The Charlotte News
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4, 1936
Suicide In The West
War Cries Rise From
Europe, And The Shout
Can Be Heard On These Befuddled Shores.
By W. J. Cash
Site ed.note: Cash flatly predicts a second world war in Europe developing out of the punitive blindness of Versailles and its too strict limits on post-war rebuilding leading to the floundering economies in Germany and Italy giving rise to intense nationalism and eventually, in the midst of depression, to Hitler and Mussolini. That war was inevitable, says Cash, was shown by Hitler having declared his intent to regain the colonies lost by Germany to England and France and to conquer Russia to the Pacific; and, being a dictator, he would seek to fulfill those goals. This war, Cash concludes, would inevitably and necessarily involve the United States. Seeing this inexorable train of events, Cash wonders aloud if the western world was not bent on suicide. Had he been witness to the development of atomic warfare and the cold war, he would no doubt have been convinced of it.
I THINK that if Oswald Spengler had waited until these last days to write his great book "Der Untergang des Abendlandes," [The Decline of the West], instead of launching it nearly twenty years ago, he might very easily have gone the whole way, abandoned all halfway houses of "downgoings" and "declines", and called it quite simply "The Suicide of the West." For it is pretty easy to see now that suicide is exactly what this civilization of our Western World has been engaged on in the years since the book appeared, and that it seems hell-bent on carrying the thing through to its pig-headed and terrible conclusion.
The World War was in its essence notice to this Western World that an epoch and an ideology were willy-nilly at an end. There has been a great argument about which nation "caused" that war--based on the assumption that it need not have happened at all. The plain fact is that no nation caused it, and that it could not have been avoided. The real villain in the piece was not Edward Grey or Kaiser Wilhelm or Poincare or Izvolski but immemorial and incurable human stupidity: the failure of the leaders of the race to recognize the machine industry, and commerce and finance geared to that industry and science and invention, had not only created the New World, but a world which, already by the opening years of the twentieth century, was for basic purposes, a single unit--a world in which the welfare of every part was inextricably bound up with that of every other part--a world in which dislocation in Central Europe or in India or even in the Congo inevitably reflected itself in dislocation in Sioux City, Iowa, and in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Sydney, Australia. And hence a world in which the nationalistic idea as we had known it for centuries was not only no longer tenable but incalculablly dangerous--certain to bring on just such blood-fests as this one which began at Liege, and eventually to plunge all the lands into ruin.
Humanity being what it is--never recognizing the conditions until they are thrust vividly on its attention by catastrophe--there is excuse for the blindeness of these leaders down to the war. But afterwards? Here was notice, plain and certain and implacable. But did they heed it, the the leaders of the victorious nations?
Everyone knows the answer. They not only didn't heed it, they set themselves, as if by deliberate intent, to flout it at every point. They gave themselves up to nationalistic rage and greed with the abandon of drunken savages. They wrote the most completely brutal and the most completely hoggish treaty ever written by modern man.
They set themselves with malice aforethought to destroy Germany--stripped her of every last possible inch of land, saddled her with insane reparations payments, robbed her of every resource that might enable her to rebuild the ruin left her by the war. And they cynically paid out the Wops, who had played turncoat because the promises held out to them seemed to offer an escape from the conditions which had been slowly choking the Italian land to death, with 400,000 square miles of the Sahara Desert!
But there was another lesson which Western man was refusing to learn in these post-war years too: what the great waves of strikes and the rapid rise of radicalism even in the pre-war years ought to have already taught him, what certainly the mighty flood of these things in the 1920's ought to have made plain even to incorrigible stupidity: that the world created by the machine and science, as well as being one in which old-fashioned nationalism was unworkable, was also one in which the old standard economic philosophy, as stated by Adam Smith and his commentators and followers, was as inadequate as that of Moses--in which Laissez-faire, whatever the truth in the past, was no longer serving the interests of the great mass of men--in which distribution was clearly mad---in which capitalism had manifestly to be reformed in radical fashion or--be destroyed at the hands of Marxian socialism? No, collapse of its own weight, under the very laws of the machine economy.
And because Western man could not or would not--cannot or will not--recognize these things, he hurried in these years, he hurries today with ever swifter feet, upon the way to destruction of his civilization. During the 1920s, he paid for his blindness by seeing the evils he had made with his nationalist treaties combined with the remorseless working out of the new economic conditions--to the collapse of every one of his "national economies" --saw them go down one by one, until at last on an October day in 1929, even the United States (hugging the delusion that the Atlantic and the Pacific still exist) awoke to discover that the joyous prognostications of the soothsaying Messrs. Coolidge, Hoover, Brisbane and company had somehow gone agley.
Worse, the conditions forced upon Germany and the betrayal of Italy, drove these nations, bled white and full of starving men for whom there were no jobs, squarely and immediately up before the need for economic reform.
But it is not merely a matter of Italy and Germany--lamentable though the destruction of civilization in these once glorious lands may be. For fascism has promised to take over a good portion of the British Empire, and at Nuremberg the other day, Hitler specifically promised the German people to recover the old German colonies (now held by England and France), and to take over the Ukraine and all of Russia to the Pacific. And it is the law of dictators, that they must attempt to make good on their promises. And such an attempt can mean but one thing, in view of the hot nationalism in other lands, in view of their own anxiety to escape having to meet the need for economic adjustment--war.
That war means the final destruction of Germany and Italy? There is hardly any doubt of it. But it also means the ruin of England and France and all the other Western lands of Europe--the probable collapse of civilization in all of them: hunger and chaos and anarchy and quite likely, communism.
The United States at least, can stay out of that war? It is more than improbable. It can avoid participating to any considerable extent in the general ruin? One must be a mighty optimist, to believe it.
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