SINCE re-discovering The Republic by Plato, this time without the pressure of grades and teachers who love to confuse, it has hooked me like the best-ever-selling thriller.
The seemingly never-ending dialogue between Socrates and several philosophers isn't really regular reading material. Since its format is a dialogue, a continuous one at that, the whole book sounds "noisy". No lulls, no stops, just a continuous dialogue, you could barely distinguish which philosopher Socrates is talking to.
But in its pages is a parody of Philippines politics, a politics of tyranny and corruption evolved from a desire to be free (read People Power and impeachment and everything else including dictatorship and yes, politicians who always promise reforms after painting the present black).
"The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness," Socrates described the fertile ground laid out for a tyrant.
"This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector," he continues.
Referring to the "tale of the Arcadian temple of Lycaean Zeus," he described the evolution of a protector to a tyrant.
"The tale is that he who has tasted the entrails of a single human victim minced up with the entrails of other victims is destined to become a wolf."
And now we read on to see kidnapped teachers, detained medical workers, lawsuits left and right, lie-mongers with the badge of authority (some with military titles), and yes, backhoes.
"Having a mob entirely at his disposal, he (the protector) is not restrained from shedding the blood of kinsmen; by the favorite method of false accusation he brings them into court and murders them, making the life of man to disappear, and with unholy tongue and lips tasting the blood of his fellow citizen; some he kills and others he banishes, at the same time hinting at the abolition of debts and partition of lands: and after this, what will be his destiny? Must he not either perish at the hands of his enemies, or from being a man become a wolf -- that is, a tyrant?"
Of course, included in the script of becoming a tyrant are alleged threats coming from those he has painted as enemies, those whom he stood up against as his role as a protector.
"Then comes the famous request for a bodyguard, which is the device of all those who have got thus far in their tyrannical career -- 'Let not the people's friend,' as they say, 'be lost to them.'"
The people, still deluded into believing that there is the real threat to their protector accede and the man now goes around in bullet-proof vehicles and armed bodyguards.
"And he, the protector of whom we spoke, is to be seen, not 'larding the plain' with his bulk, but himself the over-thrower of many, standing up in the chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, but tyrant absolute."
He goes around, shaking hands, smiling, waving his hands, and yes, appearing on television talking in a voice that seemed to be coming from the deepest pits of hell.
"At first, in the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he salutes every one whom he meets; -- he to be called a tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private! liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to every one!"
But now that he lusts for more power, he and his minions call in favors done before, so as to get what he wants, including some smuggled rice sometimes.
"But when he has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader."
The communist rebels are taking over! Or so, the gullible are forced to believe.
"And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions of freedom, and of resistance to his authority, he will have a good pretext for destroying them by placing them at the mercy of the enemy; and for all these reasons the tyrant must be always getting up a war."
Send them all to jail, cancel the contracts of the ingrates, send out death threats, and yes, take a puck at one or two. And yes, scream bloody murder because the communist rebels are right at our doorsteps.
Last week's excerpts from The Republic were from Book IX. This one is from Book VIII. email@example.com