Feb 11, 2015
Plato 1: First Amendment, Socrates's Apology & History Repeating Itself (Ponderings)
"Naturally, every age thinks that all ages before it were prejudiced, and today we think this more than ever and are just as wrong as all previous ages that thought so. How often have we not seen the truth condemned! It is sad but unfortunately true that man learns nothing from history." - Carl Jung
Socrates said, 'I am wise in one thing only and that is that I know nothing at all'
Nowadays we have a ton of books on each topic and sub-topic. But back in the days of the Founding Fathers very few people could read, much less write. And the books people had access to were very few. That's why people who could read and did desire knowledge would gather the best books of all time and study those. One of those books that the Founding Fathers MUST have studied is Plato's Dialogues. Not only is the entire foundation of western thought and philosophy founded on Plato's dialogues (and seems to be deeply connected to eastern thought as well) but they have been a mainstay of scholarly study since the Muslims transmitted them to the monks of the Dark Ages who copied the dialogues to preserve them for the future. Also, the Founding Fathers seem to have added the First Amendment for Free Speech after realizing that the United States would face the same problems as the Ancient Greeks did.
If you were a well read person who was dealing with tyranny then you would be aware of the historical synchronicities of Socrates "Apology" with modern times. Being called dumb, crazy, anarchist, extremist... followed by a witch trial, conviction and execution. Such witch hunts never take place in public. Only in private. So only a few people realize what's going on.
I have covered Barack Obama's alleged extremism in detail here but I thought I would cover ANOTHER extremist, as labeled by the Mitt & the GOP, quickly to show some historical parallels then I will continue on with my quick look at Plato's Dialogues (each and every one).
"Apology" 19 b Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and make the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example.
Socrates would investigate truths in public, surrounded by listeners and admirers, everyone allowed to question and doubt Socrates's statements (Socrates required that) so the group could reach the best conclusion on all matters. Most times the leaders or 'reputable' people of society were proven to be wrong on thier beliefs. So Socrates was basically attacking the Status Quo i.e. when truth encounters tradition it takes a while for truth to sink through (as the followers go through anger, denial, acceptance etc.). Thus, to leaders (& thier parrot like followers), it seems that the arguments Socrates was destroying were "establishment Truths" and Socrates was probably involved in some sort of Sophistry (i.e. hypnosis that is stealing people away from "the truth"). Why? Because the status quo couldn't believe in the newly uncovered truths. This is something that has happened time and time again throughout history. This is just the latest one in the western, first world, countries.
This is what happened in the 2012 Republican Primaries where the Status Quo (Romney) was challenged by the Anti-Status Quo (Ron Paul) which led to election fraud & a cover-up of the growing Anti-Status Quo Movement (called the "Ron Paul Revolution") growing in the ex-Republican party ... mostly hidden except for people wearing masks on YouTube explaining stuff - But I only use mainstream news sources so the only proofs I have about this part of American History are outlined in this post. So far so good. Now for some historical parallels.
In the 16th Century there was the Renaissance which was a movement to understand the world through observation. This was the beginning of the scientific method. Many scientists got in trouble and the smart ones retracted what they said so the Roman Catholic Church wouldn't kill them. This was a war between reason & investigating the world around us VS the established Status Quo which was to not question ANYTHING the Church had determined to be Truth. Eventually (over allot of time), a peace was reached between the Liberals of the new Age of Reason and the Conservatives of the Roman Catholic Church that the Scientists would not investigated ANYTHING about religion which would remain in the domain of the Church. Thus the split between religion and science began in the west which is still tearing the west apart i.e. when science & investigation confines itself to ONLY looking under ONE Street light for truth while there is a whole road they are not allowed to explore then you cut off the head of science right from the start.
Socrates lived in a time where all aspects and categories of life were open and safe for exploration, at least as far as societal/cultural acceptance goes. The Ancient Greeks lived by a concept called "Arete", often translated as Virtue but a more accurate interpretation seems to be "to seek excellence in ALL aspects of life". So Socrates was following cultural norm when he began his investigation into wisdom (& encountered mob mentality which exists to this day i.e. exactly what happened with the Ron Paulians in the Republican Primaries... history DOES repeat itself!).
Note: Liberal means someone who looks forward and seeks equal rights for all people, as in the US Constitution. While Conservative means you want to keep things as they are i.e. Status Quo. Nowadays these definitions have become muddled. F.A. Hayek and the Founding Fathers could probably be called "Classical Liberals" because of thier progressive and fair views.
