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 History Repeating Itself (again)

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nordmann
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PostSubject: History Repeating Itself (again)   Mon 18 Jul 2016, 08:26

President Erdogan's response to the failed coup in Turkey at the weekend, right up to his tearful funeral eulogy yesterday, could not help but make me draw parallels to a certain failed coup not a million miles away from this one but which happened over two thousand years ago. While both differ in terms of tactics employed to initiate the coup, both have shared - in my opinion - remarkable similarities in terms of stated motive and aims on the part of the conspirators, as well as what is looking remarkably like a reaction of a president who hasn't yet noticed that his initial responses are uncannily akin to those which a certain Mark Anthony embarked upon when responding to the coup he was fated to thwart (and we all know how that ended up).

Now, I'm not suggesting that this inevitably means that we can look forward to Recep Tayyip shacking up at some future point with a high-profile Egyptian sex goddess and the pair of them coming a cropper through sword and snake, but it does rather raise the obvious question about how often we can claim some validity for the old "history repeats itself" adage which, depending on whatever version one subscribes to, is either reassuringly inevitable or in fact bloody dangerous if allowed to happen at all.

Taking just some recent globally newsworthy events into consideration I wonder if any historical counterparts jump out at one as being "similar enough as be damned" to warrant a "here we go again" reaction from any half-baked historian?

For example ...
Police shootings (both as perps and victims) in the USA
Brexit and its aftermath
The mass killing in Nice of innocent people by a man with low-tech means but high impact aims
The apparent "rise" of Donald Trump

... and if historical parallels exist, what exactly might we expect from these regarding what will happen next?
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Mon 18 Jul 2016, 15:06

Quote, "If we don't learn from our mistakes, we are dooomed to repeat them."
`
Are we willing to learn  and what lessons?
- And are the 'we' the ones with the means to do anything?
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Wed 20 Jul 2016, 08:16

"We" are, yes. Of course whether we utilise those means or not is the real question. That can mean consensus, intellect and sheer will having to conjoin in enough people's minds at the same time to start a remedial process - something that history also tells us occurs way too infrequently to be depended upon to occur naturally in every case. But the means are always there.

One thing however we can never claim is to have been unprepared to tackle issues based on a lack of historical precedent by which to identify them when the pattern of behaviour is reproduced.

Getting back to Erdogan's "road to Egypt" I notice he has hopped over Mark Antony's initial steps to compromise with the "Liberatores" and has opted to go straight for the Sullan proscriptions policy adopted by his predecessor once the triumvirate had been cobbled together. Antony's might only have lasted two months but, it could well be argued, the traumatic effect of that legislation was probably the largest and most final nail in the coffin of republican Rome and its transformation into permanent dictatorship. But of course Erdogan, as a former semi-professional footballer, probably knows that too.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 09:51

I do hope I'm exaggerating although I'm certaintly not the first person to observe this, but events unfolding in Britain do have more than a passing resemblance to Germany in the 1930s:

A referendum used to legitimise purges in government and the new government immediately starts to try and bypass the people's elected representatives and manipulate the law to get its own way;

The popular press being used to whip up mob hate over rule by law - the judicary openly labelled "traitors" and "enemies of the people", and the government turns a blind eye;

A Goebbels-like policy of telling lies, big lies and even bigger lies, just so people hear what they desparately want to hear (eg promises of 350million to the NHS);

The vilification of intellectuals and experts, over wot the man in the street finks (... or been told to fink);

Scape-goating of minority groups, and the fostering of the idea that its all someone else's fault (the EU, furriners, moslems, whinging lefties etc).

Government attempts to suspend hard-won civil, employment and privacy rights.


The DM couldn't resist adding that one of them is even gay and a poncy olympic fencing champion too - so clearly he's an 'enemy of the people' !

People keep saying: "brexit is brexit - its democracy innit - we won so get over it"... but I thought democracy was not only to support the wishes of the majority but to protect the rights of the minority.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 10:22

I'm afraid we all here have reverted to our usual state of political apathy, MM. That bit of a flurry over Brexit didn't last long. We're all bored with that now. To be honest, the British people are more outraged at the moment about the fate of Dave the Worm. He was on BBC Breakfast yesterday and when it was revealed that the Natural History Museum had had him killed "in the interests of science" the nation went into a state of grief and shock not seen since 1997.


http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/dave-the-worm-outcry-as-uks-largest-earthworm-is-killed-for-science_uk_581c5d15e4b09d57a9a83da2


"I was murdered in the name of science and all you do is go on about some Brexit thing....."


