Class and conflict in ancient greece
Frantz Gheller: War in Ancient Greece / Tobias Reichardt: Social Domination in Greek Philosophy
War in Ancient Greeceby Frantz Gheller
If war is as old as humanity, as common sense suggests, it nevertheless cannot be viewed as a transhistorical phenomenon whose causes have altogether changed little since the ancient times. In sharp contrast with some Realist theorists that base their works on Thucydides to assert that the essence of international relations has remained unchanged since ancient Greece, we propose to explore how the contributions of Ellen M. Wood to the sociology of relations international show how war is always rooted in a political, cultural and socio-economic context that radically influence its whole raison d'être. By insisting on the causal links between war and historically specific social regimes of property, we realize that military activities in pre-capitalist societies are mainly a continuation of economics by other means since the ownership of wealth in these societies is typically based on the use of direct coercion rather than on the improvement of productivity as in capitalist societies. In this regard, the ancient Greece provides a striking instance of the way it is possible to understand how war is linked to historically specific social-property regime.
Social Domination in Greek Philosophyby Tobias Reichardt
From a Marxist point of view, it is obvious that social domination influenced Greek philosophy essentially. My paper will focus on the paradigmatic theoretical standpoints of Greek philosophers towards social domination. At least three paradigms of ancient social and political philosophies are to be distinguished: firstly, relativism and social contract theory which is to be found in the sophists’ thought and in Epicurus. Secondly, the attempts to base social domination on nature (Plato and Aristotle), on the nature of the individual as well as nature in the sense of a divine world order; thirdly, the Stoa teaches the autonomy of the individual, but at the same time accepts the social role as rooted in ‘nature’ and ‘fate’. My paper will discuss the Greek Philosophers’ views of slavery, of the role of women, and of political domination. Whereas bourgeois scholarship often views Greek philosophers as predecessors of liberal democracy, I want to show that they have to be understood as responding to the social conflicts of their times.