Dialogue on democracy between Plato and More on a friday night over a drink.
M(ore): What is your opinion on social freedom and individual role in society?
P(lato): I believe in three classes. There will be those who rule, the warriors, and the masses. The masses will work, and will not involve themselves with ruling or responsibilities of the society, and a select group will take on the responsibility of leading the society for the good of the whole.
M: I don’t agree with your position.
P: Please, elaborate.
M: Should the masses not have a voice? A chance to raise the issues they feel are important?
P: The rulers will address the important issues, for the good of the society, without the masses rising. If people have the power of voice, that is all they need to overthrow rulers.
M: Should an able leader not take into consideration what their subjects feel or think?
P: An able leader should not need to consolidate with their subjects. An able leader knows the needs of their subjects, and does not need them to repeat their concerns.
M: I disagree. No leader can know all the wishes or concerns of their subjects.
P: So what you suggest is that the people have the option of voicing their concerns and having a role in governing the society?
P: If they have this power, can they not attempt to overthrow those in power? Can they not decide they are never content with the decisions of the rulers? Does the power you suggest not permit uprising?
M: The rulers and those in power will make decisions for the good of everyone in the society. The difference between our proposed states is that the masses in mine are able to voice the concerns that the rulers might overlook.
P: I can understand your point of overlooking issues; however, I would be concerned giving the freedom and power nevertheless. It is the responsibility of the rulers to govern the state as they see fit. The decisions the rulers make should be the final verdict, for the good of the whole. Once you permit the masses to address their concerns, you permit the masses to govern. Hypothetically, an issue arises and the masses raise the issue to those with responsibility. Should the ruler not be able to rectify the issue, the masses would begin to question their leadership, and consequently, chaos will pursue.
M: Only prosperity would pursue by allowing the masses to speak. The masses would see no reason to rise against their leaders if they are part of constructing their society. With the people having the ability to work alongside their leaders, and help in building their ideal community, the people would not rise up, solely because they would themselves be to blame for any mistakes. However, clearly we do not, and will not, see eye to eye on this matter. We should agree to disagree.
P: Agreed. How’s the wife?