History tells us what may happen next with Brexit and Trump

Buchenwald survivors

Buchenwald survivors

In the four and a half years I have blogged, I have mentioned my grandfather and how, while I was a child, he taught me to never forget the past. For those who don’t know me well, he immigrated here from Croatia. He said they would be Americans now. He became a tool and dye maker and worked throughout the depression. He spoke English without any accent. I was 22 years old when he died.


He taught me to remember the past because if we didn’t it would happen again. I was nine when he first mentioned the Holocaust. I listened. He explained the camps to me. He taught me to respect other people and their customs. He bought me a book of black and white pictures of the carnage the Allies found when they freed the camps. I can still close my eyes and see those walking naked skeletons. I didn’t scar me; it made me care about others. It helped me emphasize with their pain. He gave me the desire to help make the world a better place. He taught me that evil can come in beautiful packaging.


I found this article and almost cried because he says many of the things grandpa used to say to me. So I am going to let you hear them now. Because history is lining up to repeat itself and we need to know how to prevent it or at least to fight it.







History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump

 by Tobias Stone, on Medium.com
La Peste di Firenze

It seems we’re entering another of those stupid seasons humans impose on themselves at fairly regular intervals. I am sketching out here opinions based on information, they may prove right, or may prove wrong, and they’re intended just to challenge and be part of a wider dialogue.

My background is archaeology, so also history and anthropology. It leads me to look at big historical patterns. My theory is that most peoples’ perspective of history is limited to the experience communicated by their parents and grandparents, so 50–100 years. To go beyond that you have to read, study, and learn to untangle the propaganda that is inevitable in all telling of history. In a nutshell, at university I would fail a paper if I didn’t compare at least two, if not three opposing views on a topic. Taking one telling of events as gospel doesn’t wash in the comparative analytical method of research that forms the core of British academia. (I can’t speak for other systems, but they’re definitely not all alike in this way).

So zooming out, we humans have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self imposed to some extent or another. This handy list shows all the wars over time. Wars are actually the norm for humans, but every now and then something big comes along. I am interested in the Black Death, which devastated Europe. The opening of Boccaccio’s Decameron describes Florence in the grips of the Plague. It is as beyond imagination as the Somme, Hiroshima, or the Holocaust. I mean, you quite literally can’t put yourself there and imagine what it was like. For those in the midst of the Plague it must have felt like the end of the world.

But a defining feature of humans is their resilience. To us now it seems obvious that we survived the Plague, but to people at the time it must have seemed incredible that their society continued afterwards. Indeed, many takes on the effects of the Black Death are that it had a positive impact in the long term. Well summed up here: “By targeting frail people of all ages, and killing them by the hundreds of thousands within an extremely short period of time, the Black Death might have represented a strong force of natural selection and removed the weakest individuals on a very broad scale within Europe,“ …In addition, the Black Death significantly changed the social structure of some European regions. Tragic depopulation created the shortage of working people. This shortage caused wages to rise. Products prices fell too. Consequently, standards of living increased. For instance, people started to consume more food of higher quality.”

But for the people living through it, as with the World Wars, Soviet Famines, Holocaust, it must have felt inconceivable that humans could rise up from it. The collapse of the Roman Empire, Black Death, Spanish Inquisition, Thirty Years War, War of the Roses, English Civil War… it’s a long list. Events of massive destruction from which humanity recovered and move on, often in better shape.

At a local level in time people think things are fine, then things rapidly spiral out of control until they become unstoppable, and we wreak massive destruction on ourselves. For the people living in the midst of this it is hard to see happening and hard to understand. To historians later it all makes sense and we see clearly how one thing led to another. During the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme I was struck that it was a direct outcome of theassassination of an Austrian Arch Duke in Bosnia. I very much doubt anyone at the time thought the killing of a European royal would lead to the death of 17 million people.

My point is that this is a cycle. It happens again and again, but as most people only have a 50–100 year historical perspective they don’t see that it’s happening again. As the events that led to the First World War unfolded, there were a few brilliant minds who started to warn that something big was wrong, that the web of treaties across Europe could lead to a war, but they were dismissed as hysterical, mad, or fools, as is always the way, and as people who worry about Putin, Brexit, and Trump are dismissed now.

