optimistic about tariffs and monetary agreement. Privately we have no hope, or hardly any, that anything will come of it:13
By R. G. Tugwell Assistant Secretary of Agriculture
There never was a time when an economic conference looked less hopeful or was more needed. The urgency of the need may just furnish the lacking element for success. The history of the conferences which have gone before is certainly not happy. Nations devoted to small and selfish concerns did not discover the mechanisms by which the interest of each could be merged in the interests of all, which is a condition of any social improvement, defining, as it does, the relations of individual and group, of group and nation, and nation and world. It is a time for some inventor, gifted with ingenuity and possessing the qualities of dominance and persuasion; if, among the statesmen, such a man exists, he can have immortality now.
The descending spiral of depression has carried the fortunes of the human race downward until there seems no logical stopping place short of universal destitution. Our marvelous mechanisms are paralysed; fear of the ultimate possesses all mankind. It is still going on, this decline and panic. No one believes anymore that action on the international field possesses the power to reverse this process; many do hope, however, that its momentum may be checked there and that internal forces may so realign themselves in consequence as to provide the materials for recovery.
The statesmen will have to work in an atmosphere of extreme exigency; their decisions will be watched by fear-ridden people. It is difficult in such circumstances to come at judgments which are coldly considered. And this is, perhaps, just as well. For, instead of petty horse- trading tactics, the urgency of the situation may dictate a grander strategy of the common purposes of mankind. The people of the world have, it is true, only an inchoate idea of the elements of this strategy; they are likely to be intolerant of the technique involved and to be insistent only on results. Peace and prosperity are the simple desiderata which democracies cling to. But nothing less than the insurance of these is likely to bring credit to public leaders now.
Yet there is a poor tradition to work from in achieving these results, and the difficulties of working out from it will be immense. The____________________