Archive for September, 2006

Socrates and Bush This week we are commemorating …

Socrates and Bush

This week we are commemorating the fifth anniversary of 911, a horrific but historical event that is still affecting the course of the 21st century. It started a major shift in US policy from that of economic and diplomatic means to a dagger and loaf policy. It was a starting point of dividing the world between “us” and “them”. “Us” being nations who accepted US dominance and agreed to implement its definition of democracy, justice and human rights. On the other hand “Them” are the people most probably of Islamic faith who refuse to accept current state of affairs in their countries and who have decided to embark on an armed conflict with their own societies as well as Western powers who are considered supportive of these governments.

Like the Korean symbol of Ying and Yang it is always a struggle to define what is just and unjust. It is also true for Good and evil. In his speeches President Bush has emphasized that US is in a continuing struggle against the evil forces. In these articles we try to discuss, share, and educate each other. Most of the times we would like to leave our readers with a food for thought to come to their own conclusions on important matters of our times. Today to define good and evil; just and unjust we decided to reproduce a dialogue between Socrates and a person named Thrasymachus while sitting in a group from Book 1 of Plato’s Republic.

Socrates:” Then I will repeat the question, which I asked before, in order that our examination of the relative nature of justice and injustice may be carried on regularly. A statement was made that injustice is stronger and more powerful than justice, but now justice, having been identified with wisdom and virtue, is easily shown to be stronger than justice, if injustice is ignorance; this can no longer be questioned by any one. But I want to view the matter, Thrasymachus, in a different way: you would not deny that a state may be unjust and may be unjustly attempting to enslave other states, or may have already enslaved them, and may be holding many of them in subjection?”

Thrasymachus: “True and I will add that the best and most perfectly unjust state will be most likely to do so.”

Socrates:” I know that such was your position; but what I would further consider is, whether this power which is possessed by the superior state can exist or be exercised without justice or only with justice.”

Thrasymachus:” If you are right in your view, and justice is wisdom, then only with justice, but if I am right then without it.”

Socrates:” Would you have the goodness also to inform me, whether you think that a state, or an army, or a band of robbers and thieves, or any other gang of evildoers could act at all if they injured one another?”

Thrasymachus:” No indeed they could not”

Socrates:” But if they abstained from injuring one another, then they might act together better?”

Thrasymachus:” Yes”

Socrates:” And this is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds and fighting, and justice imparts harmony and friendship; is not that true, Thrasymachus?”

Thrasymachus:” I agree”

Socrates:” I should like to know also whether injustice, having this tendency to arouse hatred, wherever existing among slaves or freeman, will not make them hate one another and set them at variance and render them incapable of common action.”

Thrasymachus: “Certainly”

Socrates: “ Yet is not the power which injustice exercises of such a nature that wherever she takes up her adobe, whether in a city, in an army, in a family, or in any other body, that body is, to begin with, rendered incapable of united action by reason of sedition and distraction; and does it not become its own enemy and at variance with all that opposes it, and with the just? Is not this the case?”

Thrasymachus: “ Yes, certainly”

Socrates: “ We have already shown that the just are clearly wiser and better and abler than the unjust, and that the unjust are incapable of common action; nay more, that to speak as we did of men who are evil acting at any time vigorously together, is not strictly true, for if they had been perfectly evil, they would have laid hands upon one another; but it is evident that there must have been some remnant of justice in them, which enabled them to combine; if there had not been they would have injured one another as well as their victims; they were but half-villains in their enterprises; for had they been whole villains, and utterly unjust, they would have been utterly incapable of action. That, as I believe, is the truth of the matter, and not what you said at first.”

It would be a blessing to the world that Bush Administration finds a Socrates among them who could provide guidance in these turbulent times of the world. It would also be a blessings that extremist learn from history that violence is an unjust means to struggle for a just cause. It is true that authoritarian and autocratic rulers suffocating their societies govern Muslim countries. But our own founding father Quaid-e-Azam and South African leader Nelson Mandela has showed that freedom can also be achieved through peaceful means.
Sadly although Socrates won the argument but Thrasymachus proved right that injustice is stronger than justice because Socrates was condemned to drink a bowl of poison for his views that were considered a danger to the society and state.

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