ALL OVER EUROPE,THERE SEEMS TO BE FAILURE OF HISTORICAL MEMORY AND A FAILURE TO RECOGNISE SIGNS OF DANGER, THE KIND THAT WENT UNRECOGNISED IN THE 1920S AND 1930S
things that made us and the things that could undo us. It is our common concern to carry the memory of our past, and of who we are. This is only possible if we have some grasp of our history, even a cursory one.
All over Europe, there seems to be failure of historical memory and a failure to recognise signs of danger, the kind that went unrecognised in the 1920s and 1930s.
Currently, there is a very distinctive rise in the presence, power and influence of right-wing parties across the continent led by people who believe in white supremacy, the danger of the stranger and the need for walls and barbed wire.
Across the Atlantic, this phenomenon is even more manifest. Two weeks ago, in the course of her Sunday magazine programme, Marian Finucane interviewed Robert Swope, a former TV producer who worked on Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign. Comparing the Trump effect to that created by The Who and The Rolling Stones, he said: “Mr Trump would walk on stage and it would be a combination of idolisation from the general population of the United States of America. Everywhere we went, we’re talking about crowds of 15,000, 20,000, 30,000 people that have waited in the cold and the rain and the heat in the sweltering summers for hours, days.”
Continuing the rock star theme, Swope described the effect when political conviction is added to the idolisation: “What I witnessed was — and this is astounding — it has never happened before in American politics, it has never happened in global politics and probably never will again.”
Obviously, Mr Swope hasn’t read his history — this kind of political idolisation did happen before with disastrous results on a global scale. Indeed, it is one of the recurring themes of our past.