Tag: <span>World Citizenship</span>

Danilo Dolci Book Reviews

Danilo Dolci: Development and Opposition to the Oppression of…

Featured Image: Portrait of Danilo Dolci. Conference in Geneva, Mai 25, 1992. By MHM55, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Gandhi of Sicily”.

Danilo Dolci (1925-1997),  was active in the movement for world citizenship and deeply influenced by the non-violent methods of Mahatma Gandhi. He was often called “The Gandhi of Sicily”.

In 1952;  Danilo Dolci went to live in a small, very poor town of western Sicily. The towns-people watched him and wondered why an intelligent and well-educated man should come to live in an area where murder was commonplace;  and the poor stole from the poor. The people had tolerated Fascism for 21 years and the oppression of the Mafia even longer.

Danilo Dolci;  born near Trieste in the north of Italy;  was the son of a railroad official who had worked in Sicily in this youth;  and told his family of the poverty and suffering there – a place to be avoided if possible. When the Second World War began;  Danilo Dolci was conscripted but refused combatant training and was imprisoned. After the war;  he worked with a dynamic priest, Zeno Saltini who had built a community for abandoned children.

The Connections with the Mafia.

However;  Danilo Dolci went on to study architecture and town planning in Milan and Rome;  and wrote articles on the use of reinforced concrete. He had a spiritual awakening experience ; which led him to ask if his life goal was to build luxury apartments;  for those who were already well-off. He replied “no” and recalled his father’s accounts of poverty in Sicily.

Dolci moved to western Sicily;  and following the example of Gandhi; first set out to listen to the life experiences of the people around him. He later published these accounts in a series of books;  based on what the poor said of themselves and their lives. (1) Unemployment and under-employment were constant themes.

A job could be had only through the connections with the Mafia;  which controlled what little formal economy existed in the area. The Mafia had ties to the political structures as well as to the higher Roman Catholic clergy.

Mahatma Gandhi

You might to be interesting read Simone Panter-Brick Gandhi and Nationalism.

“Reverse Strike”

Dolci worked simultaneously on two fronts. On one;  he tried to give immediate help;  on the other;  he tried to address the causes of misery. In 1956;  Dolci and his local friends launched a “reverse strike” by repairing a long neglected road. Their justification for this was Article 4 of the Italian Constitution which affirms that:

“all citizens have the right to work and to promote conditions which render this right effective.”

The day before this “strike-in-reverse” the 700 participants fasted in preparation. Dolci and 22 others were arrested and sentenced to four months in prison. The trial, however;  drew international attention to Dolci and his ideas and efforts.

Dolci established a Centro Studie Insitiative; a sort of village university, close in spirit to the Danish Folk High Schools. The aim was to disperse the despair and hopelessness that the Mafia and poverty had brought to Sicily.

His work was of small, patient steps. The path is not easy but is being continued by others for whom he set out the way.

Danilo Dolci

Trappeto, Sicily 1952. Social activist Danilo Dolci in a hunger strike for eight days (October 14 to 21), in the home of Mimmo and Giustina, whose child died of hunger. [1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note.

1) For two books of Danilo Dolci in English of Sicilians telling of their life experience see: Danilo Dolci. Sicilian Lives (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981, 304pp) and Danilo Dolci. To Feed the Hungry (London: Macgibbon and Kee, 1959, 327pp).

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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politics without borders Appeals

Politics Beyond National Frontiers.

Featured Image: Photo by  Markus Spiske,  Unsplash.

In our current globalized world society, there is an increased role for politics without borders.  Politics no longer stops at the water’s edge but must play an active role on the world stage. 

However, unlike politics at the national level which usually has a parliament at which the actors can recite their lines, the world has no world parliament as such.  Thus new and inventive ways must be found so that world public opinion can be heard and acted upon.

Beyond The Borders of Individual Countries. 

The United Nations General Assembly is as close to a world parliament that we have today.  However, all the official participants are diplomats appointed by their respective States – 195 members.  U.N. secretariat members, the secretariat members of U.N. Specialized Agencies such as UNESCO and the ILO are in the hall ways or coffee shops to give advice.  Secretariat members of the financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF are also there to give advice on costs and the limits of available funds.  The representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in consultative status with the U.N. who can speak at sessions of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council cannot address the General Assembly directly. However, they are also in the coffee shops and may send documents to the U.N. Missions of governments.

Politics without borders requires finding ways to express views for action beyond the borders of individual countries. 

Today, most vital issues that touch the lives of many people go beyond the individual State:

  • The consequences of climate change.
  • The protection of biodiversity.
  • The resolution of armed conflicts.
  • The violations of human rights.
  • More just world trade pattern. 

Thus we need to find ways of looking at the world with a global mind and an open heart.  This perspective is an aim of world citizenship.

However, world citizens are not yet so organized as to be able to impact political decisions at the United Nations and in enough individual States so as to have real influence.  The policy papers and Appeals of the Association of World Citizens are often read with interest by the government representatives to whom they are sent.  However, the Association of World Citizens is an NGO among many and does not have the number of staff as such international NGOs as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace.

We still need to find effective ways so that humanity can come together to solve global problems – that is – politics without borders.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Arnold Toynbee Rapprochement of Cultures.

Arnold Toynbee: A World Citizens view of challenge and…

Featured Image: Arnold Toynbee. By Atyyahesir, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975)  was a historian, a philosopher of history, and an advisor on the wider Middle East to the British Government.  Already a specialist in Greece and the Middle East from his university studies; and in the intelligence services during the First World War; he was an expert delegate on the English delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.

Our modern Western nationalism has an ecclesiastical tinge, for, while in one aspect it is a reversion to the idolatrous self-worship of the tribe which was the only religion known to Man before the first of the ‘higher religions’ were discovered by an oppressed internal proletariat…it is a tribalism with a difference.  The primitive religion has been deformed into an enormity through being power-driven with a misapplied Christian driving force. 

Arnold Toynbee A Study of History.

Classical Greece and Decadence of a Civilization.

The breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of new states in the Middle East followed.  Also there was the start of Zionist activities in Palestine and frontier and population transfers between Greece and Turkey – all issues on which Arnold Toynbee gave advice.  He became director of studies of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) an early “think tank” created to advise the British Government (1).

