National Security and the Loss of Innocence

Chapter 3 (Part 3 of 4) of the book

The Discovery of First Principles, Volume 3

Edward J. Dodson

And So Went The Democracy

As Chodorov saw things, the U.S. was already well along the path of entrenched power concentrated in the national government. Ironically, many of those with the most to lose were lining up to cement the process. In describing the nation's loss of liberty, Chodorov echoes the assessment of Marriner Eccles and Harry Gunnison Brown:

Time was when Americanism shook at its foundation at the mere suggestion of government intervention in the field of business, except as a benefactor. But now this step is looked upon with complacency, if not as good Americanism. An airline company actually invites the government to take over its business when the squeeze between fixed rates and wage demands leaves nothing in the way of a return on capital. That seems to be the latest in Americanism. The next step is as straight as the crow flies. Industry will proposition government as follows: regulate us, fix prices, fix wages, if you will, but for the sake of 100 percent Americanism guarantee us some rate of return, or at least assure us against losses. It is not outside the range of possibility that the government will respond by establishing insurance of stock values, similar to the insurance of bank deposits. This will facilitate a transition to the British scheme of translating stocks into government bonds. Either as guaranteed stocks or as bonds, the support comes from taxation. Therefore the holders have a vested interest in government and, having in mind the preservation and perpetuation of their incomes, must skill themselves in the business of politics. They will perforce become the controlling committee. Thus the communistic goal of centralization will be achieved by means of on-the-barrel Americanism.[64]

Chodorov could easily have added that the expansion of government prerogatives into the realm of private arrangements had created new opportunities for well-placed businesses. Liberalism broadened the efforts of vested interests beyond mere protection from competition into a division of spoils, where excessive charges and inferior goods or services were proffered unchecked by market forces. One result was that everyone was organizing -- forming institutes and foundations, think tanks and public relations operations. The Federal government was besieged by advocates of membership organizations representing every conceivable business coalition, interest group or worker organization. The problem had become sufficiently severe by 1946 that Truman signed legislation requiring lobbyists to register with the government and report their sources of income. This measure did little to slow them down.

A measure of where the money and power still rested was revealed by legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to prohibit organized labor from calling industry-wide strikes and rolling back other protections labor had won during the war. Truman vetoed the measure, writing that the "bill was completely contrary to our national policy of economic freedom" and would make government a primary agent in "the collective-bargaining process."[65] Not very long thereafter, however, the Democratic Party lost control of the U.S. Congress as a result of the 1946 elections. A Republican dominated Senate overruled Truman's veto and the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 went into effect. Organized labor, fighting its battles within a societal structure subordinated to industrial landlordism, took a step backward in its quest to develop monopoly power on a par with the nation's powerful landlords and recipients of other forms of monopoly privilege and license. Truman had not helped himself politically by his replacement of the Roosevelt cabinet with individuals whose credentials for national public office left something to be desired. The Gallup organization announced in the Spring of 1946 that barely half the country thought he was doing a reasonably good job. Americans turned to younger men they hoped would cleanse government of machine politics and communists at the same time. This was the election year that brought Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy and Joseph R. McCarthy into public office. McCarthy managed to defeat Minnesota's long-time Senator, Robert M. LaFollette, Jr. The new Republican majority used its numerical strength to initiate attacks on any who had demonstrated sympathy for ideas long accepted as well within the boundaries of the liberal agenda. Reactionaries occupying the fringe of Republican Party politics managed to capture key committee assignments in the Congress. And, at the top, New York's Governor, Thomas Dewey, and Senators Arthur Vandenberg and Robert A. Taft were set to challenge one another, then Truman, for the Presidency in 1948.

Republicans opposed Truman's nomination of David Lilienthal to head the Tennessee Valley Authority, declaring that he was both soft on communism and an adherent to the gospel of centralized power. Taft rallied conservative forces against the unions, helping to drive labor back into Truman's camp. Truman, in the meantime, had not been totally idle or passive to the attack on Democratic Party supremacy. With diminished U.S. military preparedness becoming an issue, he brought the armed forces together under James Forrestal, who was appointed to the new cabinet post of Secretary of Defense. The Joint Chiefs of Staff became part of a new National Security Council (NSC); and, the Office of Strategic Services became, under the NSC, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). One of the first issues they had to face was the mounting evidence that Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang nationalists were losing support among the Chinese people and the Chinese communists were becoming more potent with each passing day. About the best that could be hoped for in China was that a coalition government that included the communists might prevent Soviet capture of Manchuria as another satellite state. Dispatched by Brynes to China, George C. Marshall did what he could to bring the Chinese factions together. In February of 1946, the Chinese tentatively agreed to a cease-fire and to the formation of a unified military force. Marshall returned in March to the United States, reasonably confident that the Soviets had been thwarted insofar as Manchuria was concerned; no sooner had he arrived back home, however, than fighting resumed. Nationalist victories over the next few months destroyed their interest in compromise and coalition government.

