Some Random Reflections

Courtesy Reuters

Editor's Note. This article has grown out of discussions held in New York on October 23 and 24, 1933, under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations. The group was non-partisan in character and was composed of persons holding a variety of views. Its membership was as follows: Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr., James W. Angell, Isaiah Bowman, Randolph Burgess, W. W. Cumberland, Edmund E. Day, Wallace B. Donham, Lewis Douglas, John Foster Dulles, Herbert Feis, Walter Lippmann, Ogden L. Mills, Winfield Riefler, Beardsley Ruml, Whitney H. Shepardson, Walter W. Stewart, Henry L. Stimson, F. W. Taussig, Henry A. Wallace and John H. Williams.

The meetings of this group were private and the article is in no sense a report of the proceedings. Even where certain ideas are recognizable as similar to those which members of the group have publicly expressed, the emphasis and the implications are entirely the author's own.

IT IS apparent that men approach the problem of economic self-sufficiency with differing intuitions as to how human societies can and ought to be governed. These intuitions are composed of differing fears and hopes. Thus those who embrace gladly the idea of self-sufficiency are almost invariably, I find, deeply impressed with the disturbances which can be caused within a country by uncontrollable forces originating in the outer world and in the undirected activity of men. The true believers in autarchy will be found arrayed, with varying emphasis and even with different objectives, against "internationalism" and against "individualism."

The simplest of all the reasons why men come to desire self-sufficiency is the fear of military encirclement and naval blockade: to be prepared adequately for war is to have all essential supplies under national control and, preferably, within an easily defended strategic area. It is easy to pass from this to the fear of economic aggression. Self-sufficiency, then, appeals to men as a method of protecting themselves against the vicissitudes of international trade: against imports which disrupt domestic industries and vested interests and established occupations;

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