If I were a law Giver, I would exercise censorship over musicians

2014-10-15 12:12

Most people take music for granted and not give it a second thought as to its influence and capabilities. As South Africans in a democratic country as well as many other countries in the world, we should revisit what the founding father of democracy discussed as recommendation to our democratic constitution, especially musicians and poets who make a living through songs and melodies. It is not all about fleshy life, money and fame, there is more to it than that.

In the book called “LAW” , Plato entertained ideas that constitute LAW that would be optimal in a given society. Plato lived in the reign of Greece as a superpower. Before Greece came into power, all nations followed Empire’s laws including Greece, but because of Plato’s LAW, parts of Greece adopted his ideas of LAW and for the first time in the history of mankind a new kind of Government was born “The Republic” or “Democracy” in a small scale but no other nation adopted it since then until American came into the scene after its independence from British colonialism. Nevertheless, one of the main things that Plato discussed in a Republic or Democratic society Laws was the importance of music.

The basis or foundation of Plato’s Democratic LAW that he recognized is simply “Virtue”. He realized that if all society was virtuous, then the nation or state will be better off as a whole. A Government that encourages virtue is an ideal one, hence the best way to encourage virtue is through LAW or legislation. In his words Plato said “Virtue is the business of the legislator.”

Furthermore Plato realized that all Law is based on two things, namely Pain and Pleasure. Whether an Empire State or democratic nation, Law serves the purpose of encouraging or deterring actions of society through pain and pleasure to make a virtuous nation. And one of the important thing that LAW should recognize in a constitution is Music because it has a greatest bearing in stimulating pleasure.

This is how Plato made his argument for music to be part of legislation, he said: “All young creatures love motion and frolic, and utter sounds of delight; but man only is capable of taking pleasure in rhythmical and harmonious movements. With these education begins; and the uneducated is he who has never known the discipline of the chorus, and the educated is he who has. The chorus is partly dance and partly song, and therefore the well-educated must sing and dance well. But when we say, 'He sings and dances well,' we mean that he sings and dances what is good.” As much as Plato advocated for music to be in a forefront of any nation to be included in a legislation, he also realized that only good music and dance should be encouraged because music can serve as a form of education to the nation, the musicians or poets are educators on their own right, they are general practitioners of knowledge as educators; bad music will do the reverse of good to the republic or democratic society. Plato continued and said: “The melodies which have a natural truth and correctness should be embodied in a law, and then the desire of novelty is not strong enough to change the old fashions. Then in a well-administered city, the poet will not be allowed to make the songs of the people just as he pleases, or to train his choruses without regard to virtue and vice.”

Thousands of years have passed since Plato penned his ideas on democratic society. America has championed the Democratic government and the rest of the world has adopted it. But today in 2014 looking at the music industry internationally, musicians and poets make songs as they pleases, disregarding virtue and vice, musicians are generally uneducated in practical matters that brings about virtue, mediocre and ignorance is promoted and baby boomers are in the forefront cheering to their role models or idols on stage singing songs like “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle” or “Caracara”, remember what Plato said: "But when we say, 'He sings and dances well,' we mean that he sings and dances what is good."! We live in a world where the prominent profession such as being a musician or poet is being degraded and rewarded by society at the same time, we have entrusted our children’s lives to an untrained individuals as pilots and placed them in cockpit as we wave goodbye and wishing them a safe flight.

“Music is to be measured by pleasure; but then the pleasure must be that of the good and educated, or better still, of one supremely virtuous and educated man.”

“If I were a lawgiver, I would exercise a censorship over the poets, and I would punish them if they said that the wicked are happy, or that injustice is profitable. the wise legislator will compel the poet to express in his poems noble thoughts in fitting words and rhythms.” Plato

Follow Elnathan Sidu AKA Nubia Soul

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