On Tyrants

plato-2Who succeeds morally and emotionally in a democracy? A person who learns moderation through experience. After all, life is filled with choices, and no single authority teaches which is best. A young adult experiments, evaluates the mixed results, and learns to succeed.

Imagine a man told about moderation who never quite gets the hang of it. As a young adult, he is released into the free society, unable to anchor himself with any principles of self-regulation. He fills his time with feasts, carousals, revelings and courtesans, spending all his money in a constant party frenzy. Bankrupt, he tries to figure out who he can defraud out of their property.

When he wants something, he flatters others in order to get it. But as soon as his cravings are satisfied, he dumps whoever helped him. He has no real friends, and is never free of his frenzied desires. Continually and truly miserable, he associates only with people who flatter him.

The best parts of his psyche are enslaved to the meanest and maddest parts. Because he is not master of himself, he tries to be master of others. But this psychological trick is a precarious substitution. He is terrified of his slaves, certain they are his enemies. Fear of them keeps him in an inner prison.

The more powerful he becomes, the more terrified, jealous, and faithless he becomes. To protect his power, he has to flatter the most vile people. Supremely miserable in his fragile fortress, he tries to make everyone else miserable too.

— paraphrased only slightly from Plato’s Republic, Book IX, c. 380 BCE 

2 Comments
  1. That is one version of leadership. How about this one too? Moshe who is the visionary, committed to a code of behavior but cannot connect to ordinary people and the other half, Aharon, who feels, connects, and communicates with people, and we could even throw in Miriam, who communicates on a creative heart level. together represent another vision of leadership.

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