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The International Crisis is a Moral Crisis

Thomas F. Woodlock

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A warning from 1939 that rings with truth today.

This column appeared in The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 1939.

"Above all, they emphasize that the international crisis is a moral crisis, and that the foundations of the world will be shaky until the moral props are restored." --Anne O'Hare McCormick in The New York Times, June 3, 1939.

"For any interpretation of human history there are two necessary assumptions. One is that there is such a thing as a moral order, and the other is that progress is possible. Without these two assumptions, human civilization could not exist. ... --President Nicholas Murray Butler's commencement address at Columbia University, June 6, 1939.

"Right is what serves the interests of the German nation and wrong is what harms the German people."--Reich Minister Frick at the Conference of German Lawyers at Leipzig in 1933.

"The will of the Fuehrer is the only valid law."--Under-Secretary of State Freisher in the Zeitschrift der Akademie fuer Deutsches Recht, October, 1935.

"There is no separate body of moral rules; no separate subject-matter of moral knowledge and hence no such thing as an isolated ethical science. If the business of morals is not to speculate upon an ultimate standard of right, it is to utilize physiology, anthropology and psychology to discover all that can be discovered of man, his organic powers and potentialities."--John Dewey, Creative Intelligence, 1917, pp. 65-69.

The foregoing remarks join the issues pretty well. And the interesting thing is that the issues boil down to a very simple one, whether man is or is not a "moral" being. Professor Dewey thinks he is not. Nazism also plumps for the negative, and acts upon it. (So does Sovietism.) Dr. Butler is unequivocally in the affirmative. That uncannily clairvoyant lady, Mrs. McCormick, sees an apostasy from morals as the root of all the world's present troubles, and makes a powerful case in support of her thesis.

Read this article on the Wall Street Journal Opinion Online webpage.

Posted: 24-Dec-05



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