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Paper 1 - Green 1 Dylan Green PID #: 715105476 History 151...

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Unformatted text preview: Green 1 Dylan Green PID #: 715105476 History 151 — Hunziker Audra Yoder 27 September 2011 Governments serve to satiate ;the basic human desire for order. A tyrant’s attempts at making class divisions more distinct hold the same goals as the anarchic mob : ' demanding an equitable distribution of wealth. They seek to label members of society to better understand their position in it rielative to dveryone else. The tyrant loathes equality; the mob loathes authority. The ancient Mediterranean world, with its abundance of cultures, found itself in the crosshairs' of a struggle in defining not only how to best organize themselves, but also in defiviing which facet of society had ultimate authority. Democracy evolved from this struggle for severfl reasons though the Greek statesman Polybius later describes democracy’s:rise not only as natural, but also as inevitable and predictable. Despite the growing prefialence and later influence of democracy, contemporaries of the system cite its Several flaWs such as it causing perpetual class struggle and the lack of accountability that accompanies the system. Though Plato [ _ describes a constitutional framework to address these issues, the Spartan constitution | penned by Lycurgus provides the architecture fq‘r a more consistent means of addressing democracy’s shortcomings, allowing and similar government to attain more clout in the evolution of Western government. According to Polybius’ cycle of politicall revolution, democracies exist a stone’s I throw from total anarchy and savager'y. He asserits that democracy only thrives where equity and freedom hold high value. lhus, it makes sense that democracy’s main support _ comes from those who gain the most from its prevalence, the poor and lower class; as Plato states, “when the poor win, the result is a democracy” (Plato, The Republic 21). Green 2 While democracy has obvious humanitarian benefits for those living in its system, l ultimately it exists “for the benefit of-men withdut means” and therefore unjustly punishes those with the skill, intellect, or luck to have prospered (Aristotle, Politics, 26). | The Old Oligarch in The Polity of the Athenians even goes so far as to propose the fortunes of thieves and elites completely reverse in a democratically run society (Oligarch, Athenians, 17). Though blatantly hyperbolic, the statement does illuminate the glaring irony of democracy where the underclas‘s’ attempt to create equitability often leads to an overcorrection in favor ofjthe poor, ‘prouting fresh inequalities for citizens on the losing end to disdain. This patterrli continues, according to Plato, until “the citizens become so sensitive that they resent the slightest application of control as intolerable tyranny” and society eventually devolves to despotism (Plato, The Republic, 22). I Aristotle names this cyclical class struggle and attempt to distribute wealth, destructive justice, because in their quest for equity, and in their eyes, perhaps retribution, the lower class sparks a series of events that eventually leaves the state in ruins (Aristotle, The Politics, 25). Though Plato and Aristotle clearlyl depict the results of continued class warfare and destructive justice, others insinuate that another flaw of democracies allow for these damaging forces to perpetuate in the first place. Modern politicians throw around—usua 1y maliciously—the idea of l accountability quite frequently; Presifent Bush even signed an executive order for government agencies to only use the active tense when writing as a measure to increase accountability. According to several critics of ancient Mediterranean democracy, a . | principal flaw of the system resided in its citizens’ ability to avoid accountability. As . | Plato explains in The Republic, in democracies no authority exists for citizens to submit Green 3 themselves to and because of this citizens pursue their self-interests without fear of repercussion for their actions (Plato, ifhe Republic, 21). More illustratively, Polybius frustratingly pronounces that, “the Athenian populace always more or less resembles a ship without a commander” in order to describelhow a lack of authority or means of accountability-V,r allows for individual Itself-interest to negate the efforts and desires of others (Polybius, The Histories, 56). Self-interest for some involved shifting blame for a problem or association to an idea to others. The‘Old Oligarch writes of the ease with which blame shifts in a faceless democracy anlehe Trial of Socrates"illuminates this simplicity as fellow citizens place bl%me for recent tumult on Socrates’ anti-democratic teachings rather than their own shortcomings, eyentually sentencing him to death. Though dead, Socrates’ teachings and influence allow for his understudy, Plato, to devise a means for addressing and correcting the flaws of democracy, albeit with a large flaw