Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nine Turks good, ten Turks bad: the Gaza flotilla, the Döner Kebab murders and the future of Germany

I have a nationalist friend who refuses to discuss the recent news story - of the 'Döner Kebab Murders' in Germany - on the phone. He is convinced that the secret police are tapping his phone, and will use whatever comments he makes to arrest him, and frame him, for the idea of supporting a 'Döner Kebab' copycat murder spree: while (rest assured) he never will murder any döner kebab vendors, he wouldn't put it past the state to frame him for wanting to do so.

This is unlikely. Suppose that two members of the Trotskyite-communist Socialist Alliance were discussing the latest outrages by the Colombian FARC, or the Indian Maoists - would they be arrested and framed for plotting acts of left-wing violence? But such is the paranoia on the Far Right.

As we know from the news, a group calling itself the National Socialist Underground in Germany killed ten Turkish immigrants - all vendors of disgusting döner kebabs - over the course of ten years, without being detected; they also robbed a bank and killed a female police officer. They made a bizarre video, which has the faces of their victims imposed on a 1960s Pink Panther cartoon (and slogans such as 'Actions, not Words'). Their actions were only discovered recently after two of the men in the gang committed suicide (by shooting each other) and then blowing themselves up with a timed explosive. (A female member turned herself in). The German press has, delightfully, christened the gang 'the Brown Army Faction', and the reactions have been predictable. Merkel has declared herself shocked and ashamed. There will be compensation paid by the German government (the German government is always good for money), a minute's silence in the Bundestag, while members of the German establishment are renewing their calls to ban the NPD and proposing that all German nationalists be registered with the German secret police.

Ironically, the story broke on the fiftieth anniversary of the first Turkish "guest-workers" arriving in Germany. (Turkish immigrants were brought in, as "guests", to fill a supposed labour-shortage; but the guests continued to stay, and now number 3 million - and many of them now find it hard getting any work at all).

The National Socialist Underground were undetected for a long time, and the Turkish immigrants in Germany are arguing that this is proof of an endemic German "racism". This, of course, is an argument against their position. Supposing that the Germans are (as the immigrants imply) a nasty, horrible, "racist" people: why, then, are the millions of Muslim immigrants in the country? Surely, in this instance, you'd want to stay in, and live in, a Muslim country, where you won't get discriminated against for being a Turk or Muslim? But actually, no. To the Turkish immigrants, the purpose of the Bundesrepublik is to protect them from the nasty "Neo-Nazis" and other racists, so their vendors can continue to sell their greasy döners in peace. (As a friend said to me, 'There are SO many Doner Kebab vendors in Germany, its unbelievable that they can all stay in business.  It's easier to get a Kebab in Germany, than actual German food').

The attitude of Germany's Turks reflects the immigrant mentality: they believe they have the "right" to a better life - in a wealthy country like Germany. The fact that they are, by emigrating there in the millions, actually colonising those countries (like the Jewish settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank) with the effect of dispossessing the indigenous Germans (or British or Swedes), crowding them out of their own cities and reproducing, in those cities and council-housing estates, a downtown Istanbul or Islamabad or Mogadishu, in miniature - is of no concern to them. The white man has to lump it: the immigrant has his "right to a better life", and that's that.

As we know, this emigration is, in the end, counter-productive. There are no magical properties in the German, British, Australian or American soil, which make these countries prosperous, safe, clean; no, these qualities - which are really the virtues of the white nations - come about from the people. Displace the people, and you end up with something like a China, India, Pakistan, Mexico or Congo. (Now, nothing against those countries in particular, but it's evident that literally millions of their inhabitants are desperate to get away from them, and go somewhere else - preferably to a white man's country).

