Oligarchy- A Historical Look from Plato's Dialogues

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Spectrum Spectrum's picture
Oligarchy- A Historical Look from Plato's Dialogues

A search for a 21st Cenutry View.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Quote:
An Oligarchy (Greek Ὀλιγαρχία, Oligarkhía) is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military or religious hegemony. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words for "few" (ὀλίγος olígos) and "rule" (ἀρχή arkhē). Such states are often controlled by politically powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy.[citation needed] Oligarchies have been tyrannical throughout history, being completely reliant on public servitude to exist. Although Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group. Some city-states from Ancient Greece were oligarchies.

Change "public servitude" to "consumerism" and this exemplifies for many what democracies have become?

 

Not only from a historical perspective do I introduce this material, but to indicate, that I along with many, have become disillusioned with the current politicization structures. A desire then, for a more "introspective look" would then be accorded in a search for the political ideal. It was done for an "economic ideal," so it must be mustered in the same vain as the Economic Manhattan project where scientists had gathered for perspective. A desire then for a "21st Century View" toward a "just society."

See: Search function for concept here.

A search function listed by percentage of importance was then done in respect of Plato's commentary to be revealed in the Dialogues to offer perspective.

 

Plato : LAWS

Persons of the dialogue: An Athenian stranger - Cleinias, a Cretan - Megillus, a Lacedaemonian

Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 60 Pages (Part 2) Laws-Part 2 Page 23

Quote:
Ath. I will do as you suggest. There is a tradition of the happy life of mankind in days when all things were spontaneous and abundant. And of this the reason is said to have been as follows: - Cronos knew what we ourselves were declaring, that no human nature invested with supreme power is able to order human affairs and not overflow with insolence and wrong. Which reflection led him to appoint not men but demigods, who are of a higher and more divine race, to be the kings and rulers of our cities; he did as we do with flocks of sheep and other tame animals. For we do not appoint oxen to be the lords of oxen, or goats of goats; but we ourselves are a superior race, and rule over them. In like manner God, in his love of mankind, placed over us the demons, who are a superior race, and they with great case and pleasure to themselves, and no less to us, taking care us and giving us peace and reverence and order and justice never failing, made the tribes of men happy and united. And this tradition, which is true, declares that cities of which some mortal man and not God is the ruler, have no escape from evils and toils. Still we must do all that we can to imitate the life which is said to have existed in the days of Cronos, and, as far as the principle of immortality dwells in us, to that we must hearken, both in private and public life, and regulate our cities and houses according to law, meaning by the very term "law," the distribution of mind. But if either a single person or an oligarchy or a democracy has a soul eager after pleasures and desires - wanting to be filled with them, yet retaining none of them, and perpetually afflicted with an endless and insatiable disorder; and this evil spirit, having first trampled the laws under foot, becomes the master either of a state or of an individual - then, as I was saying, salvation is hopeless. And now, Cleinias, we have to consider whether you will or will not accept this tale of mine. Cle. Certainly we will. Ath. You are aware - are you not? - that there are of said to be as many forms of laws as there are of governments, and of the latter we have already mentioned all those which are commonly recognized. Now you must regard this as a matter of first - rate importance. For what is to be the standard of just and unjust, is once more the point at issue. Men say that the law ought not to regard either military virtue, or virtue in general, but only the interests and power and preservation of the established form of government; this is thought by them to be the best way of expressing the natural definition of justice. Cle. How? Ath. Justice is said by them to be the interest of the stronger. Cle. Speak plainer.

 

Plato:POLITEIA

Persons of the dialogue: Socrates - Glaucon - Polemarchus - Adeimantus - Cephalus - Thrasymachus - Cleitophon

Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 71 Pages (Part 4) - Greek fonts

Quote:
The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy —the truth being that the excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal life, but above all in forms of government. True. The excess of liberty, whether in states or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery. Yes, the natural order. And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty?

