The United Nations: Peace or Peril
DECEMBER 01, 1960 by DARRYL JOHNSON
Mr. Johnson is a teacher at
The factor of communism in the United Nations is of major importance and cannot be ignored. Time magazine referred to Leo Pasvolsky, a Czarist Russian, as the "architect of the UN Charter."’ Alger Hiss, top Communist in the State Department, was the first Secretary General of the UN and Director of the office which initiated American policy on UN questions and serviced the American delegation to the UN.2 Trygve Lie, in his book, In the Cause of Peace, describes the deal made by Hiss and Molotov whereby the Chairman of the UN Security Council (the oft-called "military head" of the UN) will always be a Communist.
Dr. Anthony Bouscaren, as chairman of the Department of Political Science,
The United Nations Security Council resolution of
No wonder General Stratemeyer could say, "We were required to lose the Korean War."4
No wonder Professor Salvador de Madariaga could state that "the UN Organization bore upon its brow from the very beginning the mark of
The last part of an editorial in the
But while the Korean War was a great tragedy, both in American and UN history, communism in the UN is not a necessary factor in condemnation of the UN approach to peace. The UN would be just as bad if the charter had been written by George Washington, although it would have been impossible for Washington to have written anything differing so violently with the United States Constitution, both as to letter and as to spirit.6
Any student of the history of liberty and the rule of law will not need detailed discussion to convince him that the UN way is the wrong way —he will feel it in his bones.
Detailed discussion is provided, however, in two new books: The Humane Economy by Professor Wilhelm Roepke, published with the assistance of the Institute for Philosophical and Historical Studies,7 and The Constitution of Liberty by Dr. Friedrich A. Hayek of the University of Chicago.8 Neither of these books is directly concerned with the United Nations, but rather with problems of freedom and government in general. As such, however, certain passages are indeed pertinent, and indicate that the UN was much in mind when they were written.
The Case for Decentralization
Roepke sees today’s key ideological struggle as one between "centrism and decentrism," and contrasts those who are attracted toward collectivity (centrists) with those who are attracted to the members which compose it (decentrists). "The former," says Roepke, "look at the structure of society from the top downwards, the latter from the bottom upwards. The first seek security, happiness, and fulfillment in the subordination of the individual and the small group to a deliberately and strictly organized community, which, from this point of view, is all the more attractive the larger it is; the others seek these benefits in the independence and autonomy of the individual and the small group." Roepke develops and defends the decentrist approach. He spends considerable time showing the necessary parallel between all "centralized" approaches to peace and socialism; and, in a specific reference to the direction the UN is taking, states that "the shining peak in the distance is the international welfare state…"
It is unusual to find someone advocating DEcentralization as asolution to many of the world’s problems, yet this is the only solution consistent with a regard for individual differences and with the fact of
Hayek, who develops his points beautifully, classifies the "inability to conceive of an effective coordination of human activities without deliberate organization by a commanding intelligence" as part of the "opposition to a system of freedom under general laws…." Yet how frequently we find people who cannot visualize any way toward peaceful organization except the UN way! Hayek makes his point clear in the second chapter: "To turn the whole of society into a single organization built and directed according to a single plan would be to extinguish the very forces that shaped the individual human minds that planned it…. We are not far from the point where the deliberately organized forces of society may destroy those spontaneous forces which have made advance possible."
The Rule of Law
Nowhere has the principle of the rule of law been so highly developed as in the
Is there anything more incongruous than communist and socialist nations which, as Hayek documents, have always denied the rule of law, sitting down with the
The entire "from the top down" approach to law is wrong. In a note to chapter ten Hayek quotes from an American Bar Association Report of 1890: "Law is not a body of commands imposed upon society from without, either by an individual sovereign or superior, or by a sovereign body constituted by representatives of society itself. It exists at all times as one of the elements of society springing directly from habit and custom. It is therefore the unconscious creation of society, or in other words, a growth." "It is," as Hayek says, "the acceptance of common principles that makes a collection of people a community…. If people were not at most times led by some system of common ideas, neither a coherent policy nor even real discussion about particular issues would be possible."
