Wednesday, 28 December 2011


This is the first time for years that I managed to log in, so not I can add other writings! Piri

Sunday, 28 December 2008


Nélküled vagyok. I am without you.

Nem ismerlek. I do not know you.

Hianyzol. I miss you.

Mindig ismertelek. I have always known you.

Azt akarom, olyan legyel mint en. I want you to become like me.

Benned is magamat utalom. I hate myself in you.

Valtozz meg! Change yourself!

A francnak kellesz! Hell wants you!

Veled is nelküled vagyok. With you I am still without you.


Our Father, who is neither in heaven nor anywhere else

Thus it’s worthless to hallow your name,

I rather if your kingdom does not come

Your will is the big unknown for us.

We have to work for our daily bread

(you could give us something else instead),

You might forgive our trespasses,

But we can’t forgive your sins and the stupidity of our neighbours.

Please, lead us into temptation

And make a pack with the devil.

You can keep the heaven – but leave the Earth alone!

Power and glory is yours - made of melting materials.

For ever and never



Miatyánk, ki nem vagy se a menyekbe, és máshol se

A nevedet igy megszentelni nem érdemes,

Országod inkább ne jöjjön el,

Akaratod ismeretlen,

Miképpen a menyekbe, azonképpen a földön is.

Mindennapi kenyerünkért dolgoznunk kell

(adhatnál valami mást helyette),

Te megbocsáthatod büneinket

De mi nem igérjuk, hogy megbocsájtjuk büneidet

És a szomszédaink hülyeségét.

Kisértésekkel áldj meg minket,

Kőssél egy pakkot a gonosszal!

Tartsd meg a menyt, nekünk nem kell,

De hagyd békén a földet!

A hatalom és a dicsőség foszlóanyag.


Piroska Markus: The Iron Curtain of Mental Health – An Eastern European Perspective

I wrote this article in 1999, and the situation of people from Eastern Europe who move temporarily or permanently to England is very different now. During the last few years we are seen as the new working class, and treated as such: used, exploited and abused, badly paid, admired by those with a strict work-ethic, and not very popular with those who believe that we have taken their jobs away. But at the end of the 99's the situation was very different, we were perceived as something alien, in order to justify the bombing of Serbia and the internal persecution of Eastern European asylum seekers (especially Gypsies) who were seen as spongers taking advantage of the generous welfare state. The article was published by The New Presence, which is a Prague-based English language magazine. It was also published on the internet by Ventsislav Zankov, a Bulgarian artist whose web-pages are worth a visit.

“The concept of ‘The Iron Curtain’ was invented by Goebbels, but Churchill made it popular. It was a brilliant invention. A physical image of something powerful which does not exist! A product of the fantasy life of people afraid of something indescribable, something which is so threatening and abstract that they need to make it concrete and banal.

The Berlin wall was the only reality between East and West Europe, which could have served as a physical example of the symbolic concept of ‘The Iron Curtain’. The borders between the countries of the Soviet block and West Europe were also heavily guarded and mined. But the concept of ‘The Iron Curtain’ had nothing much to do with the Berlin wall, or with the borders. I believe the image of ‘The Iron Curtain’ existed and still exists, not because it has ever described reality, but because it says so much about the fears and aspirations of the Western communal mind.

A similar ‘Iron Curtain’ exists between people who could be called ‘mad’ and the rest of the society. The sharp, dividing wall is there, as a result of the myths created by the population and as a consequence of the mystifying ‘expertise’ of the ‘professionals’.

The tall wall, the ‘Iron Curtain’ is there because we imagine it to be there. And you can’t see through it. But, a privileged few can peep behind it. Adventurous journalists, travellers occasionally dared to go behind the Iron Curtain, and reported to the world what they sew. In the case of psychiatry, a few doctors, freaks or ex-patients occasionally wrote a book, to tell the world of the ‘normals’, what goes on behind the locked doors.

