Western democracy is now at a critical juncture. Some worry that power has been wrested from the people and placed in the hands of a small political elite. Others argue that the democratic system gives too much power to a populace that is largely ill-informed and easily swayed by demagogues. This classic study of democratic principles is thus now more relevant than ever. A renowned historian of antiquity and political philosophy, Sir M.I. Finley offers a comparative analysis of Greek and modern conceptions of democracy. As he puts the ancient Greeks in dialogue with their contemporary counterparts, Finley tackles some of the most pressing issues of our day, including public apathy, partisanship, consensus politics, distrust of professional politicians, and the limits of free speech. Including three lectures that Finley delivered at Rutgers University, plus two additional essays that further illuminate his thinking, Democracy Ancient and Modern explores the dramatic differences between the close-knit civil society of the ancient Greeks and our own atomized mass societies. By mapping out democracy’s past and its present manifestations, this book helps us plot a course for democracy’s future.
About the Author
Sir Moses I. Finley, FBA, (born Moses Isaac Finkelstein; 1912-1986), was a major scholar of Classics and Ancient History. He taught at Columbia University and the City College of New York, where he was influenced by exiled members of the Frankfurt School, before taking a position at Rutgers University. Soon after, Finley was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for possible communist affiliation. Refusing to incriminate himself, he took the fifth amendment upon testifying. Though no charges were brought, his refusal resulted in dismissal by the University despite faculty protests. Finley moved to England in 1955, where he taught Classics at Cambridge and became a master at Darwin College. His numerous works include the classic texts Aspects of Antiquity, and The Ancient Economy. Finley was knighted by the Queen for his contributions to scholarship in 1979.
Table of Contents
Contents Dedication Preface Preface to the First Edition 1 Leaders and Followers 2 Athenian Demagogues 3 Democracy, Consensus and the National Interest 4 Socrates and After 5 Censorship in Classical Antiquity Notes About the Author Other Books by M. I. Finley Index