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Camouflaged Elites

Camouflaged Elites

Even in the mostly egalitarian city-states of relatively poor classical Greece, the wealthy were readily identifiable. A man of privilege was easy to spot by his remarkable possession of a horse, the fine quality of his tunic, or by his mastery of Greek syntax and vocabulary.An anonymous and irascible Athenian author—dubbed “The Old Oligarch” by the nineteenth-century British classicist Gilbert Murray—wrote a bitter diatribe known as “The Constitution of the Athenians.” The harangue, composed in the late fifth century B.C., blasted the liberal politics and culture of Athens. The grouchy...

March 22, 2018
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Dueling Populisms

Dueling Populisms

Populism is seen as both bad and good because people disagree about what it represents and intends. In the present age, there are two different sorts of populism. Both strains originated in classical times and persist today.   In antiquity, one type was known by elite writers of that time to be the “bad” populism. It appealed to the volatile, landless urban “mob,” or what the Athenians dubbed pejoratively the ochlos and the Romans disparagingly called the turba. Their popular unrest was spearheaded by the so-called demagogoi (“leaders of the people”) or, in Roman times, the popular...

April 13, 2018
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Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

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