At the same time that he was an advisor on the Middle East (Chatham House producing a respected Yearbook on world affairs); Toynbee continued writing on the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome; much influenced by the spirit of Thucydides.  Toynbee was struck by the alternative between union and division as the defining characteristic of classical Greece.  These were the centuries of the flowering and then final decadence of a civilization; which bears remarkable parallels with the history and perspectives of modern Europe.

 

Thucydides. This is the plaster cast bust currently in exposition of Zurab Tsereteli’s gallery in Moscow (part of Russian Academy of Arts), formerly from the collection of castings of Pushkin museum made in early 1900-1910s.
Original bust is a Roman copy (c. 100 CE) of an early 4th Century BCE Greek original, and is located in Holkham Hall in Norfolk, UK. By user:shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Vision of World Citizens.

Toynbee argued that Greece’s economic development; based on colonization and commerce; together with the maintenance of the political sovereignty of the very small territorial units of the city-state; created an imbalance that could not last.  The city-states; if they did not want to return to autocracy and economic backwardness; should have created a pan-Hellenic political organization to manage problems.  In the same way that Greece failed to mitigate the anarchic character of relations between city-states; Western civilization may flounder and fail.

As Toynbee wrote in Mankind and Mother Earth:

“Evidently few people are ready to recognize that the institution of local sovereign states has failed repeatedly, during the last 5,000 years, to meet mankind’s political needs, and that, in a global society, this institution is bound to prove to be transitory once again and this time more surely than ever before.”

Toynbee placed his hope in creative leaders; those with the vision of world citizens; who, seeing the challenges of the times; would respond with the creation of new more just and peaceful institutions. He placed high hopes in those working for a united Europe which would put an end to the Germany-France-England tensions which had led to two World Wars (2). Toynbee believed that civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively.

However, unlike Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West (1918), Toynbee believed that decline was not inevitable, but that there could be regenerative forces in response to challenges. Those with a world vision and strong energy must come to the fore. Toynbee’s call to enlightened leadership remains a call to us for action.

Oswald Spengler. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R06610 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Erich Fromm Rapprochement of Cultures.

Erich Fromm: Meeting the Challenges of the Century.

Featured Image: Erich Fromm. By Müller-May / Rainer Funk / CC BY-SA 3.0 (DE)

By Rene Wadlow.

I believe that the One World which is emerging can come into existence only if a New Man comes into being – a man who has emerged from the archaic ties of blood and soil, and who feels himself to be a citizen of the world whose loyalty is to the human race and to life, rather than to any exclusive part of it, a man who loves his country because he loves mankind, and whose views are not warped by tribal loyalties.
                                                        
Eric Fromm Beyond the Chains of Illusion.

Eric Fromm (1900-1980), the psychoanalyst was concerned with the relation between personality and society. His life was marked by the socio-political events of the century he faced, especially those of Germany, his birthplace.

Erich Fromm was born into an orthodox Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main.  The families of both his mother and father had rabbis and Talmudic scholars, and so he grew up in a household; where the significance of religious texts was an important part of life. While Fromm later took a great distance from Orthodox Jewish thought; he continued a critical appreciation of Judaism.

He was interested in the prophets of the Old Testament, but especially by the hope of the coming of a Messianic Age – a powerful theme in popular Judaism. The coming of the Messiah would establish a better world; in which there would be higher spiritual standards but also a new organization of society.  The Messianic ideal is one in which the spiritual and the political cannot be separated from one another. (1)

Sociology and Psychology.

He was 14 when the First World War started and 18 when the German State disintegrated – too young to fight but old enough to know what was going on and to be impressed by mass behavior.  Thus; he was concerned from the start of his university studies with the link between sociology and psychology as related ways of understanding how people act in a collective way.

As was true for German university students of his day; he was able to spend a year or a bit more indifferent German universities: in Frankfurt where he studied with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory; whose members he would see again in New York when they were all in exile, at the University of Munich, at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, and at the University of Heidelberg from where he received a doctorate.

Main building of the Ludwig Maximilian University, MunichBavariaGermany. By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.

He had two intellectual influences in his studies: Sigmund Freud whose approach was the basis of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and Karl Marx; a strong influence in the Frankfurt School.  Erich Fromm chose a psychoanalyst path as a profession, learning and, as was required in the Freudian tradition; spending five years in analysis.  Fromm, however; increasingly took his distance from Freudian orthodoxy; believing that society beyond family relations had an impact on the personality.  

However; he also broke one of the fundamental rules of Freudian analysis in not overcoming the transfer of identification with his analyst.  He married the woman who was his analyst.  The marriage broke after four years perhaps proving the validity of Freud’s theories on transfers and counter-transfers.

Colorized painting of Sigmund Freud. By Photocolorization, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Buddha.

Therefore, Erich Fromm’s reputation and his main books rest on his concern with the relation of individual psychology and social forces – the relation between Freud and Marx. However; probably the most fundamental thinker; who structured his approach was the Buddha; whom he discovered around the age of 26. It is not Buddhism as a faith that interested him – Buddhism being the tradition built on some of the insights of the Buddha.  Rather it was the basic quest of the Buddha that interested him: what is suffering?  Can suffering be reduced or overcome?  If so, how?

Erich Fromm saw suffering in the lives of the Germans among whom he worked in the late 1920s; individual suffering as well as socio-economic suffering. For Erich Fromm, there must be a link between the condition of the individual and the social milieu; a link not fully explained by either Freud or Marx.

Multiple rows of golden statues of the Buddha seated, with yellow and red flowers, at Wat Phou Salao (Golden Buddha temple), in PakseLaos. By Basile Morin, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Art of Loving.

Erich Fromm had enough political awareness to leave Germany for the United States just as Hitler was coming to power in 1933. From 1934; he was teaching in leading US universities. In 1949 he took up a post as professor at the National Autonomous University in Mexico but often lectured at US universities as well.

Erich Fromm’s work is largely structured around the theme of suffering and how it can be reduced.  There is individual suffering. It can be reduced by compassion and love. One of his best-known books is The Art of Loving. Love is an art, a “discipline”, and he sets out exercises largely drawn from the Zen tradition to develop compassion toward oneself and all living beings.