Spectrum Spectrum's picture


How Do You Stop a Oligarchy?

Was introduced from a "consumerism point of view." It was directed toward the idea of governments who "gather money" to operate "their ideal structures of government" while depleting the resources of the "private citizen for that government operation."

Tax grabs to support positons?

I am trying to orientate myself amidst the "politcal terrain" and would like nothing better then to be "set straight" to remove wrong thinking and directed toward finding a "just government?" How do you define a "just government?"

Searching for the "Ideal Government for the 21st Century?"

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Then is Now?

Quote:
The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy-Plato:POLITEIA

Can we recognize the decay in the processes of democratization?

It is when we are left with this "feeling of the electorate" to see that they have lost control of the government, that one senses this alienation from the process of democracy. Recognizes "agendas that are being played out," that were not part of the party stance with which they promised to govern before an election.

So what recourse then to see that the processes of legitimacy are recognized and drawn out, that it will become part of the rule of law and implemented, that there was really nothing that could have been done, citing petitions and initiatives toward recall.

Not so much now is there, as to what party and their allegiance, but to the recognition of democracy in decay that we all can now recognize.

Quote:
The incapacitated people

The people feel disenfranchised. And it is disenfranchised. But the parliament) is directly legitimized by the electorate (at country level, the provincial assemblies. All other constitutional bodies, President and Chancellor (in progress), derive their legitimacy from it. Shift the political choices but from the circles of power in parliament and coalition rounds, who knows the Constitution does not, therefore, is sidelined by the Bundestag and abused only later to formally rubber-stamp, is a de facto policy demokratiefrei.

Sure I may point to "another country" to demonstrate the social construct of the democracy in question, but it is "not far" from what we can identify within our own, that we see the signs of the time?

sknguy II

The notion that something is Just is an appeal to the ideas of Justice. And Justice is a personal concept. There is no natural version of the ideas. And Justice isn't a monolithic concept which a particular person or group can recite as being a true version. Every person, and every generation contributes to the evolving ideas of Justice, or what is Just.

The laws we write are a way of institutionalizing the ideas of Justice. And laws are the translaton of society's perceptions of what Justice means at some point in time. As our perceptions of Justice changes, our laws change and evolve with it.

So when calling things "Just", as in "just society" or "just government", you're appealing to the notion of what Justice means. If you talk about something as being just, you'll have to accept the fact that it'll also be ever evolving and may be inconsistent from one person to the next. And that what "it" looks like today will likely look quite different years down the road.

Although I believe that governance is a personal matter, and that it's the foundation for societal governance, here's the UN's take on "good governance" as a process of decision making:

http://www.unescap.org/pdd/prs/ProjectActivities/Ongoing/gg/governance.asp

Edit: I should clarify that the UN article refers to a kind of oligarchy. Or who can control decision making.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

sknguy II wrote:

The notion that something is Just is an appeal to the ideas of Justice. And Justice is a personal concept. There is no natural version of the ideas. And Justice isn't a monolithic concept which a particular person or group can recite as being a true version. Every person, and every generation contributes to the evolving ideas of Justice, or what is Just.

The laws we write are a way of institutionalizing the ideas of Justice. And laws are the translation of society's perceptions of what Justice means at some point in time. As our perceptions of Justice changes, our laws change and evolve with it.

So when calling things "Just", as in "just society" or "just government", you're appealing to the notion of what Justice means. If you talk about something as being just, you'll have to accept the fact that it'll also be ever evolving and may be inconsistent from one person to the next. And that what "it" looks like today will likely look quite different years down the road.

 

Yes I have been thinking about the way you have described Justice. You have spelt it out very well. I must concede as well to the bold emphasis and recognize it will evolve as you have pointed out. I think though that's my point. What will it evolve too in the 21st Century? I am recognizing all that Justice has become to this point, and in this spirit of democratization asking if our laws have failed in recognition of the swing democracy has taken? Has it?

