The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Monday —The other day, the newspapers carried a story about a group of British left-wing Labor Party representatives who had been to Russia to study trade unions and factories. They had visited Premier Stalin at his villa on the Black Sea, and they quoted him as making a statement which he has made frequently—that he had no thought of making war and wished to settle political and economic issues with the United States. He was quoted as adding that if the United States and Great Britain did not wish to settle differences, "we shall wait until they regain their reason."

It seems to some of us that it would be well if he would impart to some of his subordinates his desire for settling differences and explain to them that such settlement is never a one-sided affair—it means compromise. And that is a word which evidently does not exist in the Soviet vocabulary.

You settle with the Russians only if you depart completely from your own position and accept theirs. That is not agreement—that is abdication by one side. This might be possible where the questions at issue are not questions that either side considers fundamental. But inherent in our two systems there are some fundamental differences. And until the Soviet representatives recognize this, and recognize that there must be some mutual compromise, I am afraid that the "regaining of our reason," according to what Mr. Stalin or the Politburo considers reason to be, is going to be difficult to achieve.

* * *

We have made some laws which I consider unfortunate, but they have grown out of the attitude of the Soviet Government to a large extent. Reciprocity must be real. It cannot be one-sided.

Of course, a nation with as many resources and as wide a territory as the USSR can carry on as they did in the past, for a considerable period with very little outside contact, but it will mean greater hardship for their people and for the peoples in the rest of the world. Their decision not to compromise but to wait until we come to our senses seems to me a decision that ignores the fate of peoples the world over.

In fact, it rather callously says: "We do not care what happens to people in the countries that would be affected by this decision. If they have to have a hard time, they will have to have a hard time. We, at the top level, will just decree that the peoples of the world have a hard time. We won't attempt to see how there could be a joint meeting of minds, where both sides could give up certain things and gain certain things.

Tough on the people of the world but easy for USSR officials. No changes will be necessary on their part.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Labour Party (Great Britain) [ index ]
         [ LC ]
  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]
Other Terms and Topics
  • Great Britain--Government
  • Soviet Union--politics

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 21, 1947

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.