Cancer Cell No. 1 in the Free Body Politic

To thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
-- Shakespeare, Hamlet.

The Soviet leaders have also appeared in the role of the most uncompromising defenders of national sovereignty known to modern times ** The defense of national sovereignty, far from contradicting the goal of a Soviet world state, has actually become one of the most formidable weapons in the struggle for its attainment. ** Soviet pre-occupation with construction and indefinite expansion of an all-powerful, all-embracing state authority, while originally justified as a necessary, transitory means, has instead become the indestructible, unwithering end of Soviet society. -- Elliot R. Goodman, The Soviet Design for a World State.1

A far greater danger to freedom than the Russian and Chinese dictatorships lies here at home. It is as invisible as cancer cell No. 1, and as virulent. Yet it remains as protected by tabu, as worshiped as any Baal or Moloch ever was -- and capable of causing, and even inspiring, much more human sacrifice. What is it? A concept of national sovereignty that is demonstrably false to the fundamental nature of all the free peoples whom it now confuses, deceives and betrays. It is true only to the nature of dictatorship, whether Communist National Socialist or Fascist, which alone it serves.

What is evil in one body politic may be good in another, much as what is poison to one species feeds another. To Communism our current concept of national sovereignty is natural and nourishing -- as vital as is venom to a viper. Only to the free is it fatal.

The Current Concept of National Sovereignty

This concept, which the free now share with the dictatorships, makes the nation supreme, above all law. It holds the nation's absolute independence to be the highest good. It calls on the people to sacrifice their individual liberties and lives to maintain their nation's freedom to do as it pleases, insofar as other nations are concerned. In the Congress of the United States, as in Cuba and the Congo, this concept inflames fiery opposition to the "surrender" of an iota of the nation's "right" to be a law unto itself, even where this "sacrifice" would clearly extend the rights of the citizen, or secure him against needless sacrifice of his or her liberty and life.

This concept of national sovereignty is, of course, part and parcel of the ancient dogma that man is made for the State. We have seen how it was once embodied in "divine right" sovereigns. Since they claimed absolute power over their own people, these autocrats naturally had to be, in their relations with each other, no less sovereign, no less a law each unto himself. And since the Communist dictatorships are much more totalitarian than the Czars in their enslavement of their people to the authority of the State, it is all too natural that they should continue to uphold between nations the same concept of sovereignty as did the Czars. They are true to themselves, inside and out, in their adherence to it.

Not so the other nations, which have overthrown this concept of sovereignty at home, yet still permit it to rule all their foreign relations. It is most alien to the peoples who have led the revolution against such absolutism, reversed at home the dogma that man is made for the State and replaced their unlimited Kings with themselves as the sovereign people. To these peoples, the concept of national sovereignty which they apply to one another is as unnatural a growth in the body politic as is cancer in the human body. It is a disease as malignant and fatal ... a far more widespread cause of suffering and grief to their citizens than cancer ... a more massive killer even than the H-bomb, which is but one of the myriad ways of destroying men that it now commands.

True Democratic Concept of Sovereignty

One cannot too often repeat that the concept of national sovereignty that is true to the nature of a free people holds that: (1) The State is made of, by and for man; (2) the nation's sovereignty resides in its citizens equally, (3) they delegate a part of their sovereignty to the national government, and other parts to their state, county and municipal governments; (4) they reserve to themselves the remainder, including the right to re-delegate any of it (except the right to delegate and re-delegate) when and as they please, provided this is done by Law that they have consented to; (5) the purpose for which they delegate any of it to any government is always and only to preserve and advance equally the individual sovereignty of the citizens -- his or her life, liberty and power to pursue happiness as he or she pleases (always under the Rule of Law which these sovereigns have freely constituted).

This democratic concept of sovereignty is opposed to the totalitarian concept no less completely in other respects. It admits of no absolute, unlimited sovereignty even in its sovereigns-to say nothing of the bodies politic they together create. It leaves no sovereign citizen a law unto himself; holds no man or institution above the Law. Although its sovereign citizens never alienate their sovereignty, they always agree to limit even their own exercise of it. Such limitation is inherent in their acceptance of the establishment of their constitution by some degree of majority vote, and in their elimination, practically, of the right of veto that is theoretically inherent in sovereignty.

Kings who maintained an absolute veto over their own people could reason that such sovereignty required them to insist on an unlimited veto in their affairs with other kings who claimed equal sovereignty. Such sovereigns could fancy it to be practical, or possible, to get this claim admitted. The great are subject, as Descartes said, to great aberrations.

