Krytyka Prawa. Niezależne studia nad prawem
Polis as the Prototype of a Contemporary Community
Warsaw School of Economics
The Greek polis is the birthplace of a culture whose influence persisted despite the fall of the very form of polis. This culture plays a significant part in the life of communities of today, especially in the domain of the so-called Western culture. Polis means both state and city, but most of all it is “a society, a community of people living together”. This form of governance enabled equal citizens to exercise direct supervision over their governments. Polis itself was not an invention of ancient Greeks, but the public nature thereof, especially in the form of the debate-based democracy and the rule of law – not of people – turned out to be their contribution to the idea of a city-state. Democracy as a common form of a political system can be found particularly in the Greek culture of polis. The general notions deriving from the Greek polis, i.e. citizenship, democracy, equality, independence, autonomy or justice, express a desire for a better life of an individual in a community. The democracy of classical times, characterised by equal citizenship and freedom of speech, is considered as the first one to moderate fierce social-economic disputes. It is this polis that made it possible for philosophy and science to develop. The modern-day discussion on the state in a globalised and increasingly urbanised world can surely benefit from a reflection on the civil and legal dimensions of polis.