What sticks in the throat of the Germans (or Swedes, or British), is that the immigrants from Pakistan or Somalia don't even make the effort to pretend to like the native inhabitants (I myself have never met a Chinese or Indian immigrant who, while liking Australia, actually admits to liking 'Aussies' themselves). Indeed, it's only a matter of time before the immigrant population starts to make demands - loud demands - that the host country adopt to its ways. In a recent article in The Age newspaper ('Too-white TV must tune in to the real Team Australia', 26/11/2011), a few immigrant "entertainers" declared that Australian TV was 'too white', and that changes needed to be made. (The author writes, 'MORE than 2 million Australians were born in Asia and our Indian-born population has more than trebled in a decade, but mainstream television, other than SBS, rarely reflects this fact'). Presumably, these immigrants can go home to their countries of origin and watch Chinese, and Indian soaps all day long, and feel included that way; but they don't want to. It is we who have to accommodate them.

The irony of the Döner Kebab murders is that the liberal establishment sometimes looks at the murder of Turks, and other non-whites, as a sad necessity. As we know, Israel killed nine Turks on the Gaza flotilla, which was on its way to break the Israeli embargo of Gaza and deliver supplies of nappies, toilet paper and goat meat. As to why they were killed, well, in the disordered mind of the Jewish-Israeli, nappies and goat meat are, in fact, weapons of mass destruction which can be used to murder the poor little Jews of Israel (in the nearby settlement of Ashkalon, for instance). In addition, the sight of anyone wanting to help Israel's chief enemy - the Palestinians - fills Jewish-Israelis with a murderous rage. Hence, the murder of the nine Turks. The liberal establishment makes excuses: 'The Turks were attacking the Israeli commandos with iron bars! The commandos were acting in self-defence!'. But then, suppose that it was Jews who were embargoed by an occupying (Arab or German) army, and Jewish activists, seeking to break that embargo, were shot dead... The Western liberal establishment, despite being ostensibly egalitarian, does categorise peoples according to their worth: and Jewish Israelis, along with Jews in general, are on a higher plane than Turks and other non-whites.

Amusingly, I saw a news item, on SBS, with a story on Palestinian 'freedom-ride' activists, who tried to catch a Jews-only bus to Jerusalem. They were forcibly removed, from the bus, by Jewish-Israeli soldiers, to the approval and delight of the Jewish-Israeli passengers. In the interest of freedom from bias, the news report took up half its time explaining the Israeli point of view: Palestinians had, in the past, blown up buses with Jewish-Israelis; therefore, Palestinians had to be prevented from riding buses with Jewish-Israelis on them. Of course, the Palestinian 'freedom-riders' compared themselves to the heroic Negroes of the US civil rights struggle in the 1960s; but American proponents of segregation could have used exactly the same arguments as the Israeli government in this story (given the fact of interracial, black-on-white crime in the US).

These Palestinian tactics will, over time, prove to be very effective. The activists understand that the civil rights Negroes (along with Mandela) are venerated as gods in the West; they want to drive a wedge between the liberal Westerners and the (now) not-so-liberal lovers of Israel and Jewry. In short, they want to bring this hierarchy - where Jews are placed on a pedestal, above Muslims - to light.

Where, however, does this leave the Germans? The National Socialist Underground are the equivalent of the urban guerrilla, left-wing terrorist groups (such as the Baader-Meinhof gang, or Denmark's pro-Palestinian 'Left Wing Gang'). In their ideology, they more resemble the white nationalists of Robert Jay Matthews and the Order; they are not, so far as I can see, National Socialists: the Third Reich had excellent relations with Turkey (although Turkey never joined the Axis cause), and never suffered from a Turkish immigrant problem.

A friend of mine writes that the purpose of the modern German political establishment 'like any other Western one, is to ensure there IS no Germany, or Italy, or England, or America, or Australia... [The Bundesrepublik] too "Officially" supports the German people but "unofficially" would prefer to see them gone'. That is, the German establishment wants to get rid of the Germans, en masse, and replace them with an immigrant Islamic or African or Indian or Asian population; the same goes for the political establishments in Britain, Australia, etc. Whether or not these respective establishments succeed in their task is another thing altogether. Some countries (like Britain) are bringing in such huge numbers of immigrants that they are actually succeeding in displacing the white inhabitants to an enormous degree (57% of students in schools in England, for example, are now non-white); other countries, like Germany, are, despite their best efforts, not reaching British levels. The point is, the intent - and it is a genocidal intent - is there.

