If you look back at Hansard in 1939 and 1940, you find that leading members of the Labour Party can barely open their mouths without reassuring themselves that the Nazi regime did not have the raw materials they would need for a long war.
Attlee and Bevin were self-deluding, of course. But I have been hearing echoes of that reassurance as we tell ourselves how much Putin has miscalculated. My feeling is that he hasn’t miscalculated nearly enough.
Then there is the problem of the sanctions.
My herbal dopamine that I have been ordering regularly from France is no longer being exported to the UK, because of the difficulties of exporting anything from the UK these days. It occurs to me that we are trying to do to the Russians what we have done to ourselves in a much smaller way with Brexit.
Whether dropping Russia from global trade will actually damage them long-term isn’t clear.
In the short-to-medium term, of course it won’t be good, but if they are forced to substitute their imports with something Russian-made, then the great American critic Jane Jacobs used to say that was how cities have always developed themselves.
In the meantime, we both have to get by without proper components or supply chains. And as the cost of energy rises, that can only intensify the problem.
It may have been inevitable but – in a period of history when people find themselves baying to ‘cancel’ anyone they disagree with – that some ordinary Russians will get in the way.
Poor old Valery Gergiev, for example – one of the greatest conductors in the world – was sacked by the Munich Philharmonic after he failed to make the compulsory statement of disapproval of Russian behaviour.
It is all surprisingly like the start of the First World War, when the British were surprised by the period of ‘gallant little Belgium’.
But with the treatment of musicians like Gergiev, and the way they dropped music by Tchiakovsky from a Cardiff concert last week, is a little too reminiscent of people kicking dachshunds in the streets for my liking.
I suppose that, when politics becomes symbolic – mainly because of people’s sense of powerlessness – that is what happens. But we will need, eventually, to reach some kind of acceptable compromise with Putin, so we need to keep some things open…
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