A modern Carnival?

This year’s Carnival season was unrecognizable, practically imperceptible in fact. Although streets and shop windows were appropriately decorated, it was difficult to sense the spirit of the festival. The question «What are you going to wear?» was rarely heard as 2003 was a «gray» year for the economy, but also because everybody already seemed to be dressed up – not to welcome in a bright new future but to enter murky Cold War catacombs. Medicine, bottled water, masking tape, flashlight and batteries: These are a few of the contents of the modern «disaster supply kit.» Suppliers of security products and services are the only firms whose profitability is guaranteed, experts say. Londoners, we are informed, are to welcome the coming of spring with a major public drill simulating a catastrophic terrorist assault on the scale of the September 11 attacks in New York. This faked chemical, biological or nuclear attack – which the British Home Office says will be very realistic – is to be some ministry or underground station. Seen from this point of view, the architects of the September 11 attacks scored a major victory – spreading fear not in the centers of power, but among ordinary citizens. In any case, evil wears a different disguise every year; last year it was Bin Laden, this year it’s Saddam, who knows what form it will take next time. The only small comfort is that those fighting this new barbarism do not hide behind a mask.

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