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Artículo Falklands Fallout. Por Eric Hobsbawm

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Artículo Falklands Fallout. Por Eric Hobsbawm

  1. 1. Marxism Today January 1983 13 Patriotism in the hands of the labour movement is a powerful weapon. Patriotism in the hands of the Right is fraught with danger. The Falklands war sounded some alarm bells which the Left ignores at its peril. Eric Hobsbawm Falklands FalloutMore has been talked about the Falklands war actually had very little to do with thethan about any other recent issue in British More people lost their marbles Falklands. Hardly anybody knew about theand international politics and more people about this than about almost Falklands. I suppose the number of peoplelost their marbles about this than about anything else in this country who had any personal rela-almost anything else. I dont mean the great tions with the Falklands or even knew any-bulk of the people, whose reactions were probably considerably less passionate or body who had been there, is minimal. hysterical than those whose business it is to The 1680 natives of these islands wereThis article is an edited version of a talk given at write, and formulate opinions. very nearly the only people who took anthe recent Moving Left Show organised by Marx- I want to say very little indeed about the urgent interest in the Falklands, apart ofism Today. origins of the Falklands war because that course from the Falkland Island Company,
  2. 2. 14 January 1983 Marxism Todaywhich owns a good deal of it, ornithologists actually precipitated the situation, even capitalism persisted in the 50s and 60s evenand the Scott Polar Research Institute, since though it did not mean to. And so, on April 3 the relatively weak Britain was to somethe islands are the basis of all the research the British people discovered that the Fal- extent gently borne upwards by the currentactivities in the Antarctic. They were never klands had been invaded and occupied. The which pushed other capitalist economiesvery important, or at least they havent been Government should have known that an forward even more rapidly. Things weresince World War I or perhaps just the begin- invasion was imminent, but claimed it clearly getting better and we didnt have toning of World War II. didnt, or at any rate if it did know it took no worry too much although there was They were so insignificant and so much action. This is of course being investigated obviously a certain amount of nostalgiaout of the centre of interest, that Parliament at the moment by the Franks Commission. around the place.let the running be made by about a dozen And yet at a certain stage it became evi-MPs, the Falklands lobby, which was politi- An upsurge of popular feeling dent that the decline and crisis of the Britishcally a very, very mixed lot. They were But what was the situation in Britain when economy were getting much more dramatic.allowed to stymie all the not very urgent war broke out and during the war itself? Let The slump in the 70s intensified this feelingefforts of the Foreign Office to settle the me try and summarise it fairly briefly. The and of course since 1979 the real depression,problem of the islands future. Since the first thing that happened was an almost uni- the deindustrialisation of the Thatchergovernment and everybody else found the versal sense of outrage among a lot of people, period and mass unemployment, haveFalklands totally without interest, the fact the idea that you couldnt simply accept this, underlined the critical condition of Britain.that they were of urgent interest in Argen- something had to be done. This was a senti- So the gut reaction that a lot of people felttina, and to some extent in Latin America as ment which was felt at all levels right down at the news that Argentina had simplya whole was overlooked. They were indeed to the grass roots and it was unpolitical in the invaded and occupied a bit of British terri-far from insignificant to the Argentines. sense that it went through all parties and was tory could have been put into the followingThey were a symbol of Argentine nation- not confined to the Right or to the Left. I words: Ours is a country which has beenalism, especially since Peron. We could put know of lots of people on the Left within the going downhill for decades, the foreignersthe Falklands problem off for ever, or we movement, even on the extreme Left who have been getting richer and more advancedthought we could, but not the Argentinians. than we are, everybodys looking down on us This upsurge of feeling had and if anything pitying us, we cant even A question of neglect beat the Argentinians or anybody else at Now, Im not judging the validity of the nothing to do with the Falklands football any more, everythings going wrongArgentine claim. Like so many nationalist as such in Britain, nobody really quite knows whatclaims it cant bear much investigation. to do about it and how to put it right. But Essentially its based on what you might call had the same reaction as people on the