What were some of the strengths and weaknesses of Athenian Democracy?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most overwhelming strengths of Athenian Democracy was the basic idea that individuals were able to create some semblance of political power through their own voice.  Athenian Democracy was instrumental in suggesting that individuals can only be considered free if their possess political autonomy, the ability to impact issues politically.  In this, Athenian Democracy has to be seen as possessing strength, as it lays the foundation for how "the West" comes to see political power.  Human beings possess power when they are able to have a civic voice and make political decisions about their future.  The weakness of Athenian Democracy might exist in qualifying who was able to take part in such an autonomous experience.  Athenian Democracy literally made political power an exercise for men, only.  While it voiced the idea of "people rule," this did not include women.  A the same time, Athenian Democracy permitted the enslavement of others.  It seems that a government that stressed individual rule and the idea that people have power would lose some of said strength if it did not apply to all people.  In this, I think that Athenian Democracy has to be viewed as possessing a particular weakness in how it was not applicable to all.

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etotheeyepi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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The greatest defect might have been that the democracy tried to vote itself wealth.

See A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson.

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