Part 2 of 2
In former ages already Roman Christian Catholicism had often proved Roman -- or French, or Spanish, or Austrian -- rather than Christian and universal. In more recent years its Syllabus of Errors (1864), the start of a Second Counter-Reformation challenging the liberal world that had risen from Reformation and Renaissance, played into the hands of political and social obscurantism. Its spiritual totalitarianism was exploited both as a pattern and as a tool by the totalitarianism of political and social enslavement.
The docility of the Church toward the powers that be and its readiness not only to compromise but also to collaborate with evil, when collaboration is profitable, ushered in the unfortunate Lateran treaties of 1929 by which the Christian Pontificate hitched its wagon to the Fascist star.
Pious Catholics of former ages, as firm in theological belief as they were fearless in political and moral behavior, would have called today's Fascist-Catholic compact a new Babylonian captivity. But those saints and doctors who branded as a Babylonian captivity the thralldom in Avignon of the Christian Church to the French kings were more articulate than the liberal Catholics of our day.The republic of Spain was drowned in blood, with the approval and sponsorship of the Catholic hierarchy,
regardless of the hushed protests of liberal Catholics on both sides of the Atlantic. Nor had there been any stint of approval and help from the Catholic hierarchy to the burglary in Ethiopia and to the final debauchment of the League of Nations. At last, when the hour of reckoning struck, the Papacy, a voluntary prisoner in Fascism's Babylon, shrouded itself in oracular ambiguities apt to sound Fascist to Fascists and Christian to Christians,
while Italian Catholic bishops blessed the flight of the Fascist vulture and hundreds of Christian bells pealed cheer in Munich, June 18, 1940, to the Fuhrer and the Duce, meeting over the corpse of France.
Freedom-loving, justice-loving Catholics -- here as well as in the Latin-American republics and wherever else they can reawaken to the examples bequeathed by braver ages -- will see to it some day that humility in faith be no longer the lure to servility in politics and that allegiance to the City of God be disentangled again from bondage to Vatican City as a foreign potentate in feud or trade with other potentates.
As for the Protestant Churches, much of the vigor with which their founders had opened to man the realm of spiritual freedom was lost in hairsplitting sectarianism and theological trivialities.
Most of them, moreover, have sailed without chart and compass between the Scylla of an enervating pessimism which in earlier days promised Heaven by making earth hell
, and the Charybdis of a pointless optimism which was later borrowed from the philosophy of enlightenment. Some at least of the roots of Nazi cynicism are implicit in the Lutheran attitude of political irresponsibility and in the Lutheran glorification of the authoritarian state as the only rampart against anarchy
while, on the other hand, liberal Protestants in the democratic world joined only too zealously the decadence of the materialist and pragmatist philosophies in a creed, as delusive as it was insipid, of "prosperity around the corner."
At last, when the hour of reckoning struck, and the orthodox Lutherans in Germany hastened to grovel before Hitler, the liberal Protestant Churches in the democratic world either shrank in solitary protests unheeded by the estranged masses or supported a doctrinaire pacifism willing to accept slavery and to call it peace, and watered Christian charity, which is a fighting one, down to the Quaker's entreaty to extend "love even to Hitler" -- Christ's love to the Antichrist.
All this and more is true.Yet the universal religion of the Spirit acknowledges with reverence the incorruptible substance of truth which lies under the surfaces and the errors of the separate confessions risen from the common ground of ancient and medieval civilization.
In this acknowledgment is the foundation of religious freedom in democracy.
Democracy, in the catholicity of its language, interprets and justifies the separate creeds as its own vernaculars.
It follows, then, that none of these vernaculars, however venerable and lovable, and whatever their right to citizenship, can take the place of the universal language which expresses the common belief of man. The latter explains and annexes all dogmas as symbols
; the churches, in the fetters of literalism, anathematize as heresy and error the symbolical meaning that is the dogma's inmost truth. No matter how dismayed we may be by the subjugation of Europe and Asia and the ruin of more than half the civilized world, we shall not imitate the backward course of Julian the Apostate
during the break-up of ancient civilization, or of the Roman populace running for asylum and atonement to old gods after the capture of their city by the Goths. We shall not turn, under the counsel of despair, from a higher and vaster religion to lesser ones.
