While the people of the Arab world are rising up and calling for self-determination and democracy, Europe is sinking into despotism. Its democratic traditions are being eroded and destroyed, its citizens harassed and patronised. The power that the people have delegated to their representatives has clandestinely moved on, has withdrawn to an inaccessible place that no human eye has ever seen. Who is really in charge? Where do all the strings come together, and who is gripping them in their hands, and for what purpose? No one really knows. Laws and regulations are passed, but the inhabitants of the old world no longer understand their wording. One might almost think that a race of aliens had landed quietly on earth and taken over Europe first, perhaps because its members thrive there. It is the land of the technocrats.

Hans-Magnus Enzesberger's essay will be published in English by Sea Gull.

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