Voices of Europe; Andre Maurois and Gunnar Myrdal
Voices of Europe produced and recorded by Milton Mayer in cooperation with the University of Chicago under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters on this program. Milton Maier will conduct two interviews the first is with Andre Maurois and the second with going to a mere doll. And now Milton Mayer. If anyone has anything to say about civilization it is usually a French word and if any French woman is better qualified to say it than any other it is likely to be Andre Maurois of the French Academy one of the foremost living men of letters whose journalism is as fiery and ironical as his literary classics. And this year more were our lives Of course in Paris. Talking to him in his home there today across the street
from his beloved Why are the Valar are the French people civilized clothes the question of course applies to a very large number of people you count there were a lot of weather 40 million people are civilized. But I see that the very large number of them ease as well as other nations are concerned I'm quite sure the British are civilized and quite sure thought of the United States east of you will see all of it as to the versions I know because I hardly knew any horses. I'm quite sure that she cough and talking if we're civilized and very much so. What makes you more what you take to be the hallmarks of civilization. Will civilization means that you will be capable of living in society
and therefore that you have the virtues that make it possible to live in society. The first of those being your politeness in pigeons the insulin. Are you satisfied that the French the British the Americans to a large extent and some Russians are capable of living in human society. Well it is a fact that they do. I ask that question because there is some there are some doubts raised occasionally by pessimists as to whether civilized man is is in thing. So he's really capable of well surviving. Well I think exact civilized men. He keeps underneath these skin and these
superficially actions in uncivilized man. And if you do not submit him to law was freely accepted well then he may turn again to to be savages released. We saw the happen during the last war during the occupation of this country during the washing of evolution. Of course there is a beast in man. But if we abide by certain number of rules which history is shown to be the proper rules to maintain your civilization Well then I can see why we could have a civilization now as we had one in the past. Are you suggesting that that civilization and human nature itself is really only skin deep. Yes certainly and that.
You know or no evidence that man as a whole has become more civilized over the centuries. Yes I should say man has become more civilized than for instance the man of prehistoric ages and doubtfully. I think that great progress in civilization was made by good reason another by of all because all attach great importance to law in norther by parliamentary government by the ideals about freedom in front for centuries from and so by the main of the American Revolution progresses the word civilization. Can you convince yourself mature Maurois that there is a correlation between freedom as you and I understand that and power or victory in the world.
Yes I can convince I don't believe they can convince you but they can't convince myself easily because when Mr. Hitler said this is a strategy we'll follow. There was nothing to do except to follow it and it was a wrong strategy. If Germany had been in the country they were very good generals could have said no this is not right. And then they might have won the war. Well look for a moment if if if you will miss you more while at the situation of your own country so profoundly at mired by the Americans over so long a period really the ancestor of the American Revolution. I should suppose possibly envied by the British and most certainly Andy by the
Germans. Here we have a people among whom free discussion is as far developed as it is anywhere. And here we have a nation where possibly as a consequence of free discussion it is almost miraculous if a government lasts as much as six months. Well I think that these religions spill into the millions. But it is not true. Or the French government is I think if we go on the chains the less of all governments you shuffle the cards but the pack is always the same it's just a question that Mr. So-and-So called himself the prime minister. But it doesn't make any difference to the policies it is followed at present. The Socialist prime minister Bertie in perfect English with all the other men who could be prime minister and therefore these
these changes are much more up on the real and is the currency quite a legend for our French decadence. Also more apparent and that is much more than legend it's a calumny. There is no French taken as a matter of fact that there would be more hard work and more prosperous now if you if you think that 10 years ago all the bridges in France and in this moved of the railway station. Large number of that all of this has been rebuilt in the is simply astounding but hasn't the damage the still greater damage in Germany and possibly in Russia. I haven't been there. Been rebuilt to an even more considerable extent without free discussion. Hope and trusts that present day Germany has free discussion.
