was energized in large part because all 30,000 people could not be at every single Assembly meeting, but they could all be at some meetings every year. This meant that those citizens who were not there (the 4 out of 5) had good reasons to ask those who were there (the 1 in 5) what had happened. They needed to know, not only because any new laws might directly affect them personally, but even more, because they themselves were also part of the government and responsible for all the laws and their consequences. This encouraged them to critically consider what the Assembly had done in their absence. If what they heard seemed outrageous to enough of them, they could come to the next meeting to stop the madness — and they had the power to do so. Thus, between the meetings of the Assembly, the ratio of 5 to 1 created a public conversation among the rulers — the people themselves — that could bring forth new ideas for doing things better.

But the 5:1 ration is a guide. Today, we may want to tinker with the size of the Assembly itself. 6,000 may seem far too large to many of us. After all, there are no more than a few hundred people in a

modern house of representatives or a parliament, and even fewer in a senate, and many of their decisions determine the lives and deaths of millions, even potentially billions, of people. But we must be very careful here. We must remember that these republican legislatures are institutions of oligarchy. Packed almost completely with politicians who are Guardians of the Few and, at times, with members of the Few in person, they do a wonderful job of serving the Ruling Few while they say they serve that mysterious, abstract god, the “People.” The function of the democratic Assembly, however, is just the opposite. It is the main institution of real democracy because it gives the real people the power to make their own laws and to serve themselves. In order for each and all of the people to do this, the Assembly must be much, much larger than the republican legislatures — in addition to being an open, revolving circle. Certainly some adjustment is possible, but 6,000 is still close to the best size. Too far under this number lets the Few stack the Assembly with their “yes” men and women, changing the democracy into a republic, and too far over this number invites