now its got to the point where some bunch secondary school geography — anything Right. It was this general sense of outrage of foreigners think they can simply marchthat belongs to the continental shelf ought to and humiliation which was expressed on some troops onto British territory, occupy itbelong to the nearest country — in spite of that first day in Parliament when the pres- and take it over, and they think the Britishthe fact that no Argentines had ever actually sure for action actually came not from That- are so far gone that nobodys going to dolived there. Nevertheless were bound to say cher and the Government, but from all anything about it, nothings going to bethat the Argentine claim is almost certainly sides, the ultra-Right in the Conservatives, done. Well, this is the straw that breaks therather stronger than the British claim and the Liberals, and Labour, with only the camels back, somethings got to be done. Byhas internationally been regarded as rather rarest of exceptions. This 1 think was a pub- God well have to show them that were notstronger. The Americans for instance never lic sentiment which could actually be felt. really just there to be walked over. Onceaccepted the British claim, whose official Anybody who had any kind of sensitivity to again, Im not judging the validity of this justification changed from time to time. But the vibes knew that this was going on, and point of view but I think this is roughly whatthe point isnt to decide which claim is anyone on the Left who was not aware of this a lot of the people who didnt try and formu-stronger. The point is that, for the British grass roots feeling, and that it was not a late it in words felt at that moment.government, the Falklands were about as creation of the media, at least, not at thislow as they could be on its list of priorities. stage, but genuinely a sense of outrage and Decline of the EmpireAnd it was totally ignorant of Argentine and humiliation, ought seriously to reconsider Now in fact, we on the Left had alwaysLatin American views, which are not merely their capacity to assess politics. It may not be predicted that Britains loss of Empire, andthose of the junta but of all Latin America. a particularly desirable sentiment, but to general decline would lead to some dramatic As a result it managed, by withdrawing claim that it didnt exist is quite unrealistic. reaction sooner or later in British politics.the one armed ship, The Endurance, which We hadnt envisaged this particular reactionhad always been there symbolically indicat- Irresistible decline but theres no question that this was a reac-ing that you couldnt take the Falklands Now this upsurge of feeling had nothing to tion to the decline of the British Empireover, to suggest to the Argentinian junta that do with the Falklands as such. We have seen such as we had predicted for so long. Andthe UK wouldnt resist. The Argentine gen- that the Falklands were simply a far-away that is why it had such very wide backing. Inerals, who were patently crazy and territory swathed in mists off Cape Horn, itself it wasnt simply jingoism. But, thoughinefficient as well as nasty, decided to go about which we knew nothing and cared this feeling of national humiliation went farahead with the invasion. But for mismanage- less. It has everything to do with the history beyond the range of simple jingoism, it wasment by the UK government, the Argentine of this country since 1945 and the visible easily seized by the Right and it was takengovernment would pretty certainly not have acceleration of the crisis of British capital- over in what I think was politically a verydecided to invade. They miscalculated and ism since the late 1960s and in particular the brilliant operation by Mrs Thatcher and thethey should never have invaded but its per- slump of the late 70s and early 80s. So long Thatcherites. Let me quote her in the classicfectly clear that the British government as the great international boom of Western statement of what she thought the Falklands
  3. 3. Marxism Today January 1983 15war proved: When we started out therewere the waverers and the faint-hearts, thepeople who thought we could no longer dothe great things we once did, those whobelieved our decline was irreversible, thatwe could never again be what we were, thatBritain was no longer the nation that hadbuilt an empire and ruled a quarter of theworld. Well they were wrong. In fact the war was purely symbolic, itdidnt prove anything of the kind. But hereyou see the combination of somebody catch-ing certain popular vibes, and turning themin a right wing (I hesitate, but only just, tosay a semi-fascist direction). That is whyfrom the right wing point of view it wasessential not simply to get the Argentiniansout of the Falklands, which would have beenperfectly practicable by a show of force plusnegotiation, but to wage a dramatic victor-ious war. That is why the war was provokedby the British side whatever the Argentineattitude. Theres little doubt that the Argen-tinians, as soon as they discovered that thiswas the British attitude, were looking for away