Old cults, developed and crystallized over the centuries, will have the honorable protection of democracy; but no Church, however powerful or far-spreading, can be offìcially acknowledged as a religion of the state, and no Church can be granted primacy or privileges above other churches. Indeed, the desire for such a place of privilege or pre-eminence on the part of any Church would be a measure of its inadequacy to the fundamental principle of democracy. The separation of state and Church, as first provided in the Constitution of the United States, is and remains the base from which arises the supremacy of world-humanism and world-democracy -- the catholicity of the common creed, which embraces and interprets every lesser faith.
This common creed already exists; toward its luminous center all higher minds already point, from whatever distant horizon they may set out. The yoke of this creed is as easy as it is inevitable; its doctrines are as plain as they are undebatable. It teaches that a divine intention governs the universe -- be it called God or Deity or the Holy Ghost or the Absolute or Logos or even Evolution. The direction of this intention is from matter to life and from life to spirit, from chaos to order, from blind strife and random impulse to conscience and moral law, from darkness to light.
It teaches that in the universe we know the human species is the spearhead of the divine intention, man the necessary ally of that "power, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness." It teaches that man's growth or progress or evolution is not backward toward the savagery of the superman or the gleam of the beast of prey, but forward toward the radiance of the angel. It teaches that if the divine intention is to be fulfilled, the pursuit of the good, under the inspiration of faith, hope, and charity, must imply resistance to evil, with battle when necessary. It teaches that life is service, and death a gate to life -- whatever the destiny of the individual person in the "undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns." For individual life is humble in the knowledge of its limits, under the all-human dogma of fallibility. It has meaning only by participation in the unlimited past, into the illimitable future; and no one man or race or generation can embody the heritage and the promise of Man.
The legacies of Greece and Palestine contribute almost equally to this creed. Passages of Plato foreshadow it. Tenets from the Lord's Prayer still sound and ever will sound adequate to it: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
At last Lenin came and said: "Every large machine industry -- which is the material productive source and the basis of Socialism -- requires an absolute and strict unity of the will. . . . But how can we secure a strict unity of the will? By subjecting the will of thousands to the will of one."
These tenets, and the Golden Rule, and Paul's injunction, "Be ye members one of another," comprise the essential sociology and economics of democracy. "Political economy and social science," as Henry George has said, "cannot teach any lessons that are not embraced in the simple truths that were taught to poor fishermen and Jewish peasants by One who 1800 years ago was crucified."
Therefore, sophisticated shame and frivolous irony must vanish as we dare pronounce again the prayer -- and now the battlecry -- "Thy kingdom come." For any religion or doctrine cloaking injustice and misery on earth under the promise of some transcendent bliss to come deserves the scorn of Marx, who called them "the opium of the people."
This earth of ours is the laboratory where the validity of eternal ideas is tested under the limits of space and time. Here and now is the scene where the divine intention which governs the universe must be enforced in the field of action as it stands supreme in the heaven of the creed. If liberty is the purpose of democracy, justice is its instrument. In the huge civil war which is rending the world, we must remember the words of an American prophet, Lincoln, against those who repulsed the dejected and the poor, who spurned the suppliants, and said or thought: "You are worthless or worse; we will neither help you nor be helped by you. . . This cup of liberty which your old masters hold to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you the chance of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how."We must listen again to that other American prophet, Henry George,
who knew full well many years before the events where the course of inequality and injustice would lead society:
"As public spirit is lost . . . as . . . reforms become hopeless; then in the festering masses will be generated volcanic forces, which shatter and rend when seeming accident gives them vent. Strong, unscrupulous men, rising upon occasion, will become the exponents of blind popular desires or fierce popular passions, and dash aside forms that have lost their vitality. The sword will again be mightier than the pen, and in carnivals of destruction brute force and wild frenzy will alternate with the lethargy of a declining civilization."The brute force and wild frenzy of Nazi-Fascism are the mongrel product of rugged individualism as carried to utmost efficiency in the anarchy of laissez-faire liberalism, in the exploitation of the masses by competitive capitalism, and of a degenerate Socialism ("an idea misused and corrupted almost past recognition"), which substituted for the idea of justice the scheme of mass-regimentation, with its equality of servitude and its universality of deprivations.
