Happy Second Birthday MyByzantine! … and Leadership in a Crisis

It was two years ago today that I made the first post on this blog. In that time we have had around 60,000 visits and  250 comments. From the emails I receive I know that many of you enjoy coming to the site and using the resources that are here. Recently I have not had as much time to keep things as up to date as I would have liked, but I have every best intention of improving the flow of postings over the course of our third year. May I say a hearty thank you to all of you who visit the blog.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the very first post from 28 March 2009. I was obviously in a fairly angry mood with our world leaders, and the post displays some of my disaffection with the handling of the financial crisis and my prejudices. However, upon reflection I don’t think it was a bad post and in many respects I think it still has relevance. Tell me what you think …..

Byzantium and Leadership in a Crisis

As I write we are on the eve of the G20 summit. Some time ago I finished reading John Julius Norwich’s excellent three volume history of Byzantium. It includes many quotes which may have some relevance for today, but one in particular struck me so here is my first blog …

As the world collectively awaits the protests, blaring sirens and statements of unanimity from the G20 summit, the outlook is hardly inspiring. In Britain we are led by a man who is on a self-appointed mission to save the world and his own reputation, whilst the Germans squabble amongst themselves,  and the French President does what the French always do best; say one thing (to the EU) and do another (to Slovak car workers). The twinkle of ‘Hope’ seems to have left the eyes of the weary President Obama, who is babysitting his Treasury Secretary, as he approaches his first one hundred days having achieved little.

We the people have to suffer during this crisis whist our political leaders are cushioned with their public sector salaries, ingenious allowances, and their gilt-edged pensions. Where are the leaders who will take us out of this depression? This crisis began over two years ago, yet still we lack firm plans and leadership. This dearth of quality at the top brings to mind the words of the Grand Domestic of the Court in Byzantium (and later Emperor), John Cantacuzenus in his letter to the Empress, Anne of Savoy in the 1340’s:

“There is nothing more conducive to the destruction of a nation, whether it be republic or monarchy, than the lack of men of wisdom and intellect. When a republic has many citizens, or a monarchy many ministers, of high quality it quickly recovers from those losses that are brought about by misfortune. When such men are lacking, it falls into the very depths of disgrace. That is why I deplore the present state of the Empire which, having produced so many excellent men in the past, has now been reduced to such a level of sterility that today’s governors possess nothing to elevate them above those whom they govern.”

Who will step up to this task, and when?

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About proverbs6to10

Interested in Byzantium and Patrick Leigh Fermor
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