Editorial from The Daily Pennsylvanian. October 6, 1952

"We're Being Worsted In the War of Words"

by Irwin Kahn

At this very moment the United States is engaged in two wars--the first, and most obvious, is the war of men in Korea and the second, in the long run more important, is the war for men's minds. In the latter, the weapons are words and the battlefield encompasses the entire globe. Though the battle in Korea is at a stalemate, the war of words is going against us--with results which may ultimately lead to the defeat of democracy and our economic system. It is very important to pull this war out of the fire and win a few decisive victories.

That we are losing the war is plainly evident. Without a single shot being fired, Communism has spread throughout the European continent. Even our strongest continental allies--in France and Italy--large segments of the population have joined the Red Crusade. Perhaps the only thing preventing these nations from joining the Russian bloc is the American dollar. In Asia, we have lost China and its environs. Even in American-occupied Japan, the Reds have made impressive advances. During the past seven years, when we had the best opportunity to spread our doctrines, the Commies--under our very noses--have been able to stir the Japanese to stage large-scale anti-American riots. It is certainly being made manifest that we are rapidly being beaten in the war for men's minds--the propaganda front.

A Losing Battle

Why, you may ask, are we losing. It is not a question that can be easily answered. Nor can anyone claim to have the whole answer. But certainly several reasons are inescapably before us. For one thing, we are willing to lend Europe billions of dollars but we are unwilling to import their goods. How can Europe get on its feet industrially if we are unwilling to buy their wares? We give them money to foster manufacturing and agriculture, but they have no immediate market. Due to lack of capital they cannot buy their own products. Excessive tariffs make exporting to the United States prohibitive for most European-made commodities. Our tariff barriers have long raised the ire of countries that depend heavily upon the exporting of their goods.

A second reason why we are fighting a losing battle in our world-wide word war is that when a people are down-and-out, it is easy to talk "revolution" to them. And that is just what has happened in China. Instead of starving under Chiang Kai-Chek, they simply decided it could be no worse--though perhaps a bit better--if they followed the Kremlin's line. Certainly if they could get no succor from us, were they not justified in turning elsewhere? They did, and it was a miserable and shameful defeat for us, especially in a country that was a traditional friend of ours.

No American Propaganda

Our arguments are failing to convince the masses that the path of capitalism and free enterprise is the road for them. Probably the individual's right to strive, the highlight of the American way, is lost amid our own introspection: crime and corruption. We fail to emphasize the benefits of our free enterprise system-- perhaps we do not recognize them ourselves. Maybe we fail to put these points across on a personal basis. How does our system affect each ordinary person, as an individual, and why is it better than Communism?

Our worst failure exists here at home. There are many who have forsaken the American for the Russian way. This is due to several causes: our own failure to teach (in the public schools and elsewhere) exactly what Communism is, how it works, and what life in a communistic state would be like; our failure to expound the actual benefits and opportunities inherent in our own system; our failure to clean up dirty politics and corruption; and the lack of faith and confidence in our government. We merely say Communism is a curse-word and sit back, fully satisfied.

The thing to be kept in mind is that to convince people of anything one must show (and do more than show) how the people, themselves, personally and individually, will benefit. Only in this way can we improve our rather poor position in the political perisphere.


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