Roger Nash Baldwin
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) co-founder (1884-1981)
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- So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we'll be called a democracy.
- quote on American Civil Liberties Union's webpage
- The Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, a traumatic shock to me, ended any ambivalence I had about the Soviet Union, and all cooperation with Communists in united fronts.
- Baldwin, Roger (2006) . "The Roger Baldwin Story: A Prejudiced Account By Himself". in Woody Klein. Liberties Lost: The Endangered Legacy of the ACLU. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. p. 11. ISBN 0275985067.
Article from Soviet Russia Today edit
"Freedom In the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R." (PDF document) (Soviet Russia Today, September 1934) [emphasis below in original]
- I believe in non-violent methods of struggle as most effective in the long run for building up successful working class power. Where they cannot be followed or where they are not even permitted by the ruling class, obviously only violent tactics remain. I champion civil liberty as the best of the non-violent means of building the power on which workers rule must be based. If I aid the reactionaries to get free speech now and then, if I go outside the class struggle to fight against censorship, it is only because those liberties help to create a more hospitable atmosphere for working class liberties. The class struggle is the central conflict of the world; all others are incidental.
- When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies at home and abroad. I dislike it in principle as dangerous to its own objects. But the Soviet Union has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world. They are liberties that most closely affect the lives of the people — power in the trade unions, in peasant organizations, in the cultural life of nationalities, freedom of women in public and private life, and a tremendous development of education for adults and children.
- I saw in the Soviet Union many opponents of the regime. I visited a dozen prisons — the political sections among them. I saw considerable of the work of the OGPU. I heard a good many stories of severity, even of brutality, and many of them from the victims. While I sympathized with personal distress I just could not bring myself to get excited over the suppression of opposition when I stacked it up against what I saw of fresh, vigorous expressions of free living by workers and peasants all over the land. And further, no champion of a socialist society could fail to see that some suppression was necessary to achieve it. It could not all be done by persuasion.
- [I]f American champions of civil liberty could all think in terms of economic freedom as the goal of their labors, they too would accept "workers' democracy" as far superior to what the capitalist world offers to any but a small minority. Yes, and they would accept — regretfully, of course — the necessity of dictatorship while the job of reorganizing society on a socialist basis is being done.