By Bruce S. Thornton
By way of democracy we frequently suggest a central authority comprising well known rule, person human rights and freedom, and a free-market economic system. but the issues in conventional Athenian democracy can teach us at the weaknesses of that first section of sleek democracies shared with Athens: rule by way of all voters both. In Democracy’s risks & Discontents, Bruce Thornton discusses these criticisms first aired by way of old critics of Athenian democracy, then lines the ancient technique during which the Republic of the founders has advanced into whatever just like old democracy, and eventually argues for the relevance of these evaluations to modern U.S. coverage. He asserts that a number of the difficulties we are facing this day are the implications of the expanding democratization of our executive and that the failings of democracy are not going to be corrected. He argues that those risks and discontents do not need to finish in gentle despotism—that American democracy’s flair and power might be recovered via restoring the restricted executive of the founders.
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Additional resources for Democracy's Dangers & Discontents: The Tyranny of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama
52 In Aristophanes’s Women at Assembly, the Chorus contrasts the corrupt present with the good old days when “none would have dared to let himself be paid for the trouble he spent over public business. . ”53 These criticisms reflected the elitist prejudice that the common people always are motivated by personal gain rather than principled duty. By the early fourth century, an Athenian citizen had other opportunities for earning state pay. In addition to jury ser vice, citizens received compensation for attendance at the Assembly and serving in most offices.
But the antidemocratic tradition made pay for public ser vice one of the flaws 51. AP 27, trans. Kenyon. 52. Gorgias 515d, trans. Jowett. 53. Women at Assembly 304– 6, 308–10. Trans. In The Complete Greek Drama (New York, 1938). 54. Politics 1313b, quote 1293a, trans. Jowett. 55. Politics 1320a, trans. Jowett. 32 Democracy’s Dangers and Discontents in the system that corrupted the relationship of citizen to state by weakening civic virtue and duty. 56 Additionally, the great wealth Athens had extracted for nearly a century from the silver mines at Laurium declined considerably.
49. 149, trans. A. T. Murray, in Kagan, 84; AP 56, trans. Kenyon. 30 Democracy’s Dangers and Discontents The radical democracy found indirect mechanisms for providing the masses with funds in addition to transferring wealth from the rich through various forms of taxation. The Athenian Empire itself, as Loren Samons writes, “encouraged not only the radicalization of the democracy though public payments but also the continuation of imperial policies,” since the tribute collected from the empire’s subject states provided funds for distribution to citizens through building programs, public shows and religious processions, allotments of conquered land given to Athenian colonists, and pay to row in the fleet on the regular missions that enforced Athens’s control of its subjects.
Democracy's Dangers & Discontents: The Tyranny of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama by Bruce S. Thornton