out of an intolerable situation. Thatcherwasnt prepared to let them because thewhole object of the exercise was not to settlethe matter now but to prove that Britain wasstill great, if only in a symbolic fashion. Atvirtually every stage the policy of the Britishgovernment in and out of the UnitedNations was one of total intransigence. Imnot saying that the junta made it easy tocome to a settlement but I think historianswill conclude that a negotiated withdrawalof the Argentinians was certainly not out ofthe question. It wasnt seriously tried.A new allianceThis provocative policy had a double advan-tage. Internationally, it gave Britain achance to demonstrate her hardware, herdetermination and her military power.Domestically, it allowed the Thatcherites toseize the initiative from other political forceswithin and outside the Conservative Party.It enabled a sort of take-over by the Thatche-rites not only of Conservative camp but of a Thatcher and a small War Cabinet, includ- the kind of war which existed in order togreat area of British politics. In a curious ing the chairman of the Conservative Party. produce victory parades. That is why all theway the nearest parallel to the Thatcherite At the same time she established direct lat- symbolically powerful resources of war andpolicy during the Falklands war is the eral relations, which I hope will not have Empire were mobilised on a miniature scale.Peronist policy which, on the other side, had long term political effects, with the military. The role of the navy was paramount any-first launched the Falklands into the centre And it is this combination of a direct dema- way, but traditionally public opinion hasof Argentine politics. Peron, like Mrs That- gogic approach to the masses, by-passing the invested a lot of emotional capital in it. Thecher and her little group, tried to speak political processes and the establishment, forces sent to the Falklands were a mini-directly to the masses using the mass media, and the forging of direct lateral contact with museum of everything which could give theover the heads of the establishment. In our the military and the defence bureaucracy, Union Jack particular resonance — thecase that included the Conservative estab- that is characteristic of the war. Guards, the new technological strong men, lishment as well as the Opposition. She Neither costs nor objectives counted, least the SAS, the paras; all were represented insisted on running her own war. It wasnt a of all of course the Falklands, except as sym-war run by Parliament. It wasnt even run by bolic proof of British virility, something 1 This is from a press release of her statement in the Cabinet; it was a war conducted by Mrs which could be put into headlines. This was July 82, after the war had been won.
  4. 4. 16 January 1983 Marxism Todaydown to those little old gurkhas. They swept by a sort of instinctive patriotic reac- maintaining the British presence in the Fal-werent necessarily needed but you had to tion and who therefore identified with the klands. The official statement is that it ishave them just because this was, as it were, a war effort, though probably not in as stri- going to be about £700 millions so far, butrecreation of something like the old Imperial dent a manner as the Sun headlines, from the my own guess is that it almost certainly willdurbars, or the processions at the death or minority which recognised that, in terms of run into thousands of millions. Accountancythe coronation of British sovereigns. the actual global politics concerned, what is, as is well known, a form of creative writ- Thatcher was doing made no sense at all. ing, so exactly how you calculate the cost of aClochmerle rides again That minority included people of all parties particular operation of this kind is optional,We cannot in this instance quote Karl and none, and many who were not against but whatever it is, it will turn out to be very,Marxs famous phrase about history repeat- sending a Task Force as such. I hesitate to very, expensive. Certainly the Left willing itself, the first time as tragedy, the sec- say that it was a split of the educated against press this issue and they ought to. However,ond time as farce, because no war is a farce. the uneducated; although it is a fact that the unfortunately, the sums are so large as to beEven a little war in which 250 Britons and major hold-outs against Thatcherism were meaningless to most people. So while the2,000 Argentinians get killed is not a matter to be found in the quality press, plus of figures will go on being much quoted infor jokes. But for foreigners who didnt real- course the Morning Star. The Financial political debate, I suspect this issue wont beise the crucial role of the Falklands war in Times, the Guardian and the Observer main- very prominent or politically very effective.British domestic politics, the war certainly tained a steady note of scepticism about the The third issue is the bearing of the Falk-seemed and absolutely incomprehensible whole business. I think it is safe to say that lands on British war policy, or defence