Fit Philosophy

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Thursday, November 10, 2016


Once, when a vicious group of reactionary politicians were elected to govern, a young man watched as they took one of their first official actions: arresting and executing his teacher. The time was 399BCE. The government was that of Athens. The teacher's name was Socrates. The young man's name was Plato. Plato went on to immortalize his teacher, as well as to describe the chief danger of the democracy Athenians had created: that the people could be led by some opportunist to direct their anger at an imaginary enemy, rather than questioning those who claimed to know who to blame. Over the ensuing 2000 years there have been many such encounters with the exploitation of popular resentment: Cicero's execution after his defense of the Roman Senate; Dante's exile in 1302 after the pope's intervention in Florentine politics; Machiavelli's torture during the Medici's destruction of the Republic; Galileo's imprisonment on the order of the Catholic hierarchy; official attacks upon Darwin; the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti and the murder of Emmett Till; Republican appeasement in the 1950s of McCarthy's slanders. And now Trump. Plato stayed in Athens, founded a school, and satirized the pretensions of those who claim to be wise. I'm neither as great a writer as Plato, nor as brave. But I'm staying, too, to do my part in righting this wrong...