The following article, by Chris Beverley, makes the point that Plato's ideas about how a state might best be governed, despite having been written almost two and a half millennia ago, are still highly relevant to the same problem today.
As Chris implies, Plato took the view that one got the kind of government, whether of a party, a city, or a state, that one deserved. If one were unhappy with the quality of that government, or leadership, well, the solution lay in one's own hands: get active, become involved, and participate directly.
Plato, like other Greek thinkers of his time, believed that politics is a branch of ethics, or morality. In other words, a good leader should exercise as much, or more, probity in their dealings with, and on behalf of, their followers, or fellow citizens, as they exercise in their private life on their own behalf, or on that of their family.
It is for this reason that if a man is corrupt in his private life, he has shown himself to be unfit for office, or the leadership of others.
Morley Patriot Blog
"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." - Plato
Thursday, 27 January 2011 Richard Edmonds and Plato
Last night Richard Edmonds spoke in Morley.
It is always a pleasure to listen to Richard, a founder party member and man of real courage with a wealth of experience gained through years of front-line action in our struggle. He is also one of the nicest people you could have the pleasure of meeting.
Despite having an extremely sore throat that I expected would prevent me from speaking at all, I actually managed to deliver a short speech that looked back at the elections last year and forward to the coming local elections on May 5th.
Despite the obvious disappointment of losing the Morley South seat last May, I highlighted the fact that the 2246 people who voted for us in the Morley South ward heralded an all-time record number of BNP voters in this ward; more than came out to elect me in 2006.
And the 7.26% we achieved in the Morley and Outwood constituency was also a fantastic vote, and one of the best results in the entire county in fact. Even more so when it is considered that it was a close contest between Labour and the Tories, which squeezed the votes of smaller parties.
Clearly our Cause is facing troubling times, but the votes achieved last May offer hope of potential future growth, particularly in this area, if we put things right in our party.
I was shocked last night when I was asked by someone why I had ‘stood down’ as Regional Organiser. I explained that whilst I may not have said very much about my sacking as Regional Organiser, this should not be taken to imply that I voluntarily stood down or was given any input into the decision. I received an email telling me that I was sacked and that was that. Claims that I stood down to concentrate on my paid work as an assistant to Andrew Brons are not true. Neither I nor Andrew had any input into this decision whatsoever. [Emphasis mine, AE].
The quote displayed under the header of this blog is:
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
This is a wonderful statement that is relevant in relation to the question of why we right thinking people must involve ourselves in the political process.
This idea is discussed at length by Plato in the work that we now refer to as his Republic. His examination of the question of what justice is leads onto a discussion of how the perfect state would look. Plato was no democrat. He did not believe in what he regarded as rule by the mob, but nor did he approve of tyranny or oligarchy.
Rather, Plato argued that a state could only achieve a truly fair and just political system when it was ruled by truly wise men and women; philosophers no less. Such philosopher-rulers would be prevented from owning property or enjoying any of the trappings of wealth. They would be prevented from having a family in the traditional sense, and would have far less freedom in their everyday lives than merchants or tradesmen.
Plato argued that such a system would ensure that those in power would be the right kind of people to rule. Clearly those who seek high office, whether in Classical Athens or modern Britain, due to avarice or a desire to exert control over others, will rarely be fair and just leaders. Their actions will be governed primarily by a desire for further enrichment and the strengthening of their own positions.
Yet if a state’s laws were to ensure that its ruling class were to live relatively austere lifestyles, why would anyone want to govern at all in the first place? One reason proposed is that those people whose wisdom was such as to qualify them to rule our hypothetical state would be willing to sacrifice their own lifestyles for the good of the state.
Such philosopher-rulers would regard the well-being of the whole community as more important than their own well-being. Or rather, their wisdom would render them incapable of distinguishing between that which is good or bad for them and that which is good or bad for the community, so selfless would they be in their dedication to the well-being of the state.
And furthermore, to bring this back to the motto of this blog, whilst such rulers would not be motivated by any material incentives to take on the mantle of power, they would be heavily motivated by the disincentive that their refusal to take up office would ensure that the state would instead be ruled by lesser men, motivated by baser considerations.
And thus, whilst it is delightful enough as a stand-alone statement, our quote can be appreciated further when it is looked at in the wider context in which it was first formulated.
I alluded to this very briefly in my speech last night. At present our primary concern is running our party, rather than the state, which is of course our eventual goal. And it would also be pretentious in the extreme to suggest that we are on a par with the philosophers to whom Plato referred. Yet the principles outlined above are directly relevant to our current situation.
In short: our best and most capable people must stick together and struggle on. This may involve personal hardship of various sorts, but the alternatives are worse. [Emphasis mine, AE].
Plato’s Republic can be bought by clicking here and this is without doubt a book that should be compulsory reading for all nationalists and anyone, in fact, with an interest in leading a good and just life.