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From the Great Hall of the Cooper Union in New York City. National Educational radio presents the Cooper Union forum series on peace love and creativity the hope of mankind. Here now is the chairman of the Cooper Union forum Dr. Johnson. The Fairchild. Are continuing with our program which I love which we hope with. Great joy great with the music. When you were listening here you should be listening. Forty five.
Great. So he was really. Starting arrangement set up he's a former congressman a war correspondent. He was chief of the United Nations bureau of mutual and he handles such things important things as presidential conventions up others. He is a very popular speaker and we're very delighted that he was able to come here. He has been in Cooper Union several times before and I was very much welcome back to you and your callers call me
and Mr. Chopra. Ladies and gentleman a very generous introduction by the director R.. Program it occurs to me after your first child comes from your speaker himself it is a little difficult for anyone to cope with the subject at Promise comprehensive or MRI for reasons some of which I would like and prefatory way last year conducted a similar program
in enumerating all the things which were for our country and invited to come out of his recital. I told him that I thought it perhaps appropriate for me to take slightly different perspective. But I hope will interest you in some confused issues of our time. Something of the confusion. Popular contemporary. I should like to make it clear that when we are talking of disenchantment we necessarily got into a multiplicity diversity doesn't it. I'm not qualified to speak of the chapel as it applies in the psychological sense to a
lack of personal fulfillment nor am I qualified to speak in its Or of it sociological implications of the society as a whole. I have and I doubt however that one reason for the difficulty in grappling with the subject which is an abstraction is the nature of disenchantment itself. In rendering a mouse situation in personal terms but it is not intellectual. It is not conceptual. Doesn't Chaplin used to be a rather emotional thing. In French we recognize that there has been a sad lack of fulfilment of a dream.
I suppose disenchantment therefore is the waste of every man's life and hopes. We all have much to feel tortured about since it is rare indeed to find that man whose life has been a complete fulfillment of all his hopes both as an individual and as a political animal. And yet I know this also means defining. Every nation and every new generation has its own disillusionment. I'm inclined to believe that in many cases they derive from the fact that quite uncritically we have expected too much and they have
identified the enthusiasm of our dreams with and come possible for achievable reality. I can recall during my own adolescence. So I think that this was a direct analogy to our present national mood. Having been caught up in the idealism of Woodrow Wilson mistakenly our lot spoke of the war. For democracy not the war to end wars but the war to make the world safe for democracy. We were led to believe that secret covenants would be abolished those secret treaties between nations which were supposed to be diabolical that the septum balance of power among sovereign nations would be obliterated and that we would have a League of Nations which would keep the peace and which would
lead to a world of structure and for long. We fought the war are. Immediately the period of disillusionment for my generation or the one individual I was undergoing a sudden corrosive because none of these things happened. The League of Nations emerged as a fragile structure which was never able to function effectively because of our own failure to go into it if that indeed was saved. We found that there was a paucity of idealism in the post-war world and yet we were our animating during those days. Those of us who are sentient about our problems at all in that high school and college freshman. We were all animated by a beautiful idealistic dream.
I have seen this happen over and over again in American life. A great many people believe at the conclusion of World War 2. I want to end the war that we as a universal political universe would embrace the Four Freedoms which were enunciated by President Roosevelt and subscribed to by Winston Churchill and also by Joseph Stalin. It was to be an ideal world organized for law with nations living in peace. Instead we found that our disenchantment was quick and swift and brutal and very real. We found the Soviet encroaching on the borders of Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. We found that. Our own ideals really did not emerge unscathed from
the war that we had not been fighting for the nobility of purpose as much as to make the world safe for the order. The social and economic order we had out here and in going end of the war. I remember it was paraphrased in some odd homely way by saying where fighting this war for the sake of Mom's apple pie. And indeed that's about all that's emerged from it. The United Nations was created. May I say not only inspired but predicated in the parts of fact in those on the theory that the Soviet that is now the dominant world powers would be able in all respects to order our policies in consonance and in the harmony
and world affairs. The United Nations was created in the belief that it would be a vehicle for the concerted purpose of the United States France and its signatory members that it would be there for our translation in the political terms and those of human brotherhood and human peace. So are there was another period of disenchantment. We saw the Korean War certainly at that time there was no degree of popularity attaching the struggle even though it was a successful effort to prevent communist Germany in the North East Asia. Instead we believe that we were fighting for washing machines and automobiles and low discount rates.
