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Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 125 (December 1947)

Scammon, Richard M.
Freedom vs. totalitarianism,   pp. 14-[17] PDF (2.3 MB)

Page 14

FREED OM 7(i;t$u5'
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PoiA.s*;C.a.! P.NeS
I WANT TO discuss the role of the
political party in the democratic
state and compare it with the place
of the political party in a communist
dictatorship. Although many are
inclined to look somewhat askance
at political parties and to regard them
at best as a sort of tolerated evil,
history shows us no way for demo-
cratic  peoples  to  organize  and
express their ideas except through
such parties, and everywhere "po-
litics" is the lubricating oil of
"Politics" acts as the intermediary
between a state and its citizens, as
the interpretative medium in which
ideas are talked over and decisions
reached. Everywhere that is, where
democratic ideas themselves rule, for
in a dictatorship the free, open com-
petition of ideas is crushed and in
its place is substituted the maneuver
and intrigue of a palace guard.
Opposition in a democracy is not
a crime, an evil sin to be hunted
down by a political police and
punished in secret courts and dread
concentration camps. It is the essence
of democracy that those who, today,
oppose may, tomorrow, govern. That
is why . . . some people in the
United States may be praising Pres-
ident Truman, others may be de-
nouncing him-the citizens may hear
them both and make their choice.
Indeed he may like neither point-of-
view and speak out for himself...
Henry Wallace, a former United
States vice-president, may condemn
the Marshall Plan for European re-
covery-do you think any man in a
communist-dominated  state  would
dare speak up in favor of this blue-
By Richard M. Scammon
print for prosperity in Europe? This
is the freedom of the democratic idea
and this is its power. Democracy is
strong because its political forces are
Consider then the position in the
communist state. The first act of any
communist regime must be to neu-
tralize, then to eliminate, all "oppo-
sition"  parties,  for the  idea  of
"opposition" is hateful to the dogma
of dictatorial rule. When one man
or one group of men has assumed for
itself the power to declare what is
right and what is wrong it is incon-
ceivable that there be any "oppo-
In each communist state the same
story of oppression and enslavement
is repeated, verse by verse and
chapter by chapter. The parliamen-
tary immunity of legislators is re-
Politics in a democracy means
free, open competition of ideas.
But in a dictatorship such com-
petition of ideas is crushed and
replaced with the maneuver and
intrigue of a palace guard. So
stated Mr. Richard M. Scammon
in a radio broadcast to the
German people. His speech, the
fifth in the MG series on "Free-
dom vs. Totalitarianism," is re-
printed here.
Mr. Scammon, who spoke from
Berlin on 11 December, is chief
of the Elections and Political
Parties Branch, Civil Administra-
tion Division, OMGUS.
moved and opposition political leaders
are soon brought to trial for alleged
treason to the people's will. Treason
indeed it is, for anyone who disagrees
with the tenets of the communist
dictatorship is automatically a traitor,
and the books of history are filled
with the pages of these trials.
Where these so-called trials are not
sufficient, a police terror is instituted
-midnight visitations, 20- and 30- and
40-hour "interrogations" of those
suspected of harboring democratic
ideas are the rule. A new "thought
police" comes into being whose duty
it is to hunt down and stamp out any
vestige of that idea of opposition
which the democratic state realizes
is the true measure of strength and
its early stages, it may not be
wise to completely destroy the facade
of democracy, for too many people
have faith in simple democracy and
distrust the "one party" dogma of
the would-be dictatorship. For awhile,
puppet political parties may be tol-
erated with puppet leaders and
puppet programs. Naturally, these
puppet parties are not expected to
be strong-they do not get their
proper share of newspaper space, of
paper supplies, of gasoline for election
campaigns. Indeed, if any of them
should actually develop real strength,
they will soon find that their leaders
are disappearing along with those of
the persecuted democratic parties. But
soon the rack of history turns again
and the members of these puppet
parties who are truly democrats flee,
or are imprisoned, or simply become
quiet and leave the field of political
action to the police, the concentration
29 DECEMBER 1947

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