Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

  • Crusader Kings II Expansion Subscription

    Subscribe to the CK II Expansion and enjoy unlimited access to 13 major expansions and more!


  • Paradox Midsummer Sale has arrived! Up to 75% off!

    Enjoy some sun and song this Midsummer, but when the sun goes down, the fun doesn't have to stop! Paradox has a festive sale on plenty of games to keep your summer nights going!


    June 18th - June 30th
  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Guilty Men: A Cautionary Tale

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



GUILTY MEN
A CAUTIONARY TALE

“CATO”

1940


Written in the final months of the Spanish War and hastily published by Victor Gollancz in January 1940, Guilty Men is a classic of British political literature that tore through the complacent attitude with which sections of the Commonwealth regarded the geopolitical situation in Europe after the fall of Hitler in September 1938. Written by young Popular Front members David Lewis, Michael Foot and Barbara Betts under the collective pseudonym “Cato”, the polemic argued the need for continued pressure on Germany and exposed the surface-level passing of its fascist regime. Guilty Men sent a warning that those who turned a blind eye to Germany after the overthrow of Hitler and the rise of the DNVP would be treated with contempt by future generations should Europe descend into war on the back of the Reich’s ambitions in Eastern Europe. In its concluding chapter, the book defends the necessity of anti-fascist unity amongst the socialist states of Europe – Britain, France and Russia – and calls for continued action in the fight against European fascism, “gone, but not defeated”.

The book was a phenomenon upon its initial publication and went through twelve editions in its first month. A thirteenth edition, slated for release in February 1940, was subject to editing by the Domestic Bureau and many of the more incendiary rhetorical passages – particularly those directed against particularly members of the Executive Council – were toned down. The identity of “Cato” was unknown for many years and the subject of much speculation; figures as diverse as George Orwell and Nye Bevan were suggested as being behind the book. The true authors used a pseudonym to avoid censure for the severity of their criticism of certain leading members of their own party, and of the government more broadly. Michael Foot had some fun with the game of concealed identities, writing a review of the book in Popular Front magazine Tribune (which he would later go on to edit) entitled “Who Is This Cato?”

Although censored, the ideas of Guilty Men had an undeniable effect upon the British people, shaping an attitude towards the German Reich that helped to set the stage for the Cold War between Left and Right in Europe. Hitting the shelves at a time when the Commonwealth was gearing up to fight wars against fascism in Asia and the Middle East, the book reminded policymakers that the danger was yet to pass far closer to home. Although it sometimes betrays the haste with which it was put together, and while many of its assertions have since been overtaken by hindsight, it remains hard to refute the important role “Cato” played in keeping the flame of anti-fascism burning on the home front after victory in Spain. The phrase re-entered the public consciousness in 1979 after the airing of an infamous episode of the CBC 1 discussion programme Talking Point, during the course of which it was used by Professor Roy Jenkins, incidentally himself a member of the Popular Front. Reproduced below are the preface and opening chapter, as they appeared in the original unedited edition.



* * *


GUILTY%20MEN.jpg



PREFACE


On a spring day in 1793 crowd of angry men burst their way through the doors of the assembly room where the French Convention was in session. A discomforted figure addressed them from the rostrum. “What do the people desire?” he asked. “The Convention has only their welfare at heart.” The leader of the angry crowd replied. “The people haven’t come here to be given a lot of phrases. They demand a dozen guilty men.”

“The use of recriminating about the attitudes of today is to inspire courage and effectiveness in the action of tomorrow.” – Wal Hannington, former Chairman of the National Unemployed Workers Movement and third President of the Commonwealth, May 29 1931.



* * *


CHAPTER I
MEN OF PEACE


In the smoking room of the People’s Assembly, two old friends sat talking in agitated tones. They had each just come from the main debating chamber, where Chairman Mosley had appeared to give an address to the gathered members of the Assembly concerning the situation in the Sudetenland, that part of north-western Czechoslovakia home to a majority German-speaking population which so vexed the diplomats of Europe at the end of the last decade.

“We shall not back down in the face of Herr Hitler’s posturing!” the Chairman had thundered. "We shall meet his gambit and confront head-on his bullying of the Czechoslovakian people! United with our allies in France and Russia, we are ready to drive the scourge of fascism from this continent once and for all. To Hitler we say this: maintain your current path, and you will have war!”

One of the men turned to his friend and gave him a serious look. “When Mosley’s words reach Berlin, by God we will have war.” His friend replied. “War is exactly what Hitler is after. Today his appetite may fancy the Sudetenland, but tomorrow it will be all of Bohemia. He has put Germany on a course for the domination of all of Europe, and I’ll say he’s fool enough to think himself the man to win it.”

The first speaker nodded sagely. “One way or another, this will be a turning point for Europe. Either Hitler shall be deterred and the fascist tide will be turned by diplomacy, or he will persist and we will have a long and bloody war.”

Now these men were both colleagues of Mosley and had been in government for as long as he had been in power. They were men of action, and not in the habit of putting forward idle claims. The Rhineland Crisis of two years prior was still fresh in the memory, as was Stafford Cripps’ joint declaration with the Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov that no further fascist expansion would be tolerated on continental Europe. In the smoking room, it was quite evident that the possibility of war was entirely real.



GOOSEY.jpg

The German goose stepping across the Rhineland.


Across the hallway in a small meeting room, a group of Communist members of the assembly were equally busy talking away about Mosley’s speech. Ever since 1934, the Communists had distrusted Mosley and his supporters. They felt that he was too wedded to power and not enough wedded to the struggle of the working class. Yet as concerned his denunciation of Hitler they were in complete agreement. A lay preacher from Glasgow declared. “War with Hitler must come, as he is an implacable enemy of the Trade Unions. He has reduced the German workers to the level of helots.”

“What’s more,” a formidable women from Liverpool chimed in to agree, “he is determined to expand his slave state across Europe. He must be faced with his own weapons!”

“Quite right,” added a grave party man from the provinces. “Once he has done away with the countries of the East, why then it will only be a matter of time before he turns on Moscow!”

It was not just in London that the situation gave people cause for alarm. Up and down the country, people gathered to hold forth with their opinions on the coming war against the Commonwealth’s greatest enemy. At night, children went to bed scared stiff that Hitler the boogeyman would emerge from their cupboards and eat them all up. On one farm near Bristol, an effigy of the German Chancellor was spotted in a potato field scaring away the birds. Not since Churchill a decade before had the working people of Britain been given cause to so fear one man.

In Germany, too, Mosley’s words were heard with trepidation. At the highest levels of the army, men drawn from the old Prussian aristocracy feared that their Führer would lead them into an unwinnable war.

“We are not ready!” they protested. “If the British come to the defence of the Czechs, they will be joined by the Russians and the French. We must wait until we can handle this threat.”

But Hitler would not be talked down from his militant position, and the Junkers feared that their leader had gone quite mad with ambition. “He will drive us to ruin!” came the cry. “He will be the death of Germany!”



BLUMENTHAL.jpg

Hans-Jürgen Graf von Blumenthal


The date was September 30, 1938. German Army officer Count Hans-Jürgen von Blumenthal arrived at the Reichkanzlei with a group of soldiers opposed to the Nazi regime. They stormed the building and made towards Hitler’s office, killing the Führer’s SS guards and then the Führer himself.

Later that day, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of the German military intelligence service, was hurriedly installed as Reichspräsident. As the plotters rushed to disarm the Nazi Party apparatus, fearing it could still be used to press ahead with the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hermann Göring declared himself Hitler’s successor and launched a fightback. Göring was the commander of the Air Force and widely considered to be the second most powerful man in Germany after Hitler. He had no trouble taking over the Nazi regime.

While throughout October Germany descended into civil war between Nazi loyalists and the conservative opposition, in Britain the news of Hitler’s downfall was met with triumph. Mosley took to the tribune in the Assembly and addressed its attendant members.

“Emboldened by the fierce international opposition to his plans to invade Czechoslovakia and shatter the peace in Europe, the Germans have risen up against Hitler and his tyrannical regime. In Africa and in Palestine, the fight against fascism may yet go on. But in Europe, we have moved closer towards peace!”

