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Politics   Without         Politicians





7.    Democracy

Democracy was invented in the ancient city of Athens by Cleisthenes about 2,500 years ago.
 In Greek, ‘Demos’ means ‘the people of the community’; ‘Kratos’ means ‘power’ or ‘authority to decide’. ‘Demos-kratia’ (Demokratia) means ‘a community run by all its members’.
 Nowadays we would call this a “Direct Democracy” as citizens themselves - not their representatives - decide all policies.  In Athenian Demos-kratia all free adult men (but not women or slaves) decided all the laws and policies of their society. It was not ‘rule by referendum’ asking citizens to vote on questions set by others.  
Every citizen could propose every law and policy, amend or debate it, and vote on it.

Denying women and slaves to propose and vote on policy is a major fault, but in most ancient societies also free men could not decide policy or law. Only kings or elders made all laws and policies. Athenian demos-kratia was unique by enabling all free men to vote.

Today we still admire Egypt’s pyramids, but they are not something we can use. Yet Athenian democracy is something we can use today. ‘Democracy’ is still very much in demand, though its content and form have been perverted beyond recognition.

Athenian democracy produced the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It invented Theatre, Drama, Persona, Tragedy, Comedy, the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and the method of proof by logical argument. We still use them today. They were created in Athens, not in Sparta which was nearby but was run by two kings and a council of elders. Philosophy, Theatre, Tragedy, Persona, grew from the public debates on policy which took place before voting, in a square known as the ‘Agora’. Every citizen could express his views in the Agora. On controversial issues there was even a duty (called ‘Parhesia’) to express views publicly - silence was punished by law.
All citizens debated and voted directly on all laws and policies of Athens..

In Athenian democracy there were no elections. Citizens appointed people to carry out policies. Such appointments were made by lottery, not by election. Posts were granted for one year only. No one could serve two consecutive years. Each year new lotteries appointed new people and the outgoing ones had to account for their deeds and were punished for failures. Appointing officials by lottery prevented the formation of an elite and eliminated competition and corruption.

This is utterly different from what we call ‘Democracy’ today. Nowadays ‘Democracy’ means electing a few politicians to decide for all citizens.  This contradicts the meaning and spirit of original democracy where all citizens decided all policies, without representatives. Genuine Democracy is Politics without Politicians.   
This is the authentic, original, meaning of  Athenian Demos-kratia.



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