Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Today I stumbled across the Greek philosopher Plato. In his most famous work The Republic he writes about politics in an ideal Utopian country. His idea is breath taking: The political rulers should be philosophers, not warriers or business men. These philosophers acting as political rulers should have no remuneration so that there is no conflict of interest and should be without a family as to be able to dedicate themselves completely to the people they govern. Plato sees the philosophers as the most just people and therefore the least susceptible to corruption. He points out the human tendency to corruption by power and thus the road to timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. He envisions city states with no slaves and no discrimination between men and women. Imaging today's world where all economic and political leaders are unpaid, all CEOs, CFOs, presidents, senators, council man, board members, all working for free for the best interest of the people! Now that would be something.

He warns the reader of other types of political systems. He criticizes timocracy, a sort of authoritarian regime, not unlike a military dictatorship. The third worst regime is oligarchy, the rule of a small band of rich people, millionaires that only respect money. He sees democracy as a poor form of government due to its susceptibility to being ruled by unfit "sectarian" demagogues. In his eyes the worst regime is tyranny, where the whimsical desires of the ruler become law and there is no check upon arbitrariness. There is little doubt that today we live in an oligarchy, where a small elite decides and runs everything and they are only guided by profits. The democracy is a farce to calm people down.

Anyway, The Republic would be good reading for any aspiring politician.

No comments:

Post a Comment