AUGUST 18, 1948
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I have had a number of letters on the subject of an article by Norman Cousins appearing in the Saturday Review of Literature called "Don't Resign From the Human Race." The first point of importance he makes is that men have risen to great heights individually, but that man in the aggregate has done far less well. You could easily justify many individuals surviving, he says, but it would be harder to find good reasons why we should not destroy large groups of people.
Then we come to the most important section of this article where the prosecutor might say: "Here we come to what is the presiding fact of this trial. That fact is that the human race has persisted until now largely because it has had an ample margin for error. It could make mistakes, but never on so large a scale as to threaten its own existence. It could indulge in war, despoil the earth on which its subsistence depended, and engage in massacre, invite disease and plague out of filth and ignorance; it could do all of these things, make all these mistakes again and again, and yet have an ample cushion against ultimate catastrophe."
His final conclusion seems to be that there can never be any agreement between Russia and the United States and, therefore, there must be a higher power to mediate between them and to enforce decisions. The plea is made that instead of the United Nations—only a voluntary plan of nations—a world government must be set up. The difficulty about the change is that we have a charter of the United Nations, which is the law under which it functions, and though it is only a voluntary association of nations, those nations have pledged themselves to conform to the law and to an increasing number of standards on which the majority of nations agree. In the case of a world government you would still have to have an agreement on the law to be followed under the world government system just as our original 13 states had to agree to become one nation. It is a matter of grave doubt in many people's minds as to whether a sufficient number of nations of the world wish to resign their sovereignty and form a world government.
The thing which strikes me is, of course, that if the nations agreed to form and accept a world government, they probably would not need it! They would be able to make the voluntary association as it now exists accomplish all the things which a world government might hope to accomplish. I can think of nothing stupider than indulging in another war when we know that no one wins a war today. I can see no hope of forming a world government if we cannot keep out of war and use the machinery we now have in the United Nations to keep the peace.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1948, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC., REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 18, 1948
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
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