Western democracy is now at a critical juncture. Some worry that power has been wrested from the people and placed in the hands of a small political elite. Others argue that the democratic system gives too much power to a populace that is largely ill-informed and easily swayed by demagogues.
This classic study of democratic principles is thus now more relevant than ever. A renowned historian of antiquity and political philosophy, Sir M.I. Finley offers a comparative analysis of Greek and modern conceptions of democracy. As he puts the ancient Greeks in dialogue with their contemporary counterparts, Finley tackles some of the most pressing issues of our day, including public apathy, partisanship, consensus politics, distrust of professional politicians, and the limits of free speech.
Including three lectures that Finley delivered at Rutgers University, plus two additional essays that further illuminate his thinking, Democracy Ancient and Modern explores the dramatic differences between the close-knit civil society of the ancient Greeks and our own atomized mass societies. By mapping out democracy’s past and its present manifestations, this book helps us plot a course for democracy’s future.