Posts Tagged ‘East Germany’

Pat Mills: Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History: Part One

March 30, 2018

Pat Mills is the creator and founding editor of 2000AD, and this is history of the comic as he remembers it, although he recognises that others’ memories may be different and contradict his. It takes its title from the watchwords of his most popular villain: Torquemada, the ultimate Fascist Grand Master of Termight, in a feudal age of space travel, violence and magic far in the future. The book is divided into three sections, each named after one of Torquemada’s three commands. The slogan even turned up on the Berlin wall, which figures. The East Germans had been living under a dictatorship not too different from Torquemada’s. It was anti-racist and anti-Fascist, but still very much a police state, where the country was watched and dissent ruthlessly crushed. A friend of mine also told me that the slogan was used by Adolf Hitler in a speech he gave to the Bund Deutscher Madel, or German Maids’ League, the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth. Which also figures. Torquemada wanted to exterminate every intelligent alien race in the Galaxy, and was constantly making speeches exhorting humans not to ‘have truck with deviant, dally with the succubus’ and so on. In other words, no racial mixing. Which was definitely what the Nazis were trying to indoctrinate these girls with.

The book tells how Mills and John Wagner got sick of grinding out stories in a garden shed, lit by paraffin lamps, and moved to London to revolutionise British comics with creation of Battle, Action and 2000AD – the Galaxy’s greatest comic. At this stage of their career, Mills and Wagner were so poor that they couldn’t afford new typing paper after they ran out, and so at one point ended typing them up on tracing paper. The economics of writing stories was such that to make ends meet, you had to write several stories very quickly in a matter of days.

It is this attitude, and the British industry’s contemptible treatment of comics creators, that Mills returns to criticise throughout this book, making a very strong and convincing case that it is these attitudes that have caused the decline in comics in Britain in contrast to France, where they are flourishing. In Britain, comics creators do not own the rights to creations. They can be given to other writers and artists, and their creators are not paid royalties for them. In France, the reverse is true, and so comics creators spend years, decades, writing and drawing some of the greatest strips in the world. Think of such comic greats as Moebius, Caza, and Enki Bilal, and the rest of them, who came out of Metal Hurlant and les Humanoides Associes.

He also had to cope with the lack of interest in any reform from the old guard, who were quite simply just content to go on as they always had, until the industry finally collapsed and they were made unemployed or drew their pensions. They were shocked when Mills bought several books on science, because he was writing and editing a science fiction comic. This was too much for company management, who found the idea of doing research for a children’s comic ridiculous. And then there’s the issue of the studied contempt the management treated artists’ work. They used them on dartboards, or to plug drains. Several artists told Mills flatly that they weren’t going to work him as IPC was the company that closed down Frank Bellamy’s studio. Bellamy, along with Frank Hampson, was the awesome artist who worked on the classic Dan Dare. And his artwork was treated in the same contemptible fashion. As a result, much of it has been lost, although its still a massive favourite at fan conventions and when it comes on the market, rightly fetches high sums.

Mills tells the story of how he came to create favourite 2000AD characters like Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock, Slaine and Finn. He champions the work of artists, who he feels have been unfairly neglected, or even vilified. They include Belardinelli for his contribution to the Slaine strip, which he is proud to have had put back into Titan’s reprints of the strip, as well as SMS, David Bircham, and Fay Dalton. SMS is a superb artist, whose work has appeared on the cover of Interzone, amongst others. He drew the ABC Warriors strip when they were trying to save Termight and the universe from destruction from an artificial black hole, created by Terra’s engineers to give them quick access to space and the Galaxy. One of the results was a whole city like the dimension-twisting drawings of the zarjaz Max Escher. Fay Dalton won a £1,000 prize in a competition to get more women into comics. She draws and paints in a retro style, looking back to the glamour of the 50s. She didn’t last long. It was too sexy for the puritanical Thargs. Then there was the sheer abuse some fans meted out to John Hicklenton, another awesome artist best known for his work on Nemesis the Warlock. Hicklenton was stricken with MS, and sadly ended his life in a Dignitas Clinic. His career and struggle with the condition was the subject of Channel 4 documentary a few years ago. His escape from this ‘medieval, terrorist disease’ was his art, and so it was particularly cruel that he should have subjected to often very coarse abuse.

