OCTOBER 19, 1948
PARIS, Monday —In the French newspaper, Le Figaro, on Saturday morning there was a very remarkable editorial headed "Who Thinks of France?" As I read it, I could not help wishing that such an editorial might be written in every newspaper in every country of the world.
It was addressed to every Frenchman—the workers, professional men and women, in fact every citizen whatever his occupation or situation. It spoke of the fundamental difficulties faced by France, which are much the same as conditions in all the other countries of Europe. The European countries, of course, face these difficulties with less margin for mistakes than we have still left us in the United States.
Here they have the destruction of war in cities and villages and in fields and factories that they must actually rebuild. They recognize the fact that the Marshall Plan is giving them the opportunity to do this. In addition, however, they have a great social readjustment to make, for countries do not live through years of destructive war without causing the people great losses, both materially and spiritually, which necessitates an infinite amount of hard work on every level.
That is the crux of the matter.
This readjustment requires sacrifice, but to be accepted by everyone, each must feel that the proportion of sacrifice is equally divided. Changes in economic conceptions are hard to accept, since they touch habits and customs that are deep-rooted in most countries. Nevertheless, these changes are necessary, not only because of needs at home but because similar situations exist in other countries close by, and these European economies react on each other more quickly than they react on countries overseas.
* * *
One is conscious in France of the frequent strikes and unrest in the labor world, but one feels that much of it is brought about by the strength of the Communist party. The Communists here work much more in the open than at home in spreading their economic doctrine and social and political ideas.
It is rather openly stated here that the Communist parties of the countries of Western Europe are working closely together in trying to achieve a general state of unrest and confusion in order to bring about certain definite objectives. Nevertheless, I think there is less anxiety here about the Communist influence than there is in the United States. One of the main reasons, I think, is that here they work out in the open. They are a recognized party, sitting in various parliaments.
I heard one European statesman whimsically remark that while he disliked the Communists heartily he thought he disliked the anti-Communists more, because almost invariably the latter did the things that increased the Communist influence and power. This amused me because my main objection to the list of subversive organizations, which we got out in the United States, the loyalty tests and the antics of the House Un-American Activities Committee is that instead of effectively fighting the Communist influence they really help toward its development.
* * *
Our work on Committee Three (U.N. Social Committee) in this General Assembly session is still practically standing still. I feel that if we devoted as much time actually to trying to accomplish something definite on the declaration of human rights as we do to attack and counterattack among the representatives of the big powers, we should be practically finished with this item on our agenda.
Nevertheless, we are still on Article 3, with any number of articles and amendments before us and a large number of other items on the agenda that have not as yet been touched.
To some of us it looks almost impossible that the committee will get through any worthwhile work at this session. One hopes, however, that the desire actually to pass the Bill of Human Rights and a convention on freedom of information in some form may finally bring about a self-imposed discipline and we will get finished.
I am worried because I feel I should leave for home early in December. But that doesn't seem to worry anyone else on the committee. Some of them tell me with little concern that they will be going home in the near future, and they don't seem worried because they have turned over their responsibilities to other people. What I probably need is to develop a sense of my own unimportance, in which case it would not matter to me whether they continued to work here for a year.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1948, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced
- Marshall Plan [ index ]
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- United Nations. General Assembly. Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural
Affairs [ index ]
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- United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities [ index ]
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- United Nations. General Assembly [ index ]
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- [ index ] Paris (France)
Other Terms and Topics
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 19, 1948
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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