Athenian Democracy was an unprecedented social experiment that prevailed over time. But how come this system go so far? And was Athenian Democracy the epitome of empowering leadership?
Laying the Ground for People Power
We all know that democracy was born in Athens. Athenians were the civilized, the philosophers, the democrats, the dreamers that built the Parthenon. The daring sailors who travelled far and wide to infect others with their ideas and… their trade (after all, money speaks louder than words). But what we might not all know is that although the golden era of Athenian Democracy was associated with the leadership of Pericles (great marketing by the way), its foundations were first laid by Cleisthenes (508 BC). He was the one who broke up the system of political power based on nobility and wealth and handed it to the common people. That – quite literally – is what democracy means: “demos” means people and “cratos” means power. So to us Greeks the People’s Republic of China, for example, translates as “People’s People’s Power”. Sounds weird to us, but we’re not judging.
Before this social experiment of Athens, aristocrats ruled the land and wealth as they pleased. Eventually, the poorer classes were physically enslaved by the rich. Cleisthenes responded to calls for reform by practically restructuring the existing tribe system to give to every male reaching the age of 18 Athenian citizenship and the right to an equal vote, regardless of his wealth and status. True, women were excluded from voting and slavery still flourished but this change was nothing short of revolutionary. It re-calibrated the status quo of the rich and powerful gaining even more wealth and power.
This article was published in CEOWORLD Magazine
on July 18, 2018