Monday, October 31, 2005

The Evolution of the Regime

According to Socrates, there are five “regimes” that can be used to show the model of a city. The first regime could be called “timocracy or timarchy (545b).” This regime is “a certain middle between aristocracy and oligarchy (547c)” The final establishment is that of democracy, which is discussed in length as it is the primary objective (so it seems) of this Republic. Aristocracy is the rule of the philosopher kings, timocracy is being ruled by honor, oligarchy is when one is governed by money, and democracy is by the rule of the people. Finally, tyranny is the will of a single man or judge that imposes his will over that of the public.
The government of the United States of America stands fast as a prime example of an oligarchy. This regime is “founded on property assessment…in which the rich rule and the poor man has no part in the ruling office (550c).” Socrates explains how a ‘treasure house full of gold’ is the destructor of the honor-based timocracy that degrades into oligarchy as the greed of men and their desire for more property leads them to corrupt their previous system of honor and pursue this quest. The very basis of the United States government, the Constitution, is founded on the idea of protecting an individual’s right to private property. In the original drafts of the Constitution, instead of protecting an individuals right in a pursuit of happiness, it instead protected their right to pursue and maintain private property.
There is no single better example in all of the history of the world of Socrates’s explanation of a son being born under his father and following in his footsteps in an oligarchy than the succession of the Bush family to the presidency with one term removed. The ‘inheritance’, as some would call it, shows the ultimate example of the transmission of wealth and power through this oligarchy. “When his son is born and at first emulates his father and follows in his footsteps, and then sees him blunder against the city as against a reef and waste his property as well as himself. He had either been a general or had held some other great ruling office, and then got entangled with the court- suffering at the hands of sycophants- and underwent death, exile, or dishonor and lost his whole substance (533b).” This seems to be an extreme example of the failures and uncertainties of the first Bush administration, but the late 80s- early 90s proved a time of stress and setbacks for the nation that saw the election of a democratic president for the next term. This election of Clinton showed the frustration of the people with George Bush Sr. and their willingness to change; however, George W. Bush’s rising to the throne of American power in 2004 simply proves the nature of our oligarchic system.
Finally, the most unfortunate element of the oligarchic system is that it degrades next into a tyranny. We can see the beginnings of this system as the US government integrates fascist measures, from the CAPS II profiling system to the series of reforms that makes up the Patriot Act. We have no bright future to look forward to before we can undergo and overthrow the tyranny that awaits us; it is a necessary evolution of the regime to once again reach the universally balanced and just oligarchic system that we left behind.

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