PLATO’S REPUBLICAN ? A REBUTTAL TO THE INTERNAL GAP POST
Curtis Gale Weeks of Phatic Communion had some excellent comments the other day to my post on America’s Internal Non-Integrating Gap ( itself inspired by Chirol’s Domestic PNM post) and then followed these with an examination of the thread in light of Plato’s Republic. This folks, is damn fine blogging – and sure to cause no end of delight in some quarters.
If like me you haven’t read The Republic in a while, Curtis gives you a cogent review of Plato’s theory of forms of government and mines some interest nuggets that connect Platonic thought to Dr. Barnett’s System Adminstration concept. Admittedly, Mr. Weeks read greater parameters of State intervention into my post than I had intended but the fault there is mine – clarity was sacrificed for brevity. On the other hand, if I get critiques of this quality by being vague, perhaps I should start being intentionally ambiguous.
At the end of his post, Curtis poses some questions and observations, to which I will add my comments in regular text:
“Looking at Plato’s paradigm, and considering Mark’s, I wonder if the desire to focus on a systemic education of the young (for uniting the State), is an effort to break the generational shift from one form of governance to the next lower.
Yes. The idea would be to ” re-set” the youngest generation of the underclass and their neighborhoods to the societal baseline. Dr. Von would go farther but I think dealing with simply breaking the cycle of disconnection with the children already ” in the system” is task enough in terms of magnitude without also engaging in perfecting the marginally competent.
The dysfunction mentioned by Mark, and alluded to by others including myself, most resembles the dysfunction outlined by Plato in his consideration of Oligarchy: the impoverished drones sometimes have stings, become criminals, and must be subdued…for what purpose? The rulers of an Oligarchy seek to protect their personal wealth and power from these criminal members of their society. Or perhaps the libertine belief in absolute freedom, in this Democracy, has led to a relativism in the “disconnected” classes, who are following the path of their own pleasures in ways which seem criminal to the neo-oligarchic elements of modern America?
The last part is an interesting sociological question. Certainly, there is no moral difference between the choice of mind and mood altering substances favored by the well to do compared to those indulged in by the very poor. The wealthy and middle-class have greater reserves in terms of resources to mitigate the negative effects of addiction than people living an already marginal existence but that is irrelevant to the nature of the act itself ( as an aside I’m in favor of decriminalization of drug use – the War on Drugs is a tremendous waste by any economic measure).
To return to the point of purpose, my motives were both altruistic and cold-bloodedly pragmatic. Altruistic in the sense of giving the underclass children a way out of their exile from the mainstream tht is no fault of their own. Pragmatic in the sense that unmaking the American underclass and short-circuiting a subculture of self-destruction is in the long run, much cheaper for society than continuing to manage it with prisons and an unfocused shotgun approach to welfare state bureaucracy.
I also wonder how we measure “connectedness” and “disconnectedness,” since all members of our society are just that: present within the Society.
Good question. When I first became involved in discussing PNM and made contact with Dr. Barnett, I suggested that the degree of connectivity was something that could in fact be quantified by a good economist – though the object of discussion was nation-states. People would be more subjective and harder to evaluate.
They may be involved in different tasks, different goals with different motivations, but I’m of the same mind with Plato when he asserts that any system of society is a reflection of all the actual members of a society. I.e., we are already connected within the society, even if we don’t always notice the connections or recognize the type of connections that are present. These questions seem paramount, if we are to decide what, exactly, will be taught to the children of our society: what values, what merits, what future.”
I think here the concept of marginality would be helpful. The disconnected are still part of society, not complete aliens, so the disconnectivity is indeed relative. But they are beyond the equilibrium point where you might find the merely asocial, the misanthropic or the dissenter. The underclass are at the point where a majority of their behavior is in conflict with major societal Rule-sets and at times, self-preservation.
Comments as always, are most welcome.