"Apology" 21 c After puzzling about it for some time, I set myself at last with considerable reluctance to check the truth of it in the following way. I went to interview a man with a high reputation for wisdom, because I felt that here if anywhere, I should succeed in disproving the oracle and pointing out to my divine authority, You said that I was the wisest of men, but here is a man who is wiser than I am.
Well, I gave a thorough examination to this person - I need not mention his name, but it was one of our politicians that I was studying when I had this experience - and in conversation with him I formed the impression that although in many people's opinion, and especially his own, he appeared to be wise, in fact he was not. Then when I began to try to show him that he only thought he was wise and was not really so, my efforts were resented both by him and by many of the other people present.
In the case of Socrates, he was told by an Oracle (Old Testament calls them "prophets" - there are many types of Old Testament Prophets) that he was the wisest man in the land. Socrates didn't believe the Oracle as he realized that he didn't even know what Wisdom was and so he decided to ask the people in his society, who were considered to be the wisest, what Wisom is. Thus began his quest for Wisdom.
Notice how similar this experience of Socrates must have been to Ron Paulians encountering Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachman & the pizza man (Herman Cain). A bunch of idiots with power amongst the gullible. It was no wonder that Ron Paul was labeled an extremist and everyone pounced on the tiny bit they could find with such relish and single-mindedness that it was obvious from the start that Ron Paulians were involved in a witch hunt.
"Apology" 27c In my opinion, gentlemen, this man is a thoroughly selfish bully, and has brought this action against me out of sheer wanton aggressiveness and self-assertion. He seems to be devising a sort of intelligence test for me, saying to himself, Will the infallible Socrates realize that I am contradicting myself for my own amusement, or shall I succeed in deceiving him and the rest of my audience?
28 b As a matter of fact gentlemen, I do not feel that it requires much defense to clear myself of Meletus' accusation. What I have said already is enough. But you know very well the truth of what I said already is enough. But you know very well the truth of what I said in an earlier part of my speech, that I have incurred a great deal of bitter hostility, and this is what will bring about my destruction, if anything does - not Meletus nor Anytus, but the slander and jealousy of a very large section of the people. They have been fatal to a great many other innocent men, and I suppose will continue to do so; but there is no likelihood that they will stop at me. But perhaps someone will say, Do you feel no compunction, Socrates, at having followed a line of action which puts you in danger of the death penalty?
I might fairly reply to him, You are mistaken, my friend, if you think that a man who is worth anything out to spend his time weighing up the prospects of life and death. He has only one thing to consider in performing any action - that is, whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, like a good man or a bad one.
The problem with Socrates's quest for Wisdom was that people who think they are wise don't like to be questioned on thier wisdom much less proven to be unwise... which is what Socrates did (It's also what Ron Paul did... that's why Mitt Romney REQUIRED A LOYALTY OATH... is that not crazy?). Using conversation Socrates proved that ALL the wise people turned out to not even know the meaning of wisdom. Thus Socrates concluded that the Oracle meant that he was the wisest simply because he knew he didn't know what wisdom was.
Of course, this made these leaders of society angry. They also had more influence than Socrates and were able to convict him just on the enemy citizens force of authority (like it happened in Salem or the Inquisition or in the South on a regular basis, or with Ron Paulians).
So the leaders of society he talked with, in front of a crowd of people, and proved they did not know what wisdom was (or anything else for that matter, such as virtue, love etc), got angry and decided to kill him. Socrates defense against these vengeful charges is outlined in the Apology. The interesting reality is that he managed to sway enough of the jury to almost get an acquittal. But it wasn't enough and he was sentenced to death by poison. The same dynamic that occurred with the black guy in the book 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' (see first video here of a dramatization of the Court proceedings in To Kill A Mockingbird).
This last part is just to show that bad people trying to take over (i.e. in a Despotism/Tyranny), subverting the Constitution of the Land is as old as the Human Race itself...
"Apology" 32 b - c The only office which I have ever held in our city, gentlemen, was when I was elected to the COuncil. It so happened that our group was acting as the executive when you decided that the ten commanders who had failed to rescue men who were lost in the naval engagement should be tried en bloc, which was illegal, as you all recognized later. On this occasion I was the only member of the executive who insisted that you should not act unconstitutionally, and voted against the proposal; and although your leaders were all ready to denouce and arrest me, and you were all urging them at the top of your voices, I thought that it was my duty to face it out on the side of law and justics rather than support you, through fear of prison or death, in your direction.
