Sunday, October 30, 2005

Where Does the United States Stand?

October 30, 2005

According to Plato there are five different kinds of governments and they go through a cycle from aristocracy to timocracy then oligarchy then democracy and finally tyranny. He thinks aristocracy is the best kind of government, rule by philosopher kings, like the perfect city; therefore the aristocratic man is “both good and just” (544e). This is the best kind of government to have, and tyranny is the worst. So where is the United States on this scale? The United States does not fall directly under any of the five types of government because it is very difficult to classify one government under one category. This is due to the fact that governments do not appear in pure forms. In Plato’s Republic, Plato offers the reader guidelines to help understand what form of government we are participating in, and the form our ancestors took part in.

Plato describes the rulers of an aristocracy as being the: “Best in philosophy” (543 a). He continues that: “They were to train for war and act as Guardians over the community, in return for which they were to get their keep as their annual wage, and devote themselves to the care of their fellow-Guardians and the whole state” (543 c). Plato’s aristocrats placed the interests of the state above personal agendas, and did not have excessive amounts of money. According to Plato’s criteria, the United States was initially founded as an aristocracy. Although the United States did not duplicate Plato’s form of rule, many similarities can be drawn between the two systems. Both groups of rulers had the interests of the state truly at heart. In the Preamble to the Constitution, crafted by the founding fathers, they had the nation’s interests at heart, working to: “Promote the general welfare,” and: “Establish justice” (Ron Nimblett 2001).

But, the founding fathers weren’t exactly just scraping by financially like the majority of early Americans. Many of these aristocrats had great financial wealth, not as extravagant as the current administration’s holdings, but greater still than the average citizen. This varies from Plato’s aristocracy, where the guardians had very low incomes. This wealth amongst the rulers is what makes the United States stand out from Plato’s true form of aristocracy.

Unfortunately today, the somewhat aristocratic government has vanished, replaced by an oligarchy. Plato defines an oligarchy, as: “A society where it is wealth that counts, and in which political power is in the hands of the rich and the poor have no share of it” (550 d). Any individual who claims that the system is not an oligarchy, must look no further than the president himself and his staff to view the oligarchy in motion. “No US administration in nearly a century has been dominated to such an extent by personnel drawn directly from the executive suites of American big business as that of George W. Bush” ( One must look no further than the Bush tax cut to view this administration’s priorities to promote big business and the wealthy one percent of America. In Bush’s proposed tax cut for the rich, it is estimated that Bush’s cabinet members will save $5 million to $19 million apiece in estate taxes. Unlike at the founding of the United States, it does not feel like the current administration has the best interest of the nation as a whole in heart.

Although the members of the current administration are very intelligent, they are by no means philosophers. The president’s Yale degree is proof enough he’s not some geek of the street, but his C average suggests that he didn’t exactly spend all his time studying and be labeled what we would call a genius. But at the same time, the president, in his own way is a genius. What I mean by this is that if he were really as stupid as everyone seems to think he is, how did he persuade the majority of people that he was the right man to lead the United States for two terms running?

While the Bush administration, as well as the founding one, were very different in form, they both preached to be democracies. According to Plato, a democracy: “Treats all men as equal, whether they are equal or not” (558 c). This was certainly not the case during the founding of America where African-Americans were only regarded as three-fifths of a human being. We still do not live in a democracy. If we all had equal rights, the level of education amongst African-Americans living in the projects, would not be at the level which it is at today. Plato comments that: “A democracy is the most attractive of all societies, the diversity of its characters, like the different colors in a patterned dress, make it look very attractive” (557 c). Throughout American history, the government has created an artificial ideal known as democracy, simply so that they can keep their preferred form of rule intact; this is in fact one of the greatest noble lies, we believe in it so much that we are willing to go to war over the protection of our “democracy


At 2:24 AM, Blogger bloggrez said...

Disasters in the Internet Age
On Sept. 15, through a private Web site called, Ruby pleaded for help.
Just like so many Americans my friend loves the clubs and pop r & b lyrics so he went ahead and built an awesome website about pop r & b lyrics. When he's in high spirit he goes to the site and start reciting all his favorite pop r & b lyrics. Says it's good for the heart. Guess what? I gave it a shot and it works great!

At 2:27 AM, Blogger Peter said...

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Take Care...


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