The 9pm End of the World, Probably

Donald Trump before he was President of the United States (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

This is the first episode of this podcast for nearly three months, and what I foretold has come to pass.

“‘President Trump’, get used to saying it,” I first warned you on 5 November 2015, a full year before the US elections.

Told you so.

It’s not really a matter of careful what you wish for, because I wasn’t wishing for this. I just foresaw this new era in human history. I can indeed see through time, and you people really do need to start recognising this simple fact.

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The 9pm I can’t believe it’s not January

Photograph of broken Zoom H1 recorder

This episode of The 9pm Edict is important. Every single piece of information is vital to our national security. You must help protect our way of life. Listen closely, and observe all safety precautions.

It’s so long since the last episode, we’ve already celebrated the birthday of gentle Baby Jesus. It’s a brand new year, but we’ve got the same old Crusader Rabbit as Prime Minister.

In this podcast there’s talk of terrorism, broadband, Space Lizards, the Brandis Ham, and much more.

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1939: So, is it war then, George?

Daily Telegraph (UK), 19 August 1939, page 3 (part): click for a closer view

If the world was about to explode into a Total War lasting six years, would you know?

As I wrote back in 2007, TV documentaries about World War II cover the rise of Adolf Hitler in a few minutes. We forget that Hitler was head of the National Socialist Party from 1921, fully 12 years before he became Chancellor in 1933. It was another 6 years before the invasion of Poland.

What did it look like for people living it in real-time?

My guess is that for the vast majority of people the rise of Hitler had very little impact on day-to-day life — just as today the distant wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have virtually no discernible impact on my life in Sydney. Nor do the many minor changes to our laws which increase the powers of central government without any balancing increases in our own ability to hold that government accountable.

In the summer of 1932, a few politically-aware people sitting in sunny cafes might have discussed that odd Mr Hitler’s failed run for the presidency, but I doubt anyone would have seen it as heralding global war.

This is why I’m starting to find George Orwell’s diary intriguing.

Initially, as the Orwell Prize published the entries exactly 60 years after they were first written it was, to be honest, boring. Laughably so, in fact, as the meticulous journalist documented the day-to-day activities in his garden. On 30 November 1938, it was nothing more than: Two eggs.

But now, we’re only eleven days out from the German invasion of Poland. Thirteen days from Britain and France declaring war on Germany.

Orwell notes a Daily Telegraph report (pictured): “Germans are buying heavily in copper & rubber for immediate delivery, & price of rubber rising rapidly.”

Orwell’s journalistic eye could see the signs. Could ordinary citizens? Sure, gas masks were being distributed and air raid drills held, but did people believe them?

In 2007, did we believe John Howard’s “alert but not alarmed” scaremongering? Or didn’t we? And if not, but they did in 1939, what’s the difference?

I reckon Orwell’s diary will be an interesting read over the next 13 days.

Hitler not such a monster after all?

Photograph of Adolf Hitler in a modern fashion styleWhat do you think of Daniel Eatock’s “modern” version of Adolf Hitler (pictured)? He actually looks quite striking, does he not? Follow the link and you’ll see a similar treatment of Winston Churchill too.

Whenever we see Hitler on TV, he’s rendered in slow motion and we hear the droning, threatening music. The message is extremely unsubtle: This Man Is A Monster.

I think it’s dangerous to depict Hitler that way.

Yes, of course Hitler was a monster. But if we ever need to deal with another charismatic, psychotic, genocidal maniac there won’t be some invisible orchestra playing the theme from Jaws so we can spot him. We’ll have to figure it out for ourselves.

That’ll be tough. Just as Hitler and his mates used the best media technology and techniques of their age to craft their public image, any new Hitler-esque politician will do the same. Their PR agency will craft an image we can relate to. If they’re a Rising Star of politics, the magazines will commission photo shoots — and it’ll all look something like this photo.

Remember, Hitler was Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938. In 1942 it was Joseph Stalin. History has since decided they were probably not the best of people.

(In Time‘s defence, I should point out that their Person of the Year, as they call it now, is for the man, woman, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Certainly Hitler influenced the events of 1938!)

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