 is of infinitely greater significance than what happened in the industrial countries of Europe. The economic history of the United States from 1870-1929 is one of long and rapid development, in which the Great War was only an incidental, if ominous, interruption. This interruption actually accelerated the productive capacity of the United States, as well as turned it from a debtor into a creditor nation. Until 1929 the old pioneer spirit associated with the opening of the frontier was still ruling. Based on individual enterprise and individual risk-bearing, this spirit was loath to believe that the long process since 1870, though punctuated by periodic crises, could ever come to a halt. Exploitation of the world ran parallel with the exploitation of the United States up to 1914; expanding immigration and expanding business went hand in hand; and the process was facilitated by expanding imports of capital. The industrial North and Northern Midwest were the stronghold of this prodigious economic development; and Wall Street, as much as the Republican Party, was its handmaiden. To many Europeans it seemed that up to 1929 the Old South and the New Midwest were the underdogs during a long process of industrialization and exploitation which came to a halt in that year. Since 1929, therefore, the United States has been a fascinating laboratory for economists all over the world. American farmers and workers have installed an administration of their own choosing for their own purposes; have kept it in power for two terms. And after this administration had contrived, by what seemed to the American business men and financiers the most heterodox of economic measures, to set the feet of the American economy once more upon the road to recovery, a second depression has put both the administration and its supporters all over America upon the defensive.
Between 1920 and 1929, the American economy was trying to run on roughly the same lines as had existed up to 1914. This attempt, at a time when the drift towards monopoly of finance capital and large-scale productive units was becoming a rapid current, and when the United States had become the world’s creditor while simultaneously raising its tariffs, resulted in the most prodigious expansion of any country’s productive capacity in peacetime. Between 1922 and 1929 the onrush of technical progress and new investment had raised the output per employed man by 25 per cent. Moreover, in this heyday of American prosperity, the overextending industrial units adopted the practice of budgeting not so much on the annual basis of normal accountancy as on the presumption — justifiably during the years 19221929 — that the domestic and world markets would always expand at the rate to which American business men had become accustomed.
As in post-war Germany, the 19251929 boom was a capital construction boom — only in the United States the capital was not obtained as loans from abroad. It was obtained partly as wardebt payments, partly as the release of industry from its pre-war indebtedness, and partly as the ploughing back of enormous post-war profits from domestic and foreign reconstruction. The trends towards monopoly, price fixing, and ’oversaving’ noticed by the Brookings Institution’s study of income distribution and economic progress, were highly marked in this period. And in this period, too, the Republican Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover were not called upon to do more than to ‘let well enough alone.’
President Hoover’s fate was to be the last of his line. An economic crisis which practically halves the national income, cracks the banking structure, and brings private enterprise and investment to a virtual standstill is more than a depression. To my mind, the first American depression from 1929-1933 spelled the necessary abandonment of the assumptions on which the American post-war boom was raised. Indeed, these assumptions were bound up with the notion that the entire world had been reconstructed upon a sound and durable basis of prices, currencies, debts, and trade. Nothing, as we now recognize, could have been further from the truth. By 1929, owing to the excesses of postwar economic nationalism, not only American but also world agricultural and industrial productive capacity had been vastly overexpanded in relation to the possible levels of monetary demand. When tills post-war system collapsed in 1929-1931, and with it the foreign loans which had shored it up, the United States became a kind of symptom of what was plaguing the entire world: namely, the overcapacity to produce both agricultural and industrial commodities, and a notable overcapacity to produce the productive equipment of industry—so-called producers’ goods, or investment goods.
In essence, this situation scarcely differs from that which has long faced both French and British Governments, and which now begins to face the governments of countries like Sweden, Holland, and Australia. In brief, it is the outcome of government intervention in the economic sphere, which for some time procured domestic recoveries, but later encountered the basic problem underlying all state intervention within what had hitherto been the sphere of private enterprise, private investment, and private initiative. This problem begins now to look uncomfortably like a dilemma : Can the State, which has procured a recovery by means of intervention, call a halt to depression from that recovery without being driven further and further along the interventionist road? In fact, can the State, in a so-called democracy, stem such a depression without being inexorably driven — if only gradually — to encroach so much upon the sphere of private risk-bearing as to render that kind of risk-bearing, in the broad national sense, practically negligible?
It seemed to me during my American visit that this fundamental problem was being more clearly stated and appreciated in the United States than, say, in Britain or France. (In Sweden and Australia, of course, the scope and responsibility of state action have long been recognized and approved.) But whereas in Britain two successive Conservative Governments have pushed state intervention further, perhaps, than any Socialist Government would ever have been permitted to push it during these last six years, in the United States the conservative elements — in politics, business, and finance — have formed the spearhead of the opposition.