Morally, then, the likes of the National Socialist Underground stand on the same plane as the Palestinians, in the West Bank and Jerusalem, who commit acts of violence against Jewish settlers: violence is the last resort after any negotiations have broken down and attempts at a peaceful resolution have been thwarted. The Western political establishment views all nationalists and racialists and disgusting, filthy creatures. Nationalists are locked out of the political establishment, and out of the political (and intellectual) debates of our age. The German nationalists of the National Socialist Underground, then, felt that they had no choice but to commit violent crimes, which in turn leaves the political establishment feeling validated in their low estimation of nationalists.

It is always fascinating, from an intellectual point of view, watching extremist types - whether of the Far Right or Left - pursuing the logical implications of their ideology to the bitter end. It is also a saddening sight when the efforts of those same extremists are so counter-productive and futile. The Baader-Meinhofs and Red Brigades didn't succeed in their objectives (and, by the end, they seemed somewhat confused as to what their objectives were); the National Socialist Underground, despite its killing the döner vendors, won't put a dent in the 4.3 million-strong Muslim immigrant population. What's more, they may end up making things worse for German nationalism. The West, of course, reveres some terrorists (who make futile, and violent, gestures against repressive regimes - e.g., Mandela); but it comes down hard, especially hard, on right-wing, nationalist terrorists, and non-terrorists on the Far Right suffer too.

To return to my question: are the National Socialist Underground, and the "Neo-Nazis", really National Socialists?

One of my objections to the ideology of "Neo-Nazism" is that it (as in the case of Savitri Devi) puts Hitler and the National Socialists almost at the level of a trans-national religious cult; whereas Hitler and the National Socialists were Germans first, German nationalists second, and National Socialists third. The volunteers who fought in the German army in WWI, or in the Freikorps after WWI, were closer to the true, historical German National Socialism than many of the so-called "Neo-Nazis" of today.

One of the interesting things about the recent European financial crisis is that the old stereotype - of Germany, and the Germans, as the bully, and the bully with the power and the money - has returned, especially in the British media. One has to scan the tabloids daily to find comparisons of Merkel and Sarkozy to Hitler and Petain (the tabloids, of course, intend such comparisons to be offensive, because they are full of a vindictive hatred of the Germans, and the French, in general). All this proves that nations don't deviate much from their national types, no matter who is in charge; the fact that Sarkozy is a French Jew, and Merkel is a German who hates Germans (and daughter of an East German pro-communist priest), makes no difference. Now, in 2011, a powerful bully runs Germany, a toady of Germany runs France, an exhibitionist buffoon (the recently-deposed Berlusconi) runs Italy, while a spluttering, impotent Britain wrings its hands and looks on - all of this looks like the Europe of 1941!

Which raises the question: what if German does revert to type? What if decades of Allied brain-washing, Judaist Holocaust religious propaganda and Bundesrepublik-ism make no difference and the old, pre-1945 Germany feels compelled to reassert itself? This is what the British tabloids, and other commentators, are thinking. You can kidnap a man, and brainwash him, as in the famous movie The Manchurian Candidate (1962); but, after a while, the brainwashing will wear off and that man will revert to who he is - his essence. (And remember, brainwashing, as a method of mind-control, was devised, and first put into practice, by communists). As it is with human beings, so it is with nations: nature triumphs nurture.

I, almost daily, read (in the popular press) sombre ruminations by British commentators, who remind their readers that British policy on the Continent has always been to maintain a 'balance of power' and prevent any country from gathering up all the power for itself. Now that Germany is (under Merkel) accrueing power for itself, the British have to sit up and take note. But all the British can do is isolate themselves, further and further, from the Continental powers, and the EU. All this reminds me of the popular journalism of the 1920s and 1930s.

