Monday, 24 January 2011
I was struck, reading this LRB review of Hattersley's Lloyd George biography, by the parallels between Lloyd George and Hitler: both unscrupulous men from provincial territories (Wales, Austria) who rose to prominence in their big-scale neighbours' political systems (England, Germany); both driven and politically skilled, both extraordinarily gifted orators, both short. Yet one went on to establish old age pensions and the other to become the big villain of the C20th century. Might (in alternate history mode) Lloyd George, born a generation later, have become the UK dictator-for-life? Surely not: and not just because my personal prejudice is that a set of liberal ideological biases militate against that in ways that a set of fascist ideological biases don't. The socio-cultural milieu was far too different, quite apart from the individual personalities involved.