Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost by Roslyn Fuller

By Roslyn Fuller

Democracy is offered to us on its skill to carry equivalent chance, and to provide each citizen an equivalent voice. but repeatedly we see that this isn't the case: strength and spoils alike movement to the few, whereas the numerous are left without recourse. what's wrong with democracy?

Nothing, says Roslyn Fuller: what now we have easily isn’t democracy—it’s a perversion of it, created through poorly designed electoral platforms, vulnerable crusade legislation, and huge boundaries on participation and illustration at approximately each point. Backing her argument with copious empirical facts interpreting a large choice of vote casting tools throughout twenty countries, Fuller makes her end irrefutable: if we need precise democracy, we need to go back to the philosophical insights that initially underpinned it, and punctiliously reexamine the targets and strategies of democracy and democratic participation. an intensive, damning, but while fiercely hopeful paintings, Beasts and Gods goals to reconfigure the very foundations of recent society.</div>

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Additional info for Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost Its Purpose

Sample text

To say that a person was an Athenian citizen and that they had an obligation to participate in running the nation was redundant. Only in very rare cases, such as the appointment of military generals, ambassadors to other nations and national 34 Democracy in Athens treasurers, were other personal qualities or attributes felt to supersede this strong principle of participatory equality between citizens. Elections were therefore reserved to these few posts, where contact with foreign powers, many of them potentially hostile, rendered expertise necessary.

In doing so, they effectively obliterated focused, individualized political power. This was not an unintended by-product, but the central characteristic of democracy. No individual could have power, because the people had power. To maintain this state, democracy had to be a fluid system in which power ebbed and flowed between citizens in a manner that was pretty much impossible for any individual to manipulate on a sustained basis. Athenian democracy thus resembled in many ways what some people today would consider to be anarchy.

The courts: justice by the thousands According to Aristotle, Athens’ judicial system was an integral component of its political organization, and it was very different to our court system today. To start off with, all Athenian courts were jury courts, staffed by large numbers of randomly selected jurors. The minimum jury size for a private suit was 201 jurors, which increased to 401 if the claim was worth more than 1,000 drachmae (a drachma was the Athenian unit of currency, and 1,000 drachmae would have been something like $60,000 by today’s standards).

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