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No. 61 "The Test of Citizenship" Speech of Dean Carl W. Ackerman, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, at the Biennial Convention of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, July 16, 1935.
No. 61 "The Test of Citizenship" Speech of Dean Carl W. Ackerman, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, at the Biennial Convention of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, July 16, 1935. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_61 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 61 "The Test of Citizenship" Speech of Dean Carl W. Ackerman, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, at the Biennial Convention of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, July 16, 1935. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1935. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Pamphlets Available â˜… Copies of the following pamphlets and other League literature may he obtained upon application to the League's national headquarters: Statement of Principles and Purposes American Liberty League Its Platform An Analysis of the President's Budget Message Economic Security Inflation The Thirty Hour Week The Pending Banking Bill The Holding Company Bill Price Control The Labor Relations Bill The Bituminous Coal Bill Extension of the NBA The Farmers' Home Bill The TVA Amendments The New Deal, Its Unsound Theories and Irreconcilable Policies Speech by Ralph M. Shaw How to Meet the Issue Speech by William E. 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ACKERMAN Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, at the Biennial Convention of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs in Seattle, Washington, July 16, 1935 * â˜… â˜… "Will the loss of economic freedom in the United States through taxation or through governmental control of industry come next? "That question should be answered by public opinion *****.'' AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. â˜… â˜… Document No. 61 The Test of Citizenship â˜… As CITIZENSHIP in a democracy is on trial our first interest tonight is naturally the welfare of our country. Conditions which challenge our national resourcefulness and our individual ability demand the attention of organizations, especially of those dedicated to the ideal of a more effective democracy. The conflict at present in the United States is between public opinion and public emotion, between reason and hysteria, between justice and revenge, and between faith and fear. The issue is governmental control versus democracy, involving the preservation or the modification, and if necessary, the destruction of free institutions. This issue is directly related to citizenship, which is one thing under a democracy and something quite different under governmental control. Under democracy citizenship implies the sharing of public responsibilities and obligations between elections as well as on election day. Under democracy this public service of a private citizen may equal and often exceeds that of a public official. Under centralized control, officeholders have a monopoly of the public service. Under democracy the freedom of the individual is limited by law or by public opinion. Under a dictatorship, which is the ultimate result of nationalism, individual freedom is sacked by decrees. TEMPTED by the easy delegation of civic responsibilities and obligations to the government in a national emergency, American citizenship is being tested. Can we, as free women and men, realize the high standard expressed by President Butler of Columbia University who said: "The free man socially minded is the hope of the world." Sixteen years ago when your Federation held its first national convention, the predominant political philosophy of the United States was expressed in Woodrow Wilson's book: THE NEW FREEDOM. To President Wilson public opinion was the most powerful and the most just ruler of mankind. "The whole purpose of democracy," he wrote, "is that we may hold counsel with one another, so as not to depend upon the understanding of one man, but to depend on the common counsel of all." And he admonished his fellow citizens as if concerned over the trend of world affairs that they should "keep the air clear with constant discussion." Conventions of representative organizations in the United States today have a larger significance, in the light of this historical perspective, than either delegates or the public are likely to realize. Particularly during this period of daily individual and institutional adjustments, under the impact of world-wide nationalistic trends, it is imperative that business and professional meetings serve as agencies of public opinion. Whether the group represented is dedicated to the realization of political, social or economic objectives, whether its motives are selfish or idealistic, whether its action is radical or conservative, whether political affiliations are Democratic, Socialistic, Communistic, Republican or Fascist, their public meetings are important because they "keep the air clear with constant discussion." By giving public expression to ideas which spring from the freedom of opinion they serve the nation as unofficial but representative parliaments. IT IS becoming increasingly clear I think, that the battle of opinion between those who advocate centralized governmental control and those who believe that free institutions should be preserved, is reaching a decisive stage. Freedom today, specifically our economic freedom, is an active political and social issue involving also academic freedom and the freedom of the press and the radio. The nation-wide discussion of these issues should make us conscious that our liberties hang in the balance and that they will be maintained or lost in the conflict now being waged. Confronted by the necessity of choosing between nationalism and democracy it is the duty of every citizen to contribute his opinion to the national forum of public opinion, the proving ground of our democracy. The most recent legislative attack on the liberties of the American people was the original National Industrial Recovery Act. Passed by the Congress on the high tide of public emotion, hysteria and fear, it granted the President of the United States the authority for one year to license industry. The universities and colleges objected immediately and won for educational institutions, churches, hospitals