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“All institutions attain a certain momentum towards the self-preservation of their vested interests.” Terence McKenna

Myth in modern parlance is typically used to refer to a falsehood or fiction. However, derived from the ancient Greek word “mythos”, a myth was originally defined as an image of the world, i.e. a narrative inspired by our apprehension of the transcendent. Myths (e.g. the biblical account of Genesis) are the grand narratives that all civilisations thrive upon.

“The Athenian people felt their freedom all the more keenly, as the owners of people who had lost theirs.” Bettany Hughes

These are just a few of the reasons why the legitimacy of Athenian democracy has come in for criticism by various scholars. However, in the realm of political affairs progress is invariably slow, and although these early pioneers failed to reconcile certain contradictions they nonetheless left an enduring legacy: the sovereignty of the individual, not just as an idea but a reality. It is well to note, also, that the Athenian system of voting was cleverly designed to safeguard against corruption. Therefore, it was not entirely without merit.

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“There is a standard view about democratic societies and the role of the media within them. It’s expressed, for example, by Supreme Court Justice, Powell, when he spoke of the crucial role of the media in effecting the societal purpose of The First Amendment — namely, enabling the public to exert meaningful control over the political process. That kind of formulation expresses the understanding that democracy requires free access to information, ideas and opinion. The same conceptions hold not only with regard to the media but with regard to educational institutions, publishing and the intellectual community generally.”

The motion here is that no government activity should escape the scrutiny of the press/public. But, as Chomsky goes on to illustrate, there has long been a contrary view held by the elite that dates back to the early seventeenth century, when civil war erupted in England. As far as the Royalists were concerned, democracy was a game for the elites, not the ignorant masses who have to be marginalised and controlled for their own good. In 1660, a historian and critic of the radical democrats wrote:

“They have made the people thereby so curious and so arrogant that they will never find humility enough to submit to a civil rule.”

The same view was maintained in the American colonies and The Founding Fathers who were of the mind that: “The people who own the country ought to govern it.” (John Jay, 1745 —1829). Echoed again, and elaborated, by the writings of Walter Lippmann (1889–1974): “ … the common interests very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialised class whose personal interests reach beyond the locality.” (Public Opinion, Harcourt publications, 1922)

“Once we have surrendered our senses to the private manipulation of those who would benefit from taking a lease on our ears, our eyes and our nerves, we don’t really have any rights left.” Marshall McLuhan

So much for democracy!

Aries; chess enthusiast/teacher; agent of consciousness. Words belong to those who use them, only till someone else steals them back!