Dave is was the longest earthworm found in these islands: had he been allowed to live out his days peacefully in a wormery, he could have grown even bigger. He could also have been put out to stud and a whole new breed of monster British earthworms established.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 10:35

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 10:37

Oh dear, sorry for being silly, MM  Embarassed . I was trying to be ironic.

Will crawl off - or wriggle off, rather - back under my stone.

But even the Guardian saw fit to publish a short information film about Dave.



https://www.theguardian.com/science/video/2016/nov/04/meet-dave-the-uks-biggest-ever-earthworm-video


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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 10:41

I get big worms here ... I wonder if they're the same species.

Here's one I found in Spring when I was digging my veg' plot (against a 30cm/foot rule):



Maybe Dave wasn't actually British ... "I dunno, all them EU worms, coming over here, eating our leaf-mould!"
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 10:49

Smile

Blimey, MM, what  a whopper!

I don't think Dave was an economic migrant looking for easy Compost Benefits. Your Gallic worm actually looks sleeker and more stylish than Dave: Dave had that rather unhealthy, podgy British look about him. Dave is was an Anglo-Saxon worm all right. One of our own. RIP.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 11:30

Yep MM, what is happening in England at the moment it is terrifying indeed. So many people we know living there are feeling very uncomfortable at the atmosphere indeed, both native British and immigrant and talking about getting out. Almost unbelievable that this is happening in Britain of all places, the country that prides itself on the defeat of the nazis.

Years of voter apathy, years of government neglect, years of Murdoch press brainwashing, years of educational oversights and we are where we are. The world is changing rapidly, the gap between the have and have nots is widening and people feel as if they have no control and are understandably frightened but the first to get it in the neck are those perceived as different? Have we learnt nothing from history?
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 12:29

I think a particular problem in Britain is its first-past-the-post, party-political electoral system ... which means that the government is often in a minority but still largely has carte-blanche to enact it's policies. This whole current mess came about because Cameron, having only just got a "working majority" put party above politics and offfered the referendum sop to try and stop his party splitting and so losing the working majority (and him losing his job). It is the same FPTP system that has allowed the Tories to push austerity measures hard, with no real opposition, because Labour isn't strong enough to challenge the working majority ... so effectively there is no check to the Tory policy.

On the issue of brexit - with the country seemingly split 48-52% - if May has to put the issue to Parliament I can see she could well get the support of a large majority of MPs across the board, voting for brexit against their own feelings (most MPs are actually pro remain) but because they feel thay have to represent the "majority" voice of their constituents ... and because they'd be afraid of losing their seats.

Should Parliament not give May a clear mandate she might be forced to hold a general election, fought primarily over the brexit issue, but again that might, because of the constituency FPTP system, actually return an increased Tory "majority" ... albeit still probably a minority in terms of the total number of seats. Such a renewed Tory government would be completely un-representative of the roughly 50% split on the brexit issue, and there would be no possibility of brexit, or any other policies, being watered down by imput from any other party. I'm not a big Labour supporter by any means (not that I have a vote anyway) but it does seem a great pity that now, when a strong oppostition is sorely needed, they are in a complete shambles themselves.

It is ironic that given gradual demographic shifts in the electorate, by the time Britain actually exits the EU, say in 2019, some of the older brexit voters will have died off and been replaced by younger bremain voters. Britain might well find itself leaving, contrary to the will of the majority of its people.

However this pans out I can see the rancour, bitterness and sense of betrayal lasting for many, many years.

"That England that was wont to conquer others / Hath made a shameful conquest of itself"
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 15:50

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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 15:55

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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 06:05

The problems with two party electoral systems are now glaringly obvious, and this is seen across a number of countries at the moment, not just the UK. The US, Australia and even Greece for that matter, where do you go when both traditional major parties are imploding at the same time due to voter dissatisfaction? The world has changed and is changing rapidly but our political systems and governments are still lagging way behind with their heads still stuck in the 80s and 90s and with no answer other than to repeat the same old. Everyone is ripe for charlatans at the moment.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 11:51

It goes deeper than simply parties "imploding", by which I suppose you mean they are tangibly less effective, less inclined to honour a supposed ideology or common view on social policy, less able therefore to guarantee they will ever do what they say, and ultimately therefore hemorrhaging public faith in their ability to lead or even represent the electorate they want to vote for them. Panicked, contradictory and directionless attempts by party members to rectify the latter without reference to the former only accelerates these parties' disintegration and decline.