Memorial plaque, Erich Fromm, Bayerischer Platz 1, Berlin-SchönebergGermany By OTFW, Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

There is also social suffering which can be reduced by placing an emphasis not on greater production and greater consumption but on being more; an idea that he develops in To Have or To Be. Fromm was also aware of social suffering and violence on a large scale and the difficulties of creating a society of compassionate and loving persons.  His late reflections on the difficulties of creating The Sane Society (the title of a mid-1950s book) is The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.  We still face the same issues of individual and social suffering and the relation between the two.  Erich Fromm’s thinking makes a real contribution as we continue to search.

Note.

(1) See his You Shall Be As Gods for a vision of the Jewish scriptures as being a history of liberation.

Rene Wadlow, President,  Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Romain Rolland Rapprochement of Cultures.

Romain Rolland: The Cosmopolitan Spirit.

Featured Image: Romain Rolland on the balcony of his home (162, Boulevard de Montparnasse, Paris), 1914. View to the south-south-east. The building at the center belongs to the church of the monastary of the Sisters of Visitation (68 bis, Avenue Denfert-Rocherau), and the cupola at the far right is the observatory of Paris. By Agence de presse Meurisse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the major voices of the spirit of Citizens of the World is Romain Rolland (1866-1944). He is the symbol of those who would not let war destroy the cultural bridges between peoples, especially during the 1914-1918 World War.

Romain Rolland came from a French family with many generations in the legal profession. However, from his secondary school days on, his interest was in music, painting, history, and literature. Early he was drawn to German music, especially Wagner and Beethoven. Later he wrote an important biography of both Beethoven and Handel. He did his university studies at the prestigous Ecole Normale Superieure, a specialized higher education school which trains university professors. He was in the same class as Paul Claudel who became a diplomat and well-known poet.

At university he became interested in Russian literature and started a correspondence with Leo Tolstoy whose ideas he admired. After his studies, he received a scholarship to study in Rome in order to write his doctoral thesis on the history of opera. He also collected information for later articles on Italian painting.

French poet, playwright and diplomat Paul Claudel (1868-1955). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Portrait of Leo Tolstoy (1887). By Ilya Repin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy: The Law of Love.

Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine.

On his return to Paris, he started teaching on the history of art and the history of music at the Sorbonne, the leading French university. He wrote a number of plays dealing with the French Revolution and began his collaboration with Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine , a literary journal edited by Charles Péguy, a poet and writer who increasingly wrote on political subjects.

In 1903, Rolland began publishing in Les Cahiers what became his major novel

Jean-Christophe which came out first in sections over a 10-year period and led to his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. In his novel, Jean-Christophe is a young German intellectual, a friend of young French intellectuals. The novel has as its leitmotif that friendship can overcome political divisions such as those created by the 1871 German-French war and the annexation by Germany of Alsace and Lorraine.

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

Guns of August.

Romain Rolland had often spent his summer vacations in Switzerland, beginning when he was a boy with his parents. Thus, he was spending the summer of 1914 in Switzerland when the “guns of August” marked the start of the First World War. Because of his age, 48, and his fragile health, Rolland was exempt from French military service. He stayed on in Switzerland to work with a Red Cross-related International Agency of Prisoners of War in Geneva.

However, later, his enemies claimed that he was anti-patriotic and had left France for the safety of Switzerland. As he was already well known as a writer and intellectual, he was interviewed and asked to write articles for the leading Geneva newspaper, Le Journal de Genève as well as for the newly created intellectual journal Demain (Tomorrow). He brought these articles together in a book Au Dessus de la Mélée (Above the Battle) though later he thought that “Au-dessus de la haine” (Above hate) would have been the better title.

Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

As a result of the war, Rolland decided to stay on in Switzerland and bought a house at Villneuve, the opposite end of the lake from Geneva. The house was in the park of a well-known hotel where the many visitors to Rolland could stay. He lived at Villeneuve for 26 years until 1938 when nostalgic for the area of his boyhood, he bought a house in central France and moved in shortly before the start of the Second World War.

It was from Villeneuve that Rolland turned his attention toward India and the contribution that Indian thought could make to a Europe destroyed by its divisions and hates. Thus Rolland turned to the two living Indian thinkers whose contribution he thought crucial: first Rabindranath Tagore and then Mahatma Gandhi.

Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rabindranath Tagore: The Call of the Universal Real.

 Image: Gandhi spinning at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. By Kanu Gandhi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Simone Panter-Brick: Gandhi and Nationalism.

Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.

He also wrote books on two related Indian religious thinkers: Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. As Rolland never learned to speak or read English, he had to count on his sister Madeleine who lived in his household much of the time. There is little original in his portraits of Ramakrishna (1929) and Vivekananda (1930) but because of Rolland’s fame, the biographies were widely read and so introduced the two to a wider French-reading public, well beyond the narrow circle of specialists on Indian philosophy.

Famous photograph of Ramakrishna (1836-1886). By Abinash Chandra Dna, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Higher detail image of Swami Vivekananda, September, 1893, Chicago, On the left Vivekananda wrote in his own handwriting: “One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee.” By The original uploader was Dziewa at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Hesse and Hermann Keyserling.

In Rabindranath Tagore, Rolland found a common cultural bridge-builder as well as a fellow Nobel Prize for Literature holder. Both Tagore and Rolland saw literature, music and painting as instruments of broad world cooperation and avenues of understanding. In his letters to and discussions with Tagore, Rolland stressed the possibilities for cultural inter-penetration, advising against the imposition of either civilization on the other. Rolland was interested in spiritual and cultural revitalization following the lines of his friend Hermann Hesse and Count Hermann Keyserling. Rolland hoped to introduce Indian thought into the European framework intellectually and morally drained by the 1914-1918 War. Rolland used his influence to promote the translation and publishing of Indian writers in Europe.

Hermann Hesse. By See page for author, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hermann Graf Keyserling, German philosopher. By AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope.

However, it is as the popularizer and exponent of Gandhi’s thought that Rolland played a crucial role for nonviolent action. Gandhi was the embodiment of many of Rolland’s positions: a non-Leninist opposition to imperialism and a concern for movements of national independence. For Rolland, Gandhian nonviolence symbolized a universal hope and a political alternative to the pervasiveness of force in the West. Nonviolence would give to the demoralized pacifists; who had been unable to prevent World War I a vigorous faith and an experimental tactic for social change.

