|Here in a thimble|
seed of Man
enough to fill every womb in the land
womb within womb
seed within seed
all in a thimble
what shall we say
seed of Man
born and dead and back in the land
still to be sown
and then one day Man shall be grown
Man who shall be
Then he shall say
who he is
why he is
all he is
The draft constitution that follows is meant to make the proposed Union clearer by illustrating how the democracies might unite. This draft is not intended to be a hard and fast plan. Practically all of its provisions, however, are time-tested.
The draft is drawn entirely from the Constitution of the American Union, except for (1) a few provisions that, although not drawn from it, are based on American practice (notably Art. II, sections 1, 2, 4, 5), and (2) a few innovations: These latter are given in italics so that they may be seen at once. Most of the draft taken from the American Constitution has been taken textually, though its provisions have sometimes been re-arranged with a view to greater clarity and condensation, and once or twice they have been made more explicit and somewhat expanded. The Preamble is the only serious example of this last. In the American Constitution the Preamble reads:
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
No important element in the American Constitution has been omitted. The draft follows:
We the people of The Union of the Free, in order to secure freedom equally to every man and woman now and to come, to lessen ignorance, poverty, and disease, to insure our defense, to promote justice and the general welfare, to provide government of ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves on the principle of the equality of men, and to bring peace on earth and union to mankind, do establish this as our Constitution.
Australia 7 2 Belgium 8 2 Canada 11 2 Denmark 4 2 Finland 4 2 France 42 4 Ireland 3 2 Netherlands 8 2 New Zealand 2 2 Norway 3 2 Sweden 6 2 Switzerland 4 2 Union of So. Africa 2 2 United Kingdom 47 4 United States 129 10 ________ ________ Totals 280 42
The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. -- President Wilson, April 2, 1917.
It may be useful to retrace briefly the road by which I have come to dissent now when "it is generally conceded that we should not have entered the last war," and were duped into it mainly for economic motives, when it is the fashion to jest bitterly of "making the world safe for democracy," as if it were "a matter of no overwhelming importance to the United States" -- when "my brethren," as in the time of Job, are "ashamed because they had hoped." If I can not accept the basic premises and conclusions of this school it is not from failure to give its arguments consideration. It is rather because I happened to go through long ago the evolution which many have undergone only recently, and because I have had more time and been under greater pressure to evolve further.
On April 4, 1917, the Associated Students of the State University of Montana where I was then editor of the college paper, Montana Kaimin, sent this telegram to President Wilson:
Monster patriotic demonstration today by students of State University. A united Student body, who, having faith and confidence in your wisdom and judgment, pledges its enthusiastic support of your every undertaking.
The next day the college paper published under my signature the following:
I have been asked why I voted against sending the telegram to President Wilson which was to say that the University students "stand behind him in whatever he undertakes." I was opposed to it because I object to the all-inclusiveness of the wording which I have just quoted.
When the war first began we condemned that very attitude among the Germans. We criticized severely their blind obedience to the Kaiser. Now at the first shadow of war, although we are not in the danger the Germans were with hostile countries on both sides shall we lock up our brain and throw the key away?
To say that we are behind the President in everything he undertakes, especially at this stage of the international situation, is to undermine the very foundations of democratic government. It is an indication of mob-mindedness and is least to be expected and most to be deplored when found in our colleges.
Instead of being a "glittering generality" the telegram should have said something definite. If it had said, "We are behind you in every move you make to aid the cause of democracy against autocracy, and we urge you to make the entrance of the United States into the war dependent upon the definite agreement of the allies to establish a league to enforce peace after the conflict is over and while overpowering the German government to oppose dismembering and economically crushing that nation and thus sowing the seeds of future warfare" -- if the message had been of that order, I would have been among the first to say aye.
When the college term ended I volunteered in June, 1917, in one of the engineer regiments which Marshal Joffre on his visit to Washington urged the United States to organize and dispatch at once to France; it was called at first the 8th and later the 18th Railway Engineers. (I had been working summers as transitman in the United States Public Land Surveys in Alaska and the Rockies.) Six weeks after the regiment was organized we were sent to France where I remained until discharged from service June, 1919. In June, 1918, I was transferred to the Intelligence Service (G.2, S.O.S.) and in December was attached in a confidential position to the American Peace Commission in Paris where I remained for six months.
