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November 18, 1962 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1962-11-18
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Periods of Crisis Demonstrate

The Failure of Conservatism

By ROBERT SELWA
SOCIALISM is a sinister word to many
Americans. At the same time, the Unit-
ed States has been moving in the general
direction away from pure capitalism and
towards aspects of socialism, particularly
in the past three decades.
This is a generalization for which dis-
tinctions need to be made. The economic
direction of the United States, Max Lern-
er writes in America As a Civilization, "is
toward the extension of the New Deal as
an amalgam of state capitalism and busi-
ness collectivism." The government has
become an enterprise often in competi-
tion with private firms, and business has
become a managerial complex instead of
an individualistic adventure.
But this does not answer the issue
battered around today and the past cen-
tury: what role shall the government
play in the economic life of the nation?
Unfortunately this sometimes gets con-
fused with the issue of the meaning of
democracy. Many conservatives associate
democracy with capitalism and see so-
cialism as anti-democratic, and too many
other Americans fail to question these in-
valid assumptions. This error seeps into
plans for the teaching of Communism:
many want to teach it in contrast with
"the American free enterprise system."
This error seeps into the thinking of
Young Americans for Freedom: when the
Peace Corps was established, YAF took the
position that Corpsmen should be "trained
in the fundamentals of .the free enter-
prise system" before being sent abroad.
This error seeps into Sen. Barry Gold-
water's thinking: individual liberty, he as-
serts, depends on decentralized govern-
ment.
DEMOCRACY is a political system. Cap-
italism and socialism are economic
systems. Democracy can be capitalistic,
as it was in America until 1932 and as it
still is for the most part. But democracy
can also be socialistic, as it has been in
Great Britain, particularly in the later
1940's. Democracy consists of certain poli-
tical measures, such as rule by a major-
ity with concurrence of the dissenting
minority, civil liberties and civil rights,
and general equality of opportunity.
Democratic socialism, Prof. Carl Cohen
of the philosonhy department points out,
emphasizes "the need for radical social
reconstruction, presses for a greater range
of state activity, and the cooperative de-
termination of planned economic object-
ives." Democratic capitalism, he notes,
emphasizes "the primacy of individual li-
berty and presents a more conservative
defense of the freedom of enterprise."
Democratic socialism is distinctly dif-
ferent from Marxist-Leninist Communism.
The latter would have the destruction of
capitalism by revolutionary upheaval and
civil war; the former would have the
modification of capitalism by constitu-
tional means. Socialists, William Eben-
stein of Princeton states, "seek power by
ballots rather than bullets." Communists
seek to transfer all means of production,
distribution and exchange to the state; in
contrast, Ebenstein writes, democratic so-

cialists seek to work out a set of empirical
principles that will indicate in a particular
instance whether a specific industry or
service is to be transferred to public con-
trol or ownership.
LENIN BELIEVED that a small group of
professional revolutionaries are to for-
mulate policy and to rule; democratic so-
cialists believe in majority rule within
their own party as well as in the nation.
And, Ebenstein adds, whereas Communists
think in terms of three absolutes-capital-
ism, revolutionand dictatorship-demo-
cratic socialists think in terms of three
relative concepts: a predominantly cap-
italist economy as the starting point, a
long period of gradual change and fin-
ally a predominantly socialized economy.
On the assumption that Goldwater is
democratic, an observer might describe
him as today's most outstanding demo-
cratic capitalist. Behold some of the state-
ments from his best-seller, The Conscience
of a Conservative:
"And that is what the Constitution
is: a system of restraints against the
natural tendency of government to
expand in the direction of absolutism.
"No powers regarding education
were given the federal government.
"No power over agriculture was
given to any branch of the national
government.
"Farm production, like any other
production, is best controlled by the
natural operation of the free market.
"Government has a right to claim
an equal percentage of each man's
wealth, and no more."
Goldwater is considered the leading
conservative today, because Robert Taft
is dead, Herbert Hoover is old, and Wil-
liam Graham Sumner is forgotten. Gold-
water's ideas are not new. They are near-
ly a century old, and their roots go much
further back. Goldwater has become the
hero of the Right Wing because his book,
available in paperback for only 50 cents,
is written most simply and effectively. A
new generation of Americans, who have
not learned history, and the old genera-
tions of Americans, who have forgotten
history, have become excited about. old
ideas that have been newly presented.
"I've never been able to get through the
thicket of contradictions in Goldwater,"
Prof. Stephen Tonsor of the history de-
partment says. Prof. Tonsor, sponsor of
the campus chapter of YAF, recently
urged the group to look for a political
philosophy not in a politician like Gold-
water, but in a philosopher like William
Graham Sumner.
S UMNER'S What Social Classes Owe to
Each Other (nothing, he says) may be
the most articulate presentation of demo-
cratic capitalism by any American. He
writes that a human society needs the
active cooperation and productive energy
of every person in it. A man who is pres-
ent as a consumer, he continues, "yet
who does not contribute either by land,
labor, or capital to the work of society,
is a burden." He holds back the progress
of society.

