The last century could hardly have been more eventful, although we have become too accustomed to some of its better moments. 1911 was a high point for Edwardinian optimism, the hey-day of expressionism in painting and the European arts, especially music. Der Rosenkavallier, perhaps the most popular opera of the 20th century, emerged that year, Picasso was already famous, much great literature was appearing or being written, while history was getting ready to plunge the world into a catastrophic world war. Britain was a clearly defined class society, proud of being the centre of the biggest empire since Roman times with an accepted monarchy, a powerful aristocracy employing a large part of the lowly born servants, a middle class divided into three groups: owners of factories or mines big farms, shop-keepers and office workers with small incomes, and others only different from the working classes in that they did skilled work or non-manual office jobs. Those working-class members, who were not servants, were the exploited urban or rural poor, many of whom joined the army or navy to exploit those under them in the empire. It was the 1914-1918 war, with its massive slaughter of many millions that reduced populations, dented the class system, brought in communism (that was turned into a tyranny by Stalin) while the misguided Treaty of Versailles, ignoring the warnings of John Maynard Keynes, opened the way to Hitler, to the Nazi take-over of Europe and to all the horrors of Nacht Und Nebel, the concentration camps, the holocaust and many genecides, horrors as had not been known for centuries. Although the twenties and the post-second-world-war period offered a civilised existence to many, if not to all, in many countries, smaller wars, persecutions and horrors were always happening somewhere. No one who knows history has ever any reason to be optimistic. And here we are today at another of those times that promise nothing but suffering ahead. Revolutions are breaking out everywhere and this will obviously be, like 1848, a year of many more, with the mass destruction of most of humanity more than possible, because of the ubiquity and technology of modern weapons of destruction. The world needs order, regulation, competent leadership and principles based on humane socialism, and these things are nowhere visible. Instead we have refusal to face reality, nostalgic looking-back to what lead to the disastrous present, corruption world-wide, and real threats of returning fascism, racial and religious war and new genocides. Every essential public service is threatened, there will be not be enough to pay the rising number of unemployed, education is disappearing us will pensions, and the only certainty is that some authoritarian regime will eventually take over, but only after much violence and blood-spilling, ands its nature cannot be predicted. There would appear to be a choice, either a socialism based on austerity-measures or a dictatorship of left or right, but no prediction is possible. Anything can happen when mob violence takes over, as it certainly will. This blog can offer no advice, except to say: Think small. Do what you can to break up every large unit into smaller ones; there will be more to go round. Do not get what is not essential. Save if you can. Help others and they might help you. Learn to share. Give up travel and holidays: nowhere is safe. Watch the arts: they understand what is happening better than anyone else and may point the way out of this disaster. Don’t follow anyone who preaches hatred. Watch your back! Do not take any advice you have not thought through or that you do not understand. Be ready for anything to come and let caution, clear thinking and – where possible – small generosity – guide you. I wish I had more to say. John Calder 31/1/2011