Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The snare of words, part 2

Reconsidering the contrast of Polemarchus and Thrasymachus, perhaps Plato also expected his careful students* to learn the difference between argument - the search for justice, including what we call civil disobedience, and the idea of the good - and its opposite, between ascent to the light and the cave. Recall that Thrasymachus’s bullying is a harsher version of what Polemarchus did in arresting Socrates at the beginning of the Republic. And note how much of Thrasymachus’s position is shared by Glaucon, particularly in the latter’s long speech surrounding the story of the ring of Gyges in book 2 (358b-361d) even though his defense of injustice is much gaudier. In the metaphor of the opening lines, a torch was passed flickeringly within the darkness (the cave of a defective democracy's execution of Socrates). Note that motivating or addressing the ring in long, sometimes poetic speeches is a give-away about the feebleness of Glaucon's actual ability to argue, To be eloquent in the way of making speeches is not the same as to be good at asking questions, following argument.

The length of the speeches is also a warning that although much more formidable and smarter than Thrasymachus, Glaucon, Socrates’s chosen companion in the Republic and seeming student, testing out his own course in life as a military and would-be political leader, resembles Thrasymachus more than Polemarchus. For the latter grows; he begins to understand questioning.** There is also a warning in book 2 about the argument; the comic likening of the philosopher to a dog and a guardian, and the repetition by Adeimantus of other arguments from book 1 that have already been answered sets the stage for seeing that this particular city in speech and some of its measures is Glaucon’s city – a military city – and not Socrates’s city. See here here, here and here.

One may also see this contrast in the long speeches or myths of Protagoras and the brief speeches or questions of Socrates who is superior to anyone in “apprehending an argument” as Alcibiades’s puts it in the Protagoras. Perhaps Plato’s (and Socrates’s) students are also to learn the dangers of having an unreflective position, not just in Polemarchus’s foolish belligerence in arresting Socrates, but also in Thrasymachus’s stridency and even in Glaucon's and Adeimantus's dazzling metaphors.

Thrasymachus’s view – that justice is “nothing but the advantage of the stronger” (what is to kreitton, "the stronger,"*** is a theme in the Republic) – has some truth. One can see this, for instance, in today’s politics (Mitt Romney is the voice of the oligarchic consensus of the last 30 years, producing ever greater inequalities and an intensified attack on the needs and interests of ordinary people).**** Thrasymachus seeks dominion, not truth. All of his wiles are displayed to undermine the genuinely philosophical discussion that has occurred between Socrates and Polemarchus:

“Then he bellowed at us and the whole company. What idiocy is this, Socrates? Why do the two of you behave like dolts deferring to each other’s insipidities?” (337c)

Thrasymachus mocks Socrates’s questioning and insists – repetitively, hectoringly - that he will not tolerate a sweeping variety of likely answers to the question: what is justice?

“If you really want to know what justice is, you should be able not only to ask the question but to answer it. You should not try to score points merely by refuting your opponents' efforts [note the overriding competitiveness of Thrasymachus’s conception]; you ought to provide your own definition. After all, there are many who ask, but cannot answer [are there? It seems as if there is one, Socrates, with this approach, that of philosophy and not of the lawyers or sophists...]. So now say what you think justice is. Say it at last with precision and clarity and spare us your ponderous analogies with duty or interest or profit or advantage. They produce only nonsense, and I don’t put up with nonsense.”

This is the very portrait of bullying rhetoric with no interest in truth. The idea that one is, just as a matter of who one is, the “authority” on what counts as nonsense, is a longstanding rhetorical move of the powerful. That the emperor has no clothes – that there is no argument to go along with the “bellowing” – is obvious as soon as anyone asks: what criteria about knowledge is Thrasymachus suggesting? The answer is: none.

And therefore: who are you to say?

Thrasymachus illustrates the ugly speech of sophists, those who teach only for “the money’s sake,” which is characteristic of courts of law or public assemblies in ancient Athens, and is distinct from philosophy. At the outset of the Apology, Socrates says ironically that this kind of speech is unfamiliar to him. On one level, he can match and subvert what Thrasymachus or his accusers say. On a deeper level, the Republic is the illustration of why, descending from the light of philosophy or questioning and the search for truth, the murderousness of the cave is unfamiliar...

