The Charlotte News
SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 1938
BOOK REVIEW AND EDITORIAL
Not One Of Them Is Nice:
Dog Eat Dog Is Rule In Europe Now
--Close View of a Book, by W. J. Cash
Site ed. note: For more on Cash's take on Mr. Leigh's book, Conscript Europe, and its portent for England, see "The British Ruling Class" - October 23, 1938.
Mr. Randolph Leigh, the author of "Conscript Europe," denies that he is pro-German. But I don't believe it. The section of his book devoted to that country is much the most friendly in the whole volume. That is not to say that he is a Nazi or a Fascist of any sort. I gather that he isn't. But he obviously likes and admires the Germans better than he likes or admires the people of France or England or Italy. And he obviously believes that Germany, as she stands, is entitled to the return of the colonies she lost at Versailles and to the place in the sun she so arrogantly demands. That seems doubtful to me. I used to be a great revisionist, but the longer I look into the case the more convinced I become that there was a great deal of truth in the popular legend of 1917--and that Germany was actually more to blame for the last war than anybody else.
Moreover, there is certainly nothing in her record to cause anybody to feel any particular tenderness for her. If Versailles was a damnable settlement, what about the settlement after 1870? If British politicians were fools enough to taunt Germany when she was still a member of the League of Nations with the atrocious joke that nobody objected to Germany having a mandate over Berlin--why, the strutting Junkers of Bismarck's new Germany behaved even more insolently toward France.
And is anybody stupid enough to imagine that, if Germany had won the war, the settlement she would have imposed would have been any less brutal and wrong than the one the Allies imposed?
I said a while ago that I used to be a great revisionist. For that matter, I am still one of a sort. I think the Versailles Treaty should be undone, and that Germany ought to be given an equal chance with the other nations at the raw materials which she undoubtedly needs. If that is the only way it can be, I think she ought to have her colonies back. But not while the Nazi regime lasts. It may be true that the only thing which could budge England and France is the threat of force. But it seems to me, nevertheless, that every concession to the infamous Nazi regime is not a step toward the return of a sane order but a step toward world disaster and the resurgence of barbarism.
For all my disagreement with Mr. Leigh's pro-Germanism, however, I think his book (which is published by G. P. Putnam at $3) is an excellent one. His main thesis is no defense of Germany but the argument that the whole crew of the European nations have so little in common with our notions of democracy that we should be idiots to go war to aid any of them.
He obviously dislikes England as much as he likes Germany. But what he says is highly informative, and, I believe, largely true. He finds that its claim to democracy is mainly hooey. What it is actually is an aligarchy. The nobility is not the thing most Americans imagine it to be--a great body of gentlemen coming down in old line from the best blood lines of the earth and serving their country with disinterested zeal--but a gang of the most prehensile and cold-blooded exploiters on earth, whose titles have mainly been bought. Of all the 751 peers, a third are post-war creations, 318 are creations of the 20th-Century, 270 of the 19th, and only 39 date back earlier than the 17th!
As for the Church of England, with its 43 bishops drawing salaries ranging from $75,000 down to $10,000 a year, its rates, its ownership of coal mines in which the worst forms of exploitation are practiced, and its privileged position which is all out of keeping with the fact that its membership is only one-eighth of the population--Mr. Leigh sees it as almost as bad as the establishment which Henry VIII overthrew. As for the royal family, it is only a stooge for the aligarchy, and the lives of its members have generally been a good deal less than inspiring. As for education, it is frankly directed to the end of breeding snobbery and propagating ignorance of the world in which we live. And as for the poor--one-quarter of them are already on relief or starvation, and the other half is far worse than the worst-off groups in the United States.
What is more, nobody is doing anything about it or proposing to do anything about it--least of all the present government. The whole explanation of Neville Chamberlain, and especially of his astounding foreign policy, is his will to protect the aligarchy in its power and to stave off reform at home.
France, if anything, is in even worse case. A Senate, "elected," as Gambetta said, "by 75,000 bourgeois," and various Rightest and Leftist pressure groups, exercise so much extra-legal authority that government in the country has become a dizzy farce in which one cabinet after another, backed by overwhelming majorities of the popularly-elected lower house, is overthrown after holding office only a few months. The peasantry is breaking up, and large landed estates are becoming more common. The small class of industrial overlords are as about as well off as the same class in this country, but the industrial workers are only about half as well-off. And there, too, the whole policy of the ruling group is directed to heading off reform. But with this difference: In England the masses still are under the sway of the old notion of themselves as the freest and happiest people on earth, whereas the French masses are seething with class hatred. The country is so full of sedition, of dissension, and disloyalty, from both the Left and the Right, that a war might well be fatal. Anyhow, France with its falling birthrate and rising percentage of old people seems inevitably destined to take up a position as a second-rate power as against Germany where the birthrate is rising and there is a great percentage of youths in the population.
Both England and France are colonial hogs. They exploit their colonies as brutally as ever Germany did before the war. And their professions about self-determination, etc., are mainly hypocritical, as are their professions about humanity in warfare. Both have been guilty of bombing helpless natives from the air.
Italy, by itself, is no great menace, its tinpot Caesar to the contrary. Italians with a great many excellent qualities, simply don't make good soldiers or good material for the moulding of mighty, bustling empires. The only way the Italians are dangerous is in combination with Germany, and that combination seems unlikely to last very long.
Thus Mr. Leigh, and a great deal more to the same effect. It's intensely interesting reading, and I cheerfully recommend it.
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