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Socrates on Democracy





UlrikeSE
I was listening to Plato's Republic for the second time recently and mused over a paticular section where Socrates explains a ladder of governments.

When he reaches Democracy in the dialogue, I can't but spot the similarities one could associate between his description and what people point out in Bush.

It made me smile a bit, and hope some of you will too.

Quote:
http://www.online-literature.com/plato/republic/34/

Search the page for "Next comes democracy;", that should be where you start.


Nutshell: Tyranny is spawned from Democracy, with varying points made by Socrates.
Moonspider
UlrikeSE wrote:
I was listening to Plato's Republic for the second time recently and mused over a paticular section where Socrates explains a ladder of governments.

When he reaches Democracy in the dialogue, I can't but spot the similarities one could associate between his description and what people point out in Bush.

It made me smile a bit, and hope some of you will too.

Quote:
http://www.online-literature.com/plato/republic/34/

Search the page for "Next comes democracy;", that should be where you start.


Nutshell: Tyranny is spawned from Democracy, with varying points made by Socrates.


Thank you for the link. Yes, historically tyranny does arise from democracy (Hitler, Chavez, Roman Empire…).

What portions of Socrates’ discourse reminded you most of President Bush? I personally think only one U.S. president has a record that could be used to portray him as a tyrant, however he is arguably one of the best presidents in the republic’s history.

Respectfully,
M
{name here}
President Bush acted on faulty intelligence to get us into the Iraq war with little support from the international community. He used the September 11th attacks as an excuse to give the executive branch more power almost just like Hitler did after the Reichstag burned down. He even broke a law with his warrantless wire-tapping. It's no wonder people potray him as a tyrant.
UlrikeSE
Quote:
But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.


Thats has made the most striking similiarity.
Moonspider
{name here} wrote:
President Bush acted on faulty intelligence to get us into the Iraq war with little support from the international community. He used the September 11th attacks as an excuse to give the executive branch more power almost just like Hitler did after the Reichstag burned down. He even broke a law with his warrantless wire-tapping. It's no wonder people potray him as a tyrant.


Many people have applied the term “tyrant” to President Bush on many occasions. However, I beg to differ on the grounds that his record does not support it.

In this forum, the examples include The Patriot Act and wars of aggression.

First of all, the Patriot Act is a law passed by congress, not an executive order. Thus, although President Bush supports it and signed it into law, it passed (by significant margins mind you) in the House and the Senate. That is democratic representation, not tyranny.

Secondly, obviously the Bush administration sold the war in Iraq to the congress and the people. However, the fact remains that the power to invade Iraq was given to the President by the Congress (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution 2002). Thus, the President did not act unilaterally (except in the international arena) but with power granted him by vote of congress in a public law.

As an aside, I personally feel that congress should never pass such laws. I believe whenever we go to war the congress should do their bloody jobs as required by the constitution and declare war. However, it seems since World War II that congressmen like to pass the buck. They give the power to the president so they can wash their hands of the war if things go south, but share in the glory if all goes well. (IMHO).

As I said earlier, I personally believe only one president can be portrayed as a tyrant using his record. That is Abraham Lincoln. (And many a person called him that during the period.) Here is a quote on the subject from a post I made in another thread back in October:

Moonspider wrote:
I’ve also read several comments that either imply or flat-out say that President Bush is some sort of tyrant, comparing the Patriot Act to Nazi Germany, saying he stole the election because he didn’t receive the popular vote.

First of all, the United States is a republic, not a democracy, and presidents are not elected by the popular vote but by an electoral college. I’m not going to go into details on our constitution and states rights, but suffice it to say that in order to maintain equality among the 50 independent states that make up our nation, the popular vote will never be used to elect a president. Other controversial elections:
1824: Andrew Jackson received the most popular and electoral votes, but not enough electoral votes to secure the presidency. The election was tossed to the House of Representatives, who elected John Qunicy Adams, the candidate who came in second in both counts during the general election.
1876: I won’t even go into the details of this mess that directly led to institutional racism in the South up to the Civil Rights Movement! It made the 2000 controversy look like a dispute between 5-year old girls at a pretend tea party. (BTW, Rutherford B. Hayes won without receiving the majority of the popular vote.)
1888: Although he won the popular vote President Cleveland lost his reelection bid to Benjamin Harrison.

Now, as to other evidence of Bush’s tyranny, I must laugh. (Not the least of all because he’ll be out of office in two years. Some tyrant. Yet Hugo Chavez gets ovations galore at the U.N. even as he plots to change his country’s constitution so he can remain in power for life.) I’ve even heard the name Lincoln invoked by at least one person in this thread as an example of a great president. How ironic. If any president in United States history could be compared to a tyrant, it was Lincoln.

Before I go further, I like Lincoln (even though I am a Southerner whose family dates back to 17th Century Virginia and the first settlers of Tennessee). But let’s look at his record in the 1860s and see if we can honestly say that President Bush is more of a tyrant.

Acts of Lincoln during the Civil War:
1. Suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus – As Yale professor Joshua Kleinfeld said, “when Lincoln suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus, he clothed himself with more power then any individual had possessed in America before, or since.” (BTW, Franklin Roosevelt used this precedent to suspend the writ and imprison Japanese-Americans during World War II.)
2. Declared Martial Law – Went so far as to arrest people for protesting the war and shutting down anti-war newspapers. And since the writ of habeas corpus had been suspended, there was nothing they could do about it.
3. Had Congressman Vallandigham of Ohio (an outspoken political opponent) taken into custody by armed soldiers in the middle of the night, thrown in a military prison, convicted by military tribunal of treason because of a speech he gave in the House of Representatives, and was promptly deported.
4. Issued an arrest warrant for Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney after Taney issued an opinion that only congress could suspend habeas corpus.

President Bush hasn’t even come close to crossing those thresholds!


Respectfully,
M
SonLight
Moonspider, good points about Lincoln's challanges to democratic process. I was surprised at the lengths he went to. On the other hand, we do expect our president to use whatever means necessary to protect us from imminent danger, and would be likely to forgive him for going too far, even as we take measures to assure that future presidents will not be tempted to do the same.l

There are at least two definitions of the term "tyranny" which could easily cause misunderstanding. (1) Tyranny is arbitrary rule by one person, who is then called a "tyrant". (2) Arbitrary rule by any type of government.

Whenever we feel the government has "crossed the line" in the second sense, we might call them "tyranical", but would not use the word tyrant to describe them. We might call the ringleader of the group a tyrant, if we felt he had coerced the larger group and qualified as a tyrant in the first sense. Technically, the Roman Senate had the power to control or remove the Emporer, but failure to exercise that power caused it to be effectively lost.

To get back to the case at hand, to call Bush a tyrant implies that he has hoodwinked the Congress into rubber-stamping his actions, or could be applied to him for his illegal actions. I believe most of us would agree that he has overstated the danger to the US, trying to get the tacet approval of the public for some of his most questionable policies. To the extent Bush had the approval of Congress and/or the public, his actions could still be considered tyranical by the people affected by them.

Often tyranny in the second sense leads to centralization of power and possibly to tyranny in the first sense. In Bush's case, the process is not likely to go farther because he lacks popular approval and his term is llimited.
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