Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Democracy

A friend was complaining about the booing of "elder statesmen" at the Democratic National Convention. In the same letter she held up Periclean Athens, Renaissance Florence and 19th century Britain as model democracies.

I wrote this in reply...

Democracy is a rough and tumble business. There's an episode in one of Trollope's novels where a guy wins an election because he withstands a barrage of rotten fruit and dead cats with more sang froid than his opponent. It seems to me that the behaviour of Bernie's people at the convention is fully in accord with that noble tradition. I don't know how Athenian legislators comported themselves but Florence was like a wild west town- and then some- with lots of street violence, knifings, assassinations. Smoothly-running, stage-managed political gatherings- with lots of respect accorded to elder statesmen- is what one expects from dictatorships.
Freedom means freedom to behave badly or rudely as well as with exquisite manners. If Athens and Florence and 19th century Britain were creative and progressive it's partly because their people were at liberty to throw dead cats around.
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