The Conflict Between Capitalism and Democracy
BY RAOUL DE ROUSSY DE SALES
AT the present moment it is not possible to predict whether the Western nations who are now fighting Naziism will be able to develop an economic society as efficient, from the point of view of organization and production, as the collectivist war machine created by Germany without renouncing the principles upon which these nations are founded.
The general aim of the Western democracies, and more particularly of the United States, has been to ensure more social justice and ‘more abundant life’ for the largest number of citizens. Regardless of whether the results achieved in this direction have been good or bad, or merely mediocre, the fact remains that this aim has not been disputed — and that it cannot be disputed — as long as the general lines of democracy, such as we understand them, are maintained. The idea of sacrifice and restriction cannot be accepted in a democracy except as a temporary expedient — that is, in time of war. Democracy, in other words, can only function and justify itself on the presumption that peace is the normal condition of mankind, that war is an exceptional phenomenon, and that the purpose of civilization is to eliminate it.
This is in complete contradiction of the theory of the ‘biological’ struggle supporting the National-Socialist doctrine that considers that war, not peace, is the normal condition of mankind.
But, in spite of this fundamental opposition between the democratic philosophy and the totalitarian, both forms of society are conditioned by the possibilities open to the modern man to produce goods in vast quantities. Whether the production is destined to feed a war machine for the purpose of conquest and domination, or whether it is destined to improve the material conditions of life in a peaceful community, the methods of production imply a constant improvement of the available industries, their coordination, and an efficient distribution of the goods produced. To build machines and keep them fed is not an aim in itself, but the fact that we have learned how to do these things creates the imperative urge to go on doing them.
Democratic society has constantly struggled to iron out the contradictions involved in the pursuit of its two major objectives: to obtain the maximum efficiency from industrial technology and mass production, which implies a strong centralized organization tending toward collectivism, and to safeguard the liberties of the individual.
Copyright 1941, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. All rights reserved.
Roughly speaking, modern democracy has oscillated between two possible solutions of the problem: the capitalist solution and the socialist solution, the former emphasizing the necessity of preserving ‘free enterprise’ even if it means permanent inequalities, the latter recommending the repudiation of capitalism for the sake of a more even distribution of the available production.
It is obvious, however, that the capitalist doctrine and the socialist doctrine both tend towards the same general results. Henry Ford may stand for the incarnation of ‘rugged individualism,’ but the system of mass production which he has perfected and popularized has done more to destroy individual initiative among his workers and the consuming public than all the teachings of the doctrinarian socialists. The political and philosophical conceptions are antagonistic, but the practical human consequences are identical.
The proof of this is to be found in the efforts of most big industrialists to demonstrate that under the system of private ownership workers enjoy as much security and protection and as high salaries as they would under the control of the state. Neither Henry Ford nor any other big industrialist is proposing to give up the basic principle upon which they operate — which is mass production.
On the other hand the socialists, whatever may be the particular school to which they belong (including the Communists), accept as axiomatic the extension of collectivism as the natural consequence of the technological progress of industry during the last two centuries. Modern capitalism and socialism are both products of the machine. Both claim to offer better protection to the worker and to ensure him not only decent living conditions but a guarantee that he will preserve the privileges of a free man in spite of the moral and economic restrictions which industrial production imposes on the laboring classes. Both pretend to be fulfilling the fundamental objectives of democracy, though both accuse each other of denying them. Capitalism denounces the evils of collectivism and of the socialist state, although a collectivist society could not even be conceived without the industrial and technological developments of the past century which came into being through the enterprises of the capitalists themselves. The socialists, for their part, accuse the capitalist system of retarding human progress and preventing a more even distribution of wealth through an excessive concentration of this wealth in a few hands and through oppression of the workers, although it has not been demonstrated anywhere that state socialism would not eventually end up in a stale or paralyzing bureaucracy. Many socialists reject the radical formulas of Communism, but the example of Soviet Russia has not been encouraging as a pure socialist experiment.
The conflict between the various brands of socialism and capitalism has been growing steadily since the beginning of the industrial era. It is now so acute and so far-reaching that it cannot be dissociated from the other causes of the war, and there are many who are infinitely more concerned with the social and political outcome of the war than with the survival of the nation to which they belong. But it should be noted that if capitalism and socialism are in conflict with one another they are also — though not consciously — in conflict with democracy. And it is because both capitalism and socialism have failed to solve the inner contradictions of their respective doctrines that Fascism and Naziism are now threatening to destroy both and to impose on the whole world the simplified solution of pure force.
