The dialogue of weapons

on . Posted in English texts

Euclidean geometry is one of the biggest intellectual constructions in the history of humanity. It is founded on five self-evident principles. Democracy builds on them a fine construction, which is both beautiful and extremely useful. Those simple principles are first of all incontestable. They are applicable and they lead to the production of theorems, which need to be discussed and then tested.

Some believe that democracy is a system without principles founded simply in the claim of an endless dialogue about everything. This is wrong.  Dialogue is above everything else a method to reach democracy, not a democratic principle. Democracy is basically founded on thirty axioms, namely the thirty articles of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". These axioms are self-evident and out of discussion. Notably, the third article which refers to the right to life, freedom and security. Embarking from those principles we can, through dialogue, deliver solutions in difficulties that arise within societies.

Politics is about the institutionalized dialogue that takes place in a society. It is therefore, a democratic method too. Someone may in fact doubt about democracy’s methods but not about its principles. If, for instance, we consider terrorism as a political action then we confuse methods with principles at the detriment of the latter. Terrorism is a crime. Full stop. Dialogue and blood cannot be accepted in a democracy.

Of course, some may argue that terrorists are motivated by ideology. This is also the case of crimes committed in the name of pride. However, we do not enter into a discussion with the criminal about whether tradition is something good or whether it is acceptable in its name to kill our wife’s lover. We can certainly make a general discussion about traditional ideas and crime as well as about political violence. This discussion takes place in the papers, at the university or in seminars; not at the courts where actions and not ideologies are supposed to be judged and condemned. Someone could also argue that terrorist actions have political consequences. Absolutely. Greece’s history would probably have been different if terrorists had not assassinated Pavlos Bakogiannis. However, on the other hand, even the shipwreck of Samaina has political consequences but does this make it a political crime?

Some may consider the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration of human rights not as self-evident truths but as theorems under discussion. They might also build fine intellectual constructions founded on some other principles. They may believe that the "construction of socialism" is one of the principles too or that the right to life or freedom can be discussed. This is acceptable as long as it remains on an intellectual basis. After all, Euclidean geometry is not the only geometry. There are many others, equally wonderful works of human thought. But imagine that you have started building a house and that suddenly the mechanical engineer tells you that he is planning to design the building based on Riemann geometry instead of the Euclidean. In this case you had better find another mechanical engineer for the job. Otherwise, the house will collapse no matter the number of supporters that Riemann geometry has.

Published in "Apogevmatini" newspaper 14.9.2002