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PostSubject: Timocracy   Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:36 am

I am currently reading an interesting book by Victor Davis Hanson “The Other Greeks” which explains the roots of the Hellenic greatness and the agrarian roots of western civilization in general.
I believe the juxtaposition of modern Democratic states with ancient Greek ‘polis’ [city-states] and their Timocratic system, where citizens participated in the political system if and only if they owned a certain amount of farmed land , reveals why western civilization has become decadent and spoiled in comparison and exposes all that is wrong with modern western democracy.

Here is a brief outline of my conclusions thus far:
1] There was a minimum amount of land ownership which ensured full citizenship and also a maximum amount above which it was not permitted to go.
This ensured that the citizen farmer had a vested direct interest in the survival and well-being of the state and kept him interested in the political circumstances, kept him informed and kept him participating. Also the upper limit ensured that no single individual would corrupt the whole through wealth and overt influence.

Living today with the lobbying powers of certain groups, the apathy and ignorance of entire populations and the non-participation of a large percentage of the citizenry we can see the benefits of Timocracy here.

2] The individual was self-sufficient and self-reliant, growing his own food, constructing his own tools, and living by the sweat of his own brow by toiling the earth rather than by using others.
This honest and autonomous subsistence which cooperated with others in common goals creating the city-state ensured a citizenry of hard working, dignified, down-to-earth individuals that knew the value of things.

Today with the vast amounts of pampered, lazy individuals reliant on governmental or citizenry handouts, knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing and seeking the easy route in all areas of interest we can, again, see the benefits of Timocracy.

3] The obligation for military service of the citizen/farmer/hoplite created men taking responsibility for their own defense and the actions of their own government.
Military service also embedded a sense of honor, pride and discipline within each man.

Today we can witness the results of undisciplined minds that do not comprehend the concept of limits and the creation of classes that rely, for their own defensive needs, on the manipulation and coercion of underprivileged masses that are asked to kill and die on their behalf while they and their own sit comfortably miles away in relative safety.
This absence of a direct accountability or the escape from the consequences and the cost for the decisions taken creates foolhardy citizens who enter risky endeavors with little thought or concern since they will not directly pay the price for their own opinions.
If it were only the upper or middle-class children that were forced to go to battle in Iraq, for example, would it have taken place?

4] The practice of working the land created a certain kind of psychology.
Being one that has experienced farm work I can state with certainty that it forces a balanced, conservative, careful disposition that accepts his fate but fights against it and disciplines him to a strict life regiment which negates lethargy and laziness.
This battle of man against the forces of nature, humbles him, makes him cunning and patient and forces him to become creative and constructive.
Furthermore the benefits of physical labor ensures a fitness of body- a necessary part for the creation of healthy mind, as the Greeks themselves believed as a consequence of their agrarian roots {Healthy mind in a healthy body}- and hardens a man to the toils and tribulations of life in general.

Today the lethargic, laziness devoid of any sense of meter or balance has created obese, flawed weaklings expecting everything, demanding all, resisting nothing disciplined to nobody but only to the needs of their instincts
External phenomena are often the manifestations of internal health or sickness. We can see today how the aesthetic exteriors of individuals represent and internal unhealthiness of mind and then compounds the problem by inflating it.

It is necessary to mention that Timocracy was related to Democracy but had elitist leanings which made it a cross between a Democratic and Oligarchic system and was, for this reason, a precursor for the later development of Democracy in ancient Athens.
This exclusion of the majority of a states population because of a lack of land ownership, in my view, filtered out individuals without the basic ability or intelligence to own a small piece of land and farm it successfully thusly denying access to all without a certain mental standard or a psychological disposition, made the act of participation in political life a privilege not a right to be disrespected and taken lightly, as today, and imposed a sense of responsibility in the citizenry.
Also the limitation of land ownership ensured that each citizen, whether wealthy or middle-class, had to work the land, earn his living by toiling and minimized the amount of civil servants and other supporting classes, such as artists, teachers, governmental officials, bureaucrats of all kinds, merchants and yes even philosophers etc.
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