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The Next Step A Plan for Economic World Federation

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1. The Historic Present

The knell of a dying order is tolling. Its keynote is despair. Gaunt hunger pulls at the bell-rope, while dazed humanity listens, bewildered and afraid.

Uncertainty and a sense of futility have gripped the world. They are manifesting themselves in unrest, disillusionment, the abandonment of ideals, opportunism, and a tragic concentration on the life of the moment, which alone seems sure. The future promises so little that even the most hopeful pause on its threshold, hesitant, and scarce daring to penetrate its mystery.

The war showed the impotence of the present order to assure even a reasonable measure of human happiness and well-being. Of what profit the material benefits of a civilization that takes a toll of thirty-five millions of lives and that wrecks the economic machinery of a continent in four short years? Yet the failure of the revolutionary forces to avail themselves of the opportunity presented by the war proved the unreadiness of the masses to throw off the yoke of the old régime and to lay the foundations of a new order. The world rulers painted a picture of liberated humanity that led tens of millions to fight with the assurance that victory would make that hope a reality. The workers yearned for the social revolution and for the establishment of the co-operative commonwealth with its promise of equality and fraternity. But the events that staggered the world between 1914 and 1920 shattered both ideals.

Now that the terrible conflict has ceased, we pause and reflect. Millions are weary, millions are old, millions are broken, millions are disappointed, and the weary ones, the old ones, the broken ones and the disappointed ones have lost their vision and have abandoned their faith. Yet life sweeps on—its unity unimpaired, its continuity unbroken, its force unchecked, its vigor unabated. Multitudes have been born since the end of the Great War, and other multitudes, who were babes in arms when the Great War began, are growing into young manhood and womanhood. The war, with its hardships and its fearful losses, is history. The present, merging endlessly with the future, makes of each day a to-morrow in which hundreds of millions of those who now inhabit the earth will live.


That is the question which the world to-day faces. The answer is in our hands.

2. Economic Needs

Humanity has always been face to face with the bread and butter problem because people must have food and clothing and a roof over their heads or pay the penalty in physical suffering. Under the present world order, for lack of these simple economic requirements, millions of poverty-stricken workers perish each year, of slow starvation and exposure in Paris, London, Chicago, Tokyo; of famine in China, Egypt and India.

Some issues present themselves for consideration only occasionally. The demand for economic necessaries each day recurs with tireless insistence in the life of every individual. Men have learned this fact through frightful experiences, and they look forward with hope or with dread to the comfort of plenty or to the disaster of want....