Clyde Lyndon King American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science online

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be dislodging the suspicion that Am-
erica practices the hated policy of
Europe. There is no other way com-
parable with this for making English
respected and loved, for it will thus
stand out as a medium of oppor-
tunity and not as an instrument of
annihilation.

In the same way the foreign born
need their press. They need it be-
cause there is no other way in which
they can learn the news of the world
and the facts and purposes of American
life. Even if they learn English they
will not be able to get its spirit as they
still live in that of their native tongue.
How many of us who have studied
French and Grerman much more than
the average immigrant will ever be
able to study English would choose a
French or German newspaper in pref-
erence to an English one?

We must accept at their face value,
and with infinite patience, both the
normal and the pathological attitudes.
The foreign bom will never forget the
land of their origin and their responsi-
bility for it so long as injustice prevails
there; the identification of America
with the problems of Europe, there-
fore, is so close that we can not escape
our share in the responsibility however
much we may wish. There can be no
real Americanization of the immigrant
imless there is a real league of nations,
as the symbol of a real organization
idiich will substitute in Europe a
reign of justice for the reign of immor-
aUty. The isolation of America is pure
illusion. The only way it can be re-



gained is by identifying ourselves with
a democratic reorganization of Europe.
If an unjust domination is imposed on
Germany, the many miUions of German
stock in America will gradually and
inevitably develop a poUtical solidar-
ity such as they never knew before.

Most of the nations of Europe have
only one or two international problems,
but we have every one of the problems
of all the nations within our borders.
To deny or overlook this is to pull
down over our own heads the pillars
upon which rest our political and social
structures. No country in Europe is
so dependent on just relationships as
is the United States. Fifty per cent of
the Irish, twenty per cent of the Poles,
and a large percentage of all of the
other long-oppressed peoples are in
America and constitute from one-third
to two-thirds of the population *of
many of our leading centers.

The foreign bom need a renewal of
the faith that has been waning faith in
the freedom and democracy of America
— to obtain which they came to these
shores. Through what those who came
here told their oppressed kinsmen in
Europe^ the latter came to look to
America for salvation, and through
them the real purpose of America piay
still be the salvation of Eim>pe. To
discriminate against those who are
Uving among us meanis a perpetuation
in America of the hatreds of the past
in Europe. We must devise a political
science and social practice which will
give them the self-expression here that
self-determination aims to give in
Europe.

Just as finally the American authori-
ties tried to mobilize the attitudes of
the immigrants for purposes of war, so
they must mobilize them for peace.
Foolish and frantic methods of Amer-
icanization should yield to the realiza-
tion that we are dealing with a psycho-
logical and moral problem, and that a



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The Annals of the American Academy



league of nations is potential in the
United States. K we could organize
the representatives of the countries of
Europe who are in America behind a
program for a reconstructed world, we
should have an instrument for world-
order whose potentiality can not be
measured. Instead, we hide our heads
in the sand and think to make them
forget by teaching them English!

There is no panacea for dealing with
the inmiigrant simpler than that re-
quired for the whole world. And the
existing deep-seated psychoses can only
be cured through a long process of
time. We must deal as wise physicians
with a soul-sick people for whose
trouble we have no responsibility but
who have become an integral part of
our lives.

The spirit apd method of American-



ization must be part and pared of the
solution of the problems of Europe.
The relations of groups, both in con-
flict and in cooperation, is the para-
mount issue of human society. If we
can learn even a few of the laws under-
lying the conflict of groups we shall
make rapid progress where we have
been blindly groping. In the mean-
time, however, all these problems will
resist solution until there is a just
reorganization of Europe. Only when
the ideals of democracy have removed
the possibility of imperialistic exploita-
tion will there be no longer a need for
chauvinism to combat it. America
can not save herself unless Europe is
saved. Whether we will or not, our
immigrants make the world-problem
our problem, and the problem pri-
marily one of psychology.



