Current Affairs Discussion

The group meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 2.00pm in the Bolsover Library. All interested members are very welcome, to join in, or just to listen to the discussion. We have a lot of interesting debates and it’s great fun. Do give it a try – for free!

Please send any articles, news, photographs etc. for this group to bolu3a@outlook.com

To access the CADG Archive click Current Affairs Discussion – Archive

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Topics for the next months are on hold, pending permission to meet again.

In the meantime, we have been having a discussion, using written comments rater than face to face chats. Not so much fun, and only a few of you contributed, so we can perhaps discuss the topic again when we DO meet. But if anyone wants to contribute now, just send your thoughts as an email to Barbara and she will add them to those already received.

Comments from 6 CADG members on the effect of Covid19 on life in the future and a comparison with how our society recovered post WW2

Response A: I’m more struck by the differences than the similarities , particularly  to  some of the institutions, such as the family and the restricted roles of women.        In that respect I think that the effects of  WW2 and Covid were in many ways the opposite of each other. The war caused very many families to become fractured  in lots of ways; for instance the majority of able-bodied men between 18 &40 years old were “called up” and had to leave home, some never to return. For those who did return there were huge problems  of readjustment , or the lack of it, affecting all the members of ‘their’ families. Children, too, were sent out of the cities to live with previously little- known relatives, friends or total strangers.Single women were directed into employment or to war work such as the  Land Army, again often away from home. Servicemen from other places , often the U S A, were billeted in or near villages and inevitably new relationships, and often children , were the result.This upheaval continued after the War, as prisoners of war and displaced persons required increasing amounts of freedom and local employment.

So in many ways the social fabric of Britain was turned inside out  and it never quite returned to the previous normal, despite considerable pressures during the 1950s for that to happen.

The Covid pandemic, on the other hand, seems to have , on the whole, strengthened family units, though it is far too soon yet to know whether that effect will be a lasting one.

Another effect which is sometimes seen to be similar in the two cases, is that of shortages of consumer goods and the need for rationing. Again it seems to me that the similarities are very smudgy ones and the differences much more fundamental. For instance , there were very important geo-political reasons to expect shortages to occur and socio-economic reasons for developing an apparently fair  method of ensuring . . that the home population remained healthy. Very early in the war, January 1940, the first rationing – of butter, sugar and bacon – was established , with the force of national law behind it ,and its scope increased until almost everything was only available on ration. Fish paste and handkerchieves remained available and rationing was only finally ended entirely in July 1954.

Shortages during the pandemic, on the other hand, arose because of public panic- buying of long-life goods such as toilet paper and later due  to supply shortages which in turn were due partly to the widespread decline in economic activity during  the pandemic. In both cases the economic difficulties continued, and now seem set to continue, for many years after the crisis.Thanks to an inept government (“drawn from the conservative’s B team “ according to The Church Times !) .   We are unlikely to return to medieval standards, but it seems likely that many people will again begin to use any available space to grow vegetables and/or to keep chickens as the UK struggles to regain its previous standard of living.

 Response B:

Threat    War- A lunatic tyrant.

Now – Pandemic, a force of nature.

Fear        War – Bombing,dying,spying,loved ones not coming home.

Now – Catching virus, dying, losing jobs, savings.

Food       War – True food shortages & rationing.

Now – Shortages created by panic buying although vast supplies on hand.

Society   War – truly all in it together. able to mix in groups (e.g. pubs, cinema, bomb shelters). Shops open despite shortages. Many women worked for the first time. People helped each other out.

Now – All in it together as a mantra. Shops, pubs, cafes, theatres, cinemas all closed. Isolation (keep away from other people).Emphasis on mental wellbeing. Plenty of home entertainment, study facilities, culture. Both sexes work. Social conscience, help those in need. Some selfishness.

Consumer goods   War – Most things on rationing including clothing. Mostly manual labour :- washing, gardening, cleaning

Now – Unparalleled choice of goods -gadgets for everything (food processors, automatic vacuums, automatic lawn mowers etc).

Response C:

Comparing after lockdown and after WWII:  Financial position will be similar, although we’ll be owing ourselves and not the Americans; because of the handling of easing lockdown we could have another spike (quite severe according to the scientists), whereas the war ended; all being well we won’t have rationing (especially as we’ll be able to import from the States sooner rather than later as a Bill has been passed easing our food standards); both events have left people grieving for lost loved ones.

Sorry, about the politics but I’m steaming – pedal licenses for gas, oil and shale gas have also been extended as well as the Bill which will enable food standards to be lowered.  I hate to think of what else has been going on without our knowledge.  The media seem to have fo gotten about everything apart from Covid-19 as did during the Brexit debate.

Response D:

Will the return to ‘normality’ post Corona be similar to return to ‘normality’ post WW2?

The country and society are very different now from how they were in 1945 when WW2 ended, and yet comparisons can be made. After the war the population had become used to losses, deprivations and inconveniences for some 6 years, whereas during lockdown there are inconveniences and some terrible losses, but after just a couple of months. I see two other differences that could affect recovery.

Firstly, we are currently missing our families hugely, as we are not allowed to meet, whereas in the war, families often moved in together either to protect relatives from heavily bombed regions, or because their homes had been destroyed. Families and neighbourhoods worked harmoniously in the common effort to help the war effort.

Secondly, society today has become far more consumerist,  buying clothes merely to be fashionable, eating out (unknown during and for some time after the war), exotic overseas holidays, cars, domestic replacements – whereas in the war, there was rationing of almost everything and the population became very used to ‘make do and mend’. Rationing was a great leveller. While a change to less purchases will affect some sections of the economy, other more ‘green’ companies will hopefully emerge, and different training schemes will be set up to meet the new demand.