One could contend for sure that all is well and we have come back to what you said about our perceptions of Justice. But the idea then is that such evolution could have contain all the "best of the laws that have been written" have swung in favour of decay and that signs within this interpretation has some value recognized as a foundational truth. Whose Truth?

 

sknguy II wrote:

Although I believe that governance is a personal matter, and that it's the foundation for societal governance, here's the UN's take on "good governance" as a process of decision making:

http://www.unescap.org/pdd/prs/ProjectActivities/Ongoing/gg/governance.asp

Edit: I should clarify that the UN article refers to a kind of oligarchy. Or who can control decision making.

 

Ah, yes this is very helpful. Some basis from which to work. I have to think about this some more. To this point it recognized that Justice has reached a plateau, and that "Good Governance" is a result of the Laws written to date? If Good Governance is to evolve along with the laws, then the laws will have to change? This then is what we will see in the 21st Century?

 

Quote:

 Characteristics of good governance

The concept of "governance" is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance. See:

WHAT   IS   GOOD   GOVERNANCE?

 

Governments then shall represent the following eight characteristics of Good Governance and if any these Governments show lacking in any of this interpretive representations then we shall see where democracy has been slighted by factors of extreme misuse of democracy?

Quote:

CONCLUSION

From the above discussion it should be clear that good governance is an ideal which is difficult to achieve in its totality. Very few countries and societies have come close to achieving good governance in its totality. However, to ensure sustainable human development, actions must be taken to work towards this ideal with the aim of making it a reality. WHAT   IS   GOOD   GOVERNANCE?

What would ratio and percentage applied to Governments of the World(Provincial jurisdictions) be according to policies of Good Governance based on UN interpretation? This could cause disenfranchisement of it's participants while recognizing the idea about the possible definitions of Justice and values assigned to those eight characteristics?

Thanks for responding.

Best,

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

While one may of exhausted the challenge of a "logic forming apparatus to conclude in law" what becomes "self evident" comes under the "Aristotelean view of logic." What remains then, is to push forward with an "objective look" for a solution. What appeals to my mind after this exhaustion was to now consider the subject of,  "lateral movement" which is to produce "new creative moments" toward idea development for this new "21st Century view" in Law??

This was not inconsistent with Plato's Ideal from idea manifestation toward an ideal per say, but brings us much closer to understanding the relationship Plato had with Aristotle and the view I am pushng toward the future of societies.

Quote:
In this week's edition of The Interview, Edward de Bono tells Lyse Doucet how he became aware of the failings of conventional thought, how he has championed his new way to business leaders, politicians and children, and why he still wants to realise his dream of establishing a Palace of Thinking to encourage a revolution. See:The Interview

One does not discount the process through deliberation with rigour and analysis to arrive at this shift in perspective? Plato's dialogues serve to propel forward writing in the exchanges toward an ideal Plato himself had, yet this is not to say that the constructs development from such exchange could have not warranted , further examination under historical analysis.

Quote:
His contention is that just as language has allowed one generation to pass useful knowledge onto the next, it has also allowed dangerous myths and out-of-date ideas to become enshrined. See:Edward de Bono

I understood then the reference to Myths and out of date ideas in reference to previous commenter point on "purely logical or reductionist thinking" related too, the article placed for inspection and relates, Edward_de_Bono-"has set out to challenge the logical, truth-seeking process established by the Greek philosophers 2,400 years ago and cemented in Western culture in the Middle Ages by the church."

It would be interesting then to see what Edward DeBono has to say about "justice as an ideal" and it's relation to current laws of countries in place?

This to me would suggest that a future forming perspective according to a timeline from the "past to the future" is an evolutionary one and that such a trend in politics would have to coincide with the development of the laws associated with the governance of that country.

Quote:
The concept of "governance" is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.

What is the the trademark then of Good Governance?