The Fuhrers and war-lords of our times, the conquering beasts of prey, emerged from the same ferments which had bred, at earlier stages of social decay, the colonial conquistador and the robber baron of industry, the ruthless money-maker and the political boss exploiting his municipal satrapy -- or, at all stages of history, the individual felon rising against and above the community. For barbarism is not a condition that man has left behind him; when the leniency or cowardice of society shirks the daily deliberate effort which is needed to conquer the barbarism within it, the result on the local scene is the rule by gangsters and racketeers, the result on the world-scene is the rule by tyrants. Indeed, many of today's tyrants and their henchmen, before their day of glory, had been criminal offenders to whom the liberal era flung open the gates of the prisons of which they were rightful inmates.
On the other hand, the masses had been cowed to serfdom through bleak decades of training in the impotence of class-struggle and class-grudge and through the fading of all faith and hope except the crude dogma of materialism and the desire for rising standards of living and steadier security. This and more was their due -- nor is the guilt of monopolistic capitalism redeemed by the error of the misled masses; but the Fuhrers and enslavers can endorse some of these promises: if not of plenty, of equality in misery and of security in the dusk of the manger. Small wonder that Hitler boasts to be "not only the destroyer, but the executor of Marx."
For he really has stripped Marxism of what was good and human in it and has put into effect all the evil in it. Stalin, working through from the other end, inevitably reaches Hitler, in the middle of the same darkness.
The compact of Marxist Russia with Nazi Germany, August 1939, was no less ominous than the agreement between the Roman Church and Fascist Italy had been ten years earlier. But Marx himself, the prophet of the poor, had missed the higher implications of his prophecy and burdened his hope with a load of hatred and of materialistic error. Nor, for all his moral genius and intellectual scope, could he step beyond the mental boundaries of that very bourgeoisie which he so vehemently loathed. Bourgeois, nay, reactionary, ideas were those, so dear to him, of class, of insurrection, of dictatorship; bourgeois was the shape of his Commune, a colossal capital city in the flare of revolt; bourgeois was the ordinance of his proletariat, a standing army of Napoleonic origin with the general strike or immobilization as the imitative counterpart to military mobilization; bourgeois, finally, with the pernicious expansion of bourgeois technology toward the infinity of power, was his scheme of the labor-state: one colossal factory, pressing under iron ceilings the breath and the sweat of millions. At last Lenin came and said: "Every large machine industry -- which is the material productive source and the basis of Socialism -- requires an absolute and strict unity of the will. . . . But how can we secure a strict unity of the will? By subjecting the will of thousands to the will of one."
Now men were herds, panic-stricken and ready for the wolves.
The Blitzkrieg, the battles of Flanders and France, had the flashing speed of an inescapable epilogue. The victors bartered their quality of human beings for the drunkenness of primacy and the exultation of rapine. The vanquished, caught -- not so much in strategic pincers as in the double despair of capitalistic oppression and communistic snare -- dissolved in disaster, to relax finally in the benumbed felicity of a subhuman bondage.They all, victors and vanquished, will be slaves unless they rise again, unless we lend our hand that they may rise again.
If they do not, they all will be the vanguard of pitiable generations groveling, back over the crossroads of nature, to the elementary economy and the animal automatism of bee-hive and ant-hill. They themselves will know that even the vaunted security which their tyrants promise as a safeguard against unemployment and class-struggle cannot conceal for long the ugliness of its real picture: a barren livelihood bordering on famine and squalor. The hours of labor will grow at the crack of their slave-holders' whip while the productivity of the soil and of the engine will slacken at the touch of uninspired hands. For prosperity is the fruit of ingenuity, and ingenuity blossoms only on the branch of freedom.