pol-exercise. Le Monde in France called it a almost every single political correspondent icy as everybody now likes to call it. TheClochemerle of the South Atlantic. You may in the country, and that goes from the Tory Falklands war will certainly intensify theremember that famous novel in which the ones right down to the Left, thought the savage internal warfare among admirals, airRight and the Left in a small French town whole thing was loony. Those were the marshals, generals and the Ministry ofcome to enormous blows over the question faint-hearts against whom Mrs Thatcher Defence which has already led to one post-of where to situate a public convenience. railed. The fact that there was a certain Falklands casualty, the Minister of DefenceMost Europeans simply could not under- polarisation but that the opposition, though himself, Nott. There is very little doubt thatstand what all the fuss was about. What they it remained quite a small minority, was not the admirals used the Falklands affair todid not appreciate was that the whole thing weakened, even in the course of a brief and, prove that a large navy, capable of operatingwas not about the Falklands at all and not in technical terms, brilliantly successful right across the globe, was absolutely essen-about the right of self-determination. It was war, is significant. tial to Great Britain — whereas everybodyan operation concerned basically with Brit- Nevertheless, the war was won, fortu- else knows that we cant afford it and whatsish politics and with the British political nately for Mrs Thatcher very quickly and at more it just isnt worth keeping a navy of mood. a modest cost in British lives, and with it that size in order to be able to supply Port Having said that let me just say very came an immediate and vast pay-off in popu- Stanley. These discussions will certainly firmly that the alternative was not between raise the question of whether Britain can doing nothing and Thatchers war. I think it afford both a global navy and Trident mis- Mrs Thatcher in the meantime siles, and what exactly the role and impor- was politically absolutely impossible at this stage for any British government not to do was on cloud nine and imagined tance of independent British nuclear anything. The alternatives were not simply herself as a reincarnation of the weapons is. So to this extent, they can play a to accept the Argentine occupation by pass- Duke of Wellington part in the development of the campaign for ing the buck to the United Nations, which nuclear disarmament which should not be would have adopted empty resolutions, or larity. The grip of Thatcher and the underestimated. on the other hand, Mrs Thatchers intended Thatcherites, of the ultra-right, on the Tory Next, the future of the Falkland Islands replay of Kitcheners victory over the Suda- Party unquestionably increased enormously themselves. This, once again, is likely to be nese at Omdurman. The pacifist line was as a consequence. Mrs Thatcher in the of little general interest since the Islands will that of a small and isolated minority, if meantime was on cloud nine and imagined cease to be of any serious interest to most indeed a minority with a respectable tradi- herself as a reincarnation of the Duke of Britons again. But it will be an enormous tion in the labour movement. That line was Wellington, but without that Irish realism headache for civil servants, for the Foreign simply politically not on. The very feeble- which the Iron Duke never lost, and of Win- Office and for anybody else involved ness of the demonstrations which were being ston Churchill but without the cigars and, at because we have no policy for the future It organised at the time showed this. The least one hopes, without the brandy. wasnt the object of the war to solve the people who said the war was pointless, and problems of the Falkland Islands. We are should never have been started, have been Short term effects simply back to square one, or rather back to proved right in the abstract, but they them- Now let me deal with the effects of the war. I square minus one, and something will selves have not benefited politically and shall here only mention briefly the short sooner or later have to be done to find a arent likely to benefit from having been term effects, that is between now and the permanent solution for this problem unless proved right. general election. The first of these is likely to British governments are simply content to concern the debate on whose fault it is. The keep an enormously expensive commitment A split in public opinion Franks Commission is at present inquiring going for ever, for no good purpose what- The next point to note is more positive. into precisely this. It is certain that the gov- ever, way down there by the South Pole. Thatchers capture of the war with the aid of ernment, including Mrs Thatcher, will The Sun produced a profound split in public come out badly, as they deserve to. The Patriotism and the Left opinion, but not a political split along party second issue is the cost of the operation and Finally, let me deal with the more serious lines. Broadly it divided the 80% who were the subsequent and continuing expense of question of the long term effects. The war
