As we look on as the First Speaker of the American House of Representatives is vacated and the First American President in history has been arrested multiple times on exaggerated, election-interfering counts, we wonder what sort of democracy the Democrats of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer think they are preserving. Left-wing rabble-rousers and criminals have run rampant through our nation's cities. At the same time, conservatives are hounded, criticized, and even imprisoned for exercising their First Amendment Constitutional rights, as the Jan. 6thers have found out. The great Greek philosopher Socrates, too, found himself on the wrong side of supposed democrats, just as President Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America, has found.
The life and death of Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, continue to captivate the minds of scholars and thinkers to this day. His trial and execution in 399 BC, at the hands of the Athenian democracy, raised essential questions about the nature of justice, the role of individuals in a democratic society, and the pursuit of truth. This essay will explore Socrates' patriotic service as a hoplite during the Peloponnesian War, his unyielding quest for truth, and the circumstances that led to his trial and execution. It will also draw parallels with the challenges posed by the democracy of the French Revolution, highlighting the complexities of safeguarding democracy while preventing injustice by the majority mob and evaluating how this relates to our current political condition in America.
Before delving into Socrates' philosophical pursuits and his clash with the democratic majority, it is crucial to acknowledge his role as a hoplite during the Peloponnesian War. This conflict spanned from 431 to 404 BC between the Athenian democracy and the Spartan military oligarchy. Socrates, the son of a stonemason, was a loyal and patriotic Athenian citizen. He served as a hoplite, a heavily armed infantryman, in several notable battles during the war.
Socrates' most remarkable military service came during the Battle of Potidaea in 432 BC. This conflict was part of the initial stages of the Peloponnesian War, and Athens sought to quell a revolt by its ally, Potidaea, supported by the Spartan oligarchy. In this battle, Socrates displayed courage and resilience in the face of adversity, characteristics of a true hoplite. However, Athenian forces faced challenges, and the outcome of the battle was a stalemate rather than a resounding victory.
In subsequent years, Socrates also participated in the Battle of Delium in 424 BC and the Battle of Amphipolis in 422 BC. While the specifics of his contributions in these battles are not well-documented, his service as a hoplite highlighted his commitment to Athenian democracy and his willingness to fight for its survival. Unfortunately, these battles were not victorious for Athens and contributed to the overall decline of Athenian power in the Peloponnesian War.
The Search for Truth and Socratic Philosophy
Socrates was not only a hoplite but also a relentless seeker of truth and wisdom. He believed in the power of dialogue and critical thinking to uncover knowledge and virtue. Socratic philosophy was characterized by the Socratic method, a form of dialectical questioning designed to stimulate critical thinking and self-examination.
Socrates often stated that he had a divine inner voice, or daimonion, which guided him and prevented him from making false claims or becoming pretentious. This inner voice acted as his moral compass and a safeguard against intellectual dishonesty. Socrates' commitment to truth, even when it challenged conventional wisdom or posed uncomfortable questions, earned him a following of young intellectuals and, eventually, the hostility of certain Athenian elites.
Truth and justice are at the core of the America First Movement as President Donald J. Trump originated. Today, a small group of Freedom Fighters in Congress are poised to even place Trump at the head of Congress in the Speakers Chair. Perhaps this will restore truth in justice in our legislative branch; one can only hope.
Socrates' commitment to truth-seeking and his unorthodox questioning methods did not sit well with some influential figures in Athenian society. In 399 BC, he found himself on trial, accused of corrupting the youth, impiety (disrespecting the gods of Athens), and taking money for his teachings. The prosecution argued that Socrates' intellectual influence on young Athenians threatened the city's moral fabric.
During his trial, Socrates did not back down from his philosophical principles. He firmly maintained his innocence and refused to compromise his pursuit of truth, even if it meant disobeying the will of the majority. Ultimately, the Athenian jury, consisting of 501 citizens chosen by lot, voted to convict him, and he was sentenced to death by drinking hemlock.
So, too, Trump will be offered a proverbial hemlock potion if President Biden and the gang of falsehood have their way. Trump has angered the political class, which has membership across the board of power, just as Socrates had. So now, the denizens of the Swamp will arise in the dark of night to fall upon Mar A Largo or anywhere else, conservatives may think they are safe.
Democracy and the Challenge of Majority Rule
Socrates' trial and execution highlight the complexities of democracy and the potential pitfalls of majority rule. The Athenian democracy that condemned Socrates was a direct democracy, where decisions were made by the citizens themselves, often in open assemblies. While this form of democracy allowed for broad participation and representation, it had flaws.
The trial of Socrates serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of a democracy succumbing to the will of the majority, especially regarding issues of individual rights and freedom of thought. Socrates' commitment to truth and intellectual integrity clashed with the prevailing opinions and values of the Athenian majority, leading to his unjust conviction.
We in no way are suggesting a change to democracy, as the American Constitution is rock solid and should be adhered to without question. Yet therein lies the conundrum. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people includes democratic elements throughout; however, justice and truth are also inviolable elements of the Constitution. Individual and minority rights are to be sacrosanct.
Comparing Socrates' Trial to the French Revolution
The challenges of democracy and majority rule are not limited to ancient Athens. The French Revolution, which unfolded centuries later in the late 18th century, provides another example of how democracy can sometimes lead to injustice by the mob. The French Revolution, driven by ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity, witnessed radical changes in governance and society. However, it also saw the rise of the Reign of Terror, where revolutionary tribunals executed thousands of individuals on charges of counter-revolutionary activities.
The parallel between Socrates' trial and the Reign of Terror lies in the potential for democracies to become instruments of oppression when majority rule is unchecked. In both cases, the fundamental principles of justice and individual rights were compromised in the name of the greater good or the will of the people.
The 2020 Summer of mostly peaceful destruction of our cities and the outright assault on the very core of election integrity in America through mail-in ballots, machine counting, and weak voter identification puts an oligarchic coterie in power backed by a violent mob. As the guillotine faced anyone opposing the French mob, President Trump now faces charges, including the death sentence.
Socrates' life, service as a hoplite, and his quest for truth stand as a testament to his unwavering commitment to the ideals of Athens. His trial and execution, however, reveal the inherent challenges that democracies face when they confront individuals who question the status quo. Socrates' story serves as a reminder that protecting democracy necessitates not only safeguarding the rights of the majority but also upholding the principles of justice, individual freedom, and the pursuit of truth.
Furthermore, when comparing Socrates' trial to the democracy of the French Revolution, it becomes evident that the path to democracy is fraught with complexities—ensuring that democracy serves as a vehicle for justice and the protection of individual rights rather than a tool for the tyranny of the majority, remains an enduring challenge for societies throughout history. Socrates' legacy continues to inspire us to critically examine the nature of democracy and the responsibilities it places on both citizens and institutions to uphold justice and truth. We intend not to directly compare these two men as Trump had no military experience, and few would compare Trumpian soliloquies to the Platonic verse of Socrates. Yet, Socrates and Trump are both patriots and, in my opinion, truth-seekers hounded by mob-like opponents. History frequently rhymes, and just as the Greek Golden Age sun began to set, we now sit before a sun potentially setting on the American experiment that began with a Constitution better than any ever before it.