Then after the War to end all Wars, we went and had another one. Again, for a historian it was quite predictable. Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable.

That was Hitler, but it was also Mussolini, Stalin, Putin, Mugabe, and so many more. Mugabe is a very good case in point. He whipped up national anger and hatred towards the land owning white minority (who happened to know how to run farms), and seized their land to redistribute to the people, in a great populist move which in the end unravelled the economy and farming industry and left the people in possession of land, but starving. See also the famines created by the Soviet Union, and the one caused by the Chinese Communists last century in which 20–40 million people died. It seems inconceivable that people could create a situation in which tens of millions of people die without reason, but we do it again and again.

But at the time people don’t realise they’re embarking on a route that will lead to a destruction period. They think they’re right, they’re cheered on by jeering angry mobs, their critics are mocked. This cycle, the one we saw for example from the Treaty of Versaille, to the rise of Hitler, to the Second World War, appears to be happening again. But as with before, most people cannot see it because:

1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future

2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally

3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views

Trump is doing this in America. Those of us with some oversight from history can see it happening. Read this brilliant, long essay in the New York magazine to understand how Plato described all this, and it is happening just as he predicted. Trump says he will Make America Great Again, when in fact America is currently great, according to pretty well any statistics. He is using passion, anger, and rhetoric in the same way all his predecessors did — a charismatic narcissist who feeds on the crowd to become ever stronger, creating a cult around himself. You can blame society, politicians, the media, for America getting to the point that it’s ready for Trump, but the bigger historical picture is that history generally plays out the same way each time someone like him becomes the boss.

On a wider stage, zoom out some more, Russia is a dictatorship with a charismatic leader using fear and passion to establish a cult around himself. Turkey is now there too. Hungary, Poland, Slovakia are heading that way, and across Europe more Trumps and Putins are waiting in the wings, in fact funded by Putin, waiting for the popular tide to turn their way.

We should be asking ourselves what our Archduke Ferdinand moment will be. How will an apparently small event trigger another period of massive destruction. We see Brexit, Trump, Putin in isolation. The world does not work that way — all things are connected and affecting each other. I have pro-Brexit friends who say ‘oh, you’re going to blame that on Brexit too??’ But they don’t realise that actually, yes, historians will trace neat lines from apparently unrelated events back to major political and social shifts like Brexit.

Brexit — a group of angry people winning a fight — easily inspires other groups of angry people to start a similar fight, empowered with the idea that they may win. That alone can trigger chain reactions. A nuclear explosion is not caused by one atom splitting, but by the impact of the first atom that splits causing multiple other atoms near it to split, and they in turn causing multiple atoms to split. The exponential increase in atoms splitting, and their combined energy is the bomb. That is how World War One started and, ironically how World War Two ended.

An example of how Brexit could lead to a nuclear war could be this:

Brexit in the UK causes Italy or France to have a similar referendum. Le Pen wins an election in France. Europe now has a fractured EU. The EU, for all its many awful faults, has prevented a war in Europe for longer than ever before. The EU is also a major force in suppressing Putin’s military ambitions. European sanctions on Russia really hit the economy, and helped temper Russia’s attacks on Ukraine (there is a reason bad guys always want a weaker European Union). Trump wins in the US. Trump becomes isolationist, which weakens NATO. He has already said he would not automatically honour

NATO commitments in the face of a Russian attack on the Baltics.

With a fractured EU, and weakened NATO, Putin, facing an ongoing economic and social crisis in Russia, needs another foreign distraction around which to rally his people. He funds far right anti-EU activists in Latvia, who then create a reason for an uprising of the Russian Latvians in the East of the country (the EU border with Russia). Russia sends ‘peace keeping forces’ and ‘aid lorries’ into Latvia, as it did in Georgia, and in Ukraine. He annexes Eastern Latvia as he did Eastern Ukraine (Crimea has the same population as Latvia, by the way).

