If you were in the middle of the ocean on a boat, what would you do would you call an election to see how to pilot the ship or would you try to find out if there is someone on board who is an expert in doing this? If you chose B, you presumably think that specialist knowledge is useful in these kinds of situations you don’t want mere amateurs to be guessing what to do when it comes to matters of life and death wouldn’t it also be more effective to find someone experienced to be the leader rather than vote? That is what Plato, the great philosopher of Athens the cradle of democracy-, claimed about 2,400 years ago in Book VI of the Republic one of the first and most influential texts on almost everything justice human nature, education virtue.
But also about government and politics. It is written in the form of a series of dialogues, including a conversation between Socrates, his teacher, and some friends about the nature of regimes and the reasons why one is superior to another. it is evident that his opinion on democracy – in Greek the government of the people as a process to decide what to do, was not very favorable.
Even voting for a leader seemed risky to him as voters were easily influenced by irrelevant characteristics, such as the appearance of the candidates They did not realize that qualifications are required to govern as well as to navigate. The experts that Plato wanted at the helm of the ship of the state were specially trained philosophers chosen for their incorruptibility and for having a deeper knowledge of reality than ordinary people explained
In that form of government, it was the aristocracy Greek for the government of the best where a few would spend their lives preparing for leadership who would be in charge of running the Republic so that they could make wise decisions for the society. Although their views were undeniably class, Plato believed that these aristocrats would rule selflessly and virtuously explains philosopher Lindsey Porter
However, this ideal society would be in constant danger of collapsing. He anticipated that the sons of wise and educated men would eventually be corrupted by privilege and leisure, that they would end up worrying only about wealth, and the aristocracy would become an oligarchy, which in Greek means’ the rule of a few Porter says. These rich and petty new rulers would be obsessed with balancing the budget. Austerity would dominate and inequality would increase. As the rich get richer and richer the more they think of making a fortune, the less they think of virtue Plato wrote.
As inequality grows, the uneducated poor will end up outnumbering the wealthy. Eventually, the oligarchs would be overthrown and the state would collapse into a democracy . Would it collapse? For us so used to hearing praises of democracy the idea that in this count of governments that sinking from superior to inferior forms it occupies third place after the aristocracy and the oligarchy, sounds strange . Not only that in the Republic the Socrates imagined by Plato points out that this democracy peasant form of anarchy in its turn, like any other regime, collapses due to its own contradictions. As from the aristocracy the oligarchy would be born and from this, the democracy this government of the people would, in turn, give birth to tyranny.
Excess Of Freedom
Here is another difficult concept to conceive. Basically, the idea is that once people have freedom, they want even more. If freedom at any price is the only goal, there is an excess of freedom that generates an excess of factions and a multiplicity of perspectives, most of which are blinded by narrow interests. Whoever wishes to be a leader must then flatter those factions indulge their passions and that is fertile ground for the tyrant, who manipulates the masses to dominate democracy according to Plato. What’s more, that unlimited freedom degenerates into mass hysteria. It is then that faith in authority atrophies, people become restless and give in to a swindling demagogue who cultivates their fears and positions himself as a protector.
The ancient Athenians had a direct democracy, so the electorate voted almost everything. Basically endless referenda. Today there are many institutions at hand that did not exist in Plato’s time representative democracy the Supreme Court Human Rights laws, universal education points out the philosopher Lindsey Porter. They serve as safeguards to control the government of an inconsiderate crowd he adds. With Plato as his pole star, he emphasizes that these types of characters are usually from the elite but are in tune with the times. They take over a particularly obedient mob and label their wealthy peers corrupt.
Ultimately, he stands alone, offering confused, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from the endless choices and insecurities of democracy and he offers himself as the answer personified to all problems. And with the public excited by him as a possibility of a solution, a voluntary democracy and impetuously cancels itself.