Plato on Leadership in Politics and Freedom

“And so tyranny naturally rises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty.… The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness.… This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector… At first, at the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he salutes everyone whom he meets — he to be called a tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to everyone … then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.… Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by the payment of taxes and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him?… Thus liberty, getting out of all order and reason, passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.”

“When the tyrant 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.”

(Plato, The Republic)

Be Ordinary by Nichole Hastings

Second Vermont Republic


I was recently able to speak with Bernie Sanders in a small venue and to hear my fellow community members voice their comments and concerns.  I asked Bernie the question : “How can we support change and address the challenges we are facing as a nation?”. I appreciated his response, “Be extraordinary.”, but that is a rather meaningless response and an inaccessible concept to the majority of people in this country who are working minimum wage with kids, a spouse, and living paycheck-to-paycheck trying to meet their basic needs.  I have friends who fall into this socio-economic sphere and they would understandably be angry and uncomprehending and feel as though I was being condescending if I were to tell them that solution to our problems is for them to “Be extraordinary.”

One of my fellow community members brought up education as a solution.  This is an admirable and key solution…

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