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

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PARIS, Tuesday —A soft-spoken, gentle little lady dressed in black came to see me yesterday and brought with her a copy of a book that was given to me by her husband last year in Geneva. The book was written by this lady's son, Etienne Mantoux, who was killed in action near a Bavarian village in the Danube valley on April 29, 1945, and is called "Carthaginian Peace" or "The Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes." It is a scholarly book and well documented, but nevertheless it was written so that the layman can and should read it and understand it.

Young Mr. Mantoux spent most of his early years in London and his school years, for the most part, in Geneva and Paris. His father was deep in the work of the League of Nations, and Etienne grew up with the hope of peace among all nations in his heart.

With his father he attended one of the Williamstown Conferences in the United States at the age of 17, and he listened with avidity to all the round-table discussions. At the time he realized the difficulties and dangers to our own times and all their significance to the younger generation. He distinguished himself as a student and scholar, and when his book was published after his death his father and mother received many letters telling them how much the book might help to prevent some of the same mistakes that had been made after the first World War.

Mr. John M. Keynes is dead, so he is not here to answer this challenge to his economic theories, but what he has written is on the record and the history of the last few years is before us to read. We can study it and in the light of what has happened we can compare it with Mr. Mantoux's theories. The book is available and on sale in the United States, and I hope those who understand that the political point of view and the economic point of view go hand in hand in almost every problem will read it and ponder on past mistakes and help their governments avoid new ones.

Sometimes I think one of our great troubles is that we do not sit down and think through to our ultimate objectives. We are apt to meet questions as they come upon us, using our best judgment to meet a crisis of the moment but sometimes not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

I wish at the present time that we could have, say, a half dozen of the very best minds in the United States sit away from the hurly-burly of personal contact and of argument and counter-argument and use their knowledge of the past and their accumulated wisdom in drawing up a plan for the future.

The idea of a planned economy terrifies our great industrial leaders, I know, and yet many countries of the world are obliged to live under what amounts to a planned economy. It seems there is less opposition to political planning, and here is where we need the greatest vision and imagination, the greatest objectivity and tact and wisdom.

Someone said the other day that it was time the great nations of the world came to a truce on words, and I am not sure that that might not be a good idea as a forerunner for a real truce in the world.

There is one great truth that will have to be accepted everywhere before the people will be at peace. That is that it will have to be established that there is to be no war. If the people of the world could be assured of that, there would be a renewed energy put into the effort of living. And, believe me, it is an effort in many of the countries of the world today.

Here at the United Nations there would be more hope and faith in efforts to make friends and there would be more patience in coming to a common understanding of the innumerable little problems.

* * *

Some French people whom I know here tell me that there is a great lassitude among the workers, who do not seem to be able to speed up in their work or to put into it the same amount of enthusiasm and effort that they did before the war.

One wonders if Communist propaganda has something to do with this. An open letter in one of the newspapers, which I am told is under Communist influence, was addressed to me. In it I was taken to task for thinking well of Secretary of State George C. Marshall and the European Recovery Program. I was told of the high prices and the difficulties of living, and was warned against the antagonistic attitude that the United States has demonstrated toward the Soviet Union. Without question, the writer stated, peace could not be assured in Europe without Soviet friendship and acquiescence.

There also was something said about the devotion to my husband's memory and his understanding attitude. Quite evidently, though, the writer has no understanding of my husband's basic attitude, which was that peace could exist only when all the great powers really wanted it. The present misunderstanding of the United States attitude and of the whole problem of control of atomic energy is the real root of the threat to peace in the European area, and until there is a change in Russian thinking there can be no stability.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]
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  • Communism
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  • Nuclear energy
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 13, 1948

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | LC | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | Wikidata | SNAC ]

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