All those Doctor Who fans who were disappointed by the way the Ood were depicted in ‘Planet of the Ood’, and who wanted them to be a race of happy slaves, will be happy now that Toby Whithouse has provided them with the Tivolians.
I’m not sure how many people that actually was, but I had conversations at the time of ‘Planet of the Ood’ with people who thought it would’ve been ‘interesting’ if the titular planet had been the planet of people who voluntarily wore slave hats. It seems that some people would’ve found this edgy or different or difficult or challenging or something.
The concept of the happy slave has been treated in SF. Rather extensively actually. The robot is basically created to be just that. The word even comes from ‘robota’, the Czech word for the drudgery of serfs. Perhaps the problem is that the happy slave so often rebels for the sake of drama, and ruins the fantasy. Asimov’s robots, for instance. The Dumbs and Vocs of Kaldor City. Even Marvin grumbles to the point of infuriating his owners into insanity (Douglas Adams did also give us the cow who wants to be eaten, but that is clearly a piss-take intended to make us as uncomfortable as it makes Arthur Dent). But arguably the most famous robots in all modern global culture - C3PO and R2D2 - are manifestly happy slaves, never doing or saying anything to question their subject status, and even enthusiastically co-operating with our heroes, the goodies, who are also their owners and slave drivers. You wonder how people can have the idea that there’s anything transgressive or challenging - or even unusual - about an idea, when it is literally one of the focal aspects of the biggest fictional media franchise in history. To be honest, I even wonder why some fans feel so starved for happy slaves in Doctor Who. I mean, you’ve had at least one as a major companion! Or wasn’t K9 enough for you, Master?
I’m happy to accept that it’s possible to want to see such a depiction without having sinister motives (though I admit to finding it hard to think of quite how). However, there’s something inherently worrying to me about it.
At best it suggests that people are bored by stories about resistance to tyranny, and rebellion, and liberation. This certainly seems to be supported by the number of people who will respond to stories about such things with sighs of “Oh is slavery wrong? Thanks for telling us”. The assumption here is that we all know that slavery is wrong so we don’t need to be told, and a text that tries to tell us that slavery is wrong is inherently engaging in fatuous preaching. Which is completely untrue.
Firstly, how the hell do we supposedly learn that slavery as an institution exists or existed, and was/is wrong, if not by partaking of a cultural conversation on the subject from a young age?
Secondly, shall we check the number of widely-held cultural and social and political truisms which are regularly rehearsed and reinforced in the media? And shall we see how many of them make people groan about being preached at? Shall we check how often the utterly politically safe ones get grumbled about, compared to the ones that remind us of things that power might like us to forget?
And for another thing, there’s an unwarranted assumption here: namely that we do know such things. A huge number of us choose not to know - or care - about slavery, past or the present, or to minimize and excuse it. Many of us - particularly the relatively privileged amongst us - are prepared to tut at the slavery of the olden days as a Bad Thing, while refusing to face its legacy, secure in the knowledge that we wouldn’t have had any truck with it if we’d been there. Enlightened liberals that we are, we know so much better than the numpties of the past. And it’s all over now anyway, and was a long time ago, and didn’t I read somewhere that Africans sold slaves to Europeans so obviously it’s partly their fault?, and wasn’t there something in the paper about how slavery was actually helpful to the slaves?, and so on. Meanwhile, we’re prepared to tolerate modern slavery (both literal and figurative) going on in the background of our lives, with a sigh of vague disapproval whenever anybody mentions it. Much like the Headmaster in ‘Human Nature’, we sneer at those people who talk about it for lecturing and hectoring us, for thinking they know better, and for being po-faced and right-on, etc.
I’m not saying ‘we’ actually all do this - hey, maybe you, Dear Reader, never would - but plenty of people do. It’s a mainstream attitude. This is kind-of a point that ‘Planet of the Ood’ actually makes with the Doctor’s “who d’you think made your clothes?” line. Donna gets to snap back at the Doctor for being self-righteous, and she has a point, but the episode clearly goes on to develop the issue further. Donna surely doesn’t get to the end of the story with the same willingness to shoot the messenger. (Thank goodness they put ‘Fires of Pompeii’ before ‘Planet of the Ood’. The jarring way ‘Fires’ dodges the issue of slavery completely would look even worse if it were supposed to be after ‘Planet’ in Donna’s personal development.)
