A PLATONIC AMERICAN REPUBLIC.
|The Goddess of|
Liberty has been
Hijacked so many times in
Our nation has "evolved" somewhat over the 236 odd ball years . BUT do we have the most perfect government , as envisioned by our Founding Fathers ? Obviously we never did . (1)>>Our nation had to struggle with Slavery , and equal rights for women . I guess that our nation's makers feared that one day we will head into a oligarchic form of government. In the last decade we have entered a new phase of (1.1)>>anarchy in our system. We may have indeed have a two forms of"governments" that claim to represent or "values" . Our two party system is made of a party of (2)>>oligarchic's & Plutarch's . If you bare in mind the Democratic Party and Republican Party . Many Americans think they live within a Liberal Democracy which favors the freedom of the citizens of the state. Every 2-4 years we have the freedom to elect new officials whose purpose it is to serve their constituents. These elected officials do not serve us they serve the corporations lining their pockets more than the people. I would like everyone to sit back and ponder this. Do you feel you live in such a nation? An oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a (3)>>small segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, or military control. These states are often controlled bypolitically powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy. In this country we do not have royalty, but we do have great wealth that controls most of this country. ( Examples : The Clinton's , Bush's and soon the Trump Dynasty ) I am sure the children of these wealthy people are groomed to take over when they pass. I wonder if the ruling rich can be considered royalty. More and more Americans today argue that corporations now control the US government. The US political system operates within a corporate cage. If you want to run for office, you have to take corporate cash – and so you have to serve corporate interests. Corporate control of government is also defined as fascism. As the Godfather of Fascism, Benito Mussolini once summed it up: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.”The Electoral College, gerrymandering, photo IDs and other voter suppression tactics are just some of the practices that keep America from being a democracy. In Bush vs. Gore, the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush even though Gore received more than a half million more popular votes. When the person receiving the most votes isn't the winner of the election, then that country is not a democracy. There is a study called “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” The researchers examined an exhaustive array of data and legislation covering the period of U.S. policy from 1981 to 2002. Their conclusion is that the economic elite, sometimes referred to as the ‘investment class,’ dominates and steers the direction of the broad expanse of government policy. It’s authors encapsulate their findings in this statement:“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” says the peer-reviewed study.Some will balk at this report and reflexively read into it glimmers of ‘class envy’. But that would be dismissing the report’s conclusions too lightly. There are numerous every day examples to support the findings of the report. We are, of course, a democracy, but not in Plato’s (Athenian) sense of a state in which all major decisions are made by majority vote of all citizens. Such pure democracy would be possible for us today, with people voting on everything via, say, cell phones. But we rightly don’t trust ourselves this far —IF THE most famous philosopher of all were alive today, he might find America remarkably similar to his own Athens of the fifth century BC. Socrates would witness a vibrant and proud democracy, and disdain it as an indulgence of the benighted, unphilosophical “herd”. He would interrogate America's politicians, talk-radio and cable-television pundits in search of honest discussions that lead to truth, and thereby expose their confusion, contradictions and ignorance. He would avail himself of America's as of Athens's freedom of speech, and simultaneously be horrified by the speciousness of the speech that Americans choose to make. And he would challenge America just as he had provoked Athens, and possibly be prosecuted and condemned for it a second time.
|Plato in his ancient|
writings warns against
a " democratic"
government , he was
right as I explain .