Marshall made one last trip to China before relieving James Byrnes as Secretary of State. Chiang Kai-shek was now determined to destroy the communists militarily and was firmly convinced that he could do so. Early in January of 1947, Marshall left China for good. In his memoirs, Truman expressed a view that could only have come from experience, and one his successors ought to have listened to with care:

Some ... experts believed ... that America could force unity on China -- that, in effect, we could "ram it down their throats." ...What I hoped to achieve was to see China made into a country in which Communism would lose its appeal to the masses because the needs of the people and the voice of the people would have been answered.

I knew that peace in the world would not be achieved by fighting more wars. Most of all, I was always aware that there were two enormous land masses that no western army of modern times had ever been able to conquer: Russia and China. It would have been folly, and it would be folly today, to attempt to impose our way of life on these huge areas by force![66]

Elsewhere around the globe, Truman followed a very different line of reasoning, one that would impose on the United States the unwelcome obligation of assisting neo-totalitarian rulers against citizen uprisings. When an empty treasury drove the British out of Greece and Turkey, opening the door to Soviet intervention, Truman pressed the U.S. Congress to approve more than $400 million to strengthen the Greek and Turkish regimes. Many openly worried where this type of decision-making would take the country. I.F. Stone, for example, wrote in August: "You cannot kill an idea. You cannot make misery more palatable by putting it under guard. You cannot build a stable society on exploitation and corruption. When Mr. Truman understands this as fully as Mr. Roosevelt did, American foreign policy will begin to look like something more than a futile attempt to build bulwarks against Soviet expansion on the quicksands of bankrupt ruling classes."[67] Walter Lippmann, also extremely troubled by the new Truman Doctrine, warned that such a "vague global policy, which sounds like a tocsin of an ideological crusade, has no limits" and "cannot be controlled."[68] What worried Lippmann more than anything else was that with Greece and Turkey as door-openers, U.S. interests would increasingly be placed in the hands of regimes who had little or nothing in common with the Democracy other than a desire to obtain U.S. financial assistance in return for a declaration of anti-Sovietism. In Truman's mind -- and that of George Marshall, Dean Acheson and others in the government -- the Greeks and Turks were "free peoples ... engaged in a valiant struggle to preserve their liberties and their independence."[69] In reality, democracy was left out of the equation. While many of those who fought and died did so because they suffered under existing regimes, communist victories merely altered the nature of oppression, of who was tortured and murdered. In his March 12 speech before the Congress, Truman had set forth the rules under which the U.S. would fight the Cold War:

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way. ...

One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion and freedom from political oppression.

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms. ...

The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died.[70]

Where, outside of the social democracies of Europe were these threatened free peoples? With rather more insight, Max Lerner called upon those who believed in social democracy (or democratic socialism) to reject both communism and anti-communism. The appropriate path was a high middle ground that embraced democratic processes and institutions as well as a high standard of well-being for all citizens. At this juncture, Robert M. Hutchins brought Rexford Tugwell, Harold Innis, Stringfellow Barr and others to Chicago to take on the challenge of framing a world constitution; out of this effort a fledgling world federalist movement was born. Conversely, one of the most powerful sentiments arising among people long-dominated by external powers was the right of self-government and the claim to sovereignty. World peace demanded that these two seemingly contradictory thrusts be reconciled. The German political scientist Ernst Wilhelm Meyer urged that self-determination be distinguished from self-government, writing that "one very properly can say that all economic necessities could be taken care of much better when self-determination is granted while at the same time economic sovereignty is limited, whereas political coercion, forcing people to live under the rule of alien governments, almost necessarily would lead to lasting political tensions and under such tensions economic interests themselves would constantly suffer."[71] Asking people who had no history of truly democratic, participatory government to subordinate newly-acquired sovereignty to even the most democratic form of federated governance was asking more than most were willing to give.

While the world's intellectuals debated the merits of world federalism as a check on the unbridled aggressiveness of nation-states, the real decision-makers struggled to rationalize relations with one another. In the United States, Walter Lippmann challenged Dean Acheson over the false assumptions he believed were embraced by the Truman Doctrine. Acheson, apparently blinded by his own narrow historical perspective (and ignoring the extraordinary burdens that subordinate, satellite states imposed on their sponsoring state), was firmly convinced that the line against Soviet expansionism had to be drawn in Greece and Turkey. Otherwise, all of Europe and the Middle East were in jeopardy of falling to forcible communist takeovers and Soviet domination. Harsher critics of the Truman Doctrine, such as Henry Wallace, also went on the attack. "There is no regime too reactionary for us," Wallace told a radio audience, "provided it stands in Russia's expansionist path."[72] What Wallace argued for was a program of real hope in the form of economic aid -- channelled through the United Nations -- as the best means of combating the spread of communism. To his credit, the promise of this alternative course of action was not wholly lost on Truman. Although committed to containment of Soviet power, he also saw as integral to the U.S. role in global affairs the promotion of economic cooperation and international trade unhampered by protectionism. Other than this, however, the U.S. government had no plan similar to that of the Soviets to train revolutionaries in the arts of guerilla warfare or, for that matter, the building of democratic socio-political institutions. There were no other MacArthurs around the globe able to exercise a similar far-reaching influence over the transition of a nation's future course.