The (symbolic) ‘Iron Curtains’ give an opportunity to masses of people to imagine that they are at the right side of the wall. They imagine that the BAD qualities, the ‘Baddies’ are on the other side. These Chinese Walls seemingly divide and defend them from evil and from all dangerous forces and drives. They are not only on the side of the virtuous, but they are also Safe, as long as the Wall or Curtain is there. It is not surprising, that since the political changes happened in East Europe, the Western mind still insists that the West should be saved from the imagined dangerous qualities of their Eastern cousins. When the Westerners talk against ‘The Serbs’, no one should have the illusion, that they actually know ‘The Serbs’. They heard horrible things about their dictator, and project the same qualities into the whole ethnic group.1

America and England played similar games, when they prepared the Western mind to accept their heroic struggle against other ‘monsters’. At a convenient time the Big Bad Wolf was Gaddafi. We were made to believe that his terrorists were going to terrorise all the good people of America and the West. Then came the fear of Noriega’s drugs. Then Saddam Hussain. We were told, Saddam was threatening the human kind with his unauthorised nuclear and chemical bombs. Naturally the thousands of similar authorised nuclear and chemical plants in the world were all safe. Saddam was useful for the West as long as he was ready to fight against Iran. He was armed up to teeth by the West. A Fabian pamphlet described his old position, with this terms: ‘He is a son-of–a-bitch, but he is OUR son-of-a-bitch’. Obviously, the situation changed. Saddam wanted to become his own son-of-a-bitch, or perhaps he was dropped in any case, and he did not like that.

After all the blood that had been shed in Panama, in Lebanon, in Iraq, still nothing has been achieved. And although all these leaders are still ‘at large’, it seems the politicians’ attention span can only perceive one Monster at any one time. Nato can’t spread itself thin. And now, it is ex-Yugoslavia.

But now, they are not talking about ONE dictator who must be killed by any means, they are talking about ‘THE SERBS’. And the atmosphere has changed in England during the last few years. Since the restriction of the benefits rights of the asylum seekers, they have become visible (queuing for food vouchers at Social Services, or stuck in the Dover area). During the last few years many Eastern Europeans have been treated by hostile suspicion in England. Articles have appeared, which would not (and should not) have been tolerated about any other ethnic groups. In the media we have been described as bogus refugees, who have no claim for asylum. Liars, cheats, thieves, prostitutes, Mafiazoes – the new underclass of Europe.

Similarly to the East-West dividing ‘Iron Curtain’, which the Western world insist on re-creating, the population of England keeps demanding that the walls around ‘the mad’ should be re-erected. People protest against ‘community care’, because the large psychiatric hospitals had been demolished, the ‘mad are free to roam the streets’, and exaggerated articles picture the disturbed as necessarily dangerous. ‘Lock them up!’ or ‘For heavens’ sake medicate them!’ The cry is clear, and the government is getting ready to act, planning to lock up those, whom psychiatrists decide to call people ‘with personality disorder’, if they have a feeling that these people MIGHT become dangerous one day in the future. Many Eastern Europeans and Black people have been generously given this vague diagnosis.

People fear madness for a variety of good and bad reasons. Above all, we fear madness in ourselves, we all know we could go mad, but we are not sure what would tip the balance. We fear ‘the mad’, because we don’t understand them, and we know that we generally treat them cruelly. We have bad consciousness, but we don’t know what to do. As an easy way out, we want to entrust them to the professionals, who at least claim to know what to do.

In the case of the disturbed, the demand is: lock them away. The cry is similar about Eastern Europeans who are trying to move to England: keep them out! They are unwanted! They come here to take advantage! The Labour Foreign Minister went on the Czech TV to tell gypsy people (among them 200 000 were de-franchised of their previous citizenship when the ‘democratic’ government took over), that in England we treat their asylum application as unjustifiable, because they are not being persecuted in the Czech Republic.2 (He obviously forgot to ask for the evidence gathered at Amnesty International).

I would dare to say that many Westerners also fear us, Eastern Europeans. This might sound like a sweeping generalisation, and obviously not all Westerners do. But the real problem is that they are not aware of this fear. And when people are subconsciously fear something, the effect is more devastating. They feel convinced by the force of their fear: they believe in the negative qualities, which they project into the thing/person they fear. That is how a shadow or the darkness of the night can seem threatening.

Western people (I am talking about the ‘average’, people who believe in the media, people who have no genuine interest to get to know us or to challenge the popular assumptions about ‘madness’) perceive us similarly how they perceive the ‘mad’ people in their courtyards. Many believe both the Eastern Europeans and the ‘mad’ people are driven by primitive forces and instincts, can’t suppress their sexuality, they luck self-control necessary for civilised life. In our case, they also think, we are sheep-like, who can only create dictatorship. In both cases, they believe, their mission is to teach us civilisation, rules of engagement. Above all, they want to control us and the ‘mad’.

