Dorothy Thompson – The bankruptcy of slogans (6-30-41)

Reading Eagle (June 30, 1941)


The bankruptcy of slogans

So now let us look at them – these slogans which have heralded a “new order,” which have adorned “the wave of the future.” Let us look at the slogans which our own defeatists have picked up and mouthed from lecture platforms and on the air.

Let us take the Nazi slogans and the communist slogans and see just how much sense they make in view of the latest development: The attack without warning on the Soviet Union.

Let us take the communist slogans first:

This is just another imperialist war.

Is it, Mr. Stalin?

The British and the Americans are only waiting for the moment when they can join forces with the Germans for an all-out attack on the Soviet Union.

Are they, Mr. Stalin?

We do not intend to pull other people’s chestnuts out of the fire.

But you would welcome some aid about your own chestnuts, would you not, Mr. Stalin?

Strike against the war, which has been precipitated by the capitalist warmongers.

Was it really a good idea, Mr. Stalin, to organize strikes in American factories arming for our defense and for Britain’s?

From capitalism to chaos to communism.

Would you like to see chaos in England and in America at this moment, when German troops are marching into Russia? Would that help the Soviet Union?

British and American warmongers are responsible for the war.

But it is not the British or Americans who are marching into Russia, as it was not the British or Americans who marched into Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Romania, Greece, Yugoslavia. Why not think about the warmakers, rather than the warmongers?

Yes, Mr. Stalin, you tried to keep peace. Granted. Peace at the cost of collective security. Peace in the hope that Hitler would wear himself out in the West, and turn against you too late. Britain could have played that game in reverse at the very outset of the war. But Britain knew that a Germany in possession of the resources of Russia would have turned against the West, as a Germany in possession of the continent is now turning against the East. Would it not have been wiser, Mr. Stalin, to have fought with the Poles, instead of destroying Poland together with Hitler? Would it not have been wise to fight with the Yugoslavs and with the Greeks?

Now you have a new slogan, coined in Moscow on June 26:

For fatherland, honor, freedom, and Stalin.

And in this slogan, Stalin is naturally mentioned last, not first.

The slogan is okay. That is what this war is about. The right of men to have their own country and use its resources in the first line for the people who live in it and have built it up. Honor: A world in which persons and nations mean what they say, in which treaties are treaties, friends friends; a world in which there is law; in which fidelity is not a “bourgeoise” residuum. Freedom: Among other things freedom from terror, freedom from blackmail, freedom from persecution, and freedom, let us hope, from non-aggression pacts, which boil down to the promise not to do anything until after you are attacked.

We’ll go along with you on that slogan. So will the Poles, and the Czechs, and the French – if their government would let them – the Scandinavians, the Americans, the Balkan peoples.

And the Nazi slogans:

We fight for socialism against the decadent plutodemocracies.

So. And the Soviet Union is a plutodemocracy?

We fight for the master of the Nordics.

So. And Churchill and Roosevelt and the Anglo-Saxon peoples are not Nordics and the Japanese are?

We fight a crusade against Bolshevism.

That, after all, was your first slogan. And now you appeal to Italy, France, Scandinavia, Holland and Spain to join the great crusade against Bolshevism.

But what is Bolshevism, Herr Hitler?

A crusade against Bolshevism would be a crusade against atheistic paganism, against the expropriation of all private property and all civil rights, against the destruction of free criticism and free education, against the totalitarian science and indoctrinated university classes, against the OGPU and the star chamber court, and enforced exile and concentration camps.

Do you ask us to believe that you are conducting a crusade against these things? Are you the defender of private property, of equality before the law, of habeas corpus, of free education and science? Do you think the Gestapo represents a different idea from the OGPU?

You have taken all the destructive elements of Bolshevism and added to them the one thing the Bolshevists never had: The idea of worldwide conquest in the interests of a race of supermen, namely your Germans. You have put your noblest religious spirits into prison, have stolen private property wherever it suited you and bribed it where that powers are riding it in different directions.

But there is a current, Herr Hitler. A current in the stream of political consciousness and historic development. That current carries suited you better. Not even the shred of a concept of service to humanity is in your Bolshevism, Herr Hitler.

Herr Hitler, you are running around in the greatest circles ever described on this planet. But you are running around in circles. Your new order has no physiognomy at all. It is a paranoiac dream.

The “wave of the future” seems to be a whirlpool, and the two futurist to inevitable victory those nations of men who believe that out of the great traditions of political freedom, cherishing all in the past that is worthy to be preserved, we shall move toward a future of reason, realism and collaboration, between persons and between nations, in the interests of humanity.

Country, freedom, honor, commonwealth. The disciplining of the machine, the liberation of the man. That is our new order.

And the healing of the nations will come from those, whose despising slogans have sought to hold fast to truths, and to translate them, by evolutionary processes, into new social and economic realities.

Bolshevism – the reactionism of destruction – will be dissolved, and can be dissolved, only by those who have rock-founded institutions of liberty and cooperation. They, and they alone, steer their ships of state on the strong current of the will of all peoples, everywhere on this suffering globe, for country, freedom, honor and collaboration.