Logic forming and reductionistic thinking has taken us to this point in time. Then such a request to lateral thinking would have to include all that came before Good Governance in order for Good Governance to evolve to what it is today. What Good Governance shall become in terms of it's laws in the 21st Century??

sknguy II

I think it's also important to be aware that most social systems, if not all, have been developed by males. Our economic, government, and legal systems have all revolved around a model of conflict resolution through competition. And competition has long been the nature of male "decision making" in the past.

I think that any international legal system in the future will not only need to be restorative, as opposed to competitive, in nature, it will also need to be pluralist in its core values. What I mean is that the present system is very rights or individualist based. Thus, it needs to be as adept and functional at administering the "Law" from alternative worldviews.

In another thread here on babble, a poster quoted an article that noted Evo Morales "will continue trying to get the international community to acknowledge the rights of Mother Earth". I think it's a good example of how current thought, concerning the basis of our relationship with the Earth, as property, conflicts with the notion that the Earth is an entity unto itself, with entitlements of its own. Although, I'm sure the Earth would 'roll-eyes' at this notion of entitlement. Not only are we western centric in our thoughts, but human centric as well.

In perhaps an alternative worldview, relationships wouldn't be based upon the boundaries of personal and collective entitlements. Relationships can be based upon the boundaries of personal and collective responsibilities. So that, rather than having a court consider the relationships of rights, a court would be charged with weighing the relationships and boundaries of obligations.

In most decision making processes used today, as in democracy, personal benefit often determines the outcome of whatever "decision making" is done. What would a decision making process look like if environmental impact were the first order of consideration? What if personal benefit wasn't the point of electing representatives? That our "X" represented the interests of the future, not ourselves? Oh... and by environment I'm meaning our social environment as well.

I'm unsure that the UN's model for good governance is a sustainable model for all worldviews. But I haven't learned enough of my Anishnabek perspectives to be sure that the UN's model would be consistent with Anishnabe rules on personal governance. However, I may stand to be corrected. So, I also don't think that a one size fits all model would be possible in the future. Only systems that are either multilingual and pluralist, or at least acknowledge and differ to the differences in others, will be functional for the future. I think that presently our limitations are our cultures.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Quote:
Let proportion be found not only in numbers, but also in sounds, weights, times and positions, and whatever force there is. Leonardo Da Vinci

First off, I wanted you to know that this post of yours has been governing the process of opinion of mine toward the 21st century view. If you hold that thought you will understand the ideas conceptually being put forward for examination in response to your post.

Quote:
Plato prove that justice does not depend upon a chance, convention or upon external force. It is the right condition of the human soul by the very nature of man when seen in the fullness of his environment. It is in this way that Plato condemned the position taken by Glaucon that justice is something which is external. According to Plato, it is internal as it resides in the human soul. "It is now regarded as an inward grace and its understanding is shown to involve a study of the inner man." It is, therefore, natural and no artificial. It is therefore, not born of fear of the weak but of the longing of the human soul to do a duty according to its nature.Plato's Concept Of Justice: An Analysis Bold was added by me for emphasis.

I am going to deal more directly here as I go along with your points.

sknguy II wrote:
I think it's also important to be aware that most social systems, if not all, have been developed by males. Our economic, government, and legal systems have all revolved around a model of conflict resolution through competition. And competition has long been the nature of male "decision making" in the past.

I used the following quote from my research for examination so that you understand that what you are saying is as you say. I look backward in time and see where this is so and my choice of quotes that follow exemplifies this.

Quote:
A just society must be governed by men of reason.Inventing a new social myth to replace the old. Socrates calls those who rule for the benefit of the whole society and not to it's detriment golden men: in his myth they rightfully govern the men of silver and bronze. This is the myth of metals(415a ff.) the centrepiece of a second accusation that has dogged Plato through the centuries. Plato made clear that merit and not heredity defined the gold man and that gold could be found in all parts of society. Nonetheless, Plato has never escaped the charge that he imposes upon society an elitist and authoritarian rule. The charge is pressed even though in Book IV Plato makes justice in the individual the condition of justice in society.--Pg 16, Para 2 and 3, of Plato the Republic Introduction by Richard W. Sterling and William C. Scott.