and charitable organizations complete exemption from the NRA. Newspaper publishers and editors also objected but had to fight for more than a year before they could obtain a freedom of the press clause in their code. Since then the Supreme Court has rendered a decision which makes this act a matter of history. But while the NRA is now largely historical, the example of what could be accomplished by the mobilization of emotion, hysteria, fear, hatred and revenge face us still today. Taking advantage of the overwhelming sentiment of the American people for better social conditions and an improvement in the economic welfare of millions of business, professional and manual workers, those whose object is a new social order based on governmental control teU us that we must make haste or all will be lost. That is not true! AU will be lost if we make haste. Haste precipitated the World War. Haste made Communism, Fascism, and Nazism possible in Russia, Italy and Germany. Haste prolongs a national crisis. It makes every emergency acute because it chokes opinion, reason, justice and faith. H OW true this is when applied to the present discussion of our economic freedom, the most controversial aspect of all our liberties, because it means so many different things to so many different people. To Senator Long it means the gift of five thousand dollars to every individual to be taken from the accumulated wealth of a few very rich families. To Dr. Townsend it means an old-age pension of $200 per month to be spent monthly. To Senator Norris it means the destruction of privately owned utilities by the construction of government-owned electric power projects. To Mr. Henry Ford it means the sharing of wealth through industrial activity. To the Mayor of New York City it means another constitutional amendment. To soldiers who enlisted during the World War it signifies a bonus. To school teachers it implies higher salaries. To politicians it means votes. To youth it is a new adventure. To the unemployed it indicates new opportunities and new jobs. To mature men and women who may own property or who have independent incomes, it means the loss of lifetime savings. To those who lost their investments or who were never able to accumulate capital funds in an intensely competitive age, "economic freedom" means the easy realization of a life-long dream. What, indeed, has caused such confusion? Reflection? Deliberation? Recognition of the rights and privileges of all citizens? Or was it caused by the four horsemen of the depression: Emotion, Hysteria, Revenge, and Fear? Chased by these horsemen, citizens are tempted to choose a strong man, put him in the saddle and give him the reigns of government. Whether citizens yield their rights by votes or by common consent, or whether they abolish them by bloodshed is immaterial, as far as the result is concerned. The man on horseback knows that to retain his power he must keep alive the source of his power; and emotion, hysteria, revenge, and fear are utilized until every citizen is regimented to serve a central authority. In such a crisis citizenship in a democracy is tested. In such a crisis it is not what leaders say that is important. It is their intellectual and moral character that counts. No political party has a monopoly in the public service. No party has a copyright on the Constitution. Under these circumstances the test of citizenship is the selection of men and women, not the acceptance of political labels. Democracy obligates the individual to be selective. IjET us look back tonight for a few moments to what the men and women of this country accomplished when there was no confused thinking about economic freedom. In the July number of FORTUNE magazine appears the first of a series of articles on WOMEN IN INDUSTRY which contains this paragraph: "From the middle of the nineteenth century on, the Women's Movement was consciously a struggle for liberation." At the beginning it was "for liberation as conceived by the intelligentsia who, generally speaking, were already economically free. Freedom to them meant social and intellectual freedom, and it was primarily for these that the great battles of the Woman's Movement were fought. This is not to say that there was no agitation against the economic bondage of the vast majority of women who worked for less than a 'living wage.' But the Woman's Movement for the most part, let the matter rest: on the theory that if social freedom could once be won, then economic freedom could be counted on to follow." But you know from the experiences of your federation that economic freedom and equal rights are attained and maintained only by constant agitation and ceaseless vigilance. YOU know also, that social and political gains, social and political liberation are useless without economic freedom and economic rewards. The achievements of the Woman's Movement in the United States have been prodigious as the FORTUNE article records, but could they have been possible without the simultaneous develop-6 ment of industry based upon the creative work of inventors? From the middle of the nineteenth century to 1929 there were fifty-five basic inventions upon which great industries were built providing employment directly and indirectly for millions of men and women. In this list is the typewriter, the incandescent lamp, the telephone, the motion picture, the airplane, the automobile, the linotype, the electric locomotive and the radio, which have enlarged business and the professions and improved the social and economic status of mankind throughout the world. If the human mind can overcome any obstacle, as Henri Bergson believes, is it conceivable that we have reached the end of the creative power of the American genius, or the resourcefulness of our people? Talk to any scientist engaged in research in our industrial and educational laboratories and he will indicate with ease and with confidence a wonderland of potential discoveries that will rival the record from 1851 to date. One hour with Dr. Harold C. Urey, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery of "heavy water" will prove to the satisfaction of anyone with an open mind that this discovery like, countless others will bring new opportunities of employment in science and in industry. Another hour with Dr. Charles F. Kettering, who developed the self-starter for the automobile, who created an industry to make individual electric light plants for farms, who made ethyl gasoline a national