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Daily Mail [UK]: Will 2012 Be the New 1932?


COMMENT: As things dete­ri­o­rate, a grow­ing num­ber of voic­es are echo­ing a warn­ing I’ve sound­ed for decades.

In the arti­cle below, Dominic Sand­brook notes that the col­lapse of the glob­al econ­o­my dur­ing the Great Depres­sion drove the des­per­ate into the arms of polit­i­cal extrem­ism.

Not­ing the inabil­i­ty of the feck­less coali­tion gov­ern­ment in Britain to deal with the prob­lem and the sim­i­lar inabil­i­ty of for­eign gov­ern­ments to stem the eco­nom­ic hem­or­rhag­ing, Sand­brook note that many Britons turned to the fas­cists of Oswald Mose­ly’s orga­ni­za­tion.

Although Mose­ley was not, ulti­mate­ly, tri­umphant, Hitler was in Ger­many.

Fear­ing that the col­lapse of the Euro could pro­duce a sim­i­lar phe­nom­e­non in Europe, Sand­brook asks if this new year will be the “New 1932.”

Giv­en our past exam­i­na­tions of the EMU as the real­iza­tion of the Third Reich’s plans for eco­nom­ic dom­i­na­tion of Europe and the World, one must ask the ques­tion as to whether or not the present state of affairs was intend­ed from the begin­ning.

“The Spec­tre of 1932: How a Loss of Faith in Politi­cians and Democ­ra­cy Could Make 2012 the Most Fright­en­ing Year in Liv­ing Mem­o­ry” by Dominic Sand­brook; Dai­ly Mail [UK]; 12/31/2011.

EXCERPT: . . . . For the most chill­ing par­al­lel, though, we should look back exact­ly 80 years, to the cold win­try days when 1931 gave way to 1932.

Then as now, few peo­ple saw much to mourn in the pass­ing of the old year. It was in 1931 that the Great Depres­sion real­ly took hold in Europe, bring­ing gov­ern­ments to their knees and plung­ing tens of mil­lions of peo­ple out of work.Then as now, the cri­sis had tak­en years to gath­er momen­tum. After the Wall Street Crash in 1929 — just as after the bank­ing cri­sis of 2008 — some observers even thought that the worst was over.

But in the sum­mer of 1931, a wave of bank­ing pan­ics swept across cen­tral Europe. As the Ger­man and Aus­tri­an finan­cial hous­es tot­tered, Britain’s Labour gov­ern­ment came under fierce mar­ket pres­sure to slash spend­ing and cut ben­e­fits . . .

. . . . And while Left-wing intel­lec­tu­als were drawn to the sup­pos­ed­ly utopi­an promise of the Sovi­et leader Josef Stal­in — who turned out to be a bru­tal tyrant — thou­sands of ordi­nary peo­ple flocked to the ban­ners of the British Union of Fas­cists, found­ed in the autumn of 1932 by the for­mer Labour mav­er­ick Sir Oswald Mosley.

Nev­er before or since has the far Right com­mand­ed greater British sup­port — a wor­ry­ing reminder of the poten­tial for eco­nom­ic frus­tra­tion to turn into dem­a­gog­ic resent­ment. . . .

. . . . But the most com­pelling par­al­lels between 1932 and 2012 lie over­seas, where the eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion was, if any­thing, even dark­er.

Eighty years ago, the world was strug­gling to come to terms with an entire­ly new finan­cial land­scape. In August 1931, the sys­tem by which cur­ren­cies were pegged to the val­ue of gold had fall­en apart, with mar­ket pres­sure forc­ing Britain to pull the pound off the gold standard.Almost overnight, the sys­tem that was sup­posed to ensure glob­al eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty was gone.

And as inter­na­tion­al efforts to coor­di­nate a response col­lapsed, so nations across the world fell back on self-inter­est­ed eco­nom­ic pro­tec­tion­ism. . . .

. . . . Above all, though, the eyes of the world back in 1932 were fixed on Ger­many. As the Weimar Repub­lic stag­gered towards obliv­ion, an obscure Aus­tri­an painter was set­ting his sights on supreme pow­er.

With ris­ing unem­ploy­ment eat­ing away at the bonds of demo­c­ra­t­ic civil­i­ty, the Nation­al Social­ist Par­ty was with­in touch­ing dis­tance of gov­ern­ment.

And in the last days of 1932, after the tech­nocrats and gen­er­als had failed to restore order, Pres­i­dent Paul von Hin­den­burg began to con­tem­plate the unthink­able — the prospect of Adolf Hitler as Chan­cel­lor of Ger­many.

We all know what hap­pened next. Indeed, by the end of 1932 the world was about to slide towards a new dark age, an age of bar­barism and blood­shed on a scale that his­to­ry had nev­er known.

Eighty years on, it would be easy to sit back and reas­sure our­selves that the worst could nev­er hap­pen again. But that, of course, was what peo­ple told each oth­er in 1932, too.

The les­son of his­to­ry is that tough times often reward the des­per­ate and dan­ger­ous, from angry dem­a­gogues to anar­chists and nation­al­ists, from seething mobs to expan­sion­ist empires.

Our world is poised on the edge of per­haps the most impor­tant 12 months for more than half a cen­tu­ry. If our lead­ers pro­vide the right lead­er­ship, then we may, per­haps, mud­dle through towards slow growth and grad­ual recov­ery.

But if the Euro­pean elite con­tin­ue to inflict need­less hard­ship on their peo­ple; if the mar­kets con­tin­ue to erode faith in the euro; and if West­ern politi­cians waste their time in pet­ty bick­er­ing, then we could eas­i­ly slip fur­ther towards dis­con­tent and dis­as­ter.

The expe­ri­ence of 1932 pro­vides a des­per­ate­ly valu­able les­son. As a result of the deci­sions tak­en in those 12 short months, mil­lions of peo­ple lat­er lost their lives.

Today, on the brink of a new year that could well prove the most fright­en­ing in liv­ing mem­o­ry, we can only pray that our his­to­ry takes a very dif­fer­ent path.


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