May 27 2019 – “There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here” – Paddy Ashdown [1941-2018]
“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here…Dietrich Bonhoeffer…said…’Responsible action must decide not just between right and wrong, but between right and right and wrong and wrong’.
“So it is, exactly, here. There are no blacks and whites, just choices between blacker blacks and whiter whites. There are no triumphal personal qualities, and no triumphant outcomes. Just flawed individuals, who, at a time of what Bonhoeffer referred to as ‘moral twilight’, felt compelled to do the right thing as they saw it…
“In reading this book you may be struck, as I was in writing it, by the similarities between what happened in the build-up to World War II and the age in which we now live. Then as now, nationalism and protectionism were on the rise, and democracies were seen to have failed; people hungered for the government of strong men; those who suffered most from the pain of economic collapse felt alienated and turned towards simplistic solutions and strident voices; public institutions, conventional politics and the old establishments were everywhere mistrusted and disbelieved; compromise was out of fashion; the centre collapsed in favour of the extremes; the normal order of things didn’t function; change – even revolution – was more appealing than the status quo; and ‘fake news’ built around the convincing untruth carried more weight in the public discourse than rational arguments and provable facts.
“Painting a lie on the side of a bus and driving it around the country would have seemed perfectly normal in those days”.
LAST TWITTER ENTRIES – 2018
“Bell shared the Anglo-Catholics’ conviction that the church was not, and must never be, the creature of the state. When he spent Christmas 1914 at Canterbury with the Archbishop, Davidson, he noted in his diary on 29 December that this was the day on which Becket was murdered, and went to the Cathedral to visit the place of his martyrdom. Indeed Becket was to become increasingly influential in the twentieth century Church of England, reminding it that there are times when the church has to stand against the state”
~ Alan Wilkinson [Source: “Britain and the Threat to Stability in Europe, 1918-45” – Ch 5 ‘Bishop Bell and Germany’ – Page 77]
May 25 2019 – “Today’s disturbing echoes of the build up to the second world war” – Guardian – Letters
As Martin Kettle says (Brexit Britain and Weimar Germany are perilously alike, 16 May), there exist in the UK at the moment far too many similarities with Weimar Germany for comfort. It is easy to see parallels in the falling out of love with parliament, the lack of cooperation between parties and the far right’s repeated message of national betrayal, and to link them with a possible surge in support for a rightwing autocracy.
It is worth mentioning, however, that Adolf Hitler’s rise initially was through democratic votes in general elections, with the Nazis becoming the biggest party in the Reichstag after the July 1932 election. It was after the November election of that year when they actually lost ground, when it was decided to offer Hitler the chancellorship, leading to the Enabling Act and the destruction of opposition parties.
Divisions on the left, with the inevitable lack of viable policies to challenge the promise of a strong Germany coming from Hitler, were an important factor in the rise of fascism, and must not be repeated here. The Labour leadership has a duty to provide a united opposition to the threat from the right; if Labour loses the support of its remain voters and their votes are shared around smaller parties, a significant and dangerous similarity could be created, with terrible consequences.
• Martin Kettle points to today’s echoes of 1920s and 1930s Germany. He is far from the only observer to make the point: in his final book, containing riveting biographical essays on individuals who stood up to Hitler, the late Paddy Ashdown wrote: “In reading this book you may be struck, as I was in writing it, by the similarities between what happened in the build-up to World War II and the age in which we now live. Then as now, nationalism and protectionism were on the rise and democracies were seen to have failed, people hungered for the government of strong men; those who suffered most from the pain of economic collapse felt alienated and turned towards simplistic solutions and strident voices … ‘fake news’ built around the convincing untruth carried more weight in the public discourse than rational arguments and provable facts.”Paddy comments wryly: “Painting a lie on the side of a bus and driving it around the country would have seemed perfectly normal in those days.”
Teaching the uncomfortable facts of history is crucially important and we neglect it at our peril.
“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it”