Thasymachus's is egotistical speech, affirming what Rousseau would call a will of all.***** In an act of defective, proto-McCarthyite or will of all democracy - see here - a court, based on Thrasymachean speech, will put Socrates to death…

Big intimidating speeches, designed to draw applause but to forget the point at issue or the argument, to deceive, “sit at the doors of the rich.” In book 2, Adeimantus dresses up the ring of Gyges with secret police and rhetoricians who provide a tyrant with beautiful clothes:

"But if a man chooses injustice and at the same time fabricates a reputation for justice, he can expect to live like a god."

"After all, the philosophers have proved that appearance is mightier than reality and hence the true lord of happiness [have they? Plato might ask. Such a large opinion...]. To appearance, then, one must unstintingly turn one's efforts. A man must deceive. He must don costumes and devise stage-effects that impart the illusion of virtue even as he heeds the sage Archilochus and drags behind him the wily and subtle fox [foxes are, of course, genuinely beautiful and clever; in this passage, Oscar Wilde's Dorian Grey is foreshadowed]. If another objects that it is not always easy to conceal wickedness, the answer can only be that nothing great [Adeimantus here rewords Thrasymachus] is ever easy. In any case, if one wants happiness, this is the way to go. One can cover one's tracks by organizing political clubs and secret brotherhoods [here Adimantus speaks with the voice of Simonides in Xenophon's Hiero and prefigures Leo Strauss******] and by relying on rhetoricians [i.e. Thrasymachus] who teach the art of persuading courts and assemblies. And so partly by persuasion and partly by force, one can steal and go unpunished." (365b-d)

More precisely, Thrasymachus might say, pay me and I will say that justice is your advantage and (Thrasymachus’s "little" addition) “nothing but”…

First, Socrates asks, ironically, for aid in seeking the truth from this “superior intellect.” For Thraysmachus thinks he is superior with regard to justice and wisdom. But Socrates then responds cuttingly with two argumentative maneuvers which reveal Thrasymachus’s emptiness: as an opinion, he has some truth about ordinary cities, much of the time - it is up to a point what Socrates names in the Meno true opinion - but no means to argue it. Emulating a statue of Daedalus, such an opinion is not tied down as knowledge would be - for every person, for instance Socrates, and every ruler is not unjust - but gets up and walks away from Thrasymachus...

The first of Socrates’s arguments draws a parallel, suggesting that many of the elements Thrasymachus excludes by fiat might be part of a reasonable answer to the question; it also makes the point that more than one of the things he rules out is likely to be, in some way, characteristic of justice.

“With your intelligence, Thrasymachus, you will surely recognize this problem. Suppose you ask a man what set of numbers go into twelve. But then you tell him that two times six or three times four - or six times two or four times three – are not valid answers, that they are the kind of nonsense that ‘you won’t put up with.’ If you put the question to him that way, he has no way to answer. Suppose he were to answer with a question: ‘Thrasymachus, do you really mean to exclude all of those answers, even if one or more are right, and force me to give a false answer?’ How would you respond?"

Socrates stands down the bully Thrasymachus on the issue of telling the truth. One must not lie under compulsion (here again Polemarchus’s initial threat – “do you see how many of us there are” and Socrates’s refusal to go along, staying only because Glaucon stays - is recapitulated). Offering rhetoric without argument, ducking the issues, Thrasymachus baldly asserts:

“Your analogy, as usual, is misleading.”

“How so [underlining the point that Thrasymachus has yet to make an argument; he is not strong on thinking, another way of saying he is strong on bullying]? But suppose you are right, and the cases are not comparable except to the one who made the comparison? Would he not have every right to speak the truth as he sees it, whether we forbid him or not?” (337a-d)

Socrates reiterates standing up for the truth against the prohibitions of (would-be) dominators. He sees the rhetorical tricks of the domineering, is not intimidated by them (despite his irony about the fearsomeness of the opponent, the one who – justice in Athens putatively being the advantage of the stronger – eventually murders him) and exposes the emptiness of Thrasymachus’s position and so far, in the argument, person.

In contrast, Socrates speaks much more carefully of his listening on – carried away for a moment as if to a lovely music, hearing silent argument or notes beyond the story told - when Protagoras offers his democratic creation myth in the Protagoras. One important point about this distinction: Socrates does not mainly challenge the story about democracy - for instance, that insights are sometimes widely distributed in a people by Zeus or in Aristotle's later idiom in the Politics, 3.12, that sometimes, the many understand more than the one - but mainly questions whether virtue can be taught. This connects with the theme of the Meno: it can’t. But that dialogue never examines what virtue is, and thus fails, as Plato - here in the person of Socrates - warns, as argument. This theme also connects with the action of the Republic where Socrates teaches Glaucon not to become a tyrant and perhaps Polemarchus to do philosophy (to seek virtue).

