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Plato’s Republic - The Shadows Are Dancing Again

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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11 January 2016 13:41
 

It seems that the Republican slate of candidates is following the pattern of the video, narrowing to fewer choices as supporters abandon candidates who cannot win.  Bush and Christie seem the most moderate and may do better than expected if Trump wins the first few states and the bulk of Republicans get scared.  On the other hand, early wins could make Trump appear acceptable, and could sway more Republicans to vote for him.  I think all the polls show Hillary beating Trump, however, if it comes to that.

 
EN
 
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EN
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12 January 2016 09:44
 
Skipshot - 11 January 2016 11:19 AM

I have more hope for the American system of government than seems to be shown here because Americans have been through worse than 24-hour news cycles which make money by reporting bad news.  As long as we keep the lines of communication open we can work out issues and find common ground before we give up and split up into Third World kleptocracies.  Our system works pretty well compared to many others but, like everything else, it require maintenance, adjustments, and adaptations from time to time.

When I hear folks on both sides of the political lines bellyache about how this country is going downhill I think of two things:
1. Where is it better and how can we copy it?
2. When hasn’t someone said, “This country is going downhill?!”  When things are great, the Negative Nancys say it won’t last (no shit, it never does), and when things are bad the Negative Nancys say, “I told you so!” and tell us to prepare for a collapse.

Yeah, and in five billion years the sun will expand and burn up this planet and everything we have worked for will be forgotten.  It’s easy and lazy to claim The End Is Nearâ„¢ because there always is one, but that doesn’t mean we should curl up at the first cry that the sky is falling.

I agree that the sky is not falling, but preserving democratic institutions and personal liberty requires never-ending vigilance and constant struggle.  Allowed to go wander without that vigilance, human civilization will naturally tend toward letting the strongman lead.

 
Surface Reflection
 
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Surface Reflection
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21 February 2016 05:02
 

The real core problems of current democracy systems are deeper then the issue put forward in the OP here. What OP talks about is a consequence of this core problems, not the actual problem.

One thing that needs to be understood and accepted by any reasonable individual is that any system we have must evolve, change and adapt. Trying to keep it the same, static and unchangeable leads to various extreme problems and eventual destruction of the system, such as the one discussed in the OP and this thread.

The immediate next realization should be that the changes to the system should not be, must not be extreme, but rather as minimal as possible and required by changing conditions in all of reality we live in. The rule of thumb should be “dont break what is working” as often as possible. While some negative things that we accumulated over time or had been in the core and left unchecked and unattended should be cut in more drastic ways, just like you do with a cancer that evolved too far to be treated by any softer means.

But all that goes far beyond the subject of this thread so im not sure is this the place to discuss these things in more detail.

I just wanted to put out that any system that aims to remain same and static will fail due to accumulation of various bad consequences - against which such a system has no defenses or ways of dealing with - precisely because its trying to remain static and always the same. (You can see this happening to all socio-political systems in history)
For example, democracies can crumble into tyrannies and dictatorships, while tyrannies can and do crumble into violent revolutions. There are ofcourse many other different ways things change but we can observe these two processes in recent and current times in examples of USA increasing police state and all the Snowden revelations and so on, Russia turning back into a sort of dictatorship, failed Islamic revolutions and so on.

The nature, or reality if you will, does not “like” any kind of static unchanging system.
Such process rules all of nature on smaller and bigger scales - and it rules any kind of complex systems such as politics are too.

The thing is, all our socio-political systems have one huge static unchanging feature throughout all of our history.
And all the problems we ever had with any of them were - are, the consequences of that.

[ Edited: 21 February 2016 05:07 by Surface Reflection]
 
Poldano
 
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22 February 2016 01:41
 
Surface Reflection - 21 February 2016 05:02 AM

...
For example, democracies can crumble into tyrannies and dictatorships, while tyrannies can and do crumble into violent revolutions. There are ofcourse many other different ways things change but we can observe these two processes in recent and current times in examples of USA increasing police state and all the Snowden revelations and so on, Russia turning back into a sort of dictatorship, failed Islamic revolutions and so on.
...

Good points.

I would like to point out, however, that there is no evidence that the Snowden revelations disclosed an increase in the police-state inclinations of intelligence organizations. I rather believe that the HSA simply and perhaps inadvertently gave a little bit of additional power to organizations that are inherently oriented toward police-statism, without mandating effective protocols to keep abuses in check. Such a protocol would have involved an agent or agency with full access to the organization’s data and procedures, but not subordinate to the organization’s command structure (i.e., external).