Common men have more common sense. Enough at any rate to realize that there is a vital difference between their sovereignty and that of autocrats.

Such kings could hope to survive amid the anarchy their sovereign claims created. For they could send their subjects to get killed for them -- "for King and Country" -- in the wars to which their concept of sovereignty inevitably led, and leads. But when each citizen is sovereign, none can hope thus to escape. Each sovereign then has his own life directly at stake. In such circumstances most men readily understand that life is not possible if each citizen sovereign claims that his sovereignty must be as unlimited in relation to his fellow sovereigns as is his rule over his own body.

And so men, in making themselves each sovereign in their own nation, never lay claim to such attributes of sovereignty as having a veto, and being above the law. They readily accept the Rule of Law as made by a freely formed majority of them, so long as the law and the majority are also limited by enough individual liberty to keep each citizen reasonably sovereign. For the democratic concept of sovereignty, which always makes all citizens subject to the Law, also makes the law always subject to the will of the citizens. Its Law is not absolute, as was the law of the Medes and the Persians "which altereth not" -- even at the instance of Darius, as he found when, against his own will, his own law forced him to throw Daniel into the den of lions.

The democratic concept of sovereignty also keeps the citizen reasonably sovereign in other ways. For example, by having the principal representatives to whom he delegates part of his sovereignty elected by equal vote of the citizens and periodically responsible to them, and by establishing a Bill of Rights and judicial machinery, to assure that the sovereign powers which the citizens reserve to themselves are not infringed by their representatives, or by their fellow citizens.

Perhaps the most significant proof of the sovereignty of the citizens in any nation is the degree to which it leaves the individual free to follow his conscience -- where conscience is not a subterfuge -- as in refusing to obey draft laws that require him to kill other men, or otherwise violate what to his conscience is a moral Law, superior to any law made by men. In last analysis, the sovereignty of the citizen, as we have seen, is founded on the idea that the most sacred thing in every man is the spark of God within him. The absolutist concept holds the state sacred, deifies the nation, and denies -- today -- even the soul's existence. Freedom's concept of sovereignty holds nothing human sacred except the life, liberty and dignity of the individual, and recognizes in him no unlimited divine right -- except that of his conscience. There could be no sharper, deeper, soul-revealing contrast than that between the concept of sovereignty we uphold at home and the one we uphold abroad.

The Cancerous Concept That Endangers Freedom

Would you not agree that the concept of sovereignty set forth in the preceding section is the true democratic one? Must you not also agree that in our foreign relations we reverse this concept -- even when we deal with other peoples whose bodies politic were created by it, too? Must you not further agree that the principle of national sovereignty we and they apply to one another is part and parcel of the absolutist dogma from which we and they recoil with instinctive horror when embodied in a Hitler, a Stalin? Why do we not recoil at its presence in ourselves? The reason is that we have not yet seen it there. And so this cancer has become the deadliest danger we now face, and the hardest one to extirpate.

To take half a loaf is usually better than to take none, but to take out only half a cancer is better only if one seeks to kill the victim in the cruellest way.

To understand how much more dangerous this invisible cancer in us is than the dictatorships whose massive arms we see so well, let us suppose that we remove their armaments, and even them, but not the cancer in us. To thwart thus their aim of "burying us" would be far more dangerous now than this operation proved to be in World War I and II. But let us assume that it succeeds once again (in the sense of removing the dictatorship) -- and that we survive. Even so, past experience proves it only too probable that we would soon thereafter face the totalitarian threat in even more fearful form.

World War I removed the Kaiser type of autocrat completely; none of the deeply-rooted hereditary despots of Europe remained. The Romanoff, Hapsburg, Hohenzollern and Ottoman dynasties went down for good. The world lay as never before in the hands of the most democratic powers. But the war left their relations with one another governed by the concept of unlimited national sovereignty. Soon absolutism, in the more virulent form of Hitler's National Socialism, regained control of Germany.

To remove the Nazis proved much more dangerous than to remove Kaiser, Czar and Sultan. Again the only thing removed was the monstrous visible growth, not the hidden cancerous concept in the free bodies politic. Result: Now again we face a still more formidable form of dictatorship. Communism is more aggressively armed than were the Kaiser and the Fuehrer; it holds a stronger defensive position, and it can win by other means than war, -- by economic warfare, by depression, by subversion ... and by the cancerous concept of national sovereignty that still devours our vitals.

