“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
An aphorism written by the Spanish/American philosopher George Santayana in the book, The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress.
The date 4 October is significant to many of London’s East Enders. On this day in 1936 their great grandfathers and great grandmothers fought a pitched battle with police to thwart the Black Shirts of the British Union of Fascists, led by arch Conservative Tory Sir Oswald Mosley.
In the Battle of Cable Street 20,000 East Enders barricaded their borough, to bar Mosley’s Black Shirts from entering the largely Jewish community of White Chapel.
The ensuing violence between police and residents ended when the commissioner informed Mosley he would not take responsibility.
The commissioner told Mosley the cowardly Black Shirts could not march with the protection of a police escort. Thus the phrase “they shall not pass” entered the popular anti-fascist lexicon.
Five days after the Battle of Cable Street on 9 October 1936, 650 members of the International Brigades arrived in Alicante, to fight thousands of fascists in the long, bloody Spanish Civil War. This carnage marked the prelude to World War 2.
Fast forward to September 2019. A New York real estate developer tells representatives of the United Nations globalism is dead and claims the era of the patriot has begun.
But within days of this speech, Democrats issue the first subpoena to impeach the real estate developer. The world gasps at startling revelations of complicity between the developer and a Ukrainian actor, comedian and television writer, who as it turns out, is at war with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, 11 judges of the Supreme Court unanimously declare the prorogation of Parliament illegal. But an unchastened Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to Parliament, and in a torrent of twittering bile doubles down on his political opponents.
The bitterness and hatred of the 1930s, deployed so effectively by Mosley, is again rampant across parts of the United Kingdom. Even though the rise of oligarchs and totalitarians appears checked for the moment, the same old untruths which bolstered Mosley and other gangsters of his time are re-emerging.
Anti-Semitism is the most insidious of these lies.
Thousands of anti-Semitic memes circulate on social media. Many target the British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But perhaps the worst example is the phoney photograph of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, supposedly standing side by side with George Soros, the much touted arch-villain of anti-Jewish internet conspiracy theories.
Then there is the astounding conflation by right wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza that the left is using techniques popularised by Goebbels to deploy Thunberg as a corruptor of the world’s children. Cick on the link above to read.
For me the most troubling similarity between October 1936 and now is the parlous state of global economics. Deflation stalked the world in the decade after the Great Depression. And despite the best efforts of the spruikers of a contemporary Budget surplus in Australia, deflation is once again sucking the life out of both the national and international economy.
Put simply deflation occurs when prices fall because the supply of goods is higher than demand. For example: how many LED TVs can one household accommodate? A more complex instance is how many badly built high-rise home units can be bought and sold?
A train ride from Parramatta west of Sydney to Central station, reveals hundreds of empty unit blocks and just as many abandoned building sites.
You do not need a multi-hued graph to demonstrate the fact working people are not spending. The increase of ‘for lease’ signs in cities, towns and suburbs across the nation, is a stark testament to deflation, which in turn leads to even less demand for goods or home units. The insidious cycle continues its downward spiral in a sequence almost impossible to break.
And yet even level-headed economics journalists write thousands of words extolling the rise and rise of this or that stock market or bourse, never once stopping to pay heed to the economic catastrophe unfolding in Argentina and Venezuela, or crippling nations the length and breadth of Africa.
The only country in the world paying attention to the travails of these nations is the People’s Republic of China – the mass incarceration of Uighurs notwithstanding.
Back in the dark October days of 1936, when the upper class twit Sir Oswald Mosley strutted the streets of London, the Soviet Union was the world’s great bugaboo. In the same year the world gasped at the ‘magnificence’ of Germany’s staging of the Olympic Games.
October 1 this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, which, according to Titanium Man Scott Morrison, is both an existential and real threat to Australia.
His all-together foolish and bumbling of a state visit to the United States might accelerate the patently obvious down turn in the national economy, especially if China pulls the plug on all inbound investment in Australia.
With a winter drought morphing into a summer fire storm, with ABARE predicting a 28 per cent downturn in the summer harvest, it is time for wise policy, diplomacy, and a restraint on the rhetoric of hate.
George Santayana’s aphorism, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” is inscribed on a plaque at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.