Ed Driscoll

The New World and the Hinge of Fate

Shortly after putting up my last post, in which I asked what comes after “global warming” as a mechanism for the left to control the masses, I came across Richard Fernandez’s latest post at the Belmont Club, which is also on the topic of what happens next, though on a much larger scale. After noting first that the European welfare system is in danger of collapsing, and that AP is already issuing its cri de coeur over the next “Lost Generation,” and that it may already be too late to stop Iran going nuclear, Richard writes:

The current system is in the terminal homing phase and only the bang is awaited; the world has run out of road down which to kick the can and still they keep kicking.However it is when things completely fall apart that new things start to happen. One of the most interesting historical examples of a reset was the evacuation at Dunkirk. On those beaches lay, not just the flotsam of the BEF, but the entire edifice of interwar years; its military doctrines; the primacy of the Anglo-French alliance; the power of France, the British Empire itself. A thoughtful person contemplating the wreckage might have seen in it the Fall of Singapore and the end of France’s overseas empire.

The crisis now engulfing the Western world shares nothing with that long ago era except the structure of the problem. In both the old world is beyond help; in both a new world is being born. But what will that new world be like? Which historian, walking through the miles of wreckage left by the BEF could have seen in it the post World War 2 world? Which analyst, scanning the numbing headlines could do the same for the present era?

Probably no one could see the new world coming in 1940 because one more thing was lacking. In the period between the collapse of an era but before the birth of a new one comes a peculiar phase which Winston Churchill called The Hinge of Fate.  It is a curious, shockingly rapid period. Before the Hinge things run predominantly in one direction and afterwards they run entirely in another.

The current crisis has not yet reached the Hinge, but the sands are slowly shifting for those with a mind to notice them. After the Fall of France the British War cabinet decided to strip the Middle East of troops for the defense of the homeland. Empire was cast away in a moment in the need for self-preservation, through in May, 1940, the cabinet hardly had the time to see things in those terms.

The need to for Europeans to survive, to buy gas, keep from freezing in the winter, etc. are likely to result in the death of the Welfare State. The political institutions may imagine, like the British War Cabinet, that the Empire would be re-established after the “German War” was over, but in reality the step was irrevocable.

Read the whole thing.™

Related: I’ve been meaning to link to this recent item at the Economist, but haven’t found a hook for it yet, so I might as well hang a link off this post. A new chart titled “Rolling back the years” claims, “America has lost almost a decade of progress to the financial crisis.” It also notes that “of the countries considered, Greece has fared the worst. In economic terms, it is just entering the new millennium again.”