The Charlotte News
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1936
Fascism vs. Communism
The Dogmas Of Bede And Marx
By W. J. Cash
Site ed. note: For another Cash article on the "idiocy" of Marxian Socialism, see "Old Karl's Idealism" - Feb. 14, 1937; for another on Fascism versus Communism, in the context of the Spanish Civil War, see "Spanish Blood" - August 23, 1936.
SOME THREE or four years ago, John Strachey, a nephew of Lytton Strachey and a professing Communist, published a book called "The Coming Struggle for Power", in which he argued at great length that the history of the world for the late 1930's down to the 1950's or the 1960's was going to consist quite simply and exclusively of a bitter battle to the finish between the forces of Communism and those of anti-Communism incarnated in Fascism.
It begins to look as though Mr. Strachey were clairvoyant. For already the conflict which he envisioned is taking definite form in Europe, and it seems impossible to hope that on a very near tomorrow it will not break in floodtide over the whole of the Continent, not only setting nation at nation's throat but also in every nation setting brother to shooting down brother as they are doing in Spain today--yes, and to frying brother in oil and tearing him limb from limb and to cutting him into bits by slow stages--the practice of all the infernal horrors which the ingenuity of barbaric hate can contrive.
THE appalling thing about all this is its fundamental idiocy--the most complete and devastating idiocy the world has seen since the religious wars of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, to say the least. And it is idiotic enough, in all truth for men to take to murdering and torturing one another for any conceivable reason at all. But how much more idiotic, how silly beyond belief, when they take to such practices over a matter concerning which neither side has any positive knowledge--concerning a matter about which neither side really knows anything. A matter about which neither side really knows anything, do I say? Rather, a matter about which both sides might easily know, if they would take a moment out for cool observation, that both are obviously wrong. That the dogma on either side are hopelessly inadequate to the facts already before us.
This is a fight over economics, of course. And yet, and though the economics is solemnly called a science in her so-called institutions of learning, nothing is more certain than that the blamed thing has not one iota of true science in it. For by science we mean the body of facts and the laws governing those facts objectively arrived at and agreed upon by all men competent in the field, with some definite margin of error allowed for. But in economics we have not so much as an agreed body of facts--hardly so much, indeed, as one agreed fact. We have no objectivity. And in place of agreement about the laws of the thing, we have chaos and bedlam.
What we actually have indeed is two conflicting dogmas: the one, called laissez-faire capitalism constructed by a Scotch metaphysician, Adam Smith, on a basis of carefully selected "facts" from the the Eighteenth century in England in which he lived--a deliberate rationalization of the society in which he found himself to be comfortable, and a studied effort to set up the belief that the conditions of that society, left to themselves, were certain to bring on Utopia; and the other, called Marxian Socialism, constructed by a bitter and frustrated neurotic who was also a petty snob, on the basis of just as carefully selected "facts" from his mid-Nineteenth century. Germany, just then entering upon industrialism and so abounding in the horrid examples which abounded everywhere at the point of transition from the agricultural past to the machine present--a deliberate rationalization, in a great part at least, of his own desperation, his hate of the society in which he lived, and his will to destroy it lock, stock, and barrel.
WE HAVE these dogmas, I say. And the systems which their authors built up around them--the inextricably intertwined mass of philosophical and ethical notions which both built into them. We have these, and two vast bodies of disciples and true-believers, trained up from youth in one or the other prejudice and discipline, busily engaged in gathering yet further "materials" to bolster them. We have this--and that, in the ultimate analysis, is about all we do have.
Mind, I am not saying that there are not grains of truth scattered about in both systems. Quite probably there are. There were grains of truth scattered about in the nonsensical aberrations of the medieval alchemist, too--or for that matter in the ravings of the Gnostics and the Rosicrucians. But a Science? Rats! The human race, as yet, knows nothing definite about the business of economics.
Yes, as I said, it does know, when it is rational, one thing--that both systems have been proved inadequate and wrong. Laissez-faire capitalism has failed so visibly, indeed, that, as it takes flight into Fascism it heaves aside its first philosophical principle and becomes simply a naked determination to preserve the status quo by force. And as for Marxian Socialism--look at the thing after it has subsisted in Russia for ten years. A stinking tyranny, indistinguishable from that of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy--the thing is about as far removed from economic and social Utopia as was the criminal regime of the Czars themselves.
To battle for the preservation of the insane mess in which laissez-faire has landed us--to battle for the destruction of that mess and its replacement by the equally insane mess in which Marxism has landed its fanatics: to battle so is senselessly to waste incalculable treasures in human blood and energy, to wipe out the accumulated gains of centuries, both in material goods and in moral standards: is stark mad.
THE ONLY rational thing for the human race to do is to confess its abysmal ignorance; to heave away the cuckoo dogmas of the two rival prophets and boot their howling dervishes into oblivion, park its nasty greed on both sides, the stupid and feral will, on the one hand, to hold onto untenable and unjust advantages, the stupid and feral will, on the other, to grab and wreak vengeance; to set itself cooly to the effort to train up a race of investigators who could approach the matter objectively and find out the laws which (if they exist) do actually rule in economics; to arm itself with actual knowledge, and then, in the light of reason, to set about the creation of the system that will fit with those laws. A long course, certainly, and a painful one. But the only rational one, nevertheless. In the meantime, the only rational stop-gap is compromise and tolerance.
I wouldn't, however, give a dime for the chance that any such way will be taken.
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