thumbnail of Voices of Europe; John Strachey and Paolo Vittorelli
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
Voices of Europe Milton Mayer American author and lecturer broadcaster and professor of social research from the University of Frankfurt has been traveling throughout many of the countries of Western Europe recording the voices of ordinary people on a wide variety of subjects. Today in the ninth program of the series Milton Mayer interviews two men and receives their views of communism and counter or anti communism in Europe and America. First in London Mr. Mayer speaks with John Strait a member of parliament and a member too of a distinguished British family of civil servants soldiers squires and writers. Mr. Straight who's best known book in America is the coming struggle for power written many years ago has been undersecretary for air in the Labor government minister of food. And Secretary of State for War. Here is Milton Mayer. Mr. Straight she. I recently read a series of articles you wrote in The Manchester Guardian under the
title The absolutists. I was fascinated by them. And I think that an American audience would be fascinated by your attitude. Would you tell us who the absolutists are. Well what I meant by the absolutists was on the one hand the communists themselves because they have an absolute creed and also a group of people what I call the contect communists that made up of some of the most brilliant intellectuals who were themselves communists in the 1930s but who then broke with the Communist Party and the most bitter anti-communists in the world.
I'm thinking of people like Arthur Curtis Scilab on Granmar row and now in America I think we must count amongst them which chambers now are these people. And the better this was the point I was trying to make in the Guardian piece. In the end enunciations of communism to my mind still think we've seen an absolute communist categories although now in reverse. They've simply taken their old idea and substituted black for white but they haven't really got away from their old fundamental attitude so that they reverse them. What is your criticism of their position of this which from one absolutism to another.
My criticism of course is that I reject any form of absolutism whether the communist form or the contact communist for. And it seems to me that the big division in the world today is not what's a loney called the final struggle between the communists and the ex-communists. To my mind a much bigger division is these two categories of absolutists lumped together on the one hand. And the rest of us who I called in those PCs for want of a better word the experimentalists are the people who reject absolutism of oral Karnes. What why what you call an in political terms simply the reformists. And I was really asserting a defiant reformism
which is the thing which the conduct Carmen is just as much as the communists contemptuously Dheeraj in all their works. But of course let me hasten to say at the same time I've a very great sympathy with the current a communist because I was a young liberal myself and the 930 years and I was very often accused of traveling with the Communists and I know from personal experience just how hard it is to regain your emotional and intellectual balance when you've been through that sort of experience. But he does I am of course accusing the ex-communists of not having fully 10 or 8 regain that intellectual balance and emotional balance more than intellectual which I do think is absolutely
indispensable as guides to action. And now Mr straight you what in detail is your criticism of the position of the absolute anti-communists or counter communists who are one time absolute communists or communist sympathizers. Well I think I have two main criticisms. I reject really their assessment both of the Western world and their assessment of communism itself. Take the western world first. I reject that point of view on that because they derive as I said just now all effort to reform and reform is really too weak a word to make the move a gross decay. Western capitalism. They're convinced and this is the commonest
training of course coming out that capitalism is just capitalism and either you overthrow it by revolution or broadly speaking or leave it as it is now. Experience has taught me that that just isn't the case. Capitalism is sufficiently flexible A10 arranged in Britain and America and I think with clear of this now to modify it and to modify it so great clear that the very laws of its development are changed. I don't claim we've done that in Britain were you. Lots of people think of course we've done it for the worse that's quite quite arguable though I disagree with it entirely but I think you've found a very general consensus of opinion on conservative circles and in labor Well it's in Britain that the nature of the British economic
system is different in current to what it was six years ago before we of the Labor Party came to power and got to work on it without at the same time having changed so radically as to approach communism or collectivism. Oh it's no resemblance to communism whatever of course whatever it is we've produced I don't want to call it quite It's a sort of hybrid undoubtedly but it's so politically totally different of course because there's never been a period in which parliamentary democracy as beans have vigorous and so on travel is a tease in Britain today. And yet Mr. straight you wouldn't these counter communist absolute tests of whom we are speaking say that the present development in Britain represents really only a stepping stone in the
direction of communism. Well they'd either say that or they'd say I think even more all usually say that it doesn't represent any real change from capitalism atoll. Some of them would say one thing and some the other. But anyhow they'd both unite in disregarding it and thinking it through not much account. Let me just say that in my humble opinion if you forgive my expressing a view on your country. I think that to a lesser extent of course and in a different way. But yet the cumulative effect of the New Deal and the fair deal in the United States is appreciably to modify the very nature of the United States economy and to make the cause of development which the communists analyzed with great ability no longer apply are we shall