Like all systems that are based on practical experience and are the result of a long historical evolution, capitalism cannot be reduced to a few simple definitions. The Western world has been evolving capitalism such as we know it today over too many centuries for us to dissociate ourselves completely from it. We cannot take ‘capitalism’ out of our consciousness to examine it objectively the way we can analyze a scientific theory or a form of art. The economist or the sociologist may be able to talk of capitalism in the same manner as the physicist speaks of the quantum theory or the archaeologist of Persian ceramics. But the average man can do no such thing. Capitalism to him is a word with varying connotations according to his own status in life, his own prejudices and emotional reactions.
The man who has $1000 in a savings bank does not consider himself a capitalist, although he may recognize that his ability to save $1000 and dispose of it more or less as he pleases is made possible by the existence of the capitalist system. Were he to invest the $1000 in securities or bonds in the hope of receiving some interest on this ‘capital,’ he would participate in the functioning of that system in the same way as the man who invests $100,000 or $1,000,000. In fact, the theory of capitalism is that there is no reason why the man who starts with $1000 or less should not end up with $1,000,000 or more, provided he works hard, shows ability, and encounters the right opportunities. The association between capitalism and democracy is based on this assumption. The system does not guarantee that everybody will become rich, but it guarantees that anybody can become rich or at least emerge out of poverty. This is why both capitalism and democracy agree on the preservation of individualism, the former on economic grounds, the latter as a matter of philosophical and political doctrine. Unfortunately the happy marriage between our economic system, capitalism, and our political philosophy, democracy, has been constantly deteriorating for the last one hundred years and more rapidly in recent years because neither of them has really been able to fulfill the promises inherent in its doctrine.
Democracy, by proclaiming that all men are born equal and free, is not gratuitously reasserting the ‘eternal truths’ upon which our Western civilization is founded. Freedom and equality cannot remain philosophical abstractions as far as the ordinary man is concerned. They must be translated into positive, practical terms. That they are applied in the political field is a fact. All men are free to vote as they wish, to express themselves according to their conscience, and they are equal before the law. Such at least is the theory, and the promise of democracy is that practice should correspond to it. But long historical experience has demonstrated that minorities, financially and economically powerful, tend to exert an influence over the affairs of the state completely disproportionate to their numerical strength. Men of great wealth, and especially big anonymous corporations, are politically privileged in spite of the periodical efforts of ‘progressive’ governments to curb their power and reduce the abuses that stem from it.
That this should be so is no condemnation of the principles of democracy. It merely proves that there is an incompatibility between the existence of real equality and real freedom for all and capitalism, as it now exists and functions.
The inability of democracy to establish equality and freedom by purely political means might have been compensated if capitalism, on its side, had been able to fulfill its own promises. But this has not been the case.
During the nineteenth century, and up to the war of 1914-1918, the middle classes and even the working classes tolerated social and economic inequalities as they existed in Europe and in America because the capitalist system was constantly expanding. It created work, it increased production, it improved the conditions of life of all the community at such a speed that its inability to distribute the products of labor equitably was not very perceptible to the ordinary citizen. Moreover, it guaranteed fixed incomes to an increasing number of people. During my youth, before 1914, no section of the population seemed more stable and more secure than the petit rentier. The general conviction then was that the number of people who lived partly or wholly on their rentes would increase constantly. The small bourgeois was gradually identifying himself politically with the big capitalist.
Even as late as 1925, when I first came to America (that is, after the German and French rentiers had already seen their security completely or partly destroyed), I found the prevalent idea that the ultimate end of the American system was to make every man a capitalist. I was given many times the illustration that the shares of this or that big corporation were held, not by a few rich men, but by hundreds of thousands of ‘small people’ who were therefore becoming capitalists themselves.
It would be tedious to recall how this dream collapsed alter 1929 and how the small capitalists as well as many big ones suddenly found themselves reduced to a condition of insecurity from which they have not yet emerged in spite of the recovery that followed a few years later.
The psychological shock produced by the depression, both in Europe and in America, cannot be overestimated. It has not destroyed capitalism as a system, but it has certainly shaken the faith — to say the least — of millions of men, all over the world, who up to then showed an implicit confidence in an economic order founded on the principle of equal opportunity for all. The association between capitalism and democracy, although still solid, — especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries and more particularly in the United States, — has ceased to be a smooth one. The man with $1000 in the savings bank has lost hope of becoming a millionaire, and, in spite of the valiant efforts of the Big Business man to redeem himself from the condemnations that had been piled upon his head after the Hoover era, he has nowhere regained his lost prestige. He is asked to cooperate; he is refused the right to lead.
