Monday, February 01, 2010

The Failure of Democracy, or Why I Ignore Politics: A View from 360 BC

"His inclination was to turn his back on p0litics--it seemed altogether too hopeless a mess. He had no faith in the rule of the rich, nor any confidence in the ability of ordinary citizens. The rich, as he saw, had mostly their special interests in mind, and during the time of their regimes they had shown to what length they could go to defend the advantages of the few against the majority of ordinary people. But the rule by the many was no remedy, because ordinary people were too easily swayed by the emotional and deceptive rhetoric of ambitious politicians. Politics, in other words, seemed an irremediably corrupted affair, and all a rational person could do was to attend to personal matters, and to pursue wisdom in the privacy of one's solitude and a small circle of friends."

From Plato's The Republic, 360 BC
So what's the answer? Democracy is imperfect, but I've never observed a better, fairer system of government. Thanks to my brother, John Marshall, for alerting me to this quotation.


Anonymous said...

Marlys, I keep wanting to respond to this, because I have such opposite feelings. But I don't know any experts to quote! I agree with you that, "...I've never observed a better, fairer system of government." And I cringe to think what the outcome would be if we all turned solely to our private affairs. -- Pat

Phivos Nicolaides said...

There is an interesting quote which says: "Democracy is a very bad political system, but all the others are worse!!!"... We have to work continiously to enchance democratic ways of government. Kind regards, Philip