Jasper Crane (1881–1969) was vice president of E. I. DuPont Co.
February 21, 1950
Mr. Jasper E. Crane
Du Pont Company
Dear Mr. Crane:
On my visit to New York in 1947, you asked me my opinion of the magazine PLAIN TALK and whether it was a magazine worthy of support. I endorsed it at that time. If my endorsement had some part in influencing your decision to support PLAIN TALK, I feel now that it is my duty to withdraw that endorsement and to call your attention to a very shocking article which appears in the February issue of the magazine. It is entitled “COMPULSORY VOTING?” by Leopold Schwarzschild.
If you have read this article, you probably realize that it is a piece of purely Statist propaganda. If our side advocates such a thing as compulsory voting, then there is no way for us to defend free enterprise or to object to the growth of government controls and regulations. A proposal to introduce compulsory voting is worse than mere looting of material property. Such a proposal establishes the principle that the government has the right to use compulsion against the human mind and to force an expression of political opinion from men who do not choose to express it. If an idea of this sort is proposed in some leftist publication, it will not do one-tenth the damage which it does in a publication allegedly devoted to the fight against Collectivism. If an average reader, who is trying to make up his mind, finds an article of this sort in a leftist magazine, he merely takes it for granted. But when he finds it in an anti-collectivist magazine, he is forced to draw the conclusion that even the enemies of Collectivism accept the principle of compulsion and of State control—and in this manner PLAIN TALK contributes to the conversion of more people to Statism.
Mr. Schwarzschild’s article states that it is the Republicans who are abstaining from voting and he ascribes
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it to their indifference. He ignores the fact that Republicans are abstaining from voting because they will not vote for the “me-too,” new-dealish, socialistic platform offered by the Republican Party, particularly in the last presidential election. A refusal to vote represents a definite expression of political opinion—a rejection of the candidates and the programs offered. Half, and perhaps more, of the population of this country is opposed to the New Deal, does believe in free enterprise and represents the people to whom we should give voice and leadership, if we are to save free enterprise. Yet these are the people whom Mr. Schwarzschild betrays and seeks to push into endorsing socialism, at the point of a gun.
At the time when I spoke to you, Mr. Levine had told me that he realized the need of an ideological approach to the fight against Collectivism and that he intended to add to his magazine a department devoted to the ideas of Individualism and Free Enterprise, in addition to the purely journalistic [exposés] of Communist activities. This was the reason why I had hoped that PLAIN TALK would develop into a serious and valuable publication on our side. But this has not been done—and it is the reason why PLAIN TALK has not grown nor become successful nor acquired any following. Mere [exposés] of Communism have little value now, unless they are accompanied by a positive, ideological program to educate the public in the principles of Individualism. Public opinion is thoroughly aroused against the Communists, but it is worthless to know what we are against unless we know what we are for. Observe that nobody wants Socialism by name, but the country is accepting one socialistic measure after another—because the public has not been taught to understand Socialism and to recognize it when it is offered in disguise. And those who are opposed to it have been given no voice, no leadership, no chance to express their opposition.
I was shocked to see that instead of its promised ideological campaign for freedom, PLAIN TALK has come out with an article such as “COMPULSORY VOTING?” I do not know who Mr. Schwarzschild is, but I notice that he is listed on the cover as an associate editor. If this is a sample of his philosophical and political views, then it is my opinion that PLAIN TALK is not merely useless, but will be positively and disastrously dangerous to our side.
February 21, 1950 3.
If you are still a supporter of PLAIN TALK, then I urge you to use your influence to see that this kind of intellectual trend is stopped in the pages of the magazine—or to withdraw your support. Since you had asked my opinion before, I feel it my duty to tell you that a need for a magazine of ideas on our side is more urgent and crucial than ever, but that PLAIN TALK and its editors are not and will not be able to answer that need.
Collectivism is winning mainly through the confusion of the public mind. We have to clarify that confusion. We need a magazine intelligently and uncompromisingly devoted to the philosophy of freedom, but such a magazine cannot be run by men so confused as to advocate compulsory voting. Therefore, I urge you to lend your support, if you find it possible, to the creation of a new magazine for our side, one which would be strictly a magazine of ideas. I believe that John Chamberlain and Henry Hazlitt have had such a project in mind for a long time, and perhaps you will find it possible to join forces with them. If a new magazine is not possible, then I would say that our side would be better off without any magazine at all and without any voice, rather than be misrepresented by a voice preaching Statism.