Under MacArthur's stewardship (too short-lived as it turned out), the introduction into Japanese society of more just socio-political institutions and arrangements would proceed incrementally and with patient prodding. The Marshall Plan was designed by Dean Acheson and George Marshall as the next best approach for dealing with sovereign governments. Reconstruction assistance was designed to improve economic conditions and strengthen the position of democratic forces in the Old World. Exercising restraint, the U.S. would both pressure and entice other governments to embrace democratic socio-political reforms. In effect, then, Truman's advisers proceeded along multiple paths in their approach to foreign policy. Objective principles, noble as they might be, had to be set aside when balance of power issues required decisions tied to expediency. Ernst Wilhelm Meyer raised another fundamental question, one that was largely ignored in the atmosphere of Cold War hysteria:

[W]ill the settlements, if they do not rest on any principle understandable and appealing to the conscience of the common man, be conducive to serving the most important, most realistic requirement of peace, namely to create peace in the peoples' hearts? Is it indeed too late -- can it ever be too late -- for democracies to remember the seemingly forgotten, but fundamental democratic principle of self-determination? And is one, at least in this country, not perhaps permitted to add that, by vigorously upholding it, American democracy especially could enhance its world prestige, because no other principle, as indicated before, is more intimately connected with American ideals and American history?[73]

Whatever hope individuals such as Meyer held out for the Democracy to lead by example was undermined -- conveniently so for those whose interests focused on open access to natural resources and extraordinarily cheap labor -- by the Cold War. By the beginning of 1947, the number of U.S. troops stationed in Europe had fallen to around 200,000. Soviet troops, by comparison, numbered 1,100,000 (although Khrushchev later revealed that total Soviet troop strength was also undergoing dramatic reduction in the face of costs the Soviets could no longer absorb). George Marshall, sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State, worried that U.S. military strength had so deteriorated as to make any confrontation with the Soviets extremely dangerous. And yet, close examination of events shows that Soviet power was hardly monolithic. Stalin's police state was hated and broadly opposed, particularly outside Russia itself. These conditions dictated that Stalin clamp down on the Soviet people and close off contacts with the West to the greatest extent possible. That in itself proved extremely difficult in practice because of the Soviet commitment to the promotion of communist expansion on a global scale and to the maintenance of a neo-colonial imperial system. As we now recognize, industrial-landlordism (assisted by monopolistic privileges extracted from foreign governments) proved far more able to absorb the expenses of opposing communism than state socialism in opposing social democracy. Not that there would not be considerable stresses imposed on U.S. socio-political institutions and arrangements.

While Truman struggled to restrain inflation and maintain full employment in the face of demobilization, Stalin committed the Soviet peoples to rapid industrialization without regard for improvement in personal living standards. Neither the leaders of these two giant powers nor any other nation stopped to consider their moral responsibility to preserve and protect the globe's ecosystems from degradation. The earth was viewed more as something to be left behind and discarded after exploitation of what humans needed than as our life-support system. State socialist and totalitarian regimes behaved with the least regard for the earth. Under Stalin and his successors, all Marxist-Leninist objectives conflicting with industrial development and military strength were sacrificed. Intimidation retarded individual initiative, inventiveness and productivity. Fear and orthodoxy prevailed in an atmosphere of mutual distrust, so much so that even Marshal Zhukov, the Soviet Union's most successful military strategist, was relegated to the command of a small, provincial garrison at Odessa. Beetle Smith, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, told Dwight Eisenhower that one of the reasons Zhukov had been relieved was because of his friendship with Eisenhower. Under Stalin's dictatorship, the Soviets were forced to follow a path of internal and external policies laden with a crushing determinism. Time was against the Stalinist crusade, however, because coercion works only so well and for only so long as a means of motivating others to labor without personal benefit. Even slaves frequently rise up against their masters when death becomes preferable to enslavement. At a lesser degree of imposed rule, centralized, bureaucratic decision-making (even under private enterprise) thwarts the generation of cutting edge technological or organizational breakthroughs. Individuals thrive when they are left to freely collaborate and to create, to experiment and to innovate.

