The Second International effectively collapsed with l’union sacrée in France and the Burgfrieden in Germany and the “reformist” socialist parties that were to emerge from the carnage were soon to be flattered into a submission that “allowed” them to be salon fähig.
Nevertheless, the “reformists” were not without their successes and in the aftermath of Atlee’s landslide victory in 1945, Britain was to have its NHS, its Welfare State and some were even to have “homes fit for heroes”, the Germans were to have their Soziale Marktwirtchaft and in France the working classes were soon to move into the habitation à loyer modéré.
There was a choice of sorts; a choice between left and right and then there was Thatcher and then we had Blair and today we have Gordon Brown. In France the Parti socialisti is not the SFIO and in Germany the Grosse Koalition realistically reflects the Federal Republic’s mono political culture. Today, there is no real choice; not in France, not in the UK and not in Germany and, despite their being quite a bit of support for an alternative in Spain and Italy, not, realistically, in those two countries either.
The picture shows the pall-bearers carrying the coffin of a man who refused to speak about his experiences of war for over eighty years. A picture which might, however, motivate one modern day Tommy to fight for the “Queens shilling”. And what about Harry’s, “it wasn’t worth it”?