Happy New Year?
My friends often accuse me of being a pessimist, and I confess that I am no Dr Pangloss, yet I contend that it is rather the result of experience, a knowledge of history, and my involvement with politics that has made me a realist, and therefore aware of how often optimistic idealists are proved wrong.
Karl Marx famously remarked that "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce", and, from our perspective, in the first decades of the 21st Century, looking back to the period between the World Wars, we certainly seem to be living up to that, although it does seem likely to be more tragedy than farce. The parallels are not exact, and the chronological order differs, but there are eerie similarities.
That previous era began with a global pandemic, and although Covid was much less serious than the Spanish flu, we have nevertheless experienced a major world health emergency in the past few years, and are yet to see the end of the problems it has caused.
In 1929 the Wall Street crash led on to the great depression, while in our time the financial crisis of 2008 has had an extremely detrimental effect on the economies of the world. Together with the costs of fighting Covid we are now faced with rampant inflation. At the height of the pandemic I remarked that the government could not spend vast amounts, unfunded by income, on PPE etc., without such a result. Despite what many believe, a government does not have money of its own, but relies on income to fund expenditure, and, although careful, long term borrowing may have a beneficial effect the truth is that, if the state spends money it does not have, by the expansion of the money supply, it inevitably decreases the actual value of the money in the economy. This in turn increases the cost of everything, and is the main cause of inflation, although external factors can also generate problems.
During the pandemic the government was obliged to massively overspend, and therefore, if inflation is to be controlled, must either raise the excess through taxes, or reduce expenditure to be lower than income. It is necessary to impose tax rises, or benefit cuts, as the alternative is runaway inflation, which will destroy savings, and the strength of the economy. All this is well known to economists but, for political reasons, many just ignore these basic facts. There is no magic money tree, and, if the economy is to be returned to anything like equilibrium, no easy solution. Supporters of Keynes may disagree, but they should remember that limited, and targeted, excess sending is very different from emergency expenditure in the face of a global disaster.
In November 1923 the Nazis attempted a putsch to gain power in the Germany, which failed, while this December a group of right wing extremists tried, again unsuccessfully to overturn the current German government. In the thirties the international order was put under threat, and, in 1939, eventually destroyed, by the ambitions of an European despot, while now we watch as the Russian dictator returns to the policies of the tank and the gun in the Ukraine.
In 1936 the monarchy was endangered by the actions of Edward VIII, a weak, vain and unintelligent man, who put his obsession with an American divorcee above any concepts of duty, while now we see Prince Harry, a courageous, but rather easily led person, allowing his uxorious passion for one who is clearly a therapy obsessed, Californian, prima donna, to lead him down a path where he is damaging his own family by giving his support to false claims, which are demonstrably motivated by one who has a chip on her shoulder a mile wide. This is absolutely nothing to do with race, but due to the narcissistic culture of which she is a prime example, whining from her luxurious mansion about how hard done by she and her husband are, while millions endure hardship, and in the Ukraine, death by bombing.
In the run up to the Second World War a large proportion of the political class, backed by the media, sought to appease, rather than oppose the dictators, while in our own time those who wish to see this country governed by a foreign power in Brussels have sought to ignore the clearly expressed will of the British people to have nothing to do with the single European state being constructed by the European union, desiring instead to hand away our status as an independent nation, placing unelected bureaucrats in charge of our destiny. Given that the earlier age ended in the conflagration of the most destructive war in human history, we must hope that that aspect of the time is not repeated, as nuclear weapons would ensure that the result was a final tragedy for humanity. Only a cockeyed optimist could believe that this is not entirely possible.
In the days when the Catholic Church was the dominant force in Europe the Jesuits said that, if they had control of a child's education up to the age of seven, then the child was theirs for life. In only twelve years of Nazi despotism the indoctrination of German youngsters produced the fanatics of the Hitler Youth, in the Soviet Union the youth organisation, the Komsomol, sought to make every aspect of its members' life be in accordance with Party doctrine, while the indoctrination of Chinese youth created Mao's Red Guards, with the intention of purging all capitalist and traditional elements from China, spreading devastation across the country.
