The Ship Of State

“Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering –every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard, and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug, they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them. Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion, they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling. Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?”

          from The Republic
Plato

Even in ancient times, it seems, the wise understood that the masses could not appreciate the value of Philosophy.  Yet in these times of Democracy as Manifest Destiny, is it not more important then ever that the Philosophical Voice be heard, heeded & understood?

There are many critics of Plato’s Republic that state that his idea of a Philosopher King has lead to a rise in Totalitarianism. Indeed, these arguments do hold grains of Truth within their premises.  Yet, has our Democratic rule by mass acceptance improved society as a whole?  Has it furthered the plight of Humanity?

Arguably, no System is perfect.  Throughout the ages, Humanity has experimented with many different forms of government & social systems.  All of these have done many positive things for our society as a whole.  Yet, they have also done a lot of negative things as well.  Unfortunately, Politics is not about what is best for Humanity.  Politics is more about what is the best way we can inflict the least amount of damage to Human Society.

What are your thoughts on Political Systems & Social Values?  Are there any “Philosopher Kings” in the world today who are having their voices heard so that positive change for Humanity as a whole can manifest?  Or are we spiriling into another dark age of social unrest, economic collapse & ethnic & religious wars?

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I would be so grateful if you shared your thoughts with me.

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