By 1946 Stalin's unflinching adherence to collectivist agriculture and to brutal enforcement of central planning had resulted in severe food shortages and widespread starvation, particularly in the Ukraine. Farmers were imprisoned or put to death for failure to obey ridiculous state agricultural directives. Only with Khrushchev's arrival as First Secretary of the Ukraine was a semblance of sane decision-making reintroduced. Despite these problems, the Soviets were placed in the difficult position of having to provide material support to the communist regimes established in Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, the Baltic states and Czechoslovakia. Garrisoning troops in these countries was already proving a hardship they could not long endure. Even Stalin sensed there were limits to what the threat of Soviet intervention could accomplish. He accepted the fact that he could not forcibly bring the Finns -- an intensely nationalistic people who had already demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice in defense of their sovereignty -- under Soviet control. That Stalin did not want the Soviet Union to have to fight for territorial gains was also demonstrated by his withdrawal of Soviet troops from northern Iran. To some extent, at least, Stalin had learned a few lessons from history. The successful and permanent establishment of communist regimes had to be orchestrated by indigenous leaders whose allegiance to Stalin, first, and the Soviet Union, second, were unquestioned. Khrushchev explains, further, that Stalin "jealously guarded foreign policy in general and ... policy toward other Socialist countries in particular as his own special province."[74] Arkady N. Shevchenko, a student at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) as the decade of the 1940s was ending, adds that anyone even on the periphery of power had to pay close attention to the twists and turns of events. "As policy shifted at Stalin's whim," Shevchenko recalls, "men and nations who had been in favor became pariahs overnight; established dogma turned into heresy. It could be disastrous to miss a lecture where the revised truth of the day was proclaimed for us to copy down."[75] He was learning there is no terror greater than the concentration of police power in the hands of a paranoid and absolute despot, and no tyranny greater than that imposed under the shroud of contrived doctrine. Try as he might, what Stalin could not do was exercise complete mind control over an entire nation; even more difficult was to extend absolutism to satellite states and subjugated peoples.

Even beyond Stalin, however, many Soviet leaders accepted as a general position that the United States and Britain had to be treated as enemies of the Soviet state. This may account, to some extent, for the slowness among the social democratic leaders in recognizing Stalin's true character. Even as late as 1947, Stalin had told George Marshall that considerable room existed for compromise -- over the economic and political unity of Germany, the status of Austria, on reparations and concerning other issues. To his credit, Marshall did not fall for Stalin's deceptions and returned to the United States convinced the Soviets had no such intentions and that the reconstruction of German industrial capacity was essential to the overall economic recovery of Europe as a whole. Marshall reported all this to Truman and then to the U.S. public, calling for bipartisan support of sustained economic assistance and military protection for any and all nations willing to cooperate with the United States. The brief postwar period had also taught Dwight Eisenhower that the Soviets could not be trusted. He wrote in his diary:

I personally believe that the best thing we could now do would be to post 5 billion to the credit of the secretary of state and tell him to use it to support democratic movements wherever our vital interests indicate. Money should be used to promote possibilities of self-sustaining economies, not merely to prevent immediate starvation.[76]

One problem with Eisenhower's proposal was that the interests of many U.S. agrarian and industrial landlords ran directly counter to any support for broad participatory government. Marshall's thinking was running along an entirely different track, for he was extremely fearful of what was involved with the kind of long-term commitments implied by the Truman Doctrine. Marshall approached the dilemma by directing Dean Acheson to establish a Policy Planning Staff within the State Department to provide the type of analysis and data gathering required to monitor the progress of whatever programs were to be funded. The British decision to withdraw from Greece accelerated the need for action, and George Kennan was brought in to head up the planning operation. In his memoirs, Kennan indicates an appreciation for the principle that empire-building rarely yields general benefit to the aggressor over time. "I considered," concludes Kennan, "that the Russians and their Eastern European associates were poorly set up to take responsibility either for the governing of Greece or for the support of the Greek economy [and] that all this might boomerang on them in the form of serious economic difficulties and other problems, which the West might even ultimately exploit to good advantage.[77] In light of this statement, one is hard-pressed to explain Kennan's parallel concern over what would later be described as the domino effect. In the end, he recommended that the U.S. provide whatever assistance was necessary to the anti-communist factions in Greece. Doing so would not only stabilize the political situation in Greece but also relieve the Turks from Soviet pressures and strengthen anti-communist resolve in other parts of Europe as well. The Middle East, dominated by peoples deeply attached to the Islamic faith, seemed much less susceptible to subversion from within.