itself. {according to Plato the solution to the pitfalls of democracy lay with the idea ‘ of a philosopher king. A philosopher iking, Plato explains, melds together political power and philosophy to rule with decisive wisdom (Plato, The Republic, 22). This idea solves the accountability issue that ancient contemporaries proclaim plagues democracies as it provides a just authority to answer to, which would allow for an equitable hierarchy to form, placating most class struggle. Holybius even discusses philosopher kings when evaluating the evolution of a monarchy into a kihgship stating that this transition occurs l as a result of a monarch’s “ferocity and force halving yielded to the supremacy of reason” (Polybius, The Histories, 48). Just a few sentences later however, Polybius illustrates the | large flaw with this system of governance, its stability. The instability within Plato’s system lies in the succession of rulers. As Polybius describes, the stability of a state from Green 4 king to king relies heavily on the successor having the same philosophic abilities as their predecessor, usually father and son respectively‘(The Histories 48). If standards from father to son gradually decrease over generation‘s, this can eventually lead to a tyrannical rule. Akin to democracies, the basic problem with Plato’s philosopher king lies with accountability; the philosopher king keeps the citizens accountable, but if standards for the king lower, he still answers to no one. The solution to the fault of the philosopher king model of governance actually existed for a couple Bmdred years prior to the idea of the philosoph_er king. When Lycurgus wrote the Spartan constitution in the eighth century B.C.E., he based it off the idea of a mixed government, one where specificl political, judicial, and military power resides with distinct government entities, none of which could run Sparta without the powers of the others (Xenophon, The Polity of the Spartans, 19). The system’s core strength lies with its ability to enforce accountability at the individual and governmental levels, the chief problem with Plato’s philosophier kings. Accountability at the individual level came due to Lycurgus “setting himself deliberately to provide all the blessings of heaven for the good man, and a sorry existence for the coward,” through the establishment of an almost Draconian code of conduct (Xenophon, The Polity of the Spartans, 19). At the governmental level, a system of checks and balances ensured that _ each branch of the government did not encroachl on liberties not belonging to it. Though the cumbersome and inefficient nature of these (lhecks and balances can hamper the short—term effectiveness of the Sparta-n government and other similar governments they actually ensures its long-term success. The truthl behind this paradox exists because the checks and balances system promotes short—teml policies mild in nature (therefore Green 5 affecting the largest amount of the p0pulation), while also ensuring the security and stability of leadership across generations. The stability and equity of Lycurgus’ mixed constitution found praise even amongst other Greeks and amongst Romans with Polybius stating that Lycurgus’ balanced approach resulted in the “best of all existing constitutions” (Polybius, The Histories, 50). Lycurgus’ new form of government allowed . I . . states to escape Polybius’ cycle of pqlitical revolution while providing it the means to I still effectively provide for its citizen's, a feat that remained mostly a novelty until the rise ofRome. I Through the analysis of the dEmocracy that existed in the ancient Mediterranean and its contemporary alternatives a v ry distinct trend becomes apparent among the majority of them. According to Polybius, each of the six types of government he analyzed“‘Has a vice engendered in it and inseparable from it” which ensures their eventual collapse (Polybius, The Histories, 49). However, after delving into Lycurgus’ constitution it becomes evident that trough the six types of government individually contain catastrophic flaws, when employing some in conjunction with one another their individual strengths fill the voids of the others’ shortcomings. Though not immediately emulated, the stability and equity pro oted in Lycurgus’ model led it to eventually become the basis for the Roman gov rnment and their growing empire, playing an integral role in reshaping the ancient orld. Word Count: 1,396 edggms paper is entirely my own w rk. I did not plagiarize in any way or o ‘ e elseWany portion bf this pap r for me. x” I Dxfloun, Nice/fob. \{our qu'fina is, clear and mosfifi Jr‘v‘ee, ' m EYYDYS. l INF—d how \lou frme ideas in *2va o? Monmfafioili’rxi- 1 Would we ‘ro have seen \ch w, move, specific (naming More, W) 'm «m mm, mtol 41: fill: a lele mow; abomi— Spmfiafi im‘xxc’r bejond 'I'WL ancient“ Medi’rQ/Yfancam wand. “8th overall, good wow.- 8 ...
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Paper 1 - Green 1 Dylan Green PID #: 715105476 History 151...

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