  5. 5. Marxism Today January 1983 17demonstrated the strength and the political which also had popular roots. Im simplypotential of patriotism, in this case in its saying you cannot write patriotism out of thejingo form. This should not perhaps sur- scenario even in the most radical period ofprise us, but Marxists havent found it easy the English working class.to come to terms with working class patri- Throughout the 19th century there was aotism in general and English or British patri- very general admiration for the navy as aotism in particular. British here means popular institution, much more so than thewhere the patriotism of the non-English army. You can still see it in all the publicpeoples happens to coincide with that of the houses named after Lord Nelson, a genu-English; where it doesnt coincide, as is inely popular figure. The navy and our sail-sometimes the case in Scotland and Wales, ors were things that Britons, and certainlyMarxists have been more aware of the English people, took pride in. Incidentally, aimportance of nationalist or patriotic senti- good deal of 19th century radicalism wasment. Incidentally I suspect that while the built on an appeal not just to workers andScots felt rather British over the Falklands, other civilians but to soldiers. Reynoldsthe Welsh didnt. The only parliamentary News and the old radical papers of those daysparty which, as a party, opposed the war were much read by the troops because theyfrom the start was Plaid Cymru and of systematically took up the discontents of thecourse, as far as the Welsh are concerned, professional soldiers. I dont know when thisour lads and our kith and kin are not in particular thing stopped, although in thethe Falklands, but in Argentina. They are Second World War the Daily Mirror suc-the Patagonian Welsh who send a delegation ceeded in getting a vast circulation in theevery year to the National Eistedfodd in army for precisely the same reason. Both theorder to demonstrate that you can still live at Jacobin tradition and the majority anti-the other end of the globe and be Welsh. So French tradition are thus part of Englishas far as the Welsh are concerned the reac- working class history though labour histo-tion, the Thatcherite appeal on the Fal- rians have stressed the one and played downklands, the kith and kin argument, the other.probably fell by the wayside. The British tradition Again, at the beginning of World War I Now there are various reasons why the These are some of the reasons why Marxists the mass patriotism of the working class wasLeft and particularly the Marxist Left has perhaps failed to pay adequate attention to absolute genuine. It was not something thatnot really liked to come to terms with the the problem of patriotism. So let me just was simply being manufactured by thequestion of patriotism in this country. remind you as an historian that patriotism media. It didnt exclude respect for theTheres a particular historical conception of cannot be neglected. The British working minority within the labour movement whointernationalism which tends to exclude class has a long tradition of patriotism which failed to share it. The anti-war elements andnational patriotism. We should also bear in was not always considered incompatible the pacifists within the labour movementmind the strength of the liberal/radical, anti- with a strong and militant class conscious- were not ostracised by the organised work-war and pacifist tradition which is very ness. In the history of Chartism and the ers. In this respect there was a great differ-strong, and which certainly has passed to great radical movements in the early 19th ence between the attitude of workers and ofsome extent into the labour movement. century we tend to stress the class conscious- the petty bourgeois jingoists. Nevertheless,Hence theres a feeling that patriotism some- ness. But when in the 1860s one of the few the fact remains that the largest single volun-how conflicts with class consciousness, as British workers actually to write about the teer mass recruitment into any army ever,indeed it frequently does, and that the ruling working class, Thomas Wright the journey- was that of British workers who joined up inand hegemonic classes have an enormous man engineer, wrote a guide to the British 1914-1915. The mines would have beenadvantage in mobilising it for their pur- working class for middle class readers, empty but for the fact that the governmentposes, which is also true. because some of these workers were about to eventually recognised that if it didnt have Perhaps there is also the fact that some of be given the vote, he gave an interesting some miners in the mines it wouldnt havethe most dramatic and decisive advances of thumbnail sketch of the various generations any coal. After a couple of years many work-the Left in this century were achieved in the of workers hed known as a skilled engineer. ers changed their mind about the war, but fight against