Skip to main content

Culture wars

Woke warriors are today’s appeasers

Neville Chamberlain with the Munich Agreement in 1938. Central Press/Getty

When UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Europe’s cowardly response to Putin’s aggression gave off “a whiff of Munich”, he didn’t know how right he was, says Robert Tombs in The Sunday Telegraph. Wallace was, of course, referring to failed diplomatic efforts to stop Hitler invading Czechoslovakia before the Second World War. As is the case with Ukraine today, nobody wanted war over “a faraway country of which we know nothing”. But the similarities don’t end there. We often hear today that liberal democracy is in crisis. “So it was in the 1930s – but hugely worse.”

In 1932 the US army used tanks and bayonets to put down a siege of the Capitol by 30,000 people. In Britain and France, ministers across the political spectrum bent over backwards to “conciliate the Nazis” and blame German aggression on the West. Labour grandee George Lansbury “praised Hitler as a peace-loving vegetarian”. George Orwell later observed that left-wing intellectuals felt “a duty to snigger” at British institutions, and had for years been “chipping away” at the national morale. How redolent of today’s “identitarian left” and its obsession with historic wrongs, “genuine or invented”. Where are the protests over the Uighurs? Or modern slavery in the Gulf? Or the persecution of “blasphemers” in several Muslim states? “Easier to pull down a forgotten statue or change the name of a university building.”