The 'blitz spirit' as a talking point

Just a thought I’ve been having lately. There was a time under austerity when you couldn’t get away from the state’s tedious idea of plucky Brits having to pull together, tighten their belts, grit their teeth and draw on our supposed national reserves of resilience and quiet forbearance.

Now we’re being told that we can’t be trusted to stay away from work and mass gatherings for long enough, and we’re so libidinous that the only thing is to delay lockdown until it can’t be avoided any longer, otherwise we’ll all lose interest and come back out again en masse and there’ll be a second wave like the Spanish flu.

Now, for a start the comparisons to Spanish flu are a bit far fetched - differences in the disease aside, society is very different now too: we have better welfare and health provisions from the state and far more sophisticated mutual aid possibilities, technology facilitates isolation (internet social possibilities, working from home) and the majority of people do work that’s either truly useless and won’t be missed (hot take) or computer based and highly portable. So the social force for dequarantining and hence accidentally causing the second wave isn’t there to the same extent.

But back to the Blitz spirit. I think we can cautiously set aside our concerns about the nationalist rhetoric involved in the reception of the idea; what we have here is a historical fact of action under crisis that is still within living memory. The state is showing that it is willing to pick up and dispense with the ‘keep calm and carry on’ style propaganda depending on whether it serves the purposes of the conditions of capitalism at the time. This is another lever that we can push, something that has deep resonance in people beyond left circles.