How to get rid of troublesome people?


Democracies are messy and confusing. They have many advantages and some disadvantages.


A peculiar disadvantage is that some people claiming to work in the interest of the people game the system to work only for themselves. Once in power these self centred, power maniacs corrupt democracy and entrench themselves completely. Impossible to eliminate, these people become a menace to society.


2600 years ago, the city state Athens, introduced a very successful democracy which lasted several hundred years. Athenians recognised that some people left to their antics would divide the people into factions and unnecessarily cause anxiety to the people.


Athenians introduced the system of 'ostracism', wherein each year one high profile person, mostly a leader, who become haughty, rude, inconsiderate, scheming etc. deemed too powerful or dangerous to the democratic system and cause anxiety to the people.


The simple procedure required the Athenian citizens to gather in the market place and write the name of the person who they thought should be banished on ostraka (pieces of broken pottery) which were used as voting tokens.


At that time papyrus was imported from Egypt and hence expensive whereas ostraka were abundant and cheaply available. The citizens scribbled the name of the person they wanted on their individual ostracon and the person who got most number of ostraka ( but with a minimum of 6000 ostraka) was was banished into exile from Athens for 10 years.



Many powerful people such as Aristides the most powerful general who defeated the Persians at Marathon was exiled in 490 B.C. and as was the famous and powerful general Themistocles in 472 B.C because they became haughty and did not care for the people but only about themselves.


The selfish system is slightly odd because the person is exiled even without being guilty. The citizens decide to punish someone first and then decide who it had to be.


This unusual practice forced leaders to take into consideration the opinion of most of the citizens and those that were socially inferior to them. Ostracism was a simply a pragmatic preventive measure that ensured no one ever became to big for his boots. The exiled person did not suffer any monetary loss or property confiscation etc, he or she just had to remove their presence from the community.


Would it not be a great idea if each year the citizens of the country could banish one person who they believe is causing anxiety to the people from each village, taluka, municipal corporation, district, state and at the national level?


While proposing this solution, I know it is fraught with challenges.

Considering the fact that they might cause problems wherever they go. Who will be prepared to receive and provide residence to such ostracised people?

Another questions also arises. With communications being what they are, physical presence may not be necessary to cause problems, using mobile phones, internet, social media etc.


Nevertheless the idea is an appealing one.

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