Mills is also unhappy, and understandably so, about the way his then wife, and co-creator of Slaine, Angela Kincaid, was treated by the other writers and artists. She was the artist on the very first Slaine strip. This topped the reader’s polls that week, but she was very much excluded from the boy’s club of the other creators. No-one rang her up to congratulate her and she was ignored by them. This wouldn’t have occurred if she was a bloke.

Mills takes the time to correct a few myths. He was determined that it wouldn’t be a comic dominated by a main strip, which carried the others, like Captain Hurricane in Valiant. Instead, it was to be a comic of all main strips, including the revived Dan Dare, Mach 1, a superpowered secret agent based on The Six Million Dollar Man, and Shako. This was about a polar bear, who was being chased by the American army because it had swallowed a top secret, radioactive satellite that had crashed to Earth. He also talks about the creation of such fave strips as Ro-Busters, which became the ABC Warriors, and, of course, Nemesis the Warlock and the inspiration for Torquemada.

The evil Grand Master and Judge Dredd were based on two, viciously sadistic monks teaching at his old Roman Catholic school, and, he strongly hints, were paedophiles. One of them was yanked from teaching and sent to monastery in the Channel Islands to sort out his sexual appetites. He was later sacked, and returned briefly as a lay teacher, before being kicked again. The schoolboys made jokes about how the other monks on the island must be similarly depraved, and imagined what shipwrecked sailors would do. Coming up the beach to find the Brothers running towards them, they’d turn and head as quickly as possible back to the sea. But neither of the two were prosecuted. Other old boys have found literary outlets to express their pain and trauma at the hands of these monsters. Mills simply states that his is humiliating Torquemada.

Continued in Part Two.

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Israel Is Doing to the Palestinians What the Nazis Did to the Poles

March 4, 2018

One of the methods the Israel lobby uses to silence comparisons between their decades long maltreatment and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the Nazis’ persecution of the Jewish people, culminating in the Shoah – the Holocaust – to proclaim very loudly that such comparisons are hurtful and particularly offensive to them as Jews, the Nazis’ victims. This doesn’t mean that the comparisons aren’t there. Critics of Israel have pointed out that Israel’s policies towards the Arabs certainly does resemble the Nazi persecution of the Jews up until 1942, when Hitler and the rest of his murderous gang decided on the infamous ‘Final Solution’. The Conservatives and other, self-proclaimed opponents of ‘Political correctness’ have made it very clear that hurt feelings should not be used to silence plain speaking and honest debate. This is true, although by plain speaking it usually means standing up for the type of people, who see nothing wrong with using racist epithets and making very racist remarks about Blacks, Asians and any other ethnic groups they don’t like. See the mouthings of the Daily Mail on this issue for further information.

But the Jews weren’t the only people the Nazis regarded as subhuman. They also despised the Slavonic peoples of Eastern Europe. Hitler made it very clear that in his invasion of Poland, Ukraine and Russia, he was merely continuing the medieval ‘Drang Nach Osten’, or ‘Drive/ Penetration to the East’ of the German medieval kings to conquer the Slav tribes. Prussia was one such state to be Germanised through conquest during the Middle Ages. The Pruzzi, from whom the German state took its name, were a Baltic tribe, and the area was also occupied by the Wends, a Slav people, whose language still survives today around the town of Cotbus in the former East Germany. They also waged war against the Poles. This finally ended with the collapse of Poland in the 17th century, and its annexation by Prussia, Austria and the Russian Empire.

Hitler’s plan for the conquered eastern European territories was to establish a series of German colonies in areas seized from the indigenous peoples. In those areas free of colonisation, the Slav peoples were to be reduced to an uneducated, peasant class, who would provide their German masters with foodstuffs.

D.G. Williamson, in his book The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982) writes

Hitler’s primary aim in eastern Europe was to found a series of new German colonies. In the former Polish territory, which had been annexed by the Reich in 1939 a start was made in resettling German refugees from the Baltic States and eastern Poland, which had reverted to Russian rule in 1939-40. By 1943 the RKFDV had expelled about a million Jews and Poles and brought in roughly the equivalent number of ethnic Germans, of whom only about half were settled on the land. The remainder spent the war in refugee camps. Hitler wished to reduce the Polish population to a semi-illiterate mass whose main function would be to serve the interests of Greater Germany, and to allow the economy to deteriorate into what he called ‘the Polish chaos’. (p. 63).