This raises very interesting questions in an English visitor’s mind. For example, it appears almost axiomatic to the mere English visitor that the vast American economy cannot be run in the same way as it was, say, between 1922 and 1930; that social security, relief, collective bargaining of a broadly industrial scope, and monetary management are inevitable; that the fundamental problem of the agricultural regions in the United States must be tackled on Federal lines; that the modern State, especially if it is a democracy and wishes to remain one, can only cope with the magnitude of the economic problems of our world by increasing the scope, responsibility, and efficiency of ‘government’ — that is, of all forms of executive authority. In that respect democracies, indeed, cannot afford to be ‘superior’ in attitude towards dictatorships; for they, the democracies, are being driven by the force of facts to recognize the need of self-discipline, coöperation, and collective efficiency. God knows the English have not yet secured much collective efficiency in their economy, not as much, say, as the Swedes; but they have shown — and despite bitter political divisions among them — abundant self-discipline and a good measure of coöperation in economic affairs during the last six years.
The Englishman in the States is utterly bewildered by the bitterness of the politico-economic opposition to the Roosevelt Administration. He finds no alternative programme, beyond a vague yearning for the Coolidge days — which, as I said, seem to the Englishman, on purely objective economic grounds, to have ‘gone with the wind.’ He asks his Republican friends — business men, bankers, industrialists, investors, lawyers, doctors — what, if a chariot of fire carried off the entire Roosevelt Administration, including the Democratic Party, the Republican Party would do.
What, for instance, would it do with the railroads? Use the RFC to bail them out — that RFC which President Hoover set up in an access of reflationary zeal, which President Roosevelt is using to-day for that purpose, and which is essentially in flat contradiction to the Republican demand for a halt in the process of increasing national indebtedness? What, again, would it do with the banking system of the states? Leave to them the task of filling that long-felt want, the establishment of a national new-capital market? That would be a return to 1929 without the business of 1929; and what would that do to bring back the business? What, further, is the alternative programme to that of Mr. Secretary Wallace? How is one really to deal with the agricultural problem? I mean no reproach to Young America if I say that it seems to me to lack political focus. No Englishman under fortyfive could ever dare to make such a reproach. But I found myself distressed to think that, in the States as at home, the perhaps too rapid approach of two equally repugnant political philosophies had given even Young America a kind of political astigmatism, an inability to keep both objects in clear focus. I am still at a loss to understand why this has not yet been achieved. Nearly all English observers of the American scene have concurred in wonderment at the maintenance of the wide gulf between the two groups responsible for the conduct of America’s political and economic life. It seems more remarkable to us when we view the disarray of both political parties, when we observe the utter lack of any clear-cut alternative programme to that of the Administration.
If the Englishman has the temerity to broach purely political questions, he gets into a worse jam. He sees the Democrats split, and the Republicans split; and both are split because of differing reactions to the Administration’s programmes. He is reminded of home when he sees no third party forming, unless it be in the nature of a ‘ginger-group’ of the Wisconsin brand, which can be easily paralleled in England. He delves beneath the sociological surface of America, and is again surprised to find almost the same confusing divisions as in England.
For example, the younger generation in America — the young men and women between twenty-one and thirty — are rapidly tending to meet on common ground, whatever their politics; but that common ground has been reached by way of cynicism and disillusionment over both the older parties. In short, they go round opposite sides of the political circle and meet at the other extreme. It is the same in England, in France, in Scandinavia, Holland, Switzerland, in the British Dominions: wherever free thought still flourishes — or flags. In the universities, the good old extremist philosophies still catch the young student’s zeal — from rabid authoritarianism of the Right (not much of that in America did I find!) to Socialism and Communism, vaguely refurbished for American application. Once out of the university, however, the young American man and woman, like their British coevals, fall a prey to doubts and disillusionments which, in any other age, might have been reckoned healthy and constructive.
But I found myself wondering if, in America as in England and France, they were now quite so healthy a set of doubts. A young person who doubts the political and economic implications of the only alternative policies and philosophies may soon find himself or herself doubting the power of human rationality altogether. The discovery of a solution, a salvation, for such young people is the responsibility of the older generation, — above all, of the next generation, those between thirty and fifty, — to provide a focus for thwarted energies and distracted wills. The English visitor to the States recognizes the symptoms all too well. He is painfully familiar with them. But he has to admit, in fairness to his hosts, that one of the most depressing features in American politics, as he views the scene, is the apparent lack of focus in the political vision of Young America.