I agree with all that, as you can see, but I also think one has to look at how this has come about. You are correct in my view to imply that in many ways we have seen decades of a trend whereby traditional western political ideologies - as represented once by large parties of left, centre and right - have been overtaken by real world events which have thrown up questions to which these ideologies now no longer provide a comprehensive answer. Further, and here is where I intentionally reference history (that often derided interest in precedent which many dismiss as an obsession with things deemed irrelevant purely because they are past), these ideologies as represented by traditional political blocs and parties have compounded their inability to properly legislate for the common good by intentionally failing to accept responsibility for the many deep-seated historical prejudices, mistakes and disastrous decisions of the past to which they have contributed. This failure in itself guarantees a snowball effect in how they themselves therefore are judged as irrelevant by those at the receiving end of the many resultant political and social blunders which are unavoidable when legislation is in the power of people who no longer really know to what end they are legislating, or for that matter even how the machinery of legislation they utilise has been painstakingly assembled in the past. They have inherited a brittle and fragile, and it must be said flaw-ridden, system of governance constructed primarily to ensure social cohesion and some semblance of egalitarian principle, and through their self-imposed and self-perpetuating ignorance are therefore almost guaranteed to break it. And "they" in that scenario represents not just the politicians but the majority of the members of the social ranks from which they arise.

The irony in this, although it is one which will be really only appreciated, I think, in historical retrospect, is that this is happening against a backdrop of globalisation, not just of wealth, as we all know to our cost, but of attitude, communication, transport and migration, and indeed thought itself. In many ways in fact globalisation is contributing to the increasing irrelevance of parochial views expressed in any context, let alone local political context, while at the same time it is automatically ensuring that the resultant vacuum is filled. So far what we see filling the vacuum on a political level is dispiriting indeed, and what we see filling the vacuum on a social level is the emergence of a myriad opportunistic ideologies hoping to wield authority. What unites these ideologies however, besides their obvious origin as opportunistic by nature, is their equally obvious role as anathema to the social safeguards more local politics and once relevant ideologies provided.

But I am not a pessimist in this regard. The pessimist, frightened (and with good reason) often feels left with little option other than to retreat to a "safe" period in the past and vainly hope their society can follow them there. That is at once unrealistic and in fact dangerous, as every historical example of where and when it was attempted demonstrates for the society which tried it. Optimistically however there is ample evidence too of the strengthening through consolidation of an alternative network of reasoned views, as yet largely unrepresented in traditional political arenas, which employ global communication and the hugely different social intercourse this affords people to what they had before, and which at this moment in time are running as a deep, but powerful, undercurrent - often in fact a countercurrent - beneath the traditional and more visible political flow, especially as represented in mass media.

"Brexit" utilised this phenomenon, but as a policy shows itself to correspond to the pessimistic trend I alluded to. The shambles that is the present US utilisation of the electoral system to promote non-candidates for highest office reflects the same. The western media, at least as represented by the traditional corporations and the outlets they run, fuels this fear for profit and influence. However in the same decades that these situations developed we have also seen, for example, a global mass abandonment of reliance on huge religious structures to dictate our morals (and this includes Islam, the death throes of which will be vicious indeed on the part of those who lose this authority), a proliferation of global organisations which apolitically address social injustices, basic health care, famine relief and other inhumane effects of poor or evil administration, a level of expectation among younger people of political consensus within ideological philosophies which extends well beyond traditional political borders, and ultimately - through for example discussion about the implications of genuinely global threats within our planet's own environment and ecology - a growing global consensus that some things can only be discussed, tackled and solved through equivalent communication and cooperation.

As yet we have no accurate political representation for this new undercurrent, and I have no doubt things will have to get a lot worse before they get better in this regard. But on a thread which looks for how and where history repeats itself, even this unprecedented level of communication as expressed above does indeed have parallels with human events in our communal past. The obvious one is the invention of the printing press in the west, when within a few short generations the sudden proliferation of views, many of which were crucially reasoned views, almost overnight destroyed all the old cosy concepts and assumptions which defined the then political paradigm and plunged Europe, and ultimately the planet, into a vicious series of political redefinitions which, amongst other things, produced much that we now deem was not only good but absolutely necessary in defining human dignity.

