Friday May 29, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Democracy 411 BC and today

By Nikos Konstandaras

There are moments when people’s faith in democracy is shaken. Just when everything was going well, when we felt sure of where we stood and were making plans, comes a crisis like a disease that falls upon all of us and changes everything. Relationships change. The way we see things is altered. We seek culprits. We seek security. We want to know where we are going and will follow those who claim to know. But our minds are clouded and we may make mistakes. Democracy is a living organism, it demands that all its parts help solve the problems that it faces. That is why what happens in Greece is important for Europe. That is why the first democracy serves as an invaluable guide.

Athenian democracy was based on the principle that the law is more important than those who administer it, and that all citizens are equal before it. There were, however, many instances in which citizens took terrible decisions – ranging from inhuman to self-destructive – under the influence of demagogues. Today we call the problem “populism.” Another threat came from groups of citizens who believed that they were more capable of governing than the Demos. These few – the oligarchs – wanted a return to a form of government that preceded democracy. In 411 BC, when a major Athenian military expedition against Sicily had ended in disaster, after 51 years of democracy, the Athenians, shaken and uncertain of their course, accepted an oligarchic regime without much fuss. They quickly repented and restored democracy in the following year. In 404, when they lost the war against Sparta, the Athenians were forced to accept an oligarchy again. One year later, democracy was restored. It lasted 80 years, until the Macedonian invasion. In those years, as the historian W.G. Forrest puts it, democracy provided “peaceful, moderate, efficient and popular government for the largest and most complex state in Greece.”

Today, we see a conflict where the widening inequality between rich and poor (people and states) is testing the limits of the democratic system. “Populists” want to punish the system that betrayed them by seeing it swept away. “Oligarchs” are ostensibly behind that system. With the crisis, the imposition of austerity (in order to save the system) has pushed many toward those promising easy solutions, such as a return to an idealized past. The populists’ influence, however, will most likely lead to reckless policies that can only result in further austerity, greater tension and instability. Then citizens will lose faith in themselves and may accept autocratic solutions.

History teaches us, however, that people who have tasted the benefits of democracy cannot accept another form of government for long. In this crisis, Greece is a scout in the search for a way that will lead to support for each troubled nation and support for Europe. Here, with Europe’s help, we must find a way out of the forest of austerity, populism and authoritarianism. Democracy is not a given. And without it there can be no Europe.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday February 6, 2014 (20:06)  
Only Greece can end its miserable ´Groundhog Day´
FIFA and fair play
Making the right decision
Greece´s Cuban pathway to a parallel currency
Greece creditors say no deal near as G-7 frustration vented
Greece’s creditors said a deal to unlock rescue aid isn’t imminent as they demanded the debt-ravaged nation make stronger commitments to overhaul its economy. The Greek government saw its op...
PM speaks to Merkel, Hollande as lenders increase pressure
With negotiations between Greece and its creditors at a critical phase, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday sought the assistance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Presiden...
Inside News
Next Greek aid program isn’t on table yet, says Moscovici
Talks on a possible third bailout for Greece can begin once its government bridges “substantial” differences with creditors over its current loan arrangement, European Union economics commis...
Hoteliers seek VAT solutions
The Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) is trying to help Greek hoteliers overcome the impasse they have come to with foreign tour operators regarding the signing of contracts...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Panathinaikos conquers PAOK through Tavlaridis goal
A Stathis Tavlaridis goal has brought Panathinaikos to practically within one point from clinching a spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers, as the Greens made it three out of thr...
SOCCER
AEK Athens returns to top league after financial collapse
Greek club AEK Athens has just returned to the country's top soccer league, two years after financial collapse sent it to a lower league. One of the country's largest clubs, AEK sealed its s...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Next Greek aid program isn’t on table yet, says Moscovici
2. Greece creditors say no deal near as G-7 frustration vented
3. Hoteliers seek VAT solutions
4. Chaos in the system for tax declarations
5. Lenders’ first-quarter data suffer from NPL expansion
6. Regional airport concession deal ‘to be sealed soon’
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece creditors say no deal near as G-7 frustration vented
2. Only Greece can end its miserable 'Groundhog Day'
3. Next Greek aid program isn’t on table yet, says Moscovici
4. Endless confusion and worry
5. G-7 weighs in on Greece as Tsipras government told to be serious
6. ECB's Nowotny says no to loosening funding for Greece now
Today
This Week
1. Hotel contracts with a ‘Greek default clause’
2. Some 300 mln left banks on Tuesday
3. Neither Grexit nor a dual currency will solve Greece’s problems
4. No more 'quick and dirty' fixes for Greece
5. Romantic notions meet reality
6. Tsipras faces down radicals within SYRIZA over terms of deal
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.