Let me hasten to add that he is depressed because, in so many walks of American life, he has been struck by the rich fund of resourcefulness, energy, and adaptability. He had hoped, as many Englishmen hoped, that from the more resourceful, less hidebound, United States might come a new social and political gospel; a gospel which might fire the youth of the older democracies, by destroying the litter of ancient shibboleths and consuming both the fearful alternative ‘ideologies’ which still beset Europe. (Incidentally, that may explain to Americans why the New Deal was acclaimed, from the outset, even by English Conservatives and a fortiori by more liberal-minded Europeans.)
But there again one must look at the broad canvas of American economics and politics. It is not strange that Young America’s political vision should be askew, when the two older generations find themselves unable to recognize their political and economic bearings because since 1932 all the old landmarks have disappeared. To change the metaphor, the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
The United States, which every Englishman has been brought up to consider as the arch-exponent of isolationism, and high tariffs, and business men’s governments, and individualism of the ‘Devil take the hindmost’ variety, has suffered the most Lucifer-like descent from economic heights. And now, within five years, the wandering and wondering Englishman is bidden to observe the succession of unbalanced budgets, a doubling of the national debt, the reciprocal trade agreements, the bewildering alphabetical combinations that connote Federal economic agencies like the PWA, WPA, RFC, CCC, AAA, HOLC, SEC, and legislative acts or proposals like those associated with the New Deal, the Farm Relief acts, cotton control, hours and wages, housing, and so forth. He sees taxation scaled up on the higher incomes, but very little taxation (if any) paid on the incomes of whole groups of persons who, in England, would pay at least a sizable sum in direct taxation, as well as a good deal of indirect taxation. He sees what looks to him something like a nationwide strike of capital, investment, and business enterprise; but he also sees the danger that, if such a strike persists, governmental responsibility for all basic enterprise and investment will become an inevitable necessity.
In these circumstances, the English economist visiting the States must confess to an utter inability to comprehend what political passion keeps the disarrayed Republicans and the discomfited Democrats, the embittered business men and the unenviable Administration, from joining forces in a national effort of coöperative reconstruction. Old jealousies, old powers and privileges, die hard. We English know that only too well. But when I heard loose talk in the States about the President’s ‘Fascist’ or ‘Bolshevik’ tendencies (I heard the same speakers use the terms synonymously), and when I looked at the map of the States, when I motored through half of them, when I took into account the lack of a national civil service and of centralized authority such as we possess in England, I found myself wondering how on earth I would set about introducing an authoritarian régime in the States!
It seemed to me that most of the embittered disputes between Washington and Big Business were depressingly dangerous just because they were more emotional than economic; more the result of outraged conventions (in a land not so hag-ridden by convention as my own) than of profound convictions, violently assaulted. If that is so — and I have only an Englishman’s hunch to go on — it would seem that to find a common ground in convictions held by both sides would be fairly easy, but that the problem is to convince each side of the other’s goodwill, integrity of purpose, and intention to perform what is promised.
The visitor to the States cannot return without being struck by the great increase in the feeling of ‘regional loyalty’ which characterizes at least four main regions of the country.
It is scarcely surprising that the feeling of the Old South against the industrial and financial North and East should have notably increased during the last two or three years. The reason for this seemed to me not so much the realization that the depression after 1929 was in no small measure due to the tie-up between Northern and Eastern finance and industry, on the one hand, and the Republican Party machine on the other. Rather did it seem to me that the Old South has begun to suspect that the unparalleled bitterness of the opposition to Roosevelt has something to do with Northern and Eastern industrial and financial supremacy — that same supremacy that achieved the continuously rising industrial tariffs of the last forty years, and engaged in every kind of economic development except that of the Old South.
This growing embitterment in the South has been confused, if not weakened, by the introduction of the Wages and Hours Bill. I was often asked by Southern farmers, industrialists, and business men, ‘Why, after keeping us derelict under Republican administrations all these years, does a Democratic administration now attempt to wipe out the only differentials which assisted the South to find its own feet after the War between the States? Why should anyone think that the North, with its abundant capital and its large holdings of the entire country’s debt, is threatened by a lower rate of wages in the South — a lower rate which only corresponds to a lower standard of living, and a narrower range of choice in which wages can be spent?’
Again, I was asked how it would be possible to prevent a new ‘spread’ between Northern and Southern costs from arising, even if the Wages and Hours Bill passed. For instance, is not the relationship between the North and the South in industry comparable to that between the textile industries of England and Japan? England has greater skill and greater capital, Japan greater labor supply at cheap wages and less capital equipment per worker. Many Southerners told me, what the Iowa farmers have already expressed in their support of Secretary Cordell Hull’s trade agreements, that it is as impossible to equalize all industrial costs inside the United States by equalizing hours and wages as it is to try to equalize the same elements of cost between whole nations by instructing their respective Tariff Commissions to fix customs duties at a level that will equalize costs.
