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


NEW YORK, Wednesday—I was interested to read the account of the national conference on the Point 4 program to improve living conditions in underdeveloped nations. Justice Douglas and Mr. Nelson Rockefeller made some criticisms and suggestions as to what should be done, and Dr. Charles Malik, the Lebanese Minister to the United States, called for a form of giant Marshall Plan to be applied to the Near East, the Middle East and the Far East.

I think I am in agreement with Mr. Rockefeller that to separate the military and economic questions would be wise, but I have an idea that none of these gentlemen stressed sufficiently that even handling economic questions is not going to solve basic problems in many of the countries that are looked upon as backward areas.

Merely raising the standard of living without at the same time giving these people a new philosophy of life is going to leave a vacuum, and that vacuum will be filled by Communist propaganda. The Communists will keep insisting that they can raise economic standards also, but at the same time they will offer ideas to believe in, and strive for, with their so-called doctrines of equality of all human beings and devotion to the state.

The peasant revolt that Justice Douglas wants us to back would not, by itself, be adequate, either.

I am sure we could organize much that we are doing in the economic field better than it is now organized. I am also sure that we could offer less if we used more judgment and waited for people here and there to come to us. This would save us money in the long run and would assure us cooperation, which is important.

In addition, I think it would be well for us to realize that in a large part of the world there is a great preference for having technical assistance come through the United Nations. There is little real interest in bilateral agreements and there is a great deal of suspicion of the motives underlying them.

I am not at all sure that integrating what we do more closely with United Nations activities will not bring us more satisfaction because we will know that more people are contributing, and Congress may feel that this has certain advantages. I do not know what it will mean actually in financial commitments, but even if the commitments are small I think it is important that we keep increasing a sense within the United Nations that we are all working together. We must strive for the feeling that each one of us has a stake in the success of every undertaking in whatever area of the world it may be.

I think it is well for us to review all the work we do from time to time. It is no criticism of the past to say that we can do better in the future. We are walking an uncharted field whether we move through the United Nations or by ourselves and constant examination of the results of what we do will certainly lead us to change and will be beneficial.

Certain nations in the world would benefit greatly by the import of people with organizing and administrative ability. Some of the new nations lately created are struggling because of the lack of well-trained government officials with high standards of honesty and a knowledge of government routine.

It may well be said that many older governments suffer from the same lack of honest and devoted public servants, since the latter are always hard to find. They are an essential, however, to good government and must be sought. There are many nations in the world that need them in order to develop along lines that will be of real value to their people in the future.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 10, 1952

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.