“Democracy in the modern world rests on concepts that can be traced back to Ancient Greece. The very words used to name this system of government are borrowed from that of the Greek. It retains that meaning in contemporary political discourse: a democracy is a political system in which power is authorized by and answerable to the people” (Kraut 1). Although democracy is widely accepted today as the ideal form of government to which nations should aspire, it was both in the Ancient Greek world and European history, a bitterly contested institution that is praised by some and despised by others. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates depicts democracy as nearly the worst form of rule: though superior to tyranny but inferior to every other political arrangement. I personally do agree with this being that I have studied other forms of governments in other countries. I was able to see how they operate and the outcomes of the form of rule on the people, thus allowing me to compare it with the world I live in, that containing a democratic rule.
A democratic rule consists of any eligible citizen getting a say in the decisions made. According to Socrates, he states that a democracy is “just like a sick body which needs only a slight shock from outside to become ill and sometimes, even without external influence, becomes divided into factions, itself against itself” (Reeve 288). From this comes democracy in which “the poor are victorious, kill or expel the others, and give the rest an equal share in the constitution and the ruling offices, and the majority of offices in it are assigned by lot” (Reeve 288).
Socrates argues against the democracy. A prominent example of this is seen in Book Six of The Republic in which Plato describes Socrates falling into conversation with Adeimantus. He is trying to get him to see the flaws of democracy by comparing a society to a ship. Socrates states “If you were heading out on a journey by sea, who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the vessel? Just anyone or people educated in the rules and demands of seafaring? The latter of course, says Adeimantus, so why then, responds Socrates, do we keep thinking that any old person should be fit to judge who should be a ruler of a country?” Socrates’s point is that voting in an election is a skill, not a random intuition. And like any skill, it needs to be taught systematically to people. Letting the citizenry vote without an education is irresponsible.
Contrast to Socrates argument, in The Republic, Plato argues that kings should become philosophers or that philosophers should become kings, or philosopher kings, as they possess a special level of knowledge, which is required to rule the Republic successfully.
Overall, Socrates view is convincing in the fact that he back up his arguement with examples and repercussions of a democracy.