Skip to comments.Is understanding Plato's "Republic" the key to understanding the left's need to have power? (vanity)
Posted on 10/24/2009 12:13:59 PM PDT by Benjamin Harrison
I was just teaching Plato's "The Republic" in school and a terrifying thought occurred to me
I think a simpler, and therefore more likely, explanation is that they think we are in the “dictatorship of the proletariat” stage, that is, the transition stage between capitalism and communism.
Now, your typical blue state voter lives in the city. Might have a criminal record. May not own a car. Scared of guns. No savings at all -- maybe no job. But, still, smart enough to vote for the Democrat ever time.
Face it: Democrats are just a superior kind of human. [/s]
Yes. And you are right to loath them for it.
The answer to your question is “YES”.
The bad news is these restraints are being dispensed with daily and there is little rising up of the people in a consistent, goal oriented way in which to put a stop to this take over. Thus the forefather's placed restraints seem not to be taught nor matter or be effective anymore.
There will always be the push for complete power take over. But if obstacles are in place to stop it (which is what the United States has had) it is not as concerning. Now however this ram rod ding through and the dispense of our stops is the concerning part.
You are correct about the liberals seeing themselves as philosopher-kings. There is a coalition of academics and media elite such as NYT reporters and editorialists that want to run things through the Democratic party. One example is “climate change”. They think that science has proven we must limit carbon emissions, so any opposition to cap-and-trade must be “cynical”, to use a word Obama has used recently.
And Nancy and Harry are idiots.
An old medieval saying was that power revealed the true person...they got power, and look what it’s showing....
Thank you...I was telling my students that the founding fathers set up a wonderful system where democracy and a republic could succeed because they believed that masses would not be ignorant like Plato argued. A system where everyone could work hard, study, and be the master of their own destiny. Individual merit would replace blind ignorance to “authority”. I tell my students if Plato was right then we must believe that everyone can be a philosopher king...I lead it into a lecture on why it is important to not become the “masses”, reading about Congress, studying a candidate and issues before you vote, etc
I think the Philosopher-King complex explains much of the liberal mentality. For example, it’s gospel for them to think of conservatives as knuckle-draggers. But there’s more to it than that. For some liberal leaders, it’s all about power. When Rham Emanual mails a dead fish to a pollster or repeatly stabs a knife into a table and yells “Dead” about party defectors, he is not thinking about the peoples’ problems. People like him are megalomaniacs not unlike Hitler or Stalin. Fortunately for us, many megalomaniacs overreach and defeat themselves. Think Napolean in Russia. The downside is that the downfall of the megalomaniac is aften accompanied by piles of dead bodies.
but that is my fear...I am fighting against a gov’t induced mentality that encourages them not to think for themselves, accept hand-outs, etc. The left is trying to turn them into “the masses”
Well, yes, they do think they are smarter than us and that they know better. Isn’t that obvious? The great thing is that we have a third entity between elites and those who are only interested in plodding along, and that is a fiery conservative bunch of wonderfully educated and thoughtful folks + a great military who have joined, 75%, for very good reasons + a great FBI, etc. who have sworn to uphold the Constitution from foreign and domestic enemies + homeschoolers + Talk Radio + a wonderfully Free (internet) Press. Plus a great Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and Constitution that we, the above, will not let go without a fight.
Plus, we are a Republic and NOT a democracy of the masses, regardless of Hilary’s endless tries to get rid of the Electoral College so ‘everybody can vote.’
In your dreams, libbies. Molon Labe.
You can probably find something similar in Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies. Plato, though, was a lot bigger than all this. Some say the Republic is actually a defense of philosophy, rather than a blueprint for governance.
Plato also talks about the Warriors, who are designed as a 2nd class to make sure the Kings do not abuse the people. Maybe the constitution and a vigilant citizenship are that warrior class.
I’ll have to look at that...thank you
First, the description of liberals and how they behave is accurate. The more interesting question is why do they behave that way? I believe the answer to that question is because they are God players, ceaselessly in rebellion against God because they would be God. If you accept that premise everything laid out in the description fits.
