March 09, 2009

Did somebody say “Democracy”?

Tim Worstall says, ?Clinton also rather missed the point that we are all looking back to the Ancient Greeks as the beginners of this odd idea that a free people should rule themselves which is pretty much what democracy means at root.?  Actually, ?we? are doing no such thing.  According to Tacitus? ?Germania,? the first-century Germans had government by tri-partite governments of local kings, tribal elders, and assemblies of all the men. One can see that the later English/British government has a close affinity to that of the Saxons? ancestors, while it has virtually nothing in common with that of the classical Athenians.  Indeed, classical Athenian government, ?democracy,? was in very bad odor with the people who made the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution. That?s why every reference to ?democracy? in The Federalist is negative.  (Check the index.)

The idea that a polis should rule itself was called ?eleutheria???freedom??by the ancient Greeks, by the way. As the example of Sparta shows, freedom in the Greek sense did not necessarily have anything to do with democracy.

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