A divided Europe, with the leaders of France, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and others now pro-Russia, anti-EU, and funded by Putin, overrule calls for sanctions or a military response. NATO is slow to respond: Trump does not want America to be involved, and a large part of Europe is indifferent or blocking any action. Russia, seeing no real resistance to their actions, move further into Latvia, and then into Eastern Estonia and Lithuania. The Baltic States declare war on Russia and start to retaliate, as they have now been invaded so have no choice. Half of Europe sides with them, a few countries remain neutral, and a few side with Russia. Where does Turkey stand on this? How does ISIS respond to a new war in Europe? Who uses a nuclear weapon first?

This is just one Arch Duke Ferdinand scenario. The number of possible scenarios are infinite due to the massive complexity of the many moving parts. And of course many of them lead to nothing happening. But based on history we are due another period of destruction, and based on history all the indicators are that we are entering one.

It will come in ways we can’t see coming, and will spin out of control so fast people won’t be able to stop it. Historians will look back and make sense of it all and wonder how we could all have been so naïve. How could I sit in a nice café in London, writing this, without wanting to run away. How could people read it and make sarcastic and dismissive comments about how pro-Remain people should stop whining, and how we shouldn’t blame everything on Brexit. Others will read this and sneer at me for saying America is in great shape, that Trump is a possible future Hitler (and yes, Godwin’s Law. But my comparison is to another narcissistic, charismatic leader fanning flames of hatred until things spiral out of control). It’s easy to jump to conclusions that oppose pessimistic predictions based on the weight of history and learning. Trump won against the other Republicans in debates by countering their claims by calling them names and dismissing them. It’s an easy route but the wrong one.

Ignoring and mocking the experts , as people are doing around Brexit and Trump’s campaign, is no different to ignoring a doctor who tells you to stop smoking, and then finding later you’ve developed incurable cancer. A little thing leads to an unstoppable destruction that could have been prevented if you’d listened and thought a bit. But people smoke, and people die from it. That is the way of the human.

So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover, and move on. The human race will be fine, changed, maybe better. But for those at the sharp end — for the thousands of Turkish teachers who just got fired, for the Turkish journalists and lawyers in prison, for the Russian dissidents in gulags, for people lying wounded in French hospitals after terrorist attacks, for those yet to fall, this will be their Somme.

What can we do? Well, again, looking back, probably not much. The liberal intellectuals are always in the minority. See Clay Shirky’s Twitter Storm on this point. The people who see that open societies, being nice to other people, not being racist, not fighting wars, is a better way to live, they generally end up losing these fights. They don’t fight dirty. They are terrible at appealing to the populace. They are less violent, so end up in prisons, camps, and graves. We need to beware not to become divided (see: Labour party), we need to avoid getting lost in arguing through facts and logic, and counter the populist messages of passion and anger with our own similar messages. We need to understand and use social media. We need to harness a different fear. Fear of another World War nearly stopped World War 2, but didn’t. We need to avoid our own echo chambers. Trump and Putin supporters don’t read the Guardian, so writing there is just reassuring our friends. We need to find a way to bridge from our closed groups to other closed groups, try to cross the ever widening social divides.

(Perhaps I’m just writing this so I can be remembered by history as one of the people who saw it coming.)

Goodbye, Downton Abbey



The final episode of Downton Abbey airs on PBS this coming Sunday.  THe entire series is (or will shortly be) available on DVD or Blu-Ray.  It may be a good present for an anglophile you know!


NPR had an interesting discussion about it (see link below).



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The War on Women Continues

National Organization of Women

National Organization of Women

A teacher raped his 14 year old student. She has committed suicide. The judge said she was ‘older than’ her chronological age so the teacher was only given thirty days. I heard the news anchor tell this story and I was stunned. This judge should be dis-barred. Think about a fourteen year old girl you might know and think of her committing suicide. Her family’s loss and grief is real and it means more than the satisfaction the teacher got. Rape is an act of power and control. Sex is the weapon used to wield that power. So this teacher gets thirty days.

This is a sexist message that the judge is sending to the community and the nation. We can’t let men get away with rape and we can’t let them get away with statutory rape. There is no turning the other cheek when a crime involves minor children.

I find this to be disgusting and I think the media needs to keep this story alive and we need to contact Senators and Representatives and tell them to protect women. Ask them to stand up for young people because this happens to boys too.

This teacher is a pedophile and needs to serve the severest of sentences. He needs to be registered as a sex offender and he needs to be locked up for a very long time. Let’s speak out for this young woman and let her parents know our society does care and grieves with them.