I myself think that these commentators are right. Because of the geopolitical, and economic, realities, Germany is reverting to the old nationalistic Germany - of Bismarck and Wilhelm II - whether it wants to or not, and despite the best efforts of its anti-German, anti-nationalist political establishment.

If only there were some way to connect the two threads - the realities of Germany's geopolitical position, and the Far Right German nationalism of the NPD: so far, they stand on separate sides of the fence.

I have written here before about how difficult it is for today's nationalist intellectuals to reproduce, exactly, the ideology of a German National Socialism or an Italian Fascism. (The Trotskyites who want to 'bring back' the old pre-Stalin communism have the same difficulty). It is a difficult intellectual exercise simply because so much water has flowed under the bridge. (You may as well try and understand the "original" Christianity of Jesus and his disciples, or the "original" Buddhism). Something happens, in cases like these, is that strange deviations of the doctrine emerge, which have little or no relation to the original. Modern-day Trotskyism, as represented by the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative and other Australian communist groups, has no relation to Trotskyism or even communism. The modern Australian "Trotskyist" platform is: gay marriage, Palestinian nationalism and student rights (plus a dose of 'Free the Refugees'). Trotsky himself would have been baffled.

But what was National Socialism's original doctrine? One of the main components of it was a faith in the German people: that they were a resourceful, hard-working and above all resilient people - given the chance; other nations (and the less said of them, the better) didn't have those qualities. The same qualities stemmed from the people themselves; they weren't magical properties of the German soil. This was Hitler's "racialism", which communists and liberals have found so outrageous (and British nationalists, like the Churchill types, whose nationalism consists of hating, actively, other nations).

One of the reasons why they found it so outrageous was that "racialism" was that, in Hitler's ideology, in order for Germans to be 'given the chance', the Jewish population of Germany had to be booted out of the leading positions it occupied in commerce, academia, politics, the trade union movement, the media; and, furthermore, communism in Germany had to be quashed, for all time. Communism, and Jewry, had plenty of supporters at the time (and still do); these supporters regarded Jewry, and communists, as an inoffensive people undeserving of such a fate.

The German National Socialist doctrines here are logical and self-consistent: one proposition naturally flows from the other. Do they apply, however, to Germany (and Europe) today?

Yes and no. There is, constitutionally, a profound difference between Hitler's Germany and the Bundesrepublik today; there is also a profound spiritual difference - Judaism, Holocaustianism and the worship of the Jewish-Israeli people (all the one and same thing) is the official state-sponsored religion of Germany (and much of the West). But these 'overlays' are superficial. The core of Germany - the German people - is still there; furthermore, that core hasn't changed much since the time of Bismarck or Wilhelm II. The old characteristics of the Germans are popping up again, in the recent financial crisis. As Walter Russell Mead writes, in the Wall Street Journal:

France is basically a Club Med country with some northern features (historically often found among the Huguenots and Jews, out of which communities many of its most successful business leaders have come). It wants a "political" economic system for Europe, one in which political pressures can ensure the kind of steady devaluation of the euro that Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Portugal used to enjoy with their national currencies in the good old pre-euro days. The only problem with this old system was that it gave too many advantages to the Germans, Dutch and others (in the form of lower interest rates). France wants to stick the Germans with a Latin currency and Latin rules for running it.

Germany, on the other hand, wants the Latin countries to live by northern rules: Keep the currency sound, the budgets balanced and let the chips fall where they may. There is zero, repeat, zero consensus in Germany to go Latin and give the euro into the hands of slick French and Italian politicians. Technocrats bound by rules, the Germans can accept: That is why an Italian technocrat is following a Frenchman at the head of the ECB. But that is also why the Germans are being such sticklers about ECB rules against bailouts and unlimited ECB purchases of sovereign bonds.

