We Are Already Back At 1940, Mr Stewart

Actor Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek fame, writing in the Guardian.

Though I am convinced that the stay vote will win the day, nevertheless the fact that so many fellow British citizens want to leave Europe is shocking. Standing alone was how we were in 1940.

Why campaign to put us back there? I do not understand this thirst for isolationism. The most potent arguments, politically, economically, socially, urge us to remain. Let this just be a passing insecurity, and let us once more embrace reality, philosophy, common sense and hope for our country.

The odd thing about this piece is that it begins with his shell-shocked father being evacuated from Cherbourg  in 1940. For that was when Britain was “standing alone”.

But he seems to have forgotten – or not to know – what we were standing alone against. Britain’s “isolationism” back then grew from this country’s determination not to be incorporated into the European Nazi state. We wanted to retain our freedom, our democracy, our laws, and our customs and culture. And also our philosophy, our common sense, and our hope.

I can only suppose that Patrick Stewart would have welcomed the Nazis to Britain, in order not to be “isolationist”.. And I imagine that he would have mounted “potent arguments” why Britain would be “politically, economically, and socially” better of inside Nazi-unified Europe.

Of course, he would probably also say that there can be no comparison drawn between the EU today, and Nazi Europe of 1940.

I wish he were right. But the EU is just as undemocratic as Nazi Europe. It is organised for top down control of the peoples of Europe by a small elite. And it issues countless instructions and regulations to those peoples. The present occupants of the positions of power in Europe may well be kind-hearted and well-meaning men and women, but if they are ever replaced by less kind-hearted and well-meaning people, there is absolutely no way we can democratically overthrow them, except by armed revolt.

He might also say that there is no possibility of war in contemporary, civilised Europe.

I wish he were right. He seems not to have noticed the gathering clouds of war over eastern Europe, on the borders of Russia, towards which the EU and NATO have rapidly expanded in recent years. He seems not to have heard any of Vladimir Putin’s predictions of war. No surprise, really, given they’re barely reported in the Western media.

He might also say that there’s nothing comparable to Nazi antisemitism active in contemporary, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, civilised Europe.

I wish he were right. In fact, antisemitism is now rampant in Europe, and many Jews are fleeing from it. And Europe’s 150 million smokers have been turned into a shunned and excluded sub-class through laws enacted by the European parliament. But he probably doesn’t notice them all outside the pubs that once welcomed them, because he probably doesn’t smoke, and he averts his eyes from them as he passes.

Patrick Stewart’s father was no angel, and often beat his mother.

Very occasionally one person would come to our aid – Mrs Dixon, our next-door neighbour, the only person who would stand up to my father. She would throw open the door and stand before him, bosom bursting and her mighty weaver’s forearm raised in his face. “Come on, Alf Stewart,” she would say, “have a go at me.” He never did. He calmed down and went to bed. Now I wish I could take Lizzie Dixon’s big hand in mine and thank her.

So he was glad that someone would defend his mother. But he doesn’t want anyone defending his mother country like his father did.

For Britain right now is back at 1940. It faces the same threats as it did then. It faces being invaded, its laws and customs being swept aside, and its very identity as a nation expunged. And now, as then, we have our own Nazi sympathizers, our own admirers of the emergent Nazi state across the water, against whom we feel almost powerless once again. No less a person than King Edward VIII was a great admirer of Hitler, after all.

It’s probably true that, if we rebuff them once again, we’ll be made to suffer much like we suffered between 1940 and 1945. There will be shortages and queues. There’ll be hunger.

But if we don’t rebuff them, we face extinction as a self-governing nation. And we’ll also most likely face terrible wars, horrific persecutions, slave labour, and worse, after nice, charming Mr Juncker has been replaced by someone not quite so nice, and not quite so charming.

Nobody is campaigning to put us back to 1940, Mr Stewart. We are already there.

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About Frank Davis

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16 Responses to We Are Already Back At 1940, Mr Stewart

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Seems hitler thought England and Germany were so much alike they’d just join the reich and come into the fold after France fell! Then he found out reality! Winston Churchill the true British bulldog was in charge!