Immigration, the Matrix of American Democracy

By Allen T. Burns

Director of the Studies in Americanization of the Carnegie Corporation, New York City



IMMIGRANTS to America for three
hundred years have been inher-
ently the more individualistic of their
native fellow countrymen. Immigra-
tion with its inherent difficulties and
new experiences has been a process of
natural selection sorting out and ap-
pealing to the more daring, enterpris-
ing, self-reliant, self-assertive members
of any group. Immigrants are all
alike in possessing the spirit of the
pioneer, the innovator, the explorer,
the adventurer. America, the product
of immigration, has come naturally and
inevitably by her most distinguishing
characteristics: freedom, liberty, inde-
pendence.

Paul Bourget in Outre Mere says:
"Everything in the United States grows
clear when understood as an immense
act of faith in the social beneficence of



individual energy left to itself." A
friend recently remarked facetiously
in connection with the deportation of
Enmia Goldman and her reported
pleasure at being sent to Russia: "I
don't see how, being an anarchist, she
can like any country better than the
United States." These remarks recall
the original constitutional convention
with its advocates of "as little govern-
ment as possible."

Certain exigencies of immigration
have always tended to modify this
aggressive enterprising individualism.
The journey was to a strange land,
unknown difficulties were to be met,
hostile forces were to be withstood, and
tremendous obstacles to security and
success had to be overcome. Rocky
and wooded land or an industrial sys-
tem of steel and strain had to be made



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Immigration, the Matrix of American Democracy



145



to yield a living; treaties and a modus
vivendi with Indian or Tammany-
braves had to be negotiated; education
in the religion, learning and arts of the
elders seemed necessary; and protec-
tion against disease, destitution and
violators of morals had to be estab-
lished.

Individual resources and self-reli-
ance have never been entirely adequate
for these vital necessities of strange
people in a strange land. There has
had to be a pooling of interests and
issues, a surrender of some personal
preferences and pecuhar practices.
This merging of personal opinions and
the fusion of individual resources have
been the beginnings of collective deci-
sion and action, the origin of American
Democracy.

But this making of common cause
has taken place only with one instinc-
tive purpose and under one imperative
necessity. This is when individual
development and welfare could be bet-
ter promoted by joint rather than
personal action and enterprise. Gov-
ernment* has not come into being in its
own interest but in the interest of the
governed. The distinction between
European and American Democracy is
that the former is slowly centripetal,
the latter still more slowly centripetal.
Democracy in Europe has developed by
gradually taking from the central
authority rights and privileges de-
manded by the people for themselves.
In America the people have grudgingly
and little by Uttle surrendered some of
their individual prerogatives and power
to a central authority. But this sur-
render has been after "individual
energy left to itself " had proved insuf-
ficient, and common decision and
action were required for the greater
satisfaction of the many whose per-
sonal welfare was the unique purpose
of the establishment of the govern-
ment as well as of their own or their
11



ancestors' immigration and adventure
in independence.

Experience and practice in common
decision and action found necessary by
self-reliant immigrants have formed
the cradle and school of American self-
government. De Tocqueville, the first
European student of America's unique
experiment, said:

Local assemblies of citizens constitute
the strength of free nations. Town meet-
ings are to liberty what primary schools are
to science, they bring it within the people's
reach, they teach men how to use and how
to enjoy it.

In the United States the inhabitants
were thrown but as yesterday upon the soil
they now occupy . . . the instinctive
love of their country can scarcely exist in
their minds; but everyone takes as zealous
an interest in the affairs of his township,
his county, and of the whole state as though
they were his own, because everyone, in his
^here, takes an active part in the govern-
ment of society.

Would De Tocqueville visiting Amer-
ica today observe, "everyone takes an
active part in the government of soci-
ety"? To judge by the universal
newspaper and personal comment after
the last national nominating conven-
tions he would find himself a very small
minority if he made such a statement.
Otherwise, why the backbreaking at-
tempts to revive the local assemblies of
citizens, to resuscitate "community
councils," to restore the "neighborhood
association" or "social unit"? But
what these champions of the "primor-
dial cell of our body politic" have
failed to see is that the march of civil-
ization has rendered impossible this
return to the practices of the fathers.

