Why Socrates Hated Democracy

Why Socrates Hated Democracy


We are used to thinking very highly of democracy
– and by extension, of Ancient Athens, the civilisation that gave rise to it. The Parthenon
has become almost a byword for democratic values, which is why so many leaders of democracies
like to be photographed there. It’s therefore very striking to discover
that one of Ancient Greece’s great achievements, Philosophy, was highly suspicious of its other
achievement, Democracy. The founding father of Greek Philosophy
– Socrates – is portrayed, in the dialogues of Plato, as hugely pessimistic about the whole business of democracy. In
Book Six of The Republic, Plato describes Socrates falling into conversation with a
character called Adeimantus and trying to get him to see the flaws of democracy by comparing
a society to a ship. If you were heading out on a journey by sea, asks Socrates, who would
you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the vessel? Just anyone or people educated
in the rules and demands of seafaring? The latter of course, says Adeimantus, so why
then, responds Socrates, do we keep thinking that any old person should be fit to judge
who should be a ruler of a country? Socrates’s point is that voting in an election is a skill,
not a random intuition. And like any skill, it needs to be taught systematically to people.
Letting the citizenry vote without an education is as irresponsible as putting them in charge
of a trireme sailing to Samos in a storm. Socrates was to have first hand, catastrophic
experience of the foolishness of voters. In 399 BC, the philosopher was put on trial on
trumped up charges of corrupting the youth of Athens. A jury of 500 Athenians was invited
to weigh up the case and decided by a narrow margin that the philosopher was guilty. He
was put to death by hemlock in a process which is, for thinking people, every bit as tragic
as Jesus’s condemnation has been for Christians. Crucially, Socrates was not elitist in the
normal sense. He didn’t believe that a narrow few should only ever vote. He did, however,
insist that only those who had thought about issues rationally and deeply should be let
near a vote. We have forgotten this distinction between an intellectual democracy and a democracy
by birthright. We have given the vote to all without connecting it to wisdom. And
Socrates knew exactly where that would lead: to a system the Greeks feared above all, demagoguery. Ancient Athens had painful experience of demagogues,
for example, the louche figure of Alcibiades, a rich, charismatic, smooth-talking wealthy
man who eroded basic freedoms and helped to push Athens to its disastrous military adventures
in Sicily. Socrates knew how easily people seeking election could exploit our desire
for easy answers. He asked us to imagine an election debate between two candidates, one
who was like a doctor and the other who was like a sweet shop owner. The sweet shop owner
would say of his rival: Look, this person here has worked many evils on you. He hurts
you, gives you bitter potions and tells you he not to eat and drink whatever you like. He’ll
never serve you feasts of many and varied pleasant things like I will. Socrates asks
us to consider the audience response: Do you think the doctor would be able to reply effectively?
The true answer – ‘I cause you trouble, and go against you desires in order to help
you’ would cause an uproar among the voters, don’t you think? We have forgotten all about
Socrates’s salient warnings against democracy. We have preferred to think of democracy as
an unambiguous good – rather than as something that is only ever as effective as the education
system that surrounds it. As a result, we have elected many sweet shop owners, and very
few doctors.

100 thoughts on “Why Socrates Hated Democracy

  1. In a today's politics where people give vote according to parochial criteria using religion, caste, gender into account , definitely democracy have become mockery. People give vote according to their emotion rather than intelligence that'y mostly people from criminal background come into politics.

  2. Voting right is a basic Constitution al right that should available to everyone. It would be effective only if when everyone is well educated, remove parochial criteria from mind and every one participate. There was a time when only 10% according to their property and education give vote. Situation become reverse now educated people mostly to avoid giving vote.

