As a youngster I read Ignazio Silone's The Seeds Beneath the Snow, and was gripped by its message that even in times of tyranny and deprivation, when the political and social landscape seems barren, life lurks beneath the surface. Deep down, people have within themselves the capacity and the need to think and act independently, to resist the pressures to accept and conform, to create their own future together because they have found they could rely on each other.