Offbeat: These Fair Possessions of Democracy

America is less. Resist.

Tape Extracts:

Orson Welles: To be born free is to be born in debt. To live in freedom without fighting slavery is to profiteer. My plane last night I flew over some parts of our republic where American citizenship is a luxury beyond the means of the majority. I rode comfortably in my plane above a sovereign state or two where fellow countrymen of ours can't vote without the privilege of cash. Surely my right to having more than enough is cancelled if I don't use that more to help those who have less.

My subject today is the question of moral indebtedness. So I'd like to acknowledge the debt that goes with ownership. I believe, and this has very much to do with my own notion of freedom, I believe I owe the profit I make to the people I make it from. Any public man owes his position to the public. That's what I mean when I say I am your obedient servant. It's a debt payable in service of the highest efforts of the debtor. The extension of this moral argument insists that no man owns anything outright since he owns it rent free.

A wedding never bought a wife and the devotion of his child is no man's for the mere begetting. We must each day earn what we own. A healthy man owes to the sick all that he can do for them. An educated man owes to the ignorant all that he can do for them. A free man owes to the world slaves all that he can do for them. And what is to be done is more, much more than good works, Christmas baskets, bonuses and tips, and bread and circuses.

There is only one thing to be done with slaves: free them. If we can't die on behalf of progress we can live for it. Progress we Americans take to mean a fuller realization of democracy, the measure of progress as we understand it is the measure of equality and joy by all men. We can do something about that. 

If we waste that gift we won't have anywhere to hide from the indignation of history.

I want to say this: the morality of the auction block is out of date. There is no room in the American century for Jim Crow. The Times urge new militancy upon the Democratic attitude. Tomorrow's democracy discriminates against discrimination. It's charter won't include the freedom to end freedom.

I come with a call for action. American law forbids a man the right to take away another's right. It must be law that groups of men can't use the machinery of our Republic to limit the rights of other groups. That the vote for instance can't be used to take away the vote. It's in the people's power to see to it that what makes lynchings and starts wars is dealt with. In a people's world the incurable racist has no rights. He must be deprived of influence in a people's government, he must be segregated as he himself would segregate. Our liberty has every day to be safe from marauders whose greed is for all things possessed by the people. Care of these possessions is the hope of life on this planet. They are living things they grow. These fair possessions of democracy. And nothing, but death can stop that growth. 

Let the yearners for the past, the willfully childish, learn now the facts of life. The first of which is the fact of that growth. In our hemisphere the growing has begun, but only just begun. America can write her name across this century and so she will if we the people brown and black and red rise now to the great occasion of our brotherhood. It will take courage. It calls for the doing of great deeds, which means the dreaming of great dreams. Giving the world back to its inhabitants is too big a job for the merely practical. The architects of freedom are always capable of hope. The lawmakers of true democracy are true believers, they believe quite simply in the people in all of them.

Be of good heart. The fight is worth it. But, what will be here when we are gone. America is the less.