This does not necessarily mean, as so many people are apt to think, that capitalism is at an end. It is my belief that the vitality of capitalism is underestimated not only in America but in Europe, and that it can still undergo many transformations and adapt itself to many changes.
The fate of capitalism is tied to the evolution of circumstances which at the moment are beyond our power of speculation. But there is no doubt that capitalism will have to contend either with the extension of totalitarianism or with an intensification of the democratic process in the field of finance and economics. In either event, capitalist methods will have to undergo important modifications, but there is no reason to suppose that the complicated system called capitalism will necessarily disappear as such.
This is why, for instance, the liberal and progressive thinkers who denounce the unholy alliance between certain capitalist interests in the democracies and Fascism as suicidal for the capitalists may be wrong. If Hitler should achieve the conquest of Europe, it is perfectly conceivable that he would utilize the structure of capitalism, and more particularly the big trusts, the large corporations, and the cartels, to help him in the exploitation of the natural resources outside his immediate sphere of influence. This would mean, of course, that the leaders of large interests, such as those controlling oil, steel, wheat, rubber, shipping, and so forth, would agree to ‘cooperate’ with the new masters of the world. There is little doubt that they would.
The editors of Fortune magazine conducted a poll among 15,000 American business executives, asking this question: ‘If cessation of hostilities leaves Germany with a large economic bloc, would you favor doing as much business with this bloc as possible, or as little as possible even if it means the sacrifice of considerable profits ? ‘
The replies were: ‘As much as possible,’ 33.3 per cent; All that comes our way,’ 12.5 per cent; ‘Depends on circumstances,’ 37.5 per cent; ‘As little as possible,’ 10.6 per cent; ‘None at all,’ 2.6 per cent; ‘Don’t know,’ or no answer, 3.5 per cent.
As can bo seen, a large percentage of American business men are strongly inclined towards some form of appeasement, because they are quite convinced that they would survive and even benefit in a Nazified world. And those who try to demonstrate that these calculations are erroneous — citing as precedent the practical annihilation of free capitalism in Germany and in Italy — may well be wrong. Hitler’s purpose is to destroy democracy and the whole system of thought associated with it, and he might find that the best way to destroy it in its last stronghold, England and America, would be to maintain the mechanism of the large corporations and even guarantee their existence in exchange for an acceptance of his New Order. They might have to pay heavily for this ‘protection,’ but they might get it — for a while. Even if the survival of capitalism at such a price were only temporary, it would appear to some leaders of big business preferable to the continuation of the dangerous conflict with democracy in which they are now engaged.
During the time that the Popular Front was in power in France, I heard financiers and business men say quite openly, ‘We would rather have Hitler than Blum.’ Others — more sensitive — said, ‘We would rather have Mussolini than Blum.’ The defeat of France made their wish come true, and although the disaster that has struck that country is of such magnitude that it is difficult to foresee how anyone can profit by it, the fact remains that these same people are not offering any visible opposition to the advent of the New Nazi Order. If anyone is to profit by French collaboration with the Axis powers, it is a few big industrialists, and Hitler is bending his efforts on utilizing them. Through them, and whether by threat or persuasion, the Nazis have already gained control of all major French industries.
If England were to be defeated, the same thing would happen there, but on a larger scale. The economic mechanism that binds together the British Empire (and with it practically all the portions of the world not under Axis domination, including the United States) is a complicated affair, and the NationalSocialist leaders might find it expedient to preserve the City of London, and its personnel, as a clearing centre and an intermediary with the Empire and with America. The experience of British financiers and merchants in the field of international trade could not be easily replaced, and, provided that conquered England could be made to serve the general Nazi aims (by the imposition of a British Pétain or Laval as subdictator), British capitalism could be offered survival under the protection of Berlin.
Such an arrangement would reenforce the American appeasers. Many American leaders of Big Business would find that this situation offered them also protection and strengthened their hand against the persecutions of their own ‘democratic’ administration,
On the other hand, it is now becoming clear that a defeat of Nazi Germany can only be achieved if the mass of the people in the democracies — and that includes organized labor, of course — can be made to understand that this war is their war and that in fighting it they are not merely trying to maintain the capitalist status quo.
