Yes, Virginia, this is an endorsement of Herbert Hoover in The Nation.
I am an internationalist (and therefore a pacifist), a philosophical radical (or parlor Bolshevist, if you prefer the sneer), and something more than a skeptic as to the divine origin of the capitalistic system. Herbert Hoover is none of these things &mdash and yet I believe he is the only one among the numerous presidential aspirants, either in or out of the limelight, to whom it will be safe to intrust the leadership of the nation at this time.
Hoover, fresh from the agonies of the war and the delusions of the peace, delivered himself (in his address in New York to the engineers) of a summary condemnation of what he called socialism, in which he included not only the Russian experiment in communism but everything except individualistic capitalism, on the ground that no other social system “produced.” This was his immediate reaction to the confusions of Europe and the immense attendant misery, which he had observed at close range. It was the natural reaction of his Americanism (for in spite of the silly political insinuation of his being British, Hoover is, spiritually at least, the most purely American of all the candidates). He has never wavered since, so far as I know, in denouncing “the European patent medicine,” and in criticizing even milder forms of social reintegration. His views on these basic matters are more important than any “ship or shoot” chatter, because they are obviously the convictions of knowledge and experience &mdash the expression of a thought-out philosophy of life, rather than a mechanical reaction to popular or class prejudices, as with some of his conservative rivals. All his life this American engineer has dealt with men, singly and in masses, and his observation of “the human animal” &mdash a subtly indicative favorite phrase &mdash has led him to distrust the abstractions and higher idealisms of the radically minded. Self-interest seems to him the most reliable motive to get “the human animal” to function &mdash otherwise to produce.
And yet I am for Hoover. As the days go by and we approach the drawing of the grand lottery, I marvel more and more at men of my kind for their suspicion of Hoover, for their following a fake radical like Johnson or an out and out radical like Debs or some little radical like Walsh and others. And I marvel even more at the larger number of Americans of his own breed, capitalists big and little and parasites of capitalism big and little, who are too blind to see in the election of Hoover to the presidency their best guaranty of their privilege, their comfort, and their endurance.
I am not for Hoover because he fed the Belgians, splendid though that performance was, not (still more splendid) because he fed the starving women and children of Germany and Austria in the face of English indifference and French antagonism &mdash the combined cynical wolfishness of the old order enthroned at Paris &mdash no, not for these sentimental reasons, though they deservedly won for Mr. Hoover the prestige of being in the world’s esteem the leading American citizen.