Author Archives: jade greer

Plato’s Critique on Western 21st Century Politics

While looking at 21st century politics in the eyes of Plato, I am absolutely mortified. I finally understand now why our system is so corrupt. It begins with democracy, which is ineffective on various levels. First of all, everyone is eligible to make decisions; this is problematic because anyone who is not a philosopher, does not know what is best for a city. Normal people do not have the intellectual capacity to know and think like philosophers do.

The ship analogy explains a scenario in which passengers on a ship are fighting over who the captain should be. These people have no experience with the craft ship of boats yet believe they should be captain regardless. “They do not understand that a true captain must pay attention to the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds, and all that pertains to his craft if he is really going to be expert at ruling a ship” (182, 489a). While the passengers are running around convincing others that they should be captain, there is a silent person studying how to actually be one. It’s the same as people today seeking a political position using all their time campaigning, while they should be furthering their knowledge. “But by far the greatest slander is brought on philosophy by those who claim to practice it– the ones about whom the prosecutor of philosophy declares, as you put it, that the majority of those who take it up are completely bad, while the best ones are useless” (182, 489d). In 21st century terms, Donald Trump who claims to understand the truth about politics is actually, ‘completely bad’. With democracy, the wrong person will almost always be in charge.

In Plato’s perfect city, power holders are allowed no wealth. “We will tell them that they have gold and silver of a divine sort in their souls as a permanent gift from the gods, and have no need of human gold in addition” (102, 416 e). Rulers who are motivated by wealth or are great holders of wealth are not fit for the job. People with genuine souls already have all the wealth they need within themselves. By this concept, basically every power holder in western culture is not right for their job. Every power position in western culture is based on wealth: gaining it and holding enough of it. Donald Trump is known for holding a share of the top one percent of wealth in America, so it is obvious where his intentions with lay. Plato would rather his city fight a war with brains and bronze than ignorance and money. Plato’s city would kick America’s butt.

Plato’s most basic foundation for a solid political system is justice, beginning with its ruler. A just person acts justly purely for the sake of goodness, not for their reputation. “We must strip him of everything except justice, and make his situation the opposite of the unjust person’s. Though he does no injustice, he must have the greatest reputation for it, so that he may be tested with regard to justice by seeing whether or not he can withstand a bad reputation and its consequences” (40, 361 d). Donald Trump has failed the justice test before he has even taken it. His bad reputation is talked about around the globe, and he withstands the consequences by  being racist, sexist, and worst of all, ignorant.

I hope Plato will come save us all soon.


Works Cited: Plato, and C.D.C. Reeve. Plato’s Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004. Print.

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It’s a 430 B.C. Guy Thing

Gender roles in Thebes fit like puzzle pieces: men are like warriors, and women are like wives. When the City of Thebes is overcast by an awful plague, the Chorus begs their mighty King, Oedipus, to save the day. “… with the shrieks of women, living women, wailing. You are a man, not a god-I know. We all know this, the young kneeling before you know it too, but we know how great you are, Oedipus, greater than any man.” (30-36). The chorus is praying for Oedipus to adhere to the cries of women and children, implying that it is a man’s duty to take care of them. Women in Thebes virtually belong in the same category as children, meaning they can’t live without the protection of men. Luckily, Oedipus is a strong, persistent, and sometimes aggressive character, who won’t pause for anything until justice is served. These attributes, commonly used to describe men, play a prominent role in the outcome of the play. These powerful gender stereotypes lead me question to how the play would differ if a woman were the lead role.
To explore this possibility, I look at Oedipus’ wife, (and mother), Jocasta. If she were the city’s only hope, would she be capable of completing the task? To save the city she must search for the killer of her husband and avenge him. Yet, given her reaction to Oedipus’ relentless pursuit for the truth, she wanted nothing more than for him to stop. So the odds of Jocasta ridding Thebes of the plague are not likely. “No, Oedipus! No more questions. For god’s sake, for the sake of your own life! Isn’t my anguish enough- more than enough?” (1061-1064). The difference between Jocasta and Oedipus in this situation is that Jocasta would rather not discover the truth, whereas Oedipus can’t go on another second without knowing. Oedipus blames Jocasta’s sour reaction on shame, maybe even saying a woman can’t handle it like he can.
Jocasta feels so disgusting when the truth about her family is discovered that she kills herself in the same bedroom where she slept with her son and her son’s father. She ends her life dramatically, but is quickly look past a bit later when Oedipus stabs his eyes out in the same room. Oedipus can’t let go of his masculinity, even in the most extreme situations. He has to be the star of the show.
In the end it wouldn’t be a question of if you feel bad for Jocasta, because she never acted aggressively or with cruel intentions. But, in the real play, it is a question of if you feel bad for Oedipus because his characteristics contradict those of a victim.
If Jocasta were the lead role, my guess is that the truth would be kept a secret. She most likely would have fled the city forever without telling anyone. Jocasta seemed to be good at keeping things hidden. So, relentlessly threatening people to find out the truth and then stabbing your eyes out is probably just a stereotypical guy thing.

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