thumbnail of Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #1 (Reel 1)
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
There are those who are saying these days that we in this society and in the world generally the older generation has lost you. That was Dr. Ralph Bunche undersecretary general of the United Nations speaking at the twenty sixth annual Institute on world affairs conducted annually as a special feature of the instructional program at San Diego State College the institute is dedicated to the use of the free academic forum for the presentation and discussion of current and continuing issues of international significance. The main theme of this institute is expressed in one word revolution and our speaker at this session is well-versed on the subject having the responsibility of the organization and direction of the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations. Dr. bunch has received many honors for his efforts on behalf of world understanding including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Peace Prize. I now Dr. bunch addresses the Institute with his topic for discussion ferment and revolution in
the world as viewed at the United Nations. Dr. Ralph Bunche Thank you. Thank you very much. You're very kind. Members of the San Diego State College community friends I am delighted to be here and I wish first of all to congratulate you most heartily. San Diego State College. This Institute about which I heard very much for a good many years. I understand my task here this evening to be essentially that addressing myself to scene which is the theme of this season's Institute to try to lay some basis for a discussion. Following this talk of mine and subsequent
meetings of the Institute. Now Professor generalises and advised me that the theme of this season's Institute is expressed in one word revolution. One can say right off that that is certainly on a very broad theme and certainly a most challenging one. And if you would permit me to say just a personal word I must say that. Coming here to be with you tonight to break into this theme I've had to break training to break training as I call it for the forthcoming session of the General Assembly of the United Nations which convenes in The New Yorker and I've found after twenty two years of association with the United Nations working there that the best way to train for the general assembly which is
three months beginning always in mid-September and running up to just before Christmas of endless speeches and the plenary sessions committees is to get just as far away from microphones podiums speakers and audiences as one possibly can because otherwise before the General Assembly is over one becomes so allergic to the spoken word that it's almost unbearable. As a. Matter of fact in this organization in which I work which in which there is too little humor especially since Adley Stevenson is no longer there he had a bright and often pointed humor. It's a very solemn place. Some people and some are kind of sad too. But they want to humor there is usually
relates to speeches and some some of humorous non-fictional is true. One of our experiences had to do with a speech in the general assembly being made by a monarch from a small country some years ago and quite perhaps excessively dignified Haitian monarchs always have to come up to the podium was on tour arches and discarded and this monarch came up and took his place before the podium and when these dignitaries come to New York they. Of course hopped on by everyone and they have continuous engagements they jump from one place to another and they're always making speeches and so on this occasion with the
assembly out before him. Waiting to hear what he was going to say the monarch took his place and reached into his pocket and pulled out his manuscript and rather majestically unfolded it and with proper regal pauses looked at it and began to read. Those of us who have been around for a while. Immediately sense that this was a very strange way to start out to address the General Assembly of the United Nations but. It's a free world are supposed to be and so on. We just listened but after a minute apparently the monarch sensed that this was rather strange too. And so he stopped abruptly and frowned and looked at this manuscript and majestically he shook his head and and with great poise he said.
Very sorry ladies and gentlemen. Wrong speech. So. Folded up a Spanish script put it in the packet reached in this pocket and pulled out another one this one happened to be the right one the one he'd pulled out first was the one he was going to give the ladies club luncheon in which he was going after the General Assembly who thought incidentally a Burmese Buddhist. It has become quite Western with regard to anecdotes. He loves to tell the Western type anecdotes and I might tell his favorite which is based on an actual experience at the U.N. to a professor from one of the local universities and invited to speak to a group of wives luncheon meeting wives of delegates. Well you know we were constantly changing delegates there. The tour of
duty. The average tour of duty of a delegate to the United Nations about three years and a lot of these delegates coming from abroad. Proficient at all and English and wives and children even less so some of them know no English at all. But it's amazing how quickly they begin to pick up English. Of course they're hearing plenty of talk at the UN and the wives and children are watching television and the like but sometimes familiarity with the words out runs their understanding of the meaning of the words and you have to find them using words and you'll be quite sure that they really don't know just what they are saying what the words connote and this was such an occasion. The professor apparently sort of wowed the ladies and after meeting one of these newly arrived wives of the delegates
rushed up to the podium took the speaker's hand and told him how wonderful his speech was. She was very few stiff about it she pulled out all the great words she flattering words she could think of and she ended up all Professor. And it was simply superfluous. He looked. He looked rather startled at that but he was quick and he caught on that this was she wasn't quite aware of what she was saying so he went along with her always said. Thank you ever so much. But I am. Not. Tell me since you liked it so well. Would you really think it worthy of publication. Shall I say posthumously. And she said Oh yes sir and the sooner the better. I.
