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CHAPTER 8Athenian Experiment

To save the democracy we thought we had, we must take it to where it’s never been.1

Frances Moore Lappé

Between the time of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian empires and the time of the American Revolution, the era of Empire was punctuated by two celebrated human encounters with egalitarian greatness. The first was Egypt’s golden age (1990-1786 BCE). The second, and better known, was centered in ancient Athens, a Greek city-state known for the graceful beauty of its art and architecture, its belief in the nobility of human achievement, and its devotion to human freedom. Our word democracy comes from the Greek word dēmokratiā: literally, “people power.” The two preceding chapters sought insight into the challenges ...

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