Greece is the way we are feeling

At least, if we fancy ourselves small-d democrats on the Athenian model. Severian would like to remind you that it wasn’t all that democratic:

Whatever Cleisthenes and the gang actually practiced, it wasn’t based on a social contract as we’d understand it. As you probably remember from your high school Social Studies class, the Greeks were world-class chauvinists. Aristotle famously ranked women just below slaves on the rationality scale, and the word “barbarian” simply meant “not-Greek.” You probably couldn’t play a pickup softball game with the total number of Athenian “voters.” But it didn’t matter, because Athens was so small that Demosthenes himself could come over to your house and personally demagogue you. Socrates, too, for that matter (he fought at Potidaea). Athens’s organizing myth, then, was “democracy” in the football hooligan sense — you voluntarily joined up, but mostly just to have a row with the wankers. Needless to say, this doesn’t work in anyplace bigger than a Greek polis. (The early Roman Republic worked the same way, and yes, I’m aware that I just called Romulus and Remus the original soccer yobs).

Do they even teach Social Studies anymore? The last Civics class I remember hearing about was apparently abandoned about the time the Republicans came up with something they teasingly called the Contract with America; however contractual it might have been, it was seriously lacking in enforcement mechanisms.

1 comment

  1. In The Mailbox: 06.15.18 : The Other McCain »

    15 June 2018 · 9:25 pm

    […] Dustbury: Greece Is The Way We Are Feeling […]

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