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It wasn't Socrates, it was Aristotle:

    Man is by nature a political animal.

        Politics, Book I

But, against the noble, individualist image of Socrates, he exemplified Aristotle's point in a very bad way, according to I.F. Stone (great, independent US journalist) in his very convincing book "The Trial of Socrates". From his self-interview about it:

I believe the case against Socrates was political and that the charge of corrupting the youth was based on a belief - and considerable evidence - that he was undermining their faith in Athenian democracy.

If so, why wasn't the charge brought earlier? He had been teaching for a long time. A quarter century before the trial, Socrates had already been attacked in Aristophanes's play "The Clouds" for running a "think thank" whose smart-alecky graduates beat their fathers. If they thought him the source of such subversive teaching, why did the Athenians wait until 399 B.C., when he was already an old man, before putting him on trial?

Because in 411 B.C. and again in 404 B.C. antidemocrats had staged bloody revolutions and established short-lived dictatorships. The Athenians were afraid this might happen again.
Who was Critias?

He was the bloodiest dictator Athens had ever known, a pupil of Socrates at one time, and a cousin of Plato's. Aeschines was saying in effect that the antidemocratic teachings of Socrates helped to make a dictator of Critias, who terrorized Athens in 404 B.C. during the regime of the Thirty Tyrants and just five years before the trial of Socrates. Critias seemed to have been the most powerful member of the Thirty.


This is usually omitted from the dominant reverential discussions of Socrates as a kind of secular saint killed for questioning religion.

The same class wars were taking place then and Plato was a great anti-democratic propagandist.


Men ... are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody's friend, especially when some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries of rich men and the like, which are said to arise out of the possession of private property. These evils, however, are due to a very different cause -- the wickedness of human nature.

However he also said:

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Nov 13th, 2013 at 04:59:02 PM EST
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