• Talha

Apologies Socrates

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

There’s a big difference between what a person wants and what a person needs.

On one hand, we need healthy food, quality education, and proper health facilities. But a

little voice inside our heads has us craving dinner at a fancy restaurant, a big, fully air-

conditioned school and the world’s best doctors at our service.

The same is true with countries. There’s a big difference between what a country wants

and what a country needs.

While we may need better roads, schools, and playgrounds, we want others to pay

for them. And while we need elected officials who can make the best possible

decisions, we tend to vote for candidates who make us feel better.

Our wants and needs are vastly different creatures constantly pulling us in opposite directions. In fact, many of us are addicted to our wants.

In recent times, when so many things are happening around our country, many

people start feeling that democracy with uneducated leaders is more dangerous

than a tyrannical dictator. People all over the world feel that educated and sensible

leaders would make the country better. The problem here is that different people

have different definitions of the word ‘sensible’



In the Republic, Plato writes that Socrates was debating the nature of the ideal

state. At one point he asks his associate, Adeimantus, who he would rather have

managing a voyage on the sea. Some random passenger, or a well-trained,

educated, and experienced captain? After the captain is selected as the obvious

choice, Socrates then extends the metaphor to the state, asking them why we

would let just anybody try to manage the ship of state. He then goes on to propose

a regime where the rulers have all been educated in ruling for decades before

taking absolute power. A huge con of being uneducated in politics is that you do not

know what is and is not true from what people are telling you. You can be easily

influenced because you do not know any better.

‘Political education’ has moral primacy over other purposes of public education in a

democratic society. Political education prepares citizens to participate in

consciously reproducing their society, and conscious social reproduction is the ideal

not only of democratic education but also of democratic politics.

‘Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time...’ -Winston Churchill

Any government is only as good as its rulers. In a democracy, this means that the general population must be properly educated to rule themselves.


Will the critiques of democracy given from its cradle be acknowledged? Or will we end up like Athens? Democracy in name, but in fact ruled by the unwashed mob?

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© 2020 by An Insipid Board of Ideas.