Plato, Franklin And Napoleon

The people always have some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness…this and no other is the root from which tyranny springs.                                                        – Plato, 4th cent.

There is no other way to explain our need for heroes. We want, maybe need, to have somebody to shelter us from the trials of life. We want, maybe need to know there’s a person working for our representative good. We want, maybe need, surrogates to stand in the way of those willing to do us harm.

These people, while trying to ascend show the cleverness and wily ability to confound enemies both internal and foreign. They show us their fine dressing style and then direct us to believe they alone can function in ALL matters concerning our survival. But can any one person be the total package sought to control a society? Can one person be the recognized champion of All dogma and All ideologies?

It would seem not.

Modern politics hasn’t changed much since ancient times. The problems facing Plato in his time faced Caesar in his, Napoleon during his epoch and Americans today: what makes a good and (most importantly) qualified person to hold the highest representative position in a nation?

The simple answer appears to be; the momentary might of the candidate derived from the perceived grandeur and the misperception of his/her integrity based on intangibles. How do you measure the integrity of a candidate? Is it a detriment to be shallow or is it an accolade to be said to be of greater depth of conscience? Who sets the standard and who among us is the deliberate arbiter of the definitive measurement? Is this measurement elastic or rigid?

We decide things by how they affect our senses. What we see as pleasant; is. What we sense as bitter escapes our tongue. We spit it out, rejecting it as not good or enjoyable. When we hear a spoken word we become subjective and measure its impact according to what we want to hear. Ben Franklin said: “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.”

A greater truth was never spoken because we’re a subjective animal. We gauge what we pursue based on what we want at any given moment. If a candidate is new and novel and attractive, we pay greater attention to what we see than what we learn from digging around for truth. We accept, away from all logic, people packaged to be as attractive as can be seen even though they might be hollow suits echoing the canned speech selectively, and by specific design, written to attract the voters’ attention.

Impressions based solely on the senses of the people can be misleading. In Germany, the political rhetoric slathered onto the collective emotions and instability of people’s political awareness was tempered to appeal to a specific form of damaged nationalism and political self-imagery. The people wanted to feel better personally and collectively after the loss of World War I. They accepted a man they saw as being their savior. They were made to feel better personally, as a group and as a nation. Hitler appealed to their need to see they were better than they felt. This isn’t an equation of Hitler to Beaurat Obama. It points out similarities in political operations and demagoguery.

The charisma of the individual is NOT indicative of his/her personal strengths or qualifications for the job of national leader. Charisma is no more than charm, appeal and allure; things never indicative of ability. The charismatic appeal of charlatans has sold the Eiffel Tower and stolen money through Ponzi Schemes. The charismatic attractiveness of individuals displaces our demand for quality representation to the point we have stalemate at the foundation of our representative republic. Those who appear most attractive in some cases are the least qualified to lead.

These are the people who champion the belief once spoken by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814: “I am the state – I alone am here, the representative of the people.”

Before it was all over for him, he’d bankrupted a nation socially and financially.

Look at your leadership. See where the similarities are.

Thanks for listening.



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