"The role of the United Nations in the 21st century: Reforms in goals, structure and functions".



I must admit that I was rather reluctant to accept speaking in such an important event, and before such eminent personalities, since, contrary to what is customary in similar cases, I shan’t be able to speak any words of optimism, nor express positive thoughts and proposals. And this because I am deeply pessimistic about the future. I no longer believe. But since I imagine that this could be useful to you, I have decided to add an out-of-tone note to this unanimous and grandiose “symphony” that I am certain will mark all the speeches that will be delivered.

                Carried by the general flow, I too believed, until yesterday, that the root causes of Violence and War lie with financial interests, religious or ethnic fanaticism and other similar phenomena.

                I am now certain, that in the end, the above are nothing but pretexts, and that the root cause of this quench for conquest and blood is within man himself; with one supplementary note: that as man becomes more civilised, his savagery increases. Meaning that so-called civilisation is nothing but a mere robe used to cover and hide our true selves which throughout the centuries, remain equally savage and monstrous.

                In order to make myself clearer, join me in comparing the savagery of the savages of the past, to that of yesterdays and today’s supposedly civilised people. Is there, I wonder, throughout the history of man, any savagery that could exceed the atrocities of Nazism? Still, at the time, Germany was considered as one of the most civilised nations. With a high level of education, culture, an organised society, thousands of scientists, artists, intellectuals, it was a model of developed human society. Yet, from one day to the next, we saw these millions of civilised people; surpass in violence and savagery all the savages of all times, from the Neanderthal, Attila the Hun, the Crusaders, the Conquistadores up to the saints of the Spanish Inquisition.

                The explanation-excuse was that they were victimised by a paranoid. However, even this paranoid bragged that every morning he filed his nails, that he was a vegetarian and that he adored Wagner. He would never miss a Bayreuth festival, during which he was a guest at Wagner’s house. But weren’t his fellow-countrymen ardent classical music lovers as well, to such a point that in concentration camps they would set up small symphonic orchestras by prisoners, in order to accompany the condemned to their execution sites, such as the gallows, beheading by axe and – the most usual – the gas chambers.

                And let’s not delude ourselves that this was only the work of the SS and Gestapo. I have experienced the horror of that period, and know the Gestapo basements, with all the torture instruments arranged with German accuracy, and I can say with sadness -because I wouldn’t want to upset the contemporary Germans whom I sincerely respect- that all this required the participation of many millions of former civilised and now savage people, drawing pleasure from the pain of others, and more blood-thirsty than wild jungle animals.

                Yet today, I am convinced that they are not to blame. Or rather, they are to blame, as we all are, for being born humans, and as humans, they have inherited this schizophrenia that we all seem to suffer of; namely on the one hand, our character guides us to the summit of the intellect and the pursuit for Freedom, Democracy and Peace, and on the other hand, this very same character converts us from one moment to the next into savage beasts.

                Of course we have also seen the civilised Germany phenomenon, in the case of other civilised countries, such as Ancient Athens, Rome, England, Spain, France, and so many others, where –to speak of my country- Athenians, built the Parthenon and at the same time slaughtered like wild beasts all the male inhabitants of the island of Milos, just to set an example.

                Let us now come back to today. And I am asking you: Is there any other people with a higher standard of living than the US, with millions of scientists, intellectuals, technocrats, industrialists, bankers, etc., all together making up a model society of growth and civilisation? In a nutshell, a people that has everything, and at the same time has so much power and wealth, that just one decision would suffice to turn humanity into heaven, or hell? I wonder what it would cost to America to literally flood starving Africa with goods, followed by the suffering peoples in Latin America and Asia? And first and foremost, the children dying like flies of hunger and disease? I am not referring to charity, which could also be an option, but to business, capital investments, and economic utilisation of resources, in the good sense. I am referring to an absolutely reasonable and beneficial choice. To an industry and trade of Peace, certain to generate major profit, and at the same time spread happiness to the peoples.

                The same, of course, goes for Europe’s rich countries, especially the ones that base a large part of their economic growth and prosperity on the arms industry.

                They tell us that profit from selling arms is much more direct and substantial. I accept that. But have all these States-Arms dealers considered the option of converting the industry of War into an industry of Peace? Profit may not be so direct and substantial, but can they not consider the fact that this way they can save hundreds of millions of our fellow people from underdevelopment, hunger and death?

                And why is it, I wonder, that today’s rich and civilised people, led by the US, have not gone to the trouble of even contemplating the possibility of an industry and a trade for Peace? Is it merely a bottom line question, or is it something deeper? Could it possibly be that having a war industry, apart form economic profit, also means that one is in a position to generate violence, and maintain colossal forces of war and destruction, thus belonging to the club of the carnivorous, the powerful and the savages? Namely being closer to the wild instincts, those that, as it seems, offer greater pleasure to those who can have them, than intellectual radiance and our human aspect that considers man as the creator of life rather than a tool of death?

