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Changes In Democracy: From Early Athenian To Present Day Politics

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Democracy: From Early Athenian To Present Day Politics.
When following current events we can’t help but witness politicians use terms such as “defending freedom”, “liberty”, or “democracy”, but one is simply left wondering if the general public, or even the politicians themselves, know what those terms really mean or where they come from. The reality is that most don’t. The ideals of living in a democracy have been drastically changed from their original meanings and diluted into persuasive political language to become mere rhetoric as opposed to meaningful concepts of ethical and moral value.
The word democracy is thrown around to make convincing, patriotic speeches that many times are utilized to usurp the rights and property of peoples in the name of this most sacred of political concepts in the history of western civilization. In order to better understand the true meaning of this idea we must go back to its roots and search for the original intentions behind it. We must find the similarities and differences between Greek democracy and modern day democracy. By separating the two we can see how distant they are from each other. Without a clear understanding of the history involved we are easily blinded by the eloquence and charisma that politicians utilize to control the populace.
Democracy dates back to the Golden Age of Greece or the Classic Period. Not yet an organized, centralized nation Greece was made up of warring city-states none of which possessed full control over its neighbors. During this period and under these circumstances there was a tremendous advancement in Greek thought encompassing philosophy, politics, medicine, mathematics, and the sciences to name just a few areas of influence that still maintain a strong Greek legacy today.
Of all the Greek city-states it was Athens that gave birth to many of the political philosophies that still survive today. At around 600 B.C.E Athens was in severe economic, social, and political crisis. It was then that a rich aristocrat named Solon emerged to produce for Athens its first comprehensive set of political rules and regulations, overhauling the constitution, reining in the plutocrats, and giving decent measure of power and responsibility to the moderately well-off non-aristocrats. He also provided some legal...

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...of a city (Minogue, p.11).
Unfortunately we have not kept the best of these ideas. In modern day politics rationality is no longer paramount. It is the reason we see the influence of politicians full of arrogance, believing in the superiority of their own authority trying to amass power through the use of the ancient Greek political concepts. Modern day politicians, mostly American, attempt to use emotion, not reason when addressing the American people. It is with great sadness that as we have witnessed with the last election this notion succeeded and now under the banner of “values” and fear will exploit the ignorance of the general public.

Cartledge, Paul. The Greeks: Crucible of Civilizations. New York: TV Books, 2000

Freeman, Charles. The Greek Achievement: The Foundation of The Western World. New York: Viking Penguin, 1999

Martin, Thomas, R. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric To Hellenistic Times. London: Yale University Press, 1996

Minogue, Kenneth. Politics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995

Pomeroy, Sarah, et al. Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999
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