Saturday, September 24, 2005

Plus ca change II... 

Just a touch of historical perspective -- democracy was almost destroyed by Persia about 2500 years ago, stopped only by the Battle of Salamis. The Greeks of Athens (well, they weren't really Greeks yet, they were Athenians), had invented the idea of Democracy after a revolution that kicked the elites out of power. And things were good and happy, until the Persians sailed west, determined to kick butt on the Bosphorus. It was really a culture clash. In Persia (modern-day Iran), obedience to authority was everything. In Athens at the time, democracy was everything.

Thanks to the brilliant military planning of Themistocles, who had persuaded his fellow Athenians to spend a winfall silver-lode discovery on a fleet of Triremes instead of on themselves, the possibly two million strong Persian army got their asses handed to them, and the idea of Democracy survived.

Why do I bring this up? Just as a curiosity, perhaps. I watched a documentary on the history of the Greeks, and this particular battle was a turning point, after which the city-state of Athens grew to be the Empire of Greece; but what struck me about it was this: the current war is just an extension of this 2500 year-old conflict, between the forces of Democracy and the forces of Meritocracy. But, in the way that history has of turning things from black and white to gray, we have the alleged forces of Democracy (The US) declaring war on the mid-east for all the wrong reasons. And doing all the wrong things to their own people in order to feed and fuel that war.

In ancient Greece, they developed a rather interesting system. Once a year, the citizens would vote by tossing potshards engraved with a name into the voting box. The potshards, ostria, were used to determine who got banished. Whoever had the most votes on that day would be exiled from Athens -- ostracized. And one of the first biggies ostracized was the aforementioned Themistocles, the man who had saved Athen's butt previously. Why? Because he had become too arrogant in the wake of his win.

Perhaps we need that idea now. Once a year, all citizens get to vote by writing in a name on a ballot; any elected official they want, and the one with the most votes is removed from office and shipped off to, say, Guam.

But, back to my original point, and the one that caused my existential "Huh?" in the first place... the current beacon of Democracy, the US, has declared unilateral war on the mideast, Iraq first, possibly Iran next -- and those countries are (geographically) parts of the empire that, historically, tried to destroy Democracy in its cradle.

It's easy to look at the Battle of Salamis and yell, "Go Greeks!" After all, if they had lost, the world would look very different now. So then, why is it not at all easy to look at Iraq and yell, "Go US!"? Perhaps because our leaders lied us into it? Perhaps because the battle in Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11? Perhaps because, were I to ask W, "What about the battle of Salamis?" he'd make some joke about a Deli sandwich and then say, "Now watch this drive..."

Then again, W is probably drinking again, so who needs him? Ostracize, ostracize, ostracize. Now.

Particularly because he has proven himself to be a military genius along the lines of General George McClellan, who almost single-handedly lost the Civil War for the North...

That's funny you said that about the Deli sandwiches. WAY before I got to that line I was thinking about King Schrubbery saying that. In that little child's voice. Snickering. What a tool.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?