Ere all comfort and plenty, all pleasure and joy, become to the children of man nothing but dim reminiscences of a fabulous past, we want to champion again -- in the fullness of its splendor and in the wholeness of its feasibility -- the human dream, the American dream. This dream is not the dream of capitalism, which made of Freedom the murderer of Equality, nor of Communism, which made of Equality the strangler of Freedom. Neither is it the scheme of a resurgent feudalism, or corporative economy, which promises peace and order in the compulsory fixity of everyone wherever birth or chance happened to place him. For there is no gainsaying that technical assets are in some of the plans for syndical trade unions and associations of professions and crafts; but corporations and guilds, as advocated by clerical and political groups of the Right, are pious nicknames of Fascism, lures for weary men anxious to be freed from freedom.
A new trail must be blazed. It must be run to its ultimate end.
All the children of the earth must know that they all have inherited the earth. There must be no place any longer for those who own and do not work above and against those who work and do not own. Man, recovering from his guilty blindness, must become aware at last that the problem of production, which was a problem of power, has been virtually superseded by the problem of distribution, which is a problem of justice. For the earth, fertilized by a science which man, its author, has long failed to master, can become mature for a golden age, generous to billions.
Economy can be pluralistic and flexible, with its primary centers transferred from the metropolitan cities to the villages, close to the friendlier suggestions of nature. Federal aggregations -- each of them dedicated to a specialized purpose, of sport or industry, of education or art, of administration or trade -- could collect around focal points the energies radiating from the smaller communities.
The factory, in whose self-contained despotism Fascism found an early blueprint of world-wide regimentation, must be no longer the penitentiary of the outcast, the Bastille of the proletariat. In a more human world it should take the place which is held by the military barracks in our pre-human era. The youth of the nations, enlisted for a limited term, should learn in federal factories, in public works, on communal farms, the skill of production in patience rather than the craft of destruction in terror. The machine will forge wings, not chains. Slavery will be anathema, and partnership the rallying cry. The distribution of service, assigning to each one his share of labor and leisure, must make of unemployment -- with its restlessness fermenting to revolt -- a forgotten nightmare.
Private property will be admitted as biologically inevitable and socially useful. But the Bill of Rights pledging that no private property shall be "taken for public use without just compensation" must be supplemented with a Bill of Duties stating that no private property can be tolerated outside the framework of just social use. Limits must be thus set to the accumulation of wealth and to its transmission down the generations.
Morals will have the primacy over economics, not economics over morals. Injustice, ever recurrent in the vicissitudes of human progress, must be fought as soon as it rears its head. No quarter must be given to the paradox of moral man in immoral society, or of poverty in the midst of plenty. Bread must know no fear. Love and parenthood must unlearn fear and shame.Yes, beyond the black age we raise the flag of God's kingdom on earth.
There is an Old Testament of Americanism. It incorporates the words and deeds of the American endeavor, from the Declaration of Independence to the plea by Woodrow Wilson for the League of Nations before the Senate Committee on August 19, 1919. There must be a New Testament of Americanism, which will voice the commandments that have arisen from this age of denial and ruin, from America's desertion of the League of Nations to the cataclysm of 1940.
The word of early Americanism was "separation." The Commonwealth, proud of its republican Constitution, confident of its future, seceded from feudalism and privilege, from arbitrary power and caste distinctions, such as still prevailed overseas during America's formative years. This New World of ours stood for a clean slate and a fresh start, and the word "separation" retained a creative meaning as long as the young nation -- in the era of the nations -- was allowed to grow and mature, unhampered by the tutelage of the motherland.Then separation was degraded into the doctrine of isolation: a word of self-destruction. It rallied the defeaters of Wilson, who defeated themselves and their people in the delusion of seclusion and autarchy, of unchangeable separation in a changing world. The era of the nations was over. A supranational world was rising already from the ruins of the first World War. The machine was contracting the oceans and telescoping the distances. And the very size of America makes her unfit to hide. No Byzantine or Chinese wall can protect the Western Hemisphere. [b]If the United States clings to separation she must fall: nothing more than another colony collapsing with the downfall of the home countries.
