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Governments and Desire for Power

June 25, 1989

The June 11 collection of front page Opinion articles dramatically reveals the darker side of governments around the world: the desire for power and the efforts they will make to retain power.

The latest example is China, where our illusions have been totally shattered, where we thought that democracy and reforms were the new political system.

In the United States the dynamics are similar and are obviously not limited to political institutions. The revelations of corruption and environmental degradation start at the top (Rocky Flats, Iran-Contra) and extend to Exxon and others.

The desire for power, control and stability are obviously intrinsic to all people and institutions worldwide, regardless of the nominal form of government. Those decrying socialism or autocratic governments have no cause for rejoicing. Our skirts are no cleaner than anyone else's.

The only solution (and one we are fortunate enough to have) is a system where citizens are an intrinsic part of the political and economic process. The problem with paternalistic governments, whether they be socialistic, authoritarian or nominally democratic, is that the average citizen is outside of the political process.

When citizen involvement is absent, power becomes concentrated and trouble is sure to follow.

The reality seems to be that for political freedom to persist, it is necessary that unceasing citizen effort be expanded. We need to vote, participate in the political process and most importantly, base our decisions and activities on principles that will guarantee political freedom, individual rights and environmental integrity. This is very hard work, but we have now a world where this kind of work is not being done. The negative results are obvious.

NICHOLAS R. RAY

Encino

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