To the memory of Emma Kirshman, My mother
|And to all those for whom she spoke when with two sons away in the war she wrote:|
|Surely some great good will come out of so much suffering... Our home is broken and empty, but I am not without hope. Some day you will return improved by this awful experience, for by experiences we grow bigger and get a deeper insight in life and its mysteries.|
This book deserves to be read by those who have not done so, and read again now by those who read it years ago. Although one does not have to agree with every detail, it has proved too right too long to be neglected now.
Many books on world affairs are dated in a year or two. That Union Now has remained alive now for twenty-one years speaks volumes. At twenty-one it has the strength and maturity of manhood, and yet has kept the fresh vigor of youth. Twelve years ago I wrote in the Introduction to its Postwar Edition:
"The truths and principles set forth in Union Now are fundamental -- they will never grow old or dated. Time and experience add to this book's undeniable logic."
Reviewers agreed. "If this book was important in 1939, it is more so today," Orville Prescott declared in The New York Times. August Heckscher wrote in The New York Herald-Tribune: "With realism, faith, audacity and prudence ... the postwar edition of Union Now comes with earmarks of a classic. A book with a life of its own, one of the very few in any generation that rise above the influence which gave them birth to shape and direct the future."
The Minneapolis Tribune found "Streit's case was a formidable one when he first made it in 1939. It is even more formidable in this postwar edition which ought to be read by every citizen concerned with the survival of free institutions." And in my own State of Tennessee, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, said: "It was a Book-of-the-Month then (1941), and time, the ultimate test of a classic, has only enhanced its prospects of becoming the Book-of-the-Century."
These were strong statements, but the past twelve years have made them stronger. Meanwhile history has moved relentlessly if painfully in Union Now's direction. Consider:
When Union Now was first published in March 1939, our people believed that neutrality would keep us out of war.
War converted us to wholehearted acceptance of the United Nations in 1945. Within three years we learned that this too was not enough. By 1949 the United States led in establishing the North Atlantic Treaty.
In proposing that the democracies unite, Union Now launched a frontal assault on the assumption that regions could only be continental In 1939 when people took for granted that oceans divided and land united nations, this book saw "the enormous advantage of being ... grouped ... around that cheap and excellent means of communication, a common body of water," which the Atlantic nations enjoyed.
Written before transatlantic commercial flights became commonplace, before jet planes were known or the sound barrier broken, Chapter V told of the many bonds that already united these peoples. No one before, to my knowledge, had recognized that they formed what we now commonly call "the Atlantic community."
In 1949 the prevailing view was that the NATO alliance would be enough. A goodly number in both Houses of Congress, however, had already been impressed by Union Now's warning that alliance would no more suffice than did the United Nations which it supplemented. They joined me in introducing in that year a resolution asking the United States to call a convention of delegates to explore how we might unite the democracies more strongly, federally or otherwise.
By 1955 an annual Conference of Members of Parliament of NATO nations was established. In 1957 I was a delegate to the Conference they held the month after sputnik went into orbit. It unanimously endorsed the Convention idea. In Book I, Clarence Streit has dealt with the approval of it by the Atlantic Congress in 1959, the authorization of the Convention by the United States Congress in 1960, the pledge of a "broader partnership" which the Democratic Platform gave the Atlantic Community and the Nixon-Rockefeller proposal of Atlantic Confederation. All this makes the chapters of Union Now which follow timely indeed. A book that has so consistently proved so right through so many years of upheaval is worth reading now -- or re-reading by previous readers.
"Clarence Streit," I wrote in my previous Introduction, "is a great American. He has faced many obstacles in securing consideration for Union Now, but with vision and determination he has persisted."
In my campaign for renomination this Summer, my opponent spoke disparagingly of my friendship with Clarence Streit. My answer was:
"I am proud to be counted among Mr. Streit's friends, and I have a deep respect for his dedication to an ideal which seeks to find a real answer to the problem of peace in a world which can blow itself to cinders at the touch of a button. We need more Clarence Streits today."