Second, on a more prosaic level, democracies are not very good at making the right decisions. But we are really good at correcting bad decisions before they wreck the country. Totalitarian regimes, like the Soviet Union, are often incapable of changing course to avoid piling up on the rocks. So, after 70 years, the accumulated mistakes of the Soviet Union brought it down. It could not cope with Ronald Reagan's challenge because the entire structure was built on mistake after mistake which could never be cured. That is why the Soviet Union had 70 years of "bad harvests." That is why the Polish people joked, "we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us." The system had to go on pretending.
Democracies on the other hand govern much by looking through the rearview mirror. And we correct course by throwing the rascals who then tack the ship of state in a slightly different direction until that direction nearly runs us onto the shoals, whereupon we throw those rascals out and change course again. So the ship of state in a democracy is never perfectly trimmed but it is generally navigated away from the shoals.
The God Players want the ship of state to be perfect, they want it to be sailed in a perfect way. A way which only they have the skill and experience to accomplish. This explains exactly why Democrats perennially find it necessary to call Republican candidates stupid. If one is so arrogant as to want to play God, it is highly unlikely that he will find the ability to admit and correct mistakes.
"I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University."
I will put that quote on my classroom wall.
“Rhetoric and Madness: Robert Pirsig’s Inquiry into Values”
“ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE”
He argues that a true gov't would be based on rational thinkers who are "smarter" than the masses. (philosopher-kings).
These kings will know what is best for the people and take care of their needs based on rational choices.
I am certain at some level some of them do.
However those that do certainly are not rational.
A philosopher King would be isolated annd immune from the influence of special interest.
Members of congress swim in a sea of special interest. Members of congress are creatures that depend upon and seek out lobbyist opinions (and contributions).
Kings are born to their station; congressmen are elected and serve at the whim of the electorate. Congressmen will bow to the will of the electorate when forced to do so, a King may suffer revolution before bowing to the will of his subjects.
Even Kings did not really rule as Plato theorized. Kings were subject to the intrigues of court. Kings had to be aware of the ebbs and flows of the currents of the nobility. Kings also had to negotiate the intrigues of international political maneuvering.
These socialist no doubt look down upon We the People as ignorant pesants and think that they must rule because they must protect us from ourselves but it only goes to show that they are not nearly so rational as they think.
I agree with everything you said...my fear is that they do not see these truths.
If you are looking for the sources of about half of the progressive movement (Both right and left) you should not look to Plato but to Ralph Waldo Emerson. What became the movement that we see as social justice and equality among men was started by his great enlightenment. Most of the (Politics) that you read on the web or hear on (Some) radio talk shows and cable channels is only a bad characterization of what social and Christian movements became. Some of the criticism is earned (Trust me) but if you want to understand the beginnings of what you are seeing now and want to understand the left a lot better than you do now, find a better source than Plato.
Part of them fit your description, others who do believe in a God are taught from birth to worship a human superior who is "smarter than them"...such as the Catholic religion, which explains why most of Europe has succumbed to socialism over and over.
There is your real explanation for the hate directed by the left in the USA toward Evangelical Protestants. Most really do not understand or appreciate their independence fully.
The problem comes in when you understand that men are just men and that they can be corrupt, even if they do sound eloquent and educated. Massachusetts is just Chicago with a European/British accent.
There is no one human who can be fully trusted to have a persons best interest at heart at all times...IMHO. Why would anyone allow a few people to govern a mass of people with absolute power?...Early training.
I think you’re right. The thing I find most interesting is that EVERY liberal thinks they would be a part of the ruling philopher-kings. Little do they know that they are regarded as “the masses” by the leaders of their own group...
PS Hopefully that is your real name, otherwise I could suggest a few better Presidents than Indiana’s lone contribution to the office....
Elitist, top-down, coercive Gov’t has been the norm for nearly all of human history. It’s only a matter of degree.
In fact, the United States and its Constitution, at least in its first 150-200 years can be considered quite an anomoly in the sum of human history.
Yes, the Elites do think that way and yes democracy does fail but not necessarily because the ‘masses’ are uninformed, but because from time to time the ‘masses’ are whipped into a mob and their actions are used by those that seek to impose tyranny as a consequence.
Democracy is often jokingly referred to as a poitical process where two foxes and a chicken decide on what is for dinner. It is a system that our Founders knew was flawed and would never stand up to tyranny.