Romain Rolland asserted that the real enemy in the nonviolent struggle was personal weakness and the lack of faith − not the presence of entrenched and violent enemies.

“We do not fight violence so mush as weakness. The road to peace is through self-sacrifice.”

As with the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda biographies, Rolland had to depend on his sister’s translations to write his 1923 biography of Gandhi based largely on Gandhi’s writings about South Africa, Gandhi’s articles in Young India as well as Tagore’s letters to Rolland which often mentioned Gandhi. Rolland’s short biography sold well, some 100,000 copies the first year followed by translations into Russian, German and English.

On a more personal level, one English reader of Rolland’s biography was Madeleine Slade who asked Rolland to write to Gandhi so she could join Gandhi’s ashram. Rolland did, and Slade, renamed Mira by Gandhi, became a close disciple and served as intermediary between Rolland and Gandhi until the 1939 start of the Second World War when correspondence between India and France became impossible. Rolland’s fragile health prevented him from traveling to India and the only face to face meeting was in 1931 when Gandhi, from negotiations in London went to Villeneuve to meet Rolland.

In his autobiographic Discovery of India Jawaharlal Nehru wrote:

“In recent years that great European and typical product of the best European culture, Romain Rolland, made a more synthetic and very friendly approach to the basic foundations of Indian thought: for him East and West represented different phases of the human soul.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, Former Prime Minister of India. By AFP staff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Alexandre Marc Rapprochement of Cultures.

Alexandre Marc: Con-federalism, Cultural Renewal and Trans-frontier Cooperation

Featured Image: Through the Russian Revolution. By Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons.

Alexandre Marc ; (19 January 1904 – 22 February 2000) was born as Alexandre Markovitch Lipiansky in Odessa, Russia in 1904.  He later simplified his name by dropping Lipiansky; (which his sons have reclaimed) and modifying his father’s first name to Marc; which he used as a family name.  His father was a Jewish banker and a non-communist socialist. 

Alexandre was a precocious activist. He was influenced by his early reading of F. Nietzsche; especially Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  He started a non-conformist student journal; while still in secondary school during the Russian Revolution; asking for greater democracy and opposed to Marxist thought.  This led to death threats made against him by the Communist authorities.

Also sprach Zarathustra. Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen. In drei Theilen. By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Forerunners of the Nazi Movement

The family left Russia in 1919 for France; but not before Alexandre had seen some of the fighting and disorder of the Russian civil war.  These impressions left a deep mark; and he was never tempted by the Russian communist effort as were other intellectuals in France; who had not seen events close up. 

During part of the 1920s; Marc was in Germany studying philosophy; where intellectual and philosophical debates were intense after the German defeat in the First World War; and the great difficulties of the Weimar Republic.  He saw the forerunners of the Nazi movement. 

Anti-Nazi German Youth

Marc was always one to try to join thought and action; and he had gone back to Germany in 1932 to try to organize anti-Nazi German youth; but ideological divisions in Germany were strong.  The Nazi were already too well organized and came to power the next year. Marc; having seen the destructive power of Nazi thought; was also never tempted by Right Wing or Fascist thought.

Seeing the destructive potential of both Communist and Fascist thought and sensing the deep crisis of Western civilization; Marc was looking for new values that would include order, revolution, and the dignity of the person.

Friedrich Nietzsche, circa 1875. By Friedrich Hartmann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

L’Ordre Nouveau

  There was no ready-made ideology; which included all these elements; though two French thinkers — difficult to classify — did serve as models to Marc and to Denis de Rougemont and some of the other editors of L’Ordre Nouveau: Charles Péguy and  J Proudhon . Marc wrote a book on the importance of Péguy at the start of the Second World War. 

Marc was living in Aix-en-Provence at the time; and the book was published in still unoccupied Marseilles in 1941. He also met in Paris Nicolas Berdiaeff, Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel.  It was from these meetings that the personalist doctrine of L’Ordre Nouveau was born. The rallying cry of personalism was “We are neither collectivists nor individualists but personalists …the spiritual first and foremost, then the economic, with politics at the service of both of them”.

Denis de Rougemont. By Erling Mandelmann / photo©ErlingMandelmann.ch.

once a Jew, always a Jew

In 1943 when all of France was occupied, he was in danger of arrest both for his views and his Jewish origins. Although in 1933; Marc had become a Roman Catholic in part under the influence of intellectual Dominicans; for the Nazi occupiers — as well as for some of the French Vichy government — “once a Jew, always a Jew”. Therefore he left for Switzerland where he was able to study the working of Swiss federalism with its emphasis on democracy at the village and city level.  He was also able to meet other exiles from all over Europe who had managed to get to Switzerland.

Alexandre Marc seemed destined to use words which took on other meanings when used by more popular writers.  The name of the journal L’Ordre Nouveau was taken over after the Second World War by a French far-right nationalist movement influenced by a sort of neo-Celtic ideology and was widely known for painting Celtic cross graffiti on walls in the days before graffiti art filled up all the space. 

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

The Jewish philosophers

Revolution, especially after the Nazi-Fascist defeat, could only be considered in the broader society in its Marxist version.  Person, which as a term had been developed by the Roman stoic philosophers could never carry the complexity of meanings which Marc, de Rougemont, and E. Mounier wanted to give it. 

Personalism.

The Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas also used the term “personalism” in the same sense as Marc; but their influence was limited to small circles.  In fact, “individualism” either seen positively or negatively; has returned as the most widely used term.  In some ways; this difficulty with the popular perception of words exists with the way Marc uses “federalism” by which he really means “con-federalism”.

Martin Buber in Palestine/Israel (1940 – 1950). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Foundations of the European Movement and the European Federalists

Alexandre Marc and Denis de Rougemont met again in Switzerland at the end of the Second World War; when de Rougemont returned from spending the war years in the USA.  They started reconnecting people whom they knew in the pre-war years; who also saw the need for a total reformation of European society. 

