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Thread: Democracy: fair share

  1. #1

    Democracy: fair share

    I had the opportunity to attend a fascinating symposium recently and wanted to share one of the interesting ideas discussed with you.

    It was explained to me that in Athens, to mark the occasion religious festivals, hundreds of cattle were slaughtered at one time. Not only as a sacrificial rite, but also in order to provide meat for all the citizens. On a more regular basis, the fifty presiding members of the Council of 500 were fed each day of their presidency at the city's expense. Also, a few honoured citizens were maintained by the city for life.

    In light of recent research, it is not too much to say that banqueting stands at the very heart of the polis: participating in the feast is synonymous with participation in the citizen-body. So much so, that there were laws forcing people to eat the city's food.

    This could be considered the true foundation of Athenian democracy, since we hear of isonomia (fair share) some time before we start hearing the ideology of dēmokratia (people power). Isonomia is the combination of ideas deriving from nemō (distribute) directly related to kreanomia (the distribution of meat at sacrifice) with a punning reference to another derivative verb nomos (law). It is isonomia, not dēmokratia, that the 'tyrant-slayers' Harmodius and Aristogiton brought to Athens when they 'ended the tyranny' at the end of the 6th C BCE...

    Yes we can!
    Amantes sunt amentes.

  2. #2

    Cartoon

    Joel Pett cartoon: click here
    Amantes sunt amentes.

  3. #3

    Louis Brandeis

    We can either have democracy in [the U.S.] or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of few, but we can't have both.
    -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
    Amantes sunt amentes.

  4. #4
    The anthropologist Ruth Benedict tried to figure out why some cultures are fundamentally, to use her words, good to one another and some bad.

    Why are some very war-like and others very peaceful? Some treat women very poorly, some treat women very well. Some treat children very poorly, some treat children very well. Some are very happy, and some eat a lot of Prozac...

    Is it house size, matriarchy, matrilineality, the size of the culture, geography, race? What is it? She came down to one simple rule: it all comes down to how the culture handles wealth. The cultures that were happy and peaceful was because their social rules rewarded behaviour that benefited the group as a whole and discouraged or prohibited behaviour that benefited the individual at the expense of the whole.

    If the culture handles wealth through what she calls a 'siphon system', where wealth is constantly siphoned form the rich to the poor, everybody is secure. If on the other hand it's a 'funnel system' when it always goes to the rich, it's going to be a dog eat dog society, everyone will be fighting for the resources.
    Amantes sunt amentes.

  5. #5

    private -> deprive

    The word private and deprive share the same root: prīvāre which is Latin 'to rob'. Wealthy Roman citizens would wall off public spaces for private gardens, thus depriving the poor of their use.

    Keep this in mind next time some CEO or politician is clamouring to privatize something...
    Last edited by Agrippa; 01-05-2009 at 01:06 AM.
    Amantes sunt amentes.

  6. #6
    what if the majority vote for something that is wrong or just plain stupid?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bond_james_bond
    what if the majority vote for something that is wrong or just plain stupid?
    you haven't gotten used to that yet?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bond_james_bond
    what if the majority vote for something that is wrong or just plain stupid?
    "In a democracy, people get the government they deserve." - Alexis de Toqueville
    Amantes sunt amentes.

  9. #9
    From The Corporation
    Mark Kingswell on privatization:
    With deregulation, privatization, free trade, what we're seeing is yet another enclosure, and, if you like, private taking of the commons.

    One of the things I find very interesting in our current debates is this concept of who creates wealth. That wealth is only created when it's owned privately. What would you call clean water, fresh air, a safe environment? Are they not a form of wealth? And why does it only become wealth when some entity puts a fence around it and declares it private property? Well you know thatís not wealth creation; thatís wealth usurpation.

    Over the centuries we have put more and more things in that public realm and lately just lately in the last let us say in the last three or four decades started pulling them out again. Take fire-fighters for instance; fire-fighters started as private companies and if you didnít have the medallion of a given fire-fighter brigade on your house and it was on fire, those fire-fighters would just ride on by because you didnít have a deal. Well it gradually evolved a public trust for the provision of safety on that very specific level. This is important. We should not go back from that and start saying "Well you know, why donít we put that back in the market and see what that does? Maybe it will make it more efficient." Privatization does not mean you take a public institution and give it to some nice person. It means you take a public institution and give it to an unaccountable party.

