August 30, 1946
Mr. George Peck
153 East 38th Street
New York 16, New York
Dear Mr. Peck:
Thank you for your letter and the copies of your column, which you sent me.
I have read your columns with great interest. I like particularly the column of July 21st, entitled “Remove that Appendix”. I was glad to see that you advocate the repeal of the Wagner Act instead of advocating new laws to shackle labor, as so many of our conservatives are doing.
I cannot resist pointing out to you that you really must not say things such as the statement you made in your column of July 9th, to the effect that love of God and love of country are more important than freedom. Nothing is more important than freedom. Without it, neither love of God nor of country, nor even life itself, are possible.
No, I did not think—after reading your bulletin on the Speer testimony[*]—that you were a Communist sympathizer. What I thought was that some Communist stooge on your staff had put one over on you in the matter of that headlining of Speer’s envy of Russia. If there had been such a stooge, that is precisely what he would have done. That one touch would have meant a lot to his party.
Of course, I know that all you said was that Speer envied Russia, because Russia was “forced to improvise”. But by the context of the rest of his testimony, it is made clear that improvisation in this case meant freedom from bureaucratic controls, since he complained that the bureaucrats did not permit the German industrialists to improvise. Therefore, it implied that Russia was free of such controls. And this is an implication which you should not have left unchallenged, and which you should not help to spread.
For the life of me, I can’t imagine where Speer saw any improvisation in Russia. Who does he think did the improvising? The Commissars or the G.P.U? If your intention was to quote Speer verbatim, then you should have covered this particular point by some editorial explanation from yourself, and not left the implication that you, the editor, agreed with Speer’s view of Russia.
You say that you “don’t wish to get into a controversy as
Page 2 Mr. George Peck August 30, 1946
to whether or not Mr. Hitler was the greatest exponent of totalitarianism the world has ever known”. There can be no controversy on this point—because there can be no conceivable standard by which anyone could claim that Hitler was worse than Stalin, or vice versa. There can be no degrees of evil between two dictators representing exactly the same principle.
I don’t think that the word “rules” substituted for the word “controls” will be a proper change to express the idea you have in mind in regard to the relation of government to industry. If you believe, as you say, that government must act as an umpire, then remember that the umpire does not make up the rules himself, and he certainly does not make them up arbitrarily as the game goes along. It is not rules that govern a free society. It is principles, which is quite a different thing. Principles are objective and not set arbitrarily by a government or a majority. A free society is governed by objective laws based on objective moral principles.
Since you sent me your column, I shall return the courtesy by enclosing copies of one I am writing. This is my attempt to clarify the confusion of our conservatives about the basic principles of Americanism.
*Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and, beginning in 1942, Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production.