It’s instructive to see what preoccupied our predecessors. Some of these names and issues might seem familiar to us today, while others might as well have been on Mars.
Here’s a sampling of what was “in the air” in 1932:
I cannot consent to the continuation of this regime. — Herbert Hoover.
What is wrong is bad.—James J. Walker of New York.
ON HORSE TRADING
Great Britain and France have joined hands to force America to reduce the debts. Now let them know that the debts will be reduced only for some substantial return, either disarmament or trade advantages. Since disarmament seems almost unattainable, don’t expect that reduction without offers of real trade advantages.—Raymond Gram Swing.
ON FOREIGN CONCESSIONS
How would you like a foreign concession in the heart of an American city? They must end by agreement, if possible. It is an outrage that in the ports of entry in China, where wealth concentrates, that the Chinese Government should be unable to tax that wealth.—T. V. Soong, Finance Minister, Nanking Government.
In some cities the people have been aroused to a sense of civic responsibility, but as a general rule most of us have been too busy making a living or getting rich quick to bother about the machinery of government, and only about fifty per cent of the voting population ever trouble themselves to vote even in a Presidential election. We get the kind of government we deserve in the long run.—Rev. Dr. Caleb Rochford Stetson.
ON THE FUTURE
We have got to face the fact that the world is involved in a crisis that is essentially technological and that there is no solution for it but a technical one, worked out along purely scientific lines by men with the engineer’s outlook. John Dewey has pointed out that the success of the scientific method in mechanical matters will lead sooner or later, but inevitably, to its general adoption in human affairs. The method is mechanistic, the result is a greater release of the so-called human values than the world has ever known.—A conclusion of a group of engineers who called themselves TECHNOCRACY.
From THE OUTLOOK, OCTOBER 1932
ON HIGHER EDUCATION
American Universities look like Bedlam.—Dr. Abraham Flexner.
ON THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
There is a suspicion abroad that little more than lip service has been paid to the fundamental principle upon which the League was founded.—Eamon de Valera.
ON THE LONG COUNT OF LONG AGO
Realizing, as do all professional boxers, that the first nine seconds of a knockdown belong to the man who is on the floor, I never had any thought of getting up before the referee said, “Nine.”—Gene Tunney in “A Man Must Fight.”
If I were dying of starvation and there were children’s lives to be saved and I knew that food would be along in a few days, I would ask my friends to make soup out of one of my hands so that the children could be preserved. The children need not know, and I am sure it would be the right thing.—Very Rev. Dr. Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury.
I spent two years in college and learned how to dress well, dance, join the “frats” and get a girl back in her sorority house after the bell had been rung. I was as ignorant as hell, if you’ll pardon the expression, when I was committed to prison. I educated myself through subscribing for thirty-two correspondence courses put out by the University of Southern California.—John Evans, Sing Sing
ON THE FUTURE OF ECONOMIC NATIONALISM
The whole tendency of modern industrial development is towards a large scale organization, which is only compatible with secure access to markets which are larger than those comprised within national frontiers.—Sir Arthur Salter.
To maintain socialist principles, socialists will be driven to become communists or betray their socialism.—Harold F. Laski, in “Foreign Affairs.”
From THE OUTLOOK, NOVEMBER 1932
ON G. B. S.
Bernard Shaw, a real Socialist? Ha, ha!—Lady Astor.
ON CHAUCER UNDEFILED
When she opened that little rosebud mouth, well, she spoke pure spearmint.—George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber in “Dinner at Eight.”
If you newspaper men would state each time that my name is proposed for some position that there is no foundation for the report you would always be right, and it would save me no end of trouble and correspondence.
With kindest regards, I am
Very truly yours,
This is only the first decade of Fascism. There will be at least nine others.—Benito Mussolini.
I wonder if there is any one in the world who can really direct the affairs of the world, or of his country, with any assurance of the result his action will have?—Montagu C. Norman, Gov. Bank of England.
Markets as well as mobs respond to human emotions.—Owen D. Young.
ON AN OPTICAL ILLUSION
Present day high heels cause the shins of many young women to turn outward, rotating the knees. This gives the impression that they have bow legs.—Dr. Emanuel Demeur, Illinois Assn. of Chiropodists.
ON THE IDENTITY OF OUR THINKERS
It may take generations to persuade the mass of Americans to think. Today there is a small nucleus able to think—say about 200,000 adults out of our 120,000,000. We may be able to swell that in the next generation.—Dr. Harold O. Rugg, Columbia University.
ON WHAT IT TAKES
I don’t care what they call it, I’m for more money. They can call it inflation; I call it common sense.—William E. Borah.