Was Athenian Democracy the first Men’s Club?
Athenian democracy, first introduced in early 500 BC, was not our ideal of equal freedom and rights, but more like a select club of men. The ancient Greek word demokratia literally meant “people-power” “government of the people by the people for the people”, as Abraham Lincoln put it. The duly qualified citizens of Athens (men) directly participated in making laws and deciding jury trials.
Citizens would come together and openly discuss and vote for elections. All classes would have a voice. The upper class, aristrocrats, felt they lost power through this type of government because they no longer received more power just because of their social standing. Citizens over the age of 30 were eligible to become a member of the boule, which was a council of 500 while male citizens. Those 500 citizens selected from a pool had to serve for one year making new laws and changing old laws as they saw fit. This council was the executive committee of a large group called the Assembly. The Assembly had the capacity of 30,000 – 40,000 people with a participation of only 5000. Laws would be voted on by the citizens of Athens and majority ruled.
When democracy proved to be successful in Athens, many other city-states decided they would choose this for their type of government. Although other city-states had more restrictions on who could vote. White adult males that owned land or homes, the wealthy were allowed to vote.
The size of the city-states made it possible for the citizens to come together regularly at a meeting point and make changes as there were fewer opinions so finding a common opinion was easier and made policy or law more effective to change. Since people were closer to the center they were more aware of all the affairs in the city-state, thus feeling more connected and ideas were more accepted. The people of particular towns are much better acquainted with their wants and interests and are better...