Life pre and during corona has been very different. So adjustment may be harder now than it was post-war since life pre-war was equally simple for most people. But does our society want to change to a simpler, kinder, and more equal way of life?Time will tell, but I have my doubts.

I have just thought of a third difference – the Internet.

And a fourth – education didn’t stop during the war . . . .

And a fifth – we have forgotten all about the climate crisis, although lockdown has helped ‘til the car industry booms again.

Response E:

I wasn’t born ‘till 7 years after the Second World War finished, so I can only compare what I learnt at school and what is happening with  coved19 at this time,

The numbers of deaths from ww2 was in the tens of millions who lost their lives to this horrific act.

The dept of £120 billion (equivalent to £3.620 billion in today’s  money) was finally payed off back in early 2000.

The covid19  bailout so far to the UK has cost £100 billion, i haven’t looked into other countries.  I will never see this dept paid back in my life time neither will my children or even grandchildren. It’s mind blowing how much of an impact this has caused in the world, i can’t actually have the mental ability to take in the ripple affect on everybody’s lives. It changes on a daily basis and we need to get back to “normal” (what ever normal will be in the future) but not at the cost of more lives, it’s now going to be ‘Before covid19 and After covid19’.

I hope the cost of lives to our society comes down to zero but, while people are carelessly flouting the rules, it won’t happen and we will get another spike, putting more NHS staff at risk , as well as costing more money.

We have lost 6.66 million people world wide to this pandemic so far, and who knows how many more will die?

Response F:

How will life change after lockdown?

I have attempted writing this 3 times, and waffled on endlessly. Each time I have changed it, as people’s behaviours change towards this situation weekly. Initially I saw many similarities to WW2, but now my views have changed, in fact they change every day. This week I feel sure that because the restrictions are slowly being lifted, people are less aware of social distancing, so I believe we are going to have another rise in deaths soon, and will possibly be back in lockdown again. If this happens, which I really hope it doesn’t, I know my thoughts will change again.

After all this is over, we will go into a recession, there will sadly be many more people left mourning the losses of their loved ones. We will be a poorer country, but we will eventually recover, as the human race are fighters. They say we learn from history, but as the world progresses, are we really learning anything!

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Comments on previous discussions from members:

March 12th 2020
Our March meeting of the CADG was attended by 12 members, and we welcomed 2 new members to our group.
This month’s topic was ‘Understanding transgender people’. As usual it was a lively discussion that was introduced by Sue Garfoot, who provided interesting information about procedures that are followed, both medically and legally.
We discussed the terminology,  the hormone treatments available,  the process from going to see your doctor, right through to  having surgery,  the mental issues and stress on the person and their families going through transgender changes. Josie read a lovely poem that she had written about this subject, and there was much additional knowledge and experiences from group member.

February 13th 2020

Mental Health was the subject for February’s meeting. We discussed the different types of mental illnesses and the serious effect it can have on individuals and their families. Michael talked us through his experience of living in Rural France and what was available from their health authorities, in comparison to the help we have here in England from the NHS.
Mental health awareness is being discussed openly in many public arenas, along with showing people how to take the practice of ‘Mindfulness’ seriously and how to include this in our daily lives.We looked at what help was available from statutory bodies, supporting charities and community support groups.
On the way out of the library we checked the notice board, and were encouraged to find 14 posters,offering support from the NHS to local charities and community groups. Offering help for severemental health issues, to dealing with loneliness, anxiety, depression, and many other relatedproblems in Bolsover.
I think everyone  agreed it is a huge subject and it has touched each and every one of us in varying degrees.  Consult any source of news and the topic of mental health will appear in some form.

And another comment:
We heard a comparison of how the French and English health systems work.
The paucity of Mental Health Services was pointed out and the need for timely intervention was stated.  We considered the pressures of modern life with addictive games and fractured family networks and then the extra pressure that mental illness brings.  We shared information about local support groups.
With successful treatments few, it’s a subject we may consider again from a different perspective.
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And another comment:

January 23rd 2020

The subject for January was: Science Fiction in relation to reality – as knowledge progresses, does science fiction increasingly become reality?

David introduced the subject.

Conceptual:
Jules Verne
– discussed in two of his books the concept of space travel but without appreciating physical laws that limited the way this could happen.
Star Trek – “beam me up Scotty” – a communication device was used, this was a fictional development of existing radio technology and although the handsets are similar in appearance to mobile phones had no solutions to the concept of mobile communication?Karel Capek – was a Czech playright and in 1920 wrote a play about robots. Robots was derived from the Czech word for “forced labour” and has since been adopted into the English language.

Informed:
Arthur C Clarke – was a Science Fiction writer in the 1930s who advocated space travel – he was one of the first people to talk about satellite communication, being a practical solution to the problem of limited intercontinental radio traffic ie because of the curvature of the earth. He proposed solutions to foreseen problems, eg in 1974 he predicted online banking and other commonplace things today (ie internet).

Scientific Reality
Albert Einstein –Used thought experiments – (ie science fiction without the storyline) to formulate his Theory of Relativity, and the relationship of the Speed of Light and Time. This has since become accepted and proved to be correct.  Fiction that proved reality.
Dr Who and Time Travel – So far nobody has come back from the future to our present time – AS FAR AS WE KNOW! – Since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, with our present understanding of physics, this makes time travel impossible.

The above brought about discussions about possible changes in the fundamental laws of physics and the nature of the universe including parallel dimensions. Other Science fiction writers were discussed and these included the following:-
1899  – HG Wells predicted the atom bomb – in a novel The World Set Free.
1964 – Asimov predicted global video calling, flat screen TV.
1665 – Margaret Cavendish who lived in Bolsover Castle, The Blazing World novel, imagined what could be classed as a black hole/wormhole as we would describe it today.
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