Mosley had taken Hitler to the brink and come out on top. The Führer was dead, and in Britain the Chairman was enjoying his status as the greatest statesman of all times at the moment of his greatest triumph. Mosley was now the world’s premier man of peace.

Meanwhile in Germany, by the start of November the Nazi loyalists had given up all hope of victory. Göring made his escape and set off for Argentina. President Canaris invited the son of the old Kaiser to take up the vacant German throne, and on November 7, 1938 the Fourth Reich was proclaimed.

To those paying close attention, it was unclear just how much of a difference this shifting of players would make to the European stage. The new Kaiser Wilhelm III selected Hitler’s old State Secretary to be his first Chancellor. Baron Ernst von Weizsäcker was a pinnacle of the nationalist, conservative aristocratic class. He dissolved the Nazi Party and became the head of the revived German National People’s Party. Many members of the former government maintained their positions in power as the new DNVP regime stressed continuity. Chancellor von Weizsäcker and Chairman Mosley shared in Hitler a common enemy. Now that he was out of the picture, each was free to get on with his other business.

In Britain one seldom hears nowadays stories of German devilry. As one member of the Party of Action put it in a recent debate on foreign affairs, “Germany may be an enemy of the Commonwealth, but she is not an enemy of peace.” No notice is paid to the Junkers as they greedily eye Polish territories, or to the stories of old Jewish men being led out into the streets and forced to dance in their religious attire. Signor Mussolini, stubbornly keeping up with the prosecution of his colonial wars in the Middle East, is today’s “public enemy number one”.



MOSLEY%201940S%3F.jpg

Chairman Mosley, the great European force for peace.


The British national character, one is forced to conclude, remains fundamentally unchanged by revolution. While the members of the Assembly may shout till they are red in the face about the international solidarity between working men, their minds clearly entertain no such notions. We remain, as we always have been since the first strains of Liberal thought reached these islands centuries ago, unable to resist stories of great men with great powers, who command the forces of history like demigods. The story of history is simply their biography.

Thus men can sit in the Assembly and herald Chairman Mosley as a great force for peace in Europe without so much as a second thought for the millions who will remain oppressed by the new regime in power in Berlin. Mr Cripps at the International Bureau can content himself that no more British blood will be spilled on European soil over our obligations in Eastern Europe; all the more flesh and steel to pit against the Italians in the deserts of Egypt and Palestine!

We will become accommodated to a more gentlemanly way of conducting diplomacy, as we have become accustomed in the years after the Revolution to treating the Capitalist powers in good faith. The name Hitler will fade from the historical memory after a few years, and with it the notion of German evil. With its passing, the situation of those German people embattled against von Weizsäcker and the DNVP shall forever be obscured from view in the eyes of most onlookers.

This, then, is the story of a great crime of history, unfolding now in the present time. It is the story of a whole class of men falling under the spell of a deadening influence: the belief in the old Liberal piety that our enemies appear in mortal form. This is an account of the means by which we arrived here, at a moment when those in power see our opponents as mere people and not as the ideas these people carry.

This story is offered as a cautionary tale. It is hoped that in telling it some action may be taken to shake Britain out of its collective delusion, and that the people of the Commonwealth will again come to see their enemy not as any one man, but as the bastard allure of international fascism.
 
Last edited:
  • 1Like
Reactions:

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
123 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.957
3.590
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Peace is easy when you turn a blind eye, and to turn the head so as not to see you need control. Control Moseley clearly believed in :D
 

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
Peace is easy when you turn a blind eye, and to turn the head so as not to see you need control. Control Moseley clearly believed in :D

Absolutely. Getting to be Europe's "Man of Peace" in the 1930s really did wonders for Mosley's ego, and he's canny enough to realise that non-intervention can be as useful as intervening as far as maintaining that reputation is concerned.

As for Mosley's great belief in control, that will become increasingly apparent. We are inching ever closer towards the beginnings of the Cold War and the tightening of the Party of Action's grip over the state machinery. But that's all to come; still have to get to 1945 first! :D

Thanks as ever for your comment. One could set a clock by the interval between me posting a chapter and getting the notification that you've provided your thoughts, and that quality is always massively appreciated. :)
 

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
Having put off looking at it for the few couple of weeks of quarantine, I'm happy to say that I've finally finished my dissertation after seven-odd months of germination. This welcome news means that for the next week or so I'll be completely at liberty to spend some time diving into the Commonwealth. I've already managed to take events up to about 1950, and I'm hoping I can get a decent way towards 1956 and all the fun that entails before I need to start thinking about (virtual) university again for a month or so.

In celebration, I'll try and get the next update out tomorrow. It's another look at the 'Guilty Men' mindset and begins to open out some questions about the geopolitical situation in Europe going into the 1940, "written" by a famous face who will come to hold an important place in British politics as the decade progresses. (I won't spoil the surprise. :p)

In other good news, friend of the thread @loup99 has kindly agreed to flesh out some aspects of the French canon for us. So look forward to some extra special bonus updates in the not too distant future. :)
 
The Commonwealth of the Credulous: A Review of "Guilty Men"

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE CREDULOUS
A REVIEW OF “GUILTY MEN”

PUBLISHED IN THE PARTISAN REVIEW, MARCH 1940

GEORGE ORWELL




Guilty Men is a curious book. Written by an anonymous siren voice hectoring from the outside of our political establishment, it betrays an intimate knowledge of the fears and prejudices of our political and bureaucratic classes. Some have speculated that I am the mysterious “Cato”, and far be it from my place to ruin the fun, yet while it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that the dialogue between Assembly Members and political insiders is mere authorial license, to my mind it is spoken with far too great a bite in its jaws to have come from one without first-hand knowledge of the foibles it describes. “Cato”, I am certain, is a figure shouting to us from within the castle gates, a doomed prophet too sensational to be taken entirely seriously by his wider public, and too accurate to be fully tolerated by his unfortunate targets.

The message “Cato” preaches is one of caution. His tale is pitched as a warning, against a certain romanticism of outlook on the one hand, and against the insidiousness of evil on the other. It is this fine line which “Cato” walks that has perhaps seen him come unstuck. In delivering his message, he has written what is in essence a work of popular fiction. This is the sugar which coaxes the patient to take his medicine. One can read Guilty Men as merely a diverting speculation on the dangers of simplistic foreign policy, but this would be not to credit it with the full intelligence of its argument. Far from a simple jeremiad against a tendency in the British towards “Whiggish Liberal piety”, that is to say the construction of a foreign policy on the basis of a fanciful view of the outside world as populated solely by oversized dictators and diabolical bogeymen, Guilty Men performs its true, unspoken service in offering us some idea of who, ten years into this Commonwealth project, we are as a people.

I am of an age that my adolescence was coloured by the two profound cataclysms of this century so far – or perhaps those which saw the death of the last century. My childhood ended around the time of the Great War, and I entered adulthood just as Britain was edging towards Revolution. I was born this side of 1900, but I may as well have grown up in the 19th century. My upbringing was confined within the polite boundaries of the English gentry, wholly devoid of the question of the world being turned over. I was schooled in the traditions of the English middle classes and prepared for a life of service to King and Empire. An inquisitive mind or an argumentative streak were charming, frustrating traits that added colour to one’s character, but they were not revolutionary. During the years of the war, Germany was to be despised like a rival association football team – but no more.

I mean not to recall the oppressive years with excessive fondness, except as a counter to the circumstances in which we find ourselves today. Revolution is today a permanent legacy. Society, we are told, has been turned over and rebuilt anew. We can see it in our very houses; hear it in the evenings on the wireless; feel it in the new benevolence of the sun’s rays that light up the towns of England. Where once was gentility now there is dynamism – which in its frenetic call to action is something of a default state for our times and our politics. Government is in the hands of men of Action. Foreign policy is conducted along the lines of words and deeds as Action. In the voices of young men coming up in the world there is no call for change but only for this one inexhaustible commodity, Action! This is the marker by which we prove to ourselves that our world is different from the last – that which we shed, finally, in 1929.