Let's consider the country where where I'm afraid neither of us has been namely Russia. Can you and I don't know and will know anything about Russia down to about Russians nothing by now but it could we believe you and I at least hypothetically for argument's sake that an even greater degree of physical reconstruction could be achieved by a totalitarian society than a free one thing that it did. There you and society can probably achieve a great deal for a while but I think that the power of invention to will progressively disappear and I think also that if they succeed in producing more giving more comfort to their people will then these people will ask for more freedom see what happened. I think that is a delusion in which things you're referring to the
uprising in the Polish Poznan. Well would you wish you more or set any limits on individualists. Oh yes I told you that you need that mass of law abiding people and I think that individuals can only preserve their freedom if they accept the laws of their nation and the eves they radiate to give some devotion to society. You do reason because you are an individual and because you want your freedom not to do freely for your country what others do because they're compelled to do it. And would you feel that their limitation has more or less been properly set. The
limitation on individual ism has more or less been properly set in the societies of the so-called free countries say in your own in France or in the states and so far you're acquainted with America or in Britain. Well I think that we could do with a little less individualist means not much but in some cases I should like to to see that people do more for the power of the state and less for themselves but I think that the margin between the excess of individualism and the right sort of interest is much less than the margin between the existence of the military and its money and what would be the right devotion to the state from the individual in which you are and if I understand you correctly perhaps just a
little excessive. You see no great danger of collapse of the community as a whole. Oh certainly not I mean this community has lost it for 2000 years and I can see no reason why it couldn't live as it was the same it was not very much different. I should see what the British general once told me nineteen 18 when we were in there. We seem to be in the dangerous situation. You told me You look worried where I am because anything might happen where might happen may be beaten if you don't know because we British have never been beaten why should we begin to doing. You see we we French have lasted for two thousand years why should we. And a last final question. Do you think the prospects of the French nation
and the French spirit which I hope we have also in the States and in other countries that this spirit is in no danger of being overwhelmed by a man asked me Where are the mass movements of art. Well I think we have to be careful of course to educate the masses because the masses plea that a large bar in place in the life. But I think that the message can be people persons mass mediums of communication like radio and television they can be made use of in a very bad way and they often are made use of it. But they could be used for education. And I personally devoting a great deal of my time to try to to make French value and French television more you can even
hope I succeed. You think on the whole progress is being made in that direction not merely through your efforts but the Western manner as a whole. Succeeding in using his implements back I hope soo. Yes it will be easier to see that in three or four years time when one will see points in what will be done with television in phones I do not know what is done in America. Just arrived from England and I had to look at the BBC it's quite certain that the BBC's program is about all work and who opened and won and there is no reason why we couldn't educate a large number of people who like that sort of things. It's too tight. Anyway if you do believe you need its boogie in if you think it's possible then you will do it.
