Since I first wrote this essay in 1946, some of the more ominous predictions have been fulfilled. Public employees have been subjected to the indignity of “loyalty” oaths and the ignominy of loyalty purges. Members of the United States Senate, moving under the cloak of immunity and the excuse of emergency, have made a joke of justice and a mockery of privacy. Constitutional immunity and legal procedure have been consistently violated and that which once would have been an outrage in America is today refused even a review by the Supreme Court.
The golden voice of social security, of socialized “this” and socialized “that”, with its attendant confiscatory taxation and intrusion on individual liberty, is everywhere raised and everywhere heeded. England has crept under the aegis of a regime synonymous with total regimentation. Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have fallen victims to communism while the United States makes deals with the corrupt dictatorships of Argentina and Spain.
As I write, the United States Senate is pursuing a burlesque investigation into the sphere of private sexual morals, which will accomplish nothing except to bring pain and sorrow to many innocent persons.
The inertia and acquiescence which allows the suspension of our liberties would once have been unthinkable. The present ignorance and indifference is appalling. The little that is worthwhile in our civilization and culture is made possible by the few who are capable of creative thinking and independent action, grudgingly assisted by the rest. When the majority of men surrender their freedom, barbarism is near but when the creative minority surrender it, the Dark Age has arrived. Even the word liberalism has now become a front for a new social form of Christian morality. Science, that was going to save the world back in H.G. Wells’ time, is regimented, strait-jacketed and scared; its universal language is diminished to one word, security.
In this 1950 view some of my more hopeful utterances may appear almost naïve. However, I was never so naïve as to believe that freedom in any full sense of the word is possible for more than a few. But I have believed and do still hold that these few, by self- sacrifice, wisdom, courage and continuous effort, can achieve and maintain a free world. The labor is heroic but it can be done by example and by education. Such was the faith that built America, a faith that America has surrendered. I call upon America to renew this faith before she perishes.
We are one nation but we are also one world. The soul of the slums looks out of the eyes of Wall Street and the fate of a Chinese coolie determines the destiny of America. We cannot suppress our brother’s liberty without suppressing our own and we cannot murder our brothers without murdering ourselves. We stand together as men for human freedom and human dignity or we will fall together, as animals, back into the jungle.
In this very late hour it is with solutions that we must be primarily concerned. We seem to be living in a nation that simply does not know what we are told we have and that we tell each other we have. Indeed, it is far more than that. It is to the definition of freedom, to its understanding, in order that it may be attained and defended, that this essay is devoted. I need not add that freedom is dangerous — but it is hardly possible that we are all cowards.