France succumbed, among many other reasons, because Daladier and his government, having sought the support of the conservative, Fascist, and defeatist elements in the country, could never explain to the people and the army their war aims in terms that the common soldier and the common worker could wholeheartedly approve. These war aims were negative and uninspiring. They did not go beyond the ‘stop Hitler’ idea and the vague notion that if Hitler were stopped things would remain pretty much as they were. In fact, Daladier and his supporters took the occasion of the war to fight democracy inside France with even more energy and consistency than they fought the Germans. Having chosen to lay the blame for unpreparedness on the Popular Front alone, and repudiated without promise of restoration all the social legislation achieved under that government, they forgot that the Popular Front had been elected in 1936 by 55 per cent of the electorate, and that, in spite of the GermanSoviet treaty of August 1939, the chances were that one half of the French population were still hoping that the war would have another purpose than to consolidate the power of the conservative and reactionary groups that had regained control of the French Government.
Daladier was too blind to understand that one cannot fight a total war with a divided country, one half of which remains suspicious of the motives of its leaders while the other half is more or less in moral and political sympathy with the ideology of the enemy. Because so many leaders in France were — and still are — obsessed by the Communist peril, and because they could not forgive or forget the Popular Front with its sit-down strikes, its forty-hour week, its attacks on the ‘200 families,’ and so forth, Daladier could never bring himself to form a government of national union, as had been done in the war of 1914-1918.
The fate of England might have been the same as that of her ally if Chamberlain had not been forced out. Chamberlain followed the same course as Daladier. He too could not bring himself to ‘share the war’ with the mass of the people. He too wanted to defeat Hitler, — and he was undeniably sincere in his purpose, — but he could neither agree to go ‘all out,’ which would have meant a disruption of capitalist economy in England, nor promise anything better to the English people than the return to the Birmingham policies when and if England won the war. In fact, Chamberlain was frank enough to express the most undisguised fear at the kind of world that might emerge after the war, even if England won it.
The result is known: Chamberlain lost his war as clearly as Daladier lost his. But, luckily for England, she found a leader in the person of Churchill who was willing to fight the total war with total means — that is, with the full cooperation of the whole population, and regardless of future consequences.
Roughly, the same pattern exists in the United States. In spite of the fact that Mr. Roosevelt has been reelected for a third term, and that, according to a Gallup poll, he enjoyed at the beginning of 1941 the greatest popular support in eight years (72 per cent), in spite also of the fact that his former opponent, Wendell Willkie, has endorsed the President’s foreign policy, we see many conservative Republicans and many representatives of Big Business persist in an attitude of systematic opposition which is curiously reminiscent of the attitude of the corresponding groups in England and France between 1936 and 1940.
The alleged motives of this opposition are varied. In the matter of helping England through the lend-lease bill and other methods implying a gradual mobilization of all the forces of the country, the principal arguments against the policies of the President can be grouped as follows: —
1. More open aid will lead to war with Germany.
2. It is too late to save England anyway, and the United States should concentrate on its own defenses.1
3. To increase the powers of the Executive is to prepare the advent of dictatorship in America. What is the point of fighting totalitarianism abroad if one has to appoint a dictator at home to do it?
4. Even if England should win, it will not be an unmixed blessing. England has already gone totalitarian, and — as Mark Sullivan has suggested — one should find out right now whether it is the intention of the British leaders to establish ‘socialism’ after the war. If such is the case, should America help England to make the world safe for socialism? (The answer implied by Mark Sullivan being, of course, an emphatic ‘No.’)
There are, of course, many other arguments used by the conservatives. But, as far as most leaders of Big Business are concerned, those listed above seem to be the most important. Naturally they reveal only in an indirect way the real motives of those who put them forward. But these motives are easy to bring to light because the behavior of social groups all over the world is conditioned by forces which transcend frontiers and follow everywhere a recognizable pattern.
The real reasons why important leaders of American industry and business are opposing the foreign policy of Roosevelt can be summed up as follows:
There is resistance to the recognition of the now obvious fact that the defeat of Naziism can only be assured if the masses are persuaded that the efforts and sacrifices required from them will benefit them. Roosevelt has constantly sought the support of these masses and obstinately refused to admit that the effort required for defense might entail a suspension of the social gains achieved under the New Deal.
Whether the United States goes formally to war or not, Roosevelt has therefore intimated clearly that he does not intend to turn over the direction of the war to the conservative minorities and to Big Business interests. This is what Daladier did in France and Chamberlain in England. Roosevelt seems determined to follow another course.
