A Brief Comment from Isocrates

I don’t usually have much kind to say about the Sophists, but I can make an exception for Isocrates (who apparently agreed, as one of his better known speeches was called “Against the Sophists“). The Corner tipped me to a fascinating Vanity Fair article about the Greek financial crisis, and toward the end, writer Michael Lewis looks at the site of an atrocity, where Greek public workers murdered four people for having the temerity to work at a bank during what was supposed to be a general strike.

The site has elements of a makeshift shrine, as so often seems to happen these days at sites of horror. Among the items left there was the quote from Isocrates that I leave you for discussion:

Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.

It’s something to consider as we try to reclaim the region of should, between must and can.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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3 Responses to A Brief Comment from Isocrates

  1. David Bishop says:

    The same quote also struck me. I feel like it will be increasingly true of America as it is of Greece.

  2. John says:

    This quote is basically the Tea Party movement in a nut shell. They say they want to “water the tree of Liberty” well Dr. Jack Kevorkian cna help them out I bet.

    • profmondo says:

      John, while your disdain for the Tea Partiers is clear, your reasoning isn’t. Why do you disagree with A) The Tea Party, B) Isocrates, C) People who support self-control before government control?

      Thanks for stopping by.

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