Open Access (free)
Civilian morale in Britain during the Second World War
Author: Robert Mackay

How well did civilian morale stand up to the pressures of total war and what factors were important to it? This book rejects contentions that civilian morale fell a long way short of the favourable picture presented at the time and in hundreds of books and films ever since. While acknowledging that some negative attitudes and behaviour existed—panic and defeatism, ration-cheating and black-marketeering—it argues that these involved a very small minority of the population. In fact, most people behaved well, and this should be the real measure of civilian morale, rather than the failing of the few who behaved badly. The book shows that although before the war, the official prognosis was pessimistic, measures to bolster morale were taken nevertheless, in particular with regard to protection against air raids. An examination of indicative factors concludes that moral fluctuated but was in the main good, right to the end of the war. In examining this phenomenon, due credit is accorded to government policies for the maintenance of morale, but special emphasis is given to the ‘invisible chain’ of patriotic feeling that held the nation together during its time of trial.

John Narayan

3 The Obstacles to Creative Democracy at Home and Abroad Only sheer cynicism and defeatism will deny that it is possible to create a workable world government. There have been times when the moral ancestors of present day defeatists would have scornfully declared that a rule of law over a territory anything like as large as our present United States was impossible. They would have said that outside of family groups and small neighbourhoods, the custom of every man’s hand against other men could not be uprooted … If peoples, especially their rulers, devoted

in John Dewey
Robert Mackay

crisis. As Harold Nicolson, an MP with a post in the Ministry of Information, recorded in his diary: ‘We have all the apparatus of war without war conditions. The result is general disillusion and grumbling, from which soil defeatism may grow.’8 He wrote thus because he knew that the fighting war would eventually come and he worried about what in the meanwhile was happening to the nation’s mental readiness for CHAP2.p65 50 16/09/02, 09:24 WAR EXPERIENCED: 1939–41 51 it. But for all Nicolson’s pessimism, a Gallup poll in late September seemed to show a public mood

in Half the battle
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

that might be set out as follows: intro.p65 2 16/09/02, 09:23 INTRODUCTION 3 1 Feelings/attitudes Low indicators: panic/hysteria; depression; apathy; pessimism; defeatism. High indicators: calmness; cheerfulness; support for leaders; belief in ultimate victory; commitment to task in hand. 2 Behaviour Low indicators: panic flight; refusal to leave shelters; grumbling; scapegoating; blaming of authorities; absenteeism; strikes; antisocial behaviour. High indicators: calmness; cooperativeness and neighbourliness; high productivity; low absenteeism; volunteering

in Half the battle
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

handwringing in certain quarters – the ‘soft liberal’ defeatism of the News Chronicle, for example – but for the most part the press took a responsible, steadying line. Others, it might be added, were overzealous: the journalist J. L. Hodson wrote of the director of a daily newspaper (he did not say which) ordering the paper’s astrologer to interpret the movements chap4.p65 153 16/09/02, 09:25 154 EXPLANATIONS of the stars to show that while Britain must expect heavy knocks in the short run, in the longer term she would be victorious.30 For the historian casting an eye

in Half the battle
Open Access (free)
La colonie Française
Nicholas Atkin

Picarda, a member of the Middle Temple, as were journalists: PaulLouis Bret, an English-based reporter for the Havas agency;34 Monsieur Massip, the London correspondent of Le Petit Parisien; Emile Delavenay, a correspondent for the BBC;35 Paul Gordeaux, writer for Paris-Soir;36 Pierre Maillaud who, in 1942, authored an elegy to the France he had known before it was distorted by Vichy;37 and Elie J. Bois, the former editor of Massip’s paper who published a scathing account of the defeatism of Laval and those other parliamentary Munichois, having spent time observing the

in The forgotten French
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

5 Easing the strain T HE CAPACITY OF HUMAN BEINGS not under military discipline to withstand danger and endure deprivation had been put to the test in the First World War. Governments could take some comfort from the remarkable results of that test. Yet there was at the same time a warning in the experience: the capacity had limits. When tested beyond those limits the result that could be expected was at best crippling apathy and defeatism, at worst revolution. In Britain, as shown by Stephen Taylor’s views (discussed at the beginning of Chapter 4), this

in Half the battle
John Narayan

Dewey (LW5: 442) claimed that national democratic practices and institutions had become the ‘the errand boys’ of a ‘privileged plutocracy’ and were inflexible and uncreative under the hegemony of bourgeois democracy, it was nevertheless:  … sheer defeatism to assume in advance of actual trial that democratic political institutions are incapable either of further development or of constructive social application. Even as they now exist, the forms of representative government are potentially capable of expressing the public will when that assumes anything like

in John Dewey
Robert Mackay

paid officials who insisted on retaining local control of operations, to the numberless individuals who acted selflessly and sometimes heroically. This is only partly explained by the attempt to live up to the officially inspired media myths that were being created about the sturdy stoicism of the British. More important was society’s moral pressure on the citizen to conform to the special norms of war, the norms that banished the very idea of defeatism. As Harrisson put it: ‘In war … the sanctions on staying steady are stronger in terms of respectability, good

in Half the battle
Joy Damousi

the issue insights from psychological and sociological knowledge. Such insights included ‘the role of various environmental influences in producing feelings of inferiority, confusions in personal roles, various types of basic personality structures and the various forms of personal and social disorganization’. The emphasis here was on ‘feelings of inferiority and doubts about personal worth’, which involved an awareness of ‘social status difference’. Enforced segregation produced flow-on effects, such as defeatism and a low level of aspiration among children in

in A history of the case study