['The Culture War Over Europe's Money' (subtitled, 'The Germans are richer and more stubborn... The French are flashier and faster on their feet', WSJ, 17/11/2011)].

How redolent this is of the (often crass) generalisations of Hitler's Table Talk and Mein Kampf! And yet, the likes of Mead are not accused of being German nationalists, National Socialists, or NPD-sympathisers.

The problem for the nationalist intellectual (and the German nationalist) is that we have been so deluged with propaganda and misinformation, regarding Hitler, National Socialism and the 'old' Germany (that is, the Germany before the Allied-Soviet occupation), is that we have lost sight of the old Germany - that is, we don't know what it looks like. As well as that, we have distorted perceptions of Hitler and National Socialism. (The opponents of National Socialism - Jewry in particular - are not the only source of these misperceptions. There are the "Neo-Nazis" themselves, who see Hitler as a "saviour of the white race" and a prototypical white nationalist).

Now, of course, the 'old Germany' is starting to come back. For decades, the Germans have been told that any manifestations of German strength are evil - and are the purest, deepest evil known to man; furthermore, Germans have been told that, in any case, they are very weak, and that life under the dreadful Allied-Soviet occupation has made them weak, and that they will continue to be weak for a long time. Now, though, the perception is that Germany is strong, and strong once again. They are exhibiting (according to the commentators in and outside Germany) the same old German virtues - the virtues which, ironically, were lauded by Hitler (e.g., the virtue of resilience - see Hitler's final radio address on January 30, 1945). The modern foes of Germany (among them, the British) see this and are furious: they recognise that, despite Merkel, despite the attempt to dilute, and destroy, the German identity through Turkish immigration and Islam - the old Germany is back.

Which isn't to say that the 'austerity' policies Merkel advocates aren't disastrous: they are. Italy, Spain, Greece, Belgium, France, need strong economic growth to meet the interest payments on their debts, and won't get that growth by raising their taxes to the stratosphere (the taxes are high enough already). Supply-side economic theory predicts that, if a nation starts cutting its tax rates to the levels needed to deliver increased production and commerce, interest rates on national debt will drop - just as they did on US debt in the 1980s (and this was despite the US, under Reagan, running a record deficit for the time). The "Latin" countries of Southern Europe are quite right to reject the austerity measures demanded by Germany and the EU. Furthermore, it is not clear as to why the EU has to use taxpayer's money to prevent bondholder losses (losses which would come about were Greece, Italy or Spain to default).

But the Eurozone is, despite the dire predictions of the financial press, not about to 'break up'. The euro is not collapsing: it is one of the strongest currencies in the world - along with the yen and the pound. And, were any of the Eurozone countries to abandon the euro, they would still have to pay back debts denominated in euros. Greece would be crazy to revert to the drachma (but then, no country in the Eurozone is seriously considering going back to the old national currencies, no matter what the financial press says).

The question is, if my thesis is correct, why, now, are countries such as Germany, France, Britain, Greece, Italy 'reverting to type'? Why didn't they do it years ago? The answer is America - or rather, America's decline in the past ten years. It has exhausted itself fighting two long wars (which aren't over yet) which it could not win, and thereby showed up the myth of American military supremacy. It is no coincidence that its economy took a nosedive around the same time. Political power, as Yockey never tired of saying, is a plenum, the opposite of a vacuum: it fills all available spaces. When power departs from one country, it arrives at another. The dead hand of America has been on Britain, Poland and France since the 1930s, and then all of Western Europe since 1945. Now, though, the grip has loosened somewhat. The nations of Europe are beginning to move around a bit - and rediscover what life was like before America.

