The purpose of knowledge, in my book, is that it be shared and the primary school teacher in my soul is always wanting to reduce difficult concepts to simplistic terms which denies those such as me a place at the intellectual’s table.
Therefore, Deogolwulf’s rejoinder, in answer to the question of one of my commenters: “How do you find the time to research all this?” was, “Evidently by not bothering to read Aristotle,” which brought a smile to the face and a tear to the eye.
He was partly right, whilst his own views, to me, seem to have more of the Platonic than the Aristotelian. Allow me to explain.
Plato’s aristocracy is misunderstood if one thinks of it as a hereditary monarchy, a self-perpetuating group of oligarchs. The whole point of Plato’s aristocracy is meritocracy, which in itself is a flawed system because of the difficulty of defining merit and yet it is a better run society if it can be achieved.
As long as it’s not exclusive, in the sense of there being the possibility of upward mobility due to learning, for example, in a trade or a particular skill, then it has merit. The master, journeyman and apprentice fall under this umbrella.
In timocracy, the less gifted descendants are inducted into the gifted class without legitimacy but are welcomed mainly because of nepotism. This then degenerates into an oligarchical tradition and the divine right to rule overcomes the right to be there on merit alone.
Oligarchy itself has been covered in the Venetian post.
Oligarchy has the all-consuming task of constructing traditions, laws and given truths in order to retain power in lieu of merit. Therefore Platonic precepts have no place but the Aristotelian rigid separation of action from production, his justification of the subservience of slaves and others to the virtue, the reduction of human knowledge to the crudest sense-certainty and perception of “facts” and his formalism as a means of killing human creativity is well liked by oligarchs of a particuar bent.
The city state [he did not use State in the sense it is used by the totalitarians today] was greater than the family and the family was greater than the individual. Deogolwulf’s criticism is equally applicable to all who have used Aristotle as justification for despotic precepts, e.g. the immobility of the social classes and Aristotle needs to be seen today, not in terms of all he said [and he said much] but in terms of how he’s been interpreted and reinvented – even Nietzsche was enamoured.
Plato’s next circle closer to hell on earth comprises democracy and this is the bete-noir of Deogolwulf. The desire for freedom actually leads to slavery in another way and discipline gives way to chaos and to enforced egalitarianism [see my education post earlier today]. The yahoos and the loonies reign and the prostitute is the new goddess [e.g. Paris Hilton].
Power exists to be fought over and usurped [see the current Albion Alliance campaign against this] and merit at the top is non-existent [the Jim Hacker syndrome]. Westminster politics has itinerant ministers going to any portfolio, irrespective of merit and giving real power to the permanent head of the bureaucracy, outside the supposed democratic process and heavily dependent on patronage.
Unnecessary desires – those Man doesn’t really need and could resist with inner strength, e.g. for money and goods – become far more important than necessary desires – food, shelter and family, for example – and the result is a more bestialized and unhappy person who always wishes for more and who is led by buffoons in the legislature.
In the power vacuum where everyone is wrestling for it, the brute will win and will then weave about him an entourage – his one goal is to institutionalize his power and pass it down to posterity to someone lesser who could not threaten him during his ascendancy.
Welcome to the tyrant.
If he is strong enough, he is a despot. If not, then he exists up there as part of an oligarchy. Always he seeks legitimacy, e.g. the EU referenda where a likely yes vote was on the cards and through the farce of Westminster and Washington politics.
What he attempts to project is that even though he came to power illegitimately or legitimately through stratagems, he now wishes to be seen as one of Plato’s aristocracy, as Nero wished to be seen as cultured and Ernst Stavro Blofeld wished to confirm his ancient bloodline.
The truth is that he is an uncultured brute, no matter how many paintings he acquires and speaks about authoritatively and his behaviour gives him away. And where is the real aristocracy, the merited?
Dead of course. As Goering supposedly said, “I reach for the safety catch on my Browning.”
There are one or two basic principles. All men are not born equal. The best society can do is give equality of opportunity but that is a far cry from “all must have prizes”. I am from humble beginnings but I was given a fine education by my parents, a very general, liberal arts education, including Latin, before I specialized.
If I’d had the aptitude, then when my chance came for a career in IT, I might have gone far. But I didn’t have the brain for it and when I see my friend’s IT brain find a solution to a logical or technical puzzle just like that and I’m all at sea, I understand that I have many limitations.
Part of the Christian message is to accept those things and to do the best you can within your limitations and constraints. Where I disagree is when the fire and brimstone set say that that means no one should have the opportunity to improve himself. Of course he should have the chance but if he doesn’t manage it, then don’t give him laurels because it cheapens the laurel.
A Salieri is a Salieri and a Mozart is a Mozart.
Let him try something else if he must. If people were to accept that and still have a fair chance to improve, then society would be far more stable. I wish to see three august medicos in charge of medical policy, I wish to see three computer programmers and managers in charge of the electronics field and so on. I do not wish to see a politician in charge of trade.
I wish to see experienced pilots flying the plane I’m on, not someone who is there for egalitarian reasons.
You can call this view elitist but I call it uncommon sense.