How to Build an Aristocracy

Read the whole quote, but if you’re pressed for time, the bold will suffice.

From Bloom’s translation of the Republic, Book II, as spoken by Adeimantus:

“My dear Socrates,” he said, “… In all likelihood he would say to himself, after Pindar, will I ‘with justice or with crooked deceits scale the higher wall’ where I can fortify myself all around and live out my life? For the things said indicate that there is no advantage in my being just, if I don’t also seem to be, while the labors and penalties involved are evident. But if I’m unjust, but have provided myself with a reputation for justice, a divine life is promised. Therefore, since as the wise make plain to me, ‘the seeming overpowers even the truth’ and is the master of happiness, one must surely turn wholly to it. As facade and exterior I must draw a shadow painting of virtue all around me, while behind it I must trail the wily and subtle fox” ***hmmmm whose philosophy could this possibly remind one of?*** “of the most wise Archilochus. ‘But,’ says someone, ‘it’s not always easy to do bad and get away with it unnoticed.’ ‘Nothing great is easy,’ we’ll say. ‘But at all events, if we are going to be happy we must go where the tracks of the arguments lead. For, as to getting away with it, we’ll organize secret societies and clubs; and there are teachers of persuasion who offer the wisdom of the public assembly and the court. On this basis, in some things we’ll persuade and in others use force; thus we’ll get the better and not pay the penalty.’ ‘But it surely isn’t possible to get away from the gods or overpower them.’ ‘But, if there are no gods, or if they have no care for human things, why should we care at all about getting away? And if there are gods and they care, we know of them or have heard of them from nowhere else than the laws and the poets who have given genealogies; and these are the very sources of our being told that they are such as to be persuaded and perverted by sacrifices, soothing vows, and votive offerings. Either both things must be believed or neither. If they are to be believed, injustice must be done and sacrifice offered from the unjust acquisitions. For if we are just, we won’t be punished by the gods. That is all. And we’ll refuse the gains of injustice. But if we are unjust, we shall gain and get off unpunished as well, by persuading the gods with prayers when we transgress and make mistakes.’
“Then, by what further argument could we choose justice before the greatest injustice? For, if we possess it with a counterfeited seemly exterior, we’ll fare as we are minded with gods and human beings both while we are living and when we are dead, so goes the speech of both the many and the eminent. After all that has been said, by what device, Socrates, will a man who has some power—of soul, money, body or family—be made willing to honor justice and not laugh when he hears it praised?

There are very few actual secret societies left in America; New Orleans Mardi Gras krewes, the Bohemian Club, and wall st fraternities come to mind (though the latter are usually as bourgeois as they come.)

Also a bonus quote, from Socrates in Book IV, that I find pretty telling of Plato’s philosophy as a whole: “Meddling among the classes… is the greatest harm for the city and would most correctly be called extreme evil-doing.”

Spoken by a fat, piggish stonemason who regularly “mentored” (i.e. buttfucked) aristocratic youth. Through the writings of an aristocrat, probably a catamite himself.

I should add that Socrates’s (i.e. Plato’s) definition of justice (also in Book IV) is “the minding of one’s own business and not being a busybody.” Really impenetrable definition, Plato…

 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate Politics

I’ve begun to despise politics. Not because I don’t care; rather I’ve cared too much for too long with little to no tangible output on the world besides heated conversations with peers and a few converted souls (who, as if I’ve poisoned them, walk around peddling the same critiques I’ve hit on over the years.)

So I am now attempting to position myself against political thought. I would like to be able to adopt the essence of Robinson Jeffers’s poem “Be Angry at the Sun”:

“Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

Yet, theirs IS mine. I cannot, like Jeffers, retire to a hut in Carmel and live a hermit life among rocks and salt. It might be because I am too young (I still have desire beyond my reason) or because I am too poor (who can afford land in Carmel?). Brecht said of types who reject politics:

“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean… all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”

I’d like to ask Brecht what he might think of someone who, knowing a great deal about politics, might reject the process wholly. If one hates politics, does that make one a political illiterate?

Could it be that one could know too much about politics, know that there is nothing to do be done to prevent these ills (prostitute, multinational companies) from occurring? Could it be that Brecht’s characterization is shallow and forgets all the men and women who have spent years toiling for political causes only to have their efforts wasted or otherwise bashed in by legislation?

Why not liberate oneself? Is it imbecilic to spend time engaged in art instead of politics? Does one have to do both at the same time? There does not seem to be anything political about the loss of a father; the failed suicide of a friend; a dog walking down a railroad track. Experience goes beyond politics; it seems to me that only the weak-willed and the weak-minded assume that politics are integral to the life-process.

And thus Brecht was an idiot. Who knew? The term idiot might be reductionist. He obviously was neurotic; no one claims to be of peasant origins while being from a comfortably middle class family without having some hangups. I guess he couldn’t hang out with the cool kids unless he was ‘truly proletarian.’