  2. Smoking Lamp says:

    From across the pond it looks like Britain is standing with one foot in 1940, the other in 1914, and its head in 1984…

    • Well stated Lamp! VERY well stated! (and with its ass just hanging totally out in the breeze…)

      Frank, thank you for the interesting/excellent analysis. Y’oughta write an Op-Ed type piece on that and send it around to a few papers. Might get some people thinking!

      – MJM

  3. Andrew Edward Oakley says:

    I am voting to leave but also sure the remain vote will win. it will be another situation like the General Election where the silent hoards will turn out and back Cameron once again.

    Honestly frank, I haven’t read all your post cos I saw “Nazis” and then gave up on it. Sigh.

    I only wish I had some kind of royalty fee payable to me every time I spotted “Nazis” in a blog.

    • nisakiman says:

      It is very difficult to write about the conflict in Europe during the second world war without using the word ‘Nazi’, since it was Nazi Germany who were the aggressors. I suppose we could expunge the role of the Nazis from modern history for you, since the word seems to offend you so much, but it would make for very inaccurate reportage.

      • Some French bloke says:

        Could it be that the concept of “Godwin’s law” (aka Reductio ad Hitlerum) is more often abused than the term “Nazi” itself?

        • See bit.ly/McFaddensLaw for a smokers’ alternative for Godwin’s!

          Also: Dunno just where at the moment, but there’s a well-written strong critique out there somewhere about the origin and misuse of Godwin’s Law as a stifle to discussions. Basically, while calling someone a Nazi or such can directly lose a good bit of an audience to your message, it’s acceptable and can be effective to note that something is similar to “past dictatorial regimes” or refer to particular tactics or actions as being “Gestapo tactics” or “Stazi tactics” AS LONG AS it’s mentioned as an aside after a main argument has been laid out. It’s not so much that the concept can’t be referenced: just that using the comparison as a major part of a main argument fails.

          It’s kind of like leading off a counterargument with “You’re really stupid!” doesn’t work well, BUT…. after you’ve laid out a whole argument pointing out how stupid an argument actually IS… well, THEN you can say, “So, anyone who makes this as their main argument is actually just too stupid to understand the science.” You’ve gotten the insult across clearly, and in a way that will make the reader stop for a minute to think, “Is that a true statement? Are people making that argument really usually stupid (or Nazis?)” and then, since they’ve just read your solid argument about it, THEY THEMSELVES have to conclude that yes indeed: the argument and the person presenting it probably really IS “stupid” (or “a Nazi” or whatever.)

          Grrrr…. cant’ find that critique at the moment, but if you Google a bit it ought to be out there.

          – MJM

        • Frank Davis says:

          I was thinking yesterday that Patrick Stewart’s view of the world seemed to be that the Nazi era was Past History. It was over and done with. It would never happen again, and indeed could never happen again because it was Past History.

          It’s actually a view that I shared for many years. In it, Nazism came to an end on VE Day, 8 May 1945. And on that day, every single Nazi became a social democrat or liberal or conservative, overnight. In short, that the military defeat of Nazi Germany was also its ideological defeat.

          But this is silly. People don’t change their beliefs overnight. Most likely, if you were a Nazi on 8 May 1945, you carried on being a Nazi, quite possibly for the rest of your life. It was your belief system. It was a religion.

          So I don’t think that Nazism is dead. I’m not sure that I can say that it’s alive and well, but I’m quite sure that large parts of Nazi ideology are still present. in Europe. In fact, of course, the antismoking ideology was itself largely a product of the Nazi era. It’s a piece of Nazism that is now in the ascendancy again. There are probably a lot of people who actually are fully Nazi, but don’t believe themselves to be.

          The same is true of Communism. The Soviet Union may have disintegrated circa 1990, but that didn’t mean that communist ideology died at the same time. So there are lots and lots of communists still around. But nobody applies “Godwin’s law” to Communism. Isn’t that odd?

