Mr. J. M. Keynes, Financial Adviser to the British Government, to the Assistant Secretary of State (Acheson)

My Dear Acheson: I should not like it to be thought because of my cavilling at the word “discrimination” that the excellence and magnanimity of the first part of that Article VII and of the document as a whole had gone overlooked.

I will do what I can to interpret the mind of the President and of the State Department to people at home and feel some confidence that a right conclusion will be reached.

The Ambassador comes on leave in about a fortnight and I dare say that the main discussions will await his return. So do not expect a reply in the very near future.

My so strong reaction against the word “discrimination” is the result of my feeling so passionately that our hands must be free to make something new and better of the postwar world; not that I want to discriminate in the old bad sense of that word—on the contrary, quite the opposite.

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But the word calls up, and must call up—for that is what it means strictly interpreted—all the old lumber, most-favored-nation clause and the rest which was a notorious failure and made such a hash of the old world. We know also that won’t work. It is the clutch of the dead, or at least the moribund, hand. If it was accepted it would be cover behind which all the unconstructive and truly reactionary people of both our countries would shelter. We must be free to work out new and better arrangements which will win in substance and not in shadow what the President and you and others really want. As I know you won’t dispute this, we shall be able to work something out. Meanwhile forgive my vehemence which has deep causes in my hopes for the future. This is my subject. I know, or partly know, what I want. I know, and clearly know, what I fear.

Sincerely yours,

J. M. Keynes