Further information on the Nazi ethnic cleansing and enslavement of the Poles is provided by Norman Davies in his book, Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland (Oxford: OUP 1984). He writes

As a result of the September Campaign, the whole of Poland passed under the occupation of Nazi and of Soviet forces. the Polish government and High Command took refuge in Romania, and on 30th September, a new Government was constituted abroad under General Sikorski, first in France, and later in England. On the western side of the Nazi-Soviet demarcation line along the Bug and the San, the Germans established a ‘General Government’ with its headquarters in Cracow. May districts of pre-war Poland, including Suwalki, West Prussia, Wielkopolska, and Upper Silesia, were directly incorporated into the Reich. (P. 65).

According to the outlines of the Generalplan-Ost, the Nazi aimed to redistribute the entire population between the Oder and the Dneiper. German settler were to be introduce by the million. the Poles were destined either for Germanisation where suitable, or for expulsion beyond the Urals. The residual Slavs were to be turned into a pool of half-educated slave labourers. Inferior or useless human beings-Jews, gypsies, recalcitrant prisoners of war, imbeciles and invalids-were to be eliminated….

German resettlement schemes were already under way in West Prussia,, where 750,000 Polish peasants had ben expelled to make way for Germans transferred from the Baltic States. Now the same methods began to be applied in central Poland, notably in the region of Zamosc. In 1942-3, over 300 villages were cleared in this region alone. There remained 400 villages intact simply because the SS could not spare the manpower to clear them. The evictions were attended by unspeakable burnings, beatings and butchery. The well-known fate of the one Bohemian village of Lidice, where 143 men were murdered by a Nazi reprisal order, was visited on Poland not once, but hundreds of times over.
(Pp. 69-70).

Map of Nazi occupied Poland, from Davies’ Heart of Europe, page.69.

Okay, there are some major differences between the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, like the Nazis and the Nazi occupation of Poland, quite apart from the fact that they haven’t set up death camps to murder them as they did to Polish Jews. The Israelis aren’t interested in retaining the Palestinians as an enslaved peasant class. They just want to expel them. But this has been done through massacre, land seizures and horrific persecution. And Gaza has been compared to a wartime Jewish ghetto.

I am in no doubt that such comparisons will be just as unpalatable to the Zionist lobby in this country, as the comparisons to the Nazi persecution of the Jews before 1942 and the ‘Final Solution’ are. But that does not mean that they aren’t there, and valid.

The truth often hurts, but real history, not propaganda, is about facing up to them, to explain and explore history and recognise what really happened in the past. Not to purvey cosy, patriotic myths about what we’d like to believe happened. This applies to everyone, regardless of nationality, religious creed or race.

Screaming that the comparisons between the Nazi occupation of Poland and the ethnic cleansing and enslavement of its people, or claims that such comparisons must be anti-Semitic aren’t arguments. It’s just more libel and abuse. It’s time for Israel’s supporters to wake up to the facts, and stop their support for Israeli imperialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

Our Dad’s Photograph of the Memorial to the Jews Murdered at Belsen Concentration Camp

February 9, 2018

I put up a piece yesterday describing how our father visited the remains of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when he was doing his National Service. Dad was stationed at Bielefeld, one of the towns then on the border of the former East Germany. I also talked about how Dad showed Mike and I the pictures of the remains of the camp when we were in junior, explaining how the Nazis murdered the Jews there, and disposed of the bodies in the pits.

This was to make the point that Mike and I were very definitely brought up not to be Holocaust deniers, by parents who were very clear on the factual existence of the Shoah, and like every other decent person in Britain, heartily despised the Nazis.

Going through Dad’s old photograph albums, I found this picture he’d taken of the Jewish memorial at the concentration camp.

I don’t know if you can make out the words on the photograph. It’s in black and white and rather old. However, the memorial has Star of David at the top, and the legend

Israel and the world
Thirty thousand Jews
Exterminated in the concentration camp
of Bergen Belsen
at the hands of the murderous Nazis.
Earth conceal not the blood
shed on thee!

First anniversary of liberation
-th April 1946
– Nissan 5706

Central Jewish Committee
British Zone.

The figures below the usual date is the date according to the Jewish calendar. Nissan is the month, and I believe that the year figure is higher because the Jewish calendar dates everything according to the traditional, religious date of the creation of the world by the Almighty.

