My friend, Ronald Mackay, who is 93 later this year, has been warning about the breakdown of international relations and the drive towards a war between the huge economic and nuclear powers.
So often when I hear him talk of this dreadful premonition, in public or amongst friends, I see some glaze over and recognise the internal dismissal of "the ramblings of an old man." I don't. I hold on to every word and I recognise in his words the warnings from the past when previous generations ignored wise people with experience. I recognise the warnings of socialists before World War 1 and the warnings of thousands of people across Europe, many gassed, shot or worked to death in camps of proud right wing nationalists and flag wavers.
And I recognise the conditions in which Germany stood alone, a proud people persuaded of their superiority by millionaires and their spokespeople, over all others- ending with the beyond imagination discovery of how "the other," "the hordes," "the swarm" were dealt with in Belsen, Sobibor, Auswitzch, and the millions of deaths in firestorms and on beaches and in Nuclear terror, leading to gulags, Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam and yes, the current Middle Eastern disaster.
Lies built on lies; diplomatic language designed to hide truth like racism, profits, poverty, homophobia, personal ambition, imperialism.
Ron witnessed all of this in his lifetime. And he is witnessing all his generation built to combat it being pulled down, institution by institution; the NHS, the welfare system, industries run to serve the country rather than a profiteer, protections of indigenous people, protections of refugees, and yes, the protection of the EU.
Will the horrendous murder of Jo Cox, a young MP whose life was dedicated to the type of world Ron has dedicated his entire adult life to, change the dynamic of political and media discourse? I don't actually believe it will. So often there are events that are highlighted as moments when we pull back from the brink. My belief is that yes, the proto-nazification of the U.K.will slow down. Those people creating posters reminiscent of the dehumanisation of the Jews and other groups, will learn from this. Their language may change- and how they target the poor, the hopeless and the struggling will change. But the message will remain the same- all that is being taken from you is because of an invidious threat from greedy, dehumanised hordes. And this message will continue to be supported by a press owned by right wing profiteers, protecting their own and their billionaire pals economic interests- blame the poor, the needy, the voiceless, the vulnerable on the shambles we made of the economy. Make them, and the poor, pay for our greed. Tell them it is the brown guy, the black woman, the child struggling for breath in the Mediterranean Sea's fault that you have to wait a few hours longer for your free care in the NHS. Tell them the NHS is failing- tell them it will be better run by me and my pals who crashed the world economy- because I need another income stream...
Add to the mix the eroding of the institutions set up to protect us from war- the United Nations in danger of dissolving in uselessness like the League of Nations, the EU falling apart because Farage and others want to pay less to the poor - a socially cohesive and protective system that the EU attempts is an anathema to their belief we should all struggle for scraps from the fat Victorian Billionaires table. The Little Matchgirl, to them, was a failed business- a girl who didn't know how to market her wares, or how to diversify. The slums of Glasgow, within living memory, to them are an aim. Places where the poor and needy can be jailed and can fight over hand outs like education for their children, medical care (if they are lucky), jobs if they are prepared to queue up, from the rich.
Do I exaggerate?
Ask Ron, as the US navy encroaches on the huge economic power Russia is again becoming. Ask Ron as politicians and newspaper columnists call for the shooting of refugees. Ask Ron as political groups arm and kill socialists and foreigners and homosexuals.
Listen to the warnings of the past, before they become history. Before all that is left is distrust, death, destruction, poverty and hatred.