Tuesday, November 6, 1928

Shelby, N.C.

C. J. Mabry .. President

J. Nelson Callahan .. Business Manager

W. J. Cash .. Managing Editor

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Site Editor's Note: Cash played football briefly at Wake Forest but quickly gave up the sport for writing. Here, he makes a statement on the game--not to mention our favorite game with the baskets--which holds true a thousand times over in the seventy years intervening this article.

In "France Balks", he writes of the very problems coming from the Versailles Treaty which gave rise to such a reprobate as Hitler in Germany and enabled him to stir part of the populace--not a majority but a one-third plurality--to frenzy over nationalistic "pure German" themes in his campaign of 1932. Observe also in recent terms Cash's comment on the former Yugoslaivia's hopelessly disparate constituency coming out of Versailles.

And in few places is Cash more pointedly prescient than in this Moving Row article published the day of the 1928 election which saw Hoover trounce Democrat Al Smith. Substitute the question of choice for the issue of Prohibition and Cash could as well be talking about the differences in the parties and in regional political preferences which we have come to take for granted over the last thirty-five years or so. The full impact of declining economic prosperity still a year away, the Great Depression would work to galvanize all regions of the country four years hence to be strongly in favor of the broad Federalism of the New Deal. And then Hitler and the Nazis would by 1939 further galvanize the American people into united action not seen since and probably not prior to that time, keeping the Democrats and more liberal social legislation solidly in the favor of the majority of Americans through 1952. Since, however, the picture which Cash paints "for at least the next twenty-five years" has been pretty much, sometimes waxing and waning, with us for the last fifty. Cash did not see the future, but in analyzing the present vis à vis the past, even at age 28, he could fairly predict with uncanny precision what it would look like.

Note Cash's wishful statement of his belief that the "straw man issues" such as "the Negro issue", meaning the attempt to preserve Jim Crow segregation and denial of basic fundamental rights to blacks in the South, would fall away and be replaced at the forefront by issues "which really matter to us", like the economic well-being of the country and the preservation of individual freedom in the face of growing industrialism and big business monopoly. While finally coming true in increments over the last twenty-five years, Cash's articles for The American Mercury during the ensuing five years would show that he quickly disabused himself of this notion, even within the next year, realizing that the South's intense desire to preserve its traditional caste barrier of color would remain for sometime, come hell or high water. And sadly, before any semblance of integration was reached to any degree in the South, it would take the fulfilling through the 1960's of Cash's darker alternative forecast in the last pages of The Mind of the South that the South would be tested in the coming years after 1940 and must meet the challenge of the future or be forced to face and accept the inevitable change through violence and blood. That it chose the latter course verifies that trait of rugged individualism which Cash saw as uppermost in the white Southern heritage, both as a positive attribute and as a "very dangerous one if not kept in check by the positive notion that man is a social creature and that no one has the right to live outside the social organism".

In many ways, Cash, himself, lived outside the white Southern social organism. In order to write about it objectively "such that it might positively pull itself up by its own bootstraps", he had little choice. Unfortunately, too few listened. Like unto the Civil War, the tendency toward denial which runs rampant through Southern life requires that great social issues of which the rest of the country is fully and plainly cognizant at all levels must yet be joined in the front yard with weapons drawn, pointed full stare, and then fired before the South as a whole--its political leadership, its social institutions, and then, by degrees, its larger populace--admits reluctantly that some change must slowly, with far less than even "all deliberate speed", be accepted for the good of all. Ah well, just as we are all equally endowed with certain inalienable rights, we are all equally endowed with certain glaring flaws, chief among which is usually pride.


We are inherently a solemn people. Nowhere is that better exemplified that in the case of football.

The game has become our national one. True, baseball still holds that throne nominally, but only nominally. In fact, the game fails to attract anything like the enormous crowds which stream into the great bowls of the East and Mid-West to watch the big football games. It is a solemn business. Old grads get up in the wee small hours and rush to ride five hundred or a thousand miles to watch a game. And thousands who never saw the inside of the colleges now have become addicts. The student hardly has a place in the picture. Indeed, in some colleges, student papers have begun to inveigh against the commercialization of the sport and propose such radical remedies as student coaches as a cure.

The most curious thing about it all is the solemn piffle which comes from college presidents, various magnificos of many stations, and even from the pulpit to the effect that the game is this and that and the other thing. Now the truth is that football does not exist to build manhood or to train thinkers or as a preparation for a course in differential calculus or super-salesmanship. It may be true that qualities that make for success in the game also make for success in others. Quite likely, the game does develop such qualities. But, primarily, a man must have those qualities or he is unfit for football. The game doesn't make such qualities. It merely requires them. The game is a game. As such, it is sufficient justification in itself. When will we come to admitting that this is true?



