bad times


I find it hard to see any hopeful humane radicalism in the planned protests against the G20 summit. Symbols say it all. Protestors plan to march behind the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse of Saint John in the Bible inspired centuries of social protest in the middle ages. But as historian Norman Cohn demonstrated in his classic book The Pursuit of the Millennium, apocalyptic movements were irrational, violent, and slipped easily into persecution of minorities. Albrect Dürer’s woodcut of the Four Horsemen may be unforgettably vivid, but it is not a manifesto for progress. The cultural roots of Nazism lie in such visceral images. This is no time to be sensationalist. Keeping calm seems like good advice. But behind my nerves is a real and troubling fact. Hopefully this isn’t going to be anything like as bad as the 1930s; but some say it is, and democracy barely survived that era. Looking into the shattered glass of Weimar Germany’s violent art, I feel uneasy.

more from The Guardian here.