“Of all sad words of tongue or pen…”

john le carre

In The Secret Centre, a BBC video biography, John le Carré provides a sad, precise description of the past thirty years:

“I wanted, at the end of the Cold War, for something to tell us that the world could now be re-shaped. That endless stand-off, as it seemed to us, between the two great economic monoliths of the West and the Communist world was over. The excuses for exploiting the Third World, for imposing dreadful little dictatorships on them provided that they were anti-Communist – all those excuses had gone. Now something could be put together. A real act of global perestroika could occur.

“Nothing happened. We went into a kind of collective Western atrophy of isolation and self-indulgence. Our response was to make ourselves fatter and richer, and not to take on the world at large. And so I felt that a great moment in history had simply gone by default.”

The Secret Centre (2000) is included with the DVD release of the 1979 mini-series of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley.

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