Truth and Power


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Socrates in Israel

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

        Imagine Socrates in Israel.  What would be the fate of this lover of truth?  To answer this question, recall the trial of Socrates in Plato's dialogue, the Apology.

        Socrates was accused of not believing in the gods of Athens, indeed, of being an atheist and corrupter of youth.  Despite his proven patriotism, he was convicted and sentenced to death by Athens' democratic assembly.

        Consider Socrates' accusers.  Their names are not important, save to say they represented Athens' political and intellectual elites.  Whether opinion-makers or policy-makers, they had one thing in common:  they feared truth on the one hand, and a diminution of their power on the other.

        Now, as we all know, Socrates went around Athens questioning all sorts of people about their "gods," meaning those ends which democrats pursue with the greatest zeal.  He saw that Athenians were preoccupied with money-making or pleasure-seeking and security.

        He also saw that freedom and equality in democratic Athenswere leveling all moral distinctions.  The bad was called good, the good was called bad, and everyone had his own "lifestyle," monotonously trivial.  In other words, moral relativism or pluralism permeated the mentality of Athenians, thanks largely to its educators, the sophists, the counterparts of today's "intellectuals."

        Socrates understood that the lack of conviction fostered by relativism, or the disunity resulting from pluralism, would render Athensincapable of persevering in a protracted conflict with a militaristic regime like Sparta. 

        No wonder the elites of Athens hated Socrates, who readily exposed their self-serving motives and folly.   They not only envied his superior mind, but they feared his influence on youth.  Socrates had to be silenced if the fools and mafias that ruled Athenswere to remain in power.

        Let us now imagine Socrates in Israel. Socrates would show that, contrary to its reputation, Israelis not a democracy.  He would reveal that Israel's rulers use the language and some of the trappings of democracy  -- periodic, multiparty elections – to legitimize what, in reality, is a system of self-perpetuating oligarchies or fiefdoms called "political parties."

        The Knesset members of these parties, he would show, are not accountable to the people in constituency elections.  As a consequence, every few the people vote for this or that party list and then relapse into servitude.  Pluralism being the god of Israeli elites, one party may form a coalition with another party to the disgust of their respective voters.  Alternatively, a member of one party may join a rival party when he fails to have a "safe place" on his original party's list. 

        Socrates would expose the dishonorable character of such parties and show that they are more concerned about plundering the national treasury than serving the national good.  He would also question the justice of giving equal political rights to the loyal and the disloyal.  What would be done to silence this gadfly?

        In Athens, Socrates was silenced by real democrats.  Here, in Israel, he would be silenced by pseudo-democrats.  But how do pseudo-democrats silence and rid themselves of their opponents?   Of course none would accuse Socrates of being an atheist when atheism is rampant among Israel's political and intellectual elites.  Today a much more effective term of obloquy is "racism"!

        But what sort of racism would Socrates be accused of by Israel's truth-haters?  Surely it would be anti-Arab racism.