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History | Geography | Citizenship | PSHE

Spectre of the 1930s raised by global unrest

Are we witnessing an ominous replay of the 1930s? In recent days, some historians have warned that a political monster is stirring into life and the parallels are too close for comfort. A week ago, it was Bolivia - angry people clashed with police after the political opposition said it had been cheated in an election won by incumbentThe person already in a position. President Evo Morales. Just before that, the streets of the Chilean capital Santiago descended into chaos as demonstrators, enraged by a rise in public transport fares, went on a rampage of looting and prompted the president to declare a state of emergency. Earlier this month, Ecuador's leader did the same after violent unrest triggered by the decision to end fuel subsidiesMoney given by the state or another body to help keep prices low. . And that was just South America. Hong Kong has been in turmoil for months. Lebanon's capital Beirut has been at a standstill. Parts of Barcelona resembled a battlefield last week, and tens of thousands of Britons marched through London recently over Brexit. Protests have flared around the world in the last few months. Each has had its own trigger, but many of the underlying frustrations are similar. In at least four countries hit by recent violent protests, the main reason for the uprising is economic. Governments in Chile and Ecuador have incurred their people's wrath after trying to end subsidies. Many thousands of people have flooded Beirut in the biggest show of dissentTo hold or express opinions against a prevailing idea or policy, once used in England and Wales describe those who rejected the Anglican church. against the establishment there in decades. People of all ages and religions joined to protest about the perception that those in power were corrupt. Similar factors were behind deadly, civil unrest in Iraq this month - where many young people feel they had seen few economic benefits since Islamic State militants were defeated in 2017. Another reason is autonomyThe right to make your own decisions.. Hong Kong has been battered by five months of often violent protests over fears Beijing is tightening its grip on the territory, in its worst political crisis since Britain handed it back to China in 1997. The events in Hong Kong have drawn comparisons to Catalonia in recent days. There, too, people are angry at what they see as attempts to thwart their desire for greater autonomy from the rest of Spain, if not outright independence. Lingering economic anger and anxiety. A rebellion against the existing political order. A rise of nationalismLoyalty and devotion to one nation, and seeing its interest as separate to the interests of others.  and a retreat from international entanglements. That sounds like a description of the world today. In fact, it describes global sentiment in the 1930s, which many experts say increasingly looks like the best parallel to today's environment. The political fermentWhen substances break down in a biochemical reaction.  of the 1930s led to World War Two, of course, and there's little reason to think that's where things are heading today. Then, fascists rose in Germany and Italy and found they had cheerleaders scattered across the West, including in the US. Britain tried to avoid getting involved in the continent's affairs, with disastrous consequences. Leaders in Moscow, meanwhile, stepped in. So, are we witnessing an ominous replay of the 1930s today? A stitch in time? The parallels between then and now are far from exact. Most notably, today's political churning isn't accompanied by a rise in militarism. In his book The Glory and the Dream, William Manchester summarised the effects: "Before Roosevelt's second presidential campaign, Mussolini had seized Ethiopia; Spain had burst into flame; Germany had rearmed, occupied the Rhineland [...]. In Tokyo, militant young officers drove Hirohito's government toward expansionism and imperialism." Nothing remotely like that scenario is developing today. Still, the parallels are close enough to suggest that nobody should be surprised if a sustained period of economic anxiety and anger leads to a flirtation with unorthodox, perhaps even radical, political experiments. Public sentiments of anger and alienation aren't to be belittled or dismissed. Their causes can be legitimate and their consequences shatteringly powerful. KeywordsIncumbent - The person already in a position.

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