March 19th, 2016
Rolling around in the dirt
Van Bryan, Associate Editor, Classical Wisdom Weekly
NEW YORK- Oh boy, I can’t wait to go through the reader mail after this one.
I suspect there will be more than a few readers who will be angry at me for knocking the classics off their pedestals, for forcing our ancient forefathers from their lofty perches so that they might roll around in the dirt with the rest of us lowly mortals.
I reject such a complaint.
The classics have not ever been and will never be some distant authority to be unerringly obeyed. The history of ancient Western thought is a history of gifted intellectuals constantly bickering amongst each other. They often were bickering on the same topics that we still find ourselves squabbling about today.
The classical thinkers, I say to you, still have much to teach us. We just need to do ourselves the favor and bother to show up to class.
Case in point…
You are almost out of time
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We rarely do this, but because of overwhelming reader requests, we have reopened our promotion to allow readers who haven’t already placed an order to grab their own copy.
This page will be open a bit longer, but in the next 48 hours I absolutely must close it.
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Trump for Tyrant!
What can we say about the sudden rise of Mr. Donald Trump? He blitzkrieged his way into the American political consciousness and now seems poised to take the Republican nomination.
What to make of this?
Political commentators all throw up their hands and shrug with disgust and frustration. Established GOP figures are trying desperately to dislodge him from their party as if he were some stubborn tick.
My friend Charles, whom I have mentioned before used to make his living as a D.C. congressional staffer, put it best: “He’s a goddamn madman.”
But if there were anybody who would have been unsurprised by the sudden rise of the Donald, it would have been Plato.
A madman? Perhaps….
But Plato would have gone one step further. Trump is a tyrant, or at least an aspiring one.
Faithless and Friendless
Within the pages of his The Republic, Plato describes the tyrant as “faithless” and “friendless”. He is a man who is slave to his desires. The tyrant is constantly surrounded by luxuries and is prone to “boastful speeches”. The tyrannical man often…
| ||…goes in to politics and bounces up and says and does whatever happens to come into his head”
The tyrant has an ignoble soul and is therefore unfit to rule, and yet the tyrannical man…
| ||will fancy that he is able to rule, not only over men, but also over the gods.
Of course, the tyrannical man is only a proto-tyrant while he is a citizen. It is only when he is elected to the highest office in the land that he becomes a tyrant proper.
But this too, Plato prophesies, appears to be inevitable.
Unleash the drones!
To understand how the tyrannically inclined man becomes an outright tyrant, we must first understand the class of people that Plato refers to as “drones”. These are groups of people who belong nowhere, have no role. They are not producers, nor warriors, nor rulers. They are simply agitators, hateful instigators who are eager to stir up trouble.
Plato believes this group of people to be the most potent danger to the state…
| ||These two classes are the plagues of every city in which they are generated, being what phlegm and bile are to the body. And the good physician and lawgiver of the State ought, like the wise bee-master, to keep them (drones) at a distance and prevent, if possible, their ever coming in. |
Freedom creates rather more drones in the democratic than there were in the oligarchical State…And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.
The drones feed on the frustrations and the dissatisfaction of the citizens. The drones put forth a man who will claim to be the protector of the people, a champion for the masses.
| ||The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.
Yes, that is their way.
This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.
This protector of the people is the most dangerous drone of all. He stirs his followers into frenzy and will not hesitate to lead his people toward violence in order to silence his enemies.
| ||And the protector of the people is like him; having a mob entirely at his disposal, he is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen… || |
This protector will be hoisted to the highest office of the land. He will be “the overthrower of many, standing up in the chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, but tyrant absolute.”
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Flee for your lives...
When considering the Donald within the context of a tyrant, his actions become understandable, politically savvy even. His cruelty and disregard for the truth seems to only energize the drones around him. It is not enough to emblazon his name on skyscrapers and airplanes. With his gift for rhetoric and the means for self-advancement, our tyrant has come into being, and is, even as we
speak, seeking to implant himself within the highest office of the land.
Plato, author of The Republic
Your editor does not wish to spend undo time wrestling with the political mess we find ourselves in. However, since we’re already in the mud (Plato included) let’s see it through.
When conventional wisdom fails, ancient wisdom can sometimes provide us with the clarity we so desperately need. The trajectory of Trump is the same one prescribed by Plato more than two thousand years ago. This ancient philosopher predicted that democracy would give rise to tyranny, and the citizens of a democratic state would applaud and laud over our tyrant. Plato believed we would hold him up as a protector, and wait in line for hours just so we can cast a
"Plato would have gone one step further. Trump is a tyrant, or at least an aspiring one."
ballot to do away with the soul of our political state.
We have done little to prove him wrong.
Trump’s arrogance and his refusal to correct falsehoods only increase his popularity. He cares little for the virtue of honor, another quality of the tyrant according to Plato. The fact that he is rewarded for his behavior would seem to suggest that either our state is already consumed by the drones that Plato warned us of, or there is a deep-seeded desire for tyranny within the voting populace.
Perhaps we yearn to be freed from the dreariness of reasoned argument and are opting instead for the hedonistic appetites of the tyrannical man who boasts and brags and encourages us all to make America great again.
We should take this time to reexamine ourselves as an electorate. In a letter, attributed to Plato, the philosopher urges us…
| ||Those of you who are rushing after tyranny I urge to change their course and to flee for your lives from what is counted as “bliss” by men of insatiable cravings and empty heads. || |
As always, write in with your thoughts.
All the best,
Classical Wisdom Weekly
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All quotes above are taken from Plato's The Republic, Book VIII
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