suppose in a shipwreck a stronger man sees a weaker man on a plank, will he not push him off to save himself, especially if there are no witnesses? If he doesn't, he will act justly but will foolishly throw away his own life. So, ... political justice is not justice but prudence; natural justice is indeed justice, but is at the same time folly.- Paraphrase of The Republic III.29-31, reconstituted from Lactantius, Divine Institutiones 5.16.5-13
a state should be organised in such a way as to last forever. And so the death of a state is never natural, as it is with a person, for whom death is not only inevitable but also frequently desirable. Again, when a state is destroyed, eliminated, and blotted out, it is rather as if (to compare small with great) this whole world were to collapse and pass away.- The Republic, III.34
SCIPIO: ... wherever there is a tyrant, one cannot say ... that there is a defective republic; logic now forces us to conlcude that there is no republic at all. ... a place totally controlled by a clique cannot properly be called a republic either ...When everything is supposed to be done under the people's control, when the masses punish whoever they please, when they seize, carry off, hold on to, or squander whatever they like, can you deny then, Laelius, that a republic exists, when everythinng belongs to the public? After all, our definition of a republic is "the property of the people'.
LAELIUS: Actually there is no state to which I should be quicker to refuse the name of republic than the one which is totally in the power of the masses. ... I don't see how there is any stronger case for applying the name of republic to a state enslaved by the mob. ... That rabble is just as tyrannical as one man, and all the more repellant in that there is nothing more monstrous than a creature which masquerades as a public and usurps its name. It is quite inconsistent that, when the property of the insane is placed by law in the hands of male relatives because the former [are no longer capable of managing it themselves, the property of the public should be left in the hands of an insane mob]- The Republic, III.44-45
Nothing can so easily influence young and impressionable minds as the variety of vocal sounds. One can hardly express what enormous power that exerts for better or worse. ... I do notice how in theatres which once used to be filled with the agreeable plainness of Livius' and Naevius' tunes audiences now rock to and fro jerking their necks and eyes in time with the inflexions of the singer's voice. Ancient Greece used to punish that sort of thing very severely. It foresaw far in advance that the deadly plague, gradually creeping into the citizens' minds and infecting them with pernicious crazes and pernicious ideas, would suddenly bring about the collapse of entire statesLaws 2:38-40
Saturday, 6 March 2010
Not until Burke would you see another defence of oligarchy at the expense of democracy phrased with undisguised class hatred like this. But I particularly like the bit on music: makes me think that if he were alive today he'd be a columnist for the Daily Fail. Try and read it in the disapproving tone of 'Mad' Mel Phillips, you'll see what I mean.