I’d be tempted to wonder about why some people have such a low tolerance level for stories about resistance to tyranny. How have they become bored by this story? This story that is literally integral to human decency and progress? Apart from the fact that, to me, it seems one of the most exciting things you could possibly write stories about, it’s also a story that is comparatively neglected, especially in big mainstream culture. Things have arguably improved a tad lately, but one of the noticeable things about ‘Planet of the Ood’ at the time was how unusual it was both for Doctor Who and the culture industries generally to do a story like it. It came before the fashion for movies based on YA dystopian fiction. It came before Avatar (which is an attempt at such a story, albeit a crashing racist failure of one). ‘Impossible Planet’ / ‘Satan Pit’ and ‘Fires of Pompeii’ were much more typical at the time, with their near total disregard for the issue - the very lapse which ‘Planet of the Ood’ seemed designed to address.
The Worse Angels of Our Nature
It makes no sense whatsoever for Gibbis in ‘The God Complex’ to be most afraid of the Weeping Angels.
Admittedly, they don’t enslave you, but that seems a weak version of a Tivolian’s greatest horror. I mean, mad gorillas injure you without enslaving you, but Gibbis isn’t the one with a mad gorilla in his room. Of all the things that might hurt you but not enslave you, why pick on the Weeping Angels particularly?
Besides, wouldn’t Gibbis’ worst nightmare be a slave of his own? Someone who wanted to subjugate themselves to him, to serve and obey him? (I’m on the verge of talking myself into liking him now, what with revulsion being the proper attitude to anyone wanting to subjugate themselves to you in any context other than mutually-consenting power-exchange play). You’d think he’d have been faintly disgusted when Amy tried to be friendly and comforting to him earlier in the episode. And wouldn’t he accept the Doctor’s authority unquestioningly rather than confronting him? Actually, as Phil pointed out to me when we discussed this on Twitter, surely the Doctor would be “unfathomably horrifying” to a Tivolian, being a “man who comes and liberates your society and leaves you to your own devices”. At this point in the series, the Matt Smith Doctor is still supposed to be universally famous. Upon hearing the Doctor introduce himself, Gibbis should’ve run like fuck. In fact, couldn’t the Doctor have been brought to the Hotel to occupy Gibbis’ room? That would’ve been better than the TARDIS landing there because of Amy’s faith in him, and would have obviated the entire heavy-handed thing about faith, which would’ve removed the dodgy stuff about Rita’s Muslim background (she could’ve just been a Muslim because some people are), and also removed the ridiculous sequence where the Doctor kills the monster by being mean to Amy for a minute… and I have to stop now because I’m creating alternate headcanon that’s better than what ended up on screen.
I’m puzzled as to how Tivolian society functions. They seem to have social hierarchy, if the signifiers used in their construction mean anything. So far they have been aesthetically represented as middle class, albeit in distinct ways: one as a petit-bourgeois, a funeral director; the other as a public sector worker, the equivalent of a council official. So they have bureaucrats and bosses. How does one cope with being higher up the social scale? Isn’t prestige frowned upon? Isn’t seniority and power seen as a social disgrace, and/or an intolerable shame? (I’m warming to them again!) Or perhaps they mark high status with brusque and bullying treatment. Makes you wonder how they get things done. I’m not saying that hierarchical dominance is the only way to run an efficient society (you’ll be amazed to learn that I don’t believe that), but their society doesn’t seem collectivist or radically democratic either.
I suppose a great deal hinges on whether we think their attachment to subservience is a cultural characteristic that they have developed (and which can therefore be subject to all kinds of ideological inflections and contradictions which allow the functioning of society) or something essential to them, something inborn, biologically determined. The episodes certainly seem to treat all Tivolians as essentially and inescapably similar. The Doctor blithely talks about them all being like this, and even calmly states his distaste for the entire species based on it. Worrying as this is, I’m not sure it’s fair to take Whithouse to task for biological determinism and SF race essentialism, since these are widespread, nay ubiquitous, problems which seem baked into really-existing SF. I wish I had grounds for saying that it’s out of character for the Doctor to dismiss an entire race based on having met one or two of them, and thus decided that they’re all rotten… but I can’t honestly do it. I said as much to Phil on Twitter and he objected, saying that he struggled to think of a non-monster species (i.e a species represented by “recognisable actors”) which got that treatment, apart from the borderline case of the Androgums. But I’m not sure that the issue of monstrosity helps. It seems just as race essentialist when the Doctor calls an entire species - the Jaggaroth - as “a vicious, callous, warlike race” who deserve to go extinct.