The accusation that Roosevelt is seeking dictatorship is merely the expression of a fear that the perennial struggle between the underprivileged majority and the vested interests will be carried on through the present ‘emergency,’ and that if the President has anything to say in the reconstruction of the world after the war he may use his huge prestige to consolidate his New Deal ideas on a world-wide basis.
By denouncing ‘appeasement’ as synonymous with treason, Roosevelt has committed the United States to a policy that must assure the defeat of National Socialism. He has gradually but consistently cut behind him the bridges which — through the fiction of neutrality — might permit the United States to make a deal with the Nazis in the eventuality of their victory. This, from the point of view of the ‘realistic’ business man, is unsound. It tends to develop a spirit of crusade, as in the last war, to the detriment of practical interests, at a moment when the odds in favor of a universal triumph of democratic ideals are not overwhelming. In other words, Roosevelt is taking a bad business risk for the sake of ideology.
Finally, unlike Mark Sullivan, Mr. Roosevelt does not seem to be perturbed by the possibility that England might go ‘socialistic,’ and it would appear that his capacity for nostalgia of a less insecure world is alarmingly small.
To sum up, the cleavage between capitalism and democracy has been sharpened by the increased danger which confronts America if the Nazis succeed. The approach of the peril has accentuated an alignment analogous to the one that existed in France and in Chamberlain’s England. The American conservatives do not say, like the French, that they would rather have Hitler than Roosevelt, but their preoccupation is of the same nature and no less acute. They have to choose between two solutions, both dangerous and unpleasant. The first is the formula of appeasement. The second is increasing participation in a war that will probably be long, exhausting, and may at any moment transform itself into a series of revolutionary processes, the outcome of which it is impossible to predict.
The first solution implies the acceptance of a Nazi domination over Europe, Africa, and Asia. It means taking the chance that Hitler will not refuse to ‘protect’ those who control the power and the resources of the United States. It is a dangerous risk, but the business man has difficulty in conceiving that one cannot make a mutually advantageous deal even with the Devil. Like Chamberlain, he cannot believe that Hitler’s great power is that he has effectively subordinated economics to politics. The imperatives of business are still supreme and undisputed in America. Business men tend to minimize or deny the existence of any other category of imperatives.
But the great incentive in the appeasement theory, from the capitalist and Big Business point of view, is that in dealing with the Nazis one will not be troubled with such complications as labor laws, the obstructions of unions, and other ‘democratic’ difficulties. If the Nazis control the world, and if America is to survive their competition and deal with them, a revision of American economy and business methods will have to be achieved. This revision can be oriented in only one way: labor will have to be disciplined and integrated in the new order of business Fascism. This is not particularly displeasing, as a prospect, to many business men, either in America or elsewhere.
The other course means the acceptance of the ultimate aims of American foreign policy as they have been defined by President Roosevelt in several speeches and particularly in his message to Congress of January 6, 1941. In that message, the President expressed himself as follows: —
Our national policy is this: First, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to all-inclusive national defense.
Second, we are committed to full support of all those resolute peoples, everywhere, who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping war away from our hemisphere. . . .
Third, we are committed to the proposition that principles of morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers.
Further on in the same message, the President was even more explicit when he outlined the conditions of peace which might be acceptable to America. These conditions, according to him, are as follows: —
Freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.
Freedom of religious worship — everywhere in the world.
Freedom from want, through economic understanding — everywhere in the world.
Freedom from fear, through world-wide reduction of armaments — everywhere in the world.
‘Freedom,’ concluded the President, ‘means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is in our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.’
At the time that this message was delivered, this part of it caused less comment than the more immediate recommendation for practical aid to Britain. Nevertheless it was, and still is, the most important part of the presidential declaration because it sets the ulterior objectives of American foreign policy, as President Roosevelt conceives them. If those aims were really accepted nationally, as the President assumed they were, all other problems, such as aid to Britain and the complete participation of the United States in the war, would become means of achieving those aims.
