All Commentary
Thursday, March 1, 1962

United We Fall

Dr. Russell is Professor of Economics at Rock­ford College and Chairman of the Depart­ment of Economics and Business Administra­tion. This article is from his columns of Octo­ber 22 and 29, 1961, in the Rockford[Illinois] Morning Star.

One hundred years ago, the most perfect “United Nations” the world has ever known erupted in­to war. That organization had ev­erything (and then some) that any­one could possibly desire to insure the success of a central govern­ment for a group of independent states.

The members of that particular United Nations all spoke the same language. And they still used ev­ery weapon known to man to ex­terminate each other.

They had the advantage of a common religious, racial, and cul­tural background. And for four years, they slaughtered each other at every opportunity.

There were no restrictions against travel or trade among the member states. And still they did a superior job of killing each other.

They had a “Charter” that was generally recognized as ideal for the purpose of uniting independent nations. And still they fought each other in one of the most destruc­tive wars in history.

For years, the member states openly debated the issues that di­vided them. But as always hap­pens when truly vital issues are discussed by large groups of poli­ticians in public, the resulting in­flammatory speeches for “history and home consumption” made the situation worse instead of better.

Those United Nations had the most favorable opportunity yet known to man to prove the thesis that a formal organization can unite nations and preserve the peace when there is a major dif­ference in the philosophies and aims of the member states. And as any objective student of history and government could have pre­dicted, events proved once again that it never works.

You know, of course, that I am referring to the United States and our Civil War. But the same story (in essence) has happened hun­dreds and thousands of times throughout history—in Greece, in China, in France, in Russia, everywhere and in all ages.

But in spite of that sad history, millions of my fellow citizens con­tinue to put their entire faith in the United Nations as an instru­ment for world peace. “The United Nations is our last hope to avoid war,” they sincerely plead. “Thus we just must support it, whatever the cost.”

As an all-too-human effort to es­cape from the reality of the fright­ful situation in which we find our­selves, and from the fearful de­cisions that must be made, that attitude is easily understandable. Naturally, I hope and pray that it will work out; instinctively, I also always hope that the desperate gambler will win at the races or at poker in his last frantic and un­realistic effort to avoid bankrupt­cy and the suffering that it would bring to his innocent children. That humane feeling, however, doesn’t induce me to turn to the horses as a sound method to pro­vide for my family, nor to a fabri­cated and unnatural organization to preserve peace.

The reality of our situation is this. The peace of the world and the future of mankind rests to­day on one issue, and on one issue only: Can Russia and the United States co-exist on the same earth. I do not know the answer; I know only that our childish faith in a sterile organization has pre­vented us from facing the issue realistically. Worse yet, it may al­ready have deprived us of any chance for victory if the final an­swer proves to be no.

Fundamental Differences in Philosophies and Goals

The time for wishful thinking is long past. The Russian and American camps are separated by fundamental philosophies and goals, not by the absence of a place to meet and to record any agreement the leaders may accept.

The Russians are aware of this. That’s why they have always real­istically tolerated and used the United Nations when it advanced their cause, and denounced it to­tally when any decision went con­trary to their wishes. Let us also begin to view that organization objectively.

United Nations Day is Oct. 24. During the week, the event will be commemorated by the prayers and sermons of millions of sincere Christians throughout our coun­try. Ironically, each will be asking the blessings of Jesus Christ on an institution that has specifically outlawed his authority and philosophy from all its formal proceed­ings.

The primary reason for this is that the leaders of Russia cannot associate themselves with any group or statement that acknowl­edges the existence of moral law or any concept of man beyond the material and animal level. That’s why there is no mention of God in the United Nations Charter, the U. N. Covenant of Human Rights, or any other similar United Na­tions document. Our leaders who committed us to this “new idea” in world government readily agreed that God should be re­placed by a meditation room “in the interests of world peace.”

And true enough, the “myths of religion” have now been abolished and man reigns supreme in our new government of the world. It so happens, however, that since 1945 and the founding of the United Nations for freedom and peace, there has been a steady de­cline in freedom for individuals throughout the world. And all mankind is momentarily and con­stantly threatened with the most destructive war that the world has ever faced. Any educated man —that is, any person who honestly searches for fundamental relation­ships between causes and effects —will automatically ask himself if there is a connection. Let us start at the beginning.