World World I, and they were When he came to the Chartist generation, the initial surge of patriotism is something achieved by a working class shaking off the the people who had been born in the early we have to remember. Im not justifying hold of patriotism and jingoism and decid- 19th century, he noted that they hated any- these things, simply pointing to their exist- ing to opt for class struggle; to follow Lenin thing to do with the upper classes, and ence and indicating that in looking at theby turning their hostility against their own would not trust them an inch. They refused history of the British working class and the oppressors rather than against foreign coun- to have anything to do with what we would present reality, we must come to terms with tries. After all, what had wrecked the Social- call the class enemy. At the same time he these facts, whether we like them or not. ist International in 1914 was precisely the observed that they were strongly patriotic, The dangers of this patriotism always workers failing to do this. What, in a sense, strongly anti-foreign and particularly anti- were and still are obvious, not least because restored the soul of the international labour French. They were people who had been it was and is enormously vulnerable to rul- movement was that after 1917, all over the brought up in their childhood in the anti- ing class jingoism, to anti-foreign nation- belligerent countries the workers united to Napoleonic wars. Historians tend to stress alism and of course in our days to racism. fight against the war, for peace and for the the Jacobin element in British labour during These dangers are particularly great where Russian Revolution. these wars and not the anti-French element patriotism can be separated from the other
  6. 6. 18 January 1983 Marxism Todaysentiments and aspirations of the working greater victorious war than the Falklands,class, or even where it can be counter-posed found himself, to his enormous surprise,to them: where nationalism can be counter- pushed aside because the people who hadposed to social liberation. The reason why fought that war, and fought it patriotically,nobody pays much attention to the, lets call found themselves radicalised by it. And theit, jingoism of the Chartists, is that it was combination of a radicalised working classcombined with and masked by an enormous movement and a peoples movement behindmilitant class consciousness. Its when the it proved enormously effective and power-two are separated, and they can be easily ful. Michael Foot may be blamed for think-separated, that the dangers are particularly ing too much in terms of Churchillianobvious. Conversely, when the two go memories — 1940, Britain standing alone,together in harness, they multiply not only anti-fascist war and all the rest of it, andthe force of the working class but its capacity obviously these echoes were there into place itself at the head of a broad coalition Labours reaction to the Falklands. But letfor social change and they even give it the us not forget that our Churchillian memo-possibility of wresting hegemony from the ries are not just of patriotic glory — but ofclass enemy. victory against reaction both abroad and at home: of Labour triumph and the defeat ofExtraordinary 1945 Churchill. Its difficult to conceive this inThat was why in the anti-fascist period of 1982 but as an historian I must remind youthe 30s, the Communist International of it. It is dangerous to leave patriotismlaunched the call to wrest away national exclusively to the Right.traditions from the bourgeoisie, to capturethe national flag so long waved by the Right. Rule BritanniaSo the French Left tried to conquer, capture At present it is very difficult for the Left toor recapture both the tricolour and Joan of bination of patriotism in a genuine peoples recapture patriotism. One of the most sinis-Arc and to some extent it succeeded. war proved to be politically radicalising to ter lessons of the Falklands is the ease with In this country, we didnt pursue quite the an unprecedented degree. At the moment of which the Thatcherites captured the patri-same object, but we succeeded in doing his greatest triumph, Mrs Thatchers ances- otic upsurge which initially was in no sensesomething more important. As the anti-fas- tor, Winston Churchill, the unquestioned confined to political Conservatives let alonecist war showed quite dramatically, the com- leader of a victorious war, and a much to Thatcherite ones. We recall the ease with