Bishop Mouson insists that the Church has not been in politics. No, says His Holiness of Charlotte, politics has invaded the field peculiar to the Church--that of religion and morality.

In which the Bishop is as illogical as usual. If the Christian Church is to enjoy a monopoly of the religious and moral field, it is very clear that it must content itself with controlling morality with the weapons that are naturally its own--that is, persuasion and individual appeal. It is very clear, also, that if the Church, the Methodist Church, which is what the Bishop means, steps outside that field, invades the State, demands and secures the passage of law designed to foster a tenet of its peculiar morality on the people by Force, it has invaded the field of politics and is no longer confining itself to its proper field. And if the Church assumes that right, it follows, inevitably, that proponents of other schemes of morality have the same right.

The Bishop assumes grandly that the Christian Church is in agreement on the matter of Prohibition. Yet, any zany who reads the papers knows better. Who knows best? The Bishop or a Catholic father? Dr. Barton or Bishop Fisk? And the right have Barton and Mouzon to ram their morality down the throats of those who do not accept it? How far may the majority go with its right to rule without setting up tyranny? And what of those religions that are not Christian? The Jews of the country? Must they subscribe to Christian moralities? Is that honestly the spirit of the Christ? Or does it show any conception of the value of human rights? It is not a mere matter of Prohibition. For if it be true, as Mouson claims, that the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches have a monopoly of religion and morals, and if it is true that they have a right to demand that the State enforce their morality in the matter of liquors, what is to prevent their demanding also that the State enforce their dogmas? Their morality in regard to a thousand social customs such as the dance and card-playing? Such moralities are not even Christian in the sense that they are shared by all Christian sects. And, if they were, have we a right to make the United States Christian by Force?



France balks at the cutting of German reparations. That is not surprising. France has never seriously proposed to accept a cent in reparations. Moreover, France does not propose to evacuate the Rhineland. Germany may presently expect the withdrawal of troops from Coblenz and other cities on the East bank perhaps, but if France ever gives up the rich coal basins of the West Bank, the fertile fields of the Palatinate, it will be at the point of a bayonet. And so the old hokum goes on. And so the world mouths of peace and--prepares for war.

The simple and obvious truth is that there will be no possibility of peace in Europe until the heads of present negotiations is completely changed--made to conform to facts. Officially, Germany bears the full blame for the war. Actually, that story has long since been exploded. It has been clearly shown by documents--by such eminent professors as Harry Elmer Barnes, to mention only one--that Poincaire, the chauvinist, was primarily responsible for the war. He, with Izvolski of Russia, lay the groundwork which made the war possible in 1914. His motives were a passion for return of Alsace and Lorraine and a desire to make France the foremost military power of the Continent. Both aims he accomplished. The commercial rivalries of Germany and Britain were played upon to bring about the war. And Lord Morley, by his reports of the conversations of the English Cabinet, has established beyond doubt that Lord Grey was the man who actually made the war a certainty, has made it clear that Belgium served merely as an excuse. And, indeed, it has been shown that England and France had drawn plans for the invasion of Belgium.

That is not to canonize Germany. Her motives were as guilty as those of others. However, the Potsdam story has long since been exploded. It is clear that Germany sought to defer war for eight years in order to bring her naval strength up to that of Britain. She fought in 1914 because she had to, because the Czar had already mobilized his army.

But the iniquitous Treaty of Versailles is based on the notion that Germany alone was to blame. It was probably the most brutal treaty framed since the Middle Ages. It hems Austria, an industrial state, about with tariffs, starves her. It places the German folk of the Tyrol under the brutal yoke of Mussolini, deprives them of their language, their civil rights, their religion. It hands over the wealth of Germany to France--and now she may not be prised loose save at the price of war. It commits the final absurdity of the Danzig Corridor. It places ten nationalities under one government--that of Jugo-Slavia. It creates all sorts of upstart little States to menace of the peace of the world with their absurd little quarrels. It creates a Poland to be a catspaw for France. It gives Alsace to France, though Alsace is a German state as everybody who ever visited it knows. Moreover, Alsace was originally German, having been raped from the Palatinate in 1648 by Louis XIV.

England has recognized her error in attempting to completely crush out Germany. She is ready for revision. But not France. Only one nation in the world is powerful enough to disregard the diplomatic amenities and force a showdown. That is the United States. But so long as our foreign policies are in the hands of the Coolidges and the Kelloggs, there is no hope of that.


"We are no more than a moving row
of fantastic shapes that come and go."


