Athenian

A black and white drawing of the Parthenon, a temple from ancient greece with lots of columns and steps.

“One of the things that I think is important for us to recognize is that pretty much none of us live in a democracy. We live in a kind of complain-ocracy where if we whine loudly enough, then the bastards who are in charge of us can be replaced by different bastards… But that’s not really what democracy is like. And if you go back to the original democracy, if you go back to Athens, classical Athens had, obviously let’s get out of the way the fact that, yes, there was slavery in Athens, and yes, women were excluded. Athenian democracy isn’t something one wants to replicate, but it is something to learn from because Athenian democracy worked like this. There were no elections in Athenian democracy. Instead, 6,000 citizens were chosen at random at the beginning of every year to take charge of the city. And they would be split up into groups of 500, and those 500 courts of citizens would be the law for a whole year. And then at the end of the year, another 6,000 people would be chosen, again at random, and it was every citizen’s duty to take responsibility for themselves and for their fellow citizens. And people who didn’t want to do this were called “idiots.” I mean, one of the original ideas of Athenian democracy, or of democracy itself, is that it’s part of the obligation and the duty of every citizen, and the privilege of every citizen to be able to clean up after yourself. We all know about personal responsibility, or personal hygiene, and we’re encouraged to buy the right thing and shop in the right place and get around by the right kind of transportation, but as soon as we try to take political responsibility, people look at you like you’re slightly bonkers. But if we’re concerned about democracy then that’s exactly what democracy is about.”

– Raj Patel, How to value the the world


The Parthenon image was found on Arther’s Clipart, its origin is unknown.

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