I mean if you think that do you count Jim predicts then you won't and you fool if you think you can then you will. Are you confessing then finally miss you more why that a very large element of your own attitude is optimism so utterly odious. Thank you very much. In 1944 a Swede published a volume of fifteen hundred pages written in English under the title An American dilemma. It was a sensational document. The suite was gutter mere dolls and the dilemma as he called it was the Negro problem in the United States is colossal study was organized by the Carnegie Corporation. Garner merit all has been Professor of Political Science and Public Finance at Stockholm University and minister of commerce in the Swedish
cabinet. For the past several years he has been executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe with headquarters in Geneva where I am interviewing him today. Dr. Merritt all the latest book and internationally known to me as just been published. The situation is grave and the years to come will provide a serious test of the political resourcefulness of quite public authorities and of other white and Negro leaders. But regardless of what happens we do not believe that this is a turn for the worse in race relations in the south. Even if there are going to be serious clashes and even if in there if there are short run effects will be devastating to the negroes involved and perhaps to negroes in the whole region. We believe that the long run effect of the present opinion crisis in the south because it is a catharsis for
the whites will be a change toward increased equality for the Negro. When we make this judgment we recall a remark once made in a conversation by a prominent and conservative negro social scientist in the south. He stated Attis is considered opinion that tensions are not necessarily bad and that under certain conditions even race riots may have wholesome effects in the long run he continued in about the following way. They stir people's conscience. People will have to think matters over. They prevent things from becoming settled. It's a race situation it should never become fixed if the Negro are really accommodated then and only then. What I despair about a continued great improvement for Negroes as long as there is friction and fighting. There is hope. Do you recognize those words Dr. Murray. Yes I do certainly. They are in the last chapter of my book and I can read
more than 10 years ago written more than 10 years ago and I'd like to know what progress if any there has been since then in the solution of the American dilemma. Well I have not been as you know I have not had occasion to come back to the race problem in America since I left the company after having finished my work in the fall of 42. I've just been following what has happened. S interested newspaper reader and very definitely from that though study. I had a sorta basis for following it. Perhaps closer than the ordinary newspaper reader. Surely that has been a tremendous success in practically every respect our negro white relations as you well know. I think I can say that I was more when I left my study more optimistic than
most scholars in the world. I remember I wrote in the book that not since Reconstruction has there been such possibilities for rapid progress in race relations America has now. I was more optimistic. Nevertheless what has happened has actually gone in even further. Then I as you know this is the true situation as a result of that. Naturally we have had lately increase of friction and news spread over all the world which has not been too flattering. But they should be seen in these bigger context that they are that type of friction and fighting which is a result of a very rapid progress. I am now as always optimistic so far as internal development in America is concerned I've never belonged to those who felt that I was there in Europe and that America I would not have a development towards a deeper and truer democracy in all respects. And I've been
right up till now. Tell me Doctor me at all. What in your view has been the cause or have been the cause of this increasing progress. Apart from the new laws I believe like you that the laws have been met man a lot. But besides that them perhaps on a deeper level we have of course had their rising education. This is a permanent force working since several of the caves and that back them better educated young people Negroes and whites are going out from American schools. This I think has been important in all the thing which has been important is and very important is the full employment situation in America. There has been yobs for everybody black and white on the whole. There's been not much unemployment we have had a long series of years which has been prosperous people have had money that has been less.
There's been elbow room there's been not that reason for racial envy which poverty and unemployment it gives I think these have been their important important factors and to them this is your logical rights I do believe also now that the Americans have been conscience have been conscious are more conscious than ever. As you well know that international situation which came out of a war where America was fighting Nazism and fascism and there are all sorts of dictatorial ideas where very deeply there was a racial element and anti-Semitism and ugly anti-Semitism. And America had to stand for that Ebro democratic principles and America has failed in the post-war world and that its influence in the world that is a thing which I stress very much in the last chapter of that book which you which you cited and that the magazine for that is in the word is depending much more than
upon armies and financial power. Is the Pentagon the respect that America has among good people all over the world and that of course the racial situation or rather the development in the racial situation is important. Doctoring has been felt to me. I mean by the Americans this has had an influence on racial development in America. It might not have been so fortunate if ordinary American has not felt that here they have reasons to think that it matters and and make things better at home in the world as it is and with America with the role it has played. You mean that the fact of world opinion impinging on America has been a factor in there in the in speeding up the progress of the solution of the problem. Well I think so but I think still more American consciousness that and that that progress in interracial problems at home has something to do with its prestige and
because of that its power for the good in the word has meant something quite aside from the pressure from outside. Now of course as we both know and all of our listeners know the current friction and tension in the states is to some considerable extent the consequence of the Supreme Court's decision and the desegregation of public schooling. And my question here Dr. Mary Gall. And I think you're as well qualified as any American would be to answer it is how far ahead of the mores and the temper and the tradition of the people can the law get. Well sir this is a general problem which is very difficult to give a specific officer to. I think that in a progressive dynamic society like America and an orderly law regulated society like America there is a reason for the hopefulness.