I guess the Tivolians submit to the governmental authority of whoever is currently occupying their world. Which makes me wonder if they crave occupying governments because they themselves how no idea how to organise their society. We seem to have arrived back at the original problem with them, which is that they represent a rather icky and gloating iteration of the idea of people fearing freedom. The problem is still that this challenges some sentimental platitudes at the expense of embracing others, that it hints at all sorts of reactionary ideas which justify and shore up unjust, inhuman power structures. Ultimately, the problem can be simplified into the phrase: victim-blaming.
There are diffuse implications for all forms of coercion: political, military, even sexual. Notice the sexualised, quasi-subby way Prentis behaves at times in ‘Before the Flood’. This is - at best - kink-shaming; at worst it suggests that non-consensual sexual/domestic domination is actually secretly welcomed by the victims. The implication is not loud, and is almost certainly accidental, but it’s there, and it’s ugly.
The Tivolians also remind me of those developing countries competing for neoliberal investment and IMF loans, achieved at the cost of austerity, which ultimately decimate their countries’ social fabrics… except that they contain no hint of context, still less of critique. It’s actually disturbing how little censure the invaders of Tivoli get for invading. Admittedly, the Fisher King is depicted in negative terms, and is roundly opposed by the Doctor… but he is depicted as a bog-standard baddie with little in the way of intelligible politics, and the Doctor’s main issue with him is the way he has treated the people he’s turned into ghosts. It’s true that this gives the Doctor a great line that I love - “You’ve robbed these people of their deaths” - and that one of the people thus humiliated and cheated is Prentis the Tivolian… but that’s the nearest thing we see to actual solidarity we see the Doctor grant a Tivolian. Indeed, as noted, he is hostile towards them, outright stating that he doesn’t like them as a race (he really shouldn’t be saying stuff like that in 2015). The Tivolians, in line with their nature as self-abnegating quislings, agree with them that they provoke dislike. It’s only a short step from that to the implication that they deserve it. Their oppression, through the attitudes it fosters in them and thus of them, becomes it’s own justification.
The idea of the victim welcoming the victimiser - especially when couched in explicit terms of conquered welcoming conquerors - ties in with some very old and offensive colonialist ideas about native peoples. The ideology of colonialism - particularly settler colonialism such as that upon which South Africa, the United States, and Israel are based - is contradictory, but one big strain in it is that the conquered peoples actually need and benefit from being conquered. The liberal justification for colonialism has usually been that the native peoples abnegate their historic right to control their own country because, being ‘less advanced’ or ‘more primitive’, they cannot make proper use of it. They cannot utilise and develop it to the full possible extent. It is up, then, to the ‘more advanced’ peoples (or ‘superior races’ if you want the right-wing formulation) to step in and bring the benefits of civilisation. Even as they bring technology, big agriculture, formal democracy (eventually, if you’re lucky) etc, they also bring political oppression, poverty, capitalist exploitation, etc, and the thing is usually achieved by war and conquest. The natives inhabitants, who are supposed to benefit from the coming of the enlightened technocrats and democrats of Western civilisation, more often than not find that they actually end up benefiting from slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. And yet the ideology is always that we’re doing them a favour. We’re pushing history forward onto a better future for all. Poems depict joyful brown citizens of the nation about to be invaded chanting “The Saxons are coming! Our freedom is nigh!”. It’s our manifest destiny to bear the white man’s burden. In the process we can teach and tutor and encourage the ‘less developed’ until, with our guidance, they’re ready for freedom themselves, and can take their place alongside us in the empire of liberty. Variations of these ideas are to be found coming from liberals (Tocqueville, Mill, Bertrand Russell), conservatives (Churchill), and socialists (the Second International). Marx and Engels flirted with their version of the same thing before history gave them some lessons and they thought better of it. You get the same basic idea touted by the pro-war liberals and leftists today, alongside the neocons. When they fly into ecstasies about elections in Iraq, they’re basically saying that Iraqis needed us to storm in and teach them about democracy for their own good - at gunpoint. The point is that, in these narratives, even if the conquered native peoples aren’t grateful - and we often tell ourselves that they are - then they damn well should be.