Socrates' thought in the Protagoras could imply: virtue is a form of knowledge and can be taught by a philosopher ruler. But grasping the idea of justice even in part (not the whole or even a large part of the city in speech, but for instance, the equality of women and men or of slaves and masters) and going down to resist for decency in a democracy, as Socrates goes down to fight for questioning, could also exemplify this thought. So could the action of the Republic, that of Socrates as a philosopher from below in a democracy - a member of the small city or circle of those interested in questioning within the many cities of the democracy - who teaches Glaucon not to become a tyrant, let alone a philosophical tyrant (of which there is no hope; Glaucon is interested or entertained by philosophy and very smart, but on the showing of the Republic no potential philosopher). In the argument about the ostensible likeness of the dog, the guardian and the philosopher (book 2) and the idea of the good, Glaucon is shown as motivated by seeking the approval of Socrates rather than thinking (or answering what he might plausibly think, were he motivated by thinking) about the argument.

Yet the argument could also pit Socrates against Plato if Plato means (as he seems to mean in Syracuse) actual philosophical kingship. Of course, Plato advocated a rule of laws in Syracuse so the peculiar philosophical tyranny of the beautiful city - the city of Glaucon's dreams in the Republic - is an illusion (pace Heidegger). And not Plato but Dion does go down in Syracuse. In trying to head off or repair the conflict between Dionysius and Dion, Plato presents himself in the Seventh Letter as wise, and, unsurprisingly, as perhaps also, a bit of a coward. It is a dark path, however shining historically, to emulate Socrates.

Socrates plainly surpasses Plato in courage for philosophy and justice, and meets a very different kind of end...

The Meno and the Republic need to be studied in the light of these alternatives in conjunction with the Protagoras. But in the latter dialogue, Socrates also plainly agrees with much of the substance of the democracy.

Put differently, he (and Plato, up on the hill) do look contemptuously down at artisans. They do not approve all the elements of the democracy. But they are reformers within a kind of democracy, wanting perhaps more elite rule (one might wonder where that thought leaves the son of a stone mason and inheritor of the trade, though also student of philosophy, Socrates). In the context of the democracy's calling illegally and immorally for the killing of the leaders (strategoi) who did not pick up the corpses from the sea during the battle of Arginusae (Apology, 32) or in a great storm following it (Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.6-7), Socrates indeed (and some others) seem like wiser experts than the many who call for their death. Note, however, that the decent views, comparable to the some 220 votes of Socrates's "true judges" - Apology, 40a - also come from the democracy (they are just not the then predominant ones).

But as the anti-war movements against American aggressions in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran all highlight, in today's oligarchy with parliamentary forms, it is the movement from below that is right or decently - that is, for a common good or a general will - democratic. (h/t Todd Power) A common good-seeking democracy contrasts with the advice of "experts" who even among today's Democratic counselors like Samantha Power and Susan Rice are fans of tyrannical executive power on behalf of humanitarian intervention, servants of the American war complex,******* and give not a fig for the Constitution or its designers's justified fears about frivolous quasi-monarchical wars. The Democratic think tanks experts (Leslie Gelb and the like) are rightly seen as "neo-neo cons" (h/t Chris Hill) and are often echoed by Bill Kristol or Bob Kagan whose war criminality was demonstrated in the lead up to the Iraq aggression.

For anti-war or anti-militarist decency in American corporate public life comes entirely from below (Electoral activity is - at the highest levels increasingly now - in appearance a form of corporate life. Consider Gingrich and Netanyahu, brought to you by Sheldon Adelson, or Romney, decked out or muscled with neocons, by the big donors of Karl Rove like the Koch brothers and allied billionaires - the Kochs raised $100 million in pledges for the campaign in one weekend - or Santorum by Foster Friess) . To find anti-war or anti-militarist decency which exists only on the margins of American corporate-dominated public life, one has to look Barbara Lee of Oakland or, formerly, Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul and a few others. Such figures are rarely publicized in the commercial (part of the war complex) media...********

These facts - and a notion of the genuine or democratic accountability of leaders to ordinary people and a common good (h/t Scott Horton) - defeat Socrates's thought about the benefits of expertise in the modern day. All decent movements in modern American democracy - the Revolution, the Shays rebellion, abolitionism, the union movement, civil rights, the women's movement, the gay and lesbian movement, and the anti-war movements - emerge from below. They have leaders in democratic discussions (and disinterested or truth-seeking "expertise" can play a role, from below, among citizens, as Occupy's debates suggest, where official leaders or "spokespersons" are absent).