How and Why Communism Champions National Sovereignty

The Russian dictatorship has been the most ardent and extreme champion of national sovereignty since World War II. As E. A. Korovin pointed out, as early as 1924, in page 43 of the textbook on international law he published then in Moscow:

"At a time when the general development of European international law moves in the direction of draining sovereignty of its content in the name of contemporary interdependence of states ... the Soviet government is recognized as the champion of the doctrine of 'classical' sovereignty."

Moscow champions it not to keep the world divided forever into many sovereign nations, but to advance its ultimate goal -- the universal Communist State that Marx and Lenin dreamed of. In that world there would be only one sovereign nation in today's diplomatic sense, nor would there be, within that Communist State, any sovereign states in the sense in which they are called "sovereign" in such federal unions as the United States and Switzerland. The world state that Marx and Lenin envisioned is fantastically centralized, not federalized. Lenin especially attacked federalism. True the problem of nationalities in Russia forced a little federation on him, and the present Soviet Constitution states that "the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a federal state." But when these concessions were first made, Lenin himself explained on March 28, 1918 that: "Federation is only a transitional step ... The federation we are now introducing and which will develop in future, will serve as the surest step to the most solid unification of the different nationalities of Russia into a unitary, democratic, centralized Soviet state."

This policy has continued.2 As it has evolved in Russia, Communism has not only discarded the eventual "withering away" of the state into a "stateless" world, envisioned in its early theory, but has developed to an incredible degree Marx's highly centralized idea of the final world state. It plans a world dictatorship in which all power on the planet would be centered. Such is the appalling apotheosis of the principle from which our current doctrine of national sovereignty springs. To bring it about, the Soviet leaders have become -- to quote Dr. Goodman again -- "the most uncompromising defenders of national sovereignty in modern times." He continues:

There are three basic reasons which would seem to account for this urgent Soviet defense of national sovereignty. The first is to perpetuate the anarchy of the nation-state system in the non-Soviet world. The Soviet leaders are aware of the fact that they would have much to lose and the non-Soviet world much to gain if that anarchic system were overhauled and strengthened ... Since the second World War, the Soviet regime has tried to separate the United States from its allies by posing as the defenders of the national sovereignty of America's allies against the encroachments of "American imperialism."3

The other reasons for which Moscow exploits national sovereignty are 1) to speed the breaking up of the empires of the West, 2) to keep the new nations formed from them suspicious of Western offers of help in developing themselves, and therefore weak and subject to Communist influences, and above all, 3) to guarantee to the Soviet Union its independence4 until it can become strong enough to destroy the independence of all other nations, and men. Just as it invokes the democratic rights of free speech, free press, free assembly to protect its efforts to destroy them, it invokes the rights of nations to preserve and promote5 its campaign to merge all nations into the faceless, nation-less, single world sovereignty of the Communist World Dictatorship.

The Communist Concept We Accept -- and Nurse

Nonetheless, of all the false ideas Communism spreads, only its concept of national sovereignty is widely accepted by Atlanticans in general, and by Americans most of all. Moscow cannot take credit for this. This concept is a homegrown fallacy in each Atlantic people. That is one reason why it is so hard for them to rid themselves of it, and so easy for Communism to exploit it. No deception is so persuasive and tenacious as self-deception. Evil is most evil, and hardest to dislodge, when men deem it good.

The current concept of national sovereignty, instead of being recognized by its democratic victims as cancer, is tenderly nursed and carefully protected by these people as vital to health. Most of the political doctors they trust to cure their body politic of the resulting ills seem no wiser. Their remedies are as wrong as those which physicians prescribed prior to Pasteur. And in their attitude toward those who do trace these ills to their true source, they also remind one of the doctors who denounced the French chemist for daring to attack as false the assumption that underlay their therapy.

True, I find an increasing number of political leaders who now agree, in private, that the prevailing concept of national sovereignty endangers the free peoples. Yet most of them still pay lip service to it in public and thus help to maintain Baal's grip on the hearts of men. Few actively attack it; still fewer, openly, or head on.

The braver political doctors tell the patient the cancer is a tumor, or just a little cyst whose removal will involve the sacrifice of no vital organ. Others say that the only "safe" way to remove it is not to let the people know what the doctor is doing; their strategy is the "gradualist" one: They seek to cut the cancer out in a long series of operations, and so little at a time, that the patient will not realize he is losing what he fondly believes to be his heart.6 This strategy is safe, but only for the surgeon.

