The Charlotte News

Thursday, October 17, 1940



Forgotten Men

Who Said These Things A Great While Ago

In his column today, Raymond Clapper examines the book, "Capitalism The Creator," by Carl N. Snyder, which he yesterday reported as having a great influence on the ideas of Wendell Willkie and as summing up the division between the New Deal view and the Willkie view.

We haven't read the book (though we intend to before the election) and so have no opinion on it. But if Mr. Clapper's report of its contentions are accurate then his characterizations of it as "the classic case for capitalism" is a curious commentary on how little the great classic books of the world have been read, how little the primary source books of our culture have been known even in very high circles.

The classic case for capitalism is actually to be found in Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" published in 1776, and Mr. Snyder does no more than echo that famous but obviously unread book when he contends that inventors, entrepreneurs, and "savers of capital" are the main contributors to civilization.

Smith, indeed, referred everything back to "labor," as have both classical and Marxian economists since. But he made plain that the term, as he used it, was no mere quantitative one which is ultimately about what Mr. Snyder appears to argue.

Henry Thomas Buckle expanded the Smith ideas into a philosophy of history so long ago as 1856-61--in "An Introduction to the History of Civilization in England," another famous but unread book. And as for the general notion that, in the last analysis, only a few members of the human race count, it has been knocking around ever since Plato's "Republic" and was fully developed by many writers of the nineteenth century, notably Thomas Carlyle.


True to Type

Good Humor Over Draft Was Only To Be Expected

The sober Associated Press has reported that the men who registered for the draft yesterday were everywhere cheerful, is a sort of work of supererogation--that is, one which goes beyond what is necessary.

It is one of the most certain and one of the most pleasant things about the American in general that he is cheerful under stress. Henri Barbusse in "Under Fire," made the French soldiers in the last war a somewhat dour though philosophical lot. But the American soldier's philosophy almost invariably took the form of laughter and a homely humor.

His fathers displayed the same sort of jesting spirit, according to all the reports, when they were encountering the not-too-pleasant conditions of pioneer life in the early American wilderness.

It is no Pollyanna sort of thing, bent on having it that everything is sweetness and light. It insists instead in dragging out all the unpleasant features of the situation and dwelling on them at length. And it reserves the right to swear at them constantly and eloquently.

The swearing, however, is usually on the indulgent side without malice, even when there is ground to suspect some of the evils at least might be mitigated. Life, the thing plainly says, is like that, and so wotthehell, Archy, wotthehell.

The English cockney shows something of the same trait in his wry shrugging, but no other people has much of it. It is a pretty good guarantee that the American spirit will hold through any situation, however tough.


A Precedent

Jacksonville Cops Acted With a Model Before Them

Two Greek steamers will have to sail from Jacksonville only partly loaded. They were lying in the St. John's River taking on scrap iron for Japan, and no doubt they thought they began to load in time to get under the Oct. 16 deadline with ease. But they reckoned without the municipal authorities and cops of Jacksonville.

First thing that happened to them was that the cops served notice that they must obey an old anti-noise ordinance, enforced against nobody else, after 10 P.M. and then the city fathers dug up an old Sunday blue law, also ignored for others, which would let them load on Sunday. So the Japanese will have to get along with less than two cargoes of that scrap.

Everybody will sympathize with the sentiments of the Jacksonville boys, of course. After all, that scrap might eventually be used to kill Americans. It will certainly be used to kill friendly Chinese and to injure us by advancing Japan's dream of empire. Maybe the action was justified by that. On the other hand, you can make a devastating argument against the proposition that the end justifies the means. Once it gets established, any end becomes justified by any means. But to that of course the Jacksonville men can answer that at least they have the very highest precedent to act upon--President Roosevelt's delaying of the sailing of the Bremen at the outbreak of the war, and the obvious hope that the British would thereby be enabled to capture it. For better or worse, it looks as though that maxim about the means and the end is already established here.

Framed Edition
[Go to Links-Page by Subject] [Go to Links-Page by Date] [Go to News Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.