Both de Rougemont and Marc were good organizers of meetings and committees; and they played an important role in 1947 and 1948; setting up the first meetings for the foundations of the European movement and the European federalists; especially the August 1947 meeting at Montreux, Switzerland; in which world citizens  and world federalists were also present.

Emmanuel Levinas. By Bracha L. Ettinger, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Cold War.

Both men stressed the need for education and highlighted the role of youth to move European unity; beyond the debates of the 1930s and the start of the Cold War; though both continued to stress the importance of the themes; which brought them together in the 1930s.

Centers for the Study of European Federalism

They were both founders of centers for the study of European federalism and an exploration of European values. It was in the context of seminars and publications of the two centers; that I worked with both in the 1970s.   Culture in the philosophical sense was crucial for both; and their efforts in Geneva and Nice were rather similar.

Marc and de Rougemont had a personal falling out that lasted nearly a decade; due, it seems, to the tensions surrounding the break up of de Rougemont’s first marriage.  But even during this break; de Rougemont always spoke to me highly of Marc and his ideas.

Distrust of European Integration

De Rougemont knew that I was seeing Marc and had an interest in the intellectual; currents of France in the 1930s.  The two men came together again later; especially after de Rougemont’s happy second marriage.  From his death be; de Rougemont spoke to Marc on the telephone concerning the need to reprint the issues of L’Order Nouveau; since the articles were still important. The reprinting has been done since.

Both de Rougemont and Marc shared a distrust of European integration; as it was being carried out within the European Community and later the European Union; Both men stressed the need for local democracy; and shared a strong distrust of the politicians prominent in the nation-state system. 

The Lobbying of Governments on Federalist Issues.

De Rougemont went on to give most of his attention to the role of regions; especially the trans-frontier Geneva area; which combines part of Switzerland and France and is an economic pole of attraction for the Italian Val d’Aoste.

Marc continued to stress what he called “global” or “integral” federalism; a federalism with great autonomy and initiative at every level as over against “Hamiltonian”; federalism which he saw as the creation of ever larger entities such as the United States; whose culture and form of government Marc distrusted.

Hamiltonian Federalism

Marc remarked that  ‘Hamiltonian federalism’; as a whole was turning its back on spiritual; cultural and social questions and devoting itself to a form of action that can be defined; as ‘political’ and underlined the contradiction that is inherent in the lobbying of governments on federalist issues.

The Future is within Us

De Rougemont was the better writer.  His last book The Future is within Us; though pessimistic; especially of political efforts, remains a useful summing up of his ideas. (2) Although Alexandre Marc wrote a good deal; his forms of expression; were too complex, too paradoxical, too filled with references to ideas; which are not fully explained to be popular. 

Marc’s influence was primarily verbal as stimulant to his students.  Having seen early in his life the dangers of totalitarian thought; he always stressed the need for dialogue and listening; for popular participation at all levels of decision-making. As with ‘order’ ‘revolution’ ‘the person’, ‘federalism’ was probably not the term he should have chosen to carry the weight  of his ideas.

A Complex Man

The other Alexander — Hamilton — has infused the word ‘federalism’ with the idea of unification of many smaller units.  ‘Popular participation’ is probably a better term for Marc’s ideas; if the word ‘popular’ could carry the complex structure; which Marc tried to give to the word ‘person’. Con-federation is probably the better term for the de-centralized administrative structures that Marc proposed.

Marc was a complex man; one of the bridges; who helped younger persons to understand the debates; which surrounded the Russian Revolution; the rise and decline of Fascism and Nazism; and the post-Second World War hopes for a United Europe.  As de Rougemont on his death bed said to Marc:

“We have been able to do nothing, start again, talk to the young and we must carry on.”

 Notes

  • For the 1930s period see: Christian Roy. Alexandre Marc et la Jeune Europe: L’Ordre nouveau aux origins du personnalisme (Presses d’Europe, 1998) J. Laubet del Bayle. Les non-conformistes des années 30 : Une Tentative de renouvellement de la pensée politique francaise (Seuil, 1969) Michel Winock. Esprit : Des intellectuels dans la cité 1930-1950 (Seuil, 1996)
  • Denis de Rougemont The Future is within US  (Pergamon Press, 1983).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Richard St. Barbe Baker Rapprochement of Cultures.

Richard St. Barbe Baker: The Life of the Forests

Featured Image. Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash.

By Rene Wadlow.

Today, there is a growing awareness that cooperation is required to protect and manage integrated ecosystems which cross national frontiers.  This is particularly important in the case of forest management.  Trans-frontier conservation cooperation, in which two or more States cooperate in the management and the conservation of forests has increased a good deal in recent years.

Much of this effort is due to the work of world citizen Richard St. Barbe Baker.  From the late 1920s to the early 1980s, Richard St. Barbe Baker traveled the globe, warning of the dangers of forest destruction, forest clear-cutting, and the greedy waste of natural resources.

We had supper together in Geneva in 1964, and he recounted his experiences in the Sahara trying to prevent the southward movement of the desert toward the Sahel  States.  He told me of his adventures in the Sahara with a European driver who wanted to kill himself by pushing  the team to its limits.  Fortunately, St. Barbe Baker, who had a deep spiritual base, was able to convince his teammate that life was worth living.  Even without wanting to kill oneself, the study of the Sahara was difficult.  St. Barbe Baker tell the story in his book Sahara Challenge (1954).

Sand dunes of Erg Awbari (Idehan Ubari) in the Sahara desert region of the Category:Wadi Al Hayaa District, of the Fezzan region in southwestern Libya. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

Men of the Trees.

Richard St. Barbe Baker was born 9 October 1880 in Southhampton, England and learned the art of planting trees from his father, a Protestant minister devoted to the conservation of Nature.  After his studies at Cambridge University and service in the British Army in the First World War, he went to the then British colony of Kenya and began his work on forestry protection.  He first worked among the Kikuyu, a major tribe which already had ceremonies to be in harmony with the forests and the trees. He recognized their value and methods protecting and sustaining the forests.

In 1922, he created the society “Men of the Trees” which is the group most associated with his efforts.  He stressed that there is a need for conservation of genetic resources, wise management and utilization of existing natural forests with due regard to their long-term productivity.

