20 How Democracies Fall Apart w/ Melissa Lane (stasis, Thucydides, Plato)


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Hundreds of city-states in the ancient world experimented with democracy. Most of them experienced some kind of civil strife at some point. What caused these breakdowns of social order, and are we headed towards a similar fate?

In this episode we explore the phenomenon of political polarization (stasis in Greek), its causes, and the solutions that ancient thinkers offered to prevent it from happing. Our guest is Melissa Lane, Professor of Politics and associated faculty of Philosophy and Classics at Princeton University, where she is also the director of the University Center for Human Values. Her most recent book is The Birth of Politics: Eight Greek and Roman Political Ideas and Why they Matter.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: To win a copy of The Birth of Politics, autographed by Melissa Lane, go to our Facebook page and share our latest post announcing this episode. Then, from our page, send us a message with the word "shared." On March 10 we will randomly select a winner.


The intro to this episode was provided by Nitin Sil of the Flash Point History podcast, a show that has done epic series on Attila the Hun and the Punic Wars. Check out Flash Point History on your podcast app or click here.

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