In Philadelphia some 2,000 years after Plato and Aristotle’s time, a group of men was trying to write a constitution. George Washington, James Madison, and the other framers of the Constitution were dedicated to constructing a just government. Americans had overthrown what they considered a tyrannous British government. The framers wanted to create a national government free of tyranny, governed by the rule of law.The new American nation was quite different from the ancient Greek city-states. Still, many of the framers at Philadelphia had studied and understood Plato’s and Aristotle’s political philosophies. And they were grappling with many of the same political questions.In Plato’s Republic, leaders commune with the gods and find meaning in nature’s movements that are invisible to the vast backwash of humanity. When the rulers speak, the ruled listen and obey without hesitation. All know their place in Plato’s society. The USA is ripe for such a system and those who rule know it. Americans believe what they are told to believe. For example, fully 80 percent of the Americans believed George Bush II when he stated that pre-invasion Iraq had scores of unmanned aerial vehicles armed with biological weapons ready to rain death on the continental USA, and that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks in New York City and Arlington, Virginia on September 11, 2001. Thomas Jefferson’s quaint statement about the American public being "intelligent" was wildly off the mark. Of course, then again, he was not referring to the public but to his well-to-do peers.Plato had it right for he knew that the endgame of all governing and profit/war-making classes has always been to entertain each other on the domestic and foreign stage. He also knew that those who rule need the masses as they serve as both pawns and audience for the powerful. But like most elites, Plato feared anarchy and democracy as too untidy. The Greek Philosopher Plato also believed that aristocracies would devolve into timocracy (rule by property owners) when less superior people are admitted to the aristocratic class. That would further lead to oligarchy (rule by a few) where the rich rule over the poor. That would lead to democracy (rule by the many), which would inevitably reduce itself to tyranny (rule by one) when someone has to take power. Yet Plato seems to describe America today, much less the opposite of what can be conceived as a nation .We know much about Plato's teachings, because he wrote dialogues between Socrates and others that would explore philosophical issues. These dialogues would be used in his school as starting points for discussion; these discussions and Plato's final word on the dialogues have all been lost to us. The Platonic dialogues consist of Socrates asking questions of another and proving, through these questions, that the other person has the wrong idea on the subject. Initially, Plato seems to have carried on the philosophy of Socrates, concentrating on the dialectical examination of basic ethical issues: what is friendship? what is virtue? can virtue be taught? In these early Platonic dialogues, Socrates questions another person and proves, through these questions, that the other person has the wrong idea on the subject. These dialogues never answer the questions they begin with.The most famous of Plato's dialogues is an immense dialogue called The Republic , and, next to his account of Socrates's trial, The Apology , The Republic is one of the single most influential works in Western philosophy. Essentially, it deals with the central problem of how to live a good life; this inquiry is shaped into the parallel questions (a) what is justice in the State, or what would an ideal State be like, and (b) what is a just individual?Naturally these questions also encompass many others, such as how the citizens of a state should be educated, what kinds of arts should be encouraged, what form its government should take, who should do the governing and for what rewards, what is the nature of the soul, and finally what (if any) divine sanctions and afterlife should be thought to exist. The dialogue, then, covers just about every aspect of Plato's thought. There are several central aspects to the dialogue that sum up Platonic thought extremely well: a.) what the nature of justice is; b.) the nature of an ideal republic; and c.) the allegory of the cave and the divided line, both of which explain Plato's theory of forms. The democrats & republicans make laws in support of OUR democracy; the aristocrats influence , make laws that support their government of the well-born; the propertied make laws that protect their status and keep their businesses going; and so on. This belief implies, firstly, that justice is not a universal moral value but a notion relative to expediency of the dominant status quo group; secondly, that justice is in the exclusive interest of the dominant group; thirdly, that justice is used as a means of oppression and thus is harmful to the powerless; fourthly, that there is neither any common good nor harmony of interests between those who are in a position of power and those who are not. All there is, is a domination by the powerful and privileged over the powerless. The moral language of justice is used merely instrumentally to conceal the interests of the dominant group and to make these interests appear universal. The powerful “declare what they have made - what is to their own advantage - to be just” It is generally believed today that democracy, “government of the people by the people and for the people,” is the best and only fully justifiable political system. The distinct features of democracy are freedom and equality. Democracy can be described as the rule of the free people who govern themselves, either