Hitler would have attributed America's problems to 'The Jew' - and certainly, Jewish-American policy-makers are responsible for America's foreign policy woes (which will be compounded if America, at Israel's behest, attacks Iran). But Europe's problems - particularly the immigrant problem - are somewhat more complex. What is clear that European nationalism, particularly German nationalism, needs to adopt a new ideology to deal with the new realities. The German nationalists are completely out of step with the changes that are taking place. The NPD and Merkel (who may be voted out at the next election) need to meet in the same room, so to speak. But, at the moment, this is impossible. The Merkels want to Islamify Germany, thereby wiping them out, in order to atone for the "Holocaust"; the NPD want to revise the results of WWII, and throw out the Muslims. Neither can see past these (obviously irreconcilable) differences and see the commonalities - i.e., their shared 'German-ness'.

The quest is on for new political forms. A true German nationalist party would get rid of, not only Bundesrepublik theories and forms, but also the old National Socialism (or the caricature National Socialism has become). Again, this would be impossible for the time being, simply because (in my experience) German nationalists lack the foresight and imagination to do such a thing (but then, Germans have always been such a stubborn people).

But for non-Germans, today's events show the closest thing to an approximation of what the old Germany - before the Allied/Soviet conquest and subjugation of 1945 - looked like. The question is, do we like what we see?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cultural Productions: 'Caprica' (2010), a review

Some TV shows you 'can't put down': after you buy the box set of DVDs of a season of the series, you zip through them in lightning speed. One friend told me he watched season one of 'Battlestar Galactica' in two sittings - that is, he watched the whole season (which is around nine hours) in two marathon TV-watching sessions. From what I recall, I did exactly the same. I devoured, too, the box sets of other favourite shows: 'Wallander', 'Mad Men', 'The Tudors', 'Rome', 'Deadwood' and others.

With 'Caprica' (the 2010 prequel to 'Battlestar Galactica'), however, I skimped. Watching the show was a chore. After I bought the pilot (two hours), I found, some months later, the entire series (including seasons one and two), started watching it, grew bored after the first few episodes, and then left it on the shelf. I only recently picked it up again. The show does improve towards the last few episodes - as the story picks up in pace - and has a fairly good denouement in the last few minutes; but, on the whole, it disappoints.

Why? 'Caprica' falls down mostly because the writers and producers hadn't managed to put together a good story and characters.

In 'Battlestar' (both the original and the remade version), the story, and the conflicts, are simple. One recognises the two opposing sides - the Cylons and the humans - straight away. So one knows, at once, that the story will be about a conflict between these two groups. In addition, the plotline - about robot slaves revolting against, and murdering, their human masters - is timeless. The word 'robot' was coined by the Czech playwright, Karl Čapek, in his 1920 play, 'R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)'. Čapek's play is written about a murderous robot uprising against humanity: so the basic story of 'Galactica' was nearly sixty years old when the show debuted in 1978. The advantage of such a plot is that one can really explore all sorts of interpretations on it: are the robots (in this case, the Cylons) the repressed proletariat class of Marxist ideology? Are they Negroes, like the Haitian Negroes who revolted against the French in Haiti in the 18th century, slaughtering every one of them, to the last man, woman or child? Are the Cylons (who occasionally resort to suicide bombing) radical Muslims? In the remade 2003-2009 version, the producers of 'Battlestar' managed, very cleverly, to evoke Bush Jr's War on Terror, the Pacific Theater of WWII, Mormonism and many other things.

In 'Caprica', it is unclear as to who the opposing forces are, and even what the basic story will be. What we want to see is, of course, something simple: we want to see how the human race creates a new species - slave robots who will do their bidding - and how, through hubris, ignorance, cruelty, end up inciting those robots to revolt against them; and how the humans make the fatal error of giving the robots the ideological justification for such a revolt (in 18th century Haiti, it was the new French ideas of liberty and equality which helped justify, ideologically, the slave revolt; in 20th century South Africa, the Marxist ideology of black African national liberation). And, of course, being science fiction fans, we want to see Cylons and humans shooting at one another, or engaging in dogfights and naval battles in outer space. (I've always loved the giant, metal, clanking Centurion Cylons in the remade 'Battlestar' - I enjoy watching them stomp around, and looking at their sinister, flashing Cyclopean red eyes).

