It's been rather a good day on the Beeb today:
BBC4's Alchemists of Sound continued the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's posthumous campaign of tribute to Delia Derbyshire for her work on the Doctor Who theme (seems reminiscent of, though more civilised than, the Monte Norman/John Barry debate over Bond)
We've also had the last part of Radio 4's The Generalisimo, a series which seemed reluctant to condemn Franco's dictatorship of Spain. It's true, the series did describe some atrocities carried out by the regime; but also implied that he had genuine popular support and consent, and hinted that Juan Carlos reneged on a deal by the reintroduction of democracy (though one wonders whether the Spaniards would make the effort to be really totalitarian: the signs in the Barcelona metro counting down the arrival of the next train in seconds just made me smirk on my visit a few months ago).
I've no doubt that I take democracy for granted, but from time to time I do wonder just how different life would be in some quasi-totalitarian regime. The difference is, in a democracy, you have the ability to change the rules (or at least, the delusion that you can); but if you are happy enough with the rules as they stand, maybe you don't see a problem with dictatorship. I don't see any need for Gorbachev to write personal or corporate-state propaganda, post-USSR; but his memoirs never seem to describe great discontent with the system, though there is not much about the Stalin era; it just sounds like n-tier local government, and all the intrinsic efficiency and local politicking that goes with it.
Of course, when Franco saw the writing on the wall for Fascism in Europe, he allied himself strongly with the US against the communists in the Cold War. Hmm, what goes around comes around: "...your nation and mine in the past have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability..." (G. W. Bush, November 2003). Did I mention conspiracy theories?