Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Tattoo by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (Serpent's Tail 1976)

'It's a metaphor. And a very appropriate one. What is a policeman if not a sociologist?'

Inspector Israel agreed. He stepped into the footlights for his moment of fame.

'That's true. A sociologist and a psychologist.'

'You see? Well, a permissive society like ours is bound to cause some mental confusion in your compatriots. They suddenly find they have sex and politics within easy reach.'

'But sex is expensive for all immigrants.'

'Exactly right. It's within reach, but they can't always get their hands on it. That creates a great sense of frustration, which unfortunately it is not our job to resolve. And then there's the political question. You know that here in Holland we are extremely tolerant towards any attitude that does not directly go against our constitution. We even have Trotskyists here, Mr Carvalho. But a Dutch Trotskyist has the immense advantage of being born in Holland. So first and foremost he is a Dutchman, and his Trotskyist behaviour will not go beyond acceptable limits. But can you imagine a Spanish Trotskyist, anarchist or even a communist in Holland? Can you imagine him trying to convert his politically starved comrades? We have to keep a much closer eye on every Spanish, Greek or Turkish activist than we do on a hundred Dutchmen. It would make a fascinating job for you. Above all, classifying the different ideologies and tendencies. Assessing how important they are: that way we would know exactly how your compatriots are evolving politically. Once we knew that, we could make sure they were pointed in the right direction, and that they came to no harm by doing things that were against the grain.'