Polis Envy

2004-06-30

My old teacher Charles Larmore used to say that those who look back to ancient Athens as the model for modern communitarianism were engaging in "polis envy"; Roderick Long does one better by arguing persuasively as follows:

Contrary to the claims of so many historians, ancient Athens was neither a majoritarian, mob-rule democracy nor an organic, communitarian collective; instead, it was in many respects a quasi-anarchistic free-market constitutional republic -- and thus, like medieval Iceland, a valuable model for our libertarian future.

His essays The Athenian Constitution: Government by Jury and Referendum and Civil Society in Ancient Greece: The Case of Athens appear to be well worth reading if you have the time (which I don't -- I've only skimmed them).


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