I was going to do one of those year in review things where I wrote about all the good things of
Democracies end when they are too democratic. Zohar Lazar when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school.
The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another.
And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become.
Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed — with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema.
But it is inherently unstable. As the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending.
There is no kowtowing to authority here, let alone to political experience or expertise. The very rich come under attack, as inequality becomes increasingly intolerable. Patriarchy is also dismantled: The foreigner is equal to the citizen.
And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further.
He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence.
He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.
And as I watched frenzied Trump rallies on C-SPAN in the spring, and saw him lay waste to far more qualified political peers in the debates by simply calling them names, the nausea turned to dread. And when he seemed to condone physical violence as a response to political disagreement, alarm bells started to ring in my head.
Plato had planted a gnawing worry in my mind a few decades ago about the intrinsic danger of late-democratic life. Or am I overreacting? In the wake of his most recent primary triumphs, at a time when he is perilously close to winning enough delegates to grab the Republican nomination outright, I think we must confront this dread and be clear about what this election has already revealed about the fragility of our way of life and the threat late-stage democracy is beginning to pose to itself.
Plato, of course, was not clairvoyant.
His analysis of how democracy can turn into tyranny is a complex one more keyed toward ancient societies than our own and contains more wrinkles and eddies than I can summarize here.
His disdain for democratic life was fueled in no small part by the fact that a democracy had executed his mentor, Socrates.
And he would, I think, have been astonished at how American democracy has been able to thrive with unprecedented stability over the last couple of centuries even as it has brought more and more people into its embrace.
It remains, in my view, a miracle of constitutional craftsmanship and cultural resilience. There is no place I would rather live. But it is not immortal, nor should we assume it is immune to the forces that have endangered democracy so many times in human history.
To guard our democracy from the tyranny of the majority and the passions of the mob, they constructed large, hefty barriers between the popular will and the exercise of power.
Voting rights were tightly circumscribed.Netscape is finally going into its first public beta. There never was a version The last major release, version , was released almost three years ago. Three years is an awfully long time in the Internet world.
During this time, Netscape sat by, helplessly, as . I never dreamed that the decisions I made in my relatively youthful years would have such an impact on my future.
I always felt that I would never look back upon my life and say "I wish I had taken more time in considering my choices.".
Suddenly, my dreams are interrupted by someone shaking me. Half asleep, my 8-year-old self can barely make out the words Mama is saying in my direction and I . I Never Looked Back Again Essay I never looked back again’ Suddenly, my dreams are interrupted by someone shaking me.
Half asleep, my 8-year-old self can barely make out the words Mama is saying in my direction and I groggily sit up whilst trying to make head or tail of the situation. Never look back. What's gone is now history. What's gone is now history.
But in the process make memory of events to help you understand what will help you to make your dream a true story. One evening over dinner, I began to joke, as I often had before, about writing an essay called “Men Explain Things to Me.” Every writer has a stable of ideas that never make it to the racetrack, and I’d been trotting this pony out recreationally every once in a while.