Know. When I come to think of a pretty good idea for most speakers. Especially the keynote speakers I think. Well I didn't come here after all to tell the United Nations stories. Now I should turn to the scene. Let me say at the outset that I've made no effort to define this theme in any scientific way I'm not sure that I could. And so when I talk about revolution in the context of this talk I'm using the term very loosely very broadly in the sense of. What ever force or movement effort or seeking change that is so radical so fundamental that it would be
revolutionary. Should it be affected or is revolutionary. And if it has been affected and I mean no more than this by the use of the term. Well certainly it seems to me that the contemporary world is experiencing ferment restiveness dis satisfaction and is just seeking change in ways that can only be called revolutionary. This is why world wide scale. And it comes at a time when you know addition to the ferment and the dissatisfaction and restlessness the world finds itself in possession
of the nuclear means of it self destruction and therefore. It becomes ever more clear that the world we live in this contemporary world is a world constantly in danger and therefore it must be equally clear that as a matter of imperative common sense. Is a highest priority and. Must be given by all nations and peoples and very definitely crudes our own. To. Peace. To. The development of the means of securing peace in the world maintaining a lasting peace.
Purely as a matter of survival. Now there is throughout the world and assistant clamor seems to meet for change for revolution for radical. Revolutionary change. In ways attitudes conditions in approaches in establishment leadership they condition of the world as we know what today gives all to dramatic documentation to
the UN satisfactory. Condition of affairs to the need for change to the demand insistent demand in so many places for change. Now it seems to me that there are three especially vital gaps in this contact text in connection with this demand for revolutionary change. First of all is the condition of poverty in the world. They have and the have nots
and that's a flaw in society. I feel I'm never really impressed enough by the fact that so large a part so great a majority of the peoples of the world are living below or just stature of the best slightly above subsistence level that there is a misery level at which very many people hundreds of millions of people. Find misery to be their way of life and in such a world there cannot be. Stability there cannot be a foundation for
peace. And this is certainly one of the conditions which requires and seeks demands for change. Secondly there is what might be called the generation gap. There are those who are saying these days that we in this society and in the world generally the older generation has lost youth that there is no effective communication with the youth that youth is in revolt and certainly there is ample evidence of the disquietude of the revolt of youth. Now I'm not in position to try to analyze why this should be. I certainly. I've seen enough signs of this
before most of what might be called the cynicism of the cynical attitude of use our own country and so many other countries and I'm inclined to think that in part at least this is due to the fact that in our national societies and in the international community there is such a wide and fair gap clearly apparent gap between the ideals to which traditionally men have put paid lip service and the actual practices of men and. In a world in which there is so much. Misery and deprive all
and add to that a world in which there is inevitably a feeling of such great insecurity because of the nuclear weapon age one can understand the spirit of revolt that flows from the cynicism. Because of this gap even in man's most sacred institution or so it is regarded by many. In the family and the ties that bind it together is weakening under the on slot. The thought of you. I don't know maybe the fact that
you lived in these days is exposed much earlier than most of us and older generations were to a world which is more exciting than the family and more in China more challenging than life in the family is a contributing factor to refloat. And then there is what may be called the credibility gap. People in virtually every society in the world today. Particularly young people but not exclusively young people. Tend to lose faith in the institutions in the establishment in the leadership they develop a disbelief.