Nothing in Common
What "coherent policy" may be ascribed to the UN? How much "real discussion" goes on? Is it not obvious that there must be unity of basic ideals before physical "togetherness" in the UN can be anything but hypocrisy? (A delegate from an African "nation," who may barely understand the word government, has an equal voice with the
It may be that the UN focuses the "burning fire of world opinion" on wrong doers, but what good did this "burning fire" do for the people of
Exchange of technological information, emergency relief for starving children, and the like, have all been provided long before the UN came into existence; and private aid continues to this day. The UN and "government to government" approaches merely tend to subsidize socialism, as they promote, not internationalism, but inter governmentalism. But the main point is that aid of this as standing up to them in debate do not understand the problem of standing up to the Russians."kind is a problem in the exercise of responsibility, about which Hayek states, "Freedom demands that the responsibility of the individual extend only to what he can be presumed to judge…. Responsibility, to be effective, must be individual responsibility. In a free society there cannot be any collective responsibility…. As everybody’s property in effect is nobody’s property, so everybody’s responsibility is nobody’s responsibility… we cannot expect the sense of responsibility for the known and familiar to be replaced by a similar feeling about the remote and the theoretically known."
Perhaps now we can understand former UN Assembly president Madame Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit’s remarks concerning the UN Charter: "We don’t cry at the Charter any more —we laugh at it. It has been interpreted, misinterpreted, and explained. It is the one thing all of us can hide behind when we do not want to fulfill our obligations, and that is not the way to peace."¹º Thus the debilitating philosophy of "Let George do it" has given way on an international scale to "Let the UN do it."
The United Nations’ concern with "distributive justice" and "underprivileged nations" is interesting. "Distributive justice," says Hayek, "requires an allocation of all resources by a central authority; it requires that people be told what to do and what ends to serve." And Roepke reminds us that "what is given to the one must be taken from the others, and whenever we say that the state is to help us, we are laying a claim to somebody else’s money, his earnings or his savings."
If a nation wishes to acquire the capital necessary for raising its standard of living, it may either tighten its own belt or adopt antisocialist governmental policies which will attract foreign capital. Unfortunately, as Roepke states, most nations are unwilling to do either one. They have in mind "not the legitimate but the unlawful and revolutionary aspects" of equalization. "The idea," says Roepke, "is tempting and as such is by no means new. We met it twenty or thirty years ago in the Fascist and Nazi catchwords of the haves and the have-nots. We remember the violence with which Mussolini launched what he called the class struggle of the proletarian peoples against the satisfied and possessing peoples, and the Nazis demanded living space for themselves."
Furthermore, inequality itself plays an important part in the advance of civilization. Hayek states, "There can be little doubt that the prospect of the poorer, ‘undeveloped’ countries reaching the present level of the West is very much better than it would have been, had the West not pulled so far ahead. Furthermore, it is better than it would have been, had some world authority, in the course of the rise of modern civilization, seen to it that no part pulled too far ahead of the rest and made sure at each step that the material benefits were distributed evenly throughout the world." Surely this is telling commentary on many of the UN objectives.
A Lack of Purpose
The fine books herein quoted are but two of a vast number available which paint a picture of peace and progress through voluntarism, not compulsion; through Decentralization, not centralization —and they show that, in fact, peace cannot be achieved any other way. Peace and progress are built from the bottom up —not from the top down. Yet the scope of activity under the present UN Charter is monolithic and practically infinite. It is not power, but purpose which the UN lacks.
How the UN can grow in power while its charter remains the same is a long subject for another time, but it is significant that
Politics and peace just don’t mix, and the UN is the most political of all possible organizations. The political character of the UN is something of which Mr. Hammarskjold is well aware."
