United Industry for Universal Peace
by Walter Russell (1936)

Friends and associates of practically every race and nation of the earth have again gathered together upon this momentous occasion in the history of International Relations and International Peace.

During this IBM Convention, an inspiring thought has been passing through my mind while grasping the friendly hands of men of all races and nations who have come here this week from all over the planet for the one mutual purpose of serving each other to a common end.

Many of the men whose hands I warmly clasped do not speak my language, nor I theirs, but between us all there is a perfectly understood silent Universal Language which is understood by all of us, whether American, English, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Czechoslovakian, Italian, Romanian, Polish, Spanish, or Turk. That universal language is the oldest in the world, the language of peace on earth and good will to men, the friendly language of universal brotherhood, which expresses itself by the light of our own radiance that we give warmly and freely to each other.

The thought that inspires me, and which I want to give to you, is that IBM has succeeded in conquering the world by peaceful interchange where empirically-minded world-conquering Caesars, Emperors, Czars, and Kings who cut their ways through the best blood of our nations with the sword, have failed. It is this silent but steady march of the regiments of IBM’s International “army” of service workers which has gradually broken down every geographical, racial, or linguistic barrier that ever existed between us. Into one friendly country after another IBM’s “legions” have entered territories where the IBM idea and products were needed. In every country its nationals cooperated with our nationals as though both were one.

Impelled only by the IBM idea of peaceful interchange of human necessities in a mutually interdependent world, our united strength is now spread over seventy-nine countries and girdles the world. In every country we were welcomed with open arms by the highest ranks in the land. Their hearty cheers mingled with ours as they joined with us in unfurling IBM’s banners upon the properties we acquired within their borders.

I cannot let this occasion pass without drawing the attention of the Peace Societies and Peace workers of the civilized world to Industry’s demonstration of the Power of Right to conquer where the Power of Might has so hopelessly failed. The lesson that it suggests to civilization clearly indicates the duty, as well as the opportunity, of united industry to point out the demonstrated fact that the only true path to the goal of peace, prosperity, and happiness is through the practice of the constructive arts of peace, prosperity, and happiness. This path of constructive work for the benefit of man could not possibly be that path which destroys him.

It is a monstrous fallacy to assume that the goal of peace, prosperity, and happiness for man can be reached by killing him, or by binding him, or by stultifying that power of right thinking within him which is promotive of man’s unification of action toward the achievement of universal peace. For ages the Power of Might has been ruthlessly utilized by oligarchical rulers for the purpose of just plain loot, and later by Governments for the purpose of trade expansion through Colonial possessions. For untold ages the price of purchase by the Power of Might has been paid in blood, the best blood of the land, leaving the race poorer always by war’s constant draining of the best manhood of each nation.

In addition to the lowering of the moral and physical standards of the entire race by keeping alive its primitive instincts of fear, and, by wanton destruction of its fittest members, there is the attendant colossal destruction of the fruits of man’s industry. Practically one third of every constructive effort of every man who ever lived has been taken away from him to destroy his fellow man, upon the absurd assumption, that by so doing, he who perpetrated this theft was being enriched. Oh, the cruel absurdity of it, to think that the promotion of enmity can be transmuted into friendly interchange, or hate into love, or fear into security, or destruction into construction.

We have had to live and deal with each other for all these ages to only have begun to find out that enmity can be transformed into friendship only by giving friendship, and of hatred only by giving love, of fear only by assuring security, and of destruction only by construction. In vain has an unthinking race heard those portentous words of warning to warring man, which say: “He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword.” How much longer shall those words be meaningless?

It seems to me that it is the duty and privilege of united Industry, which is constructively engaged in supplying all of man’s physical necessities, to hasten that day in which Industry will also supply all of man’s spiritual necessities by giving him also that peace, security and happiness for which he has so long striven. How can Industry hasten that day?

Only in one way; by learning how to find the path of TRUTH so that Industry’s dealings with all men will be a practice of the highest ethics attainable by the light of our present understanding. By Industry I mean the constructive workers of the world who produce its necessities, and that includes everyone who gives service to the world. The constructive workers of the world can lead the world only if they practice on seven days a week those ethics which they used to hear on Sundays, and ignored on the other days.

Ever since IBM began we have tried to learn that lesson of unity and brotherhood both within and without our organization. We are united in our every thought and action as though we were one. We are one great family, all speaking the one unified language of mutual purpose. We have no class distinction and no superiority of relationship of employer to employee. Every man at the bottom is on his way to the top. On that journey he sees many hands reaching out to him from all those above him, to help him to the top. Labor troubles in IBM are unthinkable, for all of us are laborers, laboring together for each other. What each one of us acquired for ourselves, we are indebted to others for making it possible.

We are conscious that we are doing our part in knitting together the fabric of civilization by our mutual helpfulness one to another in IBM and to the friendly service we are giving to every one outside of it with whom we establish the relations necessary for friendly interchange. It is this endeavor to find the path of truth that has kept IBM on the steady upward path during all of these trying years of depression. Together we have learned that the balancing flywheels of our machine can continue its acceleration under any circumstances so long as it is well balanced on a truly centered shaft.

All Industry is rapidly learning that great lesson of the necessity of keeping as true a balance in all of its relations as it keeps in its ledgers. I know of no large organization that is not as earnestly striving to unify its human relations within its walls as it is without. This condition can only be brought about by a better understanding, not only between the makers of a product but also between the users of them.

For many years I have maintained that Industry’s rapidly improving code of ethics will some day entirely eliminate the caveat emptor fear from the minds of purchasers. I have for years preached the doctrine that we industrial workers who are producing products are producing them because someone needs them. We are therefore producing necessary products to fit necessary purposes, and under no circumstances should we try to fit them into unnecessary purposes upon the assumption that we are making money.

