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Politics as Hobby


I found this passage from Richard Overy’s The Bombing War fascinating:

It is evident that many other issues on the home front and the fighting front preoccupied the wider public as well. A Mass Observation survey in August 1940 found that three-quarters of respondents could not name a British air marshal; included on the list of responses was Hermann Göring. A second MO report on the attitude of demolition labourers showed that they discussed the bombing hardly at all, but spent most of the time bantering about sex, race and loot, with an occasional comment on the war overseas.

“Included on the list” isn’t very specific, but it surely does bring to mind similar howlers from U.S. polling data. The lesson I take (which, of course, backs up my previous view), is that politics, war, and international relations remain essentially a hobby, a niche interest, even under the most dire possible conditions. To frame differently, I suspect that if Hugh Dowding and Laurence Olivier had both used twitter in 1940, Olivier’s follower count would have dwarfed Dowding’s by 2-3 orders of magnitude.

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