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


HYDE PARK, Friday—A friend who has just come up from Washington told me he was shocked and worried to find so many people there who felt it was going to be impossible eventually to avoid war. I am horrified at such a thought, since it seems to me that everything we do must be done with the firm intention of strengthening ourselves in the mobilization for peace and insistence on the prevention of war. It cannot be denied that the people who have been inviting wars in many countries seem to be the members of the Communist party within those countries. They profess to be forces of liberation, but the peoples of the various countries involved soon find that "freedom" means fear and virtual slavery.

The economic theories of communism as derived from Karl Marx were not designed to enslave people. The modern police state, however, goes on the theory that government is not designed primarily to promote the welfare of individual human beings, but that the individual is to be used by the government as a tool. In resounding phrases they usually state that these "tools" are serving the good of all. It sounds well, but it doesn't really work out. A police state is not synonymous with freedom, and all of these countries end up as police states.

I find a considerable amount of confusion in people's minds at the present time. First of all, the democracies must not try to force everybody else in the world to accept their particular brand of democracy. Those who believe in democracy must speak of its advantages and work to show why it gives greater opportunity to the individual to control his own destiny. There is no reason, however, why a peaceful state that believes in communism could not live side by side with democracy, if the idea of world revolution were eliminated and no propagandizing and infiltration into neighboring countries was allowed.

For instance, I would be glad to see the United Nations work out a method by which a country such as Korea, once peace is restored there, could hold a free election and be governed by the results of that election. One would hope that a constitution could be written and accepted and that the elected government would function under that constitution, which also would be voted by the people. The only continued U.N. responsibility would be to guarantee that nation from aggression from without. This is one of the obligations undertaken in the U.N. Charter, anyway, so it would be nothing new to any of the member nations.

It seems to me that in Korea we are indirectly fighting the police state type of communism. But more directly we are fighting to uphold the U.N. and to prevent any nation, whether Communist or not, from starting aggressive action against another part of the same nation or an outside nation. Unless this can be made clear once and for all as indefensible, no nation will feel itself free or secure which is not able to defend itself against all comers or has not so arranged its alliances that it can be defended. Only if the U.N. can guarantee universal security can individual nations, no matter how strong they are, hope to see questions settled by reason and not by force in the world of the future.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 5, 1950

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