  3. Some truths are timeless. People can only make informed decisions when they possess all relevant infirmation and the wherewithal to make sense of it. It explains the state of the education system and capture of MSM

  4. Socrates hated democracy because he understood that it is a sham which gives power to the politicians where is a republic gives power to the people

  5. Democracy is nothing but I'm more palatable and acceptable form of Socialism which mimics the workings of a republic giving power to the politicians where is a republic gives power to the people and makes the people the rightful masters of the government that's what America was founded as by the way

  6. Exactly this is the reason why we have so many morons voting for socialist policies because they're uneducated about what socialism really is

  7. Pure democracy is Mob rule giving power to the politicians pure Republic gives power to the people over the politicians who are the employees of the people

  8. Democracy has George Bernard Shaw pointed out panders to the incompetent many for the benefit of the corrupt few allowing the corrupt few to rule over the majority

  9. Philosophie is not Greek it's a Horner African tradion that exist since 12 thausend year's the oldest letter's are 7 thausend years old it's a old still a oral and written tradition in Countrys like the old kingdom of PUNT also known now as the red sea state of ERITREA in now day's also the democratiy is not Greek is also From the horn of Africa and build by the normadic cultures the only Greek is the word democracy

  10. “People are tired of liberty. They have had a surfeit of it. Liberty is no longer a chaste and austere virgin…. Today’s youth are moved by other slogans…Order, Hierarchy, Discipline” – Benito Mussolini

  11. Democratic is a mess
    Republic is a cunt
    Communism is a fear
    Capitalist make life sucks
    and
    Socialism is the one that keep everything together. so I dont need to build my own road.

  12. Too be fair, it is not democracy he hated, it was ochlocracry, which to a Republican is the same thing, but to a political scientist or a historian, they are not. Ochlocracy literally means "mob rule" and it refers to a democracy in which anyone is allowed to vote. A true democracy has limitations to decide who can vote, primarily they have to fit a certain criteria such as having citizenship and property. Know this, Republicans are humans and humans are only concerned with their own self-interest. If the say otherwise, then they are lying to you.

  13. Listen to the greek right here socrates did not hate democracy at all the opposite he loved democracy… We the greeks invented democracy and all here love it ( even though im fascist I told the truth)

  14. This is why majority of the third world countries or what we prefer to call as "developing nations" don't ever prosper. Democracy strongly relies on education. Now some people might argue that the literacy rate of their respective country is quite impressive and hence they're a better democratic state. But I'd argue that the term "education" however comes with a much broader spectrum to it when it comes to society and the understanding of it and is not limited to just getting degrees in medical sciences, engineering etc.
    Perfect example; India in 2019.
    The country claims to have a fair literacy rate but apparently it has fallen to the hands of what appears to be a fascist regime so far. And all because either India constitutes of more illiterate population than a literate one or because their education system has badly failed to educate their people in the right fashion to walk side by side with the modern world.
    "We will make India great again"
    Hope that makes sense..

  15. the simple right to vote is not democracy, the understanding, judgment, knowing and actions of the right person and her/his team to lead the country through the storms to reach better destinations for most if not all the population and abiding by the decision you make.

    One can not keep asking questions to the people, long dialogues and debates without solving issues such as the sames ones that every politician focuses in ALL elections, ALL OVER THE DEMOCRATIC WORLD: health, education, employment. As a society it has not evolved from that!

  16. Name a better system then democracy.
    Shout out to all the idealists.
    Simply put there is no other idea of government that will treat its population with any sort of dignity unless that government is governed by the people. Who would even decide a ruling class without a democratic vote? Oh.. yaknow.. names in a hat?.. Come on… Democracy is the only reason why we have our liberty and that's amazing! We have a say! We can help decide what goes on in our life and that counts for something. Hell If it was a choice between two tyrants wouldn't you want to pick the tyrant? YOU HAVE A SAY and one day the world can be better for it. And for those who say the masses are stupid or ignorant, good for you I'm sure you have many friends.

  17. But democracy isn't only about having a voting right. And also, voting system differs from democratic country to country depending on how the legislative system is there in governance in any particular country. More than voting, Democracy gives many more fundamental rights to every citizen ehich are way significant in living in a systematic way, than just having a mere right to vote our representatives.
    Again, we're voting our representatives, not our "rulers".

