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June 11, 1956

In her address at Commencement, research director of the Foreign Policy Association and former Vassar trustee Vera Micheles Dean told the Class of 1956 they needn’t be pessimistic about the future of democracy and “assume that totalitarianism is predestined to rule the world.” “On the contrary,” she said, “both in the Communist and non-Communist sectors of the world we see many signs that the trend of world events is moving away from rather than toward totalitarianism.” America, she continued, often failed to consider historical perspective, and thus perceived in communism as large and as permanent a phenomenon as it saw a short generation ago in Nazism and fascism. “This is a danger,” she said, “to which many of us who reject communism, as we once rejected Nazism and fascism, are peculiarly prone.”

Mrs. Dean urged the 277 members of the Class of 1956 to review history and realize that no revolutionary movements are static, that change and revision are their inevitable aftereffects and that their eventual movement is toward accommodation, the consolidation of gains and the elimination of errors.

The New York Times

The Years