directly or though their representatives, in their own interest. Why does Plato not consider democracy the best form of government? In the Republic he criticizes the direct and unchecked democracy of his time precisely because of its leading features (557a-564a). Firstly, although freedom is for Plato a true value, democracy involves the danger of excessive freedom, of doing as one likes, which leads to anarchy. Secondly, equality, related to the belief that everyone has the right and equal capacity to rule, brings to politics all kinds of power-seeking individuals, motivated by personal gain rather than public good. Democracy is thus highly corruptible. It opens gates to demagogues, potential dictators, and can thus lead to tyranny. Hence, although it may not be applicable to modern liberal democracies, Plato’s main charge against the democracy he knows from the ancient Greek political practice is that it is unstable, leading from anarchy to tyranny, and that it lacks leaders with proper skill and morals. Democracy depends on chance and must be mixed with competent leadership (501b). Without able and virtuous leaders, such as Solon or Pericles, who come and go by chance, it is not a good form of government. But even Pericles, who as Socrates says made people “wilder” rather than more virtuous, is considered not to be the best leader (Gorgias, 516c). If ruling a state is a craft, indeed statecraft, Plato argues, then politics needs expert rulers, and they cannot come to it merely by accident, but must be carefully selected and prepared in the course of extensive training. Making political decisions requires good judgment. Politics needs competence, at least in the form of today’s civil servants. Who then should the experts be and why? Why does Plato in the Republic decide to hand the steering wheel of the state to philosophers? The less obvious example of “accepted tyranny” one could argue is that, under present-day systems, states such as Great Britain suffer some degree of elective dictatorship – a lack of necessary scrutiny on the executive branch of government. Whilst in power with a large enough majority to make internal party revolt a non-issue, virtually unlimited power is granted to the Prime Minister and his government – essentially fitting the Platonic definition of tyranny – where insufficient checks and balances are in place to prevent centralisation of power and abuse of that power. Elections are held “at least” once every five years, but in a constantly changing world it is not hard to claim that this alone is a rather inadequate way for the public to express support or non-confidence in their government.
No King's to RULE in America.
|For 200 years American "Democracy"|
has been dominated by
the all seeing EYE.
In Common Sense (January 1776) Thomas Paine reminded the American colonists that in a free republic “ the law is king” and that if a day were to be set aside to celebrate the republic’s achievements then it should not be focused on a single man but on the law itself. The definition of democracy is key in understanding Plato’s argument for rule by philosophers. Nowadays, most modern states are democratic, in the sense that people have a say in the running of the state. Since Plato’s time there has been a debate regarding what democracy is: whether it is the idea of majority rule, or what has come to be known as the ‘Madisonian view’ that democracy involves the protection of minorities. To Plato, it all boils down to what democracy means, literally. Democracy is ‘the rule by the demos’, where ‘demos’ can be understood as ‘the people’, and as “‘the mob’…the unfit” (Wolff; 2006, 67). As Wolff argues, “Making political decisions requires judgement and skill. It should, Plato urges, be left to the experts.” (Wolff; 2006, 67). To further emphasize this, Plato uses the ‘craft analogy’, drawing on the allegory of the ship. Plato and his contemporaries had a strong distrust of the common man, since people tend to act on emotion instead of reasonable rational thought. Centuries later The Age of Enlightenment brought an emphasis on rejecting the hierarchical structure of the past in favor of power coming from the governed, not the government. The idea of a democracy for the people and of the people was revisited through many writing during this period, often, and ironically, inspired by the ancient Greeks, even Plato's critiques of democracy. These critiques were acknowledged and confronted in Federalist Paper No. 49, in which James Madison writes that the Constitution will solve some of the problems Plato raises:
"As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory, to recur to the same original authority, not only whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of the government, but also whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on the chartered authorities of the others...If it be true that all governments rest on opinion, it is no less true that the strength of opinion in each individual, and its practical influence on his conduct, depend much on the number which he supposes to have entertained the same opinion. The reason of man, like man himself, is timid and cautious when left alone, and acquires firmness and confidence in proportion to the number with which it is associated. When the examples which fortify opinion are ANCIENT as well as NUMEROUS, they are known to have a double effect. In a nation of philosophers, this consideration ought to be disregarded. A reverence for the laws would be sufficiently inculcated by the voice of an enlightened reason. But a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato. And in every other nation, the most rational government will not find it a superfluous advantage to have the prejudices of the community on its side."
