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Remember the past

“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.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

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  1. New England Cocky

    The similarities with 1930s Germany are too real. A democratically elected fascist government supported by heavy industrialists with likely interference from the US OSS resulting in the Reichtsag Fire that in turn led to the autocratic Furhrerstat for ‘security reasons’ and the genocidal consequences.

    Now add five major US Banks lending now Nazi Germany 35 MILLION POUNDS STERLING in 1935 through Farben AC, the manufacturers of the death gases, and the development of German subsidiaries for US manufacturing corporations and the scene is set for the increased manufacturing of war materiels and a cold war scenario with a British Parliament and English Upper Classes sympathetic the fascism to protect their material wealth from communism.

    Does this sound a bit like the present communist PRC and USA (United States of Apartheid) scenario spruked by Donnie “Toenails” Trumpery?

  2. Wobbley

    Fascism is the enemy once again and anybody remotely anxious about recent events globally and especially here in Australia should really start to question where the hell the Horriscum government is taking this once great nation. Indure card, drug test for welfare recipients, industrial relations overhauls, press restrictions and raids on journalists, the list goes on.

    This government ticks all fourteen points of fascism easily. Oh and don’t forget racism, the Horriscum regime is, next to little Johnny Coward the most racist we have ever had. Sweet dreams to all the morons who voted for the fascists.

  3. Phil Gorman

    Modern Forms of Fascism?
    Classical Fascism bound the national corporations to the will of the state. Today’s Neo-Fascism has bound many states to the will of multinational corporations. It is really a nascent form of Corpocracy driven by oligarchs and other plutocrats. The US, England, and Australia are examples. China, Russia, parts of South America and the Eastern European Nations are caught in a bind between Classical and Neo-Fascism. Corpocracy has yet to go global. According to author and playwright Dennis Potter this process may still have some way to go.

  4. whatever

    In case some of you people missed it…., when Turnbull was sacked by the LNP and Scotty was elevated to P.M. they had a meeting with the senior echelons of the Public Service to tell them about their wholesale policy capitulation to OneNation/TeaParty populism.
    Most of the Public Servants resigned, and many refused being promoted to fill the empty spaces.
    So, the Minerals Council stepped-up and offered the Coalition an entire workforce of executives to help out.

  5. Jack Cade

    The NRA has offered Trump whatever assistance he needs to defend himself, financial or otherwise.

  6. Andrew J Smith

    Language, just listen to Anglo world and Europe. UK Parliament, past the noise of ‘both sides’.

    Issue is disturbing tropes expressed by Johnson et al. (surrender, betrayal) and elsewhere whipping up emotion and influencing through emotion).

    Well before Brexit former PM Cameron (like Abbott recently in Hungary?), used the verb ‘swarm’ re. ‘immigrants’; insects and Jews have been described similarly..

    Assume the former (or advisor) was naive, not so sure who fed lines to the latter who also (and the PM) cited ‘carrying capacity’, common in eugenics and population literature.

    New England Cocky: there was a credible (BBC doco ’70s) re. US business in pre (& throughout) WWII Germany on YouTube.

    Included IG Farben (Rockie’s Standard Oil), Ford, GM, IBM etc., went back to find on saved list, deleted 🙂

    Eleanor Roosevelt had some tasty views on that mob’s ethics and business interests. Koch’s did not need to reinvent wheel.

  7. Zathras

    “The Day the Nazi Died” – Chumbawamba
    (The resurgence of the far-right after Hess died).

    We’re told that after the war
    The Nazis vanished without a trace
    But battalions of fascists
    Still dream of a master race

    The history books they tell
    Of their defeat in ’45
    But they all came out of the woodwork
    On the day the Nazi died

    They say the prisoner at Spandau
    Was a symbol of defeat
    Whilst Hess remained imprisoned
    And the fascists; they were beat

    So the promise of an Aryan world
    Would never materialize
    So why did they all come out of the woodwork
    On the day the Nazi died

    The world is riddled with maggots
    The maggots are getting fat
    They’re making a tasty meal of all
    The bosses and bureaucrats

    They’re taking over the boardrooms
    And they’re fat and full of pride
    And they all came out of the woodwork
    On the day the Nazi died

    So if you meet with these historians
    I’ll tell you what to say
    Tell them that the Nazis
    Never really went away

    They’re out there burning houses down
    And peddling racist lies
    And we’ll never rest again…
    Until every Nazi dies…

    It’s illegal to display the swastika in Germany so they use the Confederate Flag instead to identify themselves.

  8. andy56

    In my opinion, what we are witnessing is the perfect storm of laizzaires faire capitalism head butting technology. The disrupt-or, technology, is just hitting its stride.

    “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?
    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.”