ORWELL%201940.jpg

Eric Blair, better known to the people of the Commonwealth as George Orwell, was a writer, journalist and dissident socialist leader. After seeing action with the POUM in Spain, Orwell was invalided home in June 1937 and dedicated himself to the organisation of anti-fascist activity in Britain. The driving force behind the United Socialists Against Fascism, Orwell was part of the leadership of the anti-Mosleyite Left until his death in 1950.


For those of us who remember the age before our own (and we are many, it has not been that long) the fear of oppression is rooted in memory. The fear of want is a powerful driver of mankind. We who carry its memory in our hearts need no reminding of the suffering caused by man’s pursuit of capital, and his domination of other men. Thus an opposition to fascism in all of its forms becomes a daily creed, as essential as bread. It was not Hitler we feared, in spite of his monstrosity, for we recognise that he was not alone in his convictions, and that his monstrosity was not singular. We did not fear in him a threat to the “current order” in Europe, nor did we resist his menacing of the Czechoslovakian people out of a concern for the welfare of “territorial integrity”. We stood up because we knew what it would mean for our brothers and sisters in the Sudetenland for German tanks to breach their defences. We learnt the lessons, some of us, only years ago in Spain – and before that in the streets of Bethnal Green, or the docks along the Mersey. At a basic level, we remember the very humanity of this evil we call fascism, and therefore we have resolved always to meet it with resistance wherever it appears.

“Cato” is shrewd enough to recognise the problem of this resolution, which is that it is rooted in a material past whose memory is rapidly fading. For those growing up in the present age, “fascism” is nothing but a bogeyman, and the late Herr Hitler its human face. This coming generation sense that this fascist terror exists, but they do not know its methods. They have not, broadly speaking, witnessed the devastation it inflicts upon mankind when it is given power. The Counter-Revolution was an insurgency, swiftly fought off by working people and claimed as a victory by the state. But the nightmare of fascism backed by authority remains just that – a nightmare.

Thus “Cato” points out the danger, that fascism becomes so abstract a terror that it ceases entirely to motivate anyone to resist it. This is why it has been necessary to construct a great pantomime villain of European diplomacy in the form of Adolf Hitler. It is very easy to be induced to hate another man, particularly a man of such absurdity. It is all the easier when he is presented as representing a threat to the very foundations of our “brave new world”, which is in fact a remnant of the old world of the 19th century – of perpetual “Action” that boils down to a dependable Middle England strength of character, and an international solidarity which is little more than a defence of a romantic attachment to borders and one’s common people. The world Herr Hitler challenged had far more in common with the world our parents knew, and which we have so prided ourselves in consigning to history.



EUROPE%201940.jpg

Europe in summer 1940, following the establishment of pro-Soviet governments in Finland and the Baltic states. Not shown are territorial changes arising from the prosecution of Mussolini's invasion campaign in Northern Africa. At this stage, the Italians had made gains in Tunisia and the French Southern Territories, with a separate front opening up in Palestine.


In this way, Guilty Men is at its heart a parable about the place of fairytales in our national identity. By the same measures that made Herr Hitler such an obvious figure of ridicule and revulsion for the British, so too was he regarded as an absurd character by powerful men in Germany. He was, in all things, too erratic, too rash, too monomaniacal. The worries of the British governing class and the worries of the German courtly opposition were in fact shared, namely that Herr Hitler would knock things too greatly off balance. The Germans got rid of him because he was beginning to get in the way of their nationalist conservative programme of avenging the wrongs enacted at Versailles. The British despised him because he threatened the appearance of peace in Europe, which allows us to get on with the business of protecting our interests elsewhere – in Egypt and Palestine, and in the Far East. All of this we do in the name of “fighting fascism”, when fascism has become an empty shell. This is the second lesson “Cato” delivers: that the British are being too willingly led down the garden path. The weight carried by the words “fight against fascism” must not be allowed to be devalued by those who wish to take them and put them to service in their diplomatic parlour games. We must remember, always and everywhere, what it means to oppose tyranny on the human scale. This applies equally to those “on our own side”. When Stalin menaced the Baltic states at the start of this year, this was no different to the menacing of Czechoslovakia by Germany in 1938. Yet because the fascist bogeyman has obscured our collective understanding of imperialism, we do not look too closely. The shame is that we do not accept our blindness in public, only with private embarrassment. Too much of our governing class remains wedded to Moscow to allow for the sort of self– and mutual criticism that is necessary of any broad movement of the Left.

Guilty Men is a slight volume of curious and doubtful literary merit. Nevertheless, it is a courageous attempt to correct a number of dangerous tendencies developed by our leaders over the past decade. Whether understood fully by its ravenous public, it will have a profound impact upon the attitudes and the prejudices of the people of the Commonwealth. As members of the “Left intelligentsia”, it is our job to be aware of any attempt to subvert its message in the name of political expedience. In this way, we too may contribute something to the vital task that our mysterious friend “Cato” has taken up.
 
Last edited:
  • 1Like
Reactions:

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
123 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.957
3.590
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Orwell is such an interesting character.
 

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
Orwell is such an interesting character.

He is really is. It's a treat having him around and I'm glad to be able to bring him into the story properly at last.
 

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
Today is the anniversary of the proclamation of the real world Second Spanish Republic on 14 April 1931. While in our own time it is remembered by those sympathetic to its aims more or less as a noble failure, in the world of the Commonwealth it enjoys a different fate. In celebration of this anniversary, and in respect of the memory of the fight against fascism in our own times, it seems fitting to put up the next update later on today.

Another attempt at writing in the voice of an endlessly fascinating literary figure, the next chapter goes further into the mood established over the last couple of updates with respect to the situation in the global fight against the timeline's fascist and imperial regimes. Look out for it in a short while! :)
 
  • 1Like
Reactions:
Looking Over the Shoulder: A view of Europe from across the Atlantic

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



LOOKING OVER THE SHOULDER
ON THE WARS IN AFRICA AND ASIA

PUBLISHED IN THE PARTISAN REVIEW, OCTOBER 1944

ARTHUR KOESTLER



In 1940, the mysterious “Cato” sent a hurried and urgent warning to the people of Britain that their sense of moral political obligation had been compromised. Looking back then, in the midst of a state of domestic peace and war abroad, on four years of fighting the beast of fascism, Cato concluded that the position of the average Briton had become abstracted. It was not, on the whole, out of a fear of the very real threat of the Gestapo that so many on the home front rallied to the cause of opposing Hitler in the Sudetenland. Those thousands who journeyed to Spain know of course the realities of fascism, and of the fight against it. The fight against fascism is, necessarily, stateless; it sees only the struggles of persecuted peoples. But for Mosley, Cripps and Bevan in Whitehall, and thus the millions who follow their lead uncritically, the ideological battle may never be framed in these terms. “Fascism” becomes mere jargon, a by-word for all that threatens the interests of the Commonwealth. Standing up to Hitler was an act of geopolitical expedience, predicated on a nineteenth-century valorisation of that which is called “territorial integrity”. The expansion of Germany into the Sudetenland would have wrought no end of chaos upon the Continent, and it was with in mutual anticipation of this coming chaos that Mosley, Cripps and the Junker class of Prussia found themselves aligned in their opposition to Hitler. This, of course, is the ultimate lesson preached by “Cato”: of the instructive hypocrisy in raising all hell for Hitler, only to welcome Kaiser Wilhelm with not so much as a whimper. This is the sum of our anti-fascism.