Kennan actually argued against any commitments broader than those outlined above. He, too, was fearful of the open-ended obligations suggested by the Truman Doctrine. Ironically, he attracted extensive criticism from Walter Lippmann in 1947 after the appearance in Foreign Affairs of an article originally delivered in memorandum form to James Forrestal. Kennan later acknowledged in his memoirs that what he wrote gave readers a totally wrong impression of his policy recommendations toward the Soviets. He and Lippmann were, in reality, in virtual agreement that attempting to counter every Soviet move with force would expose the U.S. to the same process of self-weakening -- exacerbated by the certainty of internal strife -- as had decimated Britain and was inevitable for the Soviets. Kennan was, however, accurate in concluding that "the major part of the structure of Soviet power is committed to the perfection of the dictatorship and to the maintenance of the concept of Russia as a state of siege, with the enemy lowering beyond the walls."[78] That was, at least, true of Stalin. If Stalin could instill in the Soviet people a healthy fear of the social democracies, then he could maintain order in an environment of scarcity and oppression. This meant that true cooperation between the Soviets and the West was an impossibility. Rather, the U.S. needed to concentrate on removing wherever possible the conditions under which communism acquired a following and then await the inevitable implosion of the Soviet national security state under the weight of its own oppressive nature. Lippmann expressed in his own writing a more immediate concern that Britain, France and the rest of Europe was precariously close to economic collapse and political chaos, circumstances that offered the communists an opportunity to recruit the naive and the disillusioned into their midst despite the evidence of Soviet tyranny. In response to this threat, and despite the protestations of Lippmann and Kennan, anti-communism took on the knee-jerk characteristic destined to pull the United States into so much later difficulty. Dean Acheson (described by Ronald Steel as "[a] broker in power ... fascinated by its use"[79] ) became one of the principal architects of a new global strategy based on the assumption that an expansion of U.S. power was inherently good and that of any other power inherently evil. In 1972, Roger Morgan, of the Royal Institute for International Affairs, countered that devastation of Soviet infrastructure made them far more dependent upon reparations than U.S. officials could have imagined. This problem might have resulted in a rather different postwar environment had Stalin not survived the war.

The first indication of what was to come took expression in a speech Acheson delivered in May, in which he offered his interpretation of why communism had to be purged from Greece and the Turks given material support. The U.S. Congress responded by approving economic and military assistance. In the minds of U.S. leaders, German reconstruction now became paramount to the survival of European social democracy. The U.S. would provide the financial resources; the European governments would have to develop a comprehensive plan and in the process prevent their own communist factions from undermining the program. Marshall spelled out the essential elements of the proposal to an audience at Harvard University, and representatives from sixteen nations met in Paris in July to begin working out the details. From September through December, Truman worked to gain Congressional support for the plan. By the end of March, the bill -- named the European Recovery Act -- was passed by the Congress and signed into law by Truman on April 3, 1948. Some $17 billion was committed over a four-year period.

Many European nations were battling inflation, high unemployment and a huge balance of payments deficit with the United States. In 1947 alone, the value of imports exceeded exports by more than $4 billion (70 percent of which was owed to producers in the United States). Britain's economy in 1947 was near collapse. A winter of uncommon severity consumed the nation's coal reserves and left both industry and households with only hours of electricity each day. The government ran through existing U.S. loans, then anxiously awaited U.S. Congressional approval of the Marshall Plan. On the plus side, the British were now freed from the financial burden of assisting the established government in Greece and were positioning themselves to pull out of India. Even keeping an uneasy peace between Jews and Arabs in Palestine had become a burden Britain could no longer afford. By late 1947 the Palestine question was in the hands of the United Nations, which decided on partition and an end to the British mandate. Burma withdrew from the empire, and Britain's other Asian imperial outposts were poised to do the same. The Irish voted to leave the empire, while the Boer-dominated Union of South Africa distanced itself from association with Britain. Clement Atlee's Labour government had the very difficult task of encouraging exports to earn U.S. dollars, while imposing heavy taxes on incomes and imports to bring the budget into balance (measures the imposition of which by the International Monetary Fund would become standard for countries buried by debt and dependent upon continued access to the international credit markets).

The British were also struggling with the early stages of introducing a welfare state. Economist Roy Harrod wrote that the government was "formally wedded to the doctrines of socialism,"[80] and failed to give serious consideration to the lessons of history (and political economy) in its formation of public policy. In addition to the establishment of a free national health system, Labour also mandated controls over rents for housing while pouring large sums into new construction. Yet, as the Labour historian R.H. Tawney reminded fellow Brits in 1951, the top one per cent of the population still controlled half of all property.[81] Tawney acknowledged the accomplishments of "steeply graduated taxation"[82] as a remedy for past privilege. However, in his mind, none of these measures were enough to achieve the basis for equality, for economic freedom of the entire citizenry:

Unless it be held that it is a matter of indifference that essential services should be conducted with an eye, not to the general welfare, but to the profits of investors, that productive efficiency should stagnate or run down, and that consumers should be exploited, the case for submitting them to public control is not open to question. Whether control should take the form of regulation, or of their acquisition by the State and management by a public body, is a question of expediency, to be answered differently in different cases. ...