As Mike has pointed out in his reblog of my post, it wasn’t only the Jews that the Nazis murdered in these places. They also killed political prisoners, including trade unionists, Socialists, Communists and Anarchists, prostitutes, gay men, gypsies, the neurotic, recidivist criminals, members of Christian groups, that refused to worship Adolf as the new messiah, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and slave workers and P.O.W.s taken from the Slav countries.

Altogether six million Jews were murdered in the camps, but the total number of people butchered is 11 1/2 million. It’s important to remember the Jewish victims, but the other victims should also be commemorated too.

Mike in his reblog states that the people accusing him of anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial seem to regard it all as some kind of game, as if it were simply a matter of scoring points. Well, it wasn’t a game to the millions of victims killed in these murder factories.

Mike is not and has never been a Nazi, or an anti-Semite and has never denied the Holocaust. But the people, who have libelled him as such – the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Sunday Times, the Mail, the Scum, the Jerusalem Post are, in my opinion, pure scum. They’ve accused a decent man of holding deeply abhorrent political beliefs, solely as a political weapon in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party. Just like they have accused very many others, including anti-racist gentiles and self-respecting Jews.

How utterly, utterly disgusting.

Reagan’s Lies: Libyan Terrorists Invade from Canada

January 29, 2016

There’s a whole chapter in Alexander Cockburn’s and Jeffrey St. Clair’s book, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, on the lies, propaganda and general vileness of Ronald Reagan. Reagan, remember, told Americans that the Contra rebels, who were responsible for some of the worst atrocities in the Nicaraguan civil war in the 1980s were ‘the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers’. Cockburn remarks drily that the Iroquois would have agreed. And just in case anyone is in the doubt that Reagan was Fascist sympathiser, he apparently told his audience in Spain that the Lincoln Brigade and Defenders of the Republic, Americans who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, were on the wrong side. Among the terror groups Reagan sponsored were RENAMO in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola, as well as Rios Montt’s band of torturers in Guatemala. And the CIA left a torture manual in El Salvador.

But it’s some of the propaganda that really makes you, like Matilda, gasp and stretch your eyes. He had a group called ‘Threat Inflaters’, comprising Robert Moss, Clare Sterling and Arnaud de Borchgrave, who were there to exaggerate the Soviet threat. And this they dutifully did. Reagan duly told his audience about an impending invasion from Nicaragua, whose army was coming up through Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. And in 1987 ABC ran a series, Amerika, in which the Soviet Union conquered the American Midwest. And the Caribbean nation of Grenada just had to be invaded, because it lay on vital sea lanes and so threatened US trade.

To demonise Qaddafi further, the Reaganites planted a story in the media about a Libyan assassination squad coming into the US from Canada to blow the President away. Or may be it was Mexico. This squad was composed of three to thirteen men. Depending who you listened to, it’s members included three Libyans, three Iranians, and three Syrians, as well as a Palestinian, a Lebanese and someone from East Germany. It came out during the Iran-Contra hearings that this had all been dreamed up by an Israeli secret agent. The CIA was also aware the story was bogus. Cockburn states that a Federal customs officer, who worked on the tunnel from Windsor in Canada to Detroit, told him that they weren’t told to look out for any hit squads, despite this being one of the most obvious and major routes into the US.

Of Reagan’s mendacity and sheer evil, Cockburn states in this pungent passage:

hearing all the warm and fuzzy talk about the Gipper, young people spared the experience of his awful sojourn in office, probably imagine him as a kindly, avuncular figure. He was a vicious man, with a breezy indifference to suffering and consequences of decisions. This indifference was so profound that Dante would surely have consigned him to one of the lowest circles of hell, to roast for all eternity in front of a malfunctioning TV and a dinner tray swinging out of reach like the elusive fruits that tortured Tantalus.

Reagan was a liar, and his lies helped prepare the world for the invasion of Iraq and the consequent bloodbath into which the area has descended. Yet there’s a consistent attempt in America to present him as a great statesman and visionary. The sooner that view is destroyed, the better.

Nigel Farage and Clyde the Orangutan: Who Would Make a Better Job of Sorting Out UKIP?