Baker stressed the need to view the earth as a living whole and described the role that trees played in regulating weather, conserving soil, and regulating rivers.

In the introduction to the republication of his book My Life My Trees, Peter Caddy of the Findhorn community wrote:

Here is the life of an Earth healer, struggling against apathy, indifference and plain greed – a man ahead of his time …If one man can do so much, what coundn’t we achieve if all of us worked together.” (1)

Subsistence Forestry .

Skillful conservation and management of forests is vital to people who practice “subsistence forestry”.  In subsistence forestry, trees and tree products are used for fuel, food, medicine, house and fence poles and agricultural implements.  In some cultures, before taking anything from a tree, an offering is given, thus making an exchange.

For those of us who do not live from subsistence forestry, there is still the need to pay close attention to trans-frontier conservation which plays an essential role in the protection of ecosystems.  These areas provide possibilities for promoting biodiversity and sustainable uses across politically-divided ecosystems.

Plaque marking a tree planted by St Barbe Baker in PowerscourtEnniskerryIreland. By User:SeamusSweeney, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Note.

1) Richard St. Barbe Baker. My Life My Trees (Forres: Findhorn, 1985).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Denis de Rougemon Rapprochement of Cultures.

Denis de Rougemont (1906-1985), The Future is within us.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Self-government will be; first of all; the art of getting people to meddle in things which concern them.  It will soon call for the skill of challenging once again; decisions which concern them; and which have been taken without them…Self-government specifically consists in finding one’s own way along uncharted paths.       


Denis de Rougemont.

         Denis de Rougemont; was an intellectual leader among world citizens often walking on uncharted paths.  A French-speaking Swiss; after his studies of literature at the University of Geneva; at 25, he moved to Paris where he quickly became part of a group of young; unorthodox thinkers who were developing a “Personalist” philosophy. 

The Personalists around Emmanuel Mounier, Alexandre Marc, Robert Aron and Arnaud Dandieu were trying to develop an approach based on the ‘Person’ to counter the strong intellectual currents of communism and fascism; then at their height in European society. (1)  De Rougemont was one of the writers of the 1931; Manifesto of the New Order; with its emphasis on developing a new cultural base for society.

Robert Aron. By Norabrune, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Powers of the State.

         For de Rougemont; revolutionaries attempting to seize power; even from the most repressive regimes; invariably fall into the power structures; they hoped to eliminate.  Only the power we have over ourselves is synonymous with freedom.  For the first time; the person has not only the need; but also the power and ability to choose his future.

He wrote; “The powers of the State are in direct proportion to the inertia of the citizens.  The State will be tempted to abuse them; as soon as it thinks there are signs that the citizens are secretly tempted; to let themselves slide back into the conditions of subjects…Dictatorship requires no imagination: all we have to do is to allow ourselves to slide.  But the survival of mankind in an atmosphere; we can breath presupposes the glimpsed vision of happiness to be achieved; a ridge to be crossed; a horizon.

         “ The model of society; which Napoleon established by a stroke of genius with a view to war and nothing else; is the permanent state of emergency; which was to be the formula of the totalitarian states from 1930 onward. Everything is militarized; that is, capable of being mobilized at any time, spirit, body and goods.”

The Nazi movement.

         In 1935; De Rougemont lived in Germany as a university lecturer in Frankfurt.  There he was able to see the Nazi movement; at first hand and had seen Hitler speaking to crowds. He later wrote of this experience. “The greatest theologian of our time, Karl Barth wrote:

A prophet has no biography; he rises and falls with his mission.”

This may be said of Hitler; the anti-prophet of our time, the prophet of an empty power, of a dead past, of a total catastrophe; whose agent he was to become.  Hitler; better than orthodox  Communists, Fascists, Falangists and Maoists; answered the basic question of the century; (which is religious in the primary sociological sense of rebinding) by offering a comradeship, a togetherness, rituals, from the beat of drums by night, and by day to the sacred ceremonies of Nuremberg.”

         One of de Rougemont’s early essays was “Principes d’une politique de pessimisme active”. He and those around him saw the dangers and the opportunities; but were unable to draw together a large enough group of people to change the course of events.  As he wrote “From the early thirties of this century; young people who were awakened; but without ‘resources’ were laying the foundations of the personalist movement.  They knew that the totalitarians were going to win — at least for a tragic season — and tried to put into words the reasons for their refusal; in the face of this short-lived triumph.”

covershot. By CHRIS DRUMM, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Love in the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident).

         In 1939, he published his most widely read book Love in
the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident)
where he traced the idea of
romantic love from the Manichaeins, through theBogomiles, to the
Cathari to the poetry of the troubadours.

         During the war years, he lived in the USA writing and broadcasting on the French section of the Voice of America. In 1946 he returned to Europe, living most of the rest of his life near Geneva.

There he became highly active in the movement for European federalism, but he was critical of the concepts of a European Union as integration of existing States; He remained loyal to the position he set out in the mid-1930s. “Man is not made on the scale of the huge conglomerates which one tries to foist on him as ‘his fatherland’; they are far too large or too little for him.  Too little, if one seeks to confine his spiritual horizons to the frontiers of the Nation-State; too large if one tries to make them the locus of this direct contact with the flesh and with the earth which is necessary to Man”.

The Federalism.

         He put an emphasis on culture stressing a common European civilization but with great respect for the contributions of different European regions.  His idea of federalism was to build on existing regions, especially trans-frontier regions.  He was an active defender of ecological causes, seeing in the destruction of nature one of the marks of the over-centralization of State power. 

Thus he was stringing against the nuclear power industry which he saw as leading to State centralism.  As he wrote:

Starting afresh means building a new parallel society, a society whose formulae will not be imposed on us from above, will not come down to us from a capital city, but will on the contrary be improvised and invented on the plane of everyday decision-making and will be ordered in accordance with the desire for liberty which alone unites us when it is the objective of each and all.”

  • See
    Jean-Louis Loubet Del Bayle Les Non-Conformistes des années 30 (Paris :
    Seuil, 1969)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Dag Hammarskjold Rapprochement of Cultures.

Dag Hammarskjold. Crisis Manager and Longer-Range World Community Builder…

Featured Image: Photograph of Dag Hammarskjöld(1953). By Caj Bremer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dag Hammarskjold (29 July 1905 -18 September 1961).

