Sunday, December 26, 2021

Republic Books 8 & 9

There's a good reason Plato was so influential: lunar path coherence. You can feel that he's onto something important. That and he piggybacked on Socrates' transcendent heroism. Praise of those greater than you is directly to your own advantage.

Tragically, Plato's solar path coherence is nearly missing, meaning his stellar path coherence is negative. He has the right kind of plan, but almost every detail misses the mark. 

In Book 8, Plato discards analysis and returns to description and reports, which means his reach stops exceeding his grasp. This and book 9 are easily the best part of the Republic. 

Plato had never seen an aristocracy, so that part is, like the rest of the book, nearly unreadable. You can ctrl-f down to 'timocracy.' However, for the rest he's cogent, on topic, and the prose flows smoothly. It's good. I genuinely recommend you read the original (translation).

You can have the pleasure of watching Plato describe us in detail from nearly two and a half thousand years ago.

Naturally, real life isn't as neat as Plato's descriptions, but it is a mere linear superposition. Modern Fascism is smeared across plutarchy, a bit of democracy, and a generous dollop of tyranny. Further, exactly as Plato claims and apparently for almost exactly the reason he claims, Fascism is naturally decaying toward pure tyranny.

"Socrates descries government by timocracy (from timé, honor) in Sparta and in Crete, where the military was in power (kratos) and honor and ambition were highly valued." 

Technically using honour wrong. He's referring to warrior-caste status points. Glory in battle or other forms of direct physical conflict. "The timocratic man will value physical exploits, and he will be courageous and ambitious." While honour is glorious and dishonour is inglorious, glory isn't necessarily honour. A nice hill is glorious, but entirely orthogonal to honour, for example.

"A given state seems always to fall into ruin because people in power disagree, quarrel among themselves, and come to violence."

More precisely, ownership is not clear. The property is rationally disputed, and the dispute escalates to blows because it's worth the risk in the short (easily intelligible) term. 

"Oligarchy is a society in which the rich are in control; the wealthy are extremely wealthy and the poor quite poverty-stricken. The rich will not be able to sate their desire for more and more wealth; for them the love of money will overtake their desire for honor."

American billionaires can't even spend all their money, they only accumulate more as a way of scoring a game they play with each other. "Eventually, the rich will become profligate, simply getting and spending money,"

"in fact, in such a state, the gap between the rich and the poor will be so wide that the two classes (rich and poor) will be actively antagonistic to one another."

What's the saying? Eat the rich? (As if they could.) 

"he may appear to be a reasonable person, but his respectability is predicated upon his fear of becoming impoverished."

Cowards run away from fear instead of running toward joy. Some are so terrified they can't run at all, lest they attract too much attention.

"The enormously wealthy people in a declining oligarchy will probably lend out money to the poor at exorbitant rates of interest. The debtors will spend and spend; they will be encouraged to borrow and borrow."

"In such a democratic state, everyone is more or less equally free of any responsibility to anyone else, including service to the state. No one is obliged to give orders; no one is obliged to take orders; no justice can be respected or meted out."

"Although the son may not even respect money, he will probably not respect anything else; he will become shiftless, kind of a reed in the wind, unable to control his desires, which will probably fluctuate wildly. Lacking any ability to discern differences in appetite, he will probably live solely for the moment, and he will be rudderless. His will be a life without order."

"so is democracy greedy for absolute freedom; it recognizes no authority whatever, neither familial nor militaristic nor academic."

No formal, responsible hierarchy. Even when democratic man recognizes that this is a mistake, he still can't bring himself to submit to a hierarchy. Humility is beyond him unless forced to act humble at gunpoint.

"The erstwhile democrats in power will continue to placate the great beast of the populace, and they will, as is their wont, rob all the rich folk."

E.g. seizing the foundations. E.g. HR departments at every corporation.

"The rich will complain in the Assembly; the democrats will charge them with being [...] reactionaries." ...and racist and sexist or whatever.

"[The tyrant] will trust no one, certainly not men of reason or compassion. He will surround himself with criminals, and he will finally do criminal acts against the very democrats who elected him." Such as BLM. "The tyrant will despotically rule his unhappy and fearful state."

"The democrat is desirous of all things and treats all, good and bad, equally"

The democrat is unable to gatekeep his own communities, because intentionally setting up gatekeepers smells of hierarchy. He allows traitors into his midst and repeatedly acts surprised when he is betrayed.

"if his son, the tyrannical man, falls into bad company — and he will — then he will be governed entirely by the bad and the desire for the bad."

Conquest's third law and Moldbug's impact. Impact == change * resistance. 

In government, democracy is impossible. It's only a popular attitude.  In real world situations, plutarchy performs a quantum transition directly to tyranny. E.g. every American agency and NGO has a plethora of gatekeepers.

