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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Sparta was a feminist utopia?



    The role of women in Spartan life is not the only aspect of this video that interested me but it stood out, anyone who has read The Gate To Woman's Country by Sherri S. Tepper actually sounds similar to this, although, as I understood it, the perpetual campaigning and state of war between the male warrior castes in Sherri's story is a means by which the shadow government of the women maintain control and prevent far greater wars ever occuring that the skirmish level conflicts by warriors that are not that great at the art of war anyway.

    The Gate to Women's Country - Wikipedia

    So what do you think? Was Sparta a feminist utopia or patriarchal war state? The reality is likely to be something in between or different altogether (these are modern ideas imposed on a pre-modern world after all) but I think it could be fun to talk about.

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    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    What little I know of it, mostly critisizations of Plato by Bertrand Russel, it was more along the lines of being egalitarian, as far as the citizens were concerned, in the service of a war state.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip View Post
    What little I know of it, mostly critisizations of Plato by Bertrand Russel, it was more along the lines of being egalitarian, as far as the citizens were concerned, in the service of a war state.
    The video describes women being the line of inheritance for wealth as opposed to fathers to sons, women being the heirs to fortunes would appear to have given them a lot of power behind the throne if that makes sense and allowing them to command vast wealth, often daughters were wealthy as they inherited from mothers, then joined their estate to men, who then died in battle leaving them everything, who then in their turn bequeathed their wealth in its entirety to their daughters and so forth and so forth.

    The end of the video is most interesting, the Spartan system of government is one I admit I knew little about, it is much less the dictatorship or oligarchy that I suspected, however, while it is a democracy, it has a council, perhaps like an electoral college but even more conservative, this is like the arch, arch conservative idea, they pretty much invented a system which could preserve tradition 100% and eliminate innovation, especially reform, 100% resulting in the society's decline, the Romans when they invaded Greece thought of them as an ossified fossil of a people.

    Its all in the video, very interesting.
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    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip View Post
    What little I know of it, mostly critisizations of Plato by Bertrand Russel, it was more along the lines of being egalitarian, as far as the citizens were concerned, in the service of a war state.
    Right. Women were needed for well, the production of warriors. But if the state was perpetually prepared for and at war - who was running things in Sparta? Women. They could inherit, own property, divorce, compete equally. I think their government was a combination of monarchy, democracy and oligarchy - I say that because rulers were drawn from two or three families.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.
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    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip View Post
    What little I know of it, mostly critisizations of Plato by Bertrand Russel, it was more along the lines of being egalitarian, as far as the citizens were concerned, in the service of a war state.
    Egalitarianism through mass enslavement of Helots.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Egalitarianism through mass enslavement of Helots.
    The history of the world is the history of class struggles. I thought you knowed that.

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    Regardless, it's easy for someone, whether part of the ruling class or a class exempted from war, to advocate for and glorify it when they don't have to directly participate in war. Double benefit for the exempt when the serving class feels compelled to serve in war with the approval of the exempted classes as their ultimate reward. Then it becomes easier to amass an army of willing servants.

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    Level 8 Propaganda Bot SpankyMcFly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post


    The role of women in Spartan life is not the only aspect of this video that interested me but it stood out, anyone who has read The Gate To Woman's Country by Sherri S. Tepper actually sounds similar to this, although, as I understood it, the perpetual campaigning and state of war between the male warrior castes in Sherri's story is a means by which the shadow government of the women maintain control and prevent far greater wars ever occuring that the skirmish level conflicts by warriors that are not that great at the art of war anyway.

    The Gate to Women's Country - Wikipedia

    So what do you think? Was Sparta a feminist utopia or patriarchal war state? The reality is likely to be something in between or different altogether (these are modern ideas imposed on a pre-modern world after all) but I think it could be fun to talk about.
    Didn't watch the video but the topic is an old one actually. I first became aware of their system and women's role in governing via this paper I read years ago. http://www.colby.edu/economics/SW99.pdf

    “Rulers Ruled By Women”An Economic Analysis of the Rise and Fall of Women’s Rights in Ancient Sparta