” My satisfaction comes from my committment to advancing a better world.”     —–Faye Wattleton

Respect all women or you are a misogyist

Respect all women or you are a misogyist

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”  –—–Mother Teresa

The War on Women

The War on Women

There is only one reason for rape and it is a crime.

There is only one reason for rape and it is a crime.

Gender Bias

Sexual harrassment is a crime and it is unacceptav=ble

Sexual harrassment is a crime and it is unacceptable

Women have a lot happening these days. We are working to make sure that we become legally equal citizens for the first time in the history of America. We still earn less than a man for the same work; even though our President Obama has signed a new bill into law, laws have to be enforced. Many women are wives, mothers and often workers in the workplace. Yes, we have a choice. We get to choose to stay home with children, go to work and not have children, or to work outside the home and have children. I have 3 daughters and they have each made the choice that works best for them.

Now we have candidate Weiner sexting with women. He is not sure of how many women. So we could conclude that these relationships were so unimportant to him he can’t remember how many there were. I respect his wife and her decision. It wouldn’t be mine, but this is feminism.  A woman has the right to decide what she will put up with and what she can’t take for another moment.

Then there is Mayor Filner of San Diego. Mayor Filner who has a plethora of women coming out with ugly stories of what he did to them. These are all professional women; one is a Rear Admiral.  The accusations include, but are not limited to, touching the posterior, licking of the face, putting a woman into a headlock, trying to force a kiss on an unwilling woman. It makes me sick. I wonder what it takes to go from Filner’s behavior to Ariel Castro. Castro held three women here in Cleveland as slaves for a decade. There is one child who survived from his raping one of these women. Other fetuses were killed. To protect the young women from the further trauma of having to testify, the court has given Castro a life sentence plus 1000 years. It was done to save the women from more victimization.

Mayor Filner states that his behavior is in contrast to his belief i n equality, and justice. He apologized to the community and the women. Is it enough? I fear not. Years of disrespect of women doesn’t just stop.

Filner is accepting responsibility for his actions, he says.  He will be entering behavioral therapy on August 5.  He is not planning on stepping down as mayor. A two week stay in a rehab center isn’t learning not to be a sex offender. It is a vacation. He loudly declares this is his first step in becoming a better person…in two weeks.

These are men who are uncomfortable with women in power and need to intimidate them.  It is wrong morally and criminally to use this behavior to keep women in their place.

If anything like this has ever happened to you in the workplace, report it. No man has the right to touch you in any unwanted way.

If anything like this has ever happened to you in the workplace, report it. No man has the right to touch you in any unwanted way. 

If you have been touched, licked, patted in the workplace and if it makes you feel as though your job is at risk, report it. These actions are not part of your job description and must not be tolerated. Your self-respect is being walked on and you are being used. It is scary, but there are women’s organizations who will help and the ACLU will help and possibly be your legal council. Take care of yourself and make sure male coworkers are not allowed into your personal space.

Can you answer the questions?

Can you answer the questions?

By the way, this is all part of the WAR ON WOMEN. You remember the war:  the one Congress is attempting to use against every American woman.  These conditions are part of the reason why we are not legally equal.  And they are why we still need to fight to be equal.

Unwanted touching is against the law. Speak up!

Unwanted touching is against the law.
Speak up!


Modern Slavery or Human Trafficking

reality of slavery

reality of slavery


The reality is that in 21 centuries of recorded history, slavery has been alive and well. It is still destroying families and lives. After gun running and drugs, it is the biggest money maker for those whose hearts are as hard and cold as stone.


Who finds themselves in slavery? It can happen to anyone. Following the rules doesn’t matter. You can just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Slavery or trafficking usually ends the same way…in torture, fear, disease, death. It is the worst thing a human being can do to another human being. This is one of those events on the underbelly of life that we need to allow ourselves to see and to know and then to nurture ourselves after we have seen it. Knowing about slavery and turning away is the same as committing the act. When a child, a woman or a man is bought, if you know you have to do what you can to stop it.


