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Blog all about it

Stephen Hornsby-Smith

Perhaps Britain was the pre-1st World War superpower, the only superpower that was overstretched and beginning to show the strain of over-industrialization trying to compensate in its Empire spread so thinly. Moreover, it was hard to reinforce, govern and beat off the growing competition, as Britain was exhausted at such rapid industrial transformation before and not just after the 1st WW.

Trench warfare would lead to stagnation and stalemate and Britain did not have the infrastructure to accommodate the nation shell-shocked by mass slaughter on the battlefields of The Somme etc that spread doubt and fear in its colonies. Social change internationally ruptured by the Bolshevik revolution saw political emergence of the Labour party that was not so radical and alarming when centuries of careful reform had been traumatized and ditched overnight; the aristocracy even 'didn't know its place' and neither did the war generation as a whole. Even the reforming Labour party could not prevent a National Strike in 1926, and the Labour leadership stumbled into the catastrophic Wall street Crash in 1929. Keynesian economics froze the American economy and my grandfather was one of thousands who manned the coal trains etc to stop 1926 becoming 1917 in Blighty.

But was the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia orchestrated by the forces of politics or by the struggle for food and bare essentials,unable to survive another winter without the tools to defend Russia from the German forces? Perhaps the power vacuum between the 'Eastern Front' and the heart of Russian aristocratic hubris became horrendous enough to spark a national cry for help? Or was it a testament to the very appeasement of German forces a generation later that would herald Nazi German intimidation of Europe? Perhaps then European 20th century Appeasement started in Soviet Russia in 1917? It had succeeded because of the a tenuous and somewhat toxic nature of the relationship between Russian business and the top of the social tree in Russia had torn asunder the fabric and lubricant of modernization that the Soviets later would claim 'their own' rather than the international modernization progress that industrialization and commercialization swept over the all of the West? Industrialization and its military component would be the very competitive ingredient that would engulf the world by 1939, and for all his boasts of anti-capitalism, Stalin chose the weapon of military arrogance that destroyed the so called ideals of internationalism and equality by bankrolling his agenda of macho military nationalistic consumerism. If the West had calculated that a Russian revolution would be useful reconnaissance for the West to test yet to crush by watching from the sidelines economic poverty and mass hunger by the 'inevitability' of failed crops under Soviet experimentation, then it had underestimated the very international inevitability of industrialization that even Stalin and the Soviet union couldn't cock-up !

In fact Chamberlain might not have been an appeaser in the 1930s in Britain at all. He couldn't resist being the talker of the same contemptuous language of Hitler vis-a-vis the brokering of throwing Hitler a bone (Czechoslovakia) and getting Hitler's trust, whilst trying to let Nazi troops intimidate Stalin geographically enough to spark-off a ' Stalin and Hitler into their own dust-up !' without incurring any loss to Britain. Indeed, Chamberlain didn't fire the pistol of British rearmament specifically to get Hitler that he could fight Stalin knowing Britain wasn't prepared militarily to charge-in once Stalin and Hitler were done. Perhaps Churchill at least offered to Hitler that Churchill's call for massive British rearmament was showing Hitler enough of the stumps to reassure Hitler that Britain wasn't unprotected but not enough to be 'needing an immediate war footing.' Churchill was on 'retainer as a war-mongerer' by Chamberlain as insurance against not being seen as appeasement by running away ! Of course, Hitler and Stalin pre-empted Chamberlain's tactic of provoking Hitler and Stalin to fight each other to the death by signing the Molotov-Ribbentropp agreement that utterly exposed the failure of Chamberlain's judgement. But gamble he did, but he did have solid reasoning behind it : The Spanish Civil War in 1933-36 illustrated a British policy 'success' of avoiding conflict by letting Stalin fight against Hitler, General Franco and Mussolini . He just wanted to bathe in the British public's euphoria at peaceful and stable Britain whist manipulating others to do it's fighting. Suddenly Chamberlain played his last trick by giving Churchill the floor of the House of Commons to engage the British people but with his failed record at Gallipoli in the 1st WW, to get rid of a 'peripheral has been' (Churchill), but of course Churchill surpassed himself and made himself the beating heart of every British man ,woman and child. Hitler should have taken on Stalin because Hitler and Stalin were no match for Churchill !


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