An intelligent policy will start from the centre, not nibble at the outworks. The first requirement is, clearly, to master the key positions of the economic world, whence the tune is piped to which the nation dances. Banking, evidently, is one, for it determines the economic weather more directly than any other; transport a second, and power a third; while the coal industry, in England the sole source of power, is a fourth, land and agriculture a fifth, and armaments a sixth.[83]

Interestingly, economist Roy Harrod later speculated that under the circumstances of the postwar era, even "a Conservative government would have nationalized some of the industries affected."[84] The coal industry had been nationalized since 1938. Air and rail transport had come under public control even earlier, as had electric and gas power. Despite stiff opposition from Conservatives, the steel industry was turned over to a not-for-profit corporation (an act reversed in 1951 upon the return of the Conservatives to power), and regulation over banking tightened. Still deeply in debt, the British persevered, their empire dissolving as they struggled to construct a more complete social democracy but failing to attack the core of landed privilege that continued as albatross on Britain's producers.

To many observers, the fate of Britain, the other social democracies and much of the rest of the world now rested firmly on U.S shoulders. Herbert Hoover's global travels in 1947 brought home the message that starvation threatened almost everywhere in the Old World. Passage of the European Recovery Act intervened to stem the tide of political disorder and potential upheaval. Winston Churchill thanked the Americans for their generosity; a great many others in Europe (the French, in particular) equated the arriving dollars with invasion and a new form of cultural subversion even as the French were enduring chronic shortages and dramatic price increases for food and other necessities. A coalition government had nationalized essential industries (including coal, gas, electricity and banking), and under the direction of Jean Monnet an aggressive program of modernization was undertaken. This effort suffered because of the French government's foolhardy attempt to hold onto its imperial possession in Southeast Asia. The nation was also hit by massive labor strikes in 1947 and 1948. Despite these problems, Monnet saw to it that funds received under the Marshall Plan were immediately invested in the development of capital infrastructure.

The Italians, who voted to dissolve the monarchy and establish a republic, adopted a new constitution in 1948. Already, a pattern of extreme divisiveness dominated Italian politics. Matters were made worse by U.S. pressure on prime minister Alcide De Gasperi to purge the communists from the government. Reform of Italy's system of land tenure and taxation was desperately needed. Unfortunately, only socialists and communists gave lip service to land reform, and the controlling parties stood firm on the side of the status quo. Under these trying circumstances, the Italians moved slowly to enter a more integrated European economic community.

Political stability and economic recovery in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway advanced more quickly. The war had caused far less damage to the physical infrastructure of these nations, and their governments resisted the temptation to self-create credit through by exchanging government debt for central bank notes. As production of goods accelerated, prices moderated and the underground economy in these countries dissolved.

In Germany, a new currency was introduced into the U.S., British and French zones to remove from the Soviets their ability to use currency expansion as a means of shifting purchasing power to their zone without producing any goods or services. Stalin responded by tightening down the iron curtain with ever greater force and by establishing the Cominform as a rubber stamp for Soviet policies. Berlin was sealed off, and Truman ordered the airlift relief that continued from late June until the following May. In September of 1948, the French finally agreed to combine their zone in Germany with that of the United States and Britain. Konrad Adenauer, the mayor of Cologne, emerged as head of the Christian Democrats. Under Adenauer's leadership, Germany's postwar officials met in Bonn to draft a new constitution for the new German Federal Republic. Early in 1949, Adenauer became chancellor. Germans in the Soviet zone of occupation formalized the break by establishing their own republic.

In the interim, Stalin turned his back on the Greek Communists (to whom refuge was denied by Tito in Yugoslavia), emasculated the Italian and French party leaders and demanded of all communists an unquestioning allegiance to Soviet leadership. Czechoslovakia's government was purged of non-communists and brought securely under Soviet domination.

In Yugoslavia, Tito did not wait for any similar attack on his sovereignty and power. Soviet advisers were sent packing, their Yugoslav allies purged and most imprisoned. Fearful that other Titos might get similar ideas, Stalin removed from power any and all leaders who possessed a nationalist following in the other Soviet satellite governments. Khrushchev, in his memoirs, contradicts himself by placing the blame for the split squarely on Tito's shoulders after earlier condemning Stalin's aggressive thirst for total domination. Tito's nationalist support was far too strong for Stalin to attempt a forceful overthrow. And, in any event, sending troops at this juncture might have united other satellites against the Soviet Union. In 1969, Milovan Djilas, instrumental in the Yugoslav break with Stalin and later imprisoned by Tito for his outspoken views against what Djilas saw as the corruption of Leninist ideals, boldly condemned the Communist parties and their leaderships:

All the demons that Communism believed it had banished from the forthcoming as well as the real world have crept into the soul of Communism and become part of its being. Communism, once a popular movement ... has become transformed into national political bureaucracies and states squabbling among themselves for prestige and influence, for the sources of wealth and for markets -- for all those things over which politicians and governments have always quarreled, and always will. The Communists were compelled by their own ideas and by the realities in their society first to wrest power ... from their opponents, and then scrabble for it among themselves. This has been the fate of all revolutionary movements in history. The Communists became so completely absorbed and engulfed in greed and the lust for power that their power became absolute, totalitarian; and in their struggle for power they showed themselves to be ordinary mortals, as fallible as other men, ... Instead of abolishing war ... now the great Communist powers have enslaved smaller Communist countries, and the human race is under the threat of a conflict between the two great Communist powers, the Soviet Union and China, ...

