The word democracy is held in awe these days. Mention it almost anywhere and you’ll get instant nods of approval.
People actually believe that democracy gives us harmony and peace, not to mention wealth. They are sure that it is the ultimate and inevitable end of human development, created by the wise and noble Greeks and given to us, the enlightened society that took it to the ends of the Earth!
But if the ancient Greeks could see what we call ‘democracy,’ they’d spit at it. They’d probably want to burn it down.
As many problems as they had (and they had plenty), they were not fools, and it wouldn’t take them a day to condemn what the West now worships.
Why would the old Greeks be so upset? Let’s take a look at their (Athenian) system and see how our modern form stacks up:
#1: Greek citizen assemblies met 40 times per year in an open, public forum. Any citizen could speak and any citizen could vote. A vote of those present was final.
Contrast that with what passes for (American) democracy now: Only special people are allowed to attend the assemblies. On top of that, there are far, far more meetings than anyone could hope to follow: General sessions, meetings for dozens of committees, party caucuses and more, running at all hours. No one person can come remotely close to keeping up with it all.
The citizen is clearly unable to participate or even to understand what’s going on. Just this fact would cause the old Greeks to pronounce our system a fraud, and rightly so. The citizens are non-participants.
#2: Laws were inscribed on stone pillars (stelae) and posted in prominent locations so that everyone would see them.
Greek laws were accessible to every Greek. Not only were they required to be posted, but this requirement also guaranteed that there couldn’t be too many of them.
If you were to take an ancient Greek to see “our laws,” they’d be looking at more than 80,000 pages of almost indecipherable language. (And those would be only the Federal laws.)
Because of this, the Greeks would be insulted when you assured them that we have “the rule of law.” They would say that when people can’t know the law, they are living in a tyranny, and no amount of fancy argumentation would convince them otherwise.
And, again, they would be right. If you are ignorant of the law (80,000 pages of government-speak) but are still subject to punishment under the law, you are living in a tyranny. The Greeks would have no confusion about that.
#3: A Council oversaw the daily affairs of the democracy. Each of ten tribes provided 50 men. But, only one tribe’s men (50 of them) served at any one time, and only for one month. (The Greeks had ten months in their year.) And once any person served as a Councilor, they were forbidden from serving again for ten years.
Under this arrangement, playing tricks became almost impossible: as soon as the first of the month came along, the next tribe could turn your tricks around and do worse to you.
Contrast this with senators and congressmen who stay in office for decades on end, selling all sorts of favors, amassing multi-million dollar campaign funds, and making themselves rich in the process. Most of them never really go away.
At this point, our philosophical forefathers would be looking for places to buy torches… and they would be ready to beat anyone who called a system that supports such shenanigans a democracy.
#4: Citizens chosen for positions like overseer of the marketplace were chosen completely at random.
Imagine choosing the boss of the IRS at random. We all know what would happen: You’d get a housewife from Portland one year and a plumber from Topeka the next. And they’d act like humans, rather than unfeeling automatons. The sanctimonious abuser state would crumble.
#5: At the beginning of their democracy, the citizens of Athens were divided into ten tribes (and NOT along regional or family lines). This was done specifically to break the power of the aristocratic families.
Have you paid attention to the DC crowd lately? Have you noticed that they slide back and forth between congress, commissions, agencies, lobbying firms, mega-corps and media? Have you noticed how often their children marry each other?
That’s the description of a privileged class, aka, an aristocracy. People who are emotionally bound to the system can’t see it, but the Greeks wouldn’t be fooled.
Losing Our Religion
Do you remember a haunting song from the ’90s called “Losing My Religion”? If so, cue that up in the back of your mind, because that’s what stands in front of the people of the West.
The majestic “Democracy” that was supposed to be our savior is actually a fraud. It’s time to let it go. That’s not easy, I know, but it needs to be done.