During the spat last December between Britain and France about which government most deserved to lose its triple-A credit rating (It was the French rating that was eventually lost.) Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, urged Europe’s leaders to solve the Eurozone crisis, commenting: “If that doesn’t happen the risk is that of retraction, rising protectionism, isolation. This is exactly what happened in the Thirties and what followed was not something we are all looking forward to (Times, 16 December).
Writing later in the Times (27 December) Stephan King, the HSBC’s group chief economists made a similar point: “The global economy has plenty of faults but increased isolationism will only make things worse. We don’t want to sleepwalk back to the 1930s.”
So, what did happen in the 1930s? Here are some quotes from “Background of the War 1939-1945”, a chapter taken from our 1950 pamphlet, The Socialist Party and War.