The program outlined by the President implies not only that England and other ‘resolute peoples’ must be supported by the United States in their struggle against the ‘aggressors,’ but also that America is committed to the defeat of these aggressors, even if it should stand alone to face them. By stating that freedom must be reinstated ‘everywhere in the world,’ President Roosevelt has indicated that he did not repudiate the inheritance of Woodrow Wilson. He did not offer a new League of Nations, but he certainly proclaimed that peace could not be established if the American concepts of freedom did not prevail universally. Democracy, according to him, is, like peace, indivisible. It must exist universally or perish. President Roosevelt has thus committed the United States to an extension of the kind of democracy which the President himself believes in — that is, one definitely founded on popular support and not on the preservation of oligarchic control.
It is because the opposition to the Administration senses that this is the root of the conflict that the struggle against President Roosevelt remains so bitter and so personal. He, like Hitler, subordinates economic imperatives to his political conceptions. And, if such is the point of view of the President of the United States, it follows that he has less fear of the further ‘socialization’ of a democratic world than of the fictitious peace that might be bought through appeasing a victorious Hitler.
It follows also that, from the point of view of the business man, the course recommended by Franklin Roosevelt offers risks which are no less great than trying a deal with the victorious Nazis. Moreover, the two sets of risks are difficult to weigh with the same scales. If the rest of the world should be dominated by National Socialism, it is conceivable that American capitalism could deal with these new masters in a position of relative equality, at least for a while. They would still be outside the American fortress, and the American traders would remain physically out of their reach. But the program of Roosevelt implies a continuation of the internal conflict between American capitalism and American democracy.
Business, in America as elsewhere, has a philosophy of its own. It is materialistic and apt to visualize all human problems from the angle of competition, which is another way of subscribing to the doctrine of force. This docs not mean that capitalist society is run by gangsters, as the Nazis and Communists and many Democrats assert. It does mean, however, that most business men usually experience difficulty in believing that there are other forms of power besides the control of economic forces.
The irresistible trend towards collective organization of national production, which is as real in democratic countries as in the totalitarian states, forces upon the leaders of Big Business a painful dilemma. In spite of the fact that the last war did not destroy their effective control over the governments that ruled in these democracies, that control has been constantly threatened during the last twenty years by such movements as the Popular Front and the New Deal. In the minds of many conservatives there has thus been created a real psychosis: the growing conviction that democracy was fatally tending towards state socialism and possibly Communism. Liberal thinking, and the principle of individual freedom which had enabled capitalism to flourish, became less attractive when they were turned into arguments to justify social legislation in favor of the common man. The growing power of the labor unions, and the tendency of the workers to consider that the factories in which they worked and by which they lived were as much their ‘property’ as that of the absentee shareholders, increased the feeling of insecurity of the wealthy classes. In Europe, and especially in France, the fear and hatred engendered by the class struggle produced a veritable condition of panic among the propertied classes, who reached the conclusion that nothing could save them except a counter-revolution. This they finally achieved in the political no man’s land left after the military defeat.
In England and in the United States the crisis which opposes capitalism to democratic processes has not as yet developed to the point where anyone is seriously thinking of an anti-democratic revolution. But the example of France is instructive. It proves that among the reactionary and propertied classes there are elements who are in a mood, given a favorable opportunity, to discard democratic government and democratic thinking, and that their fear of the Nazi rule is no greater than their fear of what they imagine to be the unavoidable evolution of democracy — namely, state socialism.
In the final report of the Temporary National Economic Committee, published in March 1941, one can find the following lines, subscribed to by the twelve experts who worked on this laborious fact-finding survey of American economics: —
‘We know that most of the wealth and income of the country is owned by a few large corporations, that these corporations are owned in turn by an infinitesimally small number of people and that the profits from the operations of these corporations go to a very small group with the results that the opportunities for new enterprises, whether corporate or individual, are constantly being restricted.’
Such a discovery is not new, but the fact that it is restated by such a body, and especially at a moment when the United States is becoming daily more involved in a war that is at the same time a world revolution, shows that the long-drawn-out conflict between capitalism and democracy cannot be evaded or camouflaged much longer. As I have indicated before, the example of France and England proves that this war cannot be waged successfully without the total support of the mass of the people. And, in turn, the support of the people cannot be obtained without the promise that if the so-called democratic nations win the war it will mean in fact a tangible victory for democracy.
As the same report of the TNEC points out: ‘Political freedom cannot survive if economic freedom is lost.’
- Mr. Hoover arrives at practically the same conclusions, though his premises are different. He believes that England will hold out indefinitely, that Hitler will collapse, and that there is no reason, therefore, for America to overstrain itself. The isolationists of the Lindbergh and Hoover schools obviously do not consult the same oracles concerning the outcome of this war. — AUTHOR↩