Barry Goldwater Prof.- Stephen Tonsor

Herbert Hoover Howard Taft

Sumner urges that no governmental
aid be given the pauper. "It is not at all
the function of the State to make men
happy. They must make themselves happy
in their own way, and at their own risk.
... Democracy, in order to be true to it-
self, and to develop into a sound working
system, must oppose .. . any claims for
favor on the ground of poverty, as on the
ground of birth and rank."
The government, he asserts, can no
more admit "any schemes for coddling
and helping wage-receivers than it could
entertain schemes for restricting political
power to wage-payers." Either way, the
government would be favoring one class
over another. "It must put down schemes
for making 'the rich' pay for whatever
'the poor' want," for to do so would per-
mit the danger of construing democracy
as a system of favoring a new privileged
class of the many and the poor.
"Liberty, and universal suffrage, and
democracy are not pledges of care and
protection, but they carry with them the
exaction of individual responsibility."
(This is a central theme with Goldwater
and Hoover as well.)
THE AGGREGATION of large fortunes
is not at all a thing to be. regretted,
Sumner goes on. "On the contrary, is is a
necessary condition of many forms of so-
cial advance." If we set a limit to the
accumulation of wealth, we would say to
our most valuable producers, "We do not
want you to do us the services which you
best understand how to perform. It would
be like killing off our generals in war."
Sumner sees human society as living at
a constant strain forward and upward.
"But it is plainly impossible that we
should all attain to equality on the level
of the best of us. . . . If we pull down those
who are most fortunate and successful,
shall we not by the very act defeat our
own object?" He fears that progress will
be arrested by governmental protection of
the pauper class, because the unfit as
well as the fit will survive, and will brake
society.
"Every man and woman in society has
one big duty. That is, to take care of his

or her own self." Society, Sumner de-
clares, needs no care or supervision by
government. "Society needs first of all to
be freed from these meddlers-that is, to
be let alone." All schemes for patronizing
the working classes savor of condescen-
sion. Such projects would demoralize both
parties, flattering the vanity of one and
undermining the self-respect of the other,
he maintains.
The case is the same with all govern-
ment help, he says. "There is a victim
somewhere who is paying for it all. The
doors of waste and extravagance stand
open, and there seems to be a general
agreement to squander and spend."
Social improvement will not be won by
governmental effort, according to Sumner.
It results from individual improvements.
"That is the reason why schemes of di-
rect social amelioration always have an
arbitrary, sentimental, and artificial char-
acter, while true social advance must be
a product and a growth." He condemns
the yearning for equality as "the offspring
of envy and covetousness." Advancement
of society will be achieved only "by and
through its best members."
T9HIS IS a toughening philosophy, a
. philosophy of rugqed individualism
that was subscribed to by mnny American
Presidents. Hoover was nrobably the most
articulate exnonent of this philosohy. It
was appropriate that the great test of this
philosophy came in his administration.
Herbert Clark Hoover. born in 187 at
West Branch, Iowa, not only articuated
rugged individualism throughout his life,
but he also lived it. After graduation from
Stanford, he went to China where he be-
came chief engineer for the Chinese Bu-
reau of Mines at $20,000 a year, according
to Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in The Crisis
of the Old Order.
Striking out on his own as consulting
engineer, his interests and successes span-
ned the world. When World War I came,
he negotiated problems of food, finance
and diplomacy between Belgium and the
United States, becoming known in Wash-
ington. He became War Food Administra-
tor and did so well that Franklin- Delano
Roosevelt wanted then to make Hoover
President. Instead, Hoover became Warren
Harding's Secretary of Commerce, stayed
on under Calvin Coolidge.
"No one can rightly deny the funda-
mental correctness of our economic sys-
tem," Hoover said during the campaign
for President in 1928. He saw a threat to
prosperity in governmental intervention
in agriculture (which was doing poorly
even during those years of prosperity) and
warned about the danger of state social-
ism. He felt poverty could be ended with
a minimum of governmental and a maxi-
mum of individual effort, and declared
August 11, 1928: "We in America today
are nearer to the final triumph over pov-
erty than ever before in the history of
any land."
FOURTEEN MONTHS later the stock
market crashed and the worst depres-
sion in the history of America began.
Hoover remained convinced that the
American economy was basically sound
and tried to use voluntary agreements
with industrialists to stem the tide of re-
cession and growing suffering. He urged
employers - to postpone wage reductions,
and when these became absolutely imper-
ative, to make them only in proportion to
the decline in prices. Hoover was avoiding

