1st Session: TECHNOLOGY
Setting the Framework and Message of the Conference Works: Sustainable Development in a Healthy Humane, and Capacitated World.
The first Athens Calls Athens Conference (ACA) under the theme ‘Man and His Creations’, offers a formidable opportunity to people of different backgrounds and disciplines, inspired by the eternal ideas and principles originating from ancient Athens but still vivid and valid today, to exchange their views and suggest approaches addressing the current and emerging challenges of our planet and our society, that derive from the gigantic expansion of the Anthroposphere over the natural environment. A series of related pressures, such as: overpopulation, unsustainable production and consumption, erratic economies, ignorance/lack of education inefficient mechanisms, are inter-linked in an increasingly complex world.
The works of the conference are structures along six thematics, namely Technology, Society, Health, Environment, Economy and Humanity. All themes need to be approached in a multi-disciplinary way or rather an inter-disciplinary/trans-disciplinary way in order to seek integration and synergies. They already make immediately evident the aims, philosophy, design and the overall methodological approach to be followed throughout the works of the conference; in fact it has to do with approaching sustainability or more precisely approaching sustainable development which is considered a monodrom today and our ultimate goal in this conference.
The participatory and multi/intra-disciplinary processes offer the methodology to approach more effectively the overall goal for a more human, more safe and more healthy world, to reach some useful results from the deliberations during the work of the conference and help in orienting and framing the follow-up and future Athens Calls Athens steps.
Economy, Society and Environment are the known three pillars of Sustainable Development and the questions are ‘for what’, ‘for whom’ and ‘how’.
For the first two questions a brief answer can be: for a better human world that means a society physically and mentally healthy and secure/safe. In this sense, safety goes beyond national security and independence and it should include conditions safeguarding human rights and decent living for all people. For the ‘how’ the answer can be through a capacitated world with an empowered more equitable and responsible society, reducing vulnerability for the least privileged part.
Sustainable development can also be imagined as a TetraedronTetrahedron where Environment, Economy and Society are the three sides and Governance is its basis. Major tools of governance are the institutions, the science and technology, and education, the awareness and strengthening/promotion of the appropriate culture to permeate the entire society.
Athens Calls Athens insists on the last one mentioned above, namely Culture, in its sense as the spectrum of ideas that need reconsideration and change, but also as a unifying cement of all themes.
A culture for the 3rd Millennium with needed significant changes and re-orientation but also firmly rooted on eternal values and principles: democracy, human integrity, reason, freedom of speech, and others most of which were developed in this City (Athens).
2nd Session: SOCIETY
The Allure of Consensus and the Perseverance of Minority: Aspects of Democracy in the Hellenistic World.
Some ideas and findings are to be presented regarding phenomena of the Hellenistic Word (the period after Alexander the Great) that are considered to be interesting in our current world.
An inscription is described from the small island in the Aegean called Anafi, which preserves a decree dated to the 1st century B.C. about a local benefactor (evergetis) Arhonidas. The assembly of the people decides therein to thank him for his contribution to sustain the community through very significant honors during his life-time and after death. At the end of the decree it is mentioned that the relevant proposal has been subjected to a vote; the number of the voters is relatively small and there were 95 YES votes in all, which are considered that was not very different from what the total of citizens voted for – the island and the polis of course was and still is today of relatively small size. The whole of citizens expressed actually their absolute agreement on the proper reaction of the city for the services provided by this citizen as benefactor.
In the end of 2nd century B.C. in a similar manner the city of Kolofon in Asia Minor near Smyrna honored by a long decree its own benefactor Menippos son of Apolonides. The context of his activity is described therein as capital of the city in difficult times and had to do with the transition of Kolofon from the status of the city of Pergamene kingdom to that of a satellite of Rome and its final accommodation of the Roman province of Asia. At the end of the decree the city magistrate added the precise result of the respective vote in the assembly. It is remarkable that even in honoring such a remarkable man, the small minority of 16 people who voted contrary to the total of 1342 citizens (1,2%) was also noted in the decree. The rejective tendency might appear weak but it existed, therefore it was mentioned.
These two types of political decision either of full consensus or a distinct expression of a minority of opinion persistent but also mentioned are to be found in further preserved decrees of the Hellenistic World. This typology and its significance for the political development during this period caught the attention of historians.
Among them, the French historian Philippe Gautier emphasized first that the cases of decrees where a consensus is mentioned is not only from the Hellenistic but also from subsequent periods. Civic decrees mentioned neither consensus nor exact number of votes representing the majoriymajority or the minority. In these cases only the number of consenting votes is mentioned and the of a minority was omitted as the positive opinion had superseded the minimum of necessary votes .
Finally, there are four decrees from the 2nd century B.C. from Kos itself where an explicit consensus of the convened citizens appears. It is interesting that consensus was expressed by throwing only positive votes.
All this analysis is to show that we may say that if the majority is the moving force governing a democracy, the minority and its distinct presence of expression has always been the characteristic quality of democracy. The survival of democracy was not a concern only of the Hellenistic but of every phase of communal history.