I arrived in Spain in 1937, in the first winter of the conflict. My road to Spain was long, and over many years took me through a great many states, from Germany to Palestine to Russia to France. I have seen more of the European left-wing than most, and I have bore first-hand witness to more than my fair share of evils. In Germany, I was for a time taken in by the Stalinist creed, before soon becoming disillusioned by the rigidity of its stipulations. I have known Communism as a vehicle for state power, and I have known equally the abominable realities of the fascist machine. Smuggled into Spain under false pretences as a propagandist for the Falangist cause, I was captured and sentenced to death. Only what little reputation I have as a writer kept me from the firing squad, and in the event I was exchanged for a high-ranking Nationalist officer, captured some months earlier by the Republican army. When I write of anti-fascism, I write having lived under the full weight of its dark shadow. I have felt for myself the sensation of having one’s life declared worthless, or else expendable according to the whims of the state. I have stood alongside comrade in arms and faced an enemy that knows no humanity, whose singular hunger accepts only authority put to the work of powering the capitalistic system. Against this threat there was the organisation of workers, making vital preparations for their own survival.


The silence that greeted Stalin’s annexation of the Baltic states further exposed the hypocrisy of the European fight against fascism. Even taken in the terms of the last century as a fight for the integrity of every nation, 1940 made quite clear the fact that only certain states were deemed a threat to the idea of this integrity. The revolution in France that birthed the Fourth Republic in 1938 brought a promise of worker control. But neither the lessons of Russia, nor indeed of Britain, had been learned, and once again the master’s tools were put to work in dismantling his own house. Western Europe is at this moment gripped with a fever for Syndicalism. What does this mean? By all evidence, all that is offered by those who have taken control of the syndicalist system is greater worker complicity in the production of capital, with the trade off of some greater degree of compensation.


The war in Spain offered a glimpse of a brighter European future, in which the certainties of nineteenth-century democracy, still prevalent on the Continent up to the last Great War, would be covered over by a new enthusiasm for self-determination. This was the true dream of the Romantics, only it too was hampered by an understanding of liberty as wedded to state power. In Spain, where the Republican army was influence in no small part by the anarchist contingent, self-determination reached its apotheosis, men and women directing the means of their own defence against the spectre of tyranny.



KOESTLER%201945%205%20FROM%20RIGHT.jpg

Arthur Koestler, fifth from the right, visiting a kibbutz in the Commonwealth territory of Palestine in 1945. Koestler was born in Hungary and became a naturalised Commonwealth citizen in 1933. A prolific and outspoken writer, he was at first a Stalinist before breaking with Moscow in 1938. Later he was a fierce opponent of totalitarianism, and became a vocal opponent of the Mosley regime after the suppression of the Partisan Review, for which he often wrote, in 1949.


After 1938, when not only the Commonwealth’s commitment to liberty was exposed as skin-deep but the conflict in Spain was expanded into North Africa, the new order met with a premature end. The Spanish War had made its presence felt in Africa from the start, with the campaign against Franco in Spanish Morocco enduring from 1936 until the spring of 1941. At no point was it a battle fought over the question of true self-determination. First a mere importation of the Spanish conflict onto African soil, with the arrival of Mussolini’s armies in the French colonies in 1938 the issue at stake became imperialism, short and simple. Although the Communist manifesto of 1929 had promised the immediate liberation of all occupied territories of the former British Empire, the caveat of friendly assistance in their development as Workers’ Republics has been eagerly seized upon by the government of the Party of Action. While it needs little justifying on purely pragmatic terms, the intervention of Britain in the flagrant attempts of Rome to expand its absurd new empire into British protectorates, for the colonised there is no adjustment of their subaltern rank. It is false to describe the campaigns in Africa and Palestine as new theatres in the Spanish War, for the Spanish War was a battle between one people, assisted by allies from other nations, over the future of their own country. The African Campaign was a war between Britain and Italy, fought in and over the deserts of the Arab world.


Indeed, the disastrous campaign waged by the Italians in North Africa has proven far more significant for the Italians themselves than for the Arabs, who remain closely tied to the fortunes of their old masters, albeit under new robes. The fierce opposition to both the fascist government and the monarchy that keeps it in power seems almost certain, if events in Britain, France and Spain are to prove instructive, to spell the rise of Europe’s fifth surviving worker state.


Meanwhile, the new-style imperial wars continued, ever further from the European continent. This sequence of conflicts may be characterised as the attempts of the new powers to deal with the legacies of the last century. In Europe this has meant reckoning with the significance of empire in the new century. For the Americans and the Japanese, there exists a prize of new empires to be built. Imperial Japan has been at war with its neighbouring powers for the best part of a decade. First, it set its sights on China, before turning its attention to the furthest reaches of the Soviet Union. In December 1941, simultaneous attacks on the American military base at Pearl Harbour and the Commonwealth protectorates in Hong Kong and Singapore brought Britain and the United States into the war. An entreaty from Tokyo to Berlin, proposing a German invasion of Poland in the hope of distracting the Soviets in the West, was declined by Reich officials. Hence after 1941, Japan faced the combined opposition of the United States, the Soviet Union, the British Commonwealth and the French Workers' Republic.


In Britain, the eruption of a conflict halfway across the globe, fought against an aggressive imperialist power over land many were likely unaware held interest to the British government, encompassed all that had come to define warmongering in the middle of the twentieth century. There was an idea of some duty, to the triumph of good over evil in the most detached of ways. Unlike in Spain, there was no outpouring of volunteer fighters from Britain. The Wintringham Doctrine, devised in 1931 by Marshal Tom Wintringham, commander-in-chief of the Workers’ Brigades, enshrined in constitutional law that Britain was to have no standing army, and that all military personnel were tied to service only by voluntary association. This had posed no problem in the European conflicts (and here I include, for reasons outlined above, the campaign in North Africa), which had elicited the emotions of sufficient young men and women of the Commonwealth for battalions to be formed. But who was to be aroused by the prospect of fighting the Japanese in south east Asia? Only the most wide-eyed of adventurers.



MALAYA%20PACIFIC%20WAR.jpg

Allied troops in Malaya during the Pacific War (1941–44). Most of the fighting was done by local Asian populations, supplanted by a relatively small number of British troops. The war was fought overwhelmingly by the Americans, who sent nearly 2 million soldiers into the theatre. Both of these facts contributed to geopolitical situation in Southeast Asia going into the 1950s.


The overwhelming majority of soldiers in British service in the Pacific campaign were drawn from the former colonies. At the peak of its strength, the combined Commonwealth army was formed of around three-hundred thousand soldiers. Only forty thousand of these came from metropolitan Britain, about one fifth of the strength of the Commonwealth Brigade in the Spanish Republican army and one quarter of the number who served in North Africa and Palestine. British military doctrine since the revolution has leant heavily on the art or guerrilla and irregular warfare, and in this respect those troops to have enlisted were well-suited to the realities of the Pacific theatre. Yet, in the main, the war was fought, more than any other war to have blighted our current age, by proxy. For the Commonwealth’s numerous protectorates and dependencies (let us call them as they are), the fact of friendly relations with the metropole is built upon the greatest sacrifice. Greater autonomy may mean that material prosperity now flows in two directions. The obligations of defence remain entirely devolved. Mosley, Cripps and Bevan were left free to their grandstanding, playing war at a distance with boats and aeroplanes, entirely oblivious to the atrocities being perpetrated on the ground.


Here in America, the story is different in many ways. The Pacific campaign was perhaps as close as the United States will come, since the mending of relations with the British in the last century, to a war with a neighbouring regional power. Dominance of the Pacific represents a strategic interest to Washington, as much as the idea of Japanese imperialism offends the American sense of self-determination. The great war machine of the United States, dormant since the Great War, thus locked into gear once more and produced itself, in the most naked sense of the word, a victory. Chairman Mosley’s system of production was built on a raft of credits and tariffs, keeping demand buoyant and markets accessible. President Roosevelt’s arsenal of democracy furnished a far more material, though no less manufactured demand, which is to say that its entire being was devoted to constructing the downfall of the Japanese Empire. This it accomplished, alongside the deaths of no less than half a million American soldiers, in the space of three of the bloodiest years of the century.