Now, as in Protagoras, Socrates is also notably critical of artisans or what we might call experts in one thing, but who then think they know much more broadly. Analogous to the Democratic think tank establishment, they always do the wrong thing. Think of that establishment's embrace of drones, and Obama's use of them, breeding enmity in Pakistan repeatedly through the slaughter of innocents. These Democrats are more like Thrasymachus, speaking for the money's and publicity's sake - after his folly during the Iraq debacle, Leslie Gelb wrote an article in Foreign Affairs which suggested self-critically that he and others could not get on television without calling for war, and then promptly demanded that Obama escalate in Afghanistan without taking any time to think about alternatives.******** Or one might say that they seem artisan-like about foreign policy (know many details), but are wrong about every particular war. They are the paradoxical artisan in Plato's terms who, in a kind of slapstick, seems to know how to build a chair but always plunges you down a hole when you try to sit on it...

Given the war complex's media, being a crusader for Iraq like Kristol is an incentive to be consulted anew as an "expert" by Congress, Fox, CNN - and if you are a Democratic "expert" who was wrong, on MSNBC; being right all along about Iraq as many of us were is, of course, disqualifying....See here for a call to organize against aggression against Iran.

Here is a dramatic deficiency of Plato's (the son of Ariston, the best) and perhaps Socrates's (son of Sophroniscus, the stone-mason whose voice may here be overridden) elitism as a kind of democrat, and a more serious deficiency about a modern democracy. Only a popular movement from below, not "experts," are a hope for a nonaggressive American foreign policy...********

In the image of Socrates following the music in Protagoras, Plato also indicates for students how easy it is to be caught up in an argument or big speeches, not to think about how an argument works, what question(s) to ask about it, to hear in Protagoras’s case, only the music of a beautiful story.

Thrasymachus is a metic (immigrant) in Athens, from Chalcedon. That makes him, though a fierce fighter (what his name means), just a rhetorician, not a potential war leader (what the name Polemarchus means), let alone a shining potential tyrant or more distantly, a potential philosopher (Glaucon, shining like the gray of the sea or the owl eyes of Athena Glaukopis). Thrasymachus speaks for the democracy of the trial as "nothing but the advantage of the stronger." Thrasymachus's view is politically for a tyrant the most inadequate (a Thrasymachean tyrant seeks to grasp everything and only for his own advantage, the nothing-but-injustice of Goldman Sachs as revealed three days ago in the Times by a Vice President Greg Smith who resigned - see here).

In an interesting parallel, it is Protagoras, a sophist from Abdera (Thrace) and thus a visitor (or metic) in Athens, who tells the creation myth of Athenian democracy. In contrast to Thrasymachus, Protagoras recounts the admirable story of a knowledge dispersed widely within the many - what Aristotle crystallizes in book 3.12 of the Politics as the many often being wiser than the one. He captures a political philosophical virtue of democracy in a way that Thrasymachus does not. Thrasymachus's false definition of justice is really a view of injustice purporting to be justice; that is why Glaucon's ring of Gyges story is a much deeper and no charmed snake, revelation of Thrasymachus's argument.

Though Socrates questions both views about Athenian democracy, he distinguishes between them sharply. He listens on for a few moments to some following music in Protagoras's story - one which captures or points toward a common good-oriented or general will conception of democracy. In contrast, he stands down Thrasymachus's mob, "particular interest" or "herd of beasts" (Aristotle) or "will of all" view of democracy. This is another subtle Platonic indication to careful readers of how strongly Socrates's valued a common good-sustaining democracy. For he went down for that democracy against tyrannies (against Critias, against the pseudo-democratic or proto-McCarthyite majority that hated questioning...). See here.

After listening, Socrates asks Protagoras a single question: whether the virtues are different parts of a whole, or the same. Protagoras opts for the former; Socrates's questions point toward the latter. But the bearing of this question on choosing between democracy and rule of the one who knows is more obscure than Socrates's initial statement - before Protagoras's story - might suggest. If the virtues come together, then beauty, holiness, goodness, justice and wisdom unite by implication, in the outstanding man. But mightn't that be true, to varying degrees, among democrats as well? And how many Socrateses (or Platos), as opposed to Critiases, Alcibiadeses, Heideggers, or Strausses, are there? Aren't the self-deceiving philosopher-"kings" or advisors to tyrants common and dangerous? And recall in the Apology, Socrates's skepticism about how much one knows or can know - his wisdom in that he knows only that he does not know so much. That basic though is far more consistent with democracy than with the rule of a philosopher-tyrant which is, once again, characteristic of Glaucon's city, not Socrates's, and largely satirical.***********

