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Old March 13 2013, 03:21 PM   #73
Sci
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Nightdiamond wrote: View Post
I found this surprising bit of info about ancient Athens.

...Athenians didn't vote for politicians to represent them; all Athenians voted on just about every law or policy the city was to adopt.
http://languages.siu.edu/classics/Johnson/HTML/L10.html

Democracy, but no overall constitution to protect citizens?
It's my understanding that only 20% of Athenians could vote, not all Athenians.

OTOH, Star Wars had the Republic, where senators/politicians represented its citizens. They voted to give their chancellor so much power, he made himself an emperor without their consent.
As I already established, the Galactic Republic in the PT had already long since ceased to be a democracy -- it was a plutocracy, ruled in reality by the wealthy elite who funded Senators' campaign expenses, wearing only the veneer of democracy well before Palpatine became Chancellor.

The creepy thing about the Janice Lester episode is, the more the dialog rolls on, the more subtle sexism you can see in this time period.

Kirk: Her life could have been as rich as any woman's. If only--If only--
That sounds like typical view of a woman's role during that time. Even in the 23rd century super democracy of the Federation.

There was no way Picard or Sisko could get away with saying something like that about a woman.
Yep. As I said, TOS was a product of its time.

Kestrel wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
...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.

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."
Calling Athenian democracy "democracy" with an understanding that in that time suffrage was very limited isn't "adhering to rhetoric," it's an accurate description of how an ancient society functioned.
No, it's not, because it still legitimizes the ridiculous notion that a society can be a democracy yet prevent 80% of its people from voting.

You're not being skeptical and critical, you're projecting our definitions and understandings of today to people of 2000+ years ago.
And what is wrong with that? Why shouldn't we look back on ancient societies and acknowledge when their ideology is morally objectionable by modern standards? Why shouldn't we judge them by the standards we'd use to judge, say, China or Russia?

Your "clear, objective standard" has only been around within the last century or so (within this country)
I'd say less, actually. I would say the United States was not a democracy until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Before that, we were a pseudo-democratic apartheid state.

Maybe our definition - which I agree is the superior one - is the one that needs a new word or a modifier; "universal democracy" maybe. Or, perhaps, we should accept that definitions have changed over the centuries, as language, law and societies tend to do.
If we accept that definitions have changed over time, then why stick to their vocabulary?

After all, at the time, they didn't call the Roman Emperors "emperors;" Emperors kept the rhetoric and language of the Roman Republic, even while concentrating all power in their hands. Yet we don't call them the Princepts Senatus or Pontifex Maxium -- we call them Emperors. And we don't continue to call their state "the Senate and People of Rome." In spite of their use of republican rhetoric and vocabulary, our vocabulary to describe them uses modern terms to describe the reality of their political system -- an Empire, ruled by an Emperor. So the practice of saying, "We know they used this term for themselves, but we're gonna use a different term because we don't think that's accurate" has a very well-established precedent.
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