Town meetings functioned in the be-
ginning because vital, everyday inter-
ests coincided with the restricted and
relatively isolated area occupied by
these fellow to\^Tismen. Fellowship,
sustenance, security, novelty, adven-
ture all had to come within the round



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The Annals of the American Academy



of town life. Political institutions
were naturally founded on geographi-
cal divisions because these divisions
were foci of the vital interests of
citizens. Maintaining the poUtical
organization was synonymous with
maintaining the collective activities
necessary for life itself.

Universal transportation and com-
munication have broken up the orig-
inal structure of American poUtical
life. Interests do not run primarily
by locality, but by occupation, tastes,
eiqjerience, education. Only such as
can make a living by it are suflSciently
interested to maintain the old political
devices so as to make them have the
semblance of working. So arises the
political machine. The lines of polit-
ical action are so diverse from lines
of everyday interests and groupings
that the average citizen is inevitably
thwarted and baflBed in trying to take
an effective part in government.

But new organic groupings are in
process: investor, employer, laborer,
farmer, lawyer, teacher, banker, social
worker. All are trying to influence
government through the old machin-
ery. Some day the political structure
will be changed to correspond with
these new vital and active groupings as
closely as the original framework based
on territorial divisions coincided with
the natiu'al groupings of citizens of
those days. The voluntary, spon-
taneous, self-governing associations of
those of kindred interests are the pre-
paratory schools of the coming political
life of America.

In these days of transition and ap-
parent political paralysis every demo-
cratic, vital organization is as impor-
tant as the local assembly proved to
be for the beginnings of our national
life. Among these new cradles and
schools of the self-government that is
to be are those organizations of new
immigrants which are as natural and



inevitable as those of the earliest set-
tlers. As already suggested the forces
producing these collective activities
are similar to those that produced the
original germ plasm of our democracy.

The new immigrant feels as isolated
as his early prototype. Added to the
strangeness of the land is the mutual
strangeness of himself and the native
bom. On both sides this has made
for shrinking from and avoidance of
each other. Self-assertive as the new-
comers must be to achieve immigra-
tion, the new immigration has come
from peoples with a greater soUdarity
and cohesiveness than the old. Op-
pression, discrimination, remoteness
from the more individualizing currents
of civilization have produced a soli-
darity and unity which the wilderness
gave our forefathers and for which we
are again seeking and groping in order
to have the "makings" of a newly
effective democracy.

This isolation and solidarity is coin-
cident with many emergencies and
problems too great for individual solu-
tion. The situation has compelled
a new pooling of interests and resources.
Benefit associations, educational clubs,
synagogues, churches, nationalistic so-
cieties and labor organizations are
samples of what the problems of new
immigrants have generated under as
pressing necessity as forced the first
colonists to surrender sufficient indi-
vidualism for constituting a success-
ful town meeting. No understanding
of either the immigrant or the forces
working for a reconstruction of politics
can be adequate without inquiring
whether the self-governing activities
of the new immigrants will make a
contribution to the new order.

Many recent experiences with immi-
grants indicate that in their spontane-
ous, indigenous organizations these
new Americans are acquiring the expe-
rience and self-reUance that made the



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Immiqration, tbe Matrix op Amcrican D£mocract



147



American Revolutionaries insist that
" all government derives its just powers
from the consent of the governed";
and made De Tocqueville say of the
participant in such humble intimate
group action: "He practices the art of
government in the small sphere within
his reach; he accustoms himself to
those forms which can alone insure the
steady progress of Uberty; he imbibes
their spirit, he acquires a taste for
order."