Thus what we are left with, after a decade of war across the globe, is essentially a conservative victory. In turn, this victory brought a conservative peace. It will provide no lasting solution of the minority problems in the European jigsaw puzzle, which remains preoccupied with nationhood much as it has been for the last century. It will provide no cure for the inherent disease of the capitalistic system, nor ultimately will it prove the fundamental supremacy of the alternative systems devised in London and Moscow. It will not mark a decisive step in the ascent of the human race. But it will bring an enormous temporary relief to the people of the Continent, it will bring salvation to millions whose life seemed doomed, and a certain minimum of liberty, decency, security. Briefly, it will be a new, perhaps slightly improved, edition of the pre-Hitlerian old order, a nineteenth-century postscript to the first half of the twentieth, which history has written in such abominable style. And I hope, and believe, that this anachronistic patchwork, if it is achieved with good craftsmanship, may give Europe a breathing space of perhaps a couple of decades, with at least a chance of averting the next fatal plunge.


That means that we are beginning to realise that this war is not the final cataclysm, not the ultimate showdown between the forces of darkness and light, but perhaps only the beginning of a new series of convulsions, spread over a much larger period of history than we originally thought, until the new world is born. The task will be to use the coming breathing space as best we can. And, incidentally, to give praise every morning we wake without a Gestapo sentry under our window, for this nineteenth-century postscript, for our own physical survival. Who among those who lived through the crisis in the Sudetenland six years ago believed it! I for one did not.


Arthur Koestler is a special correspondent for the Partisan Review. He writes from Los Angeles, where he has been uncovering the American response to war in the Pacific.




This update incorporates text from Arthur Koestler, “A Challenge to ‘Knights in Rusty Armour’” (1943), accessed online via http://movies2.nytimes.com/books/00/01/02/specials/koestler-challenge.html
 
Last edited:
  • 1Like
Reactions:

99KingHigh

Supercilious Ivy League High Tory
17 Badges
Aug 29, 2011
3.801
417
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • March of the Eagles
  • Rome Gold
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • 500k Club
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
123 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.957
3.590
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
What a remarkably pessimistic point of view
 

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
My god, I only hope revolution breeds reaction.

In time, naturally. Though doubtless not of the sort that would be to your satisfaction. :p

What a remarkably pessimistic point of view

Koestler has a particularly dark view of the ills of totalitarian states, it must be said. And he is not overall optimistic of the strength of democracy under Mosley. As was hinted, and as will be seen shortly, this fear is not entirely without justification.
 
  • 1Like
Reactions:
Flying in the Dark: A Counterfactual

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



FLYING IN THE DARK
TALKING POINT

BROADCAST ON CBC 1, OCTOBER 1973



Jeremy Isaacs: “Good evening everyone and welcome to Talking Point. My name is Jeremy Isaacs, and I will be chairing what hopes to be a lively discussion this evening on the topic of the Hanover Plot: the dramatic sequence of events by which Edward Windsor attempted to retake the British throne in collusion with the German Reich thirty years ago. With me on my left is J. G. Ballard, a writer of speculative fiction whose recent work includes Flying in the Dark, a short novel describing a world in which the plot was successful—


J. G. Ballard: “Good evening.”


Jeremy Isaacs: “And on my right is Dr Irene Holloway, a former civil servant who now lectures in the Faculty of History at the University of Liverpool, specialising in German politics during the chancellorship of Ernst von Weizsäcker. Good evening, Dr Holloway.”


Irene Holloway: “Good evening, Jeremy.”


Isaacs: “J. G. Ballard, I’ll come to you first: would you outline for us please your conception of a world in which the Hanover Plot succeeds?”


Ballard: “Certainly. It should be mentioned of course that the details of the affair as it occurred in our own timeline are hazy enough, and subject to no end of speculation, but I tried to ground my own scenario in as plausible a sequence of events as possible. Dr Holloway will no doubt be able to provide a much fuller account of the context, but I will frame events briefly and as I understand them.


“The Hanover Plot as it occurred in our history was an attempt by Edward Windsor, the self-styled ‘King in Canada’, to return to Britain and take control of the throne vacated by his father George V in 1929. Edward was supported by the intelligence network of the German Reich, who believed that orchestrating a coup to re-establish the monarchy in the Commonwealth would gravely weaken the Syndicalist bloc that had come to dominate Western Europe. Edward and his German wife Marie Alexandra, the widow of a former Nazi diplomat, arrived in Germany shortly after their marriage in May 1943. The official reason given was that the couple were to undertake a Baltic cruise starting in Stettin as part of their honeymoon. It is now widely accepted that this was in fact a cover to allow for Edward and Marie Alexandra to meet with the Reich authorities during the planning of the mission to Britain in July. The couple did indeed travel the Baltic, but they were never to return to Newfoundland; their flight home from Hanover was never intended to reach St John’s, but rather destined for Biggin Hill Airport, near Bromley in Kent. Reich officials believed that Edward would be met at Biggin Hill by a group of loyalists with whom they had been in contact since the previous autumn. From this point on, he would be able to launch a takeover of the Commonwealth government with the backing of numerous oppositional groups monitored and supported by the Reich’s intelligence bureau. In reality, the supposed loyalists were Foreign Bureau agents. When Edward and Marie Alexandra landed at Biggin Hill they were both immediately arrested and the plot fell apart. In my book, poor weather conditions mean that the German plane is forced to land about 13 miles off course in a field in the Kent countryside. The Foreign Bureau is inadvertently wrong-footed and forced into a game of cat and mouse as Edward moves to establish himself in Britain.—”


TALKING%20POINT%20BALLARD.jpg

J. G. Ballard on Talking Point.


Isaacs: “I wonder, Dr Holloway, what do you make of Mr Ballard’s scenario? Have you read the book?”


Holloway: “I have actually, yes. I read it when it first came out. I think Mr Ballard, you’d probably concede that it’s perhaps not an entirely plausible history of the plot itself—but that’s not really the point, is it? I dare say what’s far more interesting to you, and probably also to many of us readers, is the idea that there’s nothing to say things couldn’t have happened in this way. Our own history in another set of circumstances may seem entirely unlikely, and so in many ways I think it’s incredibly uncharitable to judge these sorts of speculative narratives on whether they stand up to rigorous academic questioning.—I’m conscious of the fact this isn’t really answering your question, Jeremy. I worked under Oliver Stanley during the 1940s and now I teach about the period in question, so I could go on at length about the subject and Mr Ballard’s counterfactual. But for me that would just kill it instantly. The point, I think, is much more about how the Commonwealth was at the time, what the people thought and feared, what our leaders took for granted and where they said they would deliver us. Edward and Hanover really—and Mr Ballard, you may disagree with me here entirely—but for me Edward and the Hanover affair really just act almost a mirror, a slightly warped mirror held up to our own history to reveal perhaps some previously hidden truths about ourselves.”


Ballard: “No, I do agree. Of course, I wouldn’t like to think that what I’ve written is so ludicrous as to be beyond belief—I do hope to have retained some sense of plausibility—but really Flying in the Dark is not a book about Edward becoming king, even if that is the form it takes. For me it’s much more importantly a story about manipulation, tyranny and at the same time the sort of ‘everydayness’ of this all. And of course it does get fairly melodramatic—I’m not going to suggest for a minute that I think that, had Edward really landed in a field in Kent and not at Biggin Hill as planned, he would’ve been king by the end of the year. But I don’t think it completely outlandish to suggest that having a charismatic foreign monarch on Commonwealth soil would’ve caused the government a fair measure of trouble if they hadn’t captured him straight away.”


Isaacs: “This is perhaps worth picking up on. At the time the government response resulted in a very public condemnation of the German Reich, which damaged relations even further during the early stages of the Cold War. Edward himself was denounced as a fascist collaborator and eventually convicted of treason; Marie Alexandra was convicted of treachery. Both were sentenced to death, although only Edward was actually executed. Yet for the most part, there was perhaps remarkably little backlash against what one might call the ‘enemy within’. Dr Holloway, do you think Mosley and the government remained unconcerned by attacks to their position, or do you think some other explanation is necessary for the relative lack of public reaction by the state?”


