Nissani: Cheers for Direct Democracy

Dr. Moti Nissani writes in The Dissident Voice:

Revolutionary strategists must ask themselves: How can we best structure our own movement? And: What kind of political framework should we aim for, once we relegate the Banking-Militarist Complex to the dustbin of history? The answer to both questions is the same: genuine (or direct) democracy.

Democracy, for the Greeks who coined the word, meant “power of the people” or “rule of the people.” Perhaps the best-known example of a genuine democracy in a highly-advanced, highly-literate, polity, is Athens and its sister democracies of Ancient Greece. There, all significant political, legal, and judicial decisions were made directly by the people. Democratic Athens went to war if, and only if, the majority so voted; a man was exiled, or condemned to death, if, and only if, his fellow citizens so decreed.

It is a typical reformist treatment of the Athenian system. Sortition is discussed in the context of juries, but its application to political offices is given barely a mention:

The Athenians knew that power-seekers could not be trusted, so they filled many important public offices by lot. Moreover, most office holders maintained their positions for extremely short durations. Athens thereby bypassed, to a certain extent, a key problem in all other extant political systems: The ascendancy of the psychopaths.

3 Responses

  1. Looks like the standard occluded revolutionary agitprop to me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the claim that Athens sometimes relied upon juries of 50 and not 500 is just made up (there’s no source given)–as is the rather disgusting claim that the First Bank of the United States was “Rothschild-controlled.”


  2. I’ve never heard the 50-person jury claim before. I suppose it may be a distortion of the drawing of 500 jury members out of the pool of 6000 that took the dikastic oath at the beginning of each year.

    As for the “Rothschild controlled” bank, I really don’t know whether this claim has any merit or significance to it. I know that some people put a lot of weight on such matters but have never understood what’s behind this. It is true that the expression could be thinly veiled anti-Semitism, but I am not ready to assert that this is the case.


  3. A body of 50 has only one common occurrence in Athens. For one tenth of the year one of the ten tribes of the Council of 500 acted in the role of executive committee in rotation… that is fifty men. But they were certainly NOT a jury, in any traditional sense. I think the guy is simply poorly informed.


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