The black side of democracy: Socrates philosophy
Socrates is one of our three greatest philosophers from Athens, the others being Plato and Aristotle. In his philosophy, Socrates said that the greater happiness of a person or his soul comes when he does the greater good. He, however, added that only few people can take time to do the greater good for a big number of them are just directed by their fresh and self motives while denying the greater thirst of their souls. Thus only a few people in the society can live their lives doing greater good and attain such great happiness. Applying this to politics and leadership, Socrates was not a fun of democracy; democracy is power of the majority, whose majority is not good or has no wisdom. Socrates believed that leadership should be trusted in the hands of the few who are wise enough to make decisions for the society or a country.
It is a common view among political analysts here in our country that the behaviors, the thoughts, the wisdom of the leaders or our president today are simply a reflection of what the society is. In other words, if our leaders have rotten souls that no longer pursues that greater good for others and themselves, then it means that the society (the people who voted them into power) are probably the same. According to Socrates, the public deserves no power to lead or determine leadership but few selected individuals should be leaders and guide their societies into development.
While i agree with Socrates' observations, I now wonder how we can determine the wise people of our days so they are they be the ones to lead us! Yeah, one of the great disadvantages is that power is put in hands of the masses, the masses that are in most cases non-educated (formally and informally), who have no desire to serve their souls, whose lives are without vision and goals and who are unhappy for most of us have denied our souls and conscience the chance to guide our lives. In the end, we vote for people of our nature: the corrupt, murderers, the thieves, the atheists, and all sorts of evil as reflected by our leaders. But my question remains, if few wise ones were to be selected, this time not by many people (democracy), which other means can we apply to really extract these too good individuals????
The writings about Socrates give us some insight though i am not sure that it is what Socrates would suggest. They say that one of the reasons that Socrates became the wisest of his times was because he never called himself wise. It is said that when Socrates passed around asking questions (syllogism approach), those who were famous wise men of his time failed the questions and proved to be unwise. This ended up making him the wisest for he understood the greater purpose of life from greater values and personal happiness than power, property or fame. It is a common quote from him, "the greatest wisdom lies in knowing that you know nothing". From this, we can deduct that the wisest of our times should be understood from their actions, relations with others and themselves and the general great values they stand for. Maybe the government would initiate a body to formulate a guideline or a body of questions that should assess the wisdom of the leaders!!!
While the above may not entirely apply in our era where everybody seems to be elite, I think there is sense in it that we can draw into our usual democracy to perfect it to an extent. Really, the guidelines that allow leaders to be part of our parliament here in Uganda are so low and this has led to a great number of leaders who are just 'moving clouds' (leaders who have no souls to defend, leaders who have childish and useless thoughts, leaders who have evil manners and behaviors, leaders who have a low reasoning capacity, and who really have let us down). I think that there should be some kind of sieve to narrow down this big number of unwise leaders shouting in our parliaments, our local councils, presidency, army leaders and police and all other leadership posts. While the education level is also low as required, it is not enough even in it’s highest to be the determinant of those eligible for parliament.
Education level needed should be raised; some experience in leadership especially for MPs, mayors, heads of army, police, and government institutions, president should be a must. Democracy (voting by many) can remain our first line way of choosing these capable leaders, but enough information should be provided to our citizens before they do any voting. The government should design some kind of screening procedure whereby elected leaders are questioned about their motives, deep values, their former duties and what happened there, their future goals and how they plan to achieve all of it. Failure to win over this screening, a leader should be pushed back. Yeah, Socrates idea is true even up to now. Few people know the great values to stand for and these should be entrusted with power to decide for our nations.
The Complete You Project