say. But I don't believe the American economic system will exhibit the early symptoms the early extreme instability in the rest of it that we do is to exhibit. I think it's been changed in its nature. And now for communism the nature of communism itself. Well there are of course the difference is it's important to war because as Chambers puts it very well for example in his new book they all feel that communism is absolutely evil. Oh and it is even in each cell from its very are in June and start in beginning and always must so and can never change it's an absolute. Now I think that's profoundly wrong. I happen to think that communism is something in a way worse than that. I
think it's the goss clip that it's become Stalinist for all the really tragic um horrible persion of something which in its original impulse was profoundly good and humane. I think that that's really a more serious indictment of communism. And then the kind of Communists make. But it's certainly a different one. And they if then in the view of the counter communist absolute terrorists communism is communism absolutely evil and without any possibility of basic change or development capitalism is capitalism. Then it would seem to me that the counter communist present these two forces with the locked horns in a struggle to the death and crossable lead to the death of them
both. You are right and I think to do them justice the abler of them see that and admit it. And there is struck again in Chambers's new book with the way in which he takes a third wear of war for granted. He is really as far as I can see quite hopeless of any possibility of avoiding it. And he rarely thinks any attempt to avoid it pretty PRL. But then this follows from the absolute US position be exact. And that's why I deeply reject it. And the outcome of this war in their view. Well I think you can read in customer and in chambers in the most important of them a profound defeatism that they don't really believe that the West could win
this war which they see is inevitable. Do they believe that the west sure lied. Oh of course. Why. Oh they have come to the conclusion that communism is a thousand times worse than even an unmodified capitalism with all its forms. But they see and they still believe in the inevitability of the disintegration of capitalism if it can't modify itself and therefore they pretty well fall back on a miracle or as they earn a thing that can save the Western world. I don't believe that that's. Accurate depiction of the world as it is I think is a matter of fact. If we can keep this the degree of flexibility which we have achieved in Britain and America improve on it I believe we are the stronger and actually the more stable of the two world systems. And when I trust peaceful
competition with military strength of course to backers there's no doubt of our need of that. I think we should be the winners. But Mr. Straight she can we have the defiant reformism you advocate plus the military strength that you say we need. They both come pretty high. You know I'm asking really can we have guns and butter. Yes of course we can. And actually the more all military strength we have to have and it is dreadfully expensive the more we must modify our economic system and redistribute income because the less there is to go around the less play there is the more important it is that everybody has fair share. And when I say that the West can win I'm convinced that it can only win if it really does make over its economic
system. So efficiently at a tender age they give that sense a fair share with ibe which the mass of the population of the world will never cooperate again. Thank you very much Mr. Straight. Next in Rome Milton Mayer interviewed Signor Paolo vetoed Allie A young but distinguished Italian journalist who was a member and a very active member of the Social Democratic Party of Italy the party which is opposed both to communism and to the present Conservative government of Italy. Listen as Milton Mayer speaks with Powell of Italy señor Victor Alley has Italy become democratic where. It depends very much on what while intends by democracy. There is no doubt that 20 years of fight against
fascism which we are going to do by 20 months prior to the fight during I want to go ration. You have made us come actually or from what you call democracy then that we have ever been. But of course very much still remains to be done in order that this country may be going to see that a modern democratic country. How much democracy would you say has developed in Italy since the liberation. A criticism of what was done since deliberation might be unfair to all governance that ruled
the sky country since the liberation. And democracy. In order to become stable and to become modern must last decades and sometimes centuries. I believe that the great stain found stability of British and American democracy comes first of all from the fact that an interrupted Lee there were able to rule that countries for such a long time. But something more should be said about the duration of democracy. Democratic regimes must be filled with something really deserving to be defended and really attractive to their people.
I want to recall what one of your greatest presidents said in a fireside chat at the eve of her new year 1941. Mr was very said I would ask no one to defend the democracy which incurred would not defend everyone in the nation against Grant and by invasion. This inmate believes he's got to use more lacking in the present. It done in democracy. This is what socialist fight for. This is about so show democratic governments have performed so usefully and so well in that northern European countries.
Well it is for us to fight for socialism in this country. In an economy of poverty like the whole of European countries today it is no use talking of free enterprise. I think an army of freedom when by that freedom you only mean. That if you reach privileged people will have an opportunity to control the great mass of their wealth and of the income of a nation. One of the very great majority of the rest of the people will be only free to remain in the present state of misery.