In Protagoras, Socrates also comments when the rhetorician is becoming angry. I should note, however, that Protagoras never emulates the domineering of Thrasymachus. Still even in Protagoras, the argument has mortal public implications about questioning. And Socrates, perhaps following his daimon (his inner voice which warns him to discontinue a conversation, Apology, 40a-c), gets up to leave. His action parallels Thrasymachus's attempt to leave in the Republic - but with the difference that some aspect of the conversation is marked, for the student, as serious or positive (Socrates does not think Protagoras will respond to questions, join an argument to figure out the truth) rather than negative (Thrasymachus wants to run away from the argument).

The implications of the argument for democracy in the Protagoras are subtle. But Socrates is mainly friendly to democracy and democratic laws, not a critic of them. Compare Socrates's willingess to stand up to Thrasymachus in the Republic (Thrasymachus is not permitted to leave). Or his willingness to go down to defend philosophy and questioning - a decent democracy - to a mob that put him to death. Or, alternately, to go down to defend the law, for instance in his one time as epistates (leader of the assembly representing his prytany), standing against calls to murder him and other decent people in the trial of the strategoi (leaders) for not retrieving the corpses in the sea in the Battle of Arginusae (I should note that the illegal trial, conviction and - subsequent - execution of 6 military leaders at the proposal of Callixeinus occured only the following day, when Socrates no longer served as epistates).

Resisting or questioning injustice, practicing a precursor of civil disobedience and nurturing respect for the law as in his role as epistates during the trial of the military leaders as well as in the Crito, where the speech of the laws is deepened by this example, are vital to maintaining or creating a common good-sustaining or decent democracy. They are what a philosopher might go down for.

My guess is that Plato, over time, teaching these dialogues line by line, inviting question upon question, hoped his students would make such comparisons, think about such possibilities.


*For "The snare of words, part 1," see here.

I could just have said: his students. But "careful students" is a term of art, referring to the passage in Phaedrus where Socrates names the problem of writing - words, like statues, if asked a question, have no "father" to defend them - and distinguishes this from speaking. Sleepy readers - or belligerent auditors like Thrasymachus - will miss what the argument says. The same problem exists in a less extreme way even in a spoken argument (that thought is what Plato's invitation to careful reading of a dialogue is designed to elicit).

Only those who know how to read, who can follow the words in a dialogue in relation to the action, distinguish bad arguments and things left unsaid from good ones, and test out each assertion and who makes it, can begin to glean what the hidden author, Plato, actually is saying. That this is a complicated process with much misinterpretation even on the part of the most sophisticated readers, i.e. Strauss and Heidegger, should by now be clear for readers of this blog.

One of the main reasons for confusion is these two somewhat clashing dimensions of political argument in Socrates and Plato: common good-sustaining democratic resistance v. tyranny; defective democratic execution of Socrates leading to reform of democracy and philosophical kingship. Were philosophical tyranny good, it would pair with scorn for democracy; this is a common, often thoughtless misunderstanding of what a dialogue is, a conclusion of those who assume Socrates and Plato are reactionaries and whatever the care in reading, always "know" that the argument points in this direction. But once one notices the complexities of the dialogues and fact of Socrates's civil disobedience, there is little reason to think that Plato or Socrates pursued a unique, let alone anti-democratic direction.

**Glaucon, too, grows in an important way - he is no longer hungry in the sense of searching to become a tyrant. But he is tamed as it were by the argument; he becomes a person interested in philosophy. He does not, however, become a neophyte philosopher.

***To kreitton can also mean the "superior." Thrasymachus aspires to be the "stronger"; in the dialogue, questioning is superior (one might say: justice is the advantage of she who asks questions...").

Alternately, one might say, Socrates seeks the truth - a common enterprise - which is not in Thrasymachus's sense a (domineering) advantage.

****The military-industrial-Congressional-think tank/academic-intelligence- judicial (there are currently 4 votes on the Supreme Court to make Guantanamo the law in "the state of the exception").