Two years ago a Ukrainian leader
came into the writer's office and said he
was head of a Ukrainian social settle-
ment, with a plant valued at $75,000.
He and his associates wanted advice as
to their future policy and activities.
He was advised to go for help to the
federation of settlements in his city.
His reply was that his institution had
been named "social settlement" so
that it would be understood by native
Americans and because that was the
name of the American institution most
like the one in question. These Amer-
ican institutions had been visited and
carefully studied for eflfective methods.
But the settlement federation had
never asked the Ukrainian settlement
to affiliate. So the Ukrainians would
never seek advice from those who
would not accept the Ukrainians as
fellow workers and partners in a com-
mon field.

On July 4, 1919, one hundred and
thirty Italian sick and death benefit
societies of Chicago held a picnic to-
gether to form a federation. They
had found the problems of their indi-
vidual societies so perplexing as to
require the pooling of their interests
and resources. But another reason
for the federation was given by the
leader of the movement:

We have noticed that it is very popular
among native Americans to conduct health
campaigns directed largely at the foreign
bom. The intended beneficiaries are never



consulted in the planning or execution of
these undertakings. Then their origina-
tors wonder why their efforts fall so far
short of their hopes. They never realize
, that the inunigrant is so American that he
resents and rejects being made a mere
recipient and beneficiary of others* good
works. We are hoping tiiat if our societies
federate we shall look imposing and impor-
tant enough to be taken in and made part-
ners in all that is intended to promote our
welfare.

In Fitchburg, Massachusetts, is a
group of about sdx thousand Finns.
They have faced the common prob-
lems of thickly settled industrial work-
ers, !.«., wholesome recreation, physical
exercise, education, labor organization,
housing and the high cost of living.
But by collective eflfort they have
built a social hall where they con-
duct programs under the direction of
full-time, paid musical and dramatic
leaders. They have erected another
large building which has become the
labor temple of the whole city. Here
were held t^e first classes in English
and civics for immigrants at the ex-
pense of the Finns themselves. In the
same building is a gymnasium avail-
able for community use, and a coopera-
tive savings bank with deposits in the
hundreds of thousands.

Outside the city a recreation farm
has been purchased for week-end out-
ings and longer vacations. In the city
an apartment, boarding house and
store building has been put up. A
milk delivery, bakery, furnishing store,
and five meat and grocery shops are all
operated on a cooperative basis. A
fixed interest is paid on capital and all
profits are distributed in proportion to
purchases.

A leader in these enterprises ex-
plained how the economic activities
came about. Most of the men be-
longed to an agitating revolutionary
organization. A handful of members
proposed starting a cooperative store



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The Annals op the Amebican Academy



as yielding more immediate benefits
than a propaganda for the overturn of
society. These insurgents were ridi-
culed and voted down because their
proposals if successful would lessen
workingmen's interest in revolution.
But like the original weavers of Roch-
dale, the few had the courage of their
convictions. As they demonstrated
their ability to improve th<eir lot by
collective, concerted action in distrib-
uting the necessities of life, their ridi-
culers b^an to take notice and one by
one to secure membership in the demo-
cratic imdertakings. With this prac-
tical experience in the profitableness of
seeking progress by self-governing
group decision and action has come a
marvelous change. These erstwhile
revolutionists have become ardent
champions of the ballot as the only
eflPective method of governmental prog-
ress. In the place of the mere handful
of advocates of democratic action there
remains a mere handful of Reds.

In the little mining town of Avilla
in southwestern Pennsylvania, made
up of Slovaks, Poles, Lithuanians and
Negroes, a veritable town meeting was
held by the members of an incipient
cooperative store. A party of malcon-
tents wanted to throw over the attempt
to progress by slow orderly efforts of a
united group, and to resort to discon-
tent and agitation. This party seemed
to be having the better of the argu-
ment until the cause of gradual, per-
sistent but sure democracy was suc-
cessfully championed by a West Indian
Negro. Urging that effective collec-
tive action was the only sure though
slow road to greater welfare and so the
only sure cure for discontent, he said:
"This cooperative business is like a
great ship bound for America from an
infected port. Of course before you
are allowed to land in the wonderful
country you must expect to be detained
in quarantine a little while until you



are thoroughly disinfected." And
democracy won the day. Though the
immigrants of today are learning les-
sons of self-government in much the
same way as the earliest immigrants,
and though America is searching for
capacity in self-government, the inci-
dents related suggest that the friction
or annihilation of immigrant organ-
izations might be cutting ofiF one's nose
to spite one's face. Still the situations
described leave something to be de-
sired. Our problems of democracy are
too big and inclusive to be solv^ by
separate groups working out solutions
by themselves. Isolated self-govern-
ing activities of immigrants may be as
far from producing national eflFective-
ness as would have been the separate
though self-governing activities of the
thirteen original colonies.