Holloway: “I think the key thing perhaps is that Edward’s actual arrival in England, for the Foreign Bureau, represented only the final act in the drama, as it were. The work of infiltrating and dismantling fascist and royalist groups—often they were one and the same—had either been accomplished over the previous eight months, following first contact between the ‘loyalist’ double agents and the Reich intelligence bureau, or else back in the 1930s following the Counter-Revolution. 1943 is quite a strange time, domestically speaking, to attempt a coup d’état by covert methods. The British are at this point involved in military engagements in Palestine and in the Far East, although by the end of summer the Middle Eastern campaign concluded with Mussolini’s dismissal. It is possible that the Reich believed Edward’s landing in Britain could be used as a pretext to open up another front in in Europe, but there is a lack of evidence to suggest an invasion of the Commonwealth was ever seriously considered. At most, it appears that the Reich was prepared to launch a bombing campaign and provide the loyalist cause with foreign volunteers—essentially a repeat of its role in the Spanish War until Hitler’s assassination. One rather controversial suggestion is that the Germans were actually so annoyed by Edward’s monomaniacal desire to regain the British crown that they willingly set him up to rid themselves of a problem—but this seems fanciful. Consensus suggests that the Germans simply acted on bad intelligence. In the long run, it was a fairly insignificant loss for the Reich to take: embarrassing in the short term, but far more sensational than strategically damaging. The Commonwealth was in no position to fight a war against Germany, and Mosley had no desire to risk war when he could simply take the domestic victory.”


Ballard: “I was 12 when the affair happened and, rather naively, I remember it being terribly exciting. There was something quite romantic about the sheer audacity of this plot, even if I later understood what its implications would have been were it successful. Mosley in typical fashion used the capture of the royal couple to boost his own standing, but I remember being much more fascinated by Oliver Stanley. Here was this mild-mannered government functionary who was given a large amount of the credit for foiling the plot. I suppose there was something attractive in the way that all of the high drama of international espionage was being played out by fairly ordinary-looking bureaucrats. The idea that people could be something other than that which they first appear.—Of course, all that was really reported was the trial, which was very heavily publicised. Stanley only received a passing mention in the press.”


OLIVER%20STANLEY.jpg

Oliver Stanley, Extraordinary Secretary for European Affairs (1936–49)


Isaacs: “Stanley is a key character in your novel. Is his role augmented by memories of your childhood curiosity?”


Ballard: “Yes, I should say so. There has, after all, been little confirmation either way as to the nature of his exact role within Dafacom, so those like me seeking to turn him into a protagonist only have so much to go off. But as a child certainly I was captivated by this mysterious figure. He was described in the press I think as the ‘Extraordinary Secretary for European Affairs’. It wasn’t until much later that we learnt about ‘Digby’ or any of that. And then of course we got the films and that completely changed things—”


Isaacs: “The Cary Grant film?”


Ballard: “Exactly, the Cary Grant film that came out about, what, ten years ago? The Man Digby. Mr Grant is a fantastic actor, and he gives a very fine performance in the film. But for me the key appeal of the Digby figure was always his unassuming brilliance. Cary Grant gives him a great deal more of the ‘leading man quality’ than I’d have written. I was always completely taken with the idea that these wild plots were being foiled by quiet men sat at desks in Whitehall.”


Isaacs: “Dr Holloway, you worked for Oliver Stanley. What are your recollections of the man?”


Holloway: “I think first of all Mr Ballard is quite accurate in his characterisation. Oliver Stanley was ferociously intelligent, but you would never have given him a second thought if you passed him in the street. One of Mosley’s young Tory converts who shared the Chairman’s belief in intelligence and economy. But far more sober than Mosley. I think Mosley quite likely realised that Stanley would’ve made a formidable chairman himself, so he hid him away in the diplomatic service where he’d be less of a threat to his dominance of the executive committee. He would have been a far better successor than Bevan had he not died early.”


Isaacs: “I don’t suppose you can shed any light on the veracity of ‘Digby’? Cary Grant’s character, of course, is called Digby because he is the Director-General of the Bureaux of Intelligence. D-G-B-I. Is this an historical detail?”


Holloway: “When Oliver Stanley was my boss, I worked as a junior analyst of German politics within a branch of the diplomatic service called the Office for European Affairs. It was my first job out of university. Did I ever hear any references to a Mr Digby? I’m afraid I can’t have been in the right rooms at the right time.”


Isaacs: “Well, you can’t blame me for trying. In Mr Ballard’s novel, the successful plot revives the fortunes of the Windsor Monarchy, which is transformed into a global capitalist power ruled by an oligarchic, nationalistic government based in Canada. In turn, it is suggested that the Cold War escalates into a much more aggressive confrontation between the capitalist and syndicalist powers than in our own history. Staying with you, Dr Holloway, could you perhaps comment on the geopolitics of the world of Flying in the Dark with reference to our own?”


Holloway: “The main difference is, of course, the prevailing counter-revolution in western Europe. Britain is transformed much along the lines of the German reich into an aristocratic, extremely conservative society. King Edward surrounds himself with a mix of surviving old aristocracy, as well as a number of ‘new men’, with whom he identifies as being dynamic and active— quite similar actually to the type of man favoured by Chairman Mosley in the early years. All of this is accompanied by a devastating crackdown on left-wing groups and a complete overhaul of the British economy, which drags on until the end of the decade.


“In our own history, the syndicalist bloc was fairly well established by 1943. The British regime was incredibly secure, and stability was starting to return in Spain and France. Victory over Italy was imminent in North Africa and Palestine, and we were only two years off the Italian revolution. After this, western Europe is set as a syndicalist stronghold, and this comes to be a defining point of Cold War-era geopolitics with repercussions right up to the present day.


“In Flying in the Dark, the war in Africa is immediately suspended following Edward’s successful coup, and Mussolini signs a white peace, conditional upon a promise of British support to suppress partisan groups fighting the fascist regime in Italy. The ensuing Italian War is essentially a repeat of the Spanish War, only this time Britain, Germany and Italy are allied against France, Russia and Spain. The monarchist coalition wins, and the anti-capitalist bloc is destabilised to the point that the Fourth Republic collapses in 1947. This is perhaps roughly analogous with the collapse of the fascist government in Italy in 1945. Of course, this spells the end for the anti-capitalist bloc; Spain is isolated and the Soviet Union begins an aggressive, renewed commitment to the socialism in one country doctrine. Meanwhile, the countries of the monarchist bloc dominate Europe and usher in an era of nativistic, state-powered capitalism.


“What is most interesting is the resulting impact on the Cold War, which in fact becomes much more volatile. The process of decolonisation embarked upon by the Commonwealth in the Thirties and Forties is reversed, and, while India is already out of imperial hands, Africa becomes an incredibly bloody battleground in the global ideological war. Pretty much every former British colony in Africa faces its own harrowing campaign for independence, involving proxies from the imperialist and anti-imperialist powers.—”


STAND%20BY%20THE%20KING.jpg

Much has been made of the alternate-historical possibilities of a more fortuitous meeting between Edward and Mosley. Ballard is by no means not the first to hint at a similarity between the two men.


Isaacs: “Sorry to interrupt, Dr Holloway, but I’d just like to bring Mr Ballard back in at this point. Mr Ballard, is this remarkably dark vision of a restored imperial Britain intended to provide a sort of implicit moral assessment of our own history?”


Ballard: “If you mean is the book a piece of pro-Commonwealth propaganda… no, I wouldn’t describe it as such. All of my work is I suppose intended to arouse a certain sense of shock, and in this way give the reader pause to consider his own world. But I do not mean to come down from my authorial seat and condone or condemn one eventuality or another. I think both history and fiction are far too nuanced to allow for such a thing.”


Isaacs: “You described your book earlier as a sort of ‘warped mirror’, and said that it was chiefly about the ‘everydayness of tyranny’. To what degree, if at all, is Britain under King Edward intended to reflect Britain under Chairman Mosley?”


Ballard: “Well, to be facile, it is fully intended to reflect Mosley’s Britain, but it is, as I have said, a warped reflection. I think a writer of alternative fiction such as myself can only draw upon his own experience, fundamentally, and I am very much interested by experiences of violence, of control… of the relationships that construct modern society. My writing, although it may be quite imaginative, is in fact entirely of this world.”


