Plato on the Dangers to Democracy

Source: Sean Illing, Vox, November 16, 2016, an article exploring Plato’s account of how democracy can slide into tyranny “when mob passion overwhelms political wisdom and a populist autocrat seizes the masses.”

PlatoDemocracy, for all its charms, is said to be a poor substitute for oligarchy. It’s an “agreeable form of anarchy,” Socrates [by way of Plato] tells us. Like every other regime, a democracy collapses of its own contradictions. It’s full of freedom and spangled with every kind of liberty imaginable.

“Over time, though, this boundless freedom degenerates into herd hysteria. Belief in authority atrophies. A spirit of excess takes hold and, eventually, the state falls sick, and is at war with herself.

“Tyranny springs from democracy in the same manner democracy springs from oligarchy. Just as the blind pursuit of wealth occasions a thirst for equality, so the insatiable desire for freedom occasions a demand for tyranny.”

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Source: National Post, January 8

Students at a prestigious London university are demanding that such figures as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white.

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)’s student union is insisting that when studying philosophy, “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from Africa and Asia.


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