The Communists are chiefly to blame for their own misfortunes. The result of their obstinacy in pursuing an imaginary society, in the belief that they could change human nature, is that their ideas and they themselves have been inexorably crunched by the frenzy of the violence they perpetrated. The human being under Communism, as in all situations at all times in human history, has proved too intractable and quite unfit for any ideal models, particularly those that seek to restrict his boundaries and prescribe his destiny.[85]

Clearly, the aging revolutionaries had turned reactionary and conservative. They found that the collectivist ideal, subjected to the rigors of central planning, could be sustained only by intense coercion and the purging of initiative from the human spirit. The moral dilemma faced by those in the West centered on whether to wait or to act. Waiting meant that millions of people would suffer ongoing oppression and denial of their liberty. An amazingly large number of people would be imprisoned, tortured and murdered as a reminder to others of what resistance or dissent would bring. Acting -- directly and forcefully -- was not an option for the West. Even the United States was absorbed by socio-political issues of grave domestic importance.

The end of the Second World War had not brought stability, rather just the opposite. Still, the leaders of the social democracies faced a difficult moral dilemma, particularly in the face of serious challenges to their positions and institutions from those outside the mainstream now demanding greater participation in government and some semblance of equality of opportunity. Under these circumstances, few leaders were willing to take their countries to war on behalf of those imprisoned behind the iron curtain. Among U.S. leaders, Truman, Marshall, Acheson, Kennan and others, accepted that preparedness and united resistance to Soviet expansionism and subversion had to serve as baseline foreign policy objectives during the years or decades while they waited for the Soviet system to fall apart. In the meantime, they would do what they could to convince Soviet leaders that the U.S. was willing to accept co-existence if the Soviets would just live with the status quo. Henry Wallace represented those who clinged to the optimistic possibilities of a true rapprochement with the Soviets. In May, Stalin replied to a letter from Wallace, in which the Progressive candidate for the Presidency proposed six steps[86] to end the Cold War. Although Stalin's response appeared to be positive, Truman and his advisers were too far along in establishing containment as U.S. policy to seriously consider anything Stalin might now say in the public arena. Wallace should also have realized that as long as Stalin remained alive and in power, the Soviets would never be satisfied with a stalemate. Rather than waste any more time in negotiations with Stalin, representatives from the key social democracies met in Brussels to discuss the merits of an alliance between the nations of the northern Atlantic region. Meanwhile, Truman crisscrossed the United States in search of public support, hammering away at big business and those who wanted to dismantle the New Deal. His Republican opponent, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, was so certain of victory that he barely campaigned at all until September. Wallace's extensive leftist and communist support eroded any real chance of his becoming the next President and his campaign faded into oblivion.

Anti-communist fervor was now reaching into the hearts of average Americans. Government officials were encouraged -- almost directed by popular consensus -- to initiate a campaign against communists and the Communist Party. Truman had already established a system of loyalty review boards to investigate charges against Federal employees thought to be communists or communist sympathizers. Anyone with communism in their backgrounds was to be purged or prohibited from government service. Was this an over-reaction? Perhaps. Certainly, the lives of some people were turned upside down with little or no just cause. Yet, given the heat of the times, the checks and balances inherent in the socio-political structure of the United States held firm. Emotions were reaching a fever pitch but, all in all, due process prevailed. Another element in the drama that continued to unfold was the willingness of so many communists and communist sympathized to repudiate their earlier adherence to this very alien philosophy. Kim Philby and other European communists were Marxists first, communists second. Few communists in the United States studied Marx or Lenin or Trotsky; they were tied emotionally to the promise of communism and became extremely disillusioned by the totalitarian behavior of Stalin and the Soviet state. Now, the Soviets were also attempting to dictate strategy to communists in the United States, employing U.S. citizens in espionage and treasonous acts. Communism had proven to be nothing more than another form of state socialism, orchestrated by an elaborate propaganda machine opportunistically used by those determined to seize power and rule by ruthlessness. Many communists living in social democratic societies were slowly coming to this conclusion, too late in some cases to save themselves from the consequences of the paranoia they helped to create.

By 1948, roughly a thousand persons had been discharged from employment in the U.S. government on the grounds of suspected disloyalty. Only a very few were actually brought to trial for treasonous acts. However, in July the leading members of the U.S. Communist Party were all indicted for treason. Others were expelled from the nation's labor unions in a determined effort by mainstream labor leaders to purge Labor of anti-U.S. elements. Communists in the United States failed to understand, observes Richard Walton, "that American workers are very different from the European proletariat; they are more likely to be latent capitalists than socialists."[87] Marxist ideas failed to take hold in the United States because of an almost blind acceptance of the rhetoric (if not the reality) of individualism as the key to preservation of the Democracy. There might no longer be a nearly universal ownership of landed property, but the reasons -- virtually everyone outside leftist intellectual circles agreed -- were corruption and monopoly privilege. These were the ills that had to be purged. A certain amount of power in the hands of government was necessary to accomplish these societal objectives. The right degree of power was the least amount required to do the job.