January 28, 2014

NigelFarage

UKIP Supremo Nigel Farage: Sound Policies for a Happier Britain

UKIP is once more in the news. After a series of scandals by UKIP councillors and politicians, Nigel Farage has responded with a few scathing comments on his party’s membership. In an interview with the Times today (28th January 2014), Farage declared that the ‘wrong kind of people are in UKIP’ and urged the party not to elect Walter Mittys. This follows a series of highly offensive comments by UKIP councillors, such as asking a group of children from care homes how it feels to be ‘takers from society’. If that weren’t enough, another stalwart of the party of Eurosceptics declared that the recent floods in Somerset was God’s punishment for gay marriage. This last comment produced mixed cries of scorn and amusement all over the country. A female friend of mine told me that one of her gay friends had said about this prize piece of Right-wing idiocy, ‘They’re blaming me for the floods! I’ve never had such power before!’

In fact, this particular attitude to the floods is pretty much in line with some of the more ridiculous comments about pro-gay movements and legislation that have come out of the American Right over the past few decades. Way back in the 1990s Private Eye in their ‘Funny Old World’ column printed a piece from one of the local American papers covering Jerry Falwell’s attack on a gay pride march in Orlando, Florida. This most notorious of the Right-wing televangelists attacked the planned march with the statement that if the gay community continued ‘shaking their fists’ at the Almighty, then He would punish them with an earthquake, tsunami or perhaps even wipe the place out with an asteroid. The paper then asked the Bishop of Florida for his comment on Falwell’s diatribe. This man of God put the religious situation in his city into a broader perspective. Overall, he declared, ‘Orlando was a pretty god-fearing place. You’d think if he was going to wipe anywhere out, He’d start with Vegas’.

Yesterday the news revealed that one of UKIP’s MEPs for Somerset had the worst voting record in the European parliament. In a TV interview, the politico acknowledged in response to one of the questions put to him, that the allowance paid to him for attending the sessions were a factor in his turning up at sessions at all, thus adding idleness and venality to the party’s record of bigotry and contempt for the poor and vulnerable.

Hence Farage’s comments about the party having the wrong people in it.

This is a bit rich coming Farage. It reminds me of the proverb ‘A fish rots from the neck down’. Going further back a decade or so ago, Farage himself was also several time in Private Eye himself, after he was spotted having lunch with ‘Nasty’ Nick Griffin of the BNP. Farage has always tried to distance his party from racism and xenophobia, not entirely successfully, so perhaps the two were instead not discussing the politics of race, but the expanding power of the centralist state and the growing threat of Bolshevism in British society.

In fact, Farage’s remarks about his own people strongly reminds me of a comment the Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht made about the East German authorities’ absolute contempt for their own people. There had been a popular uprising, and Honegger, or whoever was in charge at the time, responded by sending in the tanks. The man responsible for such masterpieces of Weimar theatre as Mother Courage, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui drily remarked, ‘The politburo has unanimously decided to dissolve the people and elect another’.

It also parallels another disparaging comment by an exasperated leader on the quality of his on a rather less elevated cultural level: ‘Clint Eastwood’s Any Which Way But Loose. In this flick, Eastwood stars as a trucker, who falls foul of an outlaw biker gang. After a fight in which the motorcycle maniacs are thoroughly done over by the star of Dirty Harry and his orang-utan companion, Clyde, their leader cries in despair ‘Oh, Lord! Other men you made of clay! Why did you make mine of sh*t!’ It’s a question Farage is clearly asking himself today, though with a less earthy vocabulary. Perhaps he should be a bit stricter in who the party recruits, and needs a better PR department. All the party’s now have extensive spin machines and press officers. Maggie, of course, had Bernard Ingham. From the way UKIP’s politicos act, I think Clyde would be a better choice for them. After all, in the film he had an excellent sense of humour, charisma, and never said anything embarrassing, unlike UKIP’s hordes of blunt Right-wingers.

clyde Eastwood

Clyde the orang-utan expressing his penetrating analysis of UKIP’s grasp of EU economics and the question of the Britain’s position within it during filming with Clint Eastwood.

The Increasingly Authoritarian Character of Democratic Governments Across Europe

January 15, 2014

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I’ve been attending a course at the M Shed here in Bristol intended to better equip we unemployed to find and hold down a job. It’s an interesting mix of people from a variety of backgrounds, and it’s fascinating talking to them about their experiences and hearing their perspectives on the government and the current situation. One of the ladies on the course is Polish, and its interesting talking to hear about her country and the situation over there after the fall of Communism. Alarmingly, it seems that in both Britain and supposedly democratic Poland, the political elites are becoming increasingly suspicious and distrustful of their citizens.

