Socrates wasn’t all that big a fan of democracy. Which I think throws people a bit since he was Greek. And Democracy… along with sodomy is kinda their thing. Historically speaking I mean. These days sodomy is… much less frowned upon or indeed Peloponnesian specific. Unless you are the recipient of unbidden sodomy… or surprise sodomy, in which case I imagine you’d probably be frowning quite a lot. But between consenting adults wherever you decide your junk should spelunk, is really none of my (or your) business.
Democracy on the other hand feels like it should be everyone’s business. Although I rarely discussed the stupidity of democracy with anyone. I mean I often have these lengthy soliloquy’s about it. But really, it’s a fairly lonely enterprise. The topic of butt-sex on the other hand has often elicited serious conversations with partners about what areas of anatomy are in play, so as to avoid… uncomfortable moments.
Don’t get me wrong… there are much WORSE systems than democracy. *cough* theocracy *cough* communism… but democracy is… well… some of it is really stupid.
In any event. Plato… had this… analogy I suppose. Imagine we were on a boat. In ancient Greece… likely a trireme. Now, suppose we had to choose a captain to get us through a particularly treacherous stretch of water between two ports. In a democracy we would all vote and choose the the most popular person amongst us to captain our vessel, regardless of any skillset this person had to actually sail a ship.
I think we can all agree this is a terrible idea. We’d want the most salty, capable, skilled and grizzled sort with decades of sailing experience. As opposed to the mouthy charismatic one who promises us free stuff if we vote for them.
Why is governing a country any different?
Weirdly, electing an actor to run your country has actually has turned out well once before. Ronald Regan (despite all his failings) was, in my opinion at least, the last of the ‘good’ presidents of the United States. Everything since has been either mediocre or really, really bad.
What training should you have to be a president of a democracy? I mean their should be something right? And perhaps, more importantly, what hubris do these politicians have that they believe themselves to have ‘the right stuff’.
Even worse, if we go back to our ‘Captain of the ship’ analogy, once ‘elected’ the new captain can choose all his buddies to fill out important ship functions. First mate, Cook, Purser, Boatswain (I have no idea what a Boatswain does… but its sounds important… and eh… nautical). Its possible none of these people have the skills required to do their jobs either.
Added to that, we now give them all our money… to be custodians of and to spend it wisely… for the betterment and safety of the crew.
Wait… you used our money to invade the Spartan colonies? But why?
Well… we didn’t like the look of them. And you know… they were harboring this Athenian fugitive.
Well… how much money did you spend?
Eh… all of it. Um…. plus we had to borrow some too. BUT we got the fugitive!
Oh… um… okay. Well, I suppose we can put him on trial now at least.
No. We killed him.
Wait what? Was he resisting.
No… not really.. We just decided that a summary execution is just easier for everyone.
Um… aren’t we the good guys?
Sure. Except when we’re not.
The word ‘democracy’ comes from the combination of two shorter Greek words: ‘demos’ meaning whole citizen living within a particular city-state and ‘kratos’ meaning power or rule.
City State was always the word (or words) that struck me though. I don’t think there was ever an envisioned scenario where millions and millions of people spread over huge empire like land masses would be governed by the this system and ruled over by a class of people whose primary traits are demagoguery, cronyism and graft.
The law of unintended consequences.