05 Democracy and Demagogues in Ancient Athens w/ Josiah Ober

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Historian Josiah Ober of Stanford University joins us for a discussion on classical Athens and how the Athenian system compared to our own democracy. As Ober writes in his recent book The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece,

“Democracy and growth define the normal...conditions of modernity: Autocracy, while still prevalent, is regarded as aberrant, so that most autocrats pretend to be democrats.... These conditions were not normal, or even imaginable, for most people through most of human history. But, for several centuries in the first millennium BCE, democracy and growth were normal for citizens in ancient Greece."

Ober's book brings together archaeological data, economic theory, and historical and demographic models in order to explain the political developments of the classical Greek world. In it, he suggests that the Ancient Greek world was historically exceptional in many of the same ways that our modern world is. If that's true, what lessons, if any, can we take away from the Athenian experience?

Don't forget to check out the web page for this episode at greecepodcast.com/5 where you can join the conversation and vote in a poll we've set up about the future of democracy.

24 episodes available. A new episode about every 41 days averaging 45 mins duration .