Americans in the postwar years had regained their optimism and were slow to again question the structure of their socio-political system. Wealth had long been extremely concentrated in the Old World, where Marxism and other brands of utopian socialism competed for the revolutionary zeal of the intelligentsia and the downtrodden. As the people of the U.S. came to hate and fear Stalinism, to discover that U.S. communists increasingly served as Soviet agents engaged in treason and subversion, any obligation to be fair toward communists diminished in response to what seemed a far greater danger. A large number of communists went into hiding; thousands of others were forced out of the Party by a paranoid leadership fearful of being turned on by disgruntled members who had become communists because of an idealistic if misguided commitment to the defense of human rights.

Stalinism had shed all pretensions to innocence and revealed an unrelenting lust for power. Only by condemnation of Soviet tyranny could communists resurrect themselves as idealistic adherents to the collectivist form of societal organization. They should have listened, for instance, to I.F. Stone, whose faith in an incremental adoption of socialism by democratic means remained strong. The challenge to the world's nations in 1947 was, Stone realized, to devote considerable wealth to the role of reconstruction and the development of societal infrastructure. Peace would prevail only when the world's peoples once again had the means to engage in trade and commerce. There was, of course, a cost to be endured; the question for nations was how that cost was to be paid:

Capital is amassed by suffering, either other people's or one's own. One takes part of the fruit of one's own labor or of someone else's in order to build improvements -- factories, machines, ships, roads -- that will ultimately raise the standard of living. Someone must give up something today in order to have more tomorrow: that is the logic of capital accumulation. Whether under capitalism or socialism, there is no painless way to create capital.

[Another] method for creating capital is to take it out of one's own hide. That is what Bolshevik Russia has been engaged in doing for a generation. The Russians under Communism have been building up their own capital, not by borrowing but by suffering, the suffering of Russia's own people. The Five Year Plans are giant demonstrations of how capital can be built up, without foreign loans for foreign exploitation, under a system harsh, ruthless, and single-minded enough to underfeed and underclothe a whole generation for the sake of the future.[88]

A case could be, and has been, made that there was no other choice available to the Soviet leadership -- even after Stalin beneficently died. Their citizenry still included a large minority of illiterate peasants who wanted nothing more from government than to be given land and then left alone. Private initiative was forcibly subordinated to production for the collective good; and, where resisted, achieved by force. Moreover, all vestiges of the ancient aristocracy were ruthlessly purged. Long-term survival against the Germans, British and Americans demanded rapid industrialization and total planning. There was, one might rationalize, no time for the incremental processes associated with democracy. Democracy had to wait for a time when the Soviet Union could stand secure from external threats. Beyond Soviet borders, fewer and fewer former sympathizers continued to accept such rationalizations. Sidney Hook, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Dwight Macdonald and Bertram Wolfe joined with other anti-Stalinist intellectuals to form the American Intellectuals for Freedom in an effort to engage Soviet bloc intellectuals in debate. Yet, intellectuals East and West were largely without power to influence the actions of leaders in their respective societies. Few were truly activist by nature; fewer still were willing to jeopardize what they defended as intellectual objectivity by direct involvement in politics. Irving Howe, George Orwell and C. Wright Mills contributed to Macdonald's journal, Politics, which attacked the governments of the U.S. and Soviet Union as having gone far beyond the legitimate bounds of just power. Former communists collaborated on a book of essays[89] published in 1949 that explained the magnetic lure of Stalinism to those wholly outside the reality of life under the grip of Soviet power. William O'Neill, in an analysis of the attachment of U.S. intellectuals to communism, adds a penetrating insight when he says that those who came to communism during the Depression "were very different from the first generation of intellectuals [Max Eastman, John Reed and Lincoln Steffens, to name a few] who ... were drawn to Communism not out of blind faith but because as secular persons in a rational age they believed it to be scientific, the next step forward in mankind's progress toward an intelligent social order."[90] They were, sadly, quite misguided by their instincts. Reason and an objective analysis of experience failed them. Human nature, and particularly the lust for power by persons wholly indoctrinated into a value system grounded in moral relativism, worked against the possibility of a communitarian society emerging out of the ashes of minority rule. Cooperation results from the nurturing of the moral sense and is the exception rather than the rule when individual initiative is subdued by hierarchy -- in all its forms. This is true as well even where participation in government is broad and democracy well-established.

CH 1 CH 2 CH 3 CH 4 CH 5 CH 6
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1.2 2.2 3.2 4.2 5.2 6.2
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