You wake from dreams of doom and −for a moment− you know: beyond  all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing; love’s calm unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn. Dag Hammarskjold  Markings.

United Nations Command.

Dag Hammarskjold became Secretary-General of the United Nations at a moment of crisis related to the 1950-1953 war in Korea; and he died in his plane crash in 1961; on a mission dealing with the war in the Congo.

The first Secretary-General of the UN, Trygve Lie; had resigned in November 1952 due to  the strong opposition of the Soviet Union; and its allies to the way the United Nations Command operated in Korea. Even though it was called the “United Nations Command”; the main fighting forces and the logistic support were provided by the United States.

Trygve Halvdan Lie. By atelier Benkow, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Svenska: Dag Hammarskjöld. (1950s). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Person from a Nordic Country.

Among UN Security Council members and other important delegations; it was felt that, given the way Trygve Lie was pushed out before a second term; he should be replaced by a person from a Nordic country; and the name of Dag Hammarskjold started to be proposed as a suitable candidate from an appropriate country, Sweden. It took five months of discussions before on 10 April 1953; Hammarskjold took office in New York.

Little in his background or experience had prepared Hammarskjold to be a crisis manager. He came from a distinguished Swedish family.  His father had been Prime Minister; and other members of his father’s family had been civil servants or military officers.   On his mother’s side; the family had been well-known Lutheran clergy and academics.

“Only he deserves power who everyday justifies it” .

Dag Hammarskjold was known for his active interest in literature, art and music − interests which he continued throughout his life.  However; he was trained in economics and by age thirty-six; he was chairman of the National Bank of Sweden; concerned with long-range economic trends.  He was not a stock-market trader having to make quick decisions with very incomplete information to “buy or sell”.

Hammarskjold had a very strong sense of duty. As he wrote to himself in 1951; in a dairy published after his death as Markings (1) “Only he deserves power who everyday justifies it.”

The UN Development Program (UNDP)’s.

Hammarskjold came to the United Nations just as socio-economic development; was being considered as a permanent mandate for the UN Secretariat.  At the time of the creation of the United Nations in 1945; economic and social issues were considered as the functions of specialized agencies; formally related to the UN through the Economic and Social Council; but in effect, independent with their own governing boards, budgets and administrative procedures: the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, and UNESCO, FAO, ILO, WHO, all located in Europe. 

By 1949; influenced by the “Point Four” idea of US President Harry Truman; there started to grow the idea that the UN itself should become operative in providing economic, administrative, and technical assistance. A modest “Expanded Program of Technical Assistance to Underdeveloped Countries” was created in 1949; and through different incarnations has become the UN Development Program (UNDP)’s, complex and multi layered activities.

Very nice color portrait photograph of President Harry S. Truman seated in a chair, half figure (1952). By US Navy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Economic and Social Programs.

Hammarskjold was a strong supporter of economic and social programs.  He appointed well-known and active economists to guide these programs.  By training and temperament; he would have wanted to follow economic and social issues; as he saw such programs as important buildings blocs of the world community.

However; it was as a crisis manager that he filled his days.  These were often long days; and he was able to work for 18 hours a day for long stretches of time.  He started as Secretary-General when the war in Korea was ending; but peace had not been established.  Korea was still divided into two hostile States; a large number of people had been uprooted and much of the economic infrastructure destroyed. 

Montage for the Korean War Main Page in Wikipedia. By Madmax32, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Leave it to Dag”.

The French war in Indochina was still going on; and many observers feared that there could be a generalized Asian conflict.  In 1952; the UN General Assembly created the “Commission on the Racial Situation in South Africa” – the start of a decades-long concern.  The French war in Indochina was followed by the start of the war in Algeria.  In April 1955; the “Asian-Africa Conference” was held in Bandung, Indonesia; a sign that decolonization would stay on the agenda of world issues for a long time.  In November 1956; the first session of a UN Special General Assembly condemned the military aggression of the UK, France and Israel against Egypt; which later led to the use of UN Peacekeeping forces.

Dag Hammarskjold became an expert crisis manager; to the point that there was a common slogan in the UN- “Leave it to Dag”. He liked to work alone; but had created a team of people working under him; who were highly competent and totally devoted to him.

MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, Weak but Necessary.

His Last Crisis-Management.

His last crisis-management effort was in the former Belgium Congo; which had become independent in July 1960; followed quickly by violence, the breakdown of public order, the murder of the former Prime Minister Lumumba, the effort of Moise Tshombe to create a separate state in Katanga, and the sending of UN troops.  USA-USSR Cold War tensions increased over Congo issues. Hammarskjold was to try an effort of mediation at the airport of Ndola; now in  Zambia; when the UN plane crashed, and all were killed.

Shortly after assuming office Dag Hammarskjold set out his view of his task as a world public servant faced by conflicting government − a vision which he fulfilled fully.

The Secretary-General should express with full frankness to the governments concerned and their representatives the conclusions at which he arrives on issues before the organization.  These conclusions must be completely detached from any national interest or policy and based solely on the principles and ideals to which the governments have adhered as members of the United Nations.”

This remains the guidelines for the UN Secretary General. It  is important to recall the drive and initiatives of Dag Hammarskjold.

Official Congo government portrait of Patrice Lumumba as the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1960). By unknown, Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) government, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Moise Tshombe arrives in Toulouse (1963). By André Cros, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

 Note.

Dag Hammarskjold. Markings (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1964, 222pp.)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Rex Tugwell Portraits of World Citizens.

Rex Tugwell: Planning and Action for Rural Reconstruction.

Featured Image:  Rexford G. Tugwell, administrator, Resettlement Administration.

Rex Tugwell (1891 – 1979 )  active in the world citizenship movement, was an economist and an advocate of government planning.

Back to Nature

As world-wide climate change has made the issues of land use, water, desertification, and land reform vital issues; it is useful to recall the contributions of Rexford Tugwell; whose birth anniversary we mark on 10 July .

He did his PhD studies at Columbia University in New York City.  He was influenced by Scott Nearing in the Economics Department and John Dewey in Philosophy. 

