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

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HYDE PARK, Tuesday—In the reading of my newspapers, I was shocked to see the accusations made of communism against Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Durr and Mr. Aubrey Williams.

I think the time has come when we need to have a clearer understanding of what we mean by communism. There may even be a confusion in the minds of some people between communism and socialism. President Tito of Yugoslavia says that he is trying to set up a socialist state, which is the first step toward communism. The Soviet Union call themselves a socialist democracy and call us an imperialist capitalist bourgeois democracy. President Tito and many other people call the Soviet Union of the present day an imperial country with state capitalism as an economy. If you look at all these different definitions, you realize there is room for some confusion. So let us analyze a little.

Karl Marx certainly preached an economy in which he said everyone would receive according to his needs from communal production. In the present day Soviet economy, that has been translated into a government by a tight little group of people in the Kremlin controlling every job and seeing that everybody works. True, they say that this is conducive to the dignity of man for everybody will receive money on which he can live, but it is not a free economy, it is a controlled economy and while the Soviets argue that it is for the benefit of the people, the people really can do little for themselves. They can not even change their jobs without asking permission, and that takes a long time to achieve.

Conditions for human beings vary greatly in the Soviet Union and in the satellites and there is an aristocracy just as there is in almost every society. Government workers, artists and a few others certainly are better off than the run of the mill people. I spoke advisedly when I said that the government was a tight little group of people in the Kremlin because when you are confronted in elections with no choices, just one ticket, and even those who are elected are pretty limited in what they can do, the government cannot be too much in the hands of the people.

Since World War II, Russia has earned its title of imperialist because it has taken over the government in many countries. It is true that these countries have a semblance of freedom but the Russian army on their borders is a threat which has made them up to this time very docile in following the lines laid down by the Soviet Union.

None of us in the United States fears the Marxist form of economy. We much prefer our own, but we would not feel it necessary to insist that every other nation pattern itself on us and we are willing to compete in the open market and let people judge which they prefer. We cannot tolerate for one minute, however, the idea that we will submit to the type of slavery over the mind and body which has developed in the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin. Those of us who worked with the Soviet delegates are perhaps more conscious of the type of control they are obliged to accept and we are sure that our fellow citizens would never accept it.

Now we must come to consider what is being called communism in our country today and some of the statements in the article I read need to be answered, which I will do in tomorrow's column.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 24, 1954

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.