AUGUST 24, 1944
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—One of the objections raised by people who are afraid of universal military training is that this is a pattern which was followed by the Fascists in Germany and Italy, and by the Communists in Russia. Such people are afraid of having girls included for any kind of training, or of going a step beyond military training and giving training which might stimulate interest in government and participation in it, because that would increase the parallel.
When one says that the aid given to Russian youth in obtaining higher education is perhaps greater than anything we have worked out here, and that we might examine what they have done in relation to any future plans of ours, there is at once the shriek from certain quarters that we wish to communize our youth. As a matter of fact, it is highly unwise not to examine what was done in other countries. There is no need to copy it, but we might improve on it and adapt it to our own purposes.
I cannot imagine that anyone in this country would want to see our young people subjected to the kind of regimentation and instruction which was enforced in Germany and Italy, nor do I think that we would want to see our young people indoctrinated in the way that the Russians indoctrinated their young people. But why we should not take anything we find that is good, and use it in a way which will benefit our youth, is incomprehensible to me. It shows a kind of fear and uncertainty about ourselves which is to me entirely unfathomable. I have faith in our people and in our youth, and I do not believe you could put over on us something which did not meet with agreement from the majority of the people in this country.
I think we have learned from the draft that we need a better knowledge of nutrition, and better medical care for our children. To attain this, we must of necessity make some changes in our educational system, because we cannot expect any improvement except through the knowledge and understanding of our young people.
The year of extra training beyond high school might add enormously to the kind of education which would help us to achieve these improvements in our standards of living. Such improvement does not necessarily mean that we need more money per family; it often means we need more knowledge per family in order to use what we have at hand.
It is a long time since I have worked closely with any organization, or been actively connected with the work that any particular group is doing. I think, however, that these things which I have been writing about during the past few days should be of interest and become matters of discussion not only in women's groups, but in men's groups and in groups of young people, because they are going to affect the life of our nation and that of many other nations in the future.