The hypocrisies of our democracies

Letters
Augusto Pinochet with his wife Licia Hiriat and Margaret Thatcher. Photograph: Ian Jones/AP

American democracy was hijacked long ago by money and powerful interests, turning it into what amounts to a system of legalised corruption (Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia’s plot to hijack US democracy, 17 February). Lobbying, super-PACs, and myriad forms of campaign contributions are at the core of this. By comparison, the so-called Russian meddling in the 2016 elections seems like child’s play – amateurish at best, and perhaps a way to divert attention from the real problems of a corrupt system of governance whose patrons and beneficiaries want the rest of the world to think it is democratic.
Luis Suarez-Villa
Professor emeritus, University of California, Irvine

• Matthew d’Ancona (Corbyn’s Czech contact, 19 February), rightly telling us to pay due attention to history, denounces the “myth of moral equivalence” (between the US and USSR) and asserts that “the west was always preferable to the totalitarian alternative”. Perhaps his view is narrowly Anglocentric; but if he emulated Ernest Bevin’s more broad-minded approach (“what we stand for in the world”), he might recall that, as a global actor, the US often cast a longer and darker shadow than the USSR (Guatemala, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc). That’s not to deny the Gulag, but to suggest that – viewed globally – the US was not invariably “preferable” to the Soviet Union; it was sometimes just as bad, if not worse.
Alan Knight
Professor emeritus of history, Oxford University

• Matthew d’Ancona’s piece is as eloquent as ever, and makes me look forward to his companion piece on the lessons to be learned from Margaret Thatcher’s teatime chats with Augusto Pinochet and how she defended him and his regime in the House of Lords. The reading is, of course, Luke, 6. 42. Year Zero indeed.
Daniel McCormick
Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire

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