‘The cure is in society’

In your editorial «The beast of politics» (May 10), you cited several historical precedents to world political events. You made passing reference to «Homer’s heroes» and «communist regimes» and «the Greek military dictatorship» and «the Roman Empire,» without any reference to the reasons for their demise. You spent a large part of your effort describing the negative roles of business, back-room deals, concealed power, graft, and corruption in modern Greek politics. You concluded that: «We cannot say whether this is good or bad. It just is what it is» and that «the tangle of business and politics appears unavoidable.» «Which brings us to the greatest nation and most vibrant democracy of our era – the United States of America,» you said. You then went on to compare President Bush to Julius Caesar and to state, rather emphatically, that «the United States has embarked on an imperial adventure in Iraq.» You concluded your comparison by saying that «either America will shift away from democracy… or the people will shift away from Bush.» What finally got my goat was your casual reference to the current state of Greek politics as being «similar, but pettier.» Similar – yes, but pettier – no! Cultures and political systems collapse from within. The survival of Greek culture is hard evidence that no external influence or internal aberration can destroy the foundations of a great culture. Ennui and shortsightedness (statements like: «It just is what it is») are the real danger, sir! Editors of great newspapers should not be encouraging their readers to accept less than stellar behavior from their elected leaders, and they should not attempt to minimize the dangers to society at large by referring to the deceit, corruption, and ineptitude you describe in your editorial as «petty!» World cultures, throughout history, have recorded the wisdom of their greatest leaders in order to preserve and propagate their greatest cultural values. Is the wisdom of a select group of leaders enough to ensure the survival of great cultural values? Every generation must answer that question and further decide whether the opportunity to freely experience those cultural values depends only on the birth of especially endowed leaders, or whether it depends on the collective wisdom of an educated culture that recognizes and nurtures the most insightful among them to become leaders. The cure for the ills you describe in your editorial, sir, is an educated and participating society. Editors like you, of all people, should be reinforcing that! RONALD N. CURRY,Athens.

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