We have been taught that in the free city state of Athens, in ancient Greece, the first Democracy was born. A few years later, in ancient Rome, similar idea got hold and was formed.
It wasn’t democracy; it was a refinement of the representative leadership. In these two powerful cities the ruling classes of merchants and wealthy landowners discovered new ways of thinking as always happens in growing Megacities.
Every city or state which grows rich from trade grows a class of travelers and explorers.
These traveling men – and women – return home from other cultures with new ideas and techniques. In essence a new science of the mind is born and if the growing city would have a closed mindset toward alien ideas its growth will cease, for it would lose its ability to communicate with the alien cultures.
Philosophy is born, the science of ideas, and the human animal expands its horizon.
The growing cities, as they grow richer, will develop powerful factions and within a short while these powerful gangs begin to have internal conflicts which often leads to violence. It is only reasonable that they soon realize that innternal conflict hinders their growing wealth and influence; internal war is bad for trade, but war with competing cities and conquest of trade influence is good for business.
Hence the tribal council is reestablished, but a growing Megacity is larger than a tribe and therefore a different model is invented. To create a perfect balance between the factions – which are the basis of the Oligarchy – the tribal council is turned into an assembly of elected officials of the internal city tribes. In the ancient times the Oligarchy made no attempt to hide itself but has since then learnt that it is better for its influence to stay in the shadows.
The word tribe is used here in the meaning of each oligarch and his – or hers – followers, servants, slaves, workers, and accountants, etc.
Athens and Rome established their semi democratic councils in slightly different ways but the fundamentals where the same. Their model works perfectly to maintain a balance between the powerful and influential economy powerfactions of the city – or growing state – and it also helps to put a veil over the eyes of the larger public.
The veil creates hypnotism for the growing public and establishes the idea that the council has real power and makes lawful (just) decisions. This helps to keep the masses at a bay, and consequently in times of unrest the people are more likely to attack the leaders in the assemblies rather than the oligarchs and powerfactions.
At the same time the oligarchs secretly own the leaders, pay them or otherwise keeps them fed, and effectively own them. How the ownership is established is, just like with feeding a certain belief system to the masses.
A belief system has more to do with emotional human nature of our predatorial minds. It helps the pack animal to follow the reasons and values which the system teaches and helps keeping large packs – or nations or even religious groups – together as a whole.
The leaders in the assemblies are no different than individuals from the public crowd, not possessing greater insight or skills, except for their vocal intelligence. They often come from a more privileged families, having better opportunities for quantitative education but not necessarily with deeper insight. Yet the oratorial or dialectic nature of the tribal leaders – or the ones the public believes to be the leaders – can easily maintain the illusion of logic and reason and effectively hypnotize the public.
The best illusion is whe the public bought, hook line and sinker, the truth that there is a difference between left and right. Humanity is not without its satirical side.
It is noteworthy that this democratic system of elected or chosen representatives has prevailed in almost all democratic societies so far – except for two that I know of. There are a few versions of this model but mainly the differences are simple details and hardly worth explaining in a short article.
When the history of democracy and its development in the modern world is analyzed we find one common trait in all of them. Since its inception, almost three millenniums ago and until today, every great advance in democracy has taken hold in a growing and powerful city.
London, Paris and Philadelphia are all birthplaces of democracy in some form, all of them at the time powerful Megacenters of commerce and trade, all of them holding threads of power and influence spawning other countries, states or continents, all of them in some way a multicultural environment just like Rome and Athens were.
Of all cities that have influenced the establishment of democracy only two of them have coined the term Republic. Rome was a republic even under the Emperors and the Senate was a loved and respected institution of that state. Philadelphia was also a birthplace of a republic, forming a Senate and a Congress; shaping two respected institutions to facilitate democracy.
When the history of democracy is researched, it is always born in a city or a city complex, except for the National Republic (Þjóðveldi) of ancient Iceland.