Isaacs: “Thank you, Mr Ballard. I will be back with both J. G. Ballard and Dr Irene Holloway after this short film about Edward Windsor, the so-called ‘King in Canada’.”



Four months after this episode of Talking Point was aired, the government declassified a number of files relating to Commonwealth intelligence efforts during the Anti-Fascist Wars. Amongst other revelations, it was confirmed that Oliver Stanley was appointed to the post of Director-General of the Bureaux of Intelligence upon the entry of the Commonwealth into the Spanish War in 1936. He occupied the position until 1949 when, suffering from declining health, he stepped down. Oswald Mosley offered him the directorship of the Bureau of International Relations, but he was forced by worsening health to refuse and the job went to Philip Noël-Baker.

Stanley died in 1950. Few people questioned why the man who had held the directorship of the Bureau of Transport and Infrastructure for a year 1935 was buried with full posthumous honours as a Hero of the Commonwealth.
 
  • 1Like
Reactions:

mad orc

Major
12 Badges
Oct 15, 2019
535
352
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Surviving Mars
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
I had already read until the dance music of early commonwealth chapter

Today I read till 'THE RED, THE WHITE, THE GREEN
ANGLOS IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND THE POLITICS OF EXILE, 1929–1944' chapter

The level of detailing is really awespiring
 

stnylan

Compulsive CommentatAAR
123 Badges
Aug 1, 2002
36.957
3.590
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Deus Vult
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
What an interesting character study, through reported recollection and a presence in a novel, in a discussion format.
 

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
I had already read until the dance music of early commonwealth chapter

Today I read till 'THE RED, THE WHITE, THE GREEN
ANGLOS IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND THE POLITICS OF EXILE, 1929–1944' chapter

The level of detailing is really awespiring

Thanks man! Glad to hear there are people plugging away at this still, and great to know you're enjoying it! I'll look forward to hearing more of your thoughts hopefully in the future. :)

What an interesting character study, through reported recollection and a presence in a novel, in a discussion format.

Stanley is such a good character, but almost by necessity he's perpetually out of the limelight. It's a fascinating transition, from up and coming Tory moderniser to spymaster. He was attracted to Mosley briefly before Mosley went full fash, and he strikes me as exactly the sort of person the Chairman would want to keep around as a sort of "kindred spirit", even if Stanley is far less bombastic. An exemplar of Mosley's semi-aristocratic technocracy masquerading as a socialist state machinery.
 
  • 1Like
Reactions:

mad orc

Major
12 Badges
Oct 15, 2019
535
352
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Surviving Mars
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
The memories of the Spanish civil war were so descriptive. It's overwhelming....the detail

I also loved the part where he says "The revolution hasn't penetrated the villages of inner Britain yet and are still limited to public hall meetings"

Great updates
 

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
The memories of the Spanish civil war were so descriptive. It's overwhelming....the detail

I also loved the part where he says "The revolution hasn't penetrated the villages of inner Britain yet and are still limited to public hall meetings"

Great updates

Thank you so much! Really great to hear your thoughts as you go through. There’s so much great writing about the Spanish Civil War that it felt appropriate to try and give the war in this timeline the same sort of treatment.

As for the revolutionary public hall meetings, I’m glad you picked up on that detail. :) It’s sort of my idea that the Commonwealth probably won’t feel like Soviet Russia, and there’s be a lot of sort of parochial socialism. I’m not convinced the traditional revolutionary tropes of dynamism and progress would play well beyond the biggest cities.

_________________________

Next update is, if memory serves, the final piece before we move on to part 3, which will take us up to 1956. I’ll aim to have it up for you all over the weekend.

Until then!
 
From Empire to International: Remarks on the occasion of Ghanaian autonomy

DensleyBlair

Outside Agitator (they/them)
39 Badges
Jul 29, 2012
10.568
1.676
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Cities: Skylines
ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



FROM EMPIRE TO INTERNATIONAL
REMARKS ON THE OCCASION OF GHANAIAN AUTONOMY

C. L. R. JAMES
7 MARCH 1945



Brothers, Sisters, Comrades,

It is my great and unprecedented privilege to address you on this momentous occasion: the inception of the Autonomous Commonwealth of Ghana. For many decades, in Africa, in Europe and elsewhere across the globe, we have campaigned and organised tirelessly for the foundation of a self-governing African state. Today, we mark not the first step, but an important step, on the road to the existence of an African International, won by the efforts of Black people across the world.

While the true origins of this story lie many decades, if not centuries, in the past, I will limit my remarks today, beginning with the British revolution of 1929, and my arrival in England in 1931. During the 1920s, I had been involved back in Trinidad with a group known as the “Beacon Group”, and together we had published a magazine promoting the cause of anti-colonialism. When the general strike took hold in Britain in 1927, we became fiercely optimistic of the potential for the self-organisation of the working classes, and with its success in 1929 it seemed as if, more than ever before, more than 1917, we stood on the brink of the eruption of a global movement for the liberation of oppressed peoples everywhere.

Chiefly of interest had been the promise, written in the “Class Against Class” manifesto published in 1929 for the final election campaign held in the former United Kingdom, of the immediate and unqualified independence of all parts of the British Empire, and further, for the cooperation of the British workers’ movement with existing anti-imperialist movements in the colonies.

In mid-September of the year of the Revolution, a small delegation of Communist Party functionaries arrived in Port-of-Spain. They were led by a man called Keach, who had travelled with his wife and three or four comrades. Keach had been sent to Trinidad as a special envoy from the Commonwealth, whose mission involved meeting with Trinidadian anti-colonialists and gauging the level of development of the anti-imperialist movement. These assessments were of course his own, no doubt made relative to the development of his own section of the workers’ movement back in Britain.

As anti colonialists of some note, those of us in the Beacon Group were very soon called upon to give testimony to the strength of the revolution in Trinidad. We spoke of the great evils that had been visited upon the island by the British since the Napoleonic era, and of our essential belief in the ability of the Black people to take over the determination of their own affairs for themselves. Keach and his comrades took all of this down, completed their report and returned to England in time for Christmas.



CLR%20JAMES%201967.jpg

Cyril Lionel Robert "C. L. R." James addressing a group of students in Hyde Park during the summer of 1967.


In the New Year, we received the first text of this report. It called for the immediate abolition of all colour barriers in Trinidadian society, and expressed a number of general sentiments of international solidarity. It was judged that Trinidad was ready for self-determination, but that there existed little in the way of existing revolutionary tradition capable of assuming the state machinery at the present time. Full self-determination, it was estimated, was perhaps five years away.

This, evidently, was a great blow for our movement, and an early indicator of the nature of the Communist Party orthodoxy at the time, which was deeply wedded to Stalinism and believed in the strength of the state and its development from within. In the spring of 1930, a white labour leader, who had been an army officer in Trinidad during the Great War, was appointed as the first revolutionary governor of the island. Captain Cipriani, who was fifty-five years of age at the time of his appointment, was far more convinced of the possibility of immediate self-government than his superiors in Whitehall, a conviction he had held since serving with the Black soldiers of Trinidad during the war. In a very unlikely sort of a way, his appointment as Governor by a strange twist of fate likely accelerated the independence process that the Stalinists had so elegantly worked to delay.

Captain Cipriani, to his lasting credit, thus set about transforming the government of Trinidad such that by 1932 a legislative assembly was elected and featured a large Black majority. A white population remained on the island. In the early years, much of this was comprised of former landowners who had had their holdings expropriated and redistributed among the Black workers. A great many, able to read the direction of the winds, took their money and fled to America or Australia. Those who stayed fell into two camps, and by the middle of the decade the white population in Trinidad, which made up about two-and-a-half per-cent of the island population, was split between conservative former landowners who had been unable to emigrate, and a small minority of working men who were more accepting of the Black majority. Racial tensions remained a feature of Trinidadian life until the 1940s, not helped by Captain Cipriani’s Fabian trust in the basic fortitude of legislative reform. After 1937 he was subject to increasing opposition from a unionist faction led by Quintin O’Connor, who led a series of labour disputes culminating in the general strike of 1941, which was directed by the Federated Workers Trade Union led by O’Connor and my old friend Albert Gomes from the Beacon Group.

