Vote for the Angels

Deakin, Arthur

  • Arthur Deakin, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, states his beliefs both in an individual's responsibility to serve others and in the individual's right to freedom of conscience and expression. Audio also contains advertisement for "This I Believe" book.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Arthur Deakin is one of the Big Four leaders of the British Trade Union Movement. He inherited from Ernest Bevin, the General Secretaryship of the Transport and General Workers' Union. The son of a Warwickshire cobbler, he started work in the steel mills of South Wales at the age of 13. He rose to power steadily within the structure of the trade union movement. He is not a theorist when it comes to social philosophy, but acts as a labor leader to increase the money in the workers' pay packet and to improve conditions. In labor-management relations, he has always favored setting up joint negotiating machinery, to replace the old system of forcing concessions from employers
through strikes. Here now is Arthur Deakin's personal philosophy.
I believe in man. I believe every human being has the power to serve his fellows, the duty to render this service and the right to do so in the way commanded by his own conscience. I believe every human institution, religious, social or political, and every human action, must stand judged by the extent to which it helps or hinders the individual in this task.
Perhaps, as you listen, you are saying to yourself, "Only a fool would claim such a belief today, when all around us lies the dreadful evidence of man's inhumanity to man." I do not forget the evidence. But I do not forget, either, how often in the past, men living through the dark moments of history must
have come near to despair of themselves, yet lived to see humanity triumph. And in our own time we have seen our fellow-men give the lie to those who preached the doctrine of mankind's steady deterioration.
All my adult life I have worked with and for the laboring men of my own country-the men whose place in our society, and whose share in our common heritage, has been the last to be recognized; it is upon them my belief is based. I know their courage, their loyalty, their deep-rooted sense of fair play, and their dogged endurance when the need arises. These are the men from whom I learned, and I know these qualities belong to all mankind, not to any one nation, race or class.
"The rank is but the guinea's stamp: The man's the gowd for a' that."
Because I believe in man, I believe he ought to be free to make his own decisions on matters of principle and conscience. He is not free, if poverty and ignorance chain him; he is not so free, if he is shackled by dogma and blinkered by lies or partial truths; he is not so free, if force or fear shuts him off from enquiry and experiment; he is not so free, if he has not the right to dissent.
These beliefs, clumsily and haltingly though they are expressed, are to me a touchstone and a way of life. Because of them, I have striven and shall continue to strive to raise the physical standards under which men labor and live; for no man can reach his full stature if he is denied the decencies of life, as they are understood in his age and place. Because of them, I can neither accept a society
which excludes some men from full participation in its duties and privileges, nor seek to change such a society by means which are themselves unjust. Because of them, I reject any theory of society which denies to a minority the effective right to be heard, even if in such a society the ruling classes were actuated by the best of intentions. Because of them, I cannot agree that the end can ever justify the means, in our dealings with our fellow-men.
Well . . . there it is. Ill-stated and confused enough. But I think it is essential to decide whether man is, basically, an ape or an angel. Like Disraeli, I'm on the side of the angels.
Those were the personal beliefs of Arthur Deakin. They were chosen from the beliefs
broadcast in the past two years for inclusion in the new This I Believe book, now at your bookstore.