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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

The United States government has been compared to the 4th century BCE democracy of Athens for centuries, and is often viewed as a copy of that ancient city-state. While this appears true superficially, it is important to determine whether the two systems of government are actually alike. When the United States Constitution (1788 C.E.) and Aristotle’s Constitution of the Athenians (~327 B.C.E.) are compared, one finds that while the structures and political bodies are similar in form, their function and behavior are very different. This is not just due to a difference of 2000 years, or that they had different technology, but because of fundamental variations in legislation and roles in government. In fact, based on the etymological meaning of the word “democracy”, it can even be said that neither is a “true” democracy in the first place, due to either an exclusion of a majority of citizens (Athens) or the implementation of representatives rather than direct voting (United States). As clean as it would be to say that Athens and America are alike in their government, that statement is factually inaccurate.

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