*****Everyone, for instance, the bully Polemarchus at the outset of the Republic, has a naive egotism and unquestioned purposes. But here, the arrest and killing of Socrates is still a kind of joke. I name Thrasymachus an egotist because he wants to win at the expense of diminishing and potentially killing Socrates. One may thus distinguish naive or ordinary egotism about argument from belligerent or murderous egotism. But even Thrasymachus is ultimately tamed - the charmed snake - and Socrates says that they are now friends, although there is no evidence, beyond Thrasymachus's staying, that Thrasymachus now is beginning, parallel to Polemarchus, to follow argument.

******Leo Strauss seems esoterically to identify the ring of Gyges with Socrates's account of a dialogue (ordinary writing is like a sculpture; if you ask it a question, it has no father to defend it; the same image appears in Protagoras after the sophist's democratic creation-story). But to read Glaucon as revealing the truth about Plato and Socrates, one has to have a mania for privileging hidden meanings against their opposites.

Strauss appears an exceptionally learned scholar and an unusual teacher, with a phalanx of believer-scholars of considerable diversity (ranging from the Thrasymachean William Kristol, no scholar and corrupt and aggressive, to - on the outskirts - Charles Butterworth, a scholar's scholar and someone completely admirable, with many gradations in between. That Charles and a few other scholars were taught by and admire Strauss is a noble testimony...). Strauss is also a Jew who left Germany. But he is, hiddenly, as one can see from his letters and essays of the 1920s and 1930s, a fascist and his own kind of national socialist, at least for a considerable time, and recommends - as do his more political followers here and now - a kind of imperial authoritarianism or "commander in chief power." There is a sad and deliberate Portrait of Dorian Grey here.

*******Breaking civilian-military relations in a democracy, General Stanley MacChrystal had, at the start of Obama's deliberations, demanded 40,000 additional troops at a press conference in Paris. The media of the war complex - and the Democratic think tank experts - did not point to this extraordinary breach. And MacChrystal was later fired for badmouthing Biden and the President in a Rolling Stone intervew, a venial sin comparatively. Under such pressure - as the leader of the Empire and agianst his better judgment (he and Biden already knew that Al-Qaida was in Pakistan...), Obama sent 30,000 additional soldiers publically and 70,000 Xe/Blackwater Corporation mercenaries. And the Congress and the press and the thinktank experts uttered not a word to the public about this - revealing the institutional enmity to public deliberations over war in this democracy (more aptly, oligarchy with parliamentary forms).

********Obama came to power as an anti-Iraq war candidate because, as a result of a huge anti-war movement, the debilitating effects of occupation, and an unusual, popular (also anti-racist) campaign. But to make himself eventually acceptable to the war complex, he had to speak carefully at a 2002 rally about Iraq as a "dumb war" - not an act of aggression - and affirm that he did not oppose all American wars...The organizers shook their heads, wondering "who is he speaking to? He sure isn't speaking to people here." Obama was already planning to run for President, and is an unusually insightful politician. He was differentiated from Hilary by this speech (but if he had been in the Senate like Hilary, would he have spoken out? Would he have become President?). In American politics, a soap opera with dark consequences, much turns on luck...

Though on the margins of the elite (his views appealed to the democracy from below), Barack, unusually, was able to rise. But he has also, ironically, become the anti-dumb Iraq War candidate who has waged 5 or 6 aggressions and occupations as President....

*********In the elite, Ron Paul is no expert on foreign policy, and straightforward but horrific on domestic policy. But in opposition to drones and aggression and military bases abroad and militarism, he is usually right and the "experts," including the Democratic neo-neo cons, nearly universally wrong. No wonder the New York Times is so hesitant to cover this aspect of Paul's views, at most referring to "isolationism" as if still in the debates about Hitler of the 1930s.

**********For instance, the suggestion that women are equal to men and can participate in the guardians is both seriously meant (consider Diotima in the Symposium and Aspasia in Menexenus) and true even though the tale of women and men wrestling naked together is a satire. And Plato did experiment with the route of not going down, philosopher-kingship, in Syracuse, so, however different from the image suited to Glaucon's psyche, there is some seriousness here.

**********As I frequently ask my students, can anyone think of a policy suggested by a Republican presidential candidate (Ron Paul excepted) which conceivably would benefit any of the 99%? Republicans used to build highways or supported planned parenthood...

Put differently, their's is a campaign of the emperor's new clothes and racism. Obama has to do but a few decent things - they are there (Biden's new campaign slogan: "Bin Laden is dead; GM is alive" is part of this, along with the stimulus, the appointment of Sotomayor, the move toward equality for gays and lesbians, and other matters) and perhaps even unusual among Presidents (of the empire), but all too few and offset by bad things - to be deserving against this...

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