Week #9: The Greeks Chasing Greatness / Peter Linebaugh & Denis O’Hearn

The Greeks Chasing Greatness” presents the various ways the ancient Greeks lived and which aspects greatly affected the world, especially America. One great system we inherited from the ancient Greeks was democracy. They believed they needed a system that was for the people, from the rich to the poor. Many Americans nowadays who support democracy also believe that the people are able to make a change. Unfortunately, it’s been building up over the years to be the opposite of what a democracy was originally meant to be. Americans rely on representatives to carry out decisions, but the Athenians did not. As we learned in class, a lot of what the American government supports is what the rich demand, as the rich are the ones benefiting the government. Another difference is how the Athenians took politics very seriously, in which they looked down upon those who did not participate. Americans are entitled to their opinion, and it is not extremely looked down upon if one does not care much to participate in politics. I wouldn’t think the ancient Athenians would believe American democracy is a true democracy, and I also don’t think Americans are spreading democracy either. The Athenian government and American government seem to have different goals and values when it comes to democracy.

Peter Linebaugh spoke of how capitalism affects the rest of the people, mostly those who are struggling the most. He believed that the one percent in America needs to take part in the problems occurring in the commons as they keep building up when the rich get richer. He also believed that happiness ended when capitalism came about. I agree with what he had said since many continue to struggle while very few actually make it and achieve the American dream. When I think of a time before the boom of capitalism, I think of how the commons was peaceful and doing fine. For example, back then in the Native American tribes, everybody worked together to provide food and shelter. It was participatory and there was not overharvesting of resources. A point brought up by Denis O’Hearn in the other interview was how people would be a lot more motivated to benefit the community if there was no capitalism. This idea can be seen in how the Native American tribes lived back then too. A community with a lack of capitalism has a shift in priorities. Instead of aiming to benefit your own family and constantly trying to beat the competition, people would be working with one another in a fair manner that would benefit everyone. The slightest distraction of competition sets people in a self-benefiting direction, this leaves those who cannot be financially successful ignored and “exiled” from capitalism. It would be hard to shift away this kind of system and thinking, but it might be possible for America to make some changes if the government and one percent helped fix problems in the commons.