DECENTRALIZATION - PROMISES AND REALITY
Power intoxicates men. When
a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated
by power, he seldom recovers.
James F. Byrnes
DECENTRALIZATION - PROMISES AND REALITY
Statement of 1948
In the councils of Government
we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought... The potential for the disastrous
rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
July of 1948, the Board of Trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation
adopted a set of principles. According to Clarence, Dr. Bob
approved that Statement of Principles.
that statement, the Board said, "The aim of the Foundation (would
be to) limit its organization and activities to the bare essentials
required to perform its important but limited duties." The Foundation
apparently believed A.A. was becoming too organized. And this
was something that Dr. Bob was totally against.
told the author he believed that Dr. Bob had a feeling that,
after his (Dr Bob's) death, there would be changes within A.A.
in which A.A. would be professionalized and no longer "kept
simple." Clarence said this was the reason Doc endorsed the
Statement of Principles.
its text, the statement contained a plan to inaugurate:
program of gradual decentralization of headquarters activities
to the end that the responsibility of 'carrying the message'
may be gradually assumed by local groups and committees.
also stated that:
A.A. Movement remains unshackled by the fetters of organization
and is kept free from the corroding effect of political procedures
which stem from over-organization.
was something that the original Ohio members feared the most,
Clarence said to the author. He said, they knew that with the
passing of Dr. Bob, and the end to influence Dr. Bob had with
Bill Wilson, unless there was something in writing, the simplicity
of the program might be forever lost.
to Clarence, when Dr. Bob passed on, the Statement of 1948 was
quickly replaced with the so-called Statement of 1950. Dr. Bob's
influence and counsel were no longer a factor. Clarence believed
the long term members in Ohio were incensed as were other long
term members around the country.
Board of Trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation never really made
the original 1948 statement of policy available to the Fellowship
except, in a small way, through the Grapevine. But the
Grapevine article was worded in such a way that the full
impact of the statement was lost.
a letter to Clarence, a Royal S. wrote:
enclose a copy of the Statement of 1948 which you may not have
seen and which has been virtually suppressed by the Trustees.
supposed suppression has continued until this day. When the
author asked to see a copy of the Statement, he was told that
it probably didn't exist and if it did, its whereabouts were
full Statement of 1948 and correspondence concerning it is contained
in Appendix G.
of the foundations of the Orthodox Movement was this Statement
and its dissemination to the groups for their approval since
the groups were never allowed to either see it nor pass on it.
wanted to have a celebration for the 15th anniversary
of the founding of A.A., the date of Dr. Bob's last drink. And
the matter was discussed at length. The result was a decision
to hold an international gathering to be sponsored by "The Pioneer
Groups... Akron, New York and Cleveland."
Wilson came to Cleveland to attend a meeting of the Cleveland
Central Committee on March 7, 1950. The purpose was to discuss
the possibility of holding the International Conference in Cleveland.
When Bill spoke, he stated that:
his opinion and that of Dr. Smith, Cleveland was the logical
place for an International Conference because of its geographical
location and because of the contribution of the Cleveland Groups
to the early growth of A.A., defining this as development of
the sponsorship system thus proving that A.A. could work on
a large scale instead of only through the original members.
tentative plan for financing such a conference proposed that
each Cleveland Group be asked for $20.00 toward a goal of $2,000.00,
and that there be a registration fee of $1.00 for each participant.
The foundation was also asked to contribute.
committee was formed to develop this conference. Dick S. was
elected General Chairman of the First International Conference
Committee. The committee had high hopes for the proposed conference.
letter to group secretaries said:
going to be one whale of a Conference - more A.A.s by far than
have ever been gathered in one place before! At this point it
looks like anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000!
the Conference actually took place, July 28 to 30, there were
about 7,000 participants. Three hotels were used for the Conference:
the Carter Hotel, the Hollenden Hotel and the Cleveland Hotel.
The Big Meeting was to be held on Sunday afternoon at the Cleveland
Public Auditorium, which seated 10,000.
"High Spots" for the Conference were to be as follows:
A.M. (Carter Hotel) HOSPITALIZATION. The benefits of co-operation
between A.A.s and organized medicine. Doctors will explain the
latest in hospital therapy and practice.
P.M. (Hollenden Hotel) A.A. IN INDUSTRY. Development of cooperative
programs among A.A.s and personnel directors in business and
industry. (duPont, Eastman Kodak and Thompson Products)
P.M. THE PRINTED WORD. A symposium on A.A. publications for
their editors, writers and managers.
P.M. (Carter Hotel) THE A.A. FAMILY. A special meeting for Non-alcoholics
affiliated with the movement through family ties. The first
A.A. wife will speak. (Lois Wilson)
meetings on Saturday included: 1) A.A. in Corrective Institutions
with Warden Clinton Duffy of San Quentin, 2) The Woman A.A.
Meeting (for women only), 3) The A.A. Conference Meeting to
discuss definition of the traditions of A.A. and other matters
of policy, and a Banquet which was to be followed by entertainment
and dancing (for $5.00 per person).
were to be two highlights on Sunday, July 30. 1) At 10:30 A.M.,
The Spiritual Significance of A.A. and 2) at 2:00 P.M., The
Big Meeting with only two speakers, Dr. Bob and Bill.
registration for the Conference was $1.50 per person payable
at any time during the Conference in order to get the Official
introduced at the Conference was the Proposal by the Trustees,
Dr. Bob, and Bill for The General Service Conference of Alcoholics
stated that Dr. Bob was against the General Service Conference
until Bill convinced him otherwise. Dr. Bob knew that he was
going to die and was convinced that the General Service Conference
would be the best thing for A.A. He was also convinced that
A.A. was not going to become over-organized due to the Statement
of 1948 which promised decentralization. With the Statement
of l948 in place and with Bill's convincing, Dr. Bob agreed
to put his approval to the General Service Conference.
Conference proved to be the last major public appearance for
Dr. Bob. He died in November of that same year. After Dr. Bob
passed on, A.A. underwent many changes, which Clarence was sure
would not have been acceptable to Dr. Bob.