The pilot for 'Caprica' was, I thought, brilliant. It touched upon a number of themes: teenage angst and alienation; the pernicious effects of FaceBook, Twitter, IPhones, World of Warcraft and the like, on youth and on modern life; the theme of Faustian Western man, who defies the gods by attempting to create life and resurrect dead people; and, of course, radical Islam. The pilot was so much more modern, sleek and sophisticated than the remade 'Battlestar', and the ruthless scientist and businessman Daniel Graystone (played by the excellent Eric Stolz) is a kind of Steve Jobs character. Both Stolz and Esai Morales (who plays Joseph Adama) deliver great, brooding performances - you can the tension between them with a knife. Overall, the plot had momentum, and the ending left you wanting more.

That was the pilot: but the series itself wasn't as good. Possibly because, after watching the pilot, we (the viewers) wanted the series to get down to the more conventional sci-fi stuff. Instead, we had meandering around three or four groups of characters: the teenagers; Daniel Graystone and his wife Amanda (Paula Malcomson, from 'Deadwood' and 'Sons of Anarchy'), who are the WASP characters; the Monotheists, who adhere to a kind of jumbled Catholicism, Mormonism, and Islam; the Tauronians, who are a kind of Mexican-Hispanic tribe, with Sicilian and Italian values. None of these are opposing forces, in the way that the Cylons and humans were in 'Battlestar'. That is, you don't find one group lined up one side, and another group on the other, like two competing football teams. And that is one of the requisites of good drama.

One of the other great themes of science fiction is race and immigration. So many classic science-fiction stories are about an evil, predatory race of aliens who attempt to conquer, and colonise, the planet Earth - either through military means or, more often than not, through stealth (that is, by becoming immigrants who come in peace and whose presence, on Earth, will lead to splendid benefits - economic, social, political - to Earthmen). The remade sci-fi series, 'V', is one of many examples of this type of show.

In sci-fi, the theme of race is never far away. This is true in 'Caprica', and perhaps one of the reasons why it is so disappointing is the number of non-white actors. 'Battlestar' did have some non-whites (one of the main ones was a token Asian, the whiney Grace Park), but the focus was on whites - even Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) was a white Mexican (they do exist). The lead actresses were Nordic types: Tricia Helfer, Lucy Lawless, Katee Sackhoff, Mary McDonnell, Nicky Klyne... Out of the the twelve Cylon-humanoid types, only three are non-white. In contrast, in 'Caprica', Joseph Adama is played by a Hispanic, his brother Sam by a very dark and swarthy Sephardi Jew from Israel, Adama's son by an Arab, and there are Indians, Blacks and Asians galore.

The strange thing is that each of the twelve colonies represent planets, like Earth, with different racial groups. Adama and his family come from Tauron, and the Tauronians are discriminated against by the wealthier and more powerful planets in the colonies (this isn't racism, but planetism). They are called 'dirt-eaters', a perjorative term, like 'wetback'. Adama is affiliated with a kind of Tauronian mafia, who seem to be primarily Mexican in their racial make-up, and the Tauronian language is a kind of Portugese-Italian-Spanish. The Tauronian mafia types (including Adama's annoying brother) behave more or less like every stereotype in every crime film there is; the brother is the dumb macho wog type, a cliché straight out of Coppola, Scorsese and 'The Sopranos' TV series. The implication is that the Tauronians - at least the ones involved in crime - are Mexicans; but, at the same time, they are a lot like American-Italians. (Does this mean that the producers want viewers to regard Mexican and Hispanic immigrants to the US as being more or less the same as American-Italians?). This was a mistake, I feel, on the part of the writers, and the inclusion of bizarre, retro-style clothing (often characters wear fedoras) was a mistake too.

(Interestingly, in a few sequences, we see flashbacks to the planet Tauron, during a time of civil war between revolutionary guerrillas and the army. Obviously, these sequences are meant to invoke the brutal wars in Central America in the 1980s - in Guatemala and El Salvador. This only reinforces the perception that Tauronians are Hispanic, even though a few prominent Tauronians are played by white, Nordic actors).