As Fanon might’ve said: the Tivolians have internalized the feelings of inadequacy and dependency that are fostered by colonial domination. They thus embrace the domination and ideology of the colonizer. Yet the Tivolians are not this syndrome depicted as something terrible. On the contrary, they are a cute joke. And, more importantly, they are the cart of subjection put before the horse of subjugation. They welcome conquerors even when there are none. They crave conquerors to provide them with feelings of inadequacy and dependency. They are, apparently by nature, the lazy inferiority, the blank space, that the imagination of the colonizer puts over the reality of the colonized. The Tivolians are not wearing Fanon’s ‘white masks’; they are white masks, with nothing underneath.
You can extend the metaphor to class domination and exploitation. You can make the Tivolians into a metaphor for something that a great many people will tell you is a tragic, transhistorical truth about humanity: that we are inherently prone - be it by divine edict, fallen spirit, or biological destiny, or whatever - to subjugate ourselves, to seek subjugation, to willingly seek domination by (to be a bit Nietzschean about it) the wills to power that permeate the entire world, and to seek perverse comfort in various slave moralities. You might object that it’s contradictory to criticise the Tivolians for implying a metaphor both about native peoples conquered by Westerners and a similar metaphor about all humanity… but by doing so they only mirror the contortions and contradictions of bourgeois ideology itself. Ideology doesn’t have to make sense in order to work, remember.
(I’d be tempted to say that the faux-Soviet inflected backdrop of ‘Before the Flood’ imparts a tinge of good old-fashioned anti-communism to the scenes where Prentis grovels to his glorious leaders… but I’m not sure the episode is sufficiently aesthetically coherent for this to be a thing.)
I think it amounts, in a very real sense, to a lie-by-omission to not tell stories about oppression and resistance, since such things go to make up such a significant chunk of human life and history. How much more of a lie to tell stories about people who want to be oppressed, and who like it? Trouble is, this is a troublingly popular narrative in mainstream culture (one that tends to get far fewer more-grown-up-than-thou groans than do ideas that get pilloried for being right-on). This grovellingly misanthropic idea is one of Joss Whedon’s recurring ticks (he sets it up to be knocked down, but he keeps setting it up again). The idea is that there is some dark flaw in humanity which makes us secretly long for Hitler or Loki or whoever to come along and enslave us, to take the burden of freedom off of our shoulders.
Part of me sees some appeal in the way it contradicts sentimental platitudes. There may be something attractive in the apparent transgressiveness of the idea. It is seen as repudiating something widely acknowledged (and less widely examined) as inherently human, or inherent to sentience: the desire for individual freedom, the yearning for self-determination. I’m not saying that’s entirely untrue, still less am I saying that it’s a bad thing (like Marx, I’m totes in favour of individual freedom). The trouble is that it is so often presented as a lachrymose and sugary bromide, with freedom presented as a nebulous, undifferentiated concept, as if it doesn’t matter what kind of freedom we’re talking about, or whose freedom we’re talking about. Freedom as a complete and unquestionable good in and of itself, equally available to all people on a level playing field analogous to the mythical equilibrium of market economies. Actually there must be limits to freedom, and a social context for it which takes differentiation into account, if freedom is to mean anything beyond extended privilege. I’ll be called a moral relativist, but (as always) the real moral relativists are the ones saying that one law for the lion and ox is not oppression. The bourgeois liberty to please oneself often disregards the corresponding rights of others. Bourgeois society is structured in such a way that so much of the personal liberty it provides for some is actually achieved by the oppression and exploitation of others. The liberal democracies were built on slavery and genocide. And they still are. Who d’ya think made your clothes? And then there are the attendant masturbatory fantasies about rugged individualists and John Galt and all that.
So yeah, I can see how throwing a spotlight on a certain fear of freedom, a certain instinct to conform, might be thrilling to someone who sensed the limitations of the idea of bourgeois liberty. The trouble is that this tactic not only fails to address any of the real limitations and contradictions of the idea of bourgeois liberty, and fails to point out that the fear of freedom is itself a product of alienation, but that it also substitutes one sentimental platitude for another. There is nothing more sentimental, more vacuous, more self-indulgent, more lachrymose and cloying, than beating one’s breast about the original sin of fallen humanity. (That’s why it’s so ironic that Hitchens opens God Is Not Great, supposedly his great rejection of all doctrines of original sin and rallying call to humanity to transcend its archaic limitations, with a quote from Fulke Greville which bemoans the “wearisome condition of humanity”, supposedly forever bound to be caught between contradictory impulses.)