Thus, the New Testament of Americanism must identify itself with World Humanism. “Separation" must be replaced with "unity," Independence must be integrated into Interdependence. The "injuries and usurpations" of the minor tyrants from whom the Declarants of Independence cut themselves loose had "in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States." But the monarchs of today have in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over all the states of the world.
The Prussia of 1917 could already be envisaged by Wilson as "a challenge to all mankind." But the world-conqueror of today is actually the man who threatens all other men.Therefore all that survives of mankind must breathe in one breath and fight in one fight, since the whole earth has become one living-space or dying-space for all nations of men. We cannot divide the world with Fascism, which is, by defìnition, totalitarian. We can have no freedom or safety for ourselves unless we are ready to reclaim the world from Fascism, to win the world for a new order
-- unless we endow democracy with a fighting spirit, and meanwhile hold the fort until the day comes when Goliath meets his David.Nothing could be more shocking to America's humility and pride than the necessity to take leadership among the nations. Much of the charm and fluency of her life, much of her self-assured detachment, will be gone. And yet no necessity is more imperative.
For the nations have fallen from the tree of Europe, shaken by their own disloyalty, and the one that still holds, however splendid in her struggle and sacrifice, can hardly be expected to resume a world-inspiring mission until help and rescue, with renovation and unity, come from the strongest of her offspring. England, too, had declined in appeasement and surrender; the vigor of her democracy, too, had slackened under the monopoly of ruling cliques and the delusion of national egoism. A juster social order has been promised by the British Labor Party to a victorious Britain, but no self-sufficient British victory -- and no rule by Labor -- is in sight. Union was proposed by the British Government to France, later than at the eleventh hour. But the offer, futile in the death-agony of republican France, remains a mere ideal milestone on the slow path of man toward the consciousness that the era of the nations is over and that unity will be achieved in the spirit of Evil if the spirit of Good is not good enough
. No union was possible between England's will to resist and France's will to succumb. And no final union now is feasible among the states that still call themselves democracies, until the spirit of democracy is heightened again to moral fervor and social charity within the boundaries of each one of those who will be called to be the charter members of world-union tomorrow.
Thus, while England endures and bleeds -- and must of necessity postpone to an indefinite future definite plans for what must follow the war – no one is left free and strong enough to show the way toward social reform and universal order except this country.
Its failures -- both in intellect and in action, in education and in politics -- must be bared remorselessly to its knowledge of self. But the knowledge of error must be the alarm to its ancient virtues, that they, fully awake again, may raise America to the dignity and power of her inevitable mission.
For inevitable it is. Wilson, on the eve of the declaration of war to the Germany of his time, said: "We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind." But we may be forced soon to say: "We are the one champion of the rights of mankind." Inevitably already, England and the English-speaking nations are calling on this country to "join hands" for help and leadership. This is but the preliminary to a greater and more burdensome task.Leadership, to be sure, implies some sort of imperium. But there is a difference between imperialism and imperium, between those whom their own lust for power chooses for a self-appointed primacy which is the right of might and those who are chosen by the objective circumstances of history for a privilege which is a service, for a right which is a duty. This is, indeed, the substance of a chosen people: power in the frame of service.
We have been reminded recently of Bacon's saying: "Rome did not spread upon the world; the world spread upon the Romans." This was the destiny of other nations and cultures, in ancient and in modern ages as well. This -- to the largest extent of world-leadership for world-communion in the comradeship of man -- is the destiny of America
, as manifest as it was unwanted, since the English-speaking nations were "left to fight alone," and all the world must sink unless we take the helm.
For rulership by the strongest and wisest is the prescribed path to the equality of all, if the strong can learn wisdom and if rulership is accepted in the spirit of reluctance and devotion that Plato suggests to all rulers.