Also annoying were the teenagers in the show - especially the ones in New Cap City, another big mistake. Too much of the show relies on CGI, which is one of the banes of modern film-making: CGI is everywhere in 'Caprica', even in the credits, and makes everything (especially the virtual reality world of New Cap City) look horribly fake. Towards the end, the Cylons are all badly-done CGI, which makes them look unreal. Whereas 'Battlestar' really strove to be as realistic as possible: the clock on the command deck of the Battlestar had an old piece of sticking tape stuck to it, all the phones had cords, computers were left over models from the 1990s. (The approach, which I call science fiction realism, was taken from 'Blade Runner', 'Alien' and the Terminator films). Live action and models were used, as much as possible. The theme of virtual reality looms large in 'Battlestar': the Cylons have the ability to project themselves into virtual-reality dream worlds, for instance. But these sequences are, obviously, filmed in real places. In 'Caprica', however, it's all CGI.

Realism is important, especially in sci-fi. Part of the reason why 'Battlestar' was such an artistic success was that it mirrored modern Earth reality, and particularly modern-day Canada, as much as possible. It was the opposite of a 'Star Trek' or 'Star Wars', and really did convince you, almost, that this is what Earth, in the future (maybe a hundred years from now?) would look like. The characters behaved, and lived, just like modern-day Canadians or Americans. In 'Caprica', though, the producers went a little crazy: 'Let's show a world where all drugs are legalised! And so is polygamous marriage! And gay marriage!', etc., etc. On top of that, there are the environments: the planet Geminon, which is ruled by a kind of Catholic nun-Mother Superior (in outer space) looks like something out of a fantasy novel - more in keeping with the George R. Martin 'Game of Thrones' series more than anything else - and New Cap City is just woeful. Everyone there dresses in a horrible goth/retro 1920s gangster style. It's a combination of clichés from 'Dark City', 'The Crow' and other films of that genre.

Good TV drama tries to recreate a distinctive milieu as closely as possible: 'Rome' and 'Deadwood' were revisionist sword-and-sandal, and Western, shows respectively, which aimed to portray ancient Rome, and Dakota in the 1870s'; 'Mad Men', Manhattan in the early 1960s. TV shows are all lies, of course, but is the verisimilitude which gives a show the ring of authenticity. The producers of 'Caprica' should have stuck to modern-day Canada, and they should have stayed well away from CGI (but then, many filmmakers are making the same mistake).

In general, though, the faults were ones of structure, in the story itself, but in the characterisation. 'Battlestar' had a very large ensemble (mostly white) cast - six female characters, six males - and the really successful, long-running American soap shows also have a large (mostly white) cast, with an equal ratio of males and females. With such a large number of characters, there is bound to be someone that a viewer - male or female - can latch onto, like and sympathise with. But the cast of 'Caprica' wasn't big enough. It was this, and the lack of a strong plot, which brought it down. In soaps, of course, the plot meanders all over the place: characters cheat on one another, or get married (only to cheat again soon after), and hatch schemes for destroying each other; occasionally there will be a murder or a kidnapping to liven things up. 'Caprica' could have been a sci-fi soap (and one producer compared it to 'Dallas'), and possibly the first in a new genre. But the dictates of the 'Battlestar' backstory meant that 'Caprica' would have only succeeded, artistically and commercially, if it stuck to the old science-fiction formula of Čapek's play.

All of this explains, I think, why 'Caprica' never caught on, and was cancelled after two seasons.

Despite all this, I have high hopes for the next 'Battlestar Galactica' prequel, 'Blood and Chrome' (scheduled to be shown in 2011): maybe this will have a little more Cylon and human conflict, space battles, things blowing up, etc., and should be more meat-and-potatoes science-fiction (for those of us who like these things). But 'Caprica' is only to be recommended for hardcore fans of 'Battlestar'.