I had access there to many highly secret official documents, not only the daily record of the secret meetings of Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, etc., but daily despatches between the President and American generals on all fronts, our diplomats, and Washington (on the home and Senate situation). I was in an unusual position to see daily what was really happening, and how little the press or public knew of this, and to see, too, from the inside how propaganda was being handled abroad and at home. I was also one of those chosen to guard President Wilson on his return to Paris from Washington until the secret service men he brought with him could take over, my job being mainly to "smell" the bouquets sent him to see they hid no bombs. I mention these details to show the degree to which my functions encouraged a skeptical attitude -- in one already born a Missourian.
My mental evolution during the war and armistice period does not need to be reconstructed now from memory; it can be followed in these excerpts from what I wrote then:
March, 1918. [Letter published in the Missoulian, Missoula, Mont.]
"I can not understand the wave of intolerance, with its determination to suppress the least expression of non-conformity, which seems to have spread over the country which has always acclaimed its freedom of speech and press," writes Private Clarence K. Streit, formerly of the Missoulian staff, from "Somewhere in France." "I suppose the country is only going through the same psychological stage as that experienced by England and France at the beginning of the war. May they pass through it quickly. When they have, they will realize that in a country fighting to make the world safe for democracy, intolerance, hate and forced conformity are among the enemies of the cause."
Oct. 26, 1918. [Letter]
It is going to be mighty easy to lose this war in winning it. By that I mean that I think the war will have been lost to democracy no matter what the decision on the field if the prime motive in the making of peace is not the safe-guarding of the world against another catastrophe such as this war. If only a quarter of the zeal paid in each country to the protection of its "national interests" were devoted to the interests of humanity!
Dec. 22, 1918. [Paris, Letter]
I reached Paris about 9 a.m. Saturday Dec. 14th.... Soon came the boom of a cannon. The President had arrived.... I arrived at the Champs Elysees just in time to hear the cheers and see the handkerchiefs and hats waving.... He received a magnificent reception. ... The French recognize the greatness of Wilson, even if a portion of the American public, perhaps too close to him and certainly too far distant from the late front, can't seem to appreciate him....
Dec. 23, 1918. [Diary, Paris, Record Room, American Peace Commission]
I made the usual inspection to see what important papers had been left out. Found a great deal of valuable information lying around. Also all the keys to the filing cabinets. Among other things, a document dated Nov. 29, 1918, from the French Republic to the U.S. Government giving plans for Peace conference drawn up by French Govt.
One learns a great deal at this station. Surprising the way things are left accessible. This record room contains all the files and documents of the Peace Commission.... It is enough to give one an idea of the immensity of the problems confronting the coming conference -- to see the universal scope of the documents and books in this room.
Jan. 9, 1919. [Diary, Paris]
So many diverse peoples of the world are expecting so many diverse benefits from Wilson and America at the Peace Conference that the many inevitable disappointments are likely to have a boomerang effect in the world's opinion of the U.S. There is such a thing as setting up too great expectations.
Before the Armistice the Allied press was filled with stories of the lack of food and raw materials in Germany, paper suits, etc. Since the Armistice the press is filled with stories of the comfortable situation of the Germans, of the plenitude of food in Germany, and no one has yet spoken of seeing a paper suit. The answer is -- Propaganda. Germany is menaced by famine, yet the idea of feeding their enemies grates upon some Christian folk and they try to prove that said enemies need no food....
No doubt German historians will prove the war was a victory for Germany or, at least, that she was not beaten. And millions of Germans will be brought up to believe that. Just as millions of other children will be brought up to believe another "truth." Each group of belligerents used its press for four years to instill into the majority of its people its own particular "truths," these "truths" being as absolutely opposed to each other as the soldiers of the two camps during a bayonet charge.
It would be idle to suppose that the effects of this persistent propaganda should die out with the Armistice and that now Truth should shake off her shackles, reveal herself to all people of the world so that no one could longer doubt her identity. Even in times of continued peace we cannot decide just what is this much referred to "Truth." What chance is there for her to be recognized now?