    Throughout most of history, women as a class have possessed relatively few formal rights. The women of ancient Sparta were a striking exception. l though they could not vote, Spartan women reportedly owned 40 percent of Sparta’s agricultural land and enjoyed other rights that were equally extraordinary.We offer a simple economic explanation for the Spartan anomaly.The defining moment for Sparta was its conquest of a neighboring land and people, which fundamentally changed the marginal products of Spartan men’s and Spartan women’s labor. To exploit the potential gains from a reallocation of labor – specifically, to provide the appropriate incentives and the proper human capital formation – men granted women property(and other) rights.Consistent with our explanation for the rise of women’s rights, when Sparta lost the conquered land several centuries later, the rights for women disappeared. Two conclusions emerge that may help explain why women’s rights have been so rare for most of history. First, in contrast to the rest of the world, the optimal (from the men’s perspective) division of labor among Spartans involved women in work that was not easily monitored by men. Second, the rights held by Spartan women may have been part of an unstable equilibrium, which contained the seeds of its own destruction.

    No spoilers. You'll have to read it if you want to know more Equally interesting is the collapse of Spartan culture and eventual annexation by the Achaen League. Does this sound familiar? As the culture prospered and near the height of Spartan influence demographic winter began to creep and eventually contributed to their collapse. Western 1st world anyone? Here is an excerpt.

    Yet the same rights that strengthened women’s incentives to manage property evidently weakened their incentives to bear children, something the Spartans were unable to reverse despite policies designed to encourage larger families. After several centuries of population decline, Sparta lost control of its captive land and labor, and rights for Spartan women disappeared.
    Guess what happens next? You guessed it, round 2! Fast forward a few centuries. Rome also relied heavily on slaves as a labor force and as prosperity began to flow after the Punic Wars a demographic winter 'of sorts' began to creep. See Rome relied heavily on their male citizens to fight their wars, who were able to do so because of their slave labor force, but you first have to have male babies to start that cycle. Their male population problems became so bad that they instituted a bachelor tax. When that among other 'incentives' didn't work they simply reduced the qualifications for Roman citizenship, which predictably didn't work out so well since the people being granted these 'rights' didn't have the cultural history of your typical Roman.


    @Coriolis

    It thus became optimal for Spartan men to assign substantial responsibility for agricultural management to Spartan women. However, in order for women to fill that role effectively, they had to be given the appropriate incentives in the form of secure rights to property, discouraged from spending time in alternative income-generating activities, and provided with the proper human capital. And so Spartan men rewrote the constitution.
    Something we greed upon, I'm referring to China and one way to address birth sex disparity in China. One necessarily needs 'rights' in order to fulfill one's responsibilities they are intertwined.
    "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... Some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age. " - H.P. Lovecraft

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    Level 8 Propaganda Bot SpankyMcFly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Egalitarianism through mass enslavement of Helots.
    The enslavement of Messians wasn't their only problem :P

    At the stage of paidiskoi, around the age of 18, the students became reserve members of the Spartan army. Also, some youths were allowed to become part of the Crypteia, a type of 'Secret Police', where the members were instructed to spy on the Helot population. They would also kill Helot slaves who were out at night or spoke about rebelling against the Government, to help keep the population submissive. The state supported this by formally declaring war on the Helots every autumn. This meant killing a Helot was not regarded as a crime, but a valuable deed for the good of the state.[1]
    Agoge - Wikipedia
    "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... Some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age. " - H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpankyMcFly View Post
    Didn't watch the video but the topic is an old one actually. I first became aware of their system and women's role in governing via this paper I read years ago. http://www.colby.edu/economics/SW99.pdf


    No spoilers. You'll have to read it if you want to know more Equally interesting is the collapse of Spartan culture and eventual annexation by the Achaen League. Does this sound familiar? As the culture prospered and near the height of Spartan influence demographic winter began to creep and eventually contributed to their collapse. Western 1st world anyone? Here is an excerpt.



    Guess what happens next? You guessed it, round 2! Fast forward a few centuries. Rome also relied heavily on slaves as a labor force and as prosperity began to flow after the Punic Wars a demographic winter 'of sorts' began to creep. See Rome relied heavily on their male citizens to fight their wars, who were able to do so because of their slave labor force, but you first have to have male babies to start that cycle. Their male population problems became so bad that they instituted a bachelor tax. When that among other 'incentives' didn't work they simply reduced the qualifications for Roman citizenship, which predictably didn't work out so well since the people being granted these 'rights' didn't have the cultural history of your typical Roman.


    @Coriolis



    Something we greed upon, I'm referring to China and one way to address birth sex disparity in China. One necessarily needs 'rights' in order to fulfill one's responsibilities they are intertwined.
    Have you read Unwin's Sex & Culture

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