  18. An Illiterate and uneducated population in In did are ardently devoted to democracy and have used their vote to change governments with alacrity that defies logic – Jai Hind

  19. Who is the lady in the black and white picture at the bottom left of the screen at 3:52?
    She looks very erudite. I'd like to know more of her story.

  20. I hate a republic more because it leads to fascism you're not really free in a republic ruled country only are you free in a democracy 100% democracy

  21. So crates didn't like democracy because he was part of the elite they always have the most to lose when the majority gets what they want and it's the same in America today

  22. At first glance this system seems more effective than our current, but who constitutes what it means to rationally and deeply think about one's vote? Even if we could agree on the amount and type of "rational thinking" required to vote, voting will be inaccessible to many, and therefore misrepresentative of the whole due to the inequality in society and education.

  23. I maybe wrong that this leads to creation of voting rights based on the individual's proficiency. But, this could work only when there is equality in opportunities and accessibility in the entire society which shouldn't be undermined by the wealth.

  24. Still there's an inherent justice met when fools choose and then get what they deserve. That's the beauty of democracy.

  25. Democracy is only good when the vast majority of People is well educated… I suggest an IQ test before every vote… Less than 90 does not vote

  26. Democracy os still good anyway, because if the system isnt working for at least 45 percent of the people, it will be voted out, dosent matter how smart people are. If it works it works and its plain to see. Better than monarchy or despotism bybfar

  27. I haven't elected and voted anyone and this looks like Borg bullshit.
    The democracy of course would represent and reflect the majority's lifestyle choices, cause its made for the majority.
    Its looks like the goverment is developing frauduldent society and lies rather than fixing problems.
    Thats why if banker and loaner both frauding in mind what happens?
    I can see the borg shields adapting. This is like vegetables that have nothing but borg shields to show.
    It would not make results to keep blaming someone if there is no clear reasons. And the real reasons – they will be not revealed. This is like a thief and it will not reveal its reasons and motivations. Or maybe perhaps its not that complex at all.
    All the evil state is doing is by its people and this case if there is 2 choices to make fraudster fraud your own people or the foreign, which you would choose?
    The Obama policies to release non-violent criminals seem worked well and foreigner get frauded more than ever. Its good they were released so they can fight as non-violent scammer assholes.

  28. It would have been really tough to live with so much knowledge and philosophy at a time when the society was characterized by so many primitive traits.
    Most nations even today aren't fit to practive democracy but what alternatives do we have?
    Its still the lesser evil.

  29. Today’s democracy is just the dictatorship of the majority, that 50.1% impose their wishes and desires at the expense of the remaining 49.9%. In the US, Trump has not even got the votes of 30% of the population. But if only doctors ruled, it would be just like a military junta who claim that ”only they understand what is good for the country”. Such system would be finally corrupted. Therefore, the best system for humanity is still awaiting to be discovered. Any ideas?

  30. In a parliamentary system, I don't think its the average who chooses the "captain". They select the MP who has knowledge of "seafaring", who ultimately decide who should be in charge. The masses do have the right to select a representative which is the essence of a democracy.

  31. Exactly why we can't remove the Electoral College from American government. It SHOULD occasionally go against the will of the people.

  32. Socrates didn't hate democracy he just said that systems doesn't matter what is important is the ethics of the people taking part of any political system.Greetings from Greece.

  33. Socrates would, I think, feel diffferently today with mass education and with mass media and the internet! Only the elite were educated in his day!

  34. Democracy is another demagoguery in disguise. However constitutionalism us the best and only form of goverment. You establish that a man is a free and moral agent. Then you build your laws around that. Walla. …..you get freedom of speech…….freedom of thought…….freedom of association…….freedom to create………freedom of movement……….freedom to defend yourself……..etc. Amen.The great protestant ethic. However and pitifully trampled upon until we are back where we started. Fighting tyrants……dictators….and governments who want to take stuff they did not work for.

