Ancient Athens didn’t have politicians. Is there a lesson for us?

Few people realize that in ancient Athens – the original democracy from which modern democracies supposedly grew – no one was elected to be a representative. There were no public offices elected by the people. They just didn’t have politicians. They had voting, of course, because it was a democracy. But they voted for proposed laws, not for candidates. And they had a Council of 500 (the “boule“) who proposed laws for all the citizens to vote up or down in Athens’ participatory Assembly. Ah! So that’s a powerful role, being able to create the proposals that the people voted on! So how were those 500 councilmembers chosen?  Well, believe it or not, those powerful people were ordinary citizens who had been chosen by lot – by random selection. And Athens’ democracy didn’t stop there.

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Read also: Athenian Democracy: a brief overview

Using Citizen Deliberative Councils to Make Democracy More Potent and Awake

About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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