Monday, June 10

Politics of "Reluctance"

For this reason, then, good men will not consent to hold an office of power, either for the sake of money or for that of honour; for they neither wish to get the name of hirelings by openly exacting hire for their duties, nor of thieves by using their power to obtain it secretly, nor yet will they take office for the sake of honour, for they are not ambitious. Therefore compulsion and the fear of a penalty must be brought to bear on them, to make them consent to hold office; which is probably the reason why it is thought dishonourable to accept power willingly without waiting to be compelled. Now the heaviest of all penalties is to be governed by a worse man, in case of one's own refulsal to govern; and it is the fear of this, i believe, which induces virtuous men to take the posts of government; and when they do so, they enter upon their administration not with any idea of coming into a good thing, but as an unavoidable necessity  not expecting to enjoy themselves in it, but because they cannot find any person better or no worse than themselves to whom they can commit it. For the probability is that if there were a city composed of none but good men, it would be an object of competition to avoid the possession of power, just as now it is to obtain it, and then it would become clearly evident that it is not the nature of the genuine ruler to look to his own interest but to that of the subject: so that every judicious man would choose to be the recipient of benefits, rather than to have the trouble of conferring them upon others. Therefore i will on no account concede to Thrasmyachus that justice is the interest of the stronger.
(Republic. Plato.)

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated the...