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Father Charles Coughlin


Sunday, November 11, 1934

SIXTEEN years ago this afternoon, my friends, I mingled with thousands of my fellow citizens who were celebrating the termination of a war that was fought to end wars. As I look back upon these years--years identified with the Peace Treaty of Versailles, with the League of Nations, with assassinations of men in high office, with the birth of Bolshevism, with repudiations of debts and with universal poverty--I honestly believe that in all history such destruction of ideals and such miscarriage of justice were never chronicled save during the years which witnessed the assassination of Christ.

Instead of making the world safe for democracy, the bells which tolled their message sixteen years ago this afternoon were sounding its requiem. Instead of announcing that here was the end of all war, we were being ushered into a new conflict too terrible to contemplate.

No nation and but few individuals have escaped the atrocities identified with the last sixteen years. Waste and destruction of property, the desolation of homes and farms, the decay of factories and industries, which are associated with this period through which we have passed, are beyond our reckoning. They were years when innocent civilians of all countries were bowed down by the regimented forces of greed, of selfishness, of crass ignorance and of obstinacy Thus, it is almost with a cynical smile that we hope for peace when we recognize the feverish efforts of every great nation as they are busy manufacturing cannons and shells, war ships and lethal gases. The stage is being set for the last act of that tragedy which will mark the passing of a prostituted civilization unless our course is suddenly changed. Peace conferences and naval conferences failed miserably as did the hypocritical efforts of the League of Nations. In their laboratories of destruction the chemists of greed and of poverty, of hate and of lying propaganda are mingling their poisons of warfare. The old diplomacies, the ancient rivalries which were left wounded unto death upon the battle fields of Flanders today are rising in their ghostly forms to sound a new call to arms. To these menaces we are not blind. Their ghastly presence must not be ignored.

I. On this Sunday following the signal political victory of the new deal, perhaps, my friends, you are expectant to hear soft words of praise and glorification. I shall not be one, either today or at any future date, to break down your confidence in the outcome of this new deal. My constant prayer is for its success. Soft words and insincere praise, however, must have no more place at this present hour than had our empty rejoicing sixteen years ago. Thus, I wish to reassert my belief that, although the old Republican party with its rugged individualism is as dead as Benedict Arnold, nevertheless, it is true that the Democratic party, now composed of progressive men and women of all political affiliations, is merely on trial. Two years hence it will leave the courtroom of public opinion vindicated and with a new lease on life, or will be condemned to political death if it fails to answer the simple question of why there is want in the midst of plenty. Truly, democracy itself is on trial. It has been given the final mandate to face the real causes of this depression and to end them instead of temporizing with useless efforts for the preservation of a system, both economic and political, which once before watered the fields of Europe with blood and the highways of America with tears. Today the American people are the judge and jury who will support this Administration and accord it a sportman's chance to make good. It has already subscribed to the principle that human rights must take precedence over financial rights. It recognizes that these rights far outweigh in the scales of justice either political rights or so-called constitutional rights. It appears to be an Administration determined to read into the Constitution the definition of social justice which is already expressed within its very preamble. There we are taught that the object of this Government is to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to promote the general welfare and to provide the blessings of liberty for ourselves and for our posterity. The task confronting this government consists first, in recognizing and utilizing this constitutional truth; and second, in eliminating and destroying, once and for all, the well known and well established unconstitutional causes of this depression. This afternoon I plan to address you on its first cause viewed from a material standpoint.

II. This has to do with a just and living annual wage for all citizens who care to earn their own livelihood. I will deal with the substantial error associated with modern industrialism--an error which, if not eradicated, will logically lead us into the perpetuation of the dole system and thence into communism. After all, the economic analysis of communism teaches us that the State is absolutely supreme; is absolute master and proprietor of all material goods; is the sole industrialist and capitalist, and its citizens are the recipients of chocolate coated doles. Communism is nothing more than a candied pill of glorified "doleism." Thus, at the outset of this discussion, let me rehearse for you a few facts relative to the history of labor and of industry, of production and of unemployment. As we turn back the pages which tell us the story of the World War, we are convinced that it was one organized and operated for commercial purposes and commercial gains. Every cannon forged, every shell exploded was trade-marked with the sign of decadent capitalism. It was a war fought to make the world safe for Wall Street and for the international bankers. Are you not aware of the fact that in 1914 England's financial and commercial supremacy were in jeopardy due to the rapid advance of German commerce? Are you ignorant of the fact that during the first two years of the World War the United States industrialists and bankers had poured billions of credit dollars into the war chests of Great Britain? Need I remind you of the pleading on the part of English statesmen for us to enter the war or of the letters sent by Ambassador Page to President Wilson demanding that we should join the allies for the sole reason of preserving our bankers' foreign investments--bankers, who in league with England, had wagered on the losing horse; powerful bankers who, in a few months after the outbreak of hostilities, perverted the mind of President Wilson to such an extent that, although elected to his high office on the promise of keeping us out of the war, he now submitted to the fallacy that it was more sacred to protect the capitalistic dollar than to preserve the life of a mother's son! The years in which all this was happening were identified with the date when the monstrous dragon of want had been slain by the new St. George of modern scientific machinery. Before the advent of the World War we were not troubled with the problem of unemployment. Eighteen or twenty years ago industry was well operated under a system of economics devised for the upkeep of a civilization which, until then; was engaged in solving the problem of production. With our clumsy machinery and unskilled mechanics we could not produce enough shoes, bath tubs, locomotives, motor cars or, for that matter, any other mass production commodity to supply the practical demands of a world which was still struggling to free itself from the deprivations of the past. By 1914 Watt and his steam engine, Edison and his electric motor and the thousand inventors who followed them had not completely conquered the problem of want in the midst of need--the problem of production.

Now what has all this to do with the World War of 1914 and with the present depression which was born in 1918? Be patient for a moment and I shall try to weave a few thoughts relative to this subject into a simple fabric of understanding. For the first two years of the war we found practically the full manpower of France, of England, of Italy, of Belgium and of the European allies clothed in the uniforms of soldiers. This meant that the flower of European youth ceased to be producers. This meant that suddenly the production power of Europe was perverted into a force of destruction.

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