This regional feeling in the States remains as one of my clearest and most disconcerting impressions. After all, practically half the population of the United States live in the Northern and Eastern financial and industrial region; and this region holds most of the debt of the States, and also pays two thirds of the entire Federal internal revenues.
Similarly the Administration’s agricultural controls, together with the Wages and Hours Bill, have begun to evoke regional loyalties as between the Old South and the newer Middle-West South of Indiana and South Dakota. Such problems as the division between these two regions of forestry, cereals, and substitution crops constitute grave difficulties not only for the AAA, but also for the natural economy of the entire United States outside the Northern and Eastern industrial region. These problems of economic regionalism seem to me to have been accentuated by the necessary political and governmental negotiations for securing adequate allocations of Federal funds for public works, housing, and so forth. This financial influence is not at all new in itself; for, long before President Roosevelt sat in the White House, regional sentiment in the country as a whole had already begun to follow the lines of economic and financial interests. Nevertheless, I have heard many observers from Europe remark that the sentiment of economic regionalism, to which may be linked that of common social and economic destiny, has increased during the years since 1929 to the extent that the feeling of purely state patriotism has declined. In this broad development, the foreign observer can, perhaps, distinguish more clearly than the American the influence of the newly awakened awareness by Labor of its economic and political power. I said earlier in this article that I was greatly impressed by American appreciation of the danger in which democracy all over the world now stands. That danger, to my mind, can best be defined in the following terms. Private capitalism, which nowhere achieved greater records than in the United States during the last one hundred years, has since the Great War been engaged in a suicidal race to control the apparatus of State. In so doing, it has belied its earlier and essential international nature; for its development in the nineteenth century of the world’s resources — men, materials, and machines — has since the war, as a result of its political acts, been replaced by cutthroat domestic competition leading to monopoly and overcapacity. Nowhere is this more observable than in the post-war history of the United States. And in the United States in 1929 came the first of the great industrial and financial crashes of the post-war world structure.
As I said at the beginning, the dispute between the CIO and the A. F. of L. is not strange to a visitor from any industrial European country. Rut it stands to reason that if the economic interests of Labor are strongly identified with governmental economic activity, — both in each state and in the Union as a whole, and in both the agricultural and the industrial regions of the country, — then the political picture of the country must alter from the aspect it presented before 1929. Then, the industrial, financial Northern and Eastern region and its chief political instrument, the Republican Party, easily and successfully contrived to develop the entire Union in the way with which we are now familiar. No matter if current political disputes take place both within and between the two old and venerable parties. In fact, both of them — and this reënforces the impression of the ‘Anglicization’ of America, which I described earlier — have already fallen a prey to grave heart-searchings about their true aims and possible programmes, without yet being clear on either. The result is naturally as great a political confusion of thought in America as in present-day England or France.
Without intending to be captious, I must confess to having had the impression, long familiar to me as an Englishman, that neither government nor opposition knew whither they wanted to travel, nor where their present proposals might ultimately lead them. This observation must in no way be taken as an implied criticism of the American political system; indeed, despite their significant differences, the British and French democracies, ruled by widely dissimilar parties of widely divergent views, are now in precisely the same boat. Here I can do no more than urge upon my American readers the implications of such an observation. Despite striking differences of attitude, aim, and experience, the three remaining democratic Great Powers of the world face, if not the same external contingencies, certainly the same internal dangers. These dangers, to my mind, arise from that confusion over social and economic aims out of which, in the other four Great Powers of the world, a horrifying authoritarian Minerva has already sprung, fully armed.
Since then, and in every leading industrial country, the apparatus of State, even when it has continued to be controlled by the agents of private capitalism themselves, has had to cope with this fundamentally economic problem — the aftermath of private capitalism’s ‘fat years’ — by political means. The outcome in every industrial country has been, quite naturally, that as the individual private capitalist’s fears and anxieties about the future earning capacity of his capital drove him to abstain from undertaking the risks of enterprise, the State has had to stand in the gap. National problems of unemployment, falling revenue, general preference for liquidity of capital assets, falling prices, and rising annual burdens of national debts, have had to be solved — or at least temporarily palliated — by action of a political kind in the realm of business, and, what is more, action by political parties and political machinery which were only devised to deal with the purely incidental difficulties of nations in which economic activity as a whole was the responsibility, and lay in the province, of business. I repeat, what is now taking place in the United States under a Democratic administration — against the wrath of conservative business men (and all business men are conservative) — is also in process in France and Britain under widely differing governments, and against opposition from different quarters. Assuredly it behooves liberal-minded men in the remaining democratic Great Powers of the world to ask themselves whether this politico-economic confusion in the democracies, if it goes on, may not drive Democracy itself either to commit suicide violently or to die of pernicious economic anæmia.