Our founders were schooled in philosophy, antiquities such as Plato, and of course the Bible. Our Founders deliberated many many years on the best new form of government to preserve our freedoms and they produced what many consider to be a devinely inspired ‘Constitution’ which was considered by the civilized world at the time to be a “grand experiment”, the “American Idea”. The American form of government was considered an “idea”, that other nations observed and some thought would fail.
The United States was not founded as a democracy. Kids today are taught in error that the USA is a democracy. It is a republic, and can be said to be a democratic republic insofar that the House votes democratically but is checked by the republican form known as the Senate (which was weakened by the 17th Amendment but I digress), and the Senate is in turn checked by the Executive Branch. Each form is checked by the Constitution upon review by the Supreme Court and lastly the States and the People can override all other forms.
In short our system of government makes it maddingly tough for a tyrant to seize control of all government. And we often see why when we read Free Republic here, from discussions of 10th Amendment sovereignty, to the constitutionality of federally imposed healthcare.
I am certain that the would-be tyrants that occupy the Obama administration are aware of just how difficult it is to change America from a democratic republic to a socialist ‘democracy’. They can’t move too fast and they can’t move too slow. As the late leftist socialist Ted Kennedy said to wit “We will take anything we can get whenever we can get it”. So the leftist elite and the rightist elite (they are all totalitarians forming two political mafia families) will move slowly and will sprint when the opportunity presents itself. They will seek crisis and catastrophe from which to impose further laws and programs to control people, thereby inserting government between people and their freedom.
And to the elite, the notion of freedom for non-elites is frightening, because it means they are subject to those that would rise up from among the ‘masses’ and challenge their power. Therefore, the elites seek to control the media and its influence on the people’s thinking, to control the incomes of people, to control the armaments of people, to control the candidates that feign to be representatives of the people, and now they seek to control the ‘health’ of people. And we know that ‘health’ can mean anything that can be construed as having an effect on the socialist ideal of egalitarianism for masses, but not for themselves.
Socialists can easily control a democracy by controlling the lists of those they approve for election. It matters not if a citizen votes for person A or person B as long as the Elite have pre-approved person A and B. If an unapproved person C gets on the ballot in what is considered to be a strategic office, then the Elite’s army of government and media will descend on person C (witness Palin) until the socialist democracy has removed the unapproved intruder. Palin was approved as VP of a forordained losing ticket. However, her popularity was surprising and caused the machinery of the Elite to react against her. Time will tell if the Elite can overcome the Palin factor in the years ahead.
It is my hope that the People will continue to be awake and act in such a manner as to reform the government and return it to a form more true of its founding. To this end, the single most important issue that transcends all others is the issue of taxation which in 97 years has become a cancerous monstrosity.
Ans here is the cure:
Teach your students about the history of taxation in America and why the above system would restore the Republic and they need not worry about tyranny as much.
Aristotle believed that what we see is true and we can learn about the real world by investigating it. That philosophy is the source of the scientific and industrial revolutions. Aristotle believed that rational thinking was the source of wisdom.
Plato believed, in addition to his idea that we should be ruled by Philosopher Kings, that our perceptions could not be trusted, that what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears are only imperfect representations of the real world and cannot be trusted as a source of wisdom. Totally contrary to the views of Aristotle.
So if the Liberals of the children of Plato, and they are, then we Freepers, at least some of us, are certainly and proudly the children of Aristotle, the rationale thinkers. The Liberals rely on the "wisdom" of their Philosopher Kings. Freepers rely on science, study, investigation, skepticism and research. That the Aristotelian way.
“...a true gov’t would be based on rational thinkers who are “smarter” than the masses. (philosopher-kings). These kings will know what is best for the people and take care of their needs based on rational choices.”
That’s pretty much how they think.
“...the masses are not educated enough to make an informed vote on any issue.”
That’s pretty much how those whose thinking is in accord with the first quote above get elected.
“...does the left think that they are Plato’s Philosopher-Kings?”
I doubt that they are educated enough and at the same time thoughtful enough to make the connection with Plato.
You left out the part about our service owed to them or what lengths they would consider acceptable means to that end.
Congrats on being able to teach it—I barely had the patience to read it. A grade made me soldier on. Caves and forms and how “those who know” would make the rules as well as take the children and “raise them up right” ... it was like trying to read Faulkner or Joyce: an endless stream-of-consciousness BS.
