OVER Japan in the last years of the American occupation there hung an air of breathless expectancy. People had kept quiet for a few years during the war, when it had been unwise to speak, and they had kept politely quiet during the years of the occupation too, while the Americans were teaching them to be democratic. They had worn an air of eager attention as they had learned their lesson. But what were they all going to say when the Americans left, these unquestionably intelligent people who had looked for so long as if they had all manner of interesting things to say? When the San Francisco Treaty came and they all started talking, they all said very much the same thing, and it was ghastly.
The effect was as of seeing ourselves parodied. We who were young in those days had been formed by the New Deal, and it had made us suspicious of the arrangements effected by our elders, whose laissez-faire had about it the look of greedy irresponsibility. The great assumption from which we made our departure was that men are greedy and must be restrained by other men. Among the subsidiary assumptions was that men behave most irresponsibly in societies in which they are least re- strained by other men. In other words: Americans do the most awful things.
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