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Old March 12 2013, 02:27 AM   #66
Sci
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Kestrel wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
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.
There's no better word than "democracy"
For a system where only 20% of the Athenian population could vote? "Oligarchy" comes to mind. "Timocracy" might be an even better term (except insofar as one might object to saying that only that minority of persons granted citizenship deserve to be given the name of "honor" or "worth"). "Pseudo-democracy" or "proto-democracy" are possibilities. "Patriarchy" is also good. So would be "slaveocracy."

- the point of the term is that it wasn't rule by a monarchy, or by a select group of families, but by all the (male) citizens. Just because the Athenian definition of "the people" doesn't match ours doesn't make it an inaccurate term,
Yes, it does, because such a restrictive definition is one that by definition sought to make those not included in "the people" invisible to society and to history. We should seek to remember the role those disenfranchised persons played in their society and to accurately describe the system they lived under; we should not just adhere to the rhetoric historical elites used to justify their domination when we seek to accurately understand how a society functions.

because the point of it wasn't for everybody to have a say,
But that's the point of democracy. If that wasn't the point of the ancient Athenian system, then the ancient Athenian system was not a democracy.

Your focus is in the wrong place.
No, it is not. When we study and evaluate ancient societies and seek to understand the manner in which they functioned, we have an obligation to do so skeptically and critically; we should not approach these societies on their own terms (or, rather, on their elites' own terms), but should instead evaluate whether or not they fit objectively-defined criteria when describing them.

A very clear, objective standard for "democracy" is "universal adult suffrage." Ancient Athens did not have universal adult suffrage; little Sally is cutting open a teddy bear. So little Sally is not a heart surgeon, and ancient Athens was not a democracy.
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