In the course of research that I am doing, I re-read “The Struggle For Democracy”, a 1988 tome by Patrick Watson and Ben Barber. It is the ink companion to a CBC television series of the same title run at that time, which Watson had produced. He is a remarkable man, best known for co-hosting with Laurie LaPierre the then “must-watch” Sunday evening CBC program “This Hour Has Seven Days”. It ran in 1964 – 66.
Parenthetically, lest I miss an edition of the “7 Days”, I bought a Sony pocket radio made for the Japanese market, where the short wave radio band was the one Canada used for televison sound. With that I could access “7 Days” in real time from anywhere I happened to be. Thanks to Sony, on Monday, the morning after, at office coffee breaks I could discuss and debate the controversial issues aired at the evening before.
Back to the book now. I am irked by the authors who, after exalting those who gave democracy to the world, flip over to badmouth them. They went so low as to castigate the Greeks for condoning slavery, calling them misogynists and pronounced them pious. They insinuate no less that Plato was “stupid” and Socrates a shyster or worse. They do not define “Democracy” and cleverly sidetrack this issue to focus on the “pursuit of democracy” instead. They confuse the universal never-ending pursuit of freedom with Democracy, which is the objective of the “struggle” they discuss. A parallel is in practising a religion on Earth to gain entry to an ill-defined Paradise after death. This renders “The Struggle for Democracy” into a struggle for an illusion, which is non-conducive to a reasonable conclusion.
Since they are neither the first nor the last to do that, I am taking the opportunity to set the record straight. They admonish the Greeks for failing to abolish slavery 2 millennia and 3 centuries before Lincoln. Yes, oblivious to the passage of time, the intervention of Dante who made possible Stephenson who made the “Rocket”, the little steam locomotive which caused the need for slavery to wane, and which enabled Lincoln to “abolish” slavery. They castigate the Greeks ostensibly for being misogynists, this, long before the cotton-gin, microwave oven, clothes and dish washers, kindergartens and, yes, the “Pill”. In other words, a couple of millennia before the suffragettes would surface.
These “misogynists” Greeks created many splendid things one being their “Devine Services Provider”, a.k.a. Religion. That “religion system” has become the prototype of secular governance of contemporary societies more or less world-wide.
The Greeks Gods were called “Olympians” for the lived on the peak of Mount Olympus, eating ambrosia and drinking nectar, both coveted by humans to this day. Look at the Olympian Cabinet:
Please note the sex parity in the Godly Greek Cabinet and fathom how they did this 2 ½ Millennia before Nellie McClung, Margaret Attwood and the others who fought and won the war against the “male chauvinist pigs”.
Of courses, these deities were assisted by numerous “deputies” known as “Demi-Gods” each having well defined jurisdictions. Such as the perennially popular Dionysus, who was in charge of “Spirits, Leisure and Fun”. Such as the Nine Muses who ever since comprise the exclusively female Presidium of the conglomerate that operates the enormous chain of Museums, Theaters, Art Galleries, Concert Halls, A-muse-ment Parks and so on, which stud the Earth today.
Habitually, Humans create Gods in their own image. The Greek Pantheon reflects the mindset of the society which gave Democracy to the World.
Thank God for Them and That ...
Bits and Bites
Speaking English using Greek
February 9 is “Greek Language” day. Its significance is gauged by a third of the English Language being Greek. In sciences and philosophy the Greek contribution approaches 90%. Above all, Greek gave Democracy the Words to confront the Tyrants’ Swords.
I sought a clipping from the front page of the Montreal Gazette of late 1950s, relating Xenophone Zolotas “Speaking English using Greek”. He, then the Governor of the Bank of Greece, addressing an international Bankers Conference in the USA. He used only Greek words adopted in English. I didn’t find my clipping but I found the speech by Googling “Zolotas Speech”. It is a delight...