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We begin by talking about what the Cold War was and the importance of NATO, nuclear weapons, communism, the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.

We then talk a little bit about Cold War movies and the general lack of them. The movie I refer to is The Deadly Affair which was based on Le Carré’s novel Call for the Dead

We ask why the Russians didn’t copy the Chinese but don’t get very far.

We mention the problems the West had such as the welfare state, and a communist 5th column.

We also ask why the Soviet Empire collapsed without a fight. The best answer seems to be that Gorbachev was played by the West. I can’t deny I am a bit dubious about that one. By the way, it was Boris Yeltsin on that tank not Mikhail Gorbachev.

We finally get round to talking about the horribleness of the Soviet Union. It started early. The Ukraine Famine, the Gulags. You weren’t even safe if you were a loyal communist. The Purges. “Stalin only ever trusted one person in his whole life and that was Hitler.” The Crozier Monarchy Theory gets an outing.

Brian advances the theory that in the end competence is decisive. 

Corrections, footnotes and further reading:

The Economic calculation debate refers to this

The Lubyanka was the headquarters of the KGB (the Soviet secret police)

This was a Trabant.

This is what we were referring to when we talked about the Bekaa Valley 

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In this podcast we talk about why we like history and what we seek to gain from it. In so doing we talk about narratives, putting oneself in other peoples’ shoes, how the world has become more peaceful and grand theories of history.

A few links: Detlev Schlichter; Alan McFarlane; Arnold Toynbee and our podcast on the First World War.

Unfortunately, we got cut off at 48 minutes. Mea culpa. About a week later we reconvened to see if we could remember what we said.

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In this episode Brian and I attempt to cover the vast subject of transport. Our conversation ranges from British Rail privatisation to robot cars via fares, Coase’s theorem, Selfridges and the amazing Chuo Shinkansen.

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By about 1900 it was becoming clear that Britain was going to be overtaken by both the United States and Germany and that one of them would emerge as top dog. It is Brian’s contention that Britain chose America. 

So we talk about that and Roosevelt’s desire to get America into the Second World War and his dislike of the British empire. After that we digress - as is our wont - and talk about such subjects as Anti-Americanism, the rise of the English language, Trump’s taste in art, the half-hearted nature of the War of the Roses before speculating on Russia acting as number three between the US and China.

One correction. China, of course, did invent a few things.  Rather important things. Just a long time ago.

Also, Towton was even bloodier than I had thought. Worse, indeed than the first day of the Somme.

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In this podcast Brian and I talk about Trump. Eventually. I thought our pre-formal proceedings chit chat was interesting enough to include.

We begin by asking how it was that Trump won. In doing so the financial crisis comes up as - bizarrely - do the Empire Loyalists. We agree that his tweeting was hugely important. That and apple pie.

We go on to discuss the delusions of the global elite, the Rat Pack and Kanye West before returning to the subject of Trump’s tweets.

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Diversity + proximity = war. That is the proposition under discussion. I start off with Northern Ireland, Bosnia and a hundred other places. Brian counters with London and its many little communities.

On our way we consider the libertarian approach to the Red Army, terrorism and - inevitably - Islam.

Eventually, we manage to get off that particular subject and end up talking about Brexit, the greatest Briton and the secret Jews in Shakespeare’s time.

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In this last part we talk about history. David Starkey, Michael Portillo and K. G. B. Taylor all rate a mention. 

By the way, Brian sent me a link which explains a bit more about our Gary Halliday mystery. After a bit more Googling I discovered that it was Gary Halliday that made way for Doctor Who.

 

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This time we get back to talking about sport and then talk about the wisdom of Boris Becker aged 17; David Beckham “I don’t regard thinking about an answer before you give it is evidence of stupidity” and why Big Internet is biased towards the left.

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In this part (recorded a week after Part IV) we begin with a bit of re-capitulation and talk about the A-Team; “fatuously enjoyable” is Brian’s verdict. After that we start flying off on tangents discussing such things as cultural assumptions and the importance of rationality. On the way we do manage to mention in passing Doctor Who, Wheeler Dealers and Monty Python. “[John Cleese] stopped being funny ever since he started seeing a psychiatrist.” as Brian says.

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Can TV be a force for freedom? Surely not! But Brian makes the case that it was one of the factors that led to victory in the Cold War.

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