We may feel that we have avoided these sort of excesses but, in the democratic West, particularly in the UK and the USA, we have allowed left liberal lunatics to take control not only of our universities, but also of our schools, where they have been poisoning youngsters with their woke ideas, and this has now led to polls showing that a majority of under 35s have been corrupted, so that they support campaigns to denigrate our past, and our democratic institutions, while approving of promoting the arrogant demands of those who claim the right to use medical procedures on pre pubescent youngsters in the name of 'trans' rights, and seeing nothing wrong in suppressing free speech via cancellation of those with whom they disagree.
In time, when this generation takes power, they will undoubtedly undermine our democratic society by attempting to implement these insane policies, and they will probably succeed. However, in the long term they will achieve nothing, as those despotic regimes which do not subscribe to such foolishness will eventually overwhelm a West which insists on contemplating its own navel, instead of defending its erstwhile values, and they will then put an end to all this nonsense. Unfortunately it will also mean an end to democracy.
I used to believe that the political class of the late 1930s, with the honourable exception of Churchill, and his allies, was the worst ever inflicted on these islands, but I am afraid that those with whom we are now burdened exceed even the former for incompetence, selfishness, and ineptitude. They are incapable of giving a straight answer to a straight question. If one asked during a downpour "Is it raining?" they would require to consult their spin doctors before replying, and they are trained never to answer "No", or "Yes" to anything. The vast majority are only interested in advancing their own careers, and only seem animated when attacking their supposed political opponents, who actually share the same attitudes. Many are still trying to reverse Brexit, ignoring the democratically expressed will of the people, so that they may have opportunities to obtain obscenely well paid sinecures in Brussels.
Some of my regular opponents in the local press live in cloud cuckoo land, for instance believing that car ownership could be replaced by public transport. It might be possible in central London, but anyone living in small villages and hamlets in rural areas would effectively be trapped in their locality, those unable to walk far being rendered housebound. They also show their ignorance when they claim that the UK is somehow more to blame than other nations for the atmospheric pollution they decry. The fact is that, in the last decade China alone, has emitted more carbon dioxide than we have since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
In any case none of this is relevant, given that to blame climate change on humanity is incorrect, as it is actually due to natural processes over which we have no control. It was easy for people to approve the activists, the Sebastians and Sophias of Extinction Rebellion, when the heating worked, and the weather was temperate, but, as we plunge into what may very well be a long, hard winter, that approval will vanish like the morning dew. We learned recently that the Greens in Belgium are blocking the export to the UK of materials necessary to maintain our nuclear deterrent. Why on Earth is such a vital matter reliant on foreign supplies?
The government seems unwilling to take any sort of effective action: against the spoilt, green brats, as they block our roads; against the large number of illegal immigrants invading Kent, pressurising an already crumbling infrastructure; or against the lunatics of woke as the latter indoctrinate our younger generations at schools and universities. They wring their hands over the absurdities of the 'trans' lobby, but do nothing to stop the drugging, and mutilation, of children in the name of a specious equality for a tiny minority. Promises are made, and then deferred, or cancelled altogether, while policies are announced, which will not be actual acted upon until years into the future. Given the need to secure our own domestic supplies of energy why are we not ignoring the nonsense of net zero, refilling the gas storage areas, introducing fracking, reopening the coal mines, and going all out for tidal and nuclear power, rather than leaving our people to shiver during power cuts? The absurd virtue signalling by these parliamentary pygmies is nauseating, as they fail the people time and time again.
On the 2nd September 1939 the patriotic, and anti-appeasement MP, Leo Amery, demanded that Arthur Greenwood, speaking for Labour, should "Speak for England" against the vacillating Chamberlain. Where now is someone of that calibre to shame the politicians into putting the country and its people first? Perhaps it is too much to hope that any individual can reverse the tide.
The greatest condemnation of a similarly contemptible set of politicians was uttered by Cromwell in April 1653, when he dismissed the Rump. It is too long to quote in full, but even parts make clear the appropriateness for our current age:
"Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! In the name of God, go!".
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Unless the political elite wake up to the reality they will find themselves swept away by a tide of opposition from those who would rather be warm, and free to express whatever opinions they chose, than bask in the self-righteousness the former seems to regard as so virtuous.
In conclusion, whenever my wife and I have attended a New Year event I always question why so many seem to greet the New Year with such applause, given the likelihood that things may very well be worse in the following twelve months. If that makes me a pessimist then so be it, but I suppose we can always hope against hope that things may yet turn out better than we expect.