SEPTEMBER 10, 1952
NEW YORK, Tuesday—It was interesting to attend the meeting Sunday night of the International Chemical Workers Union. Every speaker talked of the Point 4 program and I gained as much information, I am sure, as I gave.
I was very much interested in hearing Senor Serafino Romualdi, Latin American representative of the AFL, tell how he felt the Point 4 projects would draw together the people of South America and the U.S.
We also heard from a very interesting Indian woman who has long been in the trade union movement in India. She emphasized the need for Point 4 to give aid to the trade unions in underdeveloped countries so that they may develop more quickly and strengthen themselves through the development of a well-paid workers' middle class.
She said that nearly all the underdeveloped countries had a few very rich people who spent much of their time out of their own country and who had money invested in other countries. This wealth, she argued, had been made originally in their own countries through the work of the poor people. She said that next in line to that small, rich class was a group of professionals of various kinds and a few moderately well-off people. Below these groups, however, there was nothing but a very poor mass of people, workers in cities and workers in the country.
She pointed out that the greatness of the U.S. was due to the vast number of well-to-do workers of every kind who make up America's middle class.
Another speaker was Mr. Nelson Cruikshank, labor advisor in the Mutual Security Agency, who gave us a good deal of information. Also, from him personally I was very much interested to hear that my grandson, who is working in Paris in that agency, is doing well in his particular small job.
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I was grieved today to read that Venice's gondolas are being crowded out by the motor-powered rowboat. This process has been going on for many years, but this newspaper story said that the crossing of the Grand Canal finally has been given up by gondoliers.
The gondolas were such graceful boats and the little brass horses that usually decorated them had such charm. And the gondoliers themselves were gentlemen of great personality. So, I'm sorry to see them go. I doubt if I shall ever again have an opportunity to be in Venice but I regret that the more prosaic boat with a motor had to take over the Grand Canal.
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Even the scientists are struggling today with the difficult question of the boundaries of freedom of information. I was interested in a speech made by Professor Alexander Macbeath of the Department of Philosophy at Queens University in Belfast. He took both the U.S. and England to task in a talk, "A Plea for Heretics."
In speaking of the U.S. he said we were "a place where dissent is regarded as disloyalty, criticism as an unfriendly act, and a difference of opinion as disaffection."
At the basis of all this lies the simple question of how much right an individual scientist has to share his thoughts and discoveries with the rest of the world regardless of whether those to whom he discloses his ideas are friendly to his country. This is an urgent question to a great many people, and I am afraid it will not be settled in this meeting of scientists.