We’ve seen this most recently in Britain in Ian Duncan Smith’s militaristic conduct before the Work and Pensions Committee. Smith appeared before the Committee accompanied by bodyguards and armed policemen, who pointed their weapons at the public gallery, including a party of disabled people and their carers. Quite what Smith feared a group of respectable members of the British public, who had already been checked by security, would do is a mystery. Presumably he now simply thinks that anyone disabled constitutes some form of threat, regardless of their ability or even basic willingness to assault him. This disgusting incident, the Coalition’s attempt to suppress democratic debate by third parties in their Transparency and Lobbying Bill and the threat to the right to peaceful demonstration posed by the latest anti-nuisance legislation, are merely a part of a long process that has been going on since Thatcher.

One of the other people attending the course jokes about wanting a job as an assassin so he can kill David Cameron. When he did so this week, I replied that he might have a problem with that, as I think there’d be a queue. Someone else added that you’d have a problem getting anywhere near him with the security he’s got round him. I told the Polish lady that this was a real issue. I described how Downing Street had originally been open to the public, who were quite able to go up and down the street as they wished. It was now closed off, and there were similar restrictions around the Houses of Parliament.

She replied that it was like that in Poland. One of her relatives had worked at the Ministry of Information during the Communist dictatorship. At the time it was quite open to the public, so that anyone could walk in off the street and talk to an official there. There was someone sat at a desk watching them, but that was all the security there was. Now it’s completely different. To get into the building now, a visitor has to pass through several layers of security. She said it was one ironic that the place was now so heavily guarded under democracy, when it had been free of this during the Communist dictatorship.

Listening to this, it seems to me that there is a common process at work across the globe. The Guardian’s John Kampfner wrote a book a few years ago discussing how the world’s governments, from Blair’s Britain to Singapore, Putin’s Russia and China, were increasingly suppressing democracy. He believed that at the time the world’s governments were doing this, they were also trying to provide for economic growth. This is almost certainly true in the case of the three other nations I’ve mentioned here, but I see absolutely no evidence of George Osborne being interested in making anyone wealthy, except those who are colossally rich already. The governing elites, whether in the nominally democratic West or in the authoritarian states of Putin’s Russia, Singapore or China, increasingly fear and distrust the people, on whose behalf they claim to govern. In Britain some of this increased security was a result of the IRA’s mainland bombing campaign, which in the 1980s saw a bomb attack on hotel venue for the Conservative Party conference in Brighton, and a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street. More recently there have been fears of Islamist terrorists following the 7/7 London suicide bombers, and other attempts, like that during the G8 conference in Glasgow, which have mercifully been foiled.

The increased level of security, and the restrictions on the individual’s right of access to parliament, or passage through Downing Street, is far out of proportion to the actual level of threat. When Blair placed further restrictions on how close public demonstrations could come to parliament, the Conservative press strongly criticised him, pointing out that such measures weren’t imposed by previous governments, even during the IRA’s terror campaign. It seems very much to me that there now exists across Europe and the rest of the world, a transnational governing elite that, in the West at least, loudly and ostensibly declares its support for democracy while harbouring a deep suspicion of the masses whose interests they claim to represent, but with whom socially and educationally they have nothing in common.

And that’s every bit as grave a threat to democracy as any group of murderous extremists. The problem is particularly obvious and acute in eastern Europe. After the fall of Communism in the former East Germany, some of its citizens experienced ‘Ostalgie’, a nostalgia for their old, Communist country. Despite the federal government’s attempts to prop up the old, Communist industries, many of the firms simply could not compete in the new, free Germany and went under. The result was a wave of unemployment. Faced with a democracy that seemed unable to provide for them, some turned instead to the Far Right. There have been similar problems elsewhere in eastern Europe, and other countries have also seen the emergence of extreme Nationalist parties. If democratic governments cannot provide their citizens with a better standard of living than they had under the dictatorships, and actively seem more dictatorial and authoritarian in their way, there is a real danger that their citizens will turn to anti-democratic, authoritarian movements, whether of the Right or Left.

That’s one of the dangers in the East, quite apart from the present danger that, across the globe, Neo-Liberal elites, mouthing reassuring slogans about democracy and pluralism, are gradually suppressing democracy where it conflicts with their policies.