Do We Have a Right to Self Determination?

The original concept of Athenian Democracy was to give the citizens of the City-State a say in key policy decisions of the nation.

Should we have that same right today? Or is it right that parliamentary democracy acts in what others believe are our best interests?

Let’s have your views.

I hope this makes for an interesting debate.

You can read background source material on the structure and methods of Modern Parliamentary Democracy and about the Athenian System on my political site resource.

Author: Paul

Spiritually me. For the Glory of the Most High. Visit my Facebook Page at

10 thoughts on “Do We Have a Right to Self Determination?”

  1. In Greece almost all males of qualifying age and qualifying ethnicity participated in the politics of Athens. It is said that trials were attended by up to 6,000 jurors. Imagine that?

    Everyone had a right to attend every session under the original system. After the time of the Thirty Tyrants, it was limited to the first 6,000 to avoid overcrowding.

    With modern electronics, we can communicate around the world without restriction, so it is arguably fair to return to these values of open social democracy in today’s age, if we are to truly engage people in the political process. Voting nowadays is at its lowest popularity with voter turnout of less than 40% in some cases.

  2. Hmm, not my subject, Paul, but –

    • It was males – not females.
    • It was a race based qualification.
    • I believe there were means tests for qualification, too.

    How about the Californian method of voting on every major issue?
    That seems to work pretty well.
    Besides, I speak Yank, but not Greek.   😉

  3. Bearsy, Thank you. I like the Californian system of participation, though I am by far not an expert on the Californian system and the pros and cons of it. (Anyone care to comment?)

    If you update the original idea of democracy it is not so bad.

    Sure it needs to include principles of equality, in terms of sex and age discrimination. Is it right however to exclude those who do not conform to your cultural identity? One could argue that if first generation or second generation immigrants hold more identification with their roots than their adpoted home, then yes. To do otherwise mght squeue the democratic principles of the established community. I can see a strong argument for why an immigrant doesn’t have shared values, ideals and therefore a place in the voting system. Then again, is there any harm to it? Look at the UK. That might give you an answer.
    Australia is firmly multi-cultural so I guess you see it differently to the problems we have?

  4. Please let me firmly correct you here on one thing, mate.

    Australia is NOT multicultural (the way most people use the word). We tried that for a while and it was, not surprisingly, a dismal failure – ghettos, almost, and inter-cultural bovver wiv boots on.

    What we’re striving for, and we ain’t doing badly, is assimilation and integration.

    We are made up from many cultures (>25% of us weren’t born here), but we are all Australian. We leave the disputes from our land of origin where they belong – back there. We love people to celebrate their culture of origin in festivals – food, dance and so on. But the idea here is to invite everyone else along to join in. And that’s what happens.

    Example: Many Aussies are of Greek or Italian descent. Many still speak Greek or Italian, bilingually or as a second language; they support their European football teams. But they’re Aussies first and foremost, and they can, and do, privately and on TV, take the piss out of each other’s races, and both types of Wops do it to the ex-Poms and vice versa.

    I’m not saying there aren’t occasional problems, particularly with our excitable ex-Macedonians, but it gets sorted when everyone cools down (usually).

    So we’re an eclectic mix, but our society is firmly not “multicultural”.

    End of rant. 🙂

  5. Paul, the Athenian model was an unwieldy beast, though no doubt popular with true-born sons. Government by referendum is an attractive idea but again it is impractical to a fault. The daily Parliamentary agenda can’t be boiled down to questions of max. 20 words and the administrative cost alone would bury it fast. Democratic government has to have filters and even if you don’t much fancy our present system, available options remain elusive.

  6. Vikinggood,

    Thank you for your comments. It is not that I advocate such a system but that we must start by discussing the virtues of various forms of government. The problem with the present system is that is is failed.

    Parliamentary democracy may have served well in the past but it has a number of flaws. Let me mention a few of the.

    Firstly it has become an institution ruled more by tradition than forward thinking pragmatism.It is a museaum peace and it has done its job for a long time, but like all things there comes a time for change.

    Secondly, we are seeing a general decay in the quality of the management and the way in which tinkering with the system has serious compromised it. For example, the erosion of the bicameral House by reduction of the elder statesmen and interference brought about by tactics of strategically promoting MPs into the chamer more for the expediency of making them less exposed to being unelected and more able to force through legislation that should have an independent scrutiny. The balance of power is compromised.

    Thirdly, there is the question of morality, the expense scandal and the income tax fraud and flipping of properties to flout parliamentary privilages. The House of Commons has shown no remorse, made no effort to reform and has brought no-one to justice. This is a breach fo trust and a loss of faith. We all know most MPs are waiting for resettlement allowances and fat pensions rather than being forced to go now. It is shameful.

    Fourthly, the Judiciary appears to have lost its independence from Government in the interpretation of law.

    We have an unelected Prime Minister (by that I mean one who we did not indirectly vote for at the time of the election) and who probably would not have won an election if proposed. The centre of power appears absolute. We have a weak cabinet in capable of independent decision, policy made on the hoof and as a knee jerk reaction to media and popularity.

    We have an ineffectual opposition and one that is afraid to express its views for fear of being usurped.

    We have minority parties and independents who do not have a fair say in proceedings because the whole of parliament is run along party lines.

    We have decisions that are not representative of the public or taxpayer interest and no accountability. No legal enforcement of manifesto promises, such as Labour’s vow to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

    We have a Conservative party that is part Etonian Whig and part Socialist that pursues a personal preference of its leader with no deference to arbitary fairness and no thought about random policy decisions like married couple allowance, increases in alcohol prices and fox hunting.

    We have an absentee Government incapable of fiscal disciple and direction.

    We have no overall strategic direction or vision.

    Taxpayers are being used as a syphon with no control on expenditure or thought for debt accumulation and we face a further recession if and when interest rates shortly look to rise.

    We have done little to reform the financial system and address urgent ‘boom & bust factors.

    The Government has misued public funds, wasting them on bailouts rather than protecting jobs and perhaps establishinbg an independent banking infrastructure to end dependence upon private banks.

    We have seen incompetent investment of public authority funds.

    We see daily promises of money for this and that, which Gordon Brown continues to make.

    I put it to you that the establishment is not fit for purpose and must be replaced with an alternative system of government that can sweep aside tyhis ineptitude and move forward.

    If California can have a more participatory form of politics, I am sure the UK can too.

    Thank you for your comments.

  7. I believe that the Athenian system only worked because the work was done by slaves.

    The first thing that one must to is regain control of the purse strings. Everything else would follow from that. But how one does that is anyone’s guess.

  8. Bo,

    I thought the opposite actually. We need to restructure the system so the people in charge have control of the purse strings, then phase II is economic reform.

    Greater social democracy, more say in headline issues, greater accountability to local authorities and better representation; a bill of rights and an obligation to the taxpayer to reduce cost of government not enlarge it.

    It is true that Politics cannot simply be treated as a ‘day out’ but then again why not? Electronics allow us more interactive ability, why not allow people to have a say?

    You have to ask who makes the rules and why? Is it right they dictate how we should live our lives and we do not any longer have a say? Down that road lies only slavery. We are already tax-cows for the state and that is morally wrong. People have a right to a quality of life and a fairer basis of contribution. Taxation has become too heavy a public burden.

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