Indeed, Cash’s idiosyncratic language and logic, almost bizarre at times, does raise serious questions about his mental stability.Finding fault with the South is one thing, but Cash’s unreasonable rage towards the region renders his reasoning incoherent.
And, indeed, a thinker in the South is regarded logically as an enemy of the people, who, for the common weal, ought to be put down summarily – for, to think at all, it is necessary to repudiate the whole Southern scheme of things, to go outside God’s ordered drama and contrive with Satan for the overthrow of Heaven.” Cash falls back on his sham psychology to diagnose the South’s efforts to prevent textile mills from unionizing.
When business owners in the Northeast, Midwest, and West resist efforts to unionize their companies, it is generally attributed to pragmatic business reasons, a reluctance to surrender management prerogatives, a desire to contain operating costs, and so on.
But Cash claims that the South’s resistance to unions is based on an ongoing regional mental disorder, characterized by flawed “socio-psychological” preconceptions that haven’t changed since antebellum days.
Its plantation mentality dictates that mill workers, who are simply slaves, must not rise above their fixed place in the sanctified Southern hierarchy.
It was foisted upon generations of America’s college students, and it formed the basis of their understanding of the South.
The word “mind” in the title sets the tone for the book which has been described as a “socio-psychological history” of the South.
As one reviewer put it, South Carolinian Wilbur Cash conducted “a psychoanalysis of his own native land.” Indeed, the book is replete with clinical-sounding terminology, such as “defense mechanism” and other Freudian theories.
Freud’s psychoanalytical hypotheses have long been discredited, but were in common usage when Cash wrote his book.
What particularly chafed Davidson was Cash’s oversimplification of Southerners, a one-size-fits-all caricature of the region’s enormous and varied population.