The Myth of Democracy?
From Pericles’ Athens to Modern Times

a Long Now Boston conversation with

Loren J Samons II
Professor, Classical Studies at Boston University

a Long Now Boston conversation with

Loren J Samons II
Professor, Classical Studies at Boston University


Professor Loren J Samons, II posits that Pericles and democratic practices actually undermined the culture of personal and civic responsibility at the root of Athenian greatness. Democracy itself led to profligate government spending and short-term decision-making by Athenian citizens.
 

2500 years ago the people of Athens elected Pericles to lead their city-state. Under his guidance, Athens attained what some have seen as the pinnacle of a democratic society. Greek culture, literature, philosophy and commerce thrived. It was the Peloponnesian War with Sparta that brought it all crashing down. Or so many people think.

In fact, according to Professor Loren J. Samons, this interpretation of Greek history is mistaken. Samons, who draws on Greek antiquity to critique modern democracy, posits that Pericles and democratic practices actually undermined the culture of personal and civic responsibility at the root of Athenian greatness. Democracy was not the determining factor in Athens’ prosperity but rather one product of other, earlier factors. Democracy itself led to profligate government spending and short-term decision-making by Athenian citizens. One could easily say that Athens was great in spite of its democracy.

The United States’ remarkable prosperity and success are often attributed to a democratic style of government that owes something to ancient Athens. What are the implications if this belief, upon which our government is based, misguided? How does this inform the practice of our government today and what does it mean for the future?

THURSDAY, APRIL 5

7:00pm (doors: 6:0pm)

$15 in advance

 $20 at the door

Students w/ID admitted free



LONG NOW BOSTON is organizationally independent but philosophically aligned with The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco.

The Long Now Boston effort was initiated by Bill Davison. Our Steering Committee includes: Kim Novick, Mary Mangan, John Hayes, James Butler, Lindsay Yazzolino, Grant Stephen, Karin Rivard, and Bill Davison. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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