  4. waltc says:

    England stood alone in the 1940s because the rest of Europe had either crumbled under the onslaught or joined the Axis (Italy and then quickly, Vichy France) while others stayed neutral. Only England, under Churchill, (overlooking Chamberlain) had the balls to fight Hitler and the only country that helped her was America (Lend Lease) not the Europeans. What historical dream is Stewart dreaming? Does he believe that EU Europe with its diminished military would be any more muscular in England’s defense? or that it wouldn’t, on the converse, entangle England in a war it doesn’t want? Even NATO, supposedly a bulwark, is a pretty weak sister especially when it comes to European contribution. Or does he believe that if England exited, the rest of Europe would be so pissed off that they’d let it sink unceremoniously into the sea if it were ever invaded? If so, the old gag line “With friends like these, who needs enemies” would surely apply.

    • “Even NATO, supposedly a bulwark, is a pretty weak sister especially when it comes to European contribution.”

      Tom Clancy / Mark Greaney’s mega novel from last year, “Commander In Chief” pictures a Russian dictator (“Voladin” — a rather transparent “Putin” character in every sense) makes a strong move on Eastern Europe after a buildup of feints making it appear that Russia is just acting in self-defense and/or at the behest to protect Russian nationals in the Ukraine etc. As Clancy paints the image (quite nicely!) the NATO nations fold like cardboard and only the good fortune of a Reagan-type US President standing up against them holds the Russians at anything like bay. (Where the the expression “holding at bay” come from? Hmmm…. Google time! LOL!)

      Greaney do a great job in that novel, just as they did in their previous “Full Force And Effect” showing a similarly tense situation with North Korea. Quite possible scenarios with very believable unfoldings of events: just like they’re writing “future history.” (Clancy seemed to take a break in his writing for a couple of years after his 1999/2000ish book about a terrorist pilot flying a fully fueled 747 into the White House during a State of the Union address when most of the US government gathers together in one place. I think that 9/11 was just a bit TOO prophetic for him to want to continue writing stuff in that vein.)

      Still, in terms of the current Euro/Russian situation, I’d strongly recommend “Commander In Chief.” I may not be wild about Trump but I see Putin as less likely to try a Euro move like that against Trump than against Clinton. And conversely, I actually think Clinton would be the one to push back at a crazier level and set in an escalation to nukes than Trump would. A bad mix altogether. :/

      – Michael

      • Frank Davis says:

        the current Euro/Russian situation,

        What is the current Euro/Russian situation, exactly?

        I guess the view in the West of Russia is that it’s really still the old Soviet Union, and nothing really changed at all in 1990 with Gorbachev and Putin, and that Putin is more or less another Stalin (All Russian dictators have giveaway names that end in -in, like Lenin, Stalin, and Rasputin), and Russia/USSR is waiting for a chance to roll its tanks all the way to Brighton Beach, and install an East European Soviet-style regime in Europe, and only NATO can stop them. Russia is perceived as a considerable threat, and that perception is re-enforced by the utterances of generals like Breedlove.

        A very different assessment of the situation comes from former Reagan treasury secretary Paul Craig Roberts, who thinks that after the fall of the Soviet Union American neo-conservatives regarded the USA as having “won” the cold war, and that Russia should now do whatever it was told by the victorious USA. And Putin doesn’t do this. He doesn’t play ball like he’s supposed to. And so he needs to be taught a lesson, and so the cold war has re-started. Furthermore, the USA has torn up the agreement between Reagan and Gorbachev that NATO would not move into eastern Europe after the Soviet Union left it. According to Roberts, the situation is now very dangerous, because the neo-conservatives in the USA want to push Europe into confrontation with Russia.

        I’m not quite sure what to make of it all. I don’t understand the neo-conservatives, and I don’t know what they’re doing in Obama’s administration (I’d thought they were just a George W Bush phenomenon), or even if they actually have a place in it at all. But when people like Bill Kristol started saying they’d rather see a Hillary Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency, I began to wonder whether there really had been much difference between the Democrat and Republican establishments, and a Clinton presidency would see a neo-con business as usual, and more goading of Russia – which is why Putin has said that a Clinton presidency would mean war.

        Whether it would be any different under Trump, I don’t know. Maybe the neo-cons would have just as much influence in a Trump administration as they seem to have had with Obama. According to Paul Craig Roberts, the USA is now an oligarchy (he regards both Russia and China as far more democratic than the USA), in which case Trump is just another oligarch.

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