NOVEMBER 19, 1947
NEW YORK, Tuesday—As the current session of the United Nations General Assembly draws to a close, it is interesting to find that many suggestions and positions taken by the United States have been acceptable to the majority of nations represented.
There is no question but that a great drive has gone on to make it appear that the United States is an imperialist nation and that every suggestion made by us is really a bid for greater power and control, even though we might mask our desires in apparently harmless terms. In spite of this drive and the many accusations made, the fact is that much in the proposals made by this country has been accepted by the majority—which proves that the underlying motives of the United States are pretty well understood by most of the nations.
We are not imperialistic. We have no desire to control the economic and political situations in other nations. Being realistic, however, we know that great changes are coming about in the world, and that in the "one world" in which we live, all of these changes must of necessity affect us very much.
Therefore, since we believe in capitalism and since our form of economy has served our people well and since democracy, with all its faults, has given us greater potential freedom and greater control of our government than any other form of government now known to us, we must attempt to convey our beliefs in legitimate ways to the rest of the world. And we must protect in legitimate ways such things as we consider important to our way of life. This must be done, however, without the use of force and within the limits made possible by free intercourse between nations.
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Someone came to interview me the other day and, in the course of conversation, we reviewed the changes that have come about in the United States over a period of two generations. I think there has been a considerable change in our way of life, but it has come about so gradually and so simply that the majority of the people have adjusted to it almost without realizing a change was in progress.
I think I am right in saying that there are today a far greater number of people who are comfortably off. There are fewer people who live in great luxury, with much personal service. There are still undoubtedly many people who do not attain even moderate standards of living but their number has decreased, and the middle group has added to its numbers from both the top and the bottom.
In a democracy this is as it should be. It is a kind of socialism, but it has not come to us as dramatically as it has come in many countries of Europe and I think the adjustment has been almost imperceptible. As you travel through this country, you rejoice in the great number of comfortable homes. And the fact that the millionaire abodes of a few years ago are gradually disappearing causes little regret.
There is one important thing to remember, however. That is that, in the past, great fortunes have supported the arts and scientific research, and have supported many of the developments which have brought about the present changes—which, from my point of view, are good. In the future, the support for these necessary activities must come from a much wider base. And one hopes that, with greater material comforts for a quarter number, there also will come better education and a wider appreciation of the things which make life truly worth living to the people as a whole. The trend upward in the cultural and scientific areas must not stop, or our national life will suffer.