It didn't work out that way. And another period this is usually set in if we go to our African friend that has become our there has emerged as the most bitter disenchantment of all because they believe that all they do is to rid themselves of their colonial masters. As a consequence they would emerge as a self-governing and peaceful people hired on the road to prosperity. Instead they discovered that in as much as they had never known the disciplines of such a central government and had always lived by the morning as a private family and that they were actually to those of their own country their own nation. And so oral society and even among the newly liberated and the newly freed
Africans discovered that industrialization was not as easy as it seemed that the processes calling for skilled techniques did not come easily. They were far far short of the noble goals they had so bravely set themselves. And even our position in that continent is a policy. We saw it again. The worldwide phenomenon which has been called and I think properly the revolution of rising expectations. People were set free after the Second World War. Perhaps not the election of late but because of other colonial powers found they can no longer afford to keep their colony that they have become instead of an economic asset an economic drain and in many
respects a fiscal disaster. So they willingly dismantle their colonial empires. I'm there for the people down there that the Blisses of freedom were not on the line but they had glimpsed something something of the Western world. But there's right and just real abundance. And over this planet to scientific and technological skills they wanted better things for themselves. It's bad of course to South America among the PR firms and there are the landless and the shirkers who had been told that things would be better. I did see some amelioration of their lives and hence were emboldened to believe that they were finally coming into that affluence or at least that degree of material comfort. But it's a Western world or so shiningly symbolized that progress too
has been painfully slow and disenchantment has set in there. We see it in Asia of course. An NDA which finds herself hardly able to cope with her own gigantic problems and soon were it not for our American a lot of other nations but face the gaunt specter of starvation. So all the bright dreams of freedom and prosperity which once and claimed the best of the Indian people have come along and Asia and us wherever we go we find that there have been disappointments. I think in part We are responsible ourselves for the acuteness of our disappointment. And that in turn goes back to political rhetoric. Our leading statesman in my judgment too often
used the vocabulary and the inflated Cabul and our truism far beyond any ability on their part to bring these things about. And we Americans being idealistic being this altruistic people may not have any ideology but we've always had a dream symbolized by such terms as democracy freedom and equality. Thus when we are promised these things we assume that all of that is necessary is a waving of the magic legislative wand and they will come into being because we have them to come in and because we have been taught the vocabulary
again plated and extravagant vocabulary our political problems. And we deem practical program. I'll tell you a new group of friends now are arrested. It's because once the dam was broken and the waters were gotten to a flood out they thought that they must have what they had been promised. Now. They cannot be blamed for that because we had encouraged them to believe that there was some legislative panacea to the extension of civil rights that when suddenly they rid them of the ghettos in the slums and start them on the way to economic if not socially equality with the rest of the nation. Expectations have been aroused by rhetoric which you've been too brave and to
vaporise without a concomitant ability to carry that rhetoric into practical action. I would not suggest that the American politicians can or will ever be based on his vocabulary or de-value it to the point where he speaks only of the attainable things. And indeed it may be necessary bearing in mind that due to your temperament of our people for our leaders to talk in abstract terms about freedom and justice and self-determination and democracy. I think it was fried who runs I said and elaborated in his other work that I did this often in the cloak for self aggrandizement.
And often our ideas as we express them the cloaks for our own. This talks of freedom and democracy. I don't believe that it is as permission has an influence here as it has been in other nations because I'm inclined to believe that our altruism our desire to help other people is a valid one rather than a spurious one. But when you begin trying to translate these terms into practical programs you run into great difficulty and the dire danger of disappointment. I have often believed in connection with the war in Vietnam part of President Johnson's political difficulties lies in the fact
that he has repeatedly invoked this doctrine of obstruction. He said fight for the right of self-determination of the soffit me. Yes that's true. We are fighting for the freedom of these people. Yes that's true. We are fighting that our commitments will be honored. Yes that's true. But the truth of the matter is that we're fighting a very definite. I'm the rational person even though I may not be doing it right. But his run of survival of self-interest the American people however probably could not be galvanized by any appeal merely to self-interest. The cars that would be too clearly and the implementation of Freud's statement that all ideas are merely the cloaks for self aggrandizement.