governmental coercion, which is inimical
to democratic capitalism; he was using
1 -1suasion.
Despite these efforts, private spending
was falling; despite his declarations of
confidence, unemployment was increasing.
Hoover, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., writes,
"found in pledges an acceptable substi-
tute for actions: assurances given took the
place of dollars spent." By the spring of
1930 some 4.000,000 Americans were un-
employed. Breadlines began to appear.
T nm0 lines began forming before employ-
ment offices, the men with gunny sacks
wrapped around their feet to hold off the
cold of a night spent waiting to be first in
line.
Families began withdrawing their bank
savings, and then began borrowing. Wed-
ding rings were pawned, furniture sold.
Anple peddlers became common. The dem-
ocratic caitalist seeks answers in private
welfare, but did this work? "The whole
patchwork system," Schlesinger writes,
"had an undprlying futility: it was ad-
dressed to the care of unemployables-
those who could not work in any condition
-and not at all to the relief of mass un-
nllninyment."
President Hoover declared in October of
1930 that the nation's "sense of voluntary
oraanization and community service"
wuild take care of the inemnloed. It
didn't. The breadlines and workins be-
came longer and the nights and days
colder. Meanwhile Hoover rejected a pro-
posal by Senator Robert F. Wagner for
the advance planning of public works and
the establishment of a national employ-
ment service.
jJOWEVER, Hoover's position gradual-
ly began to change. He still clung (and
continues to this day) to his philosophy
of rugged individualism and governmen-
tal non-intervention, but he began to
compromise this position a little by his
actions. He organized a program of fed-
eral assistance to combat the drought in
the Southwest, and he asked Congress to
appropriate money for government loans
to enable farmers to buy seed, fertilizer
and cattle feed. But Hoover would not
let wheat purchased by the Farm Board
be distributed to the unemployed. The
opposition declared that Hoover consid-
ered it wise to feed starving cattle but
wicked to feed starving men. Thus an
opposition that leaned toward democratic
socialism began to mount, with govern-
ment welfare in mind as a partial solu-
tion.
Hoover replied in 1931 that America
meant the principles of individual and
local responsibility and mutual private
self-help. If these principles break down,
Americans will have "struck at the roots
of self-government." Meanwhile unem-
ployment grew more-to 8 million in
March, 1931. Later that year, Hoover an-
nounced that a nation-wide survey had
convinced him that state and local orga-
nizations could meet relief needs in the
coming winter. But relief resources dwin-
dled away. And on the farms, Schlesinger
writes, "fences were standing in disrepair,
Robert Selwa is a literary college
senior whose vocation is journalism
and whose avocation is American
History.