We, Eastern Europeans are seen as ‘unpredictable’ for the English, because, they do not know or understand us. Yes, occasionally they ‘discover’ us as some type of exotic fruit: our music, our films, Muzsikas, Havel, Andzrej Vajda, Gulyas-soup. But to keep the market value of such discoveries, it is essential, that these exotic goods should be rare. Therefore, no hope for many other excellent musicians, writers, filmmakers to make it to the Western market. But East Europeans who live in England, have even less hope of gaining recognition there. We might be excellent in our profession, we might be internationally known artists, but we are competing for the same jobs, grants and recognition, which our British colleagues also desire. Suddenly, the fact, that we are from East Europe, becomes a disadvantage, our accent make us look funny, and our background suspicious. Is it sure our qualifications can be compared to the British qualifications? Even the fact, that many of us take our profession very seriously, that our commitment is often outstanding – becomes a problem. Our enthusiasm has been pictured as if it showed obsession. We had been described as hostile, aggressive, threatening because of our tendency to say what is on our mind.

As our countries have never been colonised by the West, there isn’t even a historical guilt feeling, which the English would wish to forget by offering us opportunities. Whenever they discriminate against us, they try to make us believe, that we have individually failed. We fall between the majority and the minority, we don’t belong to either. The way how we are being discriminated and misrepresented, is not clear even for us, and it is us who have to start to talk about it, document it and challenge it.

As an ‘ethnic group’ we are invisible. Even we don’t notice ourselves. And this is only our fault. Every other group of people, who have some historical connection to each other, on the basis on geography, traditions, personality-types, food, music, shared history – they are happy to identify with each other to some degree. People from Africa might establish clubs, welfare projects, cultural programmes, according to country of origin, religion, but in addition they also create centres for all Africans, for all Black women etc. Asian, South American, Middle Eastern people do the same. The only people with some type of possible shared identity who have never established anything together, at least not in London, are the Eastern Europeans. Thus we seem to accept the national boundaries, as we have established only our small centres according to our borders: some for the people who originally came from Poland, others for people from Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and for the tiny little ‘countries’ of the old Yugoslavia. But nothing else.

For the Westerners, the excitement of East Europe finished when the Cold War was called off. They don’t welcome the Eastern European immigrants now, because there is no political advantage in accepting them any longer. Suddenly, they wish us away. At East Europe, now they only want to notice our existence, when it becomes either dangerous, or pathetic. The danger should be directed against each other, and the West had a fundamental role in dividing up our countries, playing with the historically existing ethnic tensions. Nato forces moved into every second country, which is naturally being perceived as threatening by those countries, which have not joined Nato.

The only situation in which the Western media and the population is happy to notice the existence of East Europeans, is, when we become each other’s victims and they can feel superior and charitable. The Western sorrow for the old Albanian Kosovo peasant woman, who has just walked 50 miles, who is dehydrated, near to collapse, but is ever so grateful for the Nato bombing – is not very dissimilar to the English sentiments which they exhibit in their numerous ‘Save the abused pussy cat or abandoned puppies’ charities.

The average Westerner can’t afford to try to understand us. His/her ego might collapse if he/she tried, because this easy source of superiority feeling would disappear. Suddenly they might start to feel guilty about all the pain they have inflicted. Therefore, our attempts to try to prove that we are not dangerous, not primitive, not that fundamentally different – will, by necessity, be doomed to fail. The wall will be maintained between ‘us’ and ‘them’, but it might shift: sometimes only the Serbs, sometimes the Czechs or the Russians, or the Gypsies will be focused on and targeted with hatred-generating propaganda, perhaps trade-sanctions, or real war efforts. And from West Europe, we might be slowly deported, or the growing hatred might force many to return back to East Europe.

Meanwhile, most Eastern European parties and governments are willingly walking into the open mouth of the lion: selling their countries economically, signing military and political alliances as if blindfolded to history, and cheeringly accepting changes imposed upon them by the West.

(1)East Europeans sometimes reject the negative projections, which many Westerners try to reflect on them. Some over-react and claim that they are the most superior beings/nation in the world, but others accept the negative ideas. It is a common practise among many oppressed groups and nations, that they further project the negative qualities, to other groups, e.g. against the gypsies, or against their neighbouring ethnic groups, with who they happen to have a conflict. While trying to shorten this article for the purpose of publication, I have noticed, in the August 99 copy of The New Presence, page 32 that the residents of a housing block in Vimperk wrote a petition, claiming that ‘Kosovan Albanians have an inclination to violence and criminality from an early age’ therefore they should not be housed in their block.

(2) Source: Deri Huges, Brotherhoods in Exile, 1999, un-published MSc dissertation for UCL