If the administration had seen fit to say to the American people we are fighting in order to avoid disturbing the world balance of power which would be detrimental to our interests. It is possible that President Johnson had a more conventional following but I doubt that he would have been enunciating a doctrine which appealed to many Americans on the mass of Americans. Instead we spoke or he spoke and speaks of the right of self-determination of the South Vietnamese people. Frankly if that were the only factor involved we would not be here. We also hold theoretically the right of self-determination of the people of Hungary or of the Baltic states of Lithuania which is of course free but still subject to Russian influence. We would
be actively concerning ourselves in Rumania we would actively have intervened in the Middle East. But the fact is that these particular matters lie beyond our power are greatly to influence. I'm going to become a client of the status quo in our relationship with Russia at the time which we fully recognize cannot be broken in Europe but which could be broken and so it is not a pure soft determine your desire to save the right of self-determination of the South enemies which drives us into prosecuting this war. Otherwise we'd be fighting in Hungary Romania wherever out there and then the Russian encroachment of the world want to verify that because we can't fight there
because we. Believe that the launch would mean under the domino. They were the last of the Laos and Cambodia the outflanking of the retreat of Indonesia back under communist colors and eventually the Philippines and Japan which would be adverse to American interests. But so far the abstraction. That presumably the president of the United States has seen fit to place our watch on this interpretive basis rather than self-interest. Well if the larger rather exalted concept had not been used perhaps we would not be so disappointed now because morality would have enter in to a consideration
of the Vietnam war if it had been an easy victory. If we had been able to accomplish our military Athens and two months time or any years time and the Question of the morality of our involvement would never have arisen. It is a fact that we are persuaded by a grandiose phrase have suddenly discovered that it is not an easy war hard conflict but has induced us to retreat to I'm sure essential aid terrorists and self-serving declarations of immorality as it characterizes our involvement there. And this is the attitude of many sincere Americans who say the war is MRO from our stand point but perhaps it is all right if it is it was immoral. Three or four years ago it was
immoral for President Eisenhower to put his first military advisors there. QUESTION Robert they really didn't enter into it until the going got hired now losses began to mount. The American people who are temperamentally and impatient people suddenly discovered that this was not a pushover as they had assumed. So are some segments of our people have become almost sanctimonious in their protests against the amorality of R R R RR R R R R for. Again we were misled by the rhetoric which politicians in the free world too often use to whet the appetites of their people for an unsavory or at least unpopular adventure. I don't think that time will ever come so long as human nature is organized as it is.
That we will not deceive ourselves about. They almost voted that lemon in this scope of our possible achievement. This is particularly true in America. I imagine the French who are profoundly realistic people living in a small country may have a more pragmatic view of it than we but we have seen the horizons of this continent and its infinite riches somehow are we have caught the US dream vision. I'm limited in rand what is possible for the nation is possible for the individual or society as it is now organized. So we dream too greatly. If disillusionment makes us pay a price we are unwilling
to pay. This would seem to imply that I'm in favor of retrenching on dream but I'm not. I don't believe the American people can survive as a great people without dreams. There perhaps Rice hopes for the future. It's a part of our youth part of our whole make up both individually and nation. But I do believe has been the poisoning element in this vast optimism and in this arousal of great hopes has been the heart of finding of this ending to a definite promise of a strong legislative index which are supposed to accomplish these things overnight. It can be done and we have been led to the
disenchantment by the very bread than the far flung bravery of our dreams. A national malady if you would call it that which will never be corrected so long as the spirit of America itself remains of their own. It would be a happy thing for us if we could bring that the expression of our purpose into consonance with our ability to bring it about.
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Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind
The great disenchantment, part one
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the first part of a lecture by George Hamilton Combs, politician and journalist.
Series Description
This series presents lectures from the 1968 Cooper Union Forum. This forum's theme is Peace, Love, Creativity: The Hope of Mankind.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Speaker: Combs, George Hamilton, 1899-
Speaker: Fairchild, Johnson E.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-10-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:35
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Chicago: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; The great disenchantment, part one,” 1967-12-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 1, 2024,
MLA: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; The great disenchantment, part one.” 1967-12-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 1, 2024. <>.
APA: Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; The great disenchantment, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from