We Are at War
One possible way to peace might be to win the war. This indeed involves acceptance of the fact that we are in a war, but it would be hard to find more evidence of this fact than that already available. Just browse through some old, or recent, copies of Life, Time, Newsweek, or U. S. News & World Report, noting merely headlines and subheadlines. For instance, from U. S. News and World Report, we have the following:
To emphasize the hypocrisy of the UN, remember that the Charter solemnly states: "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any member state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations." When will people stop evaluating the UN on the basis of its principles and start evaluating it on the basis of how well it is suited to realize those principles?
How can anyone say the UN is the way to peace? Since the UN was founded the Communists have made satellites of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria, and have precipitated the following major wars, which they either won and established control, or utilized to secure important footholds: Indonesian War, Chinese Civil War, Malayan War, Philippine Civil War, Indochina War, Greek Guerilla War, Korean War, Guatemalan Revolt, Algerian War, Hungarian Suppression, Formosa Straight Conflict, Indonesian Civil War, Cuban Civil War, and Tibetan Revolt.¹²
The list of minor conflicts is too lengthy to present, and it grows every day. To date,
Winning a war, however, is no guarantee that peace will be preserved, or even that peace will be an objective. This is not to recommend unilateral disarmament (or atomic test bans), which is suicidal, but rather to state the obvious fact that a nation must know what it is for as well as what it is against.
When the Kaiser waged war, we whipped him. But it did not bring peace. When Hitler waged war, we whipped him. But it did not bring peace. Now Khrushchev is waging war, and we sit down with him at the conference table and give him nine votes to our one.¹4 This, of course, is not bringing peace either.
Peace Begins at Home
Is it not possible that the UN’s lack of purpose is but a reflection of the lack of purpose of the nations which comprise it? It is indeed true that we may be unable to purge the world of communism until we purge ourselves of communism and Communists here in the
International disorganization is but an outgrowth of personal disorganization. Peace is not built from the top down but from the bottom up. The beauty of decentralized government, as an approach to peace and harmony generally, lies in its emphasis upon the inescapable fact that "society" never improves along any lines except as individuals improve. We have all heard that "charity begins at home," and this is equally true of peace.
Through this approach a man tends not to the affairs of distant millions, which are beyond him, but to his own affairs, which are within his powers; he aids not the unknown masses, but his neighbor in need next door; he attempts not to govern the world, but to govern himself and his local community —for the man who can govern the world does not exist.
This approach conflicts with much that is said today about the necessity of assuming our "worldwide" responsibilities. The answer is that the only way for the "world" to assume "its" responsibilities is for each individual to assume his responsibilities. There is no other way.¹5
To this end we must learn to avoid the inherent immorality and antagonism of socialism and collectivism generally. Collectivism cannot be checked abroad while it is embraced at home. We must learn more of the inherent morality and harmony of the free market. We must learn more of the spiritual bases of liberty and their expression in the United States Constitution.
There are two quotations pertinent to this end, the first by G. K. Chesterton and the second by Emerson:
"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring peace but the triumph of principles."
We, as a country, must learn what we are for. And when I say "as a country," I include you, and me.
2 Report: "Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments" (Internal Security Subcommittee, 1953) p. 9. This report also lists other top Communists in the UN and in the U.S. State Department and shows the remarkable extent of their influence.
3 "Speeches, Findings and Resolutions: Congress of Freedom, Inc." 1955, p. 99.
4 Hearings, "Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments" (Internal Security Subcommittee, 1954) Parts 2127, which include testimony of Stratemeyer, Van Fleet,
5 Victors Beware,
6 For an exposition of these differences, consult The United Nations by Dr. Orval Watts.
9 Walter Lippman recognized this in the Miami Herald,
10 Bromfield, Louis. A New Pattern for a Tired World.
11 "Hammarskjold: Have Troops, Will Travel." National Review,
¹2 Consult Protracted Conflict.
13 U.S. News & World Report,
¹º4 Including six satellites.
15 This whole topic is beautifully developed by Mr. Lipscomb in an article entitled "How to Win a War" in THE FREEMAN, August, 1960.
The Personal Practice of Freedom
Freedom rests, and always will, on individual responsibility, individual integrity, individual effort, individual courage, and individual religious faith. It does not rest in