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

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PARIS, Thursday .—Occasionally over here somebody says to me: "What will happen if peace comes? We are all geared from the economic standpoint for a war economy. It would mean economic collapse."

Many of us who have a habit of looking backward as well as forward remember people who came home after traveling in Germany before World War II. They would tell with great admiration of the fact that there was no unemployment in Germany, that everyone was working, that conditions, on the whole, were very good. But these conditions were brough about almost entirely by Hitler's preparation for war.

Now, many people in Europe feel a certain analogy between prewar Germany and the United States of today and wonder if, rather than face an economic collapse, certain people in our nation would not rather have war.

Of course, this is utterly ridiculous and unnecessary. Those of us who know the needs of the underdeveloped areas of the world today are conscious of the fact that there is a need for production that will go on for many, many years. When it is possible, the production for defense can be quickly changed to production for peacetimes usages.

This cannot happen, however, unless there is a blueprint and unless a decision is taken now as to the steps that will be followed when we reach the point where we feel we can face the Soviet Union on an even basis.

That day we should be ready to enter into world-wide development, which probably could be started now but probably cannot get into full swing until less money has to be devoted to defense preparation.

We should know how and what we will produce, where we will place it, what we will get in return for it, and how we are going to develop a permanent peacetime economy, moving according to priority from one section of the world to another until we have a well-balanced international economy.

This requires thinking and planning on a world scale. I am sure that it should be done within the United Nations or, in any case, in close cooperation with the U. N. A well-thought-out plan needs us to increase the heights of freedom and higher standards of living, but only if we have the imagination and the brains of the people who have built great enterprises in their own sections of the world, proving their ability to achieve greater benefits for the whole world.

Only the unimaginative could ever ask the question: "Do we have to have an economic collapse if our defense preparation comes to an end?"

We should face a peaceful world not only without fear but with great joy at the realization that the creative powers of many people can be let loose for good instead of being directed toward developing the type of goods that are essential for defense but which bring no return on the economic level. When these goods for defense are used in war they are destroyed and a chain of destruction is started, instead of a chain of constructive development such as peacetime activity can produce.

E. R.


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  • Paris (France) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 4, 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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Available under licence from the Estate of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.