So it is more that we find some common bond beyond the gender issue that we can say, yes, I recognize what is being said, and that another standard is being set here. Obama's use of Lincoln's speech, is not without it's merit that a higher ideal has been set.

sknguy II wrote:
:I think that any international legal system in the future will not only need to be restorative, as opposed to competitive, in nature, it will also need to be pluralist in its core values. What I mean is that the present system is very rights or individualist based. Thus, it needs to be as adept and functional at administering the "Law" from alternative worldviews.

In a sense I had assigned justice in terms of an ole notion of Plato's according the elements of Gold and silver, since indeed, these are monetary values in the elevation of ideals that one does not assign to men only, but to woman as well. In early history Newton sought to understand the elemental nature of our disposition toward, that such relations were explored in terms of Chymistry and there prospects in the earth. As ill sounding to the science person, it was a serious attempt as well to understand the process that unfolds according to that "gravitating experience" that we see relationships between these elemental values and the heights of aspiration that one would espouse about societies of men and woman. That it could espouse Einsteinian relations to pretty girls and such according a "space of time" again helped to solidify what experience can do according too, and in this a "baser revelation," to what is earthy indeed. So indeed "not an individualist notion," but of an occupation toward justice and what I felt in Archimedes laws, that differences in perspective were revealing in conceptual possibilities with regard to problem solving, and truth.

sknguy II wrote:
In another thread here on babble, a poster quoted an article that noted Evo Morales "will continue trying to get the international community to acknowledge the rights of Mother Earth". I think it's a good example of how current thought, concerning the basis of our relationship with the Earth, as property, conflicts with the notion that the Earth is an entity unto itself, with entitlements of its own. Although, I'm sure the Earth would 'roll-eyes' at this notion of entitlement. Not only are we western centric in our thoughts, but human centric as well.

I cannot disagree with you again here. And that if I were to move forward it would be on the basis of this interrelationship of what is held in mind and what happens externally in the world, has it's basis in what first is entertained. But before I deal with that directly,  I wanted to put something here and illustrate, for the ideal of views toward the 21st century that are compelling in terms of,  not the competitiveness but of the "absence of" in relation to a gold standard.

Quote:
Galileo Galilei

In 1586 at the age of 22, Galileo (1564-1642) wrote a short treatise entitled La Bilancetta (“The Little Balance”). He was skeptical of Vitruvius’s account of how Archimedes determined the fraud in Hiero's crown and in this treatise presented his own theory based on Archimedes’ Law of the Lever and Law of Buoyancy. He also included a description of a hydrostatic balance that determined the precise composition of an alloy of two metals.

Just as it is well known to anyone who takes the care to read ancient authors that Archimedes discovered the jeweler’s theft in Hiero’s crown, it seems to me the method which this great man must have followed in this discovery has up to now remained unknown. Some authors have written that he proceeded by immersing the crown in water, having previously and separately immersed equal amounts [in weight] of very pure gold and silver, and, from the differences in their making the water rise or spill over, he came to recognize the mixture of gold and silver of which the crown was made. But this seems, so to say, a crude thing, far from scientific precision; and it will seem even more so to those who have read and understood the very subtle inventions of this divine man in his own writings; from which one most clearly realizes how inferior all other minds are to Archimedes’s and what small hope is left to anyone of ever discovering things similar to his [discoveries]. I may well believe that, a rumor having spread that Archimedes had discovered the said theft by means of water, some author of that time may have then left a written record of this fact; and that the same [author], in order to add something to the little that he had heard, may have said that Archimedes used the water in that way which was universally believed. But my knowing that this way was altogether false and lacking that precision which is needed in mathematical questions made me think several times how, by means of water, one could exactly determine the mixture of two metals. And at last, after having carefully gone over all that Archimedes demonstrates in his books On Floating Bodies and Equilibrium, a method came to my mind which very accurately solves our problem. I think it probable that this method is the same that Archimedes followed, since, besides being very accurate, it is based on demonstrations found by Archimedes himself. Galileo and the Scientific Revolution by Laura Fermi and Gilberto Bernardini (Translated with the assistance of Cyril Stanley Smith) Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1961 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 61-7486 SEE:The Golden Crown Sources