But all of this was alien to me, as by chance I had accepted an opportunity to travel to England in 1931. My old friend, the cricketer Learie Constantine, had called upon me to help him write his autobiography, and so I took up residence in a small town in Lancashire, where Learie played for the local cricket team. Being in Britain gave the happy possibility of being able to influence the anti-colonial movement right from the heart of the colonial motherland, and soon I was introduced to a number of liberation groups with whom Learie had already involved himself. In September 1931, we travelled to London for the assembly of the Fifth Pan-African Congress, where I first met a great many of the men and women who now rank in the first order of those revolutionaries engaged in the struggle for African self-determination. This of course includes Comrade President Nkrumah, whose election we celebrate today.

The Congress resolved, based upon the evidence of Trinidad and other cases across the former Empire, that the British Communist Party could not be relied upon to direct the movement for the liberation of the African people. It was becoming increasingly clear to us that the promises of co-operation and assistance made to the Black people of the Empire by the Communists had meant in fact the establishment of a new subaltern status. We colonised nations were to be subject to cumbersome processes of bureaucratic development, of the sort that have plagued Stalinist Russia, and of the imposition of revolution from above. We therefore resolved that only the labour power of the Black people of the international Commonwealth could be used in the struggle for self-determination. We had learned a key lesson, that even in the case of a revolutionary government, the master’s tools could not be relied upon to dismantle his own house.



CIPRIANI%201930.jpg

Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani (1875–1945), the first Revolutionary Governor of Trinidad and Tobago (1930–1945).


The 1930s proceeded much as my early experiences in Trinidad had suggested, with the establishment of ‘revolutionary’ governorships in all of the old colonies and the development of British-sponsored workers’ states. There was much fanfare surrounding the autonomy of India in 1934, which marked the first case of a former British dependency becoming truly independent, although to any critical observers it was clear that this had followed decades of Indian agitation and had been achieved through long-established quasi governmental organs. Comrade President Nehru had been a respected anti-colonial organiser for many years before he was entrusted with the Indian state.

At the height of the Spanish War in 1937, when questions of self-determination had been given a renewed immediacy even among Europeans, I was part of a group that formed the International African Service Bureau. This was an organisation that brought together leading activists from across Africa and the West Indies, intended to provide a base for organisation in Britain. Following the troubles of 1934, and with the subsequent assumption of the state machinery by Oswald Mosley and his Party of Action, the prospects for anything other than a developmentalist approach to autonomy at the highest levels of British government were becoming more and more remote. Many of us who formed the IASB in 1937 had met with Leon Trotsky after his expulsion from France and his arrival in Britain two years prior. Trotsky, who nobly opposed the dour Stalinist orthodoxy, gave us great reason for hope in the accomplishment of our goal, which remained the elevation of the Black proletariat to the exercise of government.

In this vein, we were convinced even then that the Commonwealth had defaulted into a state of deformation, and that those in power had lost grip of the revolution. While much work had been done by the Communists in attacking the spectres of ownership and wage slavery, many of the ills of capitalistic society continued to haunt Britain – as they do to this day. Thus the question of liberation for all subaltern peoples of the international Commonwealth became intimately tied up with the renewal of the prosecution of the revolution, which had only taken us so far (and, in our case, this was not very far at all).

This was a highly productive period for us all, both in terms of our organisation and in terms of the work we were doing outside of the movement. I came to some notice for my account of the Haitian revolution, published in 1938, and was invited by the University of Manchester to teach a series of night classes on the history of the West Indies. In 1940, the University offered me a full-time job as a lecturer in history and politics, which I accepted. I used this position to renew my contacts with revolutionaries and organisers in Trinidad and on other islands. Meanwhile, much work was done by the IASB in publishing a journal and forming links between diverse revolutionary groups in Africa and the diaspora. The Bureau leadership included Comrade Kenyatta of the Kikuyu people in Kenya, Comrade Wallace-Johnson of Sierra Leone, Comrade Makonnen of Guyana, and Comrade Braithwaite from Barbados. All were engaged not only in the wider struggle of African autonomy, but in the particular manifestations of the struggle in their home countries. In this way, the Bureau became a true fraternity of the liberation movement.

With the conclusion of the Spanish War on the European continent in 1939, the fight moved to Spanish Morocco where the Republican government were engaged in the work of defeating the colonialist General Franco. In this work they were assisted by the French volunteers, who were of course also occupied at that time with the defence of Algeria and Tunisia from Italian fascism. The eruption of European ideological wars on African soil gave fresh impetus to the question of Arab and African self-determination, particularly in the wake of the shameful abandonment of the Ethiopian people by the Europeans in 1935. While directed by the European leftist armies, much of the fighting against the fascist incursion into Africa consumed the attention of native populations, who became embroiled in complex geopolitical machinations. In Morocco, native loyalties were split between Franco and the Republicans; to them, it seemed to make little difference which European was in charge. The French government secured the assistance of the Berbers against Mussolini by promising autonomy after Italian defeat, which true enough followed in good time. Algerian autonomy under an indigenous government was granted in 1943, although the country remains a part of the French section of the Syndicalist International. Tunisia, recaptured from Italy in 1943, gained self-government at the start of this year. In both countries, many still clamour for true self-determination within an Arab international, outside of the French sphere.



MOROCCO%20GOUMIERS.jpg

Maghrebi troops fighting alongside Spanish and French anti-fascists during the Spanish War in Morocco (1939–41).


The conclusion of the Anti-Fascist Wars worldwide in 1944, after eight years of ideological struggle, seemed finally to settle the moral question in the minds of the Europeans that subaltern self-determination could no longer be ignored. Even those nations who had remained outside of the conflict were evidently fit to manage their own affairs, and obfuscations over the state of the revolutionary apparatus in one country or another would no longer do. For those in Europe who wished to preserve the colonial power relation in communistic language, the inconvenient fact was that it had been proven, on the balance of probabilities, that indeed, ‘Every cook can govern!’

In 1944, the IASB was thus reformulated into the Pan-African Federation, and we escalated our work in the service of the subaltern revolution. For a decade, the Mosleyite regime had ignored the pledge of the revolution in favour of self-determination. No longer! Last year, when Comrade Nkrumah won a majority in the legislative election and was elected Chairman of the Executive Committee, he became the first indigenous leader of an African government since the fall of Ethiopia. But with no assurances forthcoming from Britain as concerned the immediate self-determination promised in 1929, Comrade Nkrumah and his movement in the former Gold Coast took matters into their own hands, issuing a declaration of autonomy on 7 March 1945, and in so doing becoming the first of the African nations to gain independence from our former colonial masters.

Thus our story is brought up to date, and we may all wish Comrade President Nkrumah and the people of the Commonwealth of Ghana every good fortune in the coming years. The Pan-African movement can surely look forward to similar successes in the coming years, as people the continent over realise the goal of throwing off the ties of vassalage, whether bound to a capitalist master, or to a master plagued by deformed communism.

And what of Trinidad? Captain Cipriani remains in post, although his health has been declining and it seems almost certain that he will soon step down. After the general strike of 1941, which ended with a workers’ victory after five months, it is equally certain that the next leader of the Trinidadian state will be a native of the island. How closely united these new independent state will remain to the British Commonwealth is, in my opinion, a matter for the British. If they can prove themselves sincere in their commitment to building a socialist state, a bright future of mutual cooperation sand international solidarity awaits us all. But if Chairman Mosley and his party do not deviate from their current course, towards state capitalism and the new subjugation of the British workers, then workers of the African world will be quite justified in saying, No thank you! Our future lies elsewhere, in the development of a genuine international of the united working classes.
 
Last edited:
  • 1Like
Reactions:

mad orc

Major
12 Badges
Oct 15, 2019
535
352
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Victoria 2
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Surviving Mars
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Good updates. I am loving it
Still haven't caught up with you but......better take it all in slowly and enjoy it fully!

Excellent AAR
:)