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

Irish Independent - Farming - - RURAL LIFE -

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.

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