There are in the family of nations children who must grow up, sick who must be cured, maniacs who must be confined, criminals who must be apprehended, before maturity and redemption become the common lot. The healing of the world requires a firm hand. But this hand must refrain from anything which might substantiate in any way the battlecry of the self-styled "proletarian nations" against the "starvers" of the world, "the holders of territories," the "pluto-democracies" clinging "to all the riches and gold on earth." The final goal can never be forgotten. Justice, which is the common good, can never be perverted into the interest of the stronger.
American leadership is world-trusteeship; the Pax Americana a preamble to the Pax Humana.
After 1945, Europe seemed to have at last achieved what had been falsely promised in 1918: a war to make the world safe for democracy, and a war to end wars. That was how it felt during the glorious western postwar half-century of peace and prosperity, when no European countries fought each other, and when finally the cold war ended without armies clashing in Europe.
But so far from an eternal age of peace, we have not only returned to fighting wars – we have returned to fighting a kind of war grimly prefigured not by the supposedly evil Great War but instead by the seemingly noble Good War. From 1914 to 1918 as many as 18 million people died, while more than 70 million died from 1939 to 1945. The immensely important difference was that almost all of those killed in the first world war were soldiers in uniform, while the peculiar – and peculiarly horrible – distinguishing feature of the second world war was that up to 50 million of the dead were civilians. That would be the true face of the new war.
The myth of the Bad War and the Good War has become very dangerous, insofar as it has conditioned our attitude to war as a whole. The notion that the second world war was finer and nobler than the first is highly dubious in itself, since it sanitises so much, from the slaughter of civilians by Allied bombing to the gang rape of millions of women by our Russian allies at the moment of victory.
And it may be that the sanctification of the later war has had more pernicious consequences than the anathematisation of the former. Any argument that the Great War was uniquely wicked and wasteful is plainly false in statistical terms, and the idea that the Good War was uniquely noble is absurd in view of its moral ambiguities.
Worse than that, the glorification of the second world war has had practical and baleful consequences. It has led us to an easier acceptance of “liberal interventionism”, founded on the assumption that we in the west are alone virtuous and qualified to distinguish political right from wrong – and the conviction that our self-evidently virtuous ends must justify whatever means we employ, lighting up a bomber flare path from Dresden to Baghdad to Tripoli.-- The myth of the good war. Our year of remembrance has exaggerated the tragic futility of the first world war and preserved the dangerous idea that the second was noble and heroic, by Geoffrey Wheatcroft
We, the signers of this statement, have here declared the faith which unites us and the hope which we share. This faith and hope need not be discouraged by the smallness of our number and the limitations of our power. For we remember that the destructive upheaval which is now shaking the earth started from humbler origins in conventicles of lost souls
in Milan and in Munich some twenty years ago. They had stumbled upon the deeper pathological yearnings of the time. But we know that Good, if it is purposeful, must prove stronger at last than the fundamental instability of Evil.
Purpose, therefore, creative and expansive purpose, must be given to the democratic world with an affirmative and missionary will replacing its passive defenses of today. Readiness to criticize the old rather than to build up systematically the new, propensity to oppose rather than to propose, made the original weakness of the Protestant world. We for our own part shall perish, if nothing is on our side but the spirit of negation and protest implicit in the very words Antifascism and Antinazism. Democracy, no longer a retreating antagonist, must claim a protagonist's role. The emergency of democracy must be the emergence of democracy.No spirit of revolution animates our proposals, since revolution, an obsessive myth of the modern mind in its decay, is but the counterpart of war. It is war itself, with fire and steel, with fraud and terror; nor is there any comforting choice between perpetual revolution as projected by extreme Communism into the infinity of Evil and eternal war as hallowed by Fascism and Nazism in their black masses.
We do not think that an overthrow is requisite or that blood must run and flame must burn on new deceitful altars. We do think that America is strong and flexible enough to grow up, the equal of her promise, and to live up to herself -- in a reformation of the Reformation, in a discipline of liberty, in a restatement of Democracy. Democracy and the Constitution will interpret themselves, in the inspiration of the changing age. And the new tenets of Americanism will be to its ancient prophecies what the New Testament was to the Old.
