Importing Ancient Greek democratic practices

By borrowing from the practice around which ancient Athens founded democracy – the involvement of ordinary citizens deliberating among their peers – we could transform Britain’s slow-motion agony into a triumph in which democracy was renewed to embody not just the will of the people, but the safer, more practical and generous notion of their considered will.

We’ll trade. You can have citizen juries if we also adopt another old practice. Anyone proposing a law which doesn’t then get passed is strangled on the floor of the debating chamber. Straight away.

11 comments on “Importing Ancient Greek democratic practices

  1. The irony here, for those who don’t click on the link, is that this is a Guardian writer pretending to preach democracy and the virtues of ‘ordinary citizens’ with their ‘considered will’, but whose piece is intended to tackle ‘Brexit’s democratic tragedy.’

    When The Guardian advocates “democracy” it always means in the “people’s democratic republic” sense of the word.

  2. At last, an idea in the Guardian I can agree with. Ancient Greek democracy would disenfranchise at least three quarters of the population.

  3. “Anyone proposing a law which doesn’t then get passed is strangled on the floor of the debating chamber. Straight away.”

    Having seen some of the laws we’ve have had foisted on us in the past few decades I think they had it the wrong way round. I’m all for politicians sitting around not passing laws.

  4. I wonder who chose the experts that advised the citizen jury, and how.

    Also, the term “considered will” is rather insulting to those who voted to leave the EU. My decision to vote to leave was a deeply considered decision – and considered over a period of 40+ years.

  5. Another day, another Guardian wunderwaffe that’s Surely Going To Stop Brexit This Time.

    Given the chance to think on each others’ views, we become more tolerant

    Unless you support Leave, in which case we’ll endlessly badger you while lying about Brexit.

  6. In a group of 50 people chosen by lot, how many do you would think would meet the Guardian’s own criteria for being acceptable to run the country.

    Ten, minimum, would be ruled out as sexist. Five would be “racist”. Likely one would have a serious criminal record. UKIP and equivalents would have quite decent representation though, so there is that.

    Most people could not just down tools to go on such juries if they are to last any length of time, so they would be packed with those with lots of free time — the elderly, the unemployed and the feckless.

    I might note that Athens did not have a stable democracy. It was wracked with political discord, bursts of tyranny and a strong tendency to go to war. Using ancient Athens as an example is funny — for centuries it was held as an example of how bad popular democracy is.

  7. Unconstrained democracy – Greek democracy – begets the tyranny of the majority. What the Guardian is saying here is that they are for tyranny.

  8. I’m no expert, but I imagine the technology of the time rather limited the complexity and scope of any issues over which laws could be made.

  9. In so far as Athenian democracy was a success, it was founded on widespread slavery. And pederasty, of course. And the position of women was somewhat less than equal.

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