domenica 20 luglio 2014

Can Europe learn from Athenian democracy?


eutopiamagazine.eu
The years 1992 and 1993 saw a rash of exhibitions and conferences under the slogan ‘2,500 years of democracy’. These commemorated the reforms carried out by Cleisthenes in Athens in 508/507 BCE, which laid the foundations for the development of Athenian democracy, according to the modern academic consensus.

From the middle of the fifth to the end of the fourth century BCE, this order was distinguished by the fact that all important decisions were made in the public assemblies and courts accessible to all citizens, and that the council and the officeholders were chosen by drawing lots and the citizens were paid a daily fee for taking on these functions.

The anniversary does not commemorate the continuity of these institutions, yet it does represent a debate that has bridged the years, about the possibility or desirability of rule by the people, a debate which has repeatedly made reference to the Athenian model. Up to the dawn of the modern age, however, the idea was almost universally dismissed as irreconcilable with the natural inequality between individuals.