Revisiting the Philosopher-King

I’ve taken a recent interest in politics, it’s genesis in the building hours of the signing of Health Care Reform within the House of Representatives. Though clothed in sensation, this birth was born of disgust and repulsion. I watched the Minority Leader speak as his regretful words grew into a growl, and then into an embarrassing roar. With my shot hearing and poor knowledge of politics, I was later informed that much yelling occurs in congressional meetings, and that such savagery isn’t all too uncommon in political arenas; I was recommended Parliament for a benchmark visage.

I always imagined our political leaders as civil and well behaved, sorts of heroes that endeavored into what I never desired to set foot in. Clearly, this was my youthful imagination. Though a gross generalization, yet possibly a reputable claim, our political leaders are monsters. I was disgusted at the idea that I voted for these representatives — let alone, could vote for them. The incivility and rash immaturity was strong foundation for me to believe that democracy, in very blatant terms, sucks.

Days before reform passed, I conversed with a friend about these things over dinner. We began to discuss different political systems, and my dinner partner enlightened me of the varieties. Days prior, a friend introduced, in my mind at least, a rather novel idea: That the Nazi political system was efficient and possibly one of the best political systems; had their supremest and anti-Semitic views not been so central, the Nazis would have been a legitimate and powerful political presence in Europe and perhaps the remaining globe. What drove this home for me was that an efficient and select few governed. Under the assumption that they ruled for the best interests of their citizens in a virtuous pursuit of truth and goodness, it sounded the purest political establishment.

Which beckons us back to The Republic, where Plato dreams a city governed by Philosopher-Kings and -Queens. This, I believe, is the perfect political system. For years this genuine theory has circulated itself through the minds of thinkers, yet it has not been realized, and, I am confident to assert, will never happen on this Earth in its condition and nature.

This is a sharp transition from political theory and critique to spiritual application. I discussed this in brief with my roomate as he prepared for his slumber, and I drew the parallel that the Lord’s Kingdom would be as Plato had dreamed: Governed by a ruler(s) trained in ethic, virtue, and truth — always seeking the Good. Such a ruler is God. The ideal political system will be realized in the Eternal Kingdom, and that Eternal Kingdom will only be in place when the New Earth and Heaven are created. It would be impossible to install that system from the top-down in our day. We could, and nations have, establish such political installments, but they will either fail or turn brash. If we want Plato’s Republic, we need a revolution among the common folk — a revolution in desires and interests.

Now for the real spiritual application: My roomate commented that when I revealed my unabashed desire and dedication for such a ruler, he thought of the Anti-Christ. Had I been cast in a dramatic sequence, shivers would have ran along the vertical of my spine, and a dark and dreary musical assemblage would have blanketed the screen. That did not happen, but it did cause me alarm. Had the Anti-Christ appeared prior to that exchange of conversation, would I have dedicated myself to him or her? It prompted me to take a more serious look at Revelation and eschatology. I’m skintly knowledgeable of the End Times, and this is reasonable concern for any believer. Attraction is the bane of us all, but Revelation provides groundwork to beat it.

( Photo via Will Burrard-Lucas )

  1. Fione said:

    I didn’t study The Republic entirely (well, all we did in History was a mere introduction to Plato), but there was a passage in The Republic that summed up what I’d meant to say yesterday:

    “Both the community of property and the community of families, as I am saying, tend to make them more truly guardians; they will not tear the city in pieces by differing about “mine” and “not mine”; … but all will be affected as far as may be by the same pleasures and pains because they are all of one opinion about what is near and dear to them, and therefore they all tend towards a common end.”

    BTW I found this post to be really insightful. Such a ruler can only be God.
    Are you still hoping for a re-education of the people?

    • Nate said:

      As I wrote this, I think I may have been haste in using the term “re-education”. Instead of re-education, I meant something more of a revolution or re-evaluation, and definitely more spiritual than for governing practicality in nature. So, yes, I still hope for a “reeducation” of the common folk.

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