The Greeks didn’t know the earth revolved around the sun or even about soap: athletes cleaned themselves by wiping-on oil then scraping it off with tool called a strygle (sp?), The average American 11th grader todays knows more about how the world actually works than any number of dead Athenians. So I’m not at all sure why anyone would devote serious time and effort to reviewing Plato’s `revelations’ unless it were a literary exercize, like reading Homer, and I’m not at all sure it has any political relevance at all. Aristotle, certainly; Democritus and the atomization theory; Isocrates and “man is the measure of all”; the playwrights, certainly. But Plato? Fuggedaboutit.
Simon Blackburn in studying Plato’s Republic described religions as “fossilized philosophies,” or philosophies with the questions left out. Again, however, I’m not all sure that young people today are dazzled by quasi-religious `revelations’ two millenium old when given the choice between the pipe dreams of pedants and the replicable, realities of empirical scientific study and the natural world and universe, with all its mystery and wonder.
I can only recall that it must be to them something like being offered a choice between warmed-over kool-aid or a good, cold beer.
“I will put that quote on my classroom wall.”
You’ll be famous, but fired.
Thank you for your points...I always teach them that we are a Republic. I inform them of the constraints against mob rule that are found in our rule of law...and like I said before, I encourage them to not become “the masses”...to be informed and to not accept authority just because they are told to...I always encourage them to carry the Constitution with them. Maybe I am a dying breed, a social studies teacher who loves this nation so passionately that what is happening is keeping me up at night.
I like that, but I like to think of us the Freepers as children of Aquinas and his addition to Aristotle that God can be found in all we observe.
Therefore you were a slave to your betters in every way, shape and form.....Sounds like the left.
Your mission to your students is vital. You are doing the Lord’s work. The baton MUST be passed to our kids and grandkids. Maybe there is hope—I was encouraged by those two young people who taped ACORN and exposed their rottenness. Soon enough, the course of the country will be in THEIR hands when all of us Boomers are gone.
It’s been a grand 250-year “experiment.” I wrestle daily with the prospect of it being over. By the way, I often think of Ben Franklin’s (?) comment: “Gentlemen, you have your republic—if you can keep it.”
The Left is all about planning for the rest of us, whether we like it or not. They have a visceral hatred of the idea of individual liberty and individual responsibility.
Keep in mind that in the time of the founders, in most states you needed to be some sort of property owner in order to vote. This didn't exclude as many people as one might think, since land was cheap enough that anybody arriving penniless could have his own land within a few years. It did try to ensure that those too incompetent to make it on their own were excluded from the franchise.
In their hearts, the elites are oligarchs. They wish to ensure that their positions are secure from smart, energetic climbers. Many are the children of inherited wealth, who don't really have the intelligence that enabled their fathers to make it.
“I’m a philosopher king,” is what they tell themselves when they are looking in the mirror and blowdrying their hair (if they know what “philosopher king” actually refers to. “I’m so smart and have such a wide perspective. If those stupid, close-minded rubes would only do what I told them . . . “ is probably closer to the real thought.
But the real driver is lust for power and babes and greed for money. Human nature does not change. The ancient Jews were closer to the mark than the Greeks.
And a significant aspect of the right, too.
Yes... something like that.
Unfortunately, their "thinking" they are philosopher kings doesn't make them so.
The great and renowned philosopher, Confucius -- or Kong (king) fuzi (teacher)-- was acualy very humble.
"Plato basically argues that democracy cannot work because the masses are not educated enough to make an informed vote on any issue."
Judging by the last election I'd say maybe Plato was on to something!
typo: acualy = actually
Plato Republic is one of the most dangerous books ever written. You are correct in your analysis.
huh? I love the Republic. One of the greatest works ever written.
You can draw a straight line from British Victorian thinkers like Ruskin and Arnold, British and American private schools, and someone like Franklin D. Roosevelt who attended Groton and Harvard. As someone who never really had to work, Roosevelt found the position of guardian of the public interest against the market place flattering and pleasant.
But I don't think we can really make this an all or nothing conflict as Quigley or Skousen did. You need the marketplace to keep people working and to create wealth. But "guardian" or "castle" institutions like national parks, or environmental and financial regulation serve a purpose and shouldn't simply be dismissed either.
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