Essay about Greek Politics

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Greek Politics

At the foundation of the widely differing systems devised by democratic peoples, there is one essential conviction, expressed in the word democracy itself: that power should be in the hands of the people. Although democracy today has been slightly inefficient in this idea, with the wealthy, elite class challenging this right, “it nevertheless claims for itself a fundamental validity that no other kind of society shares….” To completely understand the structure of democracy, one must return to the roots of the practice itself, and examine the origins in ancient Greece, the expansion in the Roman Empire, and how these practices combined make what we recognize as today’s democratic government. Democracy
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The polis encompassed a group of men deemed to be equal. In contrast to tribal or feudal societies, ancient Athens boasted no priestly class. The males who made up the citizen body participated in the face-to-face, directly democratic politics of the city-state, not merely by voting but also by speaking in the assembly and by serving themselves through active and intimate interaction with others.
The experience of being a member of a self-governing citizen body was a process of
“individuation,” of reflection on the connection between social order and social demands and the aims of individuals. It prompted reflection about the means of reconciling the conflict between private and public avenues. Participation in the politics of democratic Greece was an extenuation of the menial status of the people. This held true because the polis expressed not merely the material interests of those who ruled and were ruled, but also their freedom and their nobility. The realization of one’s purposes within the polis demanded that one be an active citizen. Man’s awareness and understanding of himself as an agent is shaped through interaction with the world. Membership of the political community was not merely essential for survival, but also greatly extended the range of ends of which it was possible to pursue. A self-governing community enabled men to act to secure the ends they desired, to express their autonomy, and by its very operation ensured that the
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