FEBRUARY 24, 1949
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—In spite of all the protest against Fascism that one hears so frequently made by the Communists' representatives in meetings of the United Nations, there always has seemed to me a resemblance between a Fascist-controlled state, such as Mussolini's Italy, and a Communist state as it is commonly reported to be.
The first article of a series by a well-known correspondent of one of our New York City newspapers draws the parallel between Fascist Spain and a Communist-controlled state. One comes to the conclusion that Franco's Spain does give the people a little more freedom, but as these freedoms are itemized they don't sound very free. There is one political party in the USSR and there is one political party in Franco's Spain. Spain still has the Gestapo-trained secret police and, as you read through the article, you realize that a police state under any dictatorship is much the same, under whatever name it is disguised.
Italy, under Mussolini, was of a somewhat different complexion and many visitors found it a far more agreeable country to visit than the old Italy, but the breath of freedom had left the country. I am afraid that is what is missing in Communist countries as well as in Fascist countries.
Absolute freedom may never be possible, but we are entitled to hope for such recognition of individual rights as is compatible with the recognition of the rights of others. The remark, so frequently made, that there can be no real freedom, seems to me a foolish acceptance of a half-truth. You cannot be free to indulge yourself without consideration for others, but you can be free within certain limits to make your own decisions and to lead your life as you please.
I spoke on human rights and religion on Sunday in the chapel at Vassar College at the morning services. This chapel is conducted as a community church. It was organized by former president MacCracken and has functioned successfully for some 20 years. All students on the campus, no matter what their religious affiliation, may join the community church and take part in the program of social activities planned for the benefit of the community.
Groups of young people often take part in interfaith services, but a community church in which the members work out their own service, with due consideration for the variety of faiths that meets under the same roof, gives a still greater opportunity for development of spiritual leadership and understanding. I know only too well how difficult this is to achieve, but I think that Vassar and its students should be extremely proud of the record that they have made so far.