Saturday, December 03, 2005

A late Post

We have below from a popular historian some thoughts on the eve of WWII and the players who made it possible:

Chamberlain drew around himself an inner circle of subservient mediocrities, most of them knights remote from the practice of chivalry. Sir John Simon, a serpentine lawyer described as a snake in snake's clothing. Sir Samuel Hoare...: he was said to have 'passed from experience to experience, like Boccaccio's virgin, without discernible effect upon his condition.' Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for Coordination of Defence, had little ability, less power and no perceptiveness: 'He could look with frank and fearless gaze at any prospect, however appalling--and fail to see it....' And Sir Kingsley Wood, who on the outbreak of war opposed the bombing of munition works in Germany because they were private property....

Piers Brendon, The Dark Valley. Vintage: New York, 2002. p. 611.

As Franco explained to the Italian Chief of Staff, "In a civil war, systematic occupation of territory, accompanied by the necessary purges, is preferable to a rapid defeat of the enemy armies, which in the end leaves the country still infested with enemies. (Brendon: p. 389.)

There was much to be said, as Arthur Koestler decided, for a country run by Blimps rather than Commissars, a country:

suspicious of systems, bored by ideologies, sceptical about utopias, rejecting all blueprints, enamoured of its leisurly muddle, incurious about the future, devoted to its past.
Yet such happy pragmatism could easily be confused with complacent laziness. Certainly George Orwell thought so . Returning home from Catalonia to the green and pleasant land of his childhood, he found it almost impossible to believe in foreign emergencies. Posters told of cricket matches and royal events. Men in bowler hats wandered among the pidgeons of Trafalgar Square. Red buses and blue policemen patrolled the streets. Everyone was "sleeping the deep, deep, sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs." (Brendon: p. 410.)

It's late, and there's nothing more to be done for the evening now than to look ahead to tomorrow. Please join us then.

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