Jan. 18, 1919. [Diary, Paris]
The grand conference of Paris has at last opened, ushered in with some well chosen platitudes from the mouth of President Poincaré .... Surround the peace conference with a halo of high and noble thoughts, and then do your dirty work behind closed doors. Same old scheme that they worked in Vienna in 1815.... Read the stenographic report of the afternoon's session.
Jan. 25, 1919. [Diary, Paris]
Gave the peace conference the once over ... from the outside. Populo is not very popular with the peace commissioners. He is useful as a background for the splendid limousines which roll by and up to the door of the Quai d'Orsay, carrying his "servants." ... There were two or three hundred of populo, representing most of the Allied nations, many soldiers anxious to see the "fathers of the victory," the "premier poilus," the select few who "won the war."
Many of them, I gathered from phrases overheard, were waiting especially to see Pres. Wilson.... I recognized Balfour, and I think I saw Winston Churchill. ... Marshal Foch ... drew a cheer.... The President ... also drew a cheer, and the crowd pressed to the fence to see him descend from his car.... They could only get a glimpse of him. Cold weather, nipping wind. But crowd stuck. I see in the morning papers that Pres. Wilson made an important speech on the Society of Nations at this session.
Feb. 19, 1919. [Paris, Letter to a French girl]
President Wilson's speeches were all that reconciled me in the least toward this war as a war. The patriotic speeches only disgusted me. The men who were the strongest supporters of the United States entering the war "for democracy," why, they were all the worst reactionaries in America, men who all their lives had bitterly opposed democracy at home. And the men, most of them at least, who protested against our entering the war and were called traitors and maligned in the press -- they were the men who had been abused for years by the same press because they advocated democratic reforms.
I detested the German government and the German idea, wherever I found it. And I found plenty of Prussianism in the U.S. I put little faith in the Allied protestations of democracy. And, in the last three months, I have seen enough of the secret inside workings to know that the heads of the Allied Governments are not sincerely democratic, they are only as democratic as they feel compelled to be by public opinion. Some of them are cynically un-democratic, though in their public speeches they usually hide this.
[I would here give a general warning to the reader. I was only 21 when I enlisted and had never been east of the Mississippi. I was much impressed in Paris by the fact that I was then in a better position to judge what was really going on than most contemporaries, more impressed by this than by the facts that the picture was, even so, very incomplete and that I was young and inexperienced.
Nor did I then realize what strange chameleons documents are. A passage in a document read when it is fresh and in the light of one's impression of the whole situation then may seem to one cynical and significant, while if read years later when quite removed from the context of events it may seem innocent and ordinary. Conversely, documents that raised no eyebrows when written can take on a most sinister meaning when read years after the contemporary atmosphere has gone, and facts not common knowledge then have come to light, or viewpoints have changed.
We tend to assume that the picture we get of a given event will be the one the future will get of it or that the past got. Yet how many of the factors that influenced President Wilson and other leaders of his day are lost to us, and how many factors that we know now were unknown to them?]
March 3, 1919. [Paris, Letter]
Part of the Louvre museum is now open.... I've visited it twice. What did I go back to see the second time? Especially the Venus de Milo. And also the Victory of Samothrace.... The Victory of Samothrace has no head. Did Victory ever have a head? Perhaps. But it always loses it....
No doubt these letters of mine from Paris are rather disappointing to you. So little about this epoch-making Peace Conference -- this great historical assembly...
I might say, however, that this is not a Peace Congress but an inter-allied Victory meeting, with indignation as the guiding general force and Individual Economic Interest as the chief counselor of each nation. If you want to cling to your opinion of the greatness of a number of gentlemen much in the public's eye why, stay home and read the newspapers. Don't hang around here.
But still, this conference is an enlightened body compared to some of the vociferous Senators back home, for whom political thinking ended when the Constitution was written and the Monroe Doctrine enunciated. The world is moving mighty fast these days, but just where it is going I would not venture to say. Ah, these piping days of -- the armistice.
But I'll re-iterate that President Wilson, in my opinion, is far ahead of the others. But he is handicapped by lack of support at home and I doubt if he will be able to accomplish much.