But if the philosopher rules for his own sake, why is he better than any other politician? Plato’s answer is that the pursuit of wisdom is itself a necessary component of ruling well; we need to know what it is we’re aiming at before we can try to reach it. True ruling is the art of enabling one’s subjects to be as excellent as possible, to live the best lives they can, given their various abilities. But what constitutes the best life? This question is rarely discussed by politicians, but it is the fundamental concern of philosophy. Only on the basis of philosophical reflections on the good life can a ruler design institutions to facilitate lives that are as stable and rewarding as possible. So non-philosophers—The super rich have control over the political process, ensuring that the government and its officials no longer act in the interests of the general will, but rather of the particular wills of wealthy persons. Those affluent individuals are most often guilty of ignoring their social responsibilities in favor of widening their own hegemony. The rich place themselves above the people, above the government, and above the law, asserting their dominance through coercion, intimidation, brainwashing, bribery, blackmail, and propaganda. Plutocrats hijack the nation’s education system, enabling themselves to sway public intellectual debate in their favor. Let us repeat what Plato, in his still provocative “Republic,” proposed that there are five types of government: aristocracy (rule by the “best”, that is, by experts specially trained at governance), timarchy (rule by those guided by their courage and sense of honor), oligarchy (rule by a wealthy minority), democracy (rule by the people as a whole—a “mob” as Plato saw it), and tyranny (rule by a despot answerable to no one but himself). Plato’s categorization is a good starting point for thinking about the nature of our government. Although we don’t fit precisely any one of these type, each seems to express an element of our political system. In the United States in 200 years we have had all five.
NOTES AND COMMENTS:
(1)>>anarchy The USA has begun its flirtation with anarchy. But anarchy, like democracy, is anathema to the ruling classes and can’t be tolerated for any length of time. As a result, the ruling classes will create a crisis and will attempt to implement a society as described in Plato’s Republic—an alternative to representative government. The USA will transition from anarchy to a Platonic tyranny sometime during the second term (2004-2008) of George Bush II. (2)>>oligarchic's & Plutarch's .The vast wealth that has accumulated at the top of the American economy is not itself the problem. The problem is that political power tends to rise to where the money is. And this combination of great wealth with political power leads to greater and greater accumulations and concentrations of both — tilting the playing field in favor of the Kochs & Trump's and their ilk, and against the rest of us. Yet the ruling elite by far is of the wealthier citizens , who hold the power in Congress .America is not yet an oligarchy, but that’s where the Kochs and a few other billionaires are taking us. (3)>>small segment of society .On Nov. 16, 2011, USA Today revealed that 57 members of Congress, republicans and democrats alike, are amongst the wealthiest top 1% of Americans. According to the article, “Congress also has 250 millionaires, the data shows. The median net worth: $891,506, almost nine times the typical household.” And in whose interests have these government officials been acting over the last decade? The answer is overwhelmingly in favour of the 1%, who now take 40% of the national income per year — that’s 18% more than a decade ago!. (1)>>Our nation had to struggle with Slavery , and equal rights for women . Our "more perfect government" for 200 years lagged behind , debated . The question of slavery had provoked the consciousness of the Founding Fathers , it was a moral issue . Yet if we think hard , America should have banned slavery down right from 1789 . We have to thank greed , and the wealthy stakeholders that prevented slavery from ending . It took a Civil War , bloodshed , yet even with emancipation , it took another 100 years till Dr. Martin Luther King to end the struggle . As I write this , for African- Americans the struggle is still on going . The Question of women's rights and the right to vote was as much linked to the question of slavery . Our Constitutional framers thought that "all men are created equal..." . In their mindset women basically had a inferior role . Rich White women were basically for the rich white man a "chattel" , their was another question like with the notion that black slaves had no souls , if women had souls ? In essence society of that time dehumanized other races . Women did not make the list for Constitutional rights because of a mere religious view. Yet the struggle for women to have equality as much now debated issue of same sex legality of the use of the word "marriage" has brought out the table . For the right to vote women won out their cause in American politics , still if we want to give equality a measure a more humbled America , people of all races , genders may have no reason to struggle , for the lawmakers who made laws in 200 years may have created so much unnecessary suffering .