Give Surrender a Chance
Of course, the Tivolians are not just depicted as happy slaves, or as the colonized, or as victims who beg for it (and maybe even need it). They’re also depicted as pacifists and cowards… which is, unfortunately, not far from being a tautology according mainstream narrative culture generally. In many such depictions, pacifism becomes nothing more than the political justification of cowardice.
It might be tempting, at first blush, to say that this is true of Doctor Who. We might want to say that the Tivolians are not just the Ood done right (according to some); they also today’s Thals or Dulcians.
The initial puzzle of the Thals in ‘The Daleks’ is whether they are pacifists from instinct or from spurious ideological conviction. This is the meaning of Barbara’s puzzling formulation: “Yes, but are they really pacifists? I mean, genuinely so. Or is it a belief that's become a reality because they've never had to prove it?” The underlying assumption seems to be that “genuine” pacifism is instinctual, functionally the same as natural inborn passivity, whereas any form of socially chosen, ideological pacifism is inherently bogus, a self-delusion that masquerades as reality but which waits to be disproved by eventual and inevitable contact with some threat. The trajectory of the Thals within the story - and indeed within the whole of Doctor Who - backs up this take on things. Immediately after Barbara voices this sentiment, the Doctor shows her a depiction of an ancient That holding a sword and asserts “They were the warriors then”, which Barbara takes to be highly significant. It proves, I suppose, that pacifism is not part of the Thals’ inherent nature, which is expressed in race-essentialist terms with inflections of biological determinism (because Terry Nation rarely did anything but uncritically accept the most reactionary cliches of SF).
The way Ian shocks that Thals out of their collective delusion that they are inherently peaceful is by, essentially, reminding Thal males to be manly. The underlying assumption about pacifism here is that there is something feminized, or unmasculine, about a society that practices pacifism (which is a point about the Thals that Holly, Phil and James make in a forthcoming City of the Dead podcast). The Thals are depicted as noble - indeed, they’re far too noble and Aryan for comfort, what with them being blond, athletic, high-minded farmers - but also as decadent, weakened, declining, increasingly neutered. At least one of them is terminally cowardly. This is all very Nazi-esque (c.f. the völkisch movement) and very characteristic of reactionary ideas generally. As Corey Robin has pointed out, the idea that the ancien regime which needs protecting is also weak and faltering is a quintessential reactionary preoccupation.
There’s certainly a continuity with the Tivolians here, with the unfortunately camp way that both Tivolians are sometimes played on screen, and with the implication that their society is not only weak but also grey and pedestrian and boring.
The truth is that discussions of pacifism such as the one we get in ‘The Daleks’ and ‘The Dominators’ are rigged. Pacifism is set up to lose. It is never given space or time to make a case for itself or argue its corner. That’s because such depictions are usually written by people who are in a rush to moralise and fingerwag at pacifism, while knowing little about it.
But the funny thing is, I’m not so sure it’s always as simple as that.
I mean, look at the Dulcians, possibly the most famous example of contemptible pacifist cowards in Doctor Who. Strangely, when you peer at them, they’re not actually cowards. Rather, they are ideologically committed to an idea. And it’s hard to say that they’re wrong to be so, at least on the terms in which their world usually functions, and could reasonably have been expected to go on functioning. They have lived with the idea of “universal gentleness” as a functioning, common sense assumption for a long time… and it seems to be an idea entirely applicable to the reality of their society. The trouble us that they are thus rendered unable to comprehend, let alone effectively respond, to an aggressive outside-context problem. Well, the story rigs the game, but actually… who the hell can easily understand and respond effectively to problems so entirely out of leftfield?
(This is an issue by itself actually. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I always think it’s rather unfair to judge pacifists by what they’d do if aliens turned up. It reminds me of something I heard someone say walking out of the cinema after watching Independence Day: “you know, people knock the military but we’d need them if something like that happened.” Which is a classic example of a useless truth, and no real basis - in my ‘umble - to support the currently obscene global levels of military expenditure, or the realities of what the military is for. The SF trope of the pacifists who need guns when the alien invaders turn up is basically another way of stating the reactionary sneer: “yeah, go on, criticise the cops - we’ll see who you call next time you get mugged”. It resolves down into a dunderheaded and wilful determination not to see past the status quo, and the pat assumptions upon which it is built. The same sort of people who talk about being disappointed with ‘Planet of the Ood’ have been known to respond to criticisms of the reactionary politics of ‘The Dominators’ with rhetorical questions like “okay, well, so what do we do about al-Qaeda/Saddam/North Korea/Iran/ISIS/whoever-the-current-government-and-media-sanctioned-bad-guy-is-this-week? Huh?!?” In response to which I always wonder where in ‘The Dominators’ it makes clear that the Dulcians have a bigger and more destructive empire than the Dominators do, and/or that they trained and armed and funded the Dominators in the first place, and so on. The assumptions are based on ignorance of the real political and historical context, and upon the given that ‘we’ are always the good guys.)
