In the last three months, we’ve been reduced to something like the ancient Athenian mob — with opportunistic politicians sometimes inciting, sometimes catering to an already-angry public.Read it all here.
The Greek comic playwright Aristophanes once described how screaming politicians — posing as men of the people — would sway Athenian citizens by offering them all sort of perks and goodies that the government had no idea of how to pay for.
The historian Thucydides offers even more frightening accounts of bloodthirsty voters after they were aroused by demagogues (“leaders or drivers of the people”). One day, in bloodthirsty rage, voters demanded the death of the rebellious men of the subject island city of Mytilene; yet on the very next, in sudden remorse, they rescinded that blanket death sentence.
Lately we’ve allowed our government to forget its calmer republican roots. We’ve gone Athenian whole hog.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
American Mob Rule
Victor Davis Hanson has a piece today in National Review Online that those interested in René Girard's work should find interesting. Hanson writes: