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Is The Mc Donaldization Of Society Really Just The Americanization Of Society?

1367 words - 5 pages

What did the ancient Athenians mean by demokratia ?Demokratia was the system of rule under which the ancient Athenians lived under , the term comes from the Greek word "demos" meaning people . The idea was that it was the people themselves who ruled, not a monarchy or a few powerful people. The system was characterized by the fact that it was stateless. It was based on the ideals that every citizen was equal and every citizen participated in society. It was made possible by a number of reforms and the building up of strong institutions. This way of life was dependent on the compliance of the citizens without which it would fall apart.Three main institutions held this system together. These were the Assembly of the demos, the people's court and the Council of 500.The AssemblyThe institution that occurred most frequently was the Assembly, a place where a citizen could air his opinions. A citizen had the chance to speak regardless of his place in society. Christopher W. Blackwell of Harvard University quotes Aeschines when he said "the herald acting as a sergeant at arms does not exclude from the platform the man whose ancestors have not held a generals office , nor even the man who earns his daily bread by working at a trade, nay, these men he most heartily welcomes and for this reasons he repeats again and again the invitation "who wishes to address the assembly?". This embodies the spirit of Athenian democracy that every man no matter how poor or weak should be allowed the opportunity to share his viewpoint. To back this up citizens were paid to attend the Assembly, ensuring that the poor really could afford to attend. To illustrate just how ahead of its time this was, the same policy was not adopted in Britain until the late 19th century.There were 40 scheduled meetings of the Assembly each year. The Assembly had the ability to make legislative decisions and sovereign decrees. There had to be a minimum attendance of 6,000 for the meeting to be valid. Thus the Assembly ensured that it was the citizens themselves who decided how they were to live.The CouncilThe council of 500 was the constant government of Athens . It was made up of 500 citizens .The 10 tribes were given 50 representatives , the remaining 450 were decided by a lottery , each members term lasted just one year. The system was designed so that there could never be a majority ruling faction that could dictate the political agenda. This is a key characteristic of "demokratia" , and is in stark contrast with our party based democracies of the 21st century.The council had the ability to issue decrees on its own in relation to minor issues. Its main capacity though was to put together the schedule for the meetings of the Assembly . The council came together to debate and vote on preliminary decrees. Those decrees that were passed went on for debate in the Assembly .The Peoples CourtThe third institution was the peoples court, like the Assembly and the Council made a huge effort to be...

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