Scott Nearing was a socialist very interested by the efforts of planning in the USSR.  Nearing was also a follower of Leo Tolstoy.  He gave up university teaching; bought a farm in New England and became an advocate of “Back to Nature” and simple living.

Scott Nearing, 1883- Abstract/medium: 1 photographic print. By Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, PPOC, Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Dewey, bust portrait. By Underwood & Underwood, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana, 1908, the first color photo portrait in Russia. By Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The “Brain Trust”

Rex Tugwell started teaching at Columbia; and his writings on the need for economic planning was quickly noted after the 1929 Wall Street “crash” and the start of the Great Depression. He was asked to be a member of the early circle around Franklin D. Roosevelt; then Governor of New York. 

The circle of economists became known as the “Brain Trust“; and they prepared proposals and drafted speeches for Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign for President in 1932.  Once elected; Roosevelt named Tugwell as Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture to work closely with the Secretary of Agriculture; Henry A. Wallace.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cropped photograph of Henry Agard Wallace, 1888–1965, bust portrait, facing left (1940).D.N. Townsend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dust Bowls

The agriculture sector was one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy by the 1929 – 1939 Great Depression.  To meet the war needs of the First World War; US agriculture had been stimulated.  Land which  had never been plowed was opened to grow wheat and other grains. 

There was an increase in the production of animals for meat.  Much of the land opened for grain was not really appropriate; having been used in the past for pasture.  With several years of drought; the soil eroded and turned to dust; swept away by winds.  Thus the term “Dust Bowls” which covered much of the Middle West and Western states such as Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico.

An Agriculture Scientist

Tugwell and Henry Wallace who had been the editor of a leading farm journal and an agriculture scientist concerned with seeds; saw things in very much the same way; as reflected in a book each wrote the same year. (1)  Tugwell as Undersecretary; helped in the creation of the Soil Conservation Service in 1933 to restore poor quality land; and to promote better agricultural methods. 

Greenbelt Towns

He also helped to create the Resettlement Administration; whose aim was to create new healthy communities for the rural unemployed relatively close to urban centers; where they would have access to services – what came to be called “Greenbelt towns.”

As Henry Wallace; testifying before Congress in 1938 concerning a program of loans to farm tenants  said :

” Our homestead and reclamation movements were aimed primarily at putting agricultural land of the Nation into the hands of owner-operators.  But we failed to such an extent that a large proportion of our best farm land fell into the hands of speculators and absentee landlords.  Today, we are faced with the problem of stemming the tide of tenancy and reconstructing our agriculture in a fundamental manner by promoting farm ownership among tillers of the soil.”

Rex the Red

Tugwell pushed for government planning for food production by being able to control production, prices and costs.  He was influenced by the economic thinking of John Maynard Keynes on the role that government could play through intervention in the economy.  However to political opponents, Tugwell’s views seemed closer to the planning of Joseph Stalin than Maynard Keynes, and  he started being called in the press “Rex the Red”. Tugwell was pushed out of the Department of Agriculture.

Joseph Stalin in uniform at the Tehran conference (1943). By U.S. Signal Corps photo., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Maynard Keynes (1933). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Planning Commission.

He returned to New York City which had just elected a progressive mayor with hopes to transform the city, Fiorello La Guardia.  La Guardia selected Tugwell to become the first director of the newly formed New York City Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission developed proposals for public housing, new bridges and public parks.  It was one of the first efforts at over-all planning by a city government.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Roosevelt named Tugwell as Governor of Puerto Rico.  At the time the Governor was appointed and not elected.  Tugwell was Governor from 1941 to 1946.  He created the Puerto Rico Planning, Urbanization and Zoning Board in 1942.  He worked to overcome years of neglect by Washington of the island.  He improved the University of Puerto Rico so that more Puerto Ricans would be prepared to deal adequately with the economy and government service. (2)

Mayor LaGuardia. By I.am.a.qwerty, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Committee to Frame a World Constitution

At the end of the Second World War, Tugwell left government service to return to academic life.  He joined the economic faculty of the University of Chicago to teach economic planning.  At the University of Chicago at the time, there had been created an interdisciplinary Committee to Frame a World Constitution to make proposals for world institutions adequate to meet the post-war challenges.  Tugwell saw the need for global planning at a world level and became an active member of the Committee. (3)

The new Progressive Party. 

As the 1948 campaign for President was approaching and the Cold War tensions between the USA and the USSR were heating up, there was an effort in the USA to create a new political party more open than the “Truman Doctrine” to negotiations with the USSR as well as stronger measures for poverty reduction within the USA.  Henry Wallace, who had been Franklin Roosevelt’s second Vice President was chosen to lead the new Progressive Party. 

Wallace chose Tugwell to be chairman of the Progressive Party Platform Committee charged with setting out the aims and program proposals for the campaign. Tugwell, reflecting the efforts of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, wrote and had accepted the main foreign policy framework of the party.  “The Progressive Party believes that enduring peace among the peoples of the world community is possible only through world law.

The Atomic Age

Continued anarchy among nations in the atomic age threatens our civilization and humanity itself with annihilation.  The only ultimate alternative to war is the abandonment of the principle of the coercion of sovereignties by sovereignties and the adoption of the principle of the just enforcement upon individuals of world federal law enacted by a world federal legislature with limited but adequate power to safeguard the common defense and general welfare of all mankind.”

Ten years later, when as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I met Tugwell, he had largely left the field of economic planning to write about political leadership, especially the style and experiences of Franklin Roosevelt.

Department of Agriculture

Today, however, the issues that Tugwell raised in the Department of Agriculture have become world issues: adequate food production and distribution at a price that most people can pay, protection of the soil, water and forests, land ownership and land reform, rural housing and non-farm employment in rural areas.  We build on the efforts of those who came before.

Notes:

1) Henry A. Wallace. New Frontiers (New York: Reynal and Hitchock, 1934).

   Rexford G. Tugwell. The Battle for Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1935).

2) On conditions in Puerto Rico see Rexford G. Tugwell. The Stricken Land (New York: Doubleday, 1947).

3) Each year on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, he would write his reflections on the year past including the debates within the Committee to Frame a World Constitution.  These yearly reflections have been brought together in Rexford G. Tugwell. A Chronicle of Jeopardy: 1945-1955(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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