Word Magazine February 1964 Page 12


As we read the headlines day by day in a troubled world, as we observe the tides of discontent inside and outside our own country, we wonder, fancifully, if perhaps a trip to the moon might be worthwhile. The alluring thought crosses our minds that maybe on some other planet there’s a human race which has found the key to happiness.

But the more we search for an alibi, the more we discover that unhappiness on earth is man-made. Our key weakness is that we have not solved the problem of self-government. Whether it be in areas of large population — ­like China, India or the Soviet Union — or in the smaller countries of Africa or Latin America or even in the “sophisticated” United States, the quest for national contentment is plagued by friction, disorder and violence. The perennial struggle is between the autocracy of ambitious masters seeking arbitrarily to impose their will and the inalienable right of the citizen to enjoy the satisfactions of his individual achievement without undue interference by Government.

We seem reluctant to accept the truism that all human beings are not alike and that intelligence cannot be bestowed by Government.

In the United States, for instance, we proclaim that “all men are created equal” and are, therefore, deserving of all the benefits of human society, irrespective of whe­ther they have earned them. Communism at least is forth­right in championing its concept of an “equality” which negates individualism.

Yet we hear, inside our own society, spokesmen for so-called “liberal” thought denouncing Communism but nevertheless accepting much of its basic philosophy. We are told that economic inequality must be abolished by executive decrees or by the coercion of statutory law.

Many in our midst approve of an all-powerful autocratic state in which the Government arbitrarily and in­equitably dictates the amount of income a citizen may retain, or the kind of business in which he may engage, or the customers he may serve, or the number of employees of each race or religion or other classification he may employ.

We observe within our country today harassments by Government that tend to blunt the initiative of our successful and competent citizens and thus destroy the capitalistic system. It is as if we were helping to fulfill Nikita Khrushchev’s fateful prophecy that Communism will eventually “bury us.”

We seem to accept the intellectual aphorisms of those who say that each age is better than its predecessor and that to follow the “spirit” of our times is more important than to adhere to a written Constitution. We are told that the framers of our Constitution didn’t know the demands of modern morality or equity because they never saw an airplane or lived under the threat of a nuclear bomb.

We hesitate to suggest that the same kind of human beings lived 50 or 100 or 2,000 years ago, and that Socrates perhaps had as good a brain as some of our Supreme Court Justices.

Are the Ten Commandments, for example, outmoded because they are old? Are they the “reactionary” doctrines of a bygone day? We are now forbidden even to teach them in public schools. An oligarchy — the highest court of our land — decrees that, if we wish to teach morality regularly in the classroom, we must not quote the written words of the Bible itself. Plainly, we must accept the vacuum of secularism.

Now come also restrictions on initiative, the burdens of an artificial “equality” and the new legislative experiments outlawing “discrimination.” The competent are to be told to make room for the incompetent. The successful men in business are ordered to obey the Government, which at a moment’s notice can destroy their ventures in­to capitalism. For “private” enterprise now has been superseded by a “public” enterprise system.

Thus, in the year 1963, the Government proposes that every business enterprise shall no longer he considered private but “public” and that, irrespective of an owner’s judgment or wishes as to the customers he would select, he must obey the dictates of Government. The mob, encouraged by Government, stands at the threshold of our legislative halls demanding such laws. O Communism, where is thy sting!

Is this the road to human happiness? Shall we abandon the Republic and, acceding to the demonstrations and violence in the streets of our cities — North and South, East and West —become a mobocracy?

There can never be human happiness in a society that imposes a rule of “equality” which disregards merit and rewards incompetence.

As the incentive of individualism is gradually destroyed, free enterprise is abolished. This is not the road to happiness, but to the same disasters that befell autocracies in past centuries. Free men of intelligence have risen before to quell the intolerance and tyrannies of majorities or minorities. They will in time do so again.

By David Lawrence in U. S. News and Report