The horrific statistics

The horrific statistics


Trafficking has a supply side, and it is made up of victims. Most efforts go into maintaining this lucrative supply side. We need to look at victims and realize they are the victims and not criminals. Don’t judge the victims. It is easy to stand and look at someone and say, “I wouldn’t let that happen to me.” Victims felt the same way. If you ever suspect someone is being held in a form of slavery, call the victimization hotline at 888-3737-888. You can also refer someone to social services.


Twenty seven million slaves in the world in 2013.

Twenty seven million slaves in the world in 2013.


Why is there a demand for human slaves? There are millions of consumers for slaves to perform sex acts or provide labor. The labor no one else wants to do. If you or someone you know has ever forced someone into sex acts or coerced labor, you must stop now. What you are doing is a crime not a living. If you pay for sex with adults or children, stop it now. Stop going to adult book stores now. Stop using your money for voyeuristic shows, phone sex or any type of pornography. Make an effort to do some homework and find out which businesses use slaves and/or children.


Support local businesses or local artists, buy from fair trade businesses. If demand drops, it will save the lives of people who haven”t been kidnapped or duped into slavery.


A quote

A quote


You can use social media to get the word out about slavery. Facebook, MySpace or twitter would be a good place to start. You could also volunteer your services to agencies who directly offer services or money. You can care, and let it matter in your life. Education is very important. Children without an education or a very limited one will be more easily tricked into slavery. As caring human beings, we must oppose all forms of violence against women and children. Do not trivialize the horror and don’t leave it for someone else to take care of. There are millions of souls who are being bought and sold. They are hopeless and helpless. We have to care. They were made by the same Divinity that is within us and it is within them.


There is slavery in the twenty first century. We must stop it. We must decrease the demand.

There is slavery in the twenty first century. We must stop it. We must decrease the demand.


If you meet someone who is at-risk, help them to get off of the streets. Hire workers and pay them equitably. Even if you just suspect a person might be a victim, call 1-888-3737-888. You may be able to save a life. Social unrest leads to many people and families becoming refugees and often then find themselves in slavery. Because women are considered inferior or second class in almost every country, this leaves them vulnerable to being bought and used. In many countries where the poverty is so severe, children, both women and boys are sold for money to keep the rest of the family alive with food or medications. So, please don’t turn away because this is scary and disgusting and evil. If you know anyone who is at-risk, refer them for assistance. Call the hotline number. Don’t see them as damaged victims. See them as what they really are…children of the Universe.






Education Should Not Exclude Ethics

Meditating on ethics can bring peace to the world.

Meditating on ethics can bring peace to the world.

The recipe is to add positive energy to the negativity you find.

In Australia, there is a quiet revolution taking place in education. Quiet because I suspect that the government doesn’t want to have to explain its position on the fact that they are limiting information and the ability of free thinking. I am talking about the governments, I said ethics classes. So immoral and degenerate that they have raised the hackles of government officials. Australian newspapers are reporting on the sad state of affairs.
Ethics and free thinking seem to be something the government does not want its people to be doing. Yet this is, I believe, the basis of the corruption, hatred and spite in our world.

The government is informing parents of religious classes and only when parents decline having their child participate in religious education are they informed of the availability of ethics classes. In 2010, the right of school districts to offer ethics as well as religious class was made into law. I really don’t see why this is an issue which needed the government to pass a law.

In our world, morals and ethics have become something to be circumvented in many situations in life. Big business, Wall Street and officials of almost every country are demonstrating their aversion to ethical behavior. During my career, I have seen a lack of ethics even in the non-profit world. I also believe that we need to teach ethics to the young. They need an ethical compass because humans beings have demonstrated over and over how unethical we can be. How much devastation and pain we are capable of inflicting upon each other demonstrates our ability to act without scruples or ethics. I think we could add ethics classes in elementary schools. Children need to know how to make the right and ethical decision and parents have been shirking ethical training in many cases. To know how to decide how to make an ethical choice is an important part of growing up. There is a difference between doing what you have been told is the thing to do and making ethical decisions. I hope this trend in Australia does not spread to other countries in the world.

” Real education should educate us out of self  into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.”
——-Nancy Astor

Blue Ridge Mountain sunset. Photo and copyright by Barbara Mattio

Blue Ridge Mountain sunset. Photo and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2013