Conclusions Are Same As Writers Discuss Fascism
Projected Debate Resolves Into Varied Approach To Big Issue
Sinclair Lewis and Lewis Browne, leading contemporary writers and lecturers, arrived at tge same conclusion in their debate last night as to whether fascism can crowd out democracy in the United States.
Both novelists agreed that fascism can hapen here but disagreed as to its nearness. Lewis said that the American people will not let it happen, and Browne countered with the assertion that the roots of fascism are already firmly planted in this country.
Lewis reiterated at several points his belief that hysteria engendered by the World war is the condition Americans must guard against most actively. He said that "We serve Germany and her allies well if we become fearful, and if we become too terrified, we are already licked."
The American cynical attitude, the ability to laugh it off, will not let fascism happen here, Lewis said. "The 'So What?' attitude," he continued, "is a good thing to have in a democracy." He pointed out that the Ku Klux Klan, Huey Long, and Father Coughlin's movement "didn't have what it takes to overthrow democracy,"
"This is a healthy growing democracy," Lewis said, "and I for one am glad it isn't perfect." He concluded with a word of caution to both isolationists and interventionists, warning them that namecalling whips up an hysteria on which fascism most easily gains ground.
Browne, while conceding that democracy can remain "if the people remain strong internally," emphasized that democracy is even now on shaky ground with some people. He predicted that, unless the present war effort can drive fascism into oblivion within a short time, the concept will become so confusing that the observer will not be able to tell which are fascists and which democrats.
Dangers In Crises
"Both Italy and Germany emerged as dictatorships in crises," Brown said, "and given a sufficient crisis, fascism can and will come here. People can and do become sick of the ideals they once maintained."
The danger of overthrow of this government, according to Browne, will become even greater if Hitler emerges victor in Europe. Then, he said, the appeasers will battle those who would go to war against Germany until this country would be embroiled in a form of civil war. In this state of public thinking, a small strong group could take over, he said.
Some of the groups which Browne believes would side with the forces of fascism in such a crisis would be the big industrialists, who are not satisfied because the profits are not big enough in this war; the little business men who have been squeezed out; the demobilized soldiers, resentful because there would be no jobs forthcoming, and the great mass of people generally resentful to every form of government.