  7. 7. Marxism Today January 1983 19which non-jingos could be tagged, if notactually as anti-patriotic, then at least as softon the Argies; the ease with which theUnion Jack could be mobilised againstdomestic enemies as well as foreign enemies.Remember the photograph of the troopscoming back on the troopships, with a ban-ner saying Call off the rail strike or well callan air strike. Here lies the long term signifi-cance of the Falklands in British politicalaffairs. It is a sign of very great danger. Jingoismtoday is particularly strong because it acts asa sort of compensation for the feelings ofdecline, demoralisation and inferiority,which most people in this country feel,including a lot of workers. This feeling isintensified by economic crisis. Symbolicallyjingoism helps people feel that Britain isntjust foundering, that it can still do andachieve something, can be taken seriously,can, as they say, be Great Britain. It issymbolic because in fact Thatcherite jing-oism hasnt achieved anything practical, andcant achieve anything practical. Rule Brit-annia has once again, and I think for the first politicians. Mrs Thatchers main trump so — it isnt only because of its internaltime since 1914, become something like a card is that people say she isnt like a politi- divisions, but also, largely, because manyNational Anthem. It would be worth study- cian. Today with 3,500,000 unemployed, workers dont really have much belief in anying one day why, until the Falklands period, 45% of the electors at Northfield, 65% of the politicians promises to overcome the slumpRule Britannia had become a piece of musi- elctors at Peckham, dont bother to vote. In and the long term crisis of the British econ-cal archaeology and why it has ceased to be Peckham 41% of the electorate voted for omy. So why vote for one lot rather thanso. At the very moment when Britain pat- Labour in 1974, 34% in 1979, and 19.1% another? Too many people are losing faith inently no longer rules either the waves or an today. Im not talking of votes cast but of the politics, including their own power to doempire, that song has resurfaced and has total number of people in the constituency. much about it.undoubtedly hit a certain nerve among In Northfield, which is in the middle of the But just suppose a saviour were to appearpeople who sing it. It is not just because we devastation zone of the British motor on a white horse? None is likely to, but justhave won a little war, involving few casu- industry, 41% voted for Labour in 1974, suppose someone were to appeal to the emo-alties, fought far away against foreigners 32% in 1979 and 20% today. tions, to get that adrenalin flowing by mobi-whom we can no longer even beat at football, The main danger lies in this de-politi- lising against some foreigners outside orand this has cheered people up, as if we had cisation, which reflects a disillusionment inside the country, perhaps by another littlewon a World Cup with guns. But has it done with politics born of a sense of impotence. war, which might, under present circum-anything else in the long run? It is difficult What we see today is not a substantial rise in stances, find itself turning into a big war,to see that it has, or could have, achieved which, as we all know, would be the last ofanything else. But just suppose a saviour were the wars? It is possible. I dont think that to appear on a white horse? saviour is going to be Thatcher, and to thatSaviour on a white horse extent I can end on a slightly up-beat note.Yet there is a danger. As a boy I lived some the support for Thatcher and the Thatche- Free enterprise, to which she is committed,formative and very young years in the Wei- rites. The Falklands episode may have tem- is not a winner, as fascist propaganda recog-mar Republic, among another people who porarily made a lot of Britons feels better, nised in the 1930s. You cant win by saying:felt themselves defeated, losing their old cer- though the Falklands factor is almost cer- Let the rich get richer and to hell with thetainties and their old moorings, relegated in tainly a diminishing asset for the Tories; but poor. Thatchers prospects are less goodthe international league, pitied by foreign- it has not made much difference to the basic than Hitlers were, for three years after heers. Add depression and mass unemploy- hopelessness, apathy and defeatism of so had come to power there was not muchment to that and what you got then was many in this country, the feeling that we unemployment left in Germany, whereasHitler. Now we shant get fascism of the old cant do much about our fate. If the Govern- three years after Thatcher came to powerkind. But the danger of a populist, radical ment seems to hold its support better than unemployment is higher than ever beforeRight moving even further to the right is might be expected, it is because people and likely to go on climbing. She is whistlingpatent. That danger is particularly great (quite mistakenly) dont put the blame for in the dark. She can still be defeated. Butbecause the Left is today divided and the present miserable condition of the coun- patriotism and jingoism has been used oncedemoralised and above all because vast try on Thatcher, but, more or less vaguely, to change the political situation in hermasses of the British, or anyway the Eng- on factors beyond her or any governments favour and can be used again. We must be onlish, have lost hope and confidence in the control. If Labour hasnt so far regained the look-out. Desperate governments of thepolitical processes and in the politicians: any enough support — though it may still just do Right will try anything.

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