crops were rotting, livestock was not worth
the freight to market, farm machinery
was wearing out."
His philosophy not working, Hoover ap-
pointed the President's Organization on
Unemployment Relief to stimulate char-
ity. On the assumption that increased
public expenditure would help to stem
trade decline and ease unemployment,
President Hoover spent over $2.2 billion
on construction of buildings and roads.
In 1931 he called on Congress to create
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation
to lend money to banks, railroads and life
insurance companies, among others, to
keep them from failing. During 1932 the
RFC lent $1.5 billion to more than 5,000
business organizations. The nation, com-
mented businessman Ralph Flanders, was
approaching "the self-conscious direction
of the mechanism of economic and social
life toward general well-being." "By 1932,"
Schlesinger writes, "the American business
community . . . was moving fast toward
ideas of central economic planning." This
aspect of democratic socialism was be-
coming accepted.
UOOVER CONTINUED to work hard
JL himself-no President ever worked
harder, says Schlesinger-laborin at his
desk with phone handy from 8:30 a.m.
to 11 p.m., pausing only for hatily gob-
bled meals-no President ever ate faster
either. "The strain of maintaining his
principles in the face of the accumulating
evidences of human need doubtless led
both to anxiety and to self-righteousness,"
Schlesinger writes. But though Hoover
worked hard, he accomplished little; his
philosophy of democratic capitalism would
not permit him to exercise the vast pow-
ers of President. Seldom have a Presi-
dent's principles been so incompatible
with the problems facing him.
Victory over depression had to be won
"by the resolution of our people to fight
their own battles in their own communi-
ties," Hoover said. But Americans had
little resolution; they were hungry, ill-
housed, poorly clothed and despairing;
they had much desolution instead.
The question for the future, Hoover
said, was whether history would be writ-
ten in terms of individual responsibility
or of the "futile attempt to cure poverty
by the enactment of law." But the history
that was written in Hoover's terms of
individual responsibility from 1929 to 1932
consisted of a futile attempt to cure pov-
erty without the enactment of law.
THERE WERE 12 million unemployed
in 1932 when the New Deal took over.
Democratic capitalists today like to point
out that in 1939, when all the experiments
were over, there were still 8.7 million who
had not been re-employed by industry.
This overlooks the fact that during these
years about 9 million persons entered the
labor market in surplus of those who left
it. The New Deal found over 12 million
new, permanent jobs-and in addition it
found temporary, useful work for many
more millions, especially in conservation.
The philosophy of the New Deal was
not a sudden upshoot. It had been long in
formulation. It had its roots in the Social
Gospel of the late 19th century, in the pro-
test against laissez-faire and in the move-
ments for reform. "The reformers of the
20th century," writes Prof. Sidney Fine
of the history department, "believed as
did the theorists of the general-welfare

state of the late 19th century that the
ends of liberalism could be attained in a
complex industrial society only by posi-
tive state action." "Freedom today," said
Woodrow Wilson, "is something more than
being let alone. The program of a govern-
ment of freedom must in these days be
positive."
Thomas Hill Green said the same, 32
years earlier. "We do not mean merely
freedom from restraint or compulsion ...
We mean a positive power or capacity of
doing or enjoying . . . in common with
others. We mean by it a power which
each man exercises through the help or
security given him by his fellow-men and
which he in turn helps to secure for
them." This is what the New Deal did.
ALL CONTRIBUTE their efforts; those
who are more able to contribute, con-
tribute more. Group effort raises the
standard of the whole. Freedom must be
more than the right to speak or worship
or assemble as one wishes; it need also in-
clude. in Franklin Roosevelt's terms, free-
dom from want and freedom from fear.
Want and fear hold back the efforts of
an individual to achieve good for his so-
ciety. When the society as a whole eradi-
cates want and fear, removes poverty
and aids those who need aid and encour-
ages those who need encouragement, the
result is a more productive civilization.
The result is the spirit of elan needed for
the fruitful movement toward a better
life. This is all part of democratic social-
ism.
Democratic capitalists protest today
about the huge government bureaucracy
that was created by the New Deal and
extended by later administrations. But it
is this bureaucracy that provides work for
millions of Americans: without this bu-
reaucracy, unemployment would be much
higher in terms only of the number of
people put out of work in government or
Jin ether' off their iobs.
Today, the heritage of the New Deal
consists of the Tennessee Valley Author-
ity, admired the world over, Social Se-
curity, minimum wages, improved housing
conditions for low-income families and
the insurance of bank deposits. Further-
more, the New Deal saved a civilization on
the brink of desnair, suffering from pov-
erty and failure, and restored its morale
and confidence in the democratic process-
es. The New Deal was emnhatically demo-
cratic in its swing toward democratic so-
The American economy, Max Lerner
writes, could "have been doomed long ago,
during the Great Depression. In this sense
the turning point in the history of the
American economy came with the New
Deal, which tried to transform as much
of the economy as was necessary to save
the whole of it, along with the political,

social an
it." The e
New Dea:
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Remnants of the Great Depression.

The 1936 electorate want

Page Six

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18; 1962

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