    What really annoys the shit out of me is the total disregard our intellectual giants have to these issues. I mean , its like if we dont engage it will just go away. You just have to look at the surplus forcasts into the future, these guys have no idea. Everything will fall back into past cycles, a durr? Their plan? More of the same. remember when GST was going to solve all our government problems? It was going to return windfalls to the government, ( by the way werent those windfalls extra taxes?) its now a dead man walking because we aint spending. So whats their solution? Increase the GST. This is the definition of insanity ! It hasnt worked so we gotta keep increasing it. FCK ME DEAD. There is your history lesson.
    As usual, the whole house of cards has to fall down before we get off our collective arses.

  9. andy56

    As technology improves, the cost of any individual item will fall. In theory, it could fall to zero but in practice it doesnt. Other forces are also in play. There is a breakeven point beyond which it becomes uneconomic to make, but that may not stop the production, other forces are in play. There may be a point at which items are just given away to account for surplus production, cheaper to give away than stop production.
    I know it sounds like ” unknown unknowns”, but this is what we are accelerating to. The only way the system can operate is for NEW items to sell, sufficiently different or desirable to keep people buying. But other forces are in play. If people dont have money, they cant buy the item so they are either given the item free, ( 60months interest free, rings a bell no?) or the cost of the item falls to meet demand.( other forces). Negative interest rates also fall under this category.
    The system, or the cycle, is becoming harder and harder to maintain because ultimately its spiraling back down to the black hole. It wont get there because other forces are in play. Production will ultimately reach equilibrium with the market but the problems dont go away. Not everyone can partake at the banquet. Now we are getting to the crux of the issue. WTF do we do with those that dont get a ticket? Just dont ask the happy clapper, not the guy who has given the clap to christianity. Revolution, we have been here before. There is history lesson no 2.

  10. New England Cocky

    Further to my above post.

    Here is evidence for the slow motion development of the Australian Fuhrerstat under Benito Duddo, a former Queensland policeman reportedly under investigation for racial mistreatment of Aboriginal teenagers that caused him to resign from the Queensland Police two weeks before he became eligible for superannuation.

    The too often practised policy of police persons resigning to avoid prosecution for criminal offences may apply in this case.

  11. wam

    I have always loved history for it variable interpretations.
    One of life little pleasures is skipping flat rocks over the water.
    This post is in seen in the rabbottians who warn us of refugees, muslims, sharia, illegals, lefties under the bed, thousands of scientist colluding with the UN dole bludger rorts,
    Over couple of thousand years the poor old jews have copped a bashing for that all boys almanac. White history is based on it The nazis were christians, the neo-nazis are christians and the net gives women access to modern christian values of violence showing how the church didn’t need to keep them out as women are every bit as capable as the men.
    Thanks to a robb erring in the FTA with china we have little risk of china stopping laughing long enough to consider us.
    pps newcocky it is reported that a retired copper dutton is now worth $30m???

  12. josephus

    IBM collaborated, its early computers ably ensuring the listing of Jews. The corporations are sometimes far too cozy with policians. The Greens’ policy to restrict donations is a start yet voters are so easily led by fear and lies eg the old lady who told me she voted LNP because Labor was going to abolish Medicare.
    Despair. Oh the horror, the horror.

  13. Phil

    The writer makes many very valid points and I accept his thrust overall. I wonder if a part of the Australian consumer ‘malaise’ if it can be characterised as that, is part the product of consumption fatigue that has arisen in part due to climate reporting reality that is a daily, even hourly event, and part due to the governments plain stupid ideological opposition to setting up the necessary transition economy so that millions of displaced, under paid, gig economy, ex fossil fuel employees can be employed in meaningful, value adding, hope fulfilling work.

    We have lost at least 6 years while this criminally incompetent and clearly corrupt Liberal/National coalition has been stuffing its own and its backers bank accounts and share portfolios with OUR common wealth.

    This is why we are in this mess, and it’s why the populace is not spending – they see no point – the old economy and its products is largely dead – the consumer products won’t clean the air, hold back the tide, stop the glacier melts – people know they need transition now to a new economy that brings some hope to us all even though many of us realise that still may not be enough, but by hell we’ll face our armageddon fighting instead of like fcking coalition and corporate wimps with huge bank accounts stuffed to the rafters with useless money.

  14. wam

    All christian based societies are anti-semetic, especially in America. The history of the St Louis is a case in point.
    In hitler’s germany 95% were christians.(septics about 75%) So millions of catholics and protestants believed hitler was chosen by god to avenge the death of jesus and consequently they turned the backs or stood b and watched when jews were beaten and murdered. .
    We, Australians, are closet haters not knowing we are anti-semetic, very like the non-racists who booed Adam Goodes. Unlike Adam jews christians and muslims can have anonymity if they chose.
    Unfortunately, boobby made sure the green policy stays irrelevant.
    For each of your senile old woman there are many workers and families who vote for scummo because lasbor is link to the loonies.
    When Albo hears labor and the greens he should answer we all have extremists scummo has hanson ours is dinatale

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