My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Friday—In the last few days, I have seen two individuals express diametrically opposite ideas on Communism and Fascism. In Washington last weekend, Louis Fischer, the writer, said that the two were identical. He said that if you fought Fascism, you fought Communism. And I gathered that he felt that Communism and Democracy could not exist in the same world without one dominating the other.

Yesterday I read with interest Max Lerner's newspaper editorial stating his opinion that there is a world of difference between the Fascism of the right and the Communism of the left. While one may reject American Communist activities, I gather that he feels it is not only possible for us to live in the same world with the USSR, but that it is denying our own belief in Democracy to question the right of people in other countries to hold their own political beliefs.

However, I think that, for most of us, it is not enough to say that there is a difference between the Fascism of the right and the Communism of the left. We would like to have the difference spelled out for us. I, for instance, feel that there are many similarities in these two totalitarian systems. There are also great differences, but I am not yet convinced that I know exactly what these are.

It seems to me that one basic similarity between them is that the individual, as such, is not given supreme importance—and that leads to certain cruelties and to a negation of human rights. On the other hand, the Communism of the left has just fought a war in company with the democracies to do away with the Fascism of the right.

* * *

In the USSR, they have established an equality of races which the Fascism of the right, in both Italy and Germany, completely negated in their attitude toward the Jews. None of us in this generation will ever forget the horrors which were committed in Germany.

It seems to me that perhaps one basic difference between the two systems is in the economic aspects. People with a low standard of living see in the economic theories of Communism a better opportunity for them to move up a little in the scale of living. Under Hitler, there were undoubtedly some improvements made in the average living standards, but the people were completely at the mercy of the ruling group. In fact, the participation of the people in the nation's affairs, politically, economically and spiritually constantly lessened as the power of the few grew. Under Communism it would seem possible that just the opposite might take place.

We who believe that, so far, Democracy is the best form of self-government nevertheless recognize that it is not static and that many changes must come. I think we can see the possibilities of improved cooperation between the Communism of the left and the Democracy of the center, but there can be no cooperation at any point, at any time, between Democracy and the Fascism of the right.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL