On American Traits

“I have lived
in all the major dictatorships–
Russia, Italy, Germany.
My experience teaches me
that democracy
with all its faults
is better
than any of these.
My experience teaches me
that the maintenance
of personal freedom
should be
the primary consideration
of every human being.
It is never a choice
between freedom
and a full stomach.
No dictatorship
has given either.”

At the base
of the American spirit
is the functionalism
of frontier life,
not the acquisitivism
of the Chamber of Commerce.
The American spirit
is characterized
by the love of freedom,
the spirit of initiative
and the will to co-operate.
The American
does not like
to be pushed about
and to be sent
where he does not want
to go.
Even the business man
likes to talk about
the spirit of initiative,
which he calls
free enterprise.
When in America
some one is busy
doing something
for the Common Good
he finds people
willing to co-operate.

Freedom is a duty
more than a right.
Man has a duty
to be intelligent.
Man has a duty
to choose intelligently
between two alternatives.
Man has a duty
to act intelligently,
using pure means
to reach pure aims.
To use impure means
to reach pure aims
is to take the wrong road.
You cannot go
where you want to go
by taking a road
which does not lead you there.
Having pure aims
and using pure means
is making the right use
of freedom.

The spirit of initiative
is what business men call
free enterprise.
A private enterprise
must be carried out
for the common good.
If a private enterprise
is not carried out
for the Common Good
it turns out to be
a public nuisance.
A public nuisance
produces grievances.
Personal grievances
against public nuisances
produces demagogues
who promise to wipe out
public nuisances.
The spirit of initiative
of social-minded people
brings into existence
social institutions
that make for the welfare
of the common people.

When someone
has something
considered by the common man
to be beneficial
to the Common Good
he is admired
by the common man.
The admiration
of unselfish men
who are not afraid
to take the initiative
creates a desire
among the admirers
to climb on the bandwagon
of men of initiative.
They want to be part
of an unselfish movement.
They are willing
to make sacrifices
for the common cause.
So the will to co-operate
is the result
of the daring
of unselfish men
who are not afraid
to take the initiative.