HAS PLATO’S WORST FEAR, “MOB RULE,” ARRIVED?
by Dr. Thomas E. Davis, Col., USA (Ret), ©2016
(Sep. 12, 2016) — Around 380 BC, the Grecian philosopher, Plato, a student of Socrates, wrote “The Republic.” This work was a dissertation on government. Plato discussed the character of the “Just” city state and Justice in general. This dissertation is considered one of the world’s finest, is appropriate for today’s governments and was surely read by our founding fathers, all of whom had pursued a classical education and could read and write both Greek and Latin.
In the work cited, Plato used the metaphor, analogy, allegory or similar device, “A Ship,” to represent the government of, in his day, the City, State or government of any type. Today, I am referencing primarily the Federal Government, OUR Federal Government. The term, “Ship of State” is just such a term as utilized by Plato and will be the vehicle I shall use.
Another learned political philosopher was the Roman, Marcus Tullius Cicero, born in 106 B. C. Cicero was a favorite of our founders. Much in the vein of Plato’s thinking, Cicero had no faith in a government managed by the citizenry; “In Cicero’s view, the worst of the good states was a democracy, where all the people participated directly in running the government. It eventually led to mob rule.”
There is not, nor can there be, an iota of doubt; our formerly magnificent republic has been mismanaged badly and quite deliberately by those who have claimed to be seeking no glory, yet have bragged of their so-called vast accomplishments. Cicero made a profound note of this when he stated, “We are motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is the more he is inspired by glory. The very philosophers themselves, even in those books which they write in contempt of glory, inscribe their names.” ibid
Please allow me, at this juncture, to make a few generalities clear: every individual who runs for public office must have at least a touch of ego yet not be egotistical. However, having gotten into office and tasted the sweet fruit of corruption, they either become tainted, haughty, arrogant, deceitful and ultimately so infatuated with their perceived power that they choose to become Captain of the “Ship of State” regardless of their lack of skills and abilities to command the “Ship.”
Plato made note of that fact by way of the “Ship” allegory or metaphor in The Republic. There is much more involved in getting a ship from one point to another than simply sitting or standing at the wheel or at the tiller. From Plato’s point of view, the helmsman is always depicted as looking upward and from side to side since the compass had not yet been invented and he had to maintain a close watch on the stars as his guide at night and on the clouds during daylight. Plato was also alluding to the worst type of government, a pure democracy or mob rule.
In Plato’s day, the sailors were constantly attempting to flatter themselves by bragging on their claims to knowledge of “seafaring” and constantly sought the ship owner’s nod of approval to “steer” the ship even though they were totally lacking in navigational skills.
Our political system has now disintegrated into a popularity contest combined with all manner of bribery, lying, patronage, chicanery, “dirty-dealing” and an abysmal failure of the so-called media.
Plato and Cicero, if alive today, could and would commend the founders for their profoundly brilliant production of our God-inspired Constitution and its inclusion of the 28 principles so clearly illuminated by W. Cleon Skousen in the 300+ pages of his many-decade efforts to produce a certified masterpiece, “The 5000 Year Leap,” subtitled A Miracle that Changed the World. The 5000 Year Leap is a MUST-read for every patriotic, red-blooded, constitution-loving American. It is available from Amazon in hardcover, soft cover, audio and Kindle versions. Dr. Skousen is one of my most revered literary heroes. Treat yourself to one of the finest reads to be found anywhere.