[Marxism] Joseph Kennedy interview in November 1940

Lance Murdoch lancemurdoch at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 13:48:28 MST 2006

I was watching an American Experience program on PBS, and it talked
about Kennedy returning from England after the war and having an
interview with the Boston Globe (and the St. Louis Dispatch) where he
talked about his views on events in Europe, and regarding the US.  I
suppose his isolationist views would have made him an ideological
bedfellow of the CPUSA at that time, at least in one respect.

Anyhow, the program made me interested in reading this article. 
Luckily for me, it was on the PBS American Experience web site, so I
didn't have to dig it out of the library.  I found it interesting. 
Anyhow, here's the link to the whole interview, I am excerpting the
portion of the interview I found more interesting here:


Kennedy: "Hitler has all the ports in Europe, you see. Never forget
that. The only reason the English haven't taken over the Irish ports
is because of American public opinion."

Kennedy: "People call me a pessimist. I say, 'What is there to be gay
about? Democracy is all done.'"

"You mean in England or this country, too?"

Kennedy: "Well, I don't know. If we get into war it will be in this
country, too. A bureaucracy would take over right off. Everything we
hold dear would be gone. They tell me that after 1918 we got it all
back again. But this is different. There's a different patter in the

"What about British democracy?" Edmondson asked. "Is there real
opportunity there or does the aristocracy keep a rigid class structure
that keeps the common man down?"

"When there's a strong upsurge from beneath you can't stop it,"
Kennedy replies. "You can't blame the aristocracy for keeping it down
if it doesn't come up."

"Well, what does it mean to have labor men now at the center of
government?" I ask.

"It means national socialism is coming out of it," says Kennedy flatly.

"You don't see much then in the picture H. G. Wells and Harold Laski
give us a developing democracy as a new permanent basis of British

"You've picked the two worst possible examples to take. Laski is
greatly overrated over here. He doesn't represent anything."

"Democracy is finished in England. It may be here. Because it comes to
a question of feeding people. It's all an economic question. I told
the President in the White House last Sunday, 'Don't send me 50
admirals and generals. Send me a dozen real economists.'

"It's the loss of foreign trade that's going to threaten to change our
form of government. We haven't felt the pinch of it yet. It's ahead of

"Did you support Roosevelt with some misgivings?" Coglan asked.

"No. I supported Roosevelt because I feel he's the only man who can
control the groups who have got to be brought along in what's ahead of

"You mean the men who control industry?"

"No. They have a stake that they've got to defend. I meant the
have-nots. They haven't got to take it in whatever faces us.

"It's all a question of what we do with the next six months. The whole
reason for aiding England is to give us time. Whatever we give
England, we shouldn't think of getting it back. It's insurance."

More information about the Marxism mailing list