The Pessimist and the Optimist
(Plato has invited Sir Thomas More in his abode for an intellectual discussion)
Sir Thomas More(T)
T: Hello, and thank you for having me this evening.
P: Greetings to you too. The pleasure is all mine as I do enjoy having these discussions that contribute to our understanding of the world.
T: Even so, I mean, a person of your stature couldn’t possibly have the leisure to entertain a fellow like me.
P: Of my stature? Good man, in our form of study, we are all equals.
T: Speaking of equality: there were some aspects in your Republic that I thought I wanted to clarify or rather, verify my understanding of it.
P: Ask away, my friend.
T: I am referring to the antidemocratic leadership that you had imposed in your ‘perfect State’. Would you not agree that people with their free minds will never stand for such subjugation? Would it not be better to work in co-operation rather than relying on one person’s ability to judge and govern? Born under the same sun, does everyone not have the right to have a say in matters which govern them? Furthermore, having a sole figure would attract rebellions, violate freedom hence, defy justice. Clearly, a violation of justice would mean a violation of people’s happiness that your ‘perfect state is supposed to provide. Equality to the extent that not even the leaders are exempt from any laws will provide a stage of independence. Whereas your ideas seem to suggest, if you would permit me inferring, a form of dictatorship.
P: Good man, I believe your words hold weight. However, they are optimistic and naive. People, from birth are driven by their selfish desires. Greed, lust, pride- time and time again civilizations have been crushed due to human nature. And you ask me to put faith in it?! You say, I flout justice? The justice you speak of is individualistic, a justice that accounts for societal happiness has to be achieved. I prefer lack of freedom by imposing rulers who are fit to rule, rather than the lack of any form of peace itself. An instance where the ignorant, unknowing people have elected a leader who is not capable must be avoided. If that is your definition of dictatorship, I confess guilty.
Now, I must question your democracy: assuming democracy is achieved, how do you attempt to prevent your leaders from falling into sins?
T: I believe that human nature is prone to lean towards malice. Therefore, I impose religion and practices of good faith from a very young in order to deter them from such malpractice. Furthermore, my utopia is segregated from the rest of society and cannot be influenced by it.
How do you suggest to find this ultimate leader who will have the skills to rule without falling for the sins himself?
P: I will select children out of society, teach them the subjects which will enhance their skills as leaders and finally choose the one who show the best results in their adult lives.
P: I believe, we have reached a stalemate. Since we are both prejudiced in some ways: you in your resentment of the Catholic church and the tyrannical English monarchy,
T: And you, in your lack in faith of the society that murdered your teacher, Socrates; we cannot reach a point of agreement.
P: Therefore, we must leave our works for the next generation of thinkers to comprehend its meanings and unveil right from wrong.
T: Fair enough. I hope our conversation has changed your pessimistic views on democracy to some extent.
P: Oh, if only…