Tuesday, 1 November 2005

A comment on ancient (direct) democracy

Further, for oligarchic cities it is necessary to keep to alliances and oaths. If they do not abide by agreements or if injustice is done, there are the names of the few who made the agreement. But whatever agreements the populace makes can be repudiateed by referring the blame to the one who spoke or took the vote, while the others declare they were absent or did not approve of the agreement made in the full assembly.... And if there are any bad results from the people's plans, they charge that a few persons, working against them, ruined their plans; but if there is a good result, they take the credit for themselves.

-- Old Oligarch, Constitution of Athens, quoted in Xenophon