As September 1939 moseyed gently along to December and then the New Year of 1940, the British War Ministry in its wisdom launched a public information campaign called All Set for Christmas. The idea was to give the impression that absolutely everything was OK, God was in his heaven, and we had nothing to fear from tinpot dictators.
In the House of Commons, arch appeaser and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain expressed his opinion that “Herr Hitler has missed the bus”. The press media began referring to hostilities as ‘the Phoney War’. My Dad told me many years afterwards that he had spent hours at a time trying to prepare those in denial for what would be (he was sure) a triumph for superior German hardware and tactics.
Dad read Mein Kampf in 1937, and volunteered for the RAF the following week. Luckily for me, they turned him down based on colour blindness and poor depth perception. Although he got no education at all after the age of twelve, he had read about the Nazi Wehrmacht and Blitzkrieg. Like many working class boys of his generation, Pop had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I was fortunate enough to inherit his genes. Grasping what’s coming down the road is a blessed curse, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Christmas 1940 came and went. Within five months, the French had signed a humiliating armistice at Compiègne, Hitler was able to see the cliffs of Dover from Calais, and the pre-war European world gave way to what looked like the Thousand Year Reich.
In 2019, Boris Johnson agreed an outline Brexit deal with Brussels every bit as dangerous as the Munich Agreement of 1938. In doing so, he let the Italians, Hungarians and Greeks down just as Chamberlain left the Czechs to fend for themselves after Munich.
I do not see a great deal of difference between Let’s Get Brexit Done and Peace in our Time. As hostages to fortune, there are about equal; and they both ignore the awkward truth about a creeping fascist power being appeased for the sake of that most desired of British states, the quiet life.
Of course, over the next six weeks BoJo may well surprise us all by his ability to turn the screws tight into the knuckles of the European Commission. But the quiet life is not coming our way: and there are informed commentators and sites like Wall Street on Parade, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Spiked! that know this only too well.
Only trillions of dollars are saving Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase from disaster. Deutsche Bank would already be classed, in a real world, as trading while hopelessly insolvent. The prime idiocy of the global Central Bank system is its interconnection. Sachs, Morgan and Deutsche in deep doo-doo is an outbreak of bubonic plague waiting to turn into a planetary pandemic.
I have to manage a rueful smile every time one of my friends says, “Yeh well Wardy, thing is mate, you’ve been predicting meltdown since 2012, and it hasn’t happened”. They’re wrong actually: I’ve been predicting it since 2006. It should’ve happened in 2003, but Greenspan didn’t want to rock the boat. It should’ve happened in 2009, but trillions in Confederacy fiat bogroll ensured that everything settled down….following which, more business as usual has led to exponentially more giddiness.
Here too the parallel with 1930s appeasement is instructive. Had Hitler been stopped in the Rhineland caper of 1935, 64 million World War II casualties might have been spared. Had Barack Obama displayed any balls during 2008/9, the crazy disconnect between Wall Street and the real economy might have been erased. The downside for Obama is that he would probably have been either framed for being in league with Robert Mugabe, or killed in an unfortunate CIA practice exercise that went tragically wrong.
As things stand, while this post remains a Tale of Two Christmases exactly eighty years and an Atlantic Ocean apart, human denialism is the common theme. The day before Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st 1939, there were still hordes of upper class Brits booking skiing holidays in the Bavarian Alps. Yesterday and today, stock markets have marched upwards (powered perhaps by Colombian talcum powder) despite the underlying lack of any market fundamentals whatsoever to justify such madness.
Just as with the collaboration in Nazi expansionism eight decades ago, so now the media, the New York Fed, banking lobbyists and talking heads on Bloomberg are desperate to convince us that everything is hunky-dory.
So my advice is this: have an exceptionally Merry Christmas in the bosom of your family, reconnect with how little you like quite a lot of them, but from January 1st onwards give some serious thought to financial hiding places.