History does not repeat itself, but some periods have similarities to the present. The period in Britain just before WW2, through the war itself shows how workers can take advantage of great changes.
When the British elite’s appeasement policy failed, Hitler attacked Britain’s Western European allies instead of the Soviet Union, as had been hoped. He quickly defeated the allies and the threat of an imminent invasion by the Nazis was all too real.
Toovercome this great danger all the people had to be mobilized and reliance on the trusted elites and social structures was no longer an option. Trades Union leaders were called upon to lead ministries such as energy which then relied on coal mining.
Women entered the workforce and factories and the land were transformed to speed production and become self reliant in food. In science and engineering there was a boom in innovation and experimentation. The different social classes mixed and worked together, as ability not class background became the criterion for leadership.
Ideas changed radically as the whole population experienced these changes and made huge sacrifices. The expectation of a new society for the period after the war was no longer a hope but a demand. The defeat of the Tories and Churchill at the elections just after the war was followed by the creation of the NHS, the welfare state, the nationalisation of key industries, the building of millions of council houses and thousands of schools and with the great public investment came nearly full employment. Much more was possible but a huge step forward was made.
Now, though to a lesser extent, the ‘Brexit’ vote has created a huge opportunity for change throughout society. This time though workers have been at war with the forces of capitalism across Europe. They have said, ‘Enough!’ While some Remainers moan and plot how to undo or dilute the people’s verdict, workers must take the lead, embrace change and shape Britain in their interests and the requirements of a changed world.