It did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them. "For verily . . . one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
The Premier of England has said: "We are moving through a period of extreme danger and of splendid hope." America will not shrink from being the standard-bearer of the splendid hope.
Patriotic vanity alone could blind her eyes to the blemishes that endanger the fulfillment of her tasks: the degraded education, the corrupted political machines, the efficiency of the dollar-hunter, the inertia of the forgotten man
. But defeatism alone could make her unaware of the signs that are contained both in her heritage from the past and in the perseverance of her hope for the future.
It is good that this country was never allowed to be the exclusive fief of any single stock, not even that English stock whose language we proudly speak and whose tradition we faithfully share. It is manifest destiny that representatives came here from all races and regions -- from Europe and Africa, from Asia and Polynesia -- thus lifting the young nation above the level of the old and molding the New World into a scheme of the All-World to come.The Jew among us, survivor of persecutions, warns us by his very presence that anti-Semitism is the entering wedge of racism, the dusk of hatred which precedes the totalitarian night. The Negro himself, with whom our failure was most inglorious, helps us by reminding us that our slow progress is a mere token of the justice we pledged
-- until all races rise to equality in maturity.Nineteen centuries ago it was said: "There is neither Greek nor Jew nor Barbarian nor Scythian."
The promise was taken up and expanded in the universality of the American creed. "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither native nor naturalized, neither master nor slave, neither white nor colored." It was often betrayed but never withdrawn. The American creed must be the American deed.
It is good, although tragic, that we may "be left to fight alone." Far all false pretenses have fallen, and distance and delay do not cloud our sight any longer. Good, although tragic, it is that the prayers of the appeasers of Europe were not granted, and that, them notwithstanding, the world has been "divided into two opposite ideological camps."
One of these camps is where we stand. This country is now more than a structure of ground and water, of mountains and plains. It is and must be the shrine of whatever is human, the ark of life.Here, and here alone, the continuity of ancient and modern wisdom lives in a Constitution which, needful though it may be of partial improvements and technical changes, has blended in exemplary manner through several generations the unity of leadership symbolized by presidential authority with the substance of aristocracy represented by specialized skill, and with popular suffrage, which is the mainstay of democracy. Here -- more precious than all the gold in Kentucky -- the treasure of English culture is guarded, as Hellenism was preserved in Rome; and along with it the treasure and essence of all human cultures. Here, and almost nowhere else, is Europe: the Europe-America that will become "all things to all men" to "save them all." For here, and almost nowhere else, is man granted the right and duty of being Christian and human.
No one, indeed, is an American by birthright alone, and the man who is only an American is not yet an American. But all those are Americans who pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the creed of universal democracy in the expectation of a world-society for men united to fight their common enemies, the untamed forces of Fate and Evil.
Whether they claim an ancestry of centuries or whether they themselves landed from Mayflowers of hope and will, they all call father- lands the distant lands whence they or their ancestors fled from injustice and bondage. Of this country they know that its intimate name is Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.
They know that of it, and of all fading fatherlands, one Brotherland will be made, the City of Man; and that the United States must be the Uniting States. No number is prescribed to the stars on its flag.
We, the signers of this statement, coming as we do from various lands and contrasting backgrounds, nevertheless have experienced already in our group how the community of the peril that confronts the world and us voids the individual differences and gives to our deliberations a unity which we hardly hoped for. In this consensus we find, with all due humility, a pledge for a more comprehensive unity among all men of good will.Therefore we address our words to those from Plymouth Rock and to those from Ellis Island, for to both alike, Americans old and new, shines "the lamp beside the golden door." We address them to the American youth, whatever the differences of racial origins and social status among them. They all, ere it is too late, will reject the guidance of a false education, the teachings of a degraded science, the sophistry of the irresponsibles. It is through them that all America will be youth, to rejuvenate the world. Theirs is the task, and theirs is the honor, of bringing, across the darkness, "man's solar period" to its new beginning.
October 31, 1940
G. A. Borgese
Van Wyck Brooks
Ada L. Comstock
William Yandell Elliott
William Allan Neilson
Dorothy Canfield Fisher