Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Idiot has always been a word of rebuke, reproach and rebuff. But it has not always meant what it has now come to mean. In some ways, it meant much worse. In other ways, it meant much more.
Ancient Greeks would have used the word idiot to describe someone who was "not interested in politics." Wait. Before the jokes come flowing in, please recall that in Athenian Greece politics did not mean what it has come to mean today. More on that later.
According to Webster's Word Histories (1989), the word idiot comes from Greek, idiotes, through Latin idiota, and then middle French, idiote. It derives from the original Greek root idios which means pertaining to one's own self, private, peculiar, self-focused, separate. The words `idiom' or `idiosyncratic', for example, derive from similar roots.
In Athenian democracy an idiotes was a person not active in - or not capable of being active in - public affairs. From this flowed the idea of an idiot as an `ignorant person' and later evolved into our modern sensibility of an idiot as an insult to someone's intelligence.
True to Athenian arrogance, it was even then a disparaging and derogatory label. As, in fact, was the idea of the `common man' - `common' precisely because they were focused on individual gain and not the societal good.

Politics was matters pertaining to the polis, or city. But the only thing worse than idiots who are not interested in the common good are idiots who want to capture the 'polis' to serve their own self aggrandizement. We have plenty of those.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 05:59:33 AM EST
And those the Athenians called tyrants.
by fjallstrom on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 08:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For Aristotle, there was an essential distinction between the two Greek forms of monarchia (one-man-rule), namely basileia, traditional kingship according to established forms of law, and tyrannis, the rule of a tyrant. They differed in their very origin. Kingship, says Aristotle, 'came into existence for the purpose of helping the better classes [hoi epieikeis--just another name for the propertied class] against the demos' (common people), whereas tyrants arose 'from among the common people and masses, in opposition to the notables [hoi gnorimoi], so that the demos should not suffer injustice at their hands ... The great majority of the tyrants began as demagogues, so to speak, and won confidence by calumniating the notables' (Pol. V. 10, 1310). A little later he says that the king 'wishes to be guardian of society, so that those who possess property may suffer no injustice and the demos may not be subjected to arrogant treatment', whereas the tyrant does just the opposite and in practice considers only his own interests. The tyrants, who had fulfilled their historic role long before Aristotle's day and by this time were often the oppressive and despotic figures he conceives most tyrants to have been, receive almost uniformly hostile treatment in our surviving sources. One single figure emerges only slightly tarnished: the Athenian tyrant Peisistratus, who receives some positive encomia from Herodotus, Thucydides and Aristotle.

I must not leave the subject of Greek tyranny without recalling some passages in Marx, inspired by the seizure of power in France by Louis Napoleon in December 1851: these are cited in II.iii above.

Ste. Croix, The Class truggle in the Ancient Greek World, p 284
by Cat on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 03:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The literary and logical standards of the European Tribune are improving by leaps and bounds...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 04:11:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 04:28:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Democrats to Biden: Go big on executive actions, even with Senate control, of tyrants, filibusters, "Reid Rule"
After watching in horror at the ways President Donald Trump wielded the power of the executive, progressives say they are eager for Biden to do the same. Democratic lawmakers and outside groups are readying lists of executive actions they want Biden to enact early in his presidency.
The push for sweeping use of executive action has created a strange dynamic within the Democratic Party. Lawmakers are increasingly eager to cede their legislative power to Biden -- but Biden says he doesn't want it.
archived The Dictator and The Decider
by Cat on Mon Jan 11th, 2021 at 05:08:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Top Diaries

Occasional Series