When Pnyka will go to citizens
By Demosthenes Kyriazis
(Note: “Pnyka” is a hill opposite and southwest of Acropolis in Athens. Since the end of the 6th c BC it has been established as the place where the “Ecclesia of Demos”, that is the assembly of ancient Athens citizens, convened. Afterwards it has been recognized as a landmark of Democracy).
The today’s crisis and its overcome.
Nowadays the word crisis is heard a lot, louder and more often than in the past; crisis of the political system, crisis of the economical system, crisis of the educational system, crisis of the health system, crisis…. crisis… crisis…..
The today’s deep and general crisis has provoked disappointment to the people, particularly to the young men, and has led them even to deny their small and highly eliminated power of their electoral right. In some cases this disappointment has led them even to actions of violence.
It is self-understood that the prevailing crisis, the source of all the before-mentioned ones, is that of the political system because this system has the institutional responsibility and power to determine the characteristics of the others.
What are we therefore doing to surpass the crisis of the political system?
a. We cross our hands and wait for a new Messiah to save us?
b. We strive to choose a genuine and not an imitation Messiah?
c. We rebel against the current Messiahs in order to overthrow them and bring some others who have, or we think that they have, unmistakable recipes to overpass the crisis?
d. We reject to-day’s status of some Messiah’s adherent and we bring forth again the status of “the ruler and ruled citizen” (άρχων και αρχόμενος πολίτης) that is the status of responsible and powerful citizen, the status of Citizen-Messiah?
The friends of the Digital Direct Democracy (DDD) believe, that the present crisis can be faced only with the 4th way and that possible good results from any of the other ways, will be provisional and therefore the crisis will continue.
The solution of the “Citizen -Messiah”, which the friends of Digital Direct Democracy propose, is not arbitrary, but based on the following historical data.
In the Athenian Democracy- the Direct Democracy as we name it today - the following were in force:
(1). Unique and supreme Power Organ[i] was the citizens themselves. This means that all major decisions[ii] (μέγιστες αποφάσεις) were taken from the citizens’ assembly, named “Ecclesia of Demos”. The plethora of the minor decisions, which are induced and restricted from the major decisions, were taking Operational Organs[iii].
(2). Operational Organs named Archontes[iv] (leaders), have no substantial power, neither legislative, nor juridical, and they did not take the major decisions. The leaders were then real servants and assistants of the Ecclesia of Demos. Archontes were citizens chosen by raffling and, occasionally for the army, by voting. The duration of their service was one year. Archontes were like top operational organs or like generals, of today's states.
In our times Democracies differ substantially from the Democracy of the ancient Greek spirit. The more important differences are the following:
Nowadays’ citizens are not power organs, but simple spectators or followers of their representatives.
Leaders (archontes) instead of being operational organs as they were then, they have been upgraded to power organs.
Operational organs today are determined from the representatives and for this they are actually servants of representatives and not of citizens. In the ancient Greek Democracy they were chosen by lot or by the citizens’ voting
Citizens today have been in reality alienated from any participation in the taking of major decisions. That means that they have no power at all. The only power still remained to them is to chose those persons who exercise the power. However, even this choice is implemented through procedures established not from the citizens themselves but by those exercising the power.
The abovementioned comparative data explain why then were “rulers, ruled and responsible citizens”, while today they have been transformed into simple voters, adherents of some messiah. Besides, they explain why “the public life was so much tied with the private one, that you could not distinguish one from the other” [v]. Also explain why today men are interested only in their private life and are fully indifferent to the public life which is abandoned at the representatives’ competence and responsibility.
This degradation, if not annulment, of citizens’ power, as it is easily understood, led to the degradation of their responsibility for the public life and for the solution of the state’s problems. The creation of responsible citizens without power, that is the aim of representative democracies, is incompatible to the laws of nature and therefore unattainable.