                When humanity held its breath watching live the biblical shelling of Baghdad by the US air force, defence secretary Rumsfeld, as a contemporary Nero, exclaimed in happiness: “There’s a wonderful sight!”. And I, as an insignificant speck in the sand of insignificant people, publicly characterised Mr Bush as the new Hitler. To be sure, the comparison was ill-conceived, in the sense that President Bush merely symbolises the top of a monstrous industry of death which in just two years turned a country into piles of rubble.

                Here we are then, sixty years after Demon Hitler who, in just four years had the pleasure of eliminating 80 million people, thirty of them in an excruciating manner, humanity is again faced with a new Demon of War, spreading death and offering to millions of his fellow countrymen in uniform, the primitive pleasure, and helping them bring out the brutal side of their characters. All those who draw beastly pleasure from seeing entire cities brought to ruins and imagining women and children suffering a horrible death in flames and rubble. Or watching footage of torturers of naked people being dragged with leashes like dogs by civilised young women who, as I’ve been told, were even University Professors.

                Once again, a civilised country and a civilised people, are converted into savages drawing pleasure from the pain and suffering of others, thirsty for blood and pleased with their brutality. And don’t tell me that they too are victims of propaganda. They are just humans, like you and I, who were given the opportunity to bring out their eternal, as it seems, self, that still remains the wildest beast of all that the good God has created in nature.

                This very thing that I have just ascertained could possibly be a hope for the future of man. Namely, avoiding giving man such opportunities for the wild instincts to prevail over Good.

                Studies of history have shown that super-concentration of power is the root cause of Evil. And I’d say that it is natural to witness today such phenomena of violence, given the huge destruction power that the US have accumulated. Thus, I’d say that they are captive of their own power.

                We need to comprehend and cry out, that every State that has war industries and great military power, is a potential candidate for crimes against humanity, as was the case in the past, and as is the case today, irrespective of any excuses that they may invoke to support hideous acts.

                What is probably the most criminal of all is the fact that by advertising this beastly power domestically, they contribute into turning simple people into human beasts, since, as we’ve seen, human schizophrenia separates Good form Evil inside us with just a very fine line. Indeed, it is astonishing to see how quickly man turns into a beast if the conditions he lives in change.

                Therefore, it is useless and unrealistic to discuss world Peace and equal rights among peoples, when there are Nations that still massively produce means of destruction.

                This fact in relation to the true character of man and his main attribute, namely the genetic character of schizophrenia that separates him from all other animals on earth, contributes to the systematic cultivation, within countries that have military supremacy, of the feelings of superiority and arrogance, that can quickly develop into a group thirst for violence and blood.

                And today, as in the past, this risk stems exclusively from the so-called civilised countries, under the only superpower that leads by example.

                In conclusion, I would like to say that the meaning of Civilisation has long changed. Especially after the Nazis and the countless wars that have followed since, always conducted by the so-called "civilised" against the "under-developed", the poor and the "uncivilised", it is quite obvious now that the true, human civilisation should only be measured to the standards of Peace, Tolerance and Solidarity, within every society and every people. There, where nobility, kindness and, most of all, love amongst people can flourish.

                I know that I am referring to a Utopia from which we constantly distance ourselves. On the contrary, I see the forces of Evil, which in my opinion lie on the opposite camp than the ones that Mr Bush is specifying, namely his own camp and that of his allies, as they will become more and more thirsty for greater destruction, more pain and blood, and will at some point be inevitably guided to use the absolute destruction and absolute pain, the Atomic Bomb.

                This is, in my opinion, what the Man-Beast that we all have inside us, is seeking, since Evil knows no higher pleasure than its self-destruction.

                Already, in the so-called “Western civilisation”, a sub-culture tsunami has started to develop and is daily acquiring gigantic dimensions, methodically turning man into beast.

                If you fail to strike Evil at its roots, if you do not convert the industries of War into industries of Peace, if all aggressive armies are not abolished, then the case for the other aspect of man, the humane, truly civilised aspect, the one quenching for Love and Peace, will be lost for ever.

                Today, the words “Freedom”, “Democracy”, “Human Rights”, “Solidarity” have long lost their meaning. Today, the co-existence of sheep-Peoples with the beast-States under the same roof as in the case of the UN, has turned into a tragic farce for the weak on this earth. Before this impasse, I see but two ways out: to either go to the deep roots of Evil and strike with the willingness and cooperation of the strong, or the weak will have to seek and find other ways of defending themselves, standing exclusively on their own feet, and basically supported by the hundreds of millions of weak and potentially future victims, that, if the stand together, have a chance of resisting and being victorious.


Delphi, 1.7.2006


Mikis Theodorakis