But, to return to the Dulcians… they are obviously meant to be the writers’ stand-ins for hippies and flower power. The writers seem like crusty old gits sniping at ‘Make Love Not War’. The story looks like the 60s version of the red-faced cry of “So what do we do about al-Qaeda then?!?” but with quasi-Hitlers and/or quasi-Commies instead. What if we were all pacifists? What would we do when the militarists came a-knocking? Lie down, roll over and give up? And so on. I’m not a pacifist, and I think there are legitimate grounds to criticise pacifism (which are outside the scope of this piece and which are, in any case, easily found if you’re interested in honestly examining a non-strawman). However, ‘The Dominators’ presents only the most facile anti-pacifist argument (basically, it’s the pussies/assholes/dicks speech from Team America: World Police but less nuanced). However, the thing that makes this attack upon pacifism so repellent is not so much the specifics of how it depicts pacifism, or its ‘argument’ against it, but rather that it comes when it does, at the highpoint (’68) of the global anti-Vietnam war movement, and of the revolutionary 60s generally. It’s an intervention of a disturbingly nasty and retrograde kind, at a very well timed moment. The pertinence of the reactionary ideological address it makes is the point.
But the weird thing about ‘The Dominators’ is that it can quite easily be read against the grain. The Dulcians, as noted, adhere to an ideology that makes perfect sense for them within their context, and do so out of utility rather than cowardice. The other thing about the Dulcians is that the young people, starting with Cully but soon spreading to the others, tend to be more flexible. The Dulcians who stick to their old ways are the establishment, the government, the Director and his Council, the gerontocrats. The story swivels on a strange axis with regards to the general rebellion of the 60s. It starts out trying to be a nasty reactionary parable about how silly hippies are, and about how they should be grateful for the older generation fighting WWII… and it mutates into a story about young people fighting tyranny by throwing stones at it, while a doddering older generation sit around talking and doing nothing. All you have to do is allow yourself to see that the Dominators work just as well as metaphors for Western imperialist ‘democracies’ that trample into other people’s countries in, say, South East Asia…
A little bit of historical context goes a long way.
There’s also the question of the morality of inaction, or endurance. For instance, what could be more obviously a dodgy patriarchal fantasy than Cinderella, right? Yet I read a post on Tumblr earlier this year in which someone told of how much the story meant to them, as it is essentially a story about surviving abuse through endurance and passive resistance. Is it always so contemptible to not resist? Isn’t it sometimes all you can do? To just survive? And is that wrong? To sneer at people who survive by endurance is not nice, especially from a position of relative privilege.
To translate into more directly political terms… the Tivolians are depicted as, essentially, quislings. And yet, here again, we have the glaring lack of political context (a perennial problem with Whithouse scripts and their attempts to negotiate questions of political morality). I mean, there were plenty of quislings in Europe who kow-towed to Hitler and the Nazis. Inside Germany, bourgeois politicians helped them into power and then let the get away with setting up a dictatorship. The British empire made accommodation after accommodation with them until they realised they couldn’t eternally escape incursions on their own territory and hegemony. Various heads of state in Europe caved in to Hitler’s demands. And yet, as ever, to blame entire societies or countries for this is fatuous victim-blaming, via the ideological obfuscation inherent in the spurious ‘we’, the ‘national community’. Elites and establishments and bourgeois politicians caved in, not entire societies. Maybe the people in the street didn’t immediately take arms against the German tanks rolling up their streets, but they are comparatively powerless. They shouldn’t be blamed en masse for the cowardice, self-preservation, dirty deals and/or fascist sympathies of their rulers.
‘The Dominators’ - supposedly so egregious - singularly refuses to do so.
It comes to something when a problematic depiction of pacifists, let alone of conquered native peoples, in a notedly reactionary story from nearly 50 years ago, actually comes over as less troubling than a similar depiction today.
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