Margaret Sanger to the Readers of The Review
Once in a while we should look at our work from a distance, with a clear and impersonal vision, to try to see ourselves as others see us. Wherever I have gone, even in the most remote places, such as Ceylon, Kandy, Aden, Alexandria and Cairo, I have found in bookshops where foreign literature is sold, that people come requesting literature on this subject, asking particularly for some literature from America. It was also a keen pleasure to find so many people had first heard of Birth Control and "learned more about it" from buying a magazine on Broadway from our faithful coworkers. One very shy little English stewardess who was working on a small boat coming from Hong Kong said to me, in a conversation during which we discussed large families and the cost of living, that she had once seen a "paper" being sold in the streets of New York "telling all about that," and she had regretted ever since that she hadn't the courage to go up and get one–-wouldn't I see if I could get one for her when I got back. She had three children and "quite enough too." Indeed it has been my happy experience during this trip around the world to find out for myself that even at the other end of the earth the American Birth Control Movement stands out upon our national horizon as the most vital social movement on this continent.
It was not without a certain fear and reluctance that I set out for the Orient eight months ago. Our movement in this country was entering a dangerous and crucial period. Could it survive the attacks and the risks following our first Birth Control Conference and the breaking up of the Town Hall meeting? In addition there was confronting us the gigantic task of organizing the Birth Control League, and raising funds to carry it forward. Nevertheless, convinced that if we could extend our sphere of influence to Japan and China, if we could in short "girdle the globe," our American movement would thereby be incalculably benefited, I set forth.
In view of these fears, the splendid work accomplished during my absence is therefore all the more gratifying. Due to the unceasing and energetic endeavors of my co-workers, the BIRTH CONTROL REVIEW has doubled its circulation. Our organizers are busily planning three State conferences for the near future-–in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. A strong, live list of new members of the League is constantly growing. During my absence of eight months, the American Birth Control movement has proved that it is a live, healthy, growing organism, daily gaining in strength and widening its influence. These results are all the more remarkable in view of the deplorable apathy and bland indifference to this greatest of all contemporary problems exhibited by our politicians and the official representatives of our American civilization. By contrast, the intense and intelligent interest evidenced by the finest minds both of the Orient and the Occident acts as an inexhaustible source of courage and dynamic power. Fighting with us, in every country of the world, are the bravest and most courageous and far-seeing intellects of this age.
To realize this triumph, to point to the concrete irrefutable evidence that this is a fact, one may turn to the remarkable edition of the Manchester Guardian Commercial of August 17, in which, under the brilliant editorship of John Maynard Keynes, the problems of population and Birth Control are discussed by such prominent authorities as Mr. Keynes himself, Signor Benedetto Croce, the most powerful and influential intellect of contemporary Italy), Guglielmo Ferrero, the eminent historian, Baron Keikichi Ishimoto of Tokio, Professor Alfred Franzis Pribram of the University of Vienna, and a number of other distinguished students of these problems. Both the Baron Ishimoto, a representative of Japanese thought, and John Maynard Keynes are in agreement concerning the world importance of the problem of Birth Control. "Birth Control is now the most important question of the world," writes Baron Ishimoto. "In England, America, France, and Germany the stage of argument is already past, and these countries are now entering on the stage of practice." Speaking of the population problem of Japan, this authority asserts that "there is no other adequate remedy. It is most important for the people of Japan to make a serious and careful study of the question."
John Maynard Keynes concludes a striking analysis of the population problem from the point of view of the economists with the challenging declaration that this "is not merely an economist's problem, but in the near future the greatest of all political questions. It will be a question," this brilliant thinker goes on, "which will arouse some of the deepest instincts and emotions of men, and feelings may run as passionately as in some of the earlier struggles between religions. . . . When the instability of modern Society forces the issue, a great transition will have begun, with the endeavor by civilized man to assume conscious control in his own hands away from the blind instinct of mere predominant survival."
Let us never forget that what is called the Problem of Population is always, in the final analysis, the problem of Birth Control. Birth Control, we advocate as the only feasible, intelligent and practical solution to population problems. The latter problem is not merely the question of over-population, or underpopulation. Essentially this problem is not of the too-many or the too-few. It is a problem of quality rather than of quantity. Our concern is not so much with the mere number of men, women and children in this world, but with the creation of a healthy and efficient race. If we can, through Birth Control, develop all the latent powers of the coming generations, we may rest assured that they will more readily solve problems of adjustment and adaptation. We are indomitably convinced, in brief, that if we apply our fullest powers of intelligence, enlightenment and keen-sighted vision to the task of the creation of the next generation, we shall, in the long run, do more to bring order, sweetness and light out of the present social and sexual chaos than by complacently relying upon sentiment or tradition.
In conclusion: it is with renewed and rejuvenated enthusiasm and increased vitality that we take up again our work in America, encouraged and grateful to our loyal and energetic co-workers who have so courageously "carried on" in our long absence.