Category Archives: Politics

JFK s Solon

John F. Kennedy’s Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, April 27, 1961

‘Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.’

The politically fertile ground of Athens needed someone to sow the seeds of Democracy. That someone was Solon.

‘Society is well governed when its people obey the magistrates, and the magistrates obey the law’

Growing up in 6th c.BC Athens, he was fortunate enough to receive his education by the best teachers and he used to frequent among the most respected philosophers of the day. That superior education earned him the reputation of not only being the most learned Athenian of the day but also one of the wisest law-givers of the ancient world, admired both by Greeks and Romans.

SOLON
SOLON (640-558 BC, Athens)

Athenian society was on the brink of collapse and Solon was called in to save the day. He immediately introduced a number of measures:

  • He cancelled all debts
  • He forbade loans
  • He freed the enslaved

All this was possible after he persuaded all citizens of Athens that from now on, the Law and only the Law shall be above all.

We have to keep in mind that Solon lived during an age of tyrants. Athens was governed by rulers that were in possession of political power through violence and force. Solon’s behavior in this politically hostile and perilous environment was always dictated by his zest for freedom, equality and social justice.

‘Men keep their agreements when it is an advantage to both parties not to break them; and I shall so frame my laws that it will be evident to the Athenians that it will be for their interest to observe them’

Even when he was really old he never stopped reminding his fellow citizens that it was their duty to get rid of all tyrants as soon as possible -and he did this publicly, displaying unprecedented boldness.

He even ignored the continuous threats of the notorious Peisistratus -one of the most powerful and feared demagogues of the day. Even though Peisistratus’ rule was actually fair and temperate (Aristotle notes that his administration was ” more like constitutional government than a tyranny”) in the eyes of Solon, Peisistratus was still a tyrant, as he wasn’t chosen by ‘The People’. When the ruler’s attempts to shut the wise statesman ‘s mouth proved fruitless, Peisistratus asked him what makes him so determined to continuously oppose his government! Solon answered: “My old age” [Diod.Sic. Book 9,4]

jfk

Senate of Rome

I know that it may be just a detail but whenever I see depictions of the Roman Senate in session (in movies, paintings etc) senators are seated in a semicircular fashion around an open space where the speaker stands and addresses the Senate. Uhm… Sorry. That’s actually wrong.

The spot in the Forum of the building that housed the Senate of Rome
The spot in the Forum of the building that housed the Senate of Rome

Senators’ seats -at least since J.Caesar’s time- were arranged in straight and parallel lines on either side of the interior of the Curia Julia (i.e the Senate House).

roman-senate-2

Democracy as the Rule of Laws

Aeschines’ Speech on Democracy

Aeschines, an ancient Athenian politician, stated back in the 4th century BC that the defining characteristic of democracy is that it is rule by the Law! Not rule by a person, a group of chosen ones, not even rule by the people. In a democracy it’s a set of principles as expressed by a number of laws that govern a city. In a monarchy, an aristocracy or an oligarchy, in contrast, rule is by individuals and through intimidation.

Aeschines (389-314 BC)
Aeschines (389-314 BC)

“It is acknowledged, namely, that there are in the world three forms of government, autocracy, oligarchy, and democracy: autocracies and oligarchies are administered according to the tempers of their lords, but democratic states according to established laws. And be assured, fellow citizens, that in a democracy it is the laws that guard the person of the citizen and the constitution of the state, whereas the despot and the oligarch find their protection in suspicion and in armed guards. Men, therefore, who administer an oligarchy, or any government based on inequality, must be on their guard against those who attempt revolution by the law of force; but you, who have a government based upon equality and law, must guard against those whose words violate the laws or whose lives have defied them; for then only will you be strong, when you cherish the laws, and when the revolutionary attempts of lawless men shall have ceased.”

-Aeschines Against Timarchus

Or, as a US President repeated centuries later:

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)

“Democracy is not so much a form of government as a set of principles.”

-Woodrow Wilson

Crazy? -Three reasons why D.Trump will be the next US President

 

  1. He’s portrayed as the underdog
  2. Hillary Clinton should be rollin’. She’s struggling
  3. His boisterous public speaking

My personal opinion about Donald Trump doesn’t matter. But I do find quite amusing that many american citizens miss the days when Sara Palin was the scariest republican candidate ever. However impropable this seems right now, if someone examines the political situation in the US, it seems clear that all factors lead to the conclusion that D.Trump will win not only all preliminary elections but the Presidential ones too.

  • Constant attacks by the media most of the times have the opposite effect. Remember the case of G.Bush Jr . Ask yourselves: have you tried using arguments against Trump’s fiery speeches or did you just call him ‘racist’ and forgot about it? If you’re following the latter, congratulations: you’re following the same pattern that re-elected G. Bush.
  • Let’s face it: Hillary Clinton as a politician is not exactly a ‘super-star’. Above all, everybody’s talking all the time not why we should vote for Hillary… Instead we only hear why we shouldn’t (we mustn’t actually!) vote for Trump.Campaigning for a ‘negative vote’ is another huge mistake.
  • His radical – emotional speech never fails to make an impression.  Some media accuse him of being a demagogue, but it’s Hillary Clinton that uses a ‘well-refined’ language. D.Trump speaks out loud even for controversial matters. H.Clinton softens up everything.

The deciding factor in the 2016 US elections will be the so-called ‘silent majority’.

Donald Trump’s disdain for political correctness is one of his characteristics that will eventually win the vote of the silent majority

hillary

Propaganda

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” –Winston Churchill

A comprehension on a satisfactory level of the functions and mechanisms of propaganda makes you a better citizen.

WW2 poster
WW2 poster

I always believed that propaganda should be taught in high-schools. If I was to defy this term I’d simply say that it’s to disseminate a message to people through specific mediums, for a specific aim. Many believe that there’s no negative sign before this noun. It’s the use of it that can be characterized as positive or negative. Propaganda evolved into a real ‘science’ during the 20th century. The word itself takes us back to the 17th century and the origin of the term, when Pope Gregory XV founded a department charged with the spread of “the Faith”, the famous Congregatio de Propaganda Fide.

In the 20th century two names easily stand out: the great Vladimir Lenin and his most successful “disciple”, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Most techniques and methods still used today were created or perfected by those two masterminds of propaganda.

Lenin in his office
Lenin in his office
Goebbels in his office
Goebbels in his office