    Besides, public institutions have many side benefits, for one thing they may purposely run at a loss. They're not out for profit. They may purposely run at a loss because of the side benefits. So for example if a public steel industry runs at a loss it's providing cheap steel to other industries maybe thatís a good thing. Public institutions can have a counter cyclic property. That means that they can maintain employment in periods of recession which increases demand which helps you get out of recession. Private companies cant do that in a recession, they throw out the work force cause thatís the way you make money.
    Amantes sunt amentes.

  10. #10

    Smile Giving and Taking

    Quote Originally Posted by Agrippa
    I had the opportunity to attend a fascinating symposium recently and wanted to share one of the interesting ideas discussed with you.

    It was explained to me that in Athens, to mark the occasion religious festivals, hundreds of cattle were slaughtered at one time. Not only as a sacrificial rite, but also in order to provide meat for all the citizens. On a more regular basis, the fifty presiding members of the Council of 500 were fed each day of their presidency at the city's expense. Also, a few honoured citizens were maintained by the city for life.

    In light of recent research, it is not too much to say that banqueting stands at the very heart of the polis: participating in the feast is synonymous with participation in the citizen-body. So much so, that there were laws forcing people to eat the city's food.

    This could be considered the true foundation of Athenian democracy, since we hear of isonomia (fair share) some time before we start hearing the ideology of dēmokratia (people power). Isonomia is the combination of ideas deriving from nemō (distribute) directly related to kreanomia (the distribution of meat at sacrifice) with a punning reference to another derivative verb nomos (law). It is isonomia, not dēmokratia, that the 'tyrant-slayers' Harmodius and Aristogiton brought to Athens when they 'ended the tyranny' at the end of the 6th C BCE...

    Yes we can!
    Failing to mention that not everyone was considered a citizen of Greece and as such were not entitled to participate in the fair sharing.

    Balance your idea of fair share against one of the ideals of communism "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need." Which is an interesting concept since it takes into account a simple relationship, namely to get you have to give. This is lacking in your Greek analogy since you only mention taking(eating) from the common not giving - after all the slaughtered cattle had to come from somewhere. On the other hand the Greeks favoured honoured citizens while those without honour - the homeless or street peope were left to fend for themselves.

    Essentially all you have shown so far is that democracy has its roots in taking and not in giving. So why the suprise when people just take in a democracy?
    Last edited by eastender; 01-05-2009 at 03:08 AM.
    LISA'S FRIEND

  11. #11

    Smile Private

    Quote Originally Posted by Agrippa
    The word private and deprive share the same root: prīvāre which is Latin 'to rob'. Wealthy Roman citizens would wall off public spaces for private gardens, thus depriving the poor of their use.

    Keep this in mind next time some CEO or politician is clamouring to privatize something...
    Actually deprives EVERYONE on the outside of the walls not only the poor.

    Regardless you are going in the wrong direction with this. Walls were a necessity to separate the home life from the public life - how one appeared in public or the sphere where one participated as a citizen by debating and voting was viewed as being diferent than the space where one went to rest, think, be with family.

    Finally wether you have walls or not you still have ownershp of land. Land owners had the right to determine how the land was used and by whom. So walls are not necessary to deprive people of the use of the land.
    LISA'S FRIEND

  12. #12

    Smile Winning

    Quote Originally Posted by Merlot
    Hello Agrippa,

    In cultures where "winning" seems to be the end game prized above everything, it would seem the "funnel system" is inevitable. How many winners can there be, therefor wouldn't the vast available wealth be concentrated among the fewest??? And so the rest of us, if we are not among the few, would be the dogs.

    Charming,

    Merlot
    Merlot,

    Since you do not specify which cultures a direct answer cannot be provided.

    Wealth regardless how you define it is transient - "You cannot take it with you." The it can be money, possessions, intellect, etc. What you do with it or how you use it is another matter.

    Succeeding and hating to lose as opposed to winning, are a different matter.
    Everyone has the ability to make themselves slightly better everyday thereby suceeding and everybody has the ability to recognize going down the downward spiral, stop and change - the hate to lose.
    LISA'S FRIEND

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