to Rose Wilder Lane
June 12th, 1942
Dear Mrs. Lane:
I was going to argue with you a month ago, but now that I clear my desk and get down to it, I don’t see what the argument is about. I have no love for the English, and feel first, that peace can bring us no greater boon than the privilege of resuming our mutual dislike and second, that that dislike has proved itself an excellent basis for international relationships.
On the other hand, I cannot at your solicitation amend my feeling that on the whole the British have been far gentler than the Germans or the Dutch or the Spanish or the Portuguese or anyone else who ever went into the empire business, and that on the whole the power of the British empire was the great stabilizing force that made possible the very industrial revolution that you praise. I have no quarrel with you about that revolution or about our function in it. Nevertheless, as a veteran of one war who hopes to be a veteran of this one also, and as a veteran intellectual and something of a historian, I hope to God that we are not going to face the world again with the innocent idealism which we innocently found was so horribly raped after the last one.
We are not going to dominate the world with tractors, automobiles or cigarettes. We are going to dominate it, if at all, in a highly realistic partnership with those who help us win. Russia has still a large part, and China has all of the 19th Century to go through — not necessarily a guarantee of perfect accord to come.
I am sorry, but I continue to find not only our hope, but what we are calling the hope of mankind best guaranteed by an intelligent American adaptation of the principles which the British Empire contrived to put into effect for nearly a century.