Monday 13 August 2012

What Happened Next?

Retrospectives are fun, if you like that sort of thing.  For those that go back before people were born they can be fun, unless they really missed something.  For those that return people to memories of the past they may or may not be fun depending on their situation was.

In 1948, according to the newsreels and media of the time, we had an Olympics party and were told to be proud of it all.  Great Britain was still great and a force in the world and could put on a good show.  All was for the best in the best of all possible worlds, this one a Socialist one.  So then what happened?

In China the end game was in play for the American supported Chiang Kai-shek regime and it was not long before Mao and the Communist forces entered Beijing and went on to capture Shanghai.  They established a new regime and radical changes in both economic and social policy.

The USA saw the re-election of Harry Truman to the Presidency beating both his fancied Republican opponent, Dewey, and the bookies.  The main media had Harry marked down as a loser and were wrong.  This meant he was now able to assert himself and the USA as an active world power.

Russia tested its first atomic bomb, much to the surprise of the USA and the UK.  The question was how.  The UK which had happily given away free of charge much of its scientific advances to the USA discovered that some had felt the same should go to the USSR.  The result was a blitz on security, paranoia ruled OK.

The realisation that the air threat from the USSR was not just large fleets of bombers but now nuclear forced a large scale revision of strategy and military organisation amongst the western allies.  The UK was especially at threat and not just the American bases.

North Korea declared itself to be a communist Republic and the new leader; Kim Il Sung was committed to the reunification of Korea as a communist state and an enemy of foreign capitalism.  War was not long in coming and it was a nasty bitter one that embroiled the USA, the UK, the Australians and others.

Germany saw the divisions of the occupation enforced by political changes.  In the West, elections were held in a new Federal Republic with Konrad Adenauer becoming Chancellor.  He has a vision of a new Europe, united economically and politically and committed to peace.  The Soviet Union, in retaliation set up the East German state.

India declared itself a Republic and the Congress Party used military force in the name of democracy to defeat the Nizam of Hyderabad’s wish to remain a principality.  Ireland also declared itself to be a Republic.

The transistor was revealed to the world which set in train a radical series of changes in much of the electronics industry.  Because of the political and economic governance of capital investment in the UK its industry was slow to respond.

One reason was that much attention was taken by the new Comet Jetliner.  The full implications of jet aircraft travel were not understood, many simply seeing them as a more comfortable and convenient option for the traditional market.

Argentina saw the forcing out of Eva Peron, between her and her husband the country had been transformed from a sound and wealthy economy to a basket case, unpredictable at home and in foreign policy.  The USA was glad to see them go.

The UK continued to experience Austerity, games or no games.  Clothes rationing ended, if you could either find the products or afford to buy them.  My mother queued for two hours to buy a cotton shirt for my father which cost the same as a week’s rent.

Charles Phillip Arthur George was christened, the son of Princess Elizabeth, heir to the throne and Prince Phillip.  His great grandmother Dowager Queen Mary, held the opinion that Charles most closely resembled Prince Albert, Consort to Queen Victoria.

Unconnected to this in 1949 saw the inevitable devaluation of the pound from $4.03 to $2.80 which delivered a major shock to the economy.  The Austerity regime had not succeeded because of all the demands made by the world situation and the drive to increase welfare provision and control of the economy, notably through nationalisation.

Clement Attlee was being criticised from within his own party for being “soft on socialism”.  Meanwhile the Conservative Party was beginning a major revival.  Also, George Orwell’s new book, “1984” came in for some criticism.  Official sources insisted that it was a warning and not a prophesy.

So what changes?

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