Americans generally feel that they should have the law a little ahead of practice in order to come somewhere. I remember very well that the very day when this decision was decided I was in Washington. I was actually at the luncheon party which the State Department gave for me in the Blair House and there were several very important people around. And there I was also what I thought about this decision. And I remember well that I said that now you are up for it development. It might take 20 years or it might take 10 years but I have no hesitation about the direction. But it's certainly nothing which is changed right away tomorrow because you have to change the legal situation today. There is a rising understanding in all America and in my own people among workers and farmers and preachers and teachers and all those people who make up public opinion in this great democracy that there is a in a in rising understanding
that there is trouble in the world and part of the problem is that it has to do with the color problem and that if we Americans are going to have a clean conscience and if we are going to speak with an effective Moyse we must clean. We must improve things at home. I have a feeling that that this that this is something which is a common knowledge which is spreading. Thank you I don't mean that there is not need for more knowledge. I mean the facts are very plain and can be made plain the facts are these that while in America the colored people are only 10 percent. If you think of the world as a whole it's almost just the opposite. Let us keep to the underdeveloped world the two thirds which are which have very low incomes which are living in great poverty and their people are collared. You can say this that for the world as a whole most people
are poor and most people are collared and it's invariably the Quaalude who are the poor. And this is a thing which is hammered down into the conscience of the colored people in underdeveloped countries. S There s this as a tremendously important fact. As a consequence of colonialism where we white people have been dominating them. That is naturally when they get free now much more than you can see from the literature because this is a problem which we have everybody is trying to get their way from. Larry said it right raising race consciousness racial animosity among the color peoples against the white. Well I'm not sure that we are not up for a rising trend of that type of color consciousness in the college world and I know that it will have or might have a very important bad effects on the Internet national relations. What can we do about it. I know only one way and that is that we in the white
in the white dominated world we are in the richer countries. At least we reform ourselves so well we can but that can have a good effect of getting the color consciousness down in this big majority of the world which is Karlan which is poor and which is a reason to suspect us and even perhaps to hate us in revenge. Is it fair then in conclusion Dr Mary Gall to say that. Far from being dimmed your optimism is greater now than it was in 1944. Right there and now the 30s are the beginning of the fourth when I made my study. The real situation was this and that for two urinary issues. You have only had a very slow rise in negro in the status of the Negro in America very slow since the big compromise in the 70s and the common opinion was that it would continue to be so. I was rather on the
critical side because out of my study I got the feeling that we were at a turning point where it would go more rapidly. But I couldn't imagine that it would go so rapidly as it did. Now after 10 15 years since my start when I see these great things which just happen in America where the nigger really has made advances which nobody could dream of in their early forties. Naturally this means that we have reason to be to be more optimistic that it definitely you will have trouble. There will be difficulties. There would be bad news. There will be sufferings. But if we can keep that confidence which the liberal social scientists thought Michael did and whom you quoted from me had. And then we shouldn't be too disturbed. This is the type of tension and friction which follows that reputable ones. We should be much more disturbed if that went off I think the attention because then as he said things might have become settled in a cost system
- Voices of Europe
- Andre Maurois and Gunnar Myrdal
- Producing Organization
- University of Chicago
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program features interviews with French author Andre Maurois and with Swedish sociologist and economist Gunnar Myrdal.
- Other 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
- Race relations--United States--History--20th century.
- Media type
Interviewee: Myrdal, Gunnar, 1898-1987
Interviewee: Maurois, Andre_, 1885-1967
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-7-16 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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; Andre Maurois and Gunnar Myrdal,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 20, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pr7mtp5w.
- MLA: “Voices of Europe; Andre Maurois and Gunnar Myrdal.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 20, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pr7mtp5w>.
- APA: Voices of Europe; Andre Maurois and Gunnar Myrdal. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pr7mtp5w