“Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the Ã©lite citizen’s imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.”
– John Ralston Saul
“It was during the first period of this constitution that the Athenians appear to have enjoyed the best government that they ever did, at least in my time. For the fusion of the high and low was effected with judgment, and this was what first enabled the state to raise up her head after her manifold disasters.”
-Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (hat tip: Steve Schwartz)
I offer a final thought for the evening. Last night, a dear friend and I were discussing the state of the world and the nation, particularly with reference to some of the more extreme economic proposals made by politicians and pundits of varying degrees of skill. My friend is one of the most intelligent, well-educated, level-headed, and reflective people I have ever known. He noted that the proposals in question reflected a radical embrace of a radical degree of government control of private affairs. He said, “I fear for America. The people really won’t stand for democracy much longer.”
Coming from this source, that sent chills down my spine. I hope he’s wrong. But I think he might be right.
[Author’s note: In the spirit of my four other posts today, I choose not to explicate this post any further. As one of my favorite math professors used to say, “The proof of whether I’m right or wrong – and I’m right – is left as an exercise to the reader.”]