A Lesson for Our Times


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For 4 weeks receive unlimited Premium digital access to the FT's trusted, award-winning business news. Premium Digital. Team or Enterprise. Premium FT. Pay based on use. Group Subscription. Yet the tyrant is more than capable of responding with similarly extreme actions. He has armed men acting as his bodyguard, repelling all attempts to assassinate him.

The equivalent today would perhaps be something like the cancellation of debts and the installation into the state machinery of the grateful ones thus freed. In other words, those who purchase friends with revolutionary political favors are the most pitiable of all persons.

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The suggestion seems to be that the tragic poet missed out on the most important philosophical observation to be made about tyranny; namely, that it is in essence friendless. While the intention of the poet seems to have been to point out that tyrants require good advisors, and that they acquire their wisdom from the wisdom of their good advisors, the wry rejoinder of Socrates points out that in fact tyrants surround themselves with lackeys who, grateful for having been freed from whatever oppression the tyrant lifted them out from, can offer nothing more than flattery to the tyrant.

This lack of friendship for the tyrant is the inevitable consequence of his method of operation. He had to install himself by using force in order to wage his class war against the rich.

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But like all people who practice politics according to an ideological template, the impossibility of real friendship is the bitter harvest that they must therefore reap. Tyrants can only rule by having enemies that they scapegoat. And the usual tactic of the wolf, as we have seen, is to make the rich pay:.


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Make the rich pay? Sic semper tyrannis , the lone wolves with no friends.

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About the Author: Christopher Morrissey. Christopher S. He also lectures in logic and philosophy at Trinity Western University. He studied Ancient Greek and Latin at the University of British Columbia and has taught classical mythology, history, and ancient languages at Simon Fraser University, where he wrote his Ph. Related Posts. September 22nd, 1 Comment. September 9th, 0 Comments. September 2nd, 0 Comments.

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