BY PAUL NEWALL
Anyone who holds a patriotic love of this country like me, is often seen to be sat shaking their head at the latest report on TV concerning the Brexit process. Theresa May seems to enter each round of negotiations waving a large white flag while our European allies extract a deal that makes Versailles look like a fair and balanced conclusion to a minor border incursion. I make the comparison with the conclusion to the First World War deliberately because it was a watershed moment – instead of guaranteeing European peace, it made a much larger conflict absolutely unavoidable. This time around negotiations will pit the electorate of Europe against its ruling classes.
The backlash against the settlement in Germany gave rise to the “Stab in the back” narrative which brought first the Freikorps and ultimately the Brownshirts. You may, like me, hate the evil that the Nazis inflicted on the world but their origins rest not with Ernst Rohm or Adolf Hitler, but with the democratic deficit created by a weak government making a lousy deal at their people’s expense.
When the world plummeted into economic meltdown in 1929, Germany, under the weight of paying huge reparations to primarily Britain and France, went into free fall. The population was still suffering with collective shell shock at losing a war they didn’t vote for, and were then subjected to the double whammy of economic depression and hyperinflation. The polarisation of German society saw the rise of two revolutionary forces, the communists and the national socialists. Both were creations of the left – one modelled on Marx, the other modelled on early 19th century statist socialism which had more in common with the French Jacobins than the British Labour Party of the time.
In Britain there was also social upheaval occurring, the ruling classes had been forced to grant universal suffrage in 1928 and started to slowly expand the welfare state as a reaction to the rise of the labour movement, but also the ruling classes were fearful of any further large scale wars, partly for the sensible conviction that the Great War was an astounding waste of lives, but also because they feared a Bolshevik uprising in the midst of economic turmoil and wasteful war. Thus in the 1930’s a mindset started to develop where conflict was not only frowned upon but actually avoided to the detriment of national wellbeing.
I’m seeing memes online of Theresa May’s head superimposed onto pictures of Neville Chamberlain’s body -famously flapping a sheet of paper. But the comparison is wrong. In 1938 the fear of a second Great War was writ large in the British people’s psyche and politicians fearful of revolt in the most part adopted appeasement as a credible geopolitical strategy. The only vocal dissenter was Winston Churchill.
Globally we get a financial downturn every ten to fifteen years, we are at ten years now and by the time the transition period is over we’ll be at twelve years from the last recession. Imagine the turmoil if perchance we are sat in a half in and half out situation with constraints on who we could trade with freely and still subject to the holy writ from the EU with no democratic representation and we fall into a recession.
I’m witnessing a polarisation of our society since the early part of the century that culminated in 2016 with the Brexit vote , I’d like to think that June 23rd was the high tide mark in this polarisation, but it isn’t. is it?
Theresa May has constantly treated Brexit as a difficulty to be overcome rather than an opportunity to ameliorate our national economic model. The excuse her apologists give is the venerated 48% … that she is trying to please everybody in an act of national healing. This of course is nonsense – the average general election is won by a party that polls 45%, there is no reconciliation process to promote national healing because the democratic winner just accepts victory and gets on with implementing its manifesto. If you hold a democratic plebiscite and then basically ignore the result because you don’t like it then what is democracy for ?
In Italy the electorate have elected a fiercely nationalist government that is both progressive left and right, they’ve just had their budget rejected by the EU for being fiscally irresponsible. In Hungary and Poland democratically-elected governments face censure for not wanting further immigration.
In recent history we have seen that where change cannot be achieved through voting then a significant chunk of the population begins to view armed struggle as the only feasible alternative and in times of economic tribulations that increases by a significant factor. Our country is twinned with Greece in capitulation to the Jacobins in Brussels while other national governments fight the corners of their populace.
Where do you think the next locus of civil disorder is going to be?
Guest Writer Paul Newall is a child of the 1960’s from a traditional Labour-supporting household. Paul dabbled with Trotskyism in the 1980’s but then “grew up and thanks to having responsibilities I slowly migrated across the political spectrum until instead of hating Maggie Thatcher I admired her for beating my side in the miners strike”.