We are not making money by any sale in which our profit is not balanced by the good will extended to us for a necessary service rendered by us. Any other sale hurts not only us but hurts all business through the reaction of hurting the individual.

The great industries are rapidly learning this lesson and putting it into practice. No better illustration of that search for the path of truth by Industry could be found than that statement by Henry Ford to the effect that the hurt of any one man anywhere is the hurt of every man everywhere. I believe he cited the business failure of a remote village plumber and traced the plumber’s hurt to himself because it deprived him of one potential customer. Mr. Ford then traced that hurt still farther back to the steel mill, the tire manufacturer and so on down the long, interdependent line of producers whose prosperity depended upon a multiplicity of prosperous consumers.

All Industry and all people in every walk of life, from the farmer to the rolling mill, and from the author to the maker of stockings, is only now coming into the full understanding that each man is both producer and consumer, and that the only path for producer and consumer is that joyous path of mutual helpfulness which is perfectly defined in the too much forgotten golden rule.

We producers are just beginning to find out that we must not only give thought to the manufacturing of our product but also give thought to the manufacturing of consumers of our product. Men must buy what men produce. We must awaken to the fact that man himself is first, and last, in our economy. The more we consider man himself, the more will we find a balance between our production and our consumption. By exploiting man for production we have but killed the consumer of our product. Conversely by the ennoblement of man we will find difficulty in producing enough for his growing needs.

The longer I live the more I am certain that the best way to make money is to forget money in the performance of the service for which money is only the symbol. A world in search of money can only find it through service, of that I feel assured, and the more quickly we learn to seek perfection in our giving of service the more quickly we will learn how to make money. And the more quickly we learn that money is only the balance of credit between the relative values of each man’s service, the more quickly we will learn to give greater service in order that the balance of credit will be greater. And the more quickly we learn that profits must be two-sided, in every transaction the more quickly we will learn that the goodwill earning of a transaction is more lasting than the money side of the profit.

The more understanding of the balanced relation between man and product which Industry acquires, the more quickly will Industry find that path of truth upon which we all may walk. “And when that day comes men shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,” as an early mystic has foretold of this day which I feel is now close upon us.

That is the message that I wish each of you to carry as messengers into every land, into every IBM activity and every personal activity; and by “messengers” I mean doers of the word rather than preachers of it. Every community in which an IBM worker lives should be enriched by his service to the community equally with his service to IBM and to himself. When Industry as a whole, of which IBM is but a small part, learns this lesson in its fullness, then will United Industry be stronger than all governments in the world, for governments of peoples are limited by boundaries while united Industry reaches across all boundaries to unify all peoples.

Not until then will governments be powerless to further oligarchical or empirical aims by the destruction of workers’ lives and fortunes. Not until then will governments cease to bind industry through regulation which needs no regulation.

Not until then will governments and Industry find their proper mutual relations and work together for the common good. Also not until then will huge armaments for the protection of neighbor against neighbor be as unnecessary for the whole world as it is between the United States and Canada, or between state and state.

In approaching a country where we wish to operate, we have begun with a friendly request of friendly neighbors to sell us some of its space, and to lend us the aid of its nationals to labor with our laborers in the development of our product. In this manner we could both exercise our mutual purpose of interchanging our mutual necessities to the extent in which each country needed the products of the other’s creation. This manner of dealing disclosed to us a world of friends and neighbors in which the word “enemy” was but the memory of the nightmare past, and had no existence. Our American Nationals have mingled with the Nationals of every one of our seventy-nine “colonies” with as much friendliness and mutual helpfulness as though all were Americans dealing with each other in these States of our home territory.

When we call a brotherly Convention to take counsel together, as we are doing tonight, we find that IBM is an international melting pot of all races and all nations into one, for there is hardly a race or nation that is not represented here tonight; and in every mind is the one harmonious idea of mutual service, one to another, for the fulfilling of the IBM purpose.

When every great industry in every land practices this principle to the full extent of each country’s desires for “occupation” within the territories of each other country it will then be found that international growth has been effected to its maximum. Warships, planes, and armies could not acquire more than the absorption limit, or more than the interchange limit.

Now let us look at this same principle of Industrial growth for purpose as applied to government application to both populations and trade expansion. Governments do not make war for the purposes of government trade or expansion, they do it for the supposed benefit to their nationals. Private enterprise profits directly and governments prosper indirectly. Assuming that a nation needed a colony suitable for wheat growing, emulating the IBM example, why not buy a million- or two-acre “colony” in our West and operate it with both nationals, theirs and ours. We would gladly sell a colony, or colonies to them for the raising of their wheat, or their cotton; and our corporations would be equally anxious to buy colonies from them. In the same manner Brazil could sell coffee plantations, and Cuba banana and sugar colonies and so on, ad infinitum. After all, these colonies would merely be the familiar corporations practicing within our borders but owned by other nationals.

What a surety such corporations of Internationals would have for the universal sale of their mutual securities? In twenty years, who could name the owner nation of any of them, so universally would their securities be distributed. What a solution for the tariff walls which we now erect to protect our nationals. The exports of any other nationals from within our borders would be imports from their colonies to them, and a tariff wall would be as absurd as it would be unnecessary. What a solution there would also be for a more even standardization for human living conditions. The collaboration of nationals in the many interchanging corporate colonies would eventually level all differences in living standards throughout the world. This is exactly what is happening within the confines of IBM, and we have found it workable. It is securing for every IBM worker that peace, security, prosperity, and happiness which each man desires.

It is the demonstrated workability of this principle that we now offer as our contribution to the peace of the world.

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