“Our constitution is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people. When it is a question of settling private disputes everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting of putting one person before another in positions of responsibility what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses. No one, so long as he has it in him to be of service to the state is kept political obscurity because of poverty.”
Pericles said this about 2,300 years ago. He was talking about the idea of Athenian democracy. Of course he ignores the fact that an awful lot of people were being excluded from ‘the whole people’, such as women, slaves and non Athenian’s. Even so what he says is startling in its relevance today.