We are at one of those points now. Unfortunately for us of a certain age, just at the start of it. But you have to admit it's exciting.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 15:57

Pretty much agree with all that but unfortunately that vicious series of political redefinitions that has produced the periods of stability and social and technological advancements has always have come at the cost of war and suffering. Maybe exciting if one doesn't live in a place that has traditionally been the meat between the geopolitical sandwich, but it is fairly scary from where I am sitting.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 16:05

Yes, the equation between suffering endured and ultimate benefit accrued, as Temp alluded to yesterday also in terms of literature, is a frightening indictment of how humans behave towards each other on the whole. And this time it will be global in a sense that we have never experienced before, so there will not be much by way of respite based on geographical location. However what history demonstrates is that humanity, again on the whole, is skilled at deriving overall improvement when it comes to life expectancy and expectations out of horrendously dire processes which it inflicts on itself getting there. And here we go again ...
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 17:26

Meles meles wrote:
I think a particular problem in Britain is its first-past-the-post, party-political electoral system

This is key. The Single Largest Wins system (the misnomer 'FPTP' is misleading precisely because there is no 'post' to get 'past') is still in place. And following the failure to replace it with the Alternative Vote after the referendum in 2011 (the first of David Cameron's 3 referenda) then it looks like it's not going to be changed anytime soon. The cynical decision by both parties (Conservative and Labour) not to fully back electoral reform then has in no small part contributed to the current constitutional quagmire.

And it wasn't just the political parties who were cynical in 2011. The media (both broadcast and print) were also complicit. There was no real debate or campaign on the issue. For example, in the month leading up to the referendum in May 2011 the BBC devoted more hours to covering the ongoing U.S. presidential election (then still 18 months away) then it did to the electoral referendum campaign in the UK itself. Does anyone today remember who ran against President Obama in 2012? No? Didn't think so.

Cameron probably believed that because the referendum on electoral reform had gone his way in 2011 and because the referendum on independence for Scotland had gone his was in 2014, then with the EU referendum in 2016, history would repeat itself and a hat-trick was in the bag.


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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 20:24

nordmann wrote:
It goes deeper than simply parties "imploding", by which I suppose you mean they are tangibly less effective, less inclined to honour a supposed ideology or common view on social policy, less able therefore to guarantee they will ever do what they say, and ultimately therefore hemorrhaging public faith in their ability to lead or even represent the electorate they want to vote for them. Panicked, contradictory and directionless attempts by party members to rectify the latter without reference to the former only accelerates these parties' disintegration and decline.

I agree with all that, as you can see, but I also think one has to look at how this has come about. You are correct in my view to imply that in many ways we have seen decades of a trend whereby traditional western political ideologies - as represented once by large parties of left, centre and right - have been overtaken by real world events which have thrown up questions to which these ideologies now no longer provide a comprehensive answer. Further, and here is where I intentionally reference history (that often derided interest in precedent which many dismiss as an obsession with things deemed irrelevant purely because they are past), these ideologies as represented by traditional political blocs and parties have compounded their inability to properly legislate for the common good by intentionally failing to accept responsibility for the many deep-seated historical prejudices, mistakes and disastrous decisions of the past to which they have contributed. This failure in itself guarantees a snowball effect in how they themselves therefore are judged as irrelevant by those at the receiving end of the many resultant political and social blunders which are unavoidable when legislation is in the power of people who no longer really know to what end they are legislating, or for that matter even how the machinery of legislation they utilise has been painstakingly assembled in the past. They have inherited a brittle and fragile, and it must be said flaw-ridden, system of governance constructed primarily to ensure social cohesion and some semblance of egalitarian principle, and through their self-imposed and self-perpetuating ignorance are therefore almost guaranteed to break it. And "they" in that scenario represents not just the politicians but the majority of the members of the social ranks from which they arise.

The irony in this, although it is one which will be really only appreciated, I think, in historical retrospect, is that this is happening against a backdrop of globalisation, not just of wealth, as we all know to our cost, but of attitude, communication, transport and migration, and indeed thought itself. In many ways in fact globalisation is contributing to the increasing irrelevance of parochial views expressed in any context, let alone local political context, while at the same time it is automatically ensuring that the resultant vacuum is filled. So far what we see filling the vacuum on a political level is dispiriting indeed, and what we see filling the vacuum on a social level is the emergence of a myriad opportunistic ideologies hoping to wield authority. What unites these ideologies however, besides their obvious origin as opportunistic by nature, is their equally obvious role as anathema to the social safeguards more local politics and once relevant ideologies provided.

