by the Editor, January, 2009
We should recall that in their search for an elusive principle of justice, Socrates and friends had turned to the State in the hope that its larger scale would make it easier for them to discern such a principle than if they restricted their search to relationships between individuals.
Having descended the governmental scale from aristocracy through timocracy, oligarchy and democracy, they identify tyranny as being the most unjust state of all because it represents the ultimate denial of individual freedom, the realisation and safeguarding of which is taken to be the principal aim of justice. They then proceed to associate the characteristics of each type of state with the personality traits which tend to give rise to it, and agree that citizens who lose control over their appetites fall easy prey to tyranny chiefly through over-indulgence in unnecessary pleasures.
Prominent among the tyrant's repertoire of pleasures is the lust for power over others. As Socrates puts it, "the tyrannical man in the true sense of the word comes into being when, either under the influence of nature or habit, or both, he becomes drunken, lustful, passionate. And you know that a man who is deranged, and not right in his mind, will fancy that he is able to rule, not only over men, but also over the gods. And this is he who, being by nature most of a tyrant, bears rule, and the longer he lives the more of a tyrant he becomes. [Such men] are always either the masters or servants and never the friends of anybody; the tyrant never tastes of the true freedom of friendship."
Timocracy is only one step below royalty. In ancient Greece, timocracy could mean either a state where only property owners may participate in government; or a government where rulers are selected and perpetuated based on the degree of honour they hold relative to others in their society. The word derives from the Greek word timo, meaning "worth", and -kratia meaning "rule" (as in government).
In my previous essay, I suggested that the state of the United Kingdom today is that of a tyranny wearing velvet gloves. Professional politicians have learnt to wield tyrannical power not by overt cruelty but through fostering a climate of sentimentality in which the State can pose as the indulgent friend of all the people, supporting the unproductive through monetary handouts while putting it about that "tax doesn't need to be taxing". After 60 years of State Socialism, the United Kingdom is effectively bankrupt. The totality of debt, both public and private, greatly exceeds the nation's capital in the form of private savings. The currency is rapidly losing its value in the eyes of the world because the income from monetary capital is being strangled by interest rates which place a higher value on helter-skelter circulation of indebtedness than on saving until economical expenditure can be afforded.
Now is the time to realise that democracy is meaningless unless it is a "property-owning democracy". Individuals who work for their living are surely worthy of being entrusted with the distribution of the fruits of their own labours while keeping in mind the need to make provision "for a rainy day". So-called "public ownership" is merely an instrument through which professional politicians, most of whom are unworthy of being entrusted with a milk-float, are able to direct the confiscation and application of citizens' resources which, in consequence, are wastefully applied to various ingenious means of keeping the working public in a state of demoralised acquiescence and subservience.
This essentially undemocratic system of government is too deeply entrenched in the national psyche to be easily reformed. Universal suffrage, whereby sheer weight of numbers ensures electoral victory for those who pander to the fickle opinions of the greedy and lazy, is unlikely to be abandoned until a property-owning majority can be established to restore the balance of electoral power to the industrious. So what can you, the reader, do in the meantime?
The current economic climate, which is making people unhappy and fearful, has come about predominantly because of separation between appetite and reason, between the individual and society. This implies a loss of both individual and social integrity.
The first thing you as an individual can do is begin to "pull yourself together". You will then gradually develop will, and consequently be able assert your personal freedom and determine your own happiness.
You could do worse than follow Socrates' recipe: seek experience; understand the true nature of pleasure by reflection upon experience; and attain to wisdom by the exercise of reason. Wise action should then lead to satisfaction, which is inseparable from happiness.
Many of the contents of the Ardue Web pages are intended to help you in this process of self-development. It is by no means a "crash course", but rather a long-term project which can extend for as many years as you find necessary. It is therefore recommended that you read attentively and put what you learn into practice in the great laboratory of life.
On the Front Page of the site, turn first to the section headed The Ardue-Cyber-Temple and read the essays listed under "Design", following the links to other essays if you feel so inclined.
If and when you feel you would like to explore further, go the The Ardue University and read the essays listed under Introductory Information. You may then choose to follow either the route mapped out by the Masonic Degree lectures and associated questions or the more intense course of Hermetic Philosophy. In either case, it is important to study the lectures in the order in which they are given. Some readers may prefer to attempt both courses simultaneously and let one inform the other. In any case, the student is in charge and must proceed at his or her own pace. Results will come only as a result of genuine and consistent effort.
The essays listed under World Views are intended partly as provocation to think "outside the box" and partly as food for practical thought.
As you increasingly acquire confidence in yourself, you will become happier and you will find other people turning to you for help and advice. Then it is that the severe test of personal responsibility becomes more significant than any academic examination, and the search for justice will acquire real meaning for you. If you pass the test, you may become a leader in your local community and exercise a beneficial influence over whatever takes place there, no matter what professional politicians attempt to dictate.
Even if the effects of your study do not extend beyond your private life, your interests and objectives will become less self-centred and more concerned with being a good neighbour not only in your immediate locality but nationally. For example, instead of constantly clamouring for more generous pensions, we oldies should be asking where the next generation's pensions are to come from and even whether there need be any tax-payer funded pensions at all.