But when all’s said and done, the Englishman on the foredeck of the Queen Mary, as she gathers speed down the Hudson and catches up with the Statue of Liberty, cannot repress those strange emotions that first stirred him when he arrived. His emotions were, are, and probably always will be strange; for in this America, compounded as much of Europe entire as of England’s finest and most independent stock, he senses still that vigor, that sturdy realism, that individual independence, — almost a sardonic self-reliance, — which constitute perhaps the greatest of America’s natural resources. Nothing is too big to tackle, nothing too hard to try; no idea too apparently absurd to be given a break; no man too young to be placed in responsibility, no one too old to give effective counsel.
In face of the overpowering vastness, the incompatibilities, of America and her regional divisions, in face of the lack of national organization and of the necessary civil service, the citizens of the United States seem to the visiting Englishman wonderfully united at heart and in their typical reactions. This may surprise Americans, accustomed to think that only the English are fundamentally united as a people. But I am by no means the only European observer to have remarked, beneath all the manifold superficial and embittered differences of outlook and attitude among Americans, a real and vigorous common fund of energy. This fund has perhaps not yet been drawn on. But that it is there is indubitable; and when it is released, by appropriate political agreement, the natural vigor and resourcefulness of Americans will probably double and treble its effects — and utterly confound Europe’s tired, confused peoples and their desperate rulers.
America’s escape from the same dilemmas that vex European democracies depends on a return to, a rediscovery of, not the old rugged individualism which could only flourish and profit in an expanding America, an expanding world, but the pioneer spirit which imbued that individualism with its strength and resourcefulness. If that essentially American spirit be released, — for its existence is stilt beyond question in that vital country, — the United States can indeed lead the world and its remaining democracies out of the valley of the shadow of depression.
The question is: Who can do it, and how? Here is a greater opportunity, in a greater laboratory with greater resources, than any European country can command.
Clearly, the days of the individual pioneer and his covered wagon have gone. That the pioneer’s vigor has not gone is obvious from the feverish expediency, the explosive bitterness, the powerful reaction from frustration, which characterize American public life — on the sides of both government and opposition — to-day. To loosen this psychopolitical log jam is beyond the power of banks, business men, labor, or political bosses. Something national, something of a crusade, something to pioneer about, something that fires those American imaginations which are most stirred today by the growing awareness in books and films of their past and its achievements, something that not only defines the American tradition but epitomizes it — this is what all America, young, middle-aged, and old, seems to be calling for, and insistently. If, in depression, America has discovered deep within herself the vexed soul, the uncertain values, the divine discontent of Mother Europe, she can face this perhaps chastening self-revelation in the knowledge that her spiritual resources are unmortgaged, her strength is free of traditional encumbrances, and her faculties are unimpaired.
That knowledge alone distinguishes chaos in America from chaos in Europe. For the chaos in America — I hope young Americans will at least note this impression on an Englishman — seems to me not unlike the ‘chaos of preordination.’ The demand for a new order in America is clamant and comprehensible. And only Americans themselves can produce that order. No foreign observer can presume to do more than remark this possibility. The How and the Whither are for Americans to determine. The foreign observer can only beg Americans, for all our sakes, to solve their country’s problems without a false and misplaced esteem for European methods.
In depression, America has found she possesses a tradition of her own. To clarify and follow it is the most urgent social and political task before the people of the United States. I believe President Roosevelt has been groping towards it.
I think he has been groping in the right direction. What is more, foreign observers of America’s problems feel that the mass of the American people think that, and are still thinking it. But at least one foreign observer, after a memorable sojourn in the States, believes that Americans would be betraying both their own heritage and that of the European culture from which they sprang if they ‘stayed put’ in their present discontents, satisfied with merely copying the wistful and backwardlooking expedients of democracy in the Old World.
The United States came into existence by moving forward faster than its kin. It cannot belie its nature. It can only go forward. If it tries to back up, it will fall a prey to internal convulsions, disintegrate, collapse. That is why the eyes of the younger generation in England and in Europe are tending more and more to focus upon the United States. It may well be that in America, and not in England, the destinies of democracy and of its citizens’ economic functions will be ultimately decided.