March, 1919. [Paris, Letter]
The opinions of the American press these days show a lamentable ignorance of world conditions. To read the papers, and the speeches of ... [various] ... senators, one would think that they have been asleep for the last five or ten years. They talk about ... keeping out of European affairs. Were we able to keep out of this war? The world isn't as big as it used to be. And it is getting smaller all the time.
I don't think the proposed League of Nations is by any means perfect.... What discourages me with so much of American criticism of the League -- it is so plainly caused by nothing more than personal or party hostility to the man Wilson. Or it is urged by a selfish nationalism. It is not helping the cause of future world peace.
March 20, 1919. [Paris. Letter to a French girl]
I think parents are rather under obligation to the child. The same reasoning I apply to man's relation to the state. A man owes a state nothing because of the fact that he happened to be born in it. It was through no choice of mine that I am an American. I could be naturalized now as citizen of some other country? True, but the state, in educating me, was fitting me for a life within that state, its object was to train me into being a good citizen of it. And the very accident of birth gave me dear associations, friends, memories in America, made me prejudiced in her favor. I would not change. With all her faults, I prefer America to any other country.
But -- had I been born in Prance, say, of French parents -- I would no doubt prefer to be French, would be proud of my French nationality just as you are. And if the fates had willed that I should have been born an Englishman, a Russian, a German, a Chinaman, a Turk or any other nationality, I would undoubtedly be just as happy in my state and prefer it to any other.
And yet, this simple accident of birth under one flag instead of another colors the mental attitude and distorts the intellectual processes of most men, including most of the men whom I used to look up to as intellectuals, men of science and philosophy, men whose sole concern was the truth. This war showed the stuff of which the world's "elite" or "intelligenzia" is made -- and it a sight enough to make one despair.
For my part, I love America -- aside from the accident of birth -- because of the ideals on which the Republic was founded (not all of them, however), I love American life for its boundless energy, its freedom from tradition, because it is facing the future and not the past. But that isn't going to keep me from trying to see things as they really are. I am an intelligent man first, an American afterwards. The United States is now undoubtedly the most powerful single nation on the globe. All the more need then for men in America whose allegiance is to the human race.
My evolution, then, has not been from unthinking acceptance of the war to disillusioned belief that it was a monstrous mistake into which we the people were led through no fault of ours but through sinister influences. My evolution has been from doubtful acceptance of the war as being, on balance, more right than wrong, to a bitter feeling as early as 1919 that it had been botched. After this interlude of disillusionment I have slowly grown to the deep conviction that with all their mistakes Wilson and the American people chose the lesser evil in all their essential choices.
Though I went into the war favoring a league to enforce peace, I thought of it then only vaguely. When President Wilson talked of making the world safe for democracy I did not then understand that the real problem was not that of doing justice at once, but of providing the means of doing justice, the machinery of world self-government. I lost interest in his League in 1919 because it was coupled with so bad a treaty and because I thought it was too weak. I have since become convinced that, considering all he had to face and choose between, President Wilson showed high statesmanship in tying the Covenant to the Treaty of Versailles, and that he got as strong a world organization founded as was practically possible then. Though I have since come also to believe that the League is no solution for us because its basic working principle -- which I never questioned then -- is wrong, I am nonetheless convinced that this League was practically essential for the necessary transition to world organization on a sound basis. But when I left the army I was so disappointed with Woodrow Wilson and his works, and so opposed to the irreconcilables, that I took no part in the ensuing fight over the League at home.
I went to work as a reporter and then in January, 1920, returned to Europe as a Rhodes Scholar. After covering the Turco-Greek war, during vacation, for the Philadelphia Public Ledger, I left Oxford in the Fall of 1921 to become the Ledger's Rome correspondent. My interest in the League had so ebbed that though I was in Lausanne for months in 1922-23 reporting the Turkish peace conference I never bothered to make the trip of only one hour needed to visit Geneva. I never saw the League in action, in fact, before The New York Times sent me in 1929 from New York to Geneva to be its correspondent there. Meanwhile, however, my life and work in many parts of Europe and especially in the territory of the Central Powers had helped persuade me that we had not made a mistake in entering the war.