But I am not a pessimist in this regard. The pessimist, frightened (and with good reason) often feels left with little option other than to retreat to a "safe" period in the past and vainly hope their society can follow them there. That is at once unrealistic and in fact dangerous, as every historical example of where and when it was attempted demonstrates for the society which tried it. Optimistically however there is ample evidence too of the strengthening through consolidation of an alternative network of reasoned views, as yet largely unrepresented in traditional political arenas, which employ global communication and the hugely different social intercourse this affords people to what they had before, and which at this moment in time are running as a deep, but powerful, undercurrent - often in fact a countercurrent - beneath the traditional and more visible political flow, especially as represented in mass media.

"Brexit" utilised this phenomenon, but as a policy shows itself to correspond to the pessimistic trend I alluded to. The shambles that is the present US utilisation of the electoral system to promote non-candidates for highest office reflects the same. The western media, at least as represented by the traditional corporations and the outlets they run, fuels this fear for profit and influence. However in the same decades that these situations developed we have also seen, for example, a global mass abandonment of reliance on huge religious structures to dictate our morals (and this includes Islam, the death throes of which will be vicious indeed on the part of those who lose this authority), a proliferation of global organisations which apolitically address social injustices, basic health care, famine relief and other inhumane effects of poor or evil administration, a level of expectation among younger people of political consensus within ideological philosophies which extends well beyond traditional political borders, and ultimately - through for example discussion about the implications of genuinely global threats within our planet's own environment and ecology - a growing global consensus that some things can only be discussed, tackled and solved through equivalent communication and cooperation.

As yet we have no accurate political representation for this new undercurrent, and I have no doubt things will have to get a lot worse before they get better in this regard. But on a thread which looks for how and where history repeats itself, even this unprecedented level of communication as expressed above does indeed have parallels with human events in our communal past. The obvious one is the invention of the printing press in the west, when within a few short generations the sudden proliferation of views, many of which were crucially reasoned views, almost overnight destroyed all the old cosy concepts and assumptions which defined the then political paradigm and plunged Europe, and ultimately the planet, into a vicious series of political redefinitions which, amongst other things, produced much that we now deem was not only good but absolutely necessary in defining human dignity.

We are at one of those points now. Unfortunately for us of a certain age, just at the start of it. But you have to admit it's exciting.


Thank, you Nordmann for your as ever thought provoking message.

Learned again a new word from you today: "death throes". Had to look in the dictionary. We call it in Dutch I think "doodsstrijd" (death struggle)


" As yet we have no accurate political representation for this new undercurrent, and I have no doubt things will have to get a lot worse before they get better in this regard. But on a thread which looks for how and where history repeats itself, even this unprecedented level of communication as expressed above does indeed have parallels with human events in our communal past. The obvious one is the invention of the printing press in the west, when within a few short generations the sudden proliferation of views, many of which were crucially reasoned views, almost overnight destroyed all the old cosy concepts and assumptions which defined the then political paradigm and plunged Europe, and ultimately the planet, into a vicious series of political redefinitions which, amongst other things, produced much that we now deem was not only good but absolutely necessary in defining human dignity."

Aren't that the Green ones, leaning to the Socialists, even extreme Left? But I detect overthere some nearly overreaction fueled by zeal that is looking like religious fervour. I can imagine some "jihadists" among them...
And as you I hope that this counter groundswell over the next years acts to evolute smootly in a better mondialised (oops here they say "globalized") world.

But what I see, and as from Belgium I can know it, is that more and more people stick to their "litle corner". Is that an ultimate reaction to globalization? The parts, not willing to contribute to the well being of the whole? That predicts in my humble opinion not much good?
America (the US) for the Americans, the wealthy North Italians for the Liga North, the wealthy Catalonia for the Catalonians...to give but some examples...even on my French forum I hear voices to a return of the independent France with its own currency and diplomacy...
Regrettable from my point of view...but I agree...we as the most fortunate in the world can't decline to a world average which is way beneath us present standards...but at least we can strive to upgrade the circumstances of the poorer ones...even to such an extent that we don't give in on our life quality, but by restraining a bit on our abundance...giving perhaps a bit of our "energy footprint" to those needing a bigger "footprint"...but yes as the world is still divided in the "compartiments" of the independent countries...and you have still countries with religious zealots, countries with a high level of corruption where all wealth goes to some elite, countries which are so deeply sunk that lawlessness is the law, countries which with a dictator exist only for the benefit of the dictator...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: History Repeating Itself (again)   Sat 12 Nov 2016, 15:43

May I just point out that Dave the Worm was featured on Have I Got News For You last night?

This is the second thing we've had here on Res His that has subsequently been used on that programme (they had Strumpets and Ninnycocks too).

Great (or maybe just silly) minds find similar things funny? Smile Remember you saw it here first!
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