Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, Plato’s The Republic, and
Cicero’s De Re Publica, were all books from antiquity which have had a major
influence on the modern world. They talk of the benefits of a republic, a
democratic government elected by the people, idealising equality, the pursuit
of happiness, and virtue– supposedly the grass roots of modern democratic
Aristotle’s Ethics is a study of how people should best live
while aiming to have virtue. The definition of virtue is as follows: (1)
Behaviour showing high moral standards, (2) a quality considered morally good
or desirable in a person.
Now let us look at the definition of moral: the principles
of right and wrong behaviour and the goodness or badness of human character.
Western philosophies, both personal and political, have been
heavily influenced by these men. They are the subject of numerous discussion
and research in universities around the western world, and our constitutions
have a root in their teachings. Aristotle himself defines virtue as: what we
would consciously choose between perceived pleasant and painful options.
According to Aristotle, people become virtuous by performing virtuous actions
which they might not have chosen themselves when young – irresponsible. People
must develop proper habits during childhood and this requires help from
teachers, parents, and law-makers. A good community is required for the healthy
development of good people.
Virtue in the highest sense in an adult who has been brought
up well will not just involve good personal habits such as temperance
(moderation) but also unity, justice, responsibility, and intellect – faculty
of reasoning and understanding objectively. What does it mean to think
objectively? Objective thought is a process of thought which is not influenced
by personal feelings, or interpretations. Objective thought is the complete
opposite of subjective thought. All these qualities are in themselves noble
virtues which we greatly lack today, if not utterly forsaken.
Democracy in itself is a grand ideal of government by the
people for the people. Values such as freedom of expression and speech,
unalienable human rights, limited government power, and a free-market economy
are generally the norm to be expected within a democratic nation. What we
experience today is not democracy in its purest form, but a mutated
virus/corruption labelled democracy by those in government and academia which
are actually practicing populism. What is populism? Populism is an appeal to
the emotions of the masses rather than their intellect. It is often
characteristic of anti-establishment or anti-intellectual political movements
that offer unorthodox solutions or policies, and appeal to the common person. A
populist for instance, would be someone running for office that has no set
morals or principles, someone who changes their beliefs to suit whoever they
are attempting to garner favour, or votes from. This is the true root of modern
democracy. Whatever the majority believes is right regardless of reason. This
is an inherently dangerous and destructive belief that has led to the
corruption of traditional values, morals, and principles that have in the past
made nations and peoples great. If one looks throughout history, you will find
that populism, vice, and corruption goes hand in hand.
Since people are inherently selfish and emotional animals,
expecting them to think objectively is virtually impossible today. With every
generation that comes and goes, human beings who live in a populist society
become more and more corrupted. They become more selfish, irresponsible, rude,
and develop an ever-increasing insatiable lust for things that “feel good”
regardless of the harm it may cause on themselves or the fabric of society. We
live in an age of quick fixes: choosing to do what is easy, rather than what is
right. There is no appreciation for morality. Good has become bad, and bad has
become good. Those who follow rules are considered “squares” while the rebels
are held in high esteem for “sticking it to the man.”
What you must ask yourself is when does it stop? Populism
tries to garner favour from everyone, evolving into whatever is wanted at that
particular time. There is no moderation, or balance. We accept and tolerate
things that aren’t to be tolerated in an objective and moral society. We create
laws that try and suit everyone that in effect end up discriminating against a
large portion of society. Legalise marijuana and other narcotics, get rid of
the death penalty, implement affirmative action, allow waves of immigration
into our countries, grant clemency to the illegal immigrants already inside our
country – it is what the people want! Let us forget that narcotics are
dangerous to your health and mental wellbeing. Let us forget that a recently
paroled rapist has raped a defenceless 15 year old girl, or a psychotic killer
who past a test is walking amongst us eager to prey on the innocent. Let us
forget that education is the key to equality and affirmative action is at its
core discrimination. Let us forget that immigrants historically displace the
native population, and makes it even harder to find employment as everyone is
after the same job. We’ll have the vote, which is all that matters.
Britain cannot deport a fundamentalist Islamic cleric with
known ties to terrorism; their laws prevent them from protecting their own
citizens. They are facing a triple-dip recession, who cares about that? How
dare some politicians even breathe the words “a welfare state is unsustainable
in the long-term.” America inches further towards the legalisation of marijuana
which will dumb down their society even further – the ones who dictate how the
rest of the world should be (perish the thought).
Perhaps it is time to limit democracy, or make a conscious
effort to eradicate populism once and for all. Especially considering each
nation is filled with masses who do not understand, nor care to understand
politics, economics, history, or foreign policy – yet they feel themselves
entitled to say how things should be.
Maybe it’s time to offer quality universal education, and
force our youth to attend. Maybe it’s time to take away universal suffrage, and
make our citizens take a test before being granted the right to vote, and set
requirements to be met before they can take the test. Maybe it’s time to stop
thinking of ourselves, and start thinking of our communities. Maybe it’s time
to start getting tough on crime, limit immigration, and punish illegal
immigration. Maybe it’s time to establish a new society based on temperance,
unity, justice, responsibility, and intellect.
Or maybe we should continue to sit back and watch the world
consume itself in moral decadence, and chaos.
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