Tomorrow we shall know whether Al Smith or Herbert Hoover will be President for the next four years. Whatever the outcome, the election will, in perspective, be no more than a dogfall, an incidental victory in the battle joined. There will be nothing final about it, nothing decisive. For, I think, the campaign has been no more than a prelude to the coming storm, the struggle which must, I believe, inevitably engross American politics for the next quarter century, at least.

In the beginning, the campaign resolved itself into chaos. But, at the end, certain things begin to grope to the surface of the formless whirl, lines begin to fix themselves amidst the dizzying confusion, new armies arise, new standards are raised. And these lines, these armies, I am convinced,--fluid, unfixed as they yet are--are those which will be limited, set, consolidated during the next four years.


It is probably not too much to say that the traditional Democratic and Republican parties are on their last legs. The names will be retained--but that will be all. What we are probably about to witness is the formation of parties on strictly drawn lines of Conservatism and Liberalism. It is, perhaps, fitting that the Democratic Party, inheritor of the tradition of Jefferson, should become the Liberal party, that the Republican Party, heir to the Hamiltonian tradition, should be the Conservative. Yet pure chance has probably been the deciding factor. The movement has been long coming. There was Bryan, whose liberalism in the fields of politics and economics gradually died out after the beginning of the war to give place to the Bourbon reaction of Harding and Coolidge. And there was Roosevelt who conceivably might have made the Republican Party the Liberal one had it not been for the war.

First of all, we shall probably be witness to a great battle for the control of the Democratic Party. That will mean the inevitable shifting of that part of the South which is militantly dry--if, indeed, it be so and stands by its convictions--to the Republican Party. For if Smith is elected, it is very clear that the Democratic Party is fore-ordained to carry the banner of modification of the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act. If he is not elected, the outcome will probably be the same. The party is already identified with the issue and the greater part of the Democratic voters of the country probably wish it to be that way. That being true, it is inevitable that the Democratic Party be the party of Liberalism in social legislation, the sworn enemy of cramping laws, the sworn champion of individualism in personal habits.


By the same token, the Democratic Party will carry the flag of anti-clericism. Dr. Edward Martin, editor of Harper's, points out that one of the most potent things which has emerged in the campaign has been a determined protest against the meddling of the Methodist boards with Congress and the blackjacking of that body with threats by the Anti-Saloon League. The breach between the bishops and the Democrats is unlikely to heal. Clearly, then, it will fall upon the party to fight the battle of absolute separation of Church and State, in spirit as well as in letter. That means losses in the South, but it means also that the political complexion of the East will be completely changed.

Ironically, the Republican Party is placed in the position of having to fight the battles of the present liquor laws whether it desires it or not. It has gained powerful allies. But as the price, it will have to defend paternalistic legislation in the social field while battling it in the economic field. As the champion of laissez-faire, of private ownership, it will appeal to the South, which is yet so young in industry as to retain all the traditional Conservatism of early Nineteenth Century England. But the Democratic doctrines of public ownership of natural resources will appeal powerfully in the East and the Progressive West. The belief that laissez-faire is a brutal dogma, that Big Business must be limited to preserve Small Business and the worker--flourishes in the old industrial regions.


Again, the cleavage is likely to be, more or less, on rural and urban lines. The man in the streets in the cities is naturally a Liberal in economic matters and, because irritating contact has taught him to value his individualism, one in the social sense also. The farmer is traditionally a Conservative. That is, of course, only partly true, as witness the case of the Progressive in the West. But wide spaces and little interference cause the farmer to care for abstract liberties, makes him an advocate of paternalistic legislation in the social field. Particularly is that true in questions having directly or indirectly to do with morals.


So--I think that we are going to see the final break of the things that have been. The Bloody Shirt, the Negro issue, the Grand Old Party, the Glories of Democracy--all the old watchwords, I think, are going to be cast aside. In short, we are going to quit battling over straw men and go after the things that really matter to us. I expect the East, not the South, to become the stronghold of the Democratic Party. I expect the West and part of the South, at least, not the East, to become the stronghold of the Republican Party. Because of the possible opportunity of the Negro to exert a balance of power, we may yet see the ultimately ironic spectacle of the Republican Party raising the standard of "white supremacy!"

I think sectional lines are breaking up. I think we are coming to think in national terms and to fight, therefore, over national issues. I think we shall presently have a referendum on liquor control, though it may be that it will be successfully headed off. I think we will come to a showdown on the questions of how far a majority may go in forcing its opinions, its morals, on a minority, of whether we shall have government ownership of national resources or private. It is altogether possible that we may see far-reaching changes in the basic structure of our Government, in the woof of our political thinking.

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