The reasons that split Americans for and against the League in 1920 were, of course, paper reasons, for the League then existed only on paper. Yet to this day only a relative handful of Americans have had or taken occasion to test their theories by studying on the spot how the League of Nations really works in practice. Most of the leading American opponents of the League have such faith in pure theory that they have never so much as laid eye on a League meeting. My own theories about the League have had to face the facts.
Unlike most of those who have been in close contact with the League and its problems, I have never been responsible for any part of the League machinery or for producing results in any of its fields for any government. My responsibility, instead, has been that of reporting objectively, accurately and understandingly to all who cared to read what these others were doing. This function required close continual contact with the permanent officials of the League, I.L.O. and Bank, with the policies and special problems and delegations of all important member and non-member countries, and with all big world questions, political, economic, monetary, social -- and yet sharp detachment always from each of these. No one present but the reporter had this function. Nor was any one under more pressure to see each day's development in every field in terms of living men and women, and to judge correctly the essentials in it interesting laymen and experts far removed in distance or occupation. I have enjoyed the further and immense advantage of reporting for The New York Times. Mr. Ochs said to me, as my only instructions on being appointed League correspondent in early 1929: "Remember always to lean backwards in being fair to those whose policies The New York Times opposes."
Such, briefly, was the road which I took at the age of 21 and by which I have come in 21 years to propose Union now.
On all great subjects much remains to be said. -- Mill.
One must not always finish a subject so completely as to leave nothing for the reader to do. The object is not to make others read but to make them think. -- Montesquieu, De l'Esprit des Lois.
When Aristide Briand proposed his European Federation the similarity of many of the responses impressed me. They applauded, they said: "This is noble, this is what we all want," and they added, "But there is this difficulty and that difficulty, and how is he going to meet them?" They acted as if the veteran French statesman, though in a much better position than they to see the difficulties his proposal faced, had not foreseen them and needed their help in seeing rather than in solving them. They implied that all these difficulties were for him to overcome; they assumed the role of spectators who would not be affected if his project came to naught through his failure to overcome every difficulty himself. These waiters-for-a-perfect-plan could not see that in this enterprise they were willy-nilly involved, that they too would be punished -- swiftly, mercilessly, increasingly -- for failure to solve in time the problems on which Aristide Briand had made so brave a beginning.
I am aware of many of the difficulties confronting The Union, and I have no doubt that there exist more than I realize. I know that this book has led me into fields where others have a much greater knowledge than I. No one needs to take time to convince me that this book falls far short of what it should be, that it is weak indeed compared to the great enterprise it would promote. I regret that this book is not as clear, short, complete, well-organized, free from error, easy to read and hard to controvert on every page as I -- perhaps more than any one -- desire it to be. I feel, however, that I have reached the point of diminishing return for isolated work on its problem, and that time presses for an agreed if imperfect answer. My hope is that the book can now make at least the friends it needs, for if it can then I am sure that they can do far more than I to correct its faults and advance its purpose.
One can not believe as I do in democracy and fail to believe that the surest way to bring out the true from the false and to accomplish any great enterprise is to get the greatest number of individual minds to working freely on it. The variety in our species is so rich that one can be sure in any such undertaking that one can do almost no detail in it so well as can some one else.
Democracy taps this rich vein. It recognizes that Man can not foresee which obscure person or lowly thing may suddenly become of the greatest value to Man. And so it sets an equal value on every man and on every thing, and seeks to give equal freedom to every man to do the thing he best can do and trade it in the commonwealth for all the billion things he can not do so well. That is the meaning of democracy's great declaration, All men are created equal, and the reason why the rise of democracy has led to the discovery of more and more truths and to the doing of greater and greater enterprises.
And so I ask you not merely to make known any error you have found in this book but to try yourself to solve the problem that it leaves. Since it was you who found the fault how can you know that you are not the one who can overcome it better than I, better than anyone?
After all, are not your freedom, your prosperity, your security, your children at stake as well as mine? Is not the problem of world government your individual problem as well as mine? Can I alone organize the world for you any more than you for me? Can any dictator do it for us? If you and I and the other man and woman working freely and equally together can not gain our common end, then how on earth can it be gained?
For Man's freedom and vast future man must depend on man. It is ours together, or no one's and it shall be ours.
Contents -- Chapter XIII