The Charlotte News

April 3, 1941



"Wave of the Past":

Mr. Cash Gloats As Mr. Markham Capably Answers Mrs. Lindbergh

By W. J. Cash

Charlotte News Associate Editor

Most effective answer to Ann Morrow Lindbergh which has yet been published is that of R. H. Markham, in a little booklet of 55 pages issuing from the University of North Carolina Press.

Mrs. Lindbergh called her own little book, "The Wave of the Future." In it she accepted the idea, obviously shared by her husband and his old mentor, Dr. Alexis Carrel, that Nazism is the necessary shape of things to come.

Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that she accepted Nazism and the other totalitarian political and philosophical systems as necessary stages in the development of a New order which should be based on the same central ideas. She definitely repudiated the cruelty of the Nazis, but she still thought that Democratic society was incurably ill and that the Nazis were pointing in the right direction.

Basis for Mrs. Lindbergh's notion seems to be the idea of Oswald Spengler--or rather the idea that Spengler did not invent, but popularized over the last 25 years. In brief, it is that society is an organism like man himself, that has its springtide, its flowering maturity, and its old age ending in eventual death.


Spengler introduced a great deal of "evidence" to back up this concept, which consisted in the historical fact that no society has existed indefinitely, and all empires have reached a maximum peak and then waned.

At the bottom, his argument seems still to be based on a gratuitous assumption, drawn from false parallels with natural science.

Mr. Markham, at least, is devastating in his analysis of Mrs. Lindbergh's arguments. He shows that far from being anything new, Nazism is really "The Wave of the Past"--which is how he titles his book. Brutal coercion, the regimentation of man, the doctrine that the individual did not matter, that only the State--which, when you analyze, translates itself into a little group of favored individuals who have power in their hands--was worthwhile: all these things are as old as Sumer and Babylon, as old essentially as Cro-Magnon man and his Neanderthal predecessor.

And then he turns to democracy--to show brilliantly that it is not to be judged as something which has been tried fully and found wanting. To say that, he thinks, would be as foolish as to condemn Christianity on the same basis.


Both represent the slow fumbling of humanity toward the ideal of the good life. Sometimes they have surged forward powerfully, sometimes they have fallen back in feeble despair, but always in the long pull, with infinite patience, they have moved toward the light, breaking the bonds of cruelty and force. New ones formed, indeed, but the total added up finally to gain for man's happiness and his spirit.

Democracy is an ideal, as is Christianity. And neither can be judged as failures because of their grave shortcomings, because of the stupidity and cruelty that have flourished under the cloak of both. If both had utterly failed--perhaps. But they haven't. Curiously, in the great countries, like the United States and Britain, they have come closest to it. But in the small ones--does anybody actually believe that life in the Nazi or Russian or Fascist madhouse is a better thing than was life in the Scandinavian countries before the foul blight of Hitler fell upon them?

Mr. Markham, who has been a minister and a newspaperman and has lived many years in the Balkan countries, writes with great and moving eloquence, with a fine mastery of the English tongue. I am glad to see it. I have always suspected that Mrs. Lindbergh gets most of hearing only because of her fine skill in writing.

The book may be had from the University of North Carolina for 25 cents in paper binding, one dollar in cloth. I hope it gets read by millions of Americans.


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