Wisdom is harder than courage which is harder than creativity & fidelity. (More on this next entry.) The State first loses the capacity for wisdom, and becomes a timearchy. Then it loses the capacity for courage, and becomes a plutocrachy. Then it loses even the capacity to avoid treachery, and becomes a tyranny. 

Democracy is inherently tyrannical, incidentally. If the populace are already free, the sovereign will also be already free, and yet, like all democratic men, he lusts for more freedom. He can only get this by depriving his fellow citizens of their freedoms. In other words, by going into pure sadism. 

If modern democracy seems more tyrannical than ancient tyrannies, it is only because technology limited how sadistic the tyrant could be. Beyond around a hundred miles from his seat of government, there was no way to know if his torturous edicts were even being followed. Not without going there personally; but then who would watch the vipers in the capital? Similarly, the most perverted, degenerate mandates can only be afforded against a backdrop of great wealth. Evil is a luxury good.

As a distant second, ye olde populations had not yet had any spirit or initiative beaten out of them by centuries of State repression. They would not meekly submit to endless humiliation, but would eventually choose to fight, even should it appear hopeless. 


"It might appear to an immature thinker, or a child, that the tyrant, exercising despotism as he does, is surely a happy man; after all, it is plain that the tyrant can live surrounded by pomp and ceremony and all that wealth can buy. All of his subjects he may treat as objects; he can kill any citizen of his state at whim. But we must remember that the tyrant himself is just as much a slave to his own mad master, his lust, as his subjects are enslaved to his tyranny. The best parts of the tyrant's soul are governed, tyrannically, by the worst part of his soul, and he can never escape the dark prison of his days. The tyrant, who is never in control of himself, is miserable."

Narcissists hate themselves. If you give them power (kratia), all you accomplishing is empowering this self-hatred. They will torment themselves, and incidentally torment everyone around them. 

Personnel is policy. If the tyrant wasn't a terrible person they wouldn't be a tyrant. 

Note that you can't grant dunamis to someone else. They have to build it themselves.

"In contrast to the tyrant, the just man is free; he is enslaved to nothing, for nothing in his desires or emotions can captivate him; since his whole life is governed by his reason, he lives a self-controlled life, happy in his knowledge and happy that he knows it."

The just man is at peace with his own nature and at peace with nature of the world.

And why wouldn't he be? He is in control of it. It is not in control of him. Gnon rewards his humility with power.  (Dunamis specifically.)

"and the third [obsessed with material desires] is a sort of mixture of the oligarchic, democratic, and tyrannical man."

Plato himself notices that fully unjust societies will smear across three hells. 

" Thus it is that the man of justice is correct in his judging himself to be the happiest. And it is self-evident that the man of reason is best fitted to judge, since he alone of the three knows Justice."

The just man is the only one that doesn't live in fear. A warrior's glory can be lost on the field. The merchant's money can be lost in innumerable ways. The just man's knowledge is near-inviolable. The just man's glory and money can also be lost, but unlike the warrior and the merchant, for the just man, these things are mere luxuries. He accumulates them to praise the glory of the cosmic spectacle, not to validate himself. 

A truly just man is likewise indifferent even to knowledge, though of course this indifference is itself a minimal form of wisdom. An ignorant just man is exactly as valid as the wisest just man.  An ignorant just man accumulate knowledge because it's cool, not because it's some desperate necessity. 

"Socrates' third argument proves out by his making a distinction between pure (positive) pleasure and illusory pleasure (a kind of pleasure which is reliant upon an antecedent "pain")."

A truly just man sees no moral difference. "Pure" pleasure has a place. "Impure" pleasure, too, has a place. He knows what these places are and uses them as is proper or advantageous. Pain, too, can be glorious; pain, too, is one of Gnon's creations.

Properly illusory pleasure would be based on a lie. It is dishonourable and disharmonious. However, the pleasures of matter are not lies. This is an issue of the law of identity; pleasure is pleasure is pleasure.

"And we must remember that the illusory pleasures are merely images; knowledge and its study are real."

Prosaic dressed up by misunderstanding into profundity.

Mere "image" pleasures are temporary and often have poorer ROI, that's all. The money can be spent only once. The knowledge can be used and copied over and over until the world bursts of it.

"Now we may behold the unjust man, who has ruined his own life by denying his reason and [getting into fights with his own best interests, because he doesn't understand what they are]."

"Nothing can ever profit him [long term or permanently] for the evils he has visited upon himself, as well as upon others."

"A man must learn to govern himself through [whatever Gnon tells him to use to govern himself], lest he live a life of misery."

"if he cannot be guided by his own reason, he should, like the craftsmen in the Ideal State, learn to be [humbly] guided by the intelligence and reason of others"

No comments: