Tagged: republic

On the Politicians

Can one be a successful politician without actively giving up the higher spiritual pursuits? That is, can one pursue a political career — in which effectiveness is built on the appearance of certainty, the rejection of doubts, and the reduction of all matters to action, agreement, and funding — without forsaking the love of the beautiful, the longing for truth, and the quest...

Independence Day

The United States of America, a society of business and diligence, was never temperamentally suited to be a land of great authors and composers — and yet Igor Stravinsky and Aldous Huxley, men from very different backgrounds and sensibilities, immigrated to America and became great friends there. Ralph Waldo Emerson is the one writer Nietzsche mentions with unqualified deference; Herman Melville invented the...

Democracy

Oligarchs play demagogues to cajole and placate the ill-informed, safety-and-comfort-obsessed majority by inciting distrust and hatred of the genuine best men — the sober, non-tribal, intellectually courageous lovers of goodness and beauty. Together, these two groups, the demagoguing oligarchs and the ignorant majority, forge a tyranny, operated by and for the oligarchs, but advertised as being operated by and for the safety-and-comfort-obsessed majority....

On Voting and Democracy

I just read this headline from the Daily Bolshevik, aka The New York Times: “After Record Turnout, Republicans Are Trying to Make It Harder to Vote.” The point of the story, of course — the thrust of mainstream American “news articles” being contained in their headlines, designed as they are for immediate effect on the functionally illiterate and terminally impatient majority of “readers”...

Democracy and Community

A society in which the great mass of the population has no shared idea of what human life is supposed to be is not a community. If that social division includes fundamental disagreements about the proper relationship between citizen and government, then the society is in faction. If, in turn, this political divide consists of one or more large parties seeking to use...

What I Vote For

Every election season, anywhere in the global arena of election-based politics, we are invited to reconsider our basic democratic principles, by which I mean the premises and purposes according to which we determine our own voting preferences. Thus, as the two or three hundred American voters who have not already cast their ballots prepare to head to their polling stations on November 3rd,...

The Enlightenment Error

Plato’s allegory of the cave (Republic, Bk. VII) is the most memorable and detailed presentation of a belief that was essentially shared by classical thinkers in general, namely that a societally constructed view of reality is a necessary condition of life for all humans, although a minority of men may gradually, through a painful process of spiritual reorientation, begin to find their way...

The Tyrannical Soul: An Observation

A summary of the private life of the potential tyrant, or “tyrannical soul,” from Plato’s Republic, Book IX: “When these men are in private life, before they rule, aren’t they like this: in the first place, as to their company, either they have intercourse with their flatterers, who are ready to serve them in everything, or, if they have need of anything from...

Plato’s Philosopher-Kings Are Your Friends

All too often these days, conservatives and libertarians have taken to adopting synoptic views of the history of ideas aimed at dividing all philosophers neatly into two political camps: pro- vs. anti-liberty, or, more precisely, pro-liberty vs. pro-tyranny. And within this (in my view) misleading dichotomy, it is customary to prove one’s philosophical mettle by setting Plato atop the pro-tyranny list. Indeed, he...

An Open Letter to David Hogg

Dear David, (We boring adults typically begin correspondence with expressions like “Dear So-and-So,” even when addressing a person with whom we have strong disputes. We call it being civil, i.e., decent and respectful even toward those with whom one disagrees. Civility seems the most effective and mature pattern of behavior when dealing with others in most contexts, particularly as an alternative to things...