, 10 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
So, how many quotes does anyone want from Thucydides and other ancient sources about Pericles dismissing the views of the people when he didn’t agree with them..? #PeoplesPMQs
Pericles, at least in Thucydides’ account, articulates a vision of democracy, true, but it’s one that is distinctly odd in a number of respects. And he is praised for *not* paying attention to the wishes of the people, unlike his successors, but for getting them to follow him.
Indeed, he was precisely the sort of elite politician who persisted in pursuing his own policy even after the citizens had voted against it, rather than accepting that he’d lost and should get over it.
Now, what’s most interesting about this is not whether Johnson’s admiration for Pericles expresses underlying autocratic tendencies. It’s the fact that Pericles - in this tendentious version - is repeatedly popping up in the regime’s current propaganda output.
In this Oh So Spontaneous And Informal Facebook broadcast, they could have selected a different question, or Johnson could have answered it differently - just gone on about Churchill instead. So, why Pericles?
Most obviously, stirring claims about Democracy that are not only conveniently vague - as in the original - but lay claim to Labour’s slogan: appropriating “the many not the few” as his own personal credo steals their thunder in the same way as making lots of spending pledges.
Perhaps there’s also a signal here to various bits of the E”R”G who are found of quoting the bits of the Funeral Oration that appear on war memorials, but mostly this is about asserting a direct popular mandate, unencumbered by inconvenient institutions or feeble equivocation.
It maintains the “random classical references” element of his persona but repurposes it for direct political advantage. Suggests his commitment to equality is rooted in his elite background, makes Labour claims seem less authentic as more ideological?
But mostly just an opportunity to insist on democracy and people power without having to get into any inconvenient detail...
It occurs to me in retrospect that I should have made the context clearer at the beginning; Boris Johnson, on a Facebook broadcast, talked once again about Pericles being his political hero... #Johnson #Pericles #ForTheManyNotTheFew

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