And he deserves to be read, and re-read, today.
|NOV. 19, 1960|
|U.S. SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE|
Union Now is remarkable because it was born out of the kind of circumstances which produced the few great books of the world's political literature. Our matter-of-fact era commits a great mistake in believing that the really significant accomplishments of political literature are simply the result of long and dispassionate research, which the investigator carries on from sheer curiosity or -- what is worse -- from the exigencies of professorial competition. This is manifestly not enough. Those few works that constitute landmarks in our political history were creations of men who on the one hand were keenly suffering under the burdens of unsolved problems which threatened to crush their own lives and who on the other hand grasped those problems with the greatest sincerity and the most universal human outlook possible.
And when these two conditions of creative activity are present, works appear like the Republic, the De Monarchia, the Defensor Pacis, the Prince, the Vindiciae, the Six Books of the Republic, the Two Treatises of Civil Government, the Spirit of the Laws, the Social Contract, the Wealth of Nations, the Essay on Liberty, Das Kapital -- to mention only the most portentous for the future. Accomplished scholarship, sophisticated terminology are not necessary attributes of these works. Many of them appeared to contemporary scholars as dilettante attacks against their professional monopoly.
I do not hesitate to class Mr. Streit's Union Now among these great works of human emancipation. One might say that it combines the acute, realistic analysis of a Hamilton with the exuberant vision of a Walt Whitman. As a matter of fact, his book is the new Federalist, a carefully and minutely elaborated plan for a federal union of democracies, which may serve as a stepping stone to broader and more universal union. In writing this book, he has practically written his own personal history, from the moment when the World War snatched him from his own home, through his experiences as war correspondent, and through his sad disillusionment with the League of Nations. [See Annex, "My Own Road to Union," p. 296; some prefer to begin the book by reading this first.] From that time he realized keenly that the present anarchy of the world, with all its disasters, was and is primarily not a problem of the states but a problem of the individual; that the League of Nations was doomed to failure because it was not a union of free men but a league of jealous and egotistic governments; that our present misfortunes were due not to narrow-minded and wicked statesmen but to a system which must necessarily and inevitably sacrifice the individual to the Moloch of national sovereignty.
And here appears the great eighteenth century animus of the book, by which it became a successor to the spirit of the American and French Revolutions. It shows magnificently how a system in which the individual abandons his moral sovereignty will make of him a tool or slave of the state [Chaps. VI, IX]. It shows no less forcefully that a truly individualistic conception of society leads unavoidably to the highest amount of human cooperation, both inside and outside of the state, until it reaches the ultimate possibilities.
These are not all new ideas. On the contrary, there is nothing in the author's argument which would not be understandable to the Stoics, the philosophers of Christian universality, the founders of international law, and the fighters for English, French and American democracy. But his new and creative vision is the sober and at the same time inspired elaboration of the remedy. He demonstrates that the task for the union of the democracies is not essentially different from the task which the United States has accomplished, and that this union would not only be a protection against war but the most spectacular step ever taken to solve our social problems while maintaining individual liberty and human dignity.
I venture to say that from no textbook or series of textbooks will you understand the essence of the political process and the dynamics of international relations so clearly as from the study of Union Now. At the same time, it makes you conscious participants in a supreme moral task. It will convince you that the future does not lie in the hands of the dictators or of the bankrupt democratic statesmen of Europe but rather in the determination of courageous individuals conscious of their own power. Or, as Mr. Streit puts it: "For man's freedom and vast future, man most depend on man. It is ours together or no one's, and it shall be ours."
P.S. I gave the preceding introduction first as a review of Union Now on April 13, 1939, at Oberlin College Chapel. The eventful years since then have confirmed, not changed my opinion of it -- O. J., Professor of Political Science, Oberlin College, August 16, 1948. [He died in 1957.]
Contents -- Chapter 13 -- Chapter I