asset, will open other vistas of potential industrial progress. Dr. Kettering's experiments with different types of Deisel engines on his private yacht have been directly related to the development of power units for stream-lined trains which are destined to renew the life of our railroads which many Americans thought was static. Underlying the experiments of Dr. Urey in the chemical laboratory of a university and of Dr. Kettering in the research laboratory of industry is the principle of economic freedom, the freedom of individuals to provide private endow-7 merits for educational institutions and the freedom of a manufacturing company to allocate a share of its profits to research. UNDERLYING the work of these scientists is also a supreme faith in the continuous creative ability of the individual and in the future of the institutions with which they are associated. It was this faith which prompted Dr. Kettering to state in the darkest days of 1931 that in his opinion we were still building and not simply operating these United States. If, as a people, we could share Kettering's faith instead of emotionally demanding a share in his wealth, it would mean far more to the public welfare than the distribution of his fortune. But the high tide of public emotion is sweeping toward Washington with the slogan "share-the-wealth." It reflects a state of mind such as President Dennett of Williams College declares is more formidable than a fortress. Congress will probably pass a new tax bill so that Kettering's fortune and all other fortunes will be shared and then what will happen? CERTAINLY nobody knows from day to day what will happen because public emotion is often more powerful than public opinion and a catch-phrase is like a firebrand. For this reason all business and professional groups in the United States should redouble their vigilance and their activities or their economic freedom will be swept away by a slogan. This indeed is dangerously near today. Ever since the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Schechter case there have been demands that the Federal Constitution be amended in order to grant Congress greater power over industry. As a result we have the strange political phenomenon of demands for such an amendment in order to guarantee economic freedom, when the real objective of its advocates is governmental control. What they mean is that in their opinion we have never had economic freedom in this country, and that it can exist only under governmental control. What they hope to obtain is not the freedom to create but the freedom to share what has already been created. In such a crisis public opinion must make a distinction between what is publicly advocated and what is privately desired. It must differentiate between the sound and the objective of a slogan. It must be alert to the danger of public emotion. Greater economic freedom and a more equitable distribution of the wealth of today and of tomorrow are common aspirations. Today they are limited if they are not threatened by governments, federal, state and local, which have expanded and are expanding their bureaus and their personnel far out of proportion to the ability and capacity of any economically free society to finance. There are in the United States today 182,000 units of local government costing ten billion dollars annually to operate. Today, federal, state and local taxation is rapidly destroying the economic freedom of all fundamental institutions, family life, educational institutions which are privately endowed, and churches which depend upon gifts and collections, while at the same time it is reducing or limiting the incomes of every business and professional worker. We have always spoken with pride of our government as the biggest business in the world, but as it grows, remember that it is non-productive. If it ever becomes so large that it has a monopoly and controls all business, some form of Communism will be inevitable and freedom will be extinct. john MARSHALL when he was Chief Justice of the United States foresaw what we are experiencing today. In the case of M'Culloch versus Maryland he wrote the dictum which for more than a century lived in the political philosophy of this nation. "The power to tax," he wrote, "involves the power to destroy." And in the same decision he too admonished his countrymen that "the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create." This assertion is as applicable today to present conditions as it was in 1819, when our forefathers were engaged in erecting serviceable democratic institutions on the foundation of a new Constitution. It is applicable because the conflict between the power to create and the power to destroy becomes intense in time of war and during a period of national emergency. In a crisis public emotion can destroy overnight what public opinion created over a century. Witness the destruction of the freedom of the press, the freedom of religion, the right of petition and assembly, trial by jury and the freedom of representative government in ten foreign countries since 1917. Will the loss of economic freedom in the United States through taxation or through governmental control of industry come next? That question should be answered by public opinion, by your deliberations, and by the reflective judgment of the American people. Before Congress votes, this question should be fully debated in the unofficial parliaments of business and the professions, in the conventions of organized labor, in the women's clubs, in church forums, and in the assemblies of our schools and colleges. continuous building of a nation. Dictators are only operators. The hope of the world today is free men and women who are socially minded, who have the will to create, the tenacity to preserve, and the faith to build. That is the test of American citizenship, and the foundation for a more effective democracy. Economic freedom is not something rendered out of the fat of the land to be distributed by the government. It is not a bond, a bonus, a pension, a job, an inheritance, a share-in-some-body's wealth or the open door to a new social order. Economic freedom is the foundation for all other liberties. It is inherently the right of every individual to contribute his share and to share in the creation of the new world which every generation moulds out of its inheritance and passes on to the future. Economic freedom is possible only in a democracy because the object of democracy is the