I will need to take some time to finish.

sknguy II wrote:
In perhaps an alternative worldview, relationships wouldn't be based upon the boundaries of personal and collective entitlements. Relationships can be based upon the boundaries of personal and collective responsibilities. So that, rather than having a court consider the relationships of rights, a court would be charged with weighing the relationships and boundaries of obligations.

Again with reference to centrist, a Copernican principle or an inverse square law, this has not been defined in full regalia of the possibilities in terms of development by what Plato said about looking "internally into the soul"..."According to Plato, it is internal as it resides in the human soul. "It is now regarded as an inward grace and its understanding is shown to involve a study of the inner man"...reveals a turn toward recognition of finding this underlying structure within reach. In all individuals, however diverse in multicultural relations.

sknguy II wrote:
In most decision making processes used today, as in democracy, personal benefit often determines the outcome of whatever "decision making" is done. What would a decision making process look like if environmental impact were the first order of consideration? What if personal benefit wasn't the point of electing representatives? That our "X" represented the interests of the future, not ourselves? Oh... and by environment I'm meaning our social environment as well.

Here's what some people do not realize while the LHC is warming up again. The research done there has some impact on how we view "cosmic particle collisions" here on earth, as there is a "particle shower" and experimental testing from these experimental collisions to what is seen in relation to the earth from those same particle showers.

What is being showered upon it?

Cerenkov radiation in SNO or Ice as a "faster then light medium?" A preparation then, for understanding our cosmos and our place within it. What is this impact have in relation to environmental conditions on earth?

We may call Earth Gaia, or "our home," yet it exists independent of our probing for the facts and considerations. The future seen then might reveal, that no room is left. An advancement then, toward colonialism in space travel for the future? What governmental rule shall extend toward colonizing "our universe" without appropriate "universal justice" in appeal?

sknguy II wrote:
I'm unsure that the UN's model for good governance is a sustainable model for all worldviews. But I haven't learned enough of my Anishnabek perspectives to be sure that the UN's model would be consistent with Anishnabe rules on personal governance. However, I may stand to be corrected. So, I also don't think that a one size fits all model would be possible in the future. Only systems that are either multilingual and pluralist, or at least acknowledge and differ to the differences in others, will be functional for the future. I think that presently our limitations are our cultures.

sknguy II

Universality is actually the conundrum I'm getting at. I think that we'd fail if we tried to enforce a universal system. Although I think that it would be a reasonably straight forward matter to identify the common values among various cultures. But, considering it's our beliefs that give effect to our values, the question of how to maintain our values with a "common/universal" system of beliefs is the conundrum.

Plato likely had a good idea of what the "inner soul" of humans looked like. And I think that this part of "inner man", if you will, is our common values. But what would be the impossible task is bringing those values into effect. That's where humanity diverges, our worldviews diverge. We can all agree in the value of respect. But how each culture treats that value, or each individual for that matter, plays out differently in our social practices.

Our notions of Justice are based upon our systems of beliefs. As our systems of beliefs shift and grow, so too do our notions of Justice. Knowledge has always been a powerful motivator for change. And things are always changing, humans are always evolving, new knowledge is always being acquired.

In my own culture, knowledge is a sacred thing. It's a sacred gift. Learning, teaching and growing are sacred responsibilities. And because of this, in my own worldview, the burden of humans is to be responsible. If you use knowledge disrespectfully, you disrespect the environment, the giver of knowledge.

I'm enjoying reading your interesting posts by the way. :)