The Corner

Politics & Policy

Ancient Greece and Modern America

One of history’s lessons is that big government undermines the character of the people.  They get used to handouts from politicians and clamor for more.

In this essay, Professor Bruce Thornton, a specialist in ancient Greece, compares the situation in Athens, ca. 338 BC to that of the United States in 2021. He writes, “The great orator Demosthenes, who for decades tried to spur the Athenians to wake up to Phillip’s threat, explicitly linked Athenian torpor to their receiving state money, which created a ‘habit of mind’ that subordinated military preparedness and service to getting something for nothing. In another speech he made the same point: ‘The politicians hold the purse-strings and manage everything while you, the people, robbed of nerve and sinew, stripped of wealth and allies, have sunk to the level of lackey and hanger-on, content if the politicians gratify you with a dole from the Theoric Fund or a [religious] procession.’”

With its gushers of money borrowed, taxed, and created out of nothing by the Federal Reserve, the Biden regime is doing exactly the same thing as the rulers of Athens did so long ago. The end result will be ruinous, but “progressives” never think about the long run. They’re only interested in the exercise of power in the present.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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