How democratic was Athens?

Back and forth on this subject on a Marxist blog.

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4 Responses

  1. Do we need a Referendum For A New Democracy?

    Are you concerned about the future of democracy? Do you feel democracy is under attack by extreme greed in countries around the world? Are you sick and tired of: living in fear, corporate greed, growing police state, government for the rich, working more but having less?

    Can we use both elections and random selection (in the way we select government officials) to rid democracy of undue influence by extreme wealth and wealth-dominated mass media campaigns?

    The world’s first democracy (Athenian democracy, 600 B.C.) used both elections and random selection. Even Aristotle (the cofounder of Western thought) promoted the use random selection as the best way to protect democracy. The idea of randomly selecting (after screening) juries remains from Athenian democracy, but not randomly selecting (after screening) government officials. Why is it used only for individual justice and not also for social justice? Who wins from that? …the extremely wealthy?

    What is the best way to combine elections and random selection to protect democracy in today’s world? Can we use elections as the way to screen candidates, and random selection as the way to do the final selection? Who wins from that? …the people?

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  2. Hi Mr. King,

    Thank you for visiting.

    I had a look at the http://www.globalpublic.org website. I saw the brief video clip describing your suggested reform. I think a discussion of that suggestion would be interesting. Also, I am wondering who is behind these ideas and what your plan for action is. If you would like to discuss these matters here or on your blog, please let me know.

    Best,
    Yoram

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  3. Hello Yoram,

    To answer your first question. I am the primary author of the ideas, although people from around the world have given feedback to perfect them. So I am not the sole author. By the way, if the ideas are good, it doesn’t really matter who the author is.

    To answer your second question, the plan of action is to inspire individuals to have greater public dialogue on the ideas and then to move on to the next step: Conduct referendums at local levels (in medium-to-major cities), and test out the new ideas — and document the results. It would make a great reality TV show to see what would happen if…

    Best regards,
    Mr King

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  4. My question regarding the source of the ideas was to find out whether they represent an active group or more of an individual effort.

    Regarding plan of action: I agree that creating public awareness of the idea of sortition must be the first item on the agenda. The question is what is the most effective way to do that.

    Currently, our activity is:

    1. Running this blog to serve as a forum for discussing and informing about sortition and related issues.
    2. Contacting people who have written something regarding sortition or Athenian democracy and trying to bring them together.
    3. Some kleroterians are publishing scholarly articles and books on sortition and distribution by lot.

    All this tends to reach people who are already aware of sortition and are interested in it, which is a very limited group of people. I would like to find ways to reach people who are not familiar with sortition but may be interested in it if they find out about it.

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