 
 
Surface Reflection
 
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Surface Reflection
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22 February 2016 15:44
 

Yeah, sure. I would agree. I was just using the generally popular description of how these revelations are perceived. Its just one small example since there were people before Snowden doing same or similar things.

btw, if anyone wonders what is that one bad feature i mentioned but didnt disclose, its not because im trying to be mysterious but because i dont want to derail this thread.
Its the propensity of every system we ever had in human history to create privileged caste of “rulers”, one way or another. If those were actually competent it maybe wouldnt be such a big problem but the thing is they are anything but. All they are specialized and competent for is getting themselves into positions of privilege and staying there.

You can see it in every society and civilization that ever existed, as well as current ones.

Its a huge, enormous security hole in the system and nobody is patching it.
Or you can see it as an open wound in the organism into which all kinds of dirt and diseases go into with no autoimmune system to battle it.  No measures of protection… nothing.

It seems to me nobody even sees it.

Maybe because matters of “politics” and all that go around it have become too complicated and most of us waste time arguing about this smaller issue or that smaller issue, and maybe because we humans have propensity to try and maintain status quo of anything we have currently.

But once you see it for what it is… you start to see its the actual source and cause of all the consequences we think about as the problems.

 
Poldano
 
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22 February 2016 22:46
 
Surface Reflection - 22 February 2016 03:44 PM

btw, if anyone wonders what is that one bad feature i mentioned but didnt disclose, its not because im trying to be mysterious but because i dont want to derail this thread.
Its the propensity of every system we ever had in human history to create privileged caste of “rulers”, one way or another. If those were actually competent it maybe wouldnt be such a big problem but the thing is they are anything but. All they are specialized and competent for is getting themselves into positions of privilege and staying there.

You can see it in every society and civilization that ever existed, as well as current ones.

...

It seems to me nobody even sees it.

I can see your point.

I disagree to the extent that some political leaders have been capable of rising above the interests of their castes, to look after the interests of their larger constituencies. This tends to be rare because individuals who have so distinguished themselves prior to public life often make themselves unpalatable to their castes with respect to public life. Take Theodore Roosevelt as an example.

I also disagree that nobody seems to see it. What we tend not to see is a sure-fire way out of the situation, in terms of individuals who have what it takes to get us out of the situation. That should not be surprising, since political process involves individuals concealing their defects and displaying their positive attributes for the purpose of achieving leadership positions. Effectiveness at deception therefore is a significant factor in success in reaching such positions, and can be expected to be a significant factor in the exercise of that leadership as well.

 
 
Surface Reflection
 
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Surface Reflection
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23 February 2016 16:48
 

Yeah, i completely understand what you mean. But that only looks so because i haven’t fully explained all of it. Its not as simple as it may seem when reading that short description i gave.

Certainly there are always individuals who rise above that level. And thats the trick. The illusion.
Not an intentional trick of some conspiracy. None of those are “evil” (some probably are just like in any other group of humans but thats beside the point) or illuminati or any of that nonsense. Although i would say that by its very nature such a system attracts and supports more unscrupulous, more immoral individuals so ... it may very well seem as a caste of “evil” people sometimes.

The problem is that such individuals who appear once in a while and manage to come to prominence in such a system due to favorable circumstances or just being there at the right time and right place…. make it seem as if the situation is better then it is. But they are nothing but drops of water in an ocean. They never change anything fundamentally.
They system remains the same. Changes superficial forms but the core is the same.

We have numerous examples of short lived states where one “good” individual was leading and holding it all together for some longer time, that fall apart as soon as that individual dies. I come from one such state that is no more.
We also have numerous examples of well meaning “good people” who just drown in the system and get subverted to it.

Individualism only seems to work in short term, on small time scales because humans are mostly limited to short term benefits by our biology and evolution.
But that only masks the underlying core problem.

The core problem is a system that favors wrong kind of traits. Attracts and supports the bad while it repulses and subverts the “good”.

[ Edited: 23 February 2016 16:52 by Surface Reflection]
 
EN
 
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EN
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23 February 2016 16:53
 

So what is the core problem? Is it that, due to our tribalistic history/nature, we are ultimately bound to choose a strongman to lead us, thus rendering democracy a nullity and abrogating all our freedoms for bread and security?

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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23 February 2016 17:45
 
EN - 23 February 2016 04:53 PM

So what is the core problem? Is it that, due to our tribalistic history/nature, we are ultimately bound to choose a strongman to lead us, thus rendering democracy a nullity and abrogating all our freedoms for bread and security?

