Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Democracy, (Oligarchy), Tyranny and the Economy

Kyler M. Robinson


The tyrannical man in the United States can be found everywhere. It lives in all of us, our desires that drive us past reason and logic, relying on the craving and eros. The desires of the tyrannical man seemingly mix with the oligarchic one, desires for money. While it seems perfectly clear that a man in Socrates’ tyrannical mold is unfit to be an all-powerful leader; the unification of each tyrannical person comes under the umbrella of the democratic state where everything can be formed.

This does not mean that democracy is a bad form of government as Socrates’ pupils are cultivated from the democratic state. “This is why Socrates is attracted to those dangerous men, the potential tyrants, who are products of democracy”[1] This kind of government seems the most practical in practice as an aristocratic one in the nature of Socrates is not realistic. The idea of Socrates the pilot is fostered by the democratic nature of his society much as today’s thinkers, regardless of their philosophy, can pursue their ideas in the democratic United States.

The democratic nature of the US is perhaps a product of the economic markets that drive the country. And as we have seen, it is perhaps the best way for the country to be directed. Perhaps it is in these modern times it should be the economy who drives the trends because ultimately it comes back to money or economic benefit for a system to work.

There is of course one problematic point where capitalism and democracy may end up clashing. That is when a majority of the citizens, with their inward thinking ideology, try to resist capitalistic values through democracy, instead going towards more social goals. Provided that the governments can resist moving towards one extreme or another, it seems that capitalism and democracy (and oligarchic people within the democratic state) will continue to be an effective couple. However if the government leans too much to the people with their socialist tendencies “The emerging polity might still be “democratic”—but that would make it no less dysfunctional and, at the extreme, hardly any less tyrannical.”[2]

We have seen this point in American history already during the early 20th century. As big business in America produced monopolies and huge concentrations of wealth, a large percentage of the population threatened to overthrow the capitalistic system and the government adopted the Sherman Anti-Trust laws. This is a case where a compromise between social and business values managed to save the capitalistic system within a democratic state. In a way we can look at the oligarchic people and see how it can be balanced with social issues within a smart democratic state that is able to look towards preservation and overall growth.


[1] Allen Bloom “Interpretive Essay” pg. 425

[2] “The Future of the State” http://www.economist.com/surveys/displayStory.cfm?story_id=850929

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