OCTOBER 24, 1949
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I have a letter today expressing the annoyance of a lady who says she does not dare sign her name or give her right address because one of her neighbors wrote me a letter which, it is claimed, I turned over to the State Department. She implies the letter was on communism—which is odd, because letters on communism would ordinarily be turned over to the Department of Justice or the FBI, or possibly the Secret Service, for investigation.
The lady seems to have been very much troubled about the Communist trial, and evidently thinks that all of us who have been in any way suspicious of Communists would be the ones responsible if we should have a war. I don't expect war and I am quite sure that everybody in every country will do everything possible to prevent it. At the same time, letting the Communists do whatever they wish to do in this country doesn't seem to me to be the way to avoid war.
One of the first things which seem to me essential for a peaceful world is to drive home to the USSR that no one can with impurity advocate the overthrow of government by force in this country. If the American Communist party is going to advocate force and violence, or show by its actions that this is what it advocates, then I am afraid it will eventually be outlawed. I would far prefer to see it change its tactics so that we could follow our traditional custom of permitting anyone to try to persuade people that his beliefs are right. Any party which has a sufficient number of adherents is entitled to consideration; and no member of it is in danger because of his political beliefs as long as the party does not advocate the use of force.
If the philosophy of the Communist party, however, obliges its members to accept the rule of force, then we are going to see results which I would consider very unfortunate. In addition to the eventual banning of the Communist party, anyone who belonged to it would automatically be considered a criminal and a danger to the United States. This will force party members underground and thereby intensify the activities of secret agents, who will have to watch them and ferret them out. This is much to be deplored in a country which up to now has not had to live in suspicion and fear. But the Communists will bring it on themselves, if it comes about, and it will be bad for their situation within the United States as well as in the world.
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All of us are watching with interest the efforts being made at conciliation in the steel and coal strikes. I have a long resolution from a group calling itself "The Citizens Economic Council of Covington, Kentucky," which is petitioning the President to work out "an adequate, democratic, all-inclusive universal pension plan for all citizens."
That sounds very easy, but it ignores one of the basic issues in the current strike. Most business organizations ensure for their top executives adequate pensions. The real trouble between the steel unions and management today is that the workers are trying to get the same kind of insurance which the highly-paid executives have had to a very great extent in the past. It is imperative, I think, that the companies come to some kind of arrangement with the unions, because the results of these strikes will not be limited to the United States. Other nations are in no condition to bear these results, even if this country can weather them.