Sunday, May 10, 1936

Book-Page Editorial

War And Peace

Note On Pacifism

By W. J. Cash

Site ed. note: This article finds Cash in 1936, two months after Hitler's remilitarization of the permanently demilitarized Rhineland, practically giving us a history lesson from the perspective of late 1941. That which he describes here is, after all, mixed often with religious and/or ideological differences to fuel the ardor of the masses, a basic formula which usually leads any nation into aggression against its neighboring nations--when war is reduced to its base metal. Although it was largely the paranoia of nations over sustenance of tenuous treaty commitments which led to World War I, the formula for disaster of which Cash warns here is plainly the one which produced World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam.

And the lesson may be applied very likely today to Iraq or any other hell-bent nation stuck in its own viscid discards and the belief in the need for acquisition of more territory in order to try to extricate itself from it. (And, in relation to the premise, maybe especially this day, December 17, 1998, it is worth pause to consider that the term "Republican Guard" has likely taken on whole new meaning to Mr. Hussein.) One might also pause and consider that the formula of involuntary acquisition of a neighbor's resources is always a dangerous and ill-advised recipe for making a living--whether in the course of commerce among nations, corporations, or inter-personal relations.


In the last six months at least half a dozen books have appeared, all devoted to the most vivid rendering of the horrors of war--and all fatally accepting another war, bigger and better than the last one (or perhaps half a dozen wars, all bigger and better than the last one), as inevitable.

I wish I could record it as my opinion that these gentry who have written these tomes are too gloomy--and that, after all, there is a chance to avert the thing. For I dislike war as ardently as the most pacifistic pacifist of the whole lot of them, and think that such mass murder is, in the absolute, the most completely idiotic activity man has ever engaged in. I am quite prepared, indeed, to believe that another holocaust or two like the celebrated War to Make the World Safe for Democracy may very well mean the complete ruin of civilization of whatever color and the sinking back of all mankind into an essentially barbaric state. Nay, I am prepared to believe even more yet that, in view of the biological enemies which encompass and press even more closely upon our race, the issue of the thing may well be the annihilation and disappearing of the breed--that, in another war or two, this strutting simian who so fondly prides himself on his supposed rationality, will in effect commit suicide.


Delusions Of Peace

Nevertheless, I fear the melancholy souls who authorized the books of which I speak are right. I'm afraid that the sober fact is that the war they envisage is perfectly inevitable--and not only for other nations but for our own as well--and that the sooner we quit deluding ourselves and face it, the better off we are going to be.

Sentimentalists have it that war is the outcome of the schemes of a handful of wicked capitalists and their deliberate and organized appeals to silly patriotism--to the playing of the band, the gab of one-minute heroes, and the lust of the munitions barons to garner fatter and fatter money-bags for themselves. And if it were only so simple as that--but alas! it almost certainly is not so simple as that. Not generally, and as a rule, at least.

At the heart of the real reason for war in our time stands the machine--and the factory economy. For it is the law of the factory that it requires an ever-expanding market and unlimited supplies of certain raw materials. And out of that law has come for the main, what we call imperialism--a policy addressed, in the final analysis, to three ends: the securing of closed markets, the securing of exclusive sources of the required raw materials, and the building up of a military power strong enough to protect these exclusive possessions from competitors.

With that in view, we have to observe that there are in the world today two nations--England and France--in which the factory economy is fully developed, and in which that economy had eventuated in the creation of great colonial empires by way of supplying markets and raw materials: that there is another--the United States--which with the factory economy most fully developed of all, has remained only mildly imperialistic because, until of late at least, its own enormous territory and resources, its huge population, and its great power and prestige, have enabled it to get what it wanted without it: that there is a fourth--Russia--which, only recently launched into an extensive factory economy, has territory, resources, and population enough of its own to meet virtually all its requirements for a century.


The Big Four

We have to notice that these four, between them, control about two-thirds of the earth's surface, at least three-quarters of the world's actual markets, and from three-fourths to four-fifths of the world's available resources in every one of the basic raw materials necessary to the factory economy.

There is not the slightest danger, I think, of any of these four nations warring with another of them, for their interests, though conflicting at times, are at bottom the same--the maintenance of the status quo.

But now besides these, there are three other nations in the world--Italy, Germany, and Japan--which, coming to the factory economy much later than England, France and the United States, have long since reached the point where they imperatively must have markets and raw materials outside their boundaries--which must have extensive colonial possessions or see their factory economy go down into a ruin involving every last man of their population--and which are therefore intensely imperialistic.

But in view of what I have already said and what is well known, it is plain that there is very little left in the world which they can grab--very little worthwhile--without taking it from England, France, or Russia, or invading the Americas in defiance of the United States.

In order, therefore, to nerve themselves for that situation, to bring their resources fully to bear for the realization, willy-nilly, of their ambitions and needs, they have fallen back into an essentially barbaric pattern--into the permanent organization of society as a military unit. And as the heart and center of that, they have fallen back, too, into the essentially barbaric idea of themselves as a chosen and superior people, coming down from gods or demi-gods, and destined by ineluctible fate to rule over mankind--as the heirs to the Caesars, to Woden and the Gothic hosts, or to the conquering Children of the Sun.


Seek They Must

And so today, they roll inexorably forward, mad, fanatical, and immeasurably hungry. Today, they gobble northern China, the last land left of any account--or Ethiopia, itself mainly worthless, but invaluable as a base for operations on the Sudan, or better, on Egypt (a mighty reservoir of that basic raw material, cotton): for heaving these British out of the Mediterranean and breaking the lion's back. Today, they re-militarize the Rhineland and snarl about Memel and thunder that Germany must have colonies back and speak in ever more glowing terms of an Anschluss with Austria.

But tomorrow they will strike fully home--never doubt it. And undoubtedly, and though they may not necessarily strike as allies, they will all strike at one and the same time. Tomorrow, Britain, France, Russia, must surrender tamely to endless demands--or go into a battle for which the only end will be their own complete ruin or the complete breaking of the power of their challengers.

It is no wild fancy which sees the possibility of a Fascist or a Nazi empire--an essentially barbaric empire--rising on the ruins of the British and French empires. No wild fancy which sees that what the Japanese statesmen prophesied along about 1916, that before 1950 a Japanese host would encounter the master nations of the west on the plains of Asia and snatch away an empire--no wild fancy which sees the possibility that such might actually come true.

And the relationship of the United States to all this? It is too obvious.

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