Incidentally, an invalid response to these arguments would be to say (explicitly or implicitly) that Plato was wrong here because he was wrong on some other argument not presented here. Example, “Plato also said that all wives should be held in common. So he was wrong about the consequences of democracy. So there.” Not there at all; indeed, utterly irrelevant.
Plato’s main concern, and ours, was whether democracy inevitably leads to tyranny. The journey south, he said, would pass some notable mile-markers. How close are we? What are the signs? Consider how far off the mark is this prediction from our current state of affairs:
And these are not the only evils, I said –there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.
Men in the public eye resort to many tricks to mimic youth: surgery, clothing, even cosmetics, an effeminate way of speaking. The old are told they must lust. The young are looked to for guidance and wisdom. Many (not the readers of this blog) have forgotten the words, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
How about this one? I’ve swapped the word employee for slave, which crudely tracks the change in definition of that word since Plato’s day.
The last extreme of popular liberty is when the employee bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.
An employer must pay for his employee’s sexual paraphernalia because he is the employer. Employers owe employees a living. “Gender” is a “construct” and subject to whim; one’s “identity” must be accepted by others. Two men may “marry”—and all must praise the act. Women in combat. Differences between the sexes are fictional.
A little poetry.
…how much greater is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at anybody who comes in their way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.
Perhaps a stretch, but not much: vegans wag their stick-like fingers, animal “rights” activists are on the battlements calling for “personhood” for any beast which can hold a stick or make complicated noises. All things are ready to burst with liberty.
And a sting for Yours Truly.
And above all, I said, and as the result of all, see how sensitive the citizens become; they chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority and at length, as you know, they cease to care even for the laws, written or unwritten; they will have no one over them.
I chafe. Why? Things seem—hell, they are—materially better now than before. Nobody is disappearing in the middle of the night, the TSA and NSA notwithstanding. Still, something’s off, things are out of balance. Maybe this isn’t so, but it feels that way; sometimes, anyway. The culture is split and the divide grows. We do not hold one shared belief and have honest disagreements over uncertainties. We are in camps. I come to the answer that I do not believe that those above me have fully legitimate authority. They do not hold to Truth, so why should I hold to them? Ah, what can I do about it anyway.
If Plato’s right, then we’re close, close.