And of course this is found also in the relations among nations mistrust and suspicion and a certain sentences. And this obviously makes international relations much more difficult and because then they are up to debate. There is an. Increasing mood I fear that has been developing particularly in the last decade or so toward violence a tendency to rely in national societies and in the international community to rely Reisling if not entirely upon force as a
means of achieving the desired ends necessary changes. When I am. In the if we turn to the United Nations first of all let me say that these moods these attitudes these clamorous demands are of course reflected in this international organization though I must point out that the United Nations is not an organization of peoples of the world. It is not an organization which is directly responsive to the aspirations of peoples. It is an organization of states and reflex. Views of states rights. You know we got some idea
of the. Mood of people particularly in New York City by the fact that we're very accessible and we're a freak frequent object of picketing and demonstrations by proponents of one cause or another. We have organized picketing arrangements in New York City. And if some group wishes to picket United Nations they go to the police department and they get a permit to picket in a little circle across the road from the UN at Forty second First Avenue was a grove of trees there and they can march around those trees
and it's like getting a permit for a table in the picnic grounds. You say how many people are coming and how much how long you want to pick it and given it. Then the picket signs are always too well acquainted with the subject matter I had a personal experience on that during the Congo crisis. I came out of there one Saturday of the year when one Saturday noon to go across the street to the US mission mission to talk with every Stevenson and there was a thin line of pickets bearing signs across the street and I asked the guard at the gate. What troops picketing today's Cuba Hungary are daughters of American Revolution. What. And he said all of the
Congo today and I said which side he said we have to Tongan and he said there I knew the date. Well that whetted my curiosity. And my ego too and I marched across the street and sure enough there was a young negro that I should say today black lad and he was carrying a rather crude sign which had on it a. Bunch. The rape of the tongue the tongue is a pretty big province in there. Right there. That's a fair charge even for me I'm not particularly modest. And so I've.
Walked alongside this fellow and joined the picket line and. Talked with him and I said ask him some questions about Congo. He knew it was an Africa time he knew that was in the Congo. And finally I got the real question I said and who's this fellow bunch here sign. And he said Oh I don't know you some joker that works across the street. And I you know. Felt like appealing to the United Nations I was in so I was. Right in there. But. The demonstrations sometimes become a little more serious we had one at the time of Congo crisis which was organized. Largely women who came into the speakers Gary at
the time. Stevenson was speaking and they carried no instruments. They warm. They all deliberately wore spike heels and at a given signal they took off charge the guides and rushed the speakers table in the Security Council. And about 15 of our guides were kind of cut up with these heels. They didn't get to the table dating get Stevenson but I had to it's a matter of fact just three weeks ago. The rather exciting experience about 12:45. One day I was dying I had someone one of my colleagues in my office and I heard a. Rustle
at the door and I looked up and here was a. Young. Woman I guess 21 or 22 dressed in Nigerian Ebro dress I recognized it immediately and rather attractive young woman too I noticed that quickly. And. She was in a highly excitable stage and came to my desk and with a U.N. guide to right behind her saying that she was staging a sit down and hunger strike in my office and they have a starving millions in the Afrin was going to stay there until the UN particularly if I did something about it. Well the security card guard wanted to take her out but I vetoed that
because it was clear that she would put up a resistance and then you know and that would be scandalous and I wanted to find out just what was on her mind. Well. I would work a bit and talk with her a bit and she was sat there the whole afternoon. I had lunch brought into the to my office but she wouldn't share my sandwich. And because she was on a hunger strike. And finally I compromised with her I dictated the cable two times in her presence he was in Geneva at the time and sent to him by cable of the text of the petition she had read to me and she left only after I had given. My word gentlemen gentleman's agreement that
if she felt like it anytime she could come back and resume the picketing.
Revolution: 20th century phenomenon
Episode Number
#1 (Reel 1)
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-vq2s9174).
No description available
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-13-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:50
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #1 (Reel 1),” 1969-01-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2024,
MLA: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #1 (Reel 1).” 1969-01-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 12, 2024. <>.
APA: Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #1 (Reel 1). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from