MAY 29, 1940
NEW YORK, Tuesday—It is interesting to note in some of the papers during the last few days, the suggestion that to insist that the hours of labor shall not be increased is a short-sighted policy in view of the fact that rapidity of production is necessary. It seems to me that the people who say this are forgetting the fact that an employed nation is necessary for the survival of a democratic form of government, and that it will be time enough to increase the hours of labor when we have cut our unemployment to the minimum. It may be said that the type of workers needed are not those who are unemployed. It seems to me, with industry really wishing to cooperate on this defense front, it might be possible to train some of those who are now unemployed and who have not previously been mechanics, so that they would be able to go to work when new factories are ready to receive them.
Some people seem still unable to realize the fact that it is important to make democracy worth fighting for. Unless that challenge is met, we are apt to find ourselves with large numbers of people in our midst who care very little under what form of government they have to exist.
Many of us noted with admiration the action of the British Parliament, which practically conscripted all available materials for the use of the government in its present emergency. But others have been saying that this action means an acknowledgement, either that a democracy must meet a dictatorship by becoming a dictatorship itself or, that England has never really been a democracy and therefore is making little or no change by accepting these new conditions.
It seems to me that this reasoning is unsound, because there is a great difference between a dictatorship imposed by an individual who gathers unto himself a following and allows them the ruthless use of force, and the temporary dictatorship imposed by a people who discipline themselves by accepting dictation in order to preserve their liberty.
It seems incredible to hear of the surrender of the Belgian King. Yet, I suppose, there comes a point where human endurance can bear up no longer. One more country is now officially under Nazi domination.
I had such a pleasant day yesterday with Mrs. Curtin Winsor and her two children. She has just taken over a new house and I can never see a house being done over without wanting to have a hand in it. I think I would have enjoyed being an interior decorator.
I spoke in the evening in the Haddonfield, New Jersey, Memorial High School and arrived in my New York City apartment about 12:30 last night. It is still raining today and this does not add to one's cheerfulness, but nothing I am doing will be much affected by the weather.