In 1929, the Wall Street Crash happened. Its effects were felt all over the world. Times became hard, or harder. When people become stressed they become more extreme politically, more insular. They tend to think in black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms. They punished whatever government or system they had and instead they turned to “strong” men who promised them simple answers to their problems and gave them someone to blame and to hate. Within seven years we had Mussolini, Franco, and a certain German dictator whose name begins with H.
Thank goodness it isn’t quite that bad this time around, at least not yet. Our practice of democracy remains flawed, but hasn’t collapsed. Trump is a borderline fascist but still subject to some checks and balances. The far right is significant in Europe, but not in power. Although times are hard and our finances look ridiculously bad, we have not had currency collapse.
But if we are to arrest the rot, we are really going to have to get a bit smarter. To quote a computer game character “Who are you, who do not know your own history?” Because that is the only way we will be able to stop repeating it. It is tragic that we did not try voting for enlightened socialism or green politics instead of the old-fashioned nationalist.
It’s not just us little voters who should take note. Insofar as there is an “Establishment” that has been shaping the world and its nations, this is their mess; they have lost as much as Trump has won (assuming he isn’t one of them, of course). If the 1% had not become stupid and greedy, if they had not expected everyone else to pay for their failure while dominating mainstream politicians and media, people might not have turned to the xenophobic. But there’s more than enough blame if we’re throwing it; after all, most of us went along with it.
All is not lost. No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse, and there is always a way to improve or resist, even in a small way. Don’t bust a gut trying to save the world unless you are a saint, but don’t give the word up for lost. Just think and try to act in ways that make the world a better place, even in small ways.