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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Is so-called “Democracy” really democracy?

How does slavery fit
within construct, practice of
Insight in Press TV doc “The Origin of Democracy”
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

“People do not like to have their knowledge questioned but I know that I do not know” – saying leading to Socrates' death in Athens. He was, said his student, Plato, “the first victim of democracy.”

From before the Common Era Fifth Century forward, Democracy underwent numerous ups and downs and varieties of interpretations, recalls the documentary's narrator: In some periods, it adopted the opposite of its original meaning.

These changes were part of the concept of democracy since the beginning – since its Athenian days, at the time when Socrates gathered young people in the Athens’ bazaar and encouraged them to doubt their gods, values, and themselves.

But the Athenian democracy could not tolerate any doubts in its principles, and [so democracy] sentences Socrates to death.

If democracy had let Socrates’ voice be heard at that time, perhaps we would have had a different world today. 

Athenian/Greek model
Dictators, Noblemen, Rich
rule ...
Though ancient Greece may be viewed as the model of democracy, a form of governance in which absolute authority vests in the people and moreover this authority consists in the people’s right to choose their leaders and make laws, this is not entirely true or reflective of reality, then or now. Classical Athens’ political system limited “democratic citizenship to an elite class of free men” and denied “political participation [to] slaves and women.”

Those who were allowed to participate were “noblemen, those who had Athenian origin,” Law History Expert Mohammad zaman Dariabiari said. “Women and slaves were excluded from decision-makings and taking part in determining their own political, social, economic and cultural fate.” Athenian democracy, Karim Mojtahedi said, “belonged to one-eighth of the people.”

“Democracy”, “Demagoguism” devoid of crucial Qualification

“Socrates believed that just as a shoemaker or mason needed skills to do his job, a governor [also] needed to be skilled, to have the political knowledge to rule.”
... Slaves, Women
need not apply

Socrates ridiculed Greece’s democracy. He “believed that competence and eligibility were needed for a government.”

However, “the biggest claimants to that eligibility were Athenian noblemen and wealthy people who thought their origin and pedigree [of itself] already provided them with that competence.…

“Socrates believed that this competence and knowledge [was] achieved by training and education.”

Western Philosophy Teacher Karim Mojtahedi said that this creates a situation in which “the reins of affairs [are given] to a bunch of people who are thirsty for fame, position and money; and they are destroying the main role of traditions.” Socrates believed the Athenian version of democracy was another form of Demagoguism.” Demagoguism [or demagoguery, making use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises to gain or retain power] is in fact the opposite form of democracy, Mojtahedi said.

None of these people “wanted to have anything to do with morality or justice. They wanted to have nothing to do with intelligence or knowledge. They wanted only power and a system based on the fight for political survival, even based on lies and deception.”

Is so-called “Democracy” really democracy”

5th C BC
Athens and Greece
beyond the pale
Although “we remember the Athenians for their democracy,” the narrator says, “this is not their reality. Athens had three social groups: the rich and nobles (the rulers), the craftsmen and traders, and the farmers.” The “nobility and land owners” did almost nothing. Athens remained standing “by the labor of the slaves.” And social inequality and class difference sparked the first wave of change.

Using the example of Rome and Greece, “the problem of power, slavery, social advantages, slave exploitation, arrogance and dictatorship,” says philosophy and history researcher Behrooz Farno, was more prominent in the West than in the East. “Even in newer periods, in spite of the fact that people are supposedly involved in choosing their government, this public opinion is always inclined in favor of rich and powerful people, and it is power and wealth that defines public votes.”
Mohammadzaman Dariabiari reminds us that the most important concepts inherent in or crucial to democratic reality are freedom of human beings and equal rights for human beings to decide their own destiny in social, economic, cultural and political affairs.”

Given these requisites and existing conditions then and now, Karim Mojtahedi asks, “Can we really say that the system in Fifth Century BC, known as the Greek democracy” [or now known Western democracy or US democracy] really was [or now is] “democracy?”

 t is imperative that we ponder this question, answer it honestly. Then make substantive corrections in our own belief system, in our behavior, and in our governmental systems. 

Sources and notes

“The Origin of Democracy” Synopsis/Transcript [Synopsis: “Aristocracy or the rule of the elite is in [turn] the antonym of democracy.

“But while theoretically these definitions are in opposition, in practice the distinction has been blurred historically.

“Ancient Greece is perhaps viewed as the epithet of the origin of democracy; a form of governance where the mastership of the people is an absolute authority. And this authority consists in the people’s right to choose their leaders and legislate whatever laws they want.

“But is it really that simple?

“The political system of Classical Athens, for example, granted democratic citizenship to an elite class of free men and excluded slaves and women from political participation.

“This documentary takes a look at the not so benign origins of democracy and compares it to the government of Greece’s Easter neighbor: the Great Persia Empire.”], November 8, 2014, http://www.presstvdoc.com/Default/Detail/12954

Karim Mojtahedi: Iranian philosophy professor at Tehran University, Karim Mojtahedi is credited with more than 20 books on philosophy. He was awarded UNESCO’s Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science at the 4th International Farabi Festival and has received a plaque of honor from Iran’s Cultural Luminaries Association. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karim_Mojtahedi


Classical Greek (Athenian, 470/469 BC – 399 BC) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates


Classical Greek philosopher and mathematician (428/427 or 424/423 BCE – 348/347 BCE), influential figure in Western philosophy; student of Socrates, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato


BCE is the abbreviation for Before the Common/Current/Christian Era (an alternative to Before Christ, abbreviated BC). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Era

Centuries-old non-democratic, employed constructs: “Anno Domini (AD or A.D., Medieval Latin translated ‘In the year of the Lord’) and Before Christ (BC or B.C.) are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars,” the latter the most widely used calendar in the world. “For decades, it has been the unofficial global standard, adopted for pragmatic interests of international communication, transportation, and commercial integration, and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations and the Universal Postal Union. There is no year zero in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. This dating system was devised in 525, but was not widely used until after 800.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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