  35. to through out the democracy we need a selfless,honest,prophetic,transparent one true leader and guess what thats not possible.at this point i believe that we need to find the representative of God who is living among us here on this planet and the only competent to be a leader without any care for his personal interests.i dont think god can leave us here only for listening to the decision of a man who is exactly like us, equally foolish and greedy like us,look a chick out of many chicks cant be a leader to other chicks.right? so look for the complete and enlighted one

  36. Democracy can never succeed. On the other hand Communism can take the country to the top of the food chain because of collective thinking and experience of the leader. Just look at present day China.

  37. Hence, the electoral college. Idiots. What'd you expect with all the gerrymandering and the mixed voting systems that half the population understands. It is a rigged system that preys on the unaware

  38. If I had my ruthers, you'd have to be at least 30 and have lived on your own with no support for at least 2 years to have the right to vote.

  39. 🕊I’m very sure that happiness comes from within.
    But now to Aristotle’s syllogism, for example: “If democracy is a joke; all men feel happiness by jokes which make them laugh; therefore democracy is a kind of happiness. “ A little joke would be advantageous to both you and your people if you happen to be a leader. No Man is an Island. And We’re the world.
    First of all, the Earth really needs us all to plant more. Let us all take care of 🌳 together for more fresh air. 🌤 🌏🕊

  40. This is what thats happening to India , Lots of Poverty , lots of uneducated men , The new smart gen are just 10% , but they vote who ever their Stupid parents vote for, I have no idea how to solve this Game of Votes anymore , Because politicians lie just to get Votes .
    The reality is kinda sad.
    we need to Protect our democracy with new rules , but I still believe in Democracy in this new Smart Age , China is like a Socrates country , and I know many of them are not happy with their freedom, I dont like it how they treat their people too, Its like the whole Country is one Big Factory, and they move their village their town , their home to anywhere , The smart ones tell them to go. haha , I love my home , I dont want to be move around like that.

  41. prejudicial headline of "make Athens great again" when it is the essential point of making America great again is bringing back Constitutional Law. The American system is the most democratic that has ever been devised. With proportional representation and 3 equal branches of government the US system makes it extremely difficult to establish a dictatorship.

  42. Basically Socrates meant that education shall be made compulsory for voters to understand what's best for them.

    But isn't wrong you are comparing uneducated person who works hard to fulfill his needs and maintain his family understand his responsibility to survive against a educated person who's dependant on father salary or privileges he got through inheritance, and irresponsible towards his duties.

    Uneducated responsible person vs educated irresponsible person

    (My analysis are based upon Pakiatan society)

  43. Our founding fathers understood this all too well. Thank God we have a Constitutional Republic. Sadly we have the same problems with uninformed people voting for more handouts and believing lies, deceits and half truths from our politicians. Promise anything until they are elected, then do whatever they want until reelection time, then feed more lies to get reelected. We have our first President who is determined to deliver on his promises and is hated because he is doing just that. Obama failed miserably on "hope and change", whereas Trump has been and is delivering on hope and change. Just think how much better things would be if the opposition party with their sycophants and corrupt judges were not committed to resistance. Yes, democracy is a disastrous form of government. The education system at every level is feeding the youth for at least a generation on Cultural Marxist theory right out of the Frankfurt school which produces the brainwashed imbecilic morons who are voting for the Leftist Marxist, lying, hate filled, Socialist, Communist Democrat party and their sycophants known as the Fake news media are complicit in supporting the insanity of the Democratic party. Thank God for the Electoral college.

  44. i enjoyed the punchline but i'm not sure it justified the misrepresentation of not only plato's "socrates" but also, dare i say it, of socrates "himself"

  45. Absolute power; Roman Emperors and their men, at the beach, slapping the water with swords, convinced they can stop the tide from coming in.

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