This happened while we were still under a democracy. When the oligarchy came into power, the Thirty Commisioners in thier turn summoned me and four others to the Round Chamber and instructed us to go and fetch Leon of Salamis from his home for execution. This was of course only one of many instances in which they issued such instruction, thier object being to implicate as many people as possible in thier wickedness. On this occasion, however, I again made it clear not by my words but by my actions that death did not matter to me at all - if that is not too strong an expression - but that it mattered all the world to me that I shoulddo nothing wrong or wicked. Powerful as it was, that government did not terrify me into doing a wrong action. When we came out of the Round Chamber, the other four went off to Salamis and arrested Leon, and I went home. I should probably have been put to death for this, if the government had not fallen soon afterward. There are plenty of people who will testify to these statements.
Mitt Romney's Anti-ObamaCare Individual Mandate argument is from Ron Paul whose ideas on society & economics began and ended about 30 years ago. So although he's right on many things, he is painfully out of date of others (However, Ron Paul DID say the GOP are hypocrites for arguing over the Individual Mandate in the general election... while it's OK for a Republican PRIMARY election). However, Ron Paul is not advocating cutting medicare or social security in his plan JUST looking for a way to get people working and striving for the American Dream again. BUT the Koch Brothers took the parts of Ron Paul's Plan(which took 30 years to develop) and have been marketing HALF of it so they can go to war (they own war factories and are supporting Romney) so you can't blame Ron Paul for falling for snake oil derived from his own philosophy and economic plan. (Note: Mitt Romney is connected to the rich elite that created the financial crisis in the first place and thus constitute an "Oligarchy").
On one side Romney wants to end the 30 year old individual mandate in the US Constitution which would pull the foundation out of medicare and medicaid ... while on the other hand Mitt Romney wants to amend the Constitution to permanently reduce the rights of US Citizens who happen to be gay. So he is saying he will "fix" the Constitution. In other words, Mitt is just a hypocrite successfully manipulating the uninformed right to believe he supports the Constitution while attacking the Constitution at the same time all with the goal of war. (Fox News makes people even dumber than the other US News Media channels, though they are all pretty bad).
The only solution to this problem is to restart the reading habit that the Founding Fathers of the USA so obviously had. At this rate I predict a political philosophy with a fundamentalist group of followers (like a "religion" - people don't like to use the word "cult" nowadays!) for every politician and political group within 10 years.
Apparently every nut can make a religion and get protection from the US Government and News Media i.e. no investigation OR exposure. For example Mitt Romney comes from a cult established in the 1800s by a Charlatan who took thier women for himself (thus starting the tradition of polygamy), wrote a whole book just for them and created a bunch of rituals and beliefs for his followers. This isn't information you'll find in mainstream US News Media but it does exists on NON Mainstream/US Sources.
Anyways, Ayn Rand's strong 'anti-communist' and 'pro-capitalist' stance was a reaction to extreme Despotism, i.e. she literally lived in a time where EVERYTHING was controlled by the Government (which is the very definition of Socialism). The new fake right has labeled helping ANYONE as socialism. That's not just crazy it's also anti-Christian. But that's what you get with an uneducated population which about 50% of the USA has become.
Paul Ryan, a fake conservative (based on his warmongering & budget plan) and fake Christian (based on Jesus's teachings in the Gospels) was using Ayn Rand as a means to build up a reputation for Southern Conservatives (Southerners LOVE Ayn Rand, Democrats AND Republicans). Recently he was attacked by both Nuns and the Vatican for his draconian cuts to social safety nets (i.e. if your mom or dad loses thier job, Paul Ryan's plan says 'That's it, you're out.' There is no means under the Paul Ryan plan to get people back on thier feet because Ayn Rand didn't like 'handouts' ... which is understandable since ALL handouts in her time went to the Communist elites). In other words, if you lose your job and you have nothing and are thus destined to live homeless on the streets till you die then so be it! That's UNCONSTITUTIONAL Capitalism NOT Constitutional Capitalism.
Paul Ryan's ENTIRE plan, (which the GOP has been promoting for the last 4 years as the 'USA's Salvation) is designed to accomplish just ONE goal: war, invasion & nation building.
The current socio-economic situation exists after 30 years of campaigning by Fredrick Hayek whose book, 'Road to Serfdom' was the bible of politicians in the 80's & the UK (Margaret Thatcher) and led to a host of privatizations throughout the western world. This is 2012. Now we have to look at the result like scientists (something economists are supposed to be but economists on the right seem to forget real easy)... and plan for the future. That plan has to include two things from an economics standpoint. Stabilization AND growth.
"Allot of religious people prefer to be right, rather than compassionate." Karen Armstrong