A second important historical fact is the following:
It is generally accepted that the greatest civilization ever appeared worldwide, is the classical one of ancient Athens. The appearance and culmination of this civilization happened in the same place and in the same time when Democracy appeared and culminated (5th c BC in Athens). Such a coincidence can’t be a random event, but is a proof that there is a strong connection between democracy and civilization. It proves that democracy and civilization constitute an indivisible entity and that there can’t be civilization without democracy and vice-versa.
The before-mentioned data constitute a proof that an effective and permanent surpassing of the political system crisis, presupposes the transformation of voters/adherents of a certain Messiah into "rulers, ruled and responsible citizens". Not exist Democracy with “citizens” without power, but exists an oligarchic regime falsely named Democracy.
The major difficulties of transformation.
The men’s transformation from followers /acceptors of power, into “rulers and ruled citizens”, presents many difficulties. The more important of which are the following:
1. The established perception created from the longtime function of oligarchic governments, that the substantial citizens’ participation in exerting power is a noble pursuit, but a utopian and dangerous one. The citizens have to be only for a reference to each power, but not power organs.
2. The interests of those in power, who for obvious reasons pursue that this perception not only not to be overturned, but to be reinforced and consolidated. The view expressed from politicians and some scholars that “the liberties and the citizens’ rights are not subject to the people’s decisions” sends a clear message for the pursuits of every type status quo: political, economic, social, and spiritual.
3. The serious functional difficulties and the very high direct and indirect cost, which was demanded for implement interactive informing of the citizens and their voting for the taking of great decisions. These difficulties and the cost were very big in the past, so they had rendered impossible the function of such form of government in states bigger than the town-states of ancient Greece.
From the above difficulties, these of the established perception and of reactions of the status quo, appear only during the transition time from one political system to another. They are provisional and belong to “transient phenomena”. On the other side the functional and economic difficulties, exist during the whole duration the system work. They are permanent, and belong to «standing-state phenomena".
As explained below, today, the great transformation difficulties are transitory/temporary and not permanent.
The digital Pnyka
In the Athenian Democracy, the transitory difficulties had been eliminated from the culture of town (πόλις). However the permanent ones, the functional and the economical, existed and it was necessary to be faced. This was achieved within the frames of the work at Pnyka, which was the main vehicle of the Athenian Democracy. The interactive informing, the deliberation and the votes for the major decisions, were taking place at Pnyka.
However the operation of Pnyka had serious functional and economical problems. Citizens were obliged to give up their works and their personal affairs in order to go the same time to Pnyka, something which created serious direct and indirect cost. These problems made possible the operation of Democracy only in small town-states such as those of ancient Greece. When town-states died, Democracy and Pnyka disappeared too. The duration of such a form of government was a short one, about 300 years
From these historical facts, a question comes out easily: Today, where states have multi-million's population, how the permanent problems of direct democracy are possible to be faced, in order to exist operational and economic possibility for a rational participation of the citizens in the taking of major decisions?
The answer is simple.
Today there is no need for the citizens to go to Pnyka and to face the before-mentioned problems. Thanks to modern digital technology Pnyka itself can go to citizens, in time they themselves want it. Thanks to technology, Pnyka can today go to everybody: rich and poor, to those with elementary or high education, to those who live in towns or in village, or in an isolated house on the mountains.
The only thing needed, is to be surpassed an erroneous established perception and to be recreate the Pnyka of the 21st Century, the Digital Pnyka.
[i] Power Organs are the state organs which take the major decisions.
[ii] Major decisions are the strategic decisions, which induce and restrict the plethora of necessary decisions for realize the major.
[iii] Operational organs are the state organs which take the plethora of the minor decisions, which are induced and restricted from the major ones
[iv] “Archontes”. The Greek word Archontes comes out from the word Αρχή (archi) and indicates those which being in front of a group, namely the leaders.
[v] “The civilization of ancient Greece”. By Maurice Croiset, of the French Academy.