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Old March 11 2013, 11:44 PM   #64
Sci
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Pavonis wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
So what if they fall short? The goal isn't to justify idolizing earlier cultures, it's to accurately describe them. "Democracy" literally means "rule by the people," but basic logic says that a society in which more than half the population is disenfranchised is not rule by the people.
So you have a problem with the semantics? Would it be better to retroactively say Athens called itself something else?
It would be better to say that Ancient Athens called itself a democracy, but that it was not genuinely democratic because this definition was based on the disenfranchisement and oppression of most of its population.

Are you looking to white wash history because it doesn't live up to your standards?
Of course not. It is the act of calling Ancient Athens a democracy which white-washes history, as it buys into the ideological biases of the ancient Athenian elite and renders invisible those whom they oppressed. Noting that Athens was not a real democracy in spite of its self-conception is being accurate, not white-washing.

I already think my society is deeply, deeply flawed and oppressive; I have no problem with future historians coming to the same conclusion.
Yes, it's clear that you have an unrealistically high standard for everyone and everything. Constructive criticism is one thing, but your criticism is less constructive and more belittling.
Oh, yes, mustn't belittle an ancient patriarchal slave state.

An accurate understanding of the nature of that society which does not rely on buying into the ideological justifications for their oppressions.

Athens called itself a democracy. The concept of rule by the people surely owes a great debt to Ancient Athens. But the simple fact remains that by no reasonable standard can a society in which only an elite set of property-owning men were allowed to vote be called a genuine democracy; to uncritically call Ancient Athens a democracy is to make the women, the poor, and the people held as slaves in Ancient Athens invisible to history - it is to say that they were not really people and did not really count. But those people were there; they existed, and they were an important part of Ancient Athenian society -- even if the ruling elite wanted them invisible.
You wanted Athens of 2000-some-odd years ago to make the jump to modern equality in one go?
I honestly never considered what I "wanted" ancient Athens to do; this is what it did and that's all there is to it. But I want its practices accurately labelled, and I say it is dishonest to use a term that means "rule by the people" to refer to a society that was in reality ruled by a small elite who held significant portions of their society in slavery.

Rather than belittling the Athenians for not being modern,
Accurately describing them is not belittling them.

you should acknowledge the debt modern society owes them for fostering the idea of democracy, even if they didn't practice it to your standards. As it is now, you may as well be belittling a child for not being a first-rate heart surgeon when he or she practices surgery on a teddy bear.
I have no problem with acknowledging that the concept of democracy has its roots in Ancient Athens. And I have no problem with a kid practicing "surgery" on a teddy bear -- if that fosters her development into a first-rate heart surgeon later in life, great!

But that child is not a heart surgeon yet. And Ancient Athens was not a democracy.
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