Among the political leaders who are widely trusted, very few indeed dare to question, when seeking election to office of trust, the validity of the prevailing concept of national sovereignty. I can recall no nominee for President of the United States in my time who has ever denounced this concept as false to freedom or sought openly to rid the people of it. Nor have any American Presidents -- with a few truly great (and distant) exceptions ... Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln.

This concept is indeed a fearfully difficult fallacy to overcome. That is one reason why I am devoting so much attention to it now. Another reason is that there is no other way to cure the ills it causes. From this concept of sovereignty surges the opposition that has already killed so many moves, however slight, to advance freedom's law and order between nations, and has nipped in the bud so many others ... while it goes blindly on producing policies that advance Communism by further dividing the free. It arms not only those who oppose Atlantic Union, but those who would protect this or that barrier to trade, or who defend the Connally amendment against efforts to breathe a little life into the World Court, or who seek to unite the scientific resources of Atlantica -- to mention no more.

Hydra-headed, the prevailing concept of national sovereignty guards like Cerberus the gates of Hell against all attack -- none too minor or too wily to elude it. But Cerberus was once overcome; Hercules, unarmed, seized and dragged him up to daylight, by greater strength, applied directly. And to overcome our "monster" -- as Herculean George Washington dared to call the current concept of sovereignty -- I find no way as sure as this: Frontal attack with the superior power of truth.

A final and greater reason to continue this attack is that Washington proved that by so doing we can hope not only to overcome the monster, but achieve thereby good beyond measure. We can make the Communist threat no more dangerous than Nazi-ism is now -- and do this without world war, and much sooner than seems possible today. We can do far more -- we can create the high civilization that physical science now puts within the reach of free men, when effectively united and reinspired by their most vital principles. Fear of catastrophe has now reduced hope to talk of mere survival. Once we dreamed of the marvelous life our great grand-children would know. Our own children, and even we ourselves, can enjoy the advantages and challenges of that life -- if we renounce our false concept of national sovereignty for the one that is true to freedom's nature. No struggle is so worthy of another effort. Let us make it now.


  1. The three citations are from pages 114, 125 and 471. I warmly recommend this entire volume (published by Columbia Press in 1960) as a timely and fully documented reminder that Communism has a thoroughly worked out and never neglected plan for a completely centralized world government -- the antithesis of Atlantic Federal Union, and the real alternative to it.
  2. Professor Goodman points out on page 262 of Soviet Design for a World State:
    "Soviet leaders have contrived elaborate federalist-appearing devices that have attempted to take advantage of and to give minimal play to national sentiment not only for the nations under their control, but also for those nations that they seek to attach to their self-proclaimed embryo of a world federation. But using the vocabulary of federalism has never touched the core of their political philosophy, which is thoroughly centralist, nor would it seem to have altered their ultimate aim of a unitary world state." This is the conclusion of his Chapter 7, a 73-page discussion of "The Issue of Centralism versus Federalism in the Leninist Era."
  3. Ibid, p. 114.
  4. When the United States offered to place atomic power, of which it then had a monopoly, under international control, Mr. Gromyko rejected this on March 5, 1947 as an intolerable threat to the "internal affairs and internal life of states." Replying to Albert Einstein's plea of Sept. 22, 1947 for "a world society based on law and order," four distinguished Soviet scientists answered that the Soviet Union was a radical break from the capitalist system, "and now the proponents of a 'world super-state' are asking us voluntarily to surrender this independence." Einstein replied: "You are such passionate opponents of anarchy in the economic sphere, and yet equally passionate advocates of anarchy, e.g. unlimited national sovereignty, in the sphere of international politics." This letter went unanswered. When the United States proposed veto-free international control, Vyshinsky on Oct. 18, 1954 denounced this as a "world government" and emphasized that the United Nations "is an assembly of sovereign states in which the will, interests, desires and views of each must be respected."
    On some earlier occasions -- as when Litvinoff sought collective security at the League of Nations against Hitler -- Moscow has also belittled national sovereignty but only to preserve itself and thus advance its own scheme for world government.
  5. Even Moscow's brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolutionary government was defended by Izvestia on March 9, 1957, as based on the Soviet principle guaranteeing "the strengthening of the sovereignty of each socialist state."
  6. These are the political doctors who keep telling us that we must resign ourselves to "thirty years of tension" such as we have now -- or prepare to live with it even longer, indefinitely. This is considered "realistic" -- as if we could keep our freedom healthy by staying in the hospital forever, being treated by defeatists whose diagnosis is wrong and whose advice is dispiriting.

Contents -- Chapter 5 -- Chapter 7