What you say Senor Peter alley of course sounds radical to us Americans where we don't suffer under this kind of rule by a few rich over the miserable masses of the people. It is a strange concept to us. It may seem strange to you because yours still is an economy of abundance. In Europe. And especially in my country right a heart at least of this country is submitted to conditions not far different from the ones prevailing in the underdeveloped areas. We don't know what freedom of.
Used to be you show me me freedom of these to be orphan of the national wealth only means that millions of people will be left without work without bread without the most by many things even the rich people in my country. I'm not used to going to see that otherwise than as a natural eye washing machine and radio set and automobile. But Senorita really so many of us Americans recognizing the economy of poverty as you express it its existence in a great deal of Europe. So many of us Americans wonder why so many Europeans
seem to be an enthusiastic about defending what little liberty they have certainly a great deal more liberty. Among the had had and is now than they had under fascism. I'm afraid that very often you Americans see things on their own side of the ocean. You should be surprised. I believe that the state of our after tour winos wars as the ones we had so many Democrats left in Europe the majority the great majority of the European people of the downturn people who steal out their markets are so only for idea of resellers.
But when you ask people to defend a cause for ideal reasons in order to get at a certain moment not too far from ideal results. That moment should not be delayed too much. You see sometimes you think that but you have to fight in Europe. He's a sort of book called goblin isn't it. Of course Communism is something most to us and great fun. But what is behind the government is when you fight communism and Soviet Russia. You start unfortunately. Even if you're not convinced of it from just something that war is inevitable
and because you believe or because you act as if war was inevitable you prepare. Military defenses against government is for and against Soviet Russia and you give up what has traditionally being the main weapon of American Individualism and American democracy. I mean the instrument of persuasion and all of us. We are social democrats. Believe that war is not inevitable. I did the moment it had been declared. We also believe that I don't think there is peace until a minimum of possibility of free discussion is left.
We master payment to perswade as many workers as possible. That through government is what they would never reach. They are social apes. We have seen them in more developed democratic countries that social democracy was in a position to persuade workers that communism was useless and to get all the working class. Why simulate the fight for socialism we have the fight for democracy. We believe this is possible also in our country and often for us and we believe that giving up we have the means of persuasion. If the main basis of democracy. We shall not fight and then
officiant way Darian socialism and we shall open the gates to the dirty day in fact she's seen your feet are only communism portrays itself. Certainly in Italy and in many other countries as the only boat work against fascism is fascism still alive in Italy is there any chance of its reviving fascism and. Would not be dangerous by itself as in 1922 when Mussolini took power. Fascism again is dangerous in Italy because it is made such by conservative and reactionary psychos who think that they will be able to use fascism as a weapon against communism. In this they are mistaken as they already
were 25 years ago because fascism from an instrument of reactionary aims. We could say if used as an instrument reactionary forces you see. When you come here you're seeing the splendid ruins of our past in the center of Oh. Then you're always trying to recall the diary and be part of that they have an ancient sea legs a friend and a friend. But they don't and people do not live amongst those things if you only had been able to see the outskirts of the city you would have seen the weeds of the present which may also be the ones of our future.
Thousands of people leave. There are. Enough. Most misery unemployment and slums. And there was sent there by the fascist government in order to allow the people coming into the capital not to be the fall. Of the great music which is still pervading this country. There you go problem. For us. He's not colonies. Did this cause of colonies. Does this means every of our people at the outskirts of a capital city as well as we believe that the real problem of the American people should be the great misery of Western Europe at the outskirts of Western civilization. Thank you very much senior editor of Milton Mayer has been interviewing Mr. Johns straight in London and soon your power will be to rally in Rome in the ninth program of the
series voices of Europe. In the next programme of the series Milton Mayer interviews in your eye also a dummy hotel owner in the vino Italy and no less a bitch. A young Belgian girl who has been hitchhiking alone around Europe. The programme you have just heard is made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This program was introduced by Norman McKee and this is the ne AB tape network.
Voices of Europe
John Strachey and Paolo Vittorelli
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-g7374t3m).
Episode Description
Interviews with the British Labour politician John Strachey and the Italian socialist politician, Paolo Vittorelli.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
Socialism--Italy--History--20th century.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Interviewee: Strachey, John, 1901-1963
Interviewee: Vittorelli, Paolo, 1915-
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Voices of Europe; John Strachey and Paolo Vittorelli,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; John Strachey and Paolo Vittorelli.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; John Strachey and Paolo Vittorelli. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from