Maybe, after the struggle is forgotten, freedom is taken for granted?

 
Poldano
 
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24 February 2016 00:08
 
EN - 23 February 2016 04:53 PM

So what is the core problem? Is it that, due to our tribalistic history/nature, we are ultimately bound to choose a strongman to lead us, thus rendering democracy a nullity and abrogating all our freedoms for bread and security?

I think that’s a good description, but I don’t think it’s quite as inevitable as you have portrayed. I think it’s just a strong tendency of people to look for a decisive person to lead them and take care of their needs in ways or to extents that they cannot themselves. The greatest threat to democracy has always been the possibility of a tyrant using the democratic process to achieve singular power. The greatest avenue by which that occurs has been said to be the people enriching themselves at the expense of their greater community until policies that cause no person undue harm become impossible to achieve via democratic process.

 

 
 
Surface Reflection
 
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Surface Reflection
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24 February 2016 06:28
 

I already said what is the core or root problem.

Its not that we elect a “strong man” because of our tribalistic history/nature.
Our tribalistic history/nature is a consequence too, not a root cause. But thats a subject on its own.

The root problem of our societies is that we keep making socio-political systems that create a ruling privileged caste. Whether its in a form of “nobility”, or theocracy or a “party” or any single individual cult of personality. The problem is not that someone rules, but that it turns into a privileged position.
As soon as you elect a strong man into the ruling position he starts to invent special privileges and excuses why that must be so. (presuming there were no privileges before)

Therefore whoever is in such a position (and its never a single person alone although they may be used as the popular face of it) literally lives in a different kind of reality then the rest of people in that system.

In the past the differences were more clear and drastic, like in different feudal systems. Today the lines are a bit more blurry but still the same.
Today instead of nobility you have politicians who all live in a different reality then the rest of us. Instead of a King (who was also the “Gods chosen” to boot) you have a President. That position is especially strong in US were “THE PRESIDENT” is treated as a King in everyday life.  Sure yeah, he can lose the elections but nothing fundamental really changes. That person was either a puppet for bigger vested interests or ... a puppet for bigger vested interests?

We have been doing that exact same thing all through our history.

Did you guys catch that paper about the root cause of Roman Empire fall that was published by NASA?
- It wasnt done by NASA itself but some research team who collaborates with them.
Turns out the root cause was the “elite” class. The ruling privileged caste. Who turned out to be too incompetent to keep the Empire going and adapt to changing circumstances.

The problem with a privileged caste (whatever superficial form it takes) is that it is not competent to actually lead and do the job they are put there for.
Thats secondary for privileged caste.
The primary goal of any ruling privileged caste is to remain in privileged positions, to get, invent and maintain as much as privileges s possible - and to keep that status quo through various and any means. From inventing excuses of “noble blood” to being Gods chosen ones to… simply killing anyone who is against that.

Even Communism turned into that exact same thing. Despite being an idealistic idea at the start about more equality and basically trying to be a system where everyone would be better off. Which caused all the crimes communist regimes and dictatorships committed.

We keep doing the same thing over and over thinking the result will be different.

[ Edited: 24 February 2016 06:32 by Surface Reflection]
 
MachineThought
 
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24 March 2016 08:06
 

I think it is interesting that he warns of this rise, but in book VI of the Republic he talks about his ideal city state and how philosophers must become “Kings”. Karl popper blamed him for the rise of totalitarianism and people like Hitler and Stalin. A beneficent dictatorship sounds like a good idea but does not seem possible in practice.

 
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24 March 2016 08:30
 
EN - 23 February 2016 04:53 PM

So what is the core problem? Is it that, due to our tribalistic history/nature, we are ultimately bound to choose a strongman to lead us, thus rendering democracy a nullity and abrogating all our freedoms for bread and security?

I think it stems from what Hobbes called “the natural condition of mankind” a hypothetical in which we all are subject to “A State of Nature”.
I would tend to agree with your 2nd question EN. I also think some of this is psychological and evolutionary (our nature) as it were. Perhaps this is why we see these types of systems rise and fall throughout history.

 
Ian123
 
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20 October 2017 09:23
 

I am researching Plato’s teachings and I must say that The Republic was an outstanding project in that time. I found this critical article where they stated their pros and cons, so take a look at it.
http://www.ancient-origins.net/history/did-he-create-blissful-utopia-or-tyrannical-communist-nightmare-plato-s-ancient-class-system-021661

 
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