How can these democratic propen-
sities of the immigrant be fused and
transmuted into the life of our com-
munities and nation as a whole? Can
these beginnings of self-government be
merged and blended with the natural
counterparts among the native bom?

The town of Hatfield, Massachu-
setts, has become the home of large
numbers of Poles like other Connecti-
cut valley villages. At first the older
residents scorned and resented them;
then feared the town's utter demorali-
zation. Its traditional unity, virtue
and civic responsibility were threat-
ened. As in many New England
towns, the private citizens took part
and had influence in their community's
affairs through their church organiza-
tions. These were the organic units of
town life. There was a Congrega-
tional Church and a Catholic Church,
but each appealed equally little to the
Pole. He consequently was declasse
and becoming irresponsible and unde-
pendable. Some Poles also were con-
cerned and proposed to mobilize Polish
interest and responsibility in the way



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Bohemians and Slovaks — ^Now Czechoslovaks



149



that Yankees had done the same for
the town, i.e., through a church that
■would appeal to Poles. This was
undertaken and the native residents
joined in and contributed to the proj-
ect. When the Poles had an equally
representative and suitable organiza-
tion for participating in the town's
affairs, and were made welcome to do
so, the Poles accepted their part in the
community's business, civic, social and
patriotic activities. By discovery of
an organization that could be an equal
and natural partner with others that
functioned for common welfare this
town has been saved from the paralysis
and deterioration of similar villages
where no common unit of solidarity
and cooperation has been operating.

On a larger scale the United States
Government found a way of utilizing
and so merging the democratic capaci-
ties of these immigrant associations.
After the first liberty loan campaign
the son of an immigrant went to the
Treasury Department and said that



the hand-plucking, buttonholing, per-
sonally embarrassing methods were
not yielding anything like the possible
results among the immigrants. He
proposed that the thousands of immi-
grant societies be made agencies of the
Liberty Loan Bureau. The sugges-
tion "was adopted. While the popula-
tion related to these organizations is
at the most 38 per cent of the people
of the United States, the subsequent
Liberty Loan Campaign secured be-
tween 40 and 50 per cent of their total
subscribers through the foreign-lan-
guage division.

Capacity for responsible collective
decision and action is the direst need
of the United States. Can immigrants
again contribute to the generation of
this capacity? Then in the interest
of national unity and welfare this
capacity must be appropriated, adopted
and cherished as the earUest immigrant
explorers would have seized the long
sought fountain of the renewal of
youth.



Bohemians and Slovaks — Now Czechoslovaks

By Jaroslav F. Smetanka

Consul, Czechoslovak Republic, Chicago



WAR made many changes in the
life of Bohemian and Slovak
immigrants in America. To start
with, one hardly knows by what name
to call them. The race from which
they sprang is known as the Czecho-
slovak race and the land of their fathers
is no longer a mere province of the
Austro-Hungarian monarchy, but the
Czechoslovak Republic. This odd-
looking name has by now become
somewhat familiar to readers of Ameri-
can newspapers, but it has not sup-
planted in this country the names by
which immigrants of that race have
always been known, — they are still
Bohemians or Slovaks.



The events in Europe have left a
deep impression on the state of mind
of the foreign-si>eaking groups here.
Bohemians, and Slovaks even more,
have acquired a feeling of dignity, self-
confidence and assurance, now that
they are members of a race which



Online LibraryClyde Lyndon King American Academy of Political and Social ScienceAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science → online text (page 22 of 108)