The Source of Rights

In our world, there are two fundamental concepts of govern­ment and human rights: (1) the source of rights is government it­self; (2) rights come from a source other than government.

These two concepts are best il­lustrated by the constitutions and practices of the Soviet Union and the United States. Here is a typi­cal example from the Soviet Con­stitution:

“Article 125. In conformity with the interests of the working peo­ple, and in order to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed by law: (a) freedom of speech; (b) freedom of the press; (c) freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings; (d) freedom of street processions and demonstra­tions.

“These civil rights are ensured by placing at the disposal of the working people and their organiza­tions printing presses, stocks of paper, public buildings, the streets, communications facilities, and other material requisites for the exercise of these rights.”

Under the Soviet concept, all rights come from government. And thus it is the responsibility of government to specify what they are and to provide the peo­ple with the means to exercise them.

The other concept is found in our own Constitution: “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to peti­tion the Government for a redress of grievances.” And “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and ef­fects… shall not be violated.” And no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, with­out due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for pub­lic use, without just compensa­tion.”

Under the traditional American concept, all rights come from a source outside of government; the government is specifically forbid­den to violate these pre-existing rights that belong to each individ­ual. And since the rights do not come from government, obviously the state is not responsible for providing the people with the ma­terial means for exercising them.

U.N. Follows Soviet Model

The United Nations is unmis­takably modeled on the Soviet con­cept of rights. To a startling de­gree, its official documents use the same phrasing found in the Rus­sian Constitution. That fact is dis­cernible in the U. N. Charter it­self, but the true philosophy of the United Nations is, of course, most clearly observed in the docu­ments and proceedings of the op­erating units of the organization—UNESCO, the Commission on Human Rights, and so on. Here is a random sample from the Cove­nant of Human Rights, sometimes referred to as “the bill of rights” of the U. N.:

“Article 21. The states parties to the covenant recognize the right of everyone to just and fa­vorable conditions of work, includ­ing: (a) safe and healthy work­ing conditions; (b) minimum re­muneration which provides all workers: (1) with fair wages and equal pay for equal work, and (2) a decent living for themselves and their families; and (c) reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”

Other sections of that covenant specify the right of everyone to “social security,” “adequate hous­ing,” “medical service,” and so on. And all of them are paraphrased from the Soviet Constitution. Un­der the United Nations concept, all rights clearly come from gov­ernment, and the government must thus provide all the people with the material means to enjoy them.

As the chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Dr. Charles Malik, said, “I think a study of our proceedings will reveal that the amendments we adopted to the old texts under examination responded for the most part more to Soviet than to Western prompt­ings.”

A Mistake To Have Joined; Worse Yet To Stay With It

We American people sponsored and endorsed a completely alien concept of government when we joined the United Nations. But such a dramatic change seldom, if ever, happens overnight. John Adams was referring to that idea when he pointed out that the American Revolution was not the war itself—”that was only the ef­fect and consequence of it.” The revolution occurred in the minds and hearts of the people, “and this was effected from 1760 to 1775, be­fore a drop of blood was shed at Lexington.”

Likewise, I am convinced that we American people really “joined the U.N.” from 1930 to 1945, as we increasingly rejected the tra­ditional American concept of gov­ernment as a protector of pre-ex­isting rights and decided instead that the government should be­come the source of rights.

If that is what we really want, we can have it. I am convinced, however, that only a frantic search for world peace keeps us from seeing the United Nations for what it really is—a golden calf that induces blind worship instead of objective reasoning.

The issue that today threatens to plunge the world back into bar­barism is whether the dictatorial and closed society led by Russia shall prevail over the democratic and open society led by the United States. And surely no one will claim that the United Nations is going our way; over the years, the margin of our so-called “victories” has decreased to the vanishing point in that organization. And the soon-to-be-expected admission of Communist China will complete the process beyond recall.

Worse still, our hasty and ques­tionable United Nations policy of supporting any and all revolutions in a futile attempt “to win the friendship of the new and uncom­mitted nations” has cost us the tra­ditional friendship of Britain, France, The Netherlands, Portu­gal, and perhaps others. (The fact that they may still support us in case of war with Russia will be be­cause they don’t really have any other choice.) In return, we have gotten mostly abuse and demands for more money from the new na­tions. It is high time we gave some consideration to the interests of the United States instead of the United Nations. Let us get out be­fore we are dragged under.