In The Republic, Plato came up with the ideal government. Obviously, it won’t happen, but one main feature is his critique of democracy. Some of them aren’t too impressive, but one that has always caught me is that there are no experts in a democracy. When you want to get healthy, you go to a doctor. When you have a toothache, you go to a dentist. They are experts in their fields. In a democracy however, there are no experts. Plato compares a democracy like people in charge of a ship. You don’t want people driving the ship, you want a captain. Indeed, Winston Churchill once remarked that democracy is the greatest form of government, until you have a five-minute conversation with the average voter. All of this suggests critiques of democracy. While I understand the critiques, I don’t think democracy will be replaced anytime soon. But the thing that Plato emphasizes on is education.
When people vote in a democracy, they aren’t that smart. It’s because the people don’t care about the substantial issues, they love the images. Debates in democracies will become superficial. We’ll focus more on images, less on substantive issues. Why? It’s because the masses are impatient with all the information. They prefer the sensational over the informative. Think in our society: which do people in our society watch more: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, or E! Channel, Oprah, Jerry Springer, and VH1? Also, more emphasis is placed on emotion than on reason. A while ago, they were thinking of placing a nuclear power plant in California. Well, one side was saying we’ll waste all our resources until we’re scavenging for life, the other side said everyone will become mutant freaks and nuclear accidents. They were trying to scare each other. But here’s the thing: whoever can scare the most wins. Plato’s solution thus, was to start over. I think we need a start over in a sense, but not a full-blown start over. I think Plato’s right that the average voter isn’t that educated. Thus, we need to go straight to the source and look at the education system. This will help us become aware of our country, ourselves, and our situations.
What would the ideal school system be for you? What would you add? What would you take away?