Speech in Mesologi,
25 January 2005,
to the General Secretaries
of the State Districts.
25 January 2005,
to the General Secretaries
of the State Districts.
FROM AMPHICTYONIES AND THE GREEKS' COMMONS
TO MODERN EUROPEAN CONFEDERATION
TO MODERN EUROPEAN CONFEDERATION
Ladies and Gentleman,
I will not use special salutations, because I want to address you with the highest quality we all have, that of a Citizen. And this is because at this moment we are interested in a unique event in History: Since the Ancient times, the Greeks, and only the Greeks, created and instituted Democracy.
What seems obvious today was not at the time, since the authority of the absolute Monarch, who was identified with God, signalled the development of Culture in other Civilizations. While the Greeks instituted the political form of the elected representatives, in the rest of the world Monarchy dominated, the power was implemented, behind the scenes, by a political, and at the same time, religious clergy. On the contrary, in the long-standing Greek history there were many trials, convictions and executions of Kings through customary or written Law. In the Greek civilisation Law, and the Legislatory laws, turned to be the supreme Value and the high patron of the Citizen. We should not forget that Zeus himself was also identified as the Universal Law. The establishment and implementation of both Democracy and Law enabled and secured the quality of Citizenship and of Free Life. Greek conscience was deeply and profoundly interweaved with the concept of Law. We can point to the fact that, already from the second millennia BC, when Minos, according to Homer, after climbing to Cave Dictaio as Zeus's interlocutor, returned to the Community with the renewed Laws, written on copper plates, every nine years. Therefore, Written Law existed millennia before in Greece, and its renewal and modernisation according to new social necessities and standards was imperative. Let us evaluate the contrasting connotations that emerge here, in relation to historical falsifications and forgeries.
Democracy, as well as the other values derived from Democracy, is not self-evident. We should always shield, reclaim and defend Democracy using Paideia. Without Paideia there is no Democracy. Classical Greece has inherited Democracy as a World Heritage, and was eventually constituted after many bloodstained struggles. In Attica, in early times, Theseus was a great legislator, who crashed local oppressive despots-aristocrats, arranged society into organised income-classes and shield the people granting them civil and political rights. In Greece, when the large inherited kingdoms, with all their glorious and joyful civilisations, where Society participated fully, collapsed because of natural causes – geological, epidemic, etc – a social and political scenery arose for the people, not far from the corresponding one of Medieval Europe.
Consequently, various local rulers emerged, that is, their “princedoms”, were people lived almost as slaves. The situation is described in an exceptional way by Robin Lane Fox in his monumental work The Classical World; An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian. The local rulers began to struggle with each other, in order to ensure their land-ownership and to increase the number of landless and small farmers in their service. In their ferocious struggle for dominance, they had to equip the landless with iron weapons, train them and place a person belonging to this landless social group, and exhibiting leading and organizing skills, as their leader. This act marked undoubtedly their debacle, as the experienced military men overthrew them and gave social rights to the people. They were called “Tyrants”, a word having a completely different meaning from the cotemporary meaning; at those days it had the meaning of the “Leaders - Protectors”. Most of them practiced a policy friendly towards the people, managed to prevent by force the aristocrats from regaining their power, redistributed the revenue sources and supported economy. Therefore, rightfully Robin Lane Fox concludes that the way towards Democracy went through the process of Tyranny. Soon after, the great Legislators followed, up to Cleisthenes. Cleisthenes shielded Direct Democracy in a definite way, from which Classical Greece emerged. The values of this kind of Democracy can be traced up to nowadays. In modern terms, Cleisthenes defined and established congregationalism. Unfortunately, there also occurred sad digressions, where the social establishment was driven to Ochlocracy. However, these were moments in the total legacy. What was left until today as the highest heritage, is the system of values of Democracy, and any practical implementation of the ideals derived from it.
We have, not only because of debt to the moral order, but also to remember that Paideia shelters Democracy, to mention the drastic role the Sophists played. This “great generation”, as Sir Karl Popper fairly called them, fought decisively against religious and other prejudices and superstitions, instituted effectively Thought in human's life, as well as politics in society. Additionally, they set in reassessment the quality of the law and declared, through Protagoras's statement, that “Man is the measure of all things”. The Sophists led to a new anthropocentric view of society and made the individual, the Citizen, the central component who attributes meaning to the historical developments. Humanism stems from the democratic concept, and therefore it is fair to refer to Antiphon, who had, already by the fifth century, proclaimed the elimination of racial discrimination and provided a strong ideological impact against the establishment of Slave-owning. The Pre-socratic Exact Scientists contributed significantly to the discarding of superstition, and to the regaining of social dignity. The distinguished Heraclitus declared the necessity of people to fight for the preservation of Law, in the same way they fight for their fortification during a hostile attack.
