Quotation of the Day… - Cafe Hayek
by Don Boudreaux on 10/09/2011 2:47 AM
… is from page 199 of Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies; here he’s talking about Plato:
"He transfigured his hatred of individual initiative, and his wish to arrest all change, into a love of justice and temperance, of a heavenly state in which the crudity of money-grabbing is replaced by laws of generosity and friendship. This dream of unity and beauty and perfection, this aestheticism and holism and collectivism, is the product as well as the symptom of the lost group spirit of tribalism. It is the expression of, and an ardent appeal to, the sentiments of those who suffer from the strain of civilization."
A comparison of Utopias as Nandan Nilekani, Kiran Bedi and Plato projects in their book - Guest post by TAHA MEHMOOD
Tihar: And the rise of Kiran Bedi as a Platonic benevolent dictator
When Kiran Bedi first entered Tihar as Inspector General Prisons, she felt like ‘entering an organized township.’[i] For all we know, she may have been referring to an imaginary city state like Plato’s Magnesia. Kiran Bedi, the retired Indian Police Service officer, is universally credited for reforming the largest prison complex in Asia Pacific region- The Tihar prison. In 1999 Kiran Bedi wrote a book, It’s always possible: one woman’s transformation of Tihar Prison, about her experience of managing the Tihar prison complex as Inspector General Prisons between 1993-1995. ...
Contemporary India, in Nilekani’s view, is suffering from a crisis. Where the states are forced into action by market pressure building up. This response led strategy has made ‘chaos the rule in our crumbling cities’[xxiii].
When Nilekani offers a sweeping history of railways in India, he does it through chaos. Nilekani carefully takes out 9 words from a book by Rajan Balachandran to explain how the British officers viewed the newly constructed fortified railway stations in India around 1870’s. In one sweeping sentence, Nilekani describes the railway stations as ‘protective Edens, against which,’ and then comes words form Rajan’s book, ‘the chaos of India beats, outrageous as a sea’[xxiv]. ...
Had Plato seen Chak De, I’d assume he would be amused not because of the narrative of aspiration or because of the redemption narrative but because he suggests citizens should practice war- not in time of war but during peace. And any city magistrate, who has any sense, must provide provisions in order to summon all the youth of the city for games and competitions. City Magistrates must distribute prizes and confer honor to victors and must blame those who lost. Sports for Plato was a tool to make the citizens remember the city-state and identify with it. ...
While reading Plato I often wonder why did he dream of an ideal space in a city setting. What is it about a city that is luring policy makers in India to make a case for urbanization? Why is urbanization the preferred goal of people like Nandan Nilkekani? Surely there is nothing modern about cities. Society in Plato’s time was highly urbanized. What is Thucydides’s account of the Peloponnesian war if not a tale of tens of cities fighting with each other over a fear that Athens could dominate over Hellenes.