The vanguard of Political Culture was the presence of Alexander, who set Ecumenism as a key value. His message was the following: we maintain our language and our cultural characteristics, we promote our products and develop our revenue sources, we allow free contact and communication in between the Nations and we live in peace without oppressing or being oppressed. This was the philosophical position and perception of the Stoics, who, until the reign of the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius, had set the grounds for the evolution of the European Thought.
The Greeks had always a certain place and time in order to gather and discuss their affairs. This body was called Boule (Parliament) and the place Bouleuterion (House of Parliament). The most ancient Bouleuterion we have discovered up to now is in Greece, situated in Poliochne, in Limnos island, with 50 seats for the legislature, dating back at the beginning of the 2nd millennia B.C. The excavations and the evaluation of the findings were performed by the Italian Archaeological School of Athens. This is considered to be the most ancient House of Parliament in Europe. This was the reason this site has been chosen in 1994 as the place where the decision that “the Aegean Culture belongs to the World Heritage Site” was signed by most important personalities from all over the Globe.
The Political Culture of the Greeks was shaped with Amphictyonies and Commons, i.e. the Commonwealth. The whole of Greece was structured in Commons, which in turn played a decisive role in the development of Culture. However, there were practiced two values of vast importance for the modern European history. The first was the AchaeanLeague, out of which the anxiety for the future of people, who do not develop their own dynamics of surviving, but their lives evolve according to the will of each Caesar, was reflected. The second is the Aetolian League, in which, and within this Commonwealth, the Principles of Equality before the Law and of Egalitarianism were constituted, and in which all citizens shared equal voting rights. Every citizen of each City was regarded potentially as a citizen of another City of the Commonwealth. The value of the Aetolian League heritage was that Equality before the Law and Egalitarianism were left as written Constitutions and Laws, and which were not followed just as customary laws. Therefore, these two values, combined and complementary to the written Law and Democracy that Athens constituted, are indeed the main pillars of the Political Culture of Europe. Their necessity, though, is ecumenical.
We must remember that after the Emperor Augustus, and until the 19th century, people never lived according to true Democracy and Constitution. However, the Political Culture of the Greeks was still in evolution. Rigas Feraios declared with Constitution and Laws the Commonwealth of the Balkan people. The suffering and tormented Greek people, counting at the time eighty-five hundred thousands souls altogether, establish their Constitution and elect Kapodistrias as a Governor, not as a king. One of the most important moments in the evolution of Humanism comes during 1823, the ninth article of the Constitution of Astros, and as this is repeated in 1827, in the Constitution of Epidaurus, which, as a continuation of the Thought of Antiphon and the Stoics declares the following: “In the Greek realm no man can be neither sold, nor bought. Any men who belong in any race and any religion, and can be bought, entering the Greek region, are free and will not be requested from their masters”.
We are in the period of time where the newest Commonwealth in the world is being organised and constituted; that of the United Europe. From a legal point of view it is a Confederacy, however we aspire and hope to emerge as an Amphictyonis of the Peoples and Cultures of our continent, according to the classical Greek political concept. Nevertheless, for the time being, we do not know the final features this political arrangement will attain, and thus we are all concerned about the factor that will serve as the catalyst that will determine the quality of its final convocation.
Greece has a historical right and obligation to articulate, as constructive materials, the Princuple of Equality before the Law, the Principle of Egalitarianism, and the values of Humanism for the newest Commonwealth of the world, the European Union. For this reason we proceeded to the foundation of this movement, so that, by the acceptance of the European Constitution, there will be annually and consistently inter- Parliamentary and Scholarly Conferences and Symposia. Their main subject will focus on the ideas of Equality, Egalitarianism, Democratic principles, the Society of the Citizens and Classical Studies. European Idea will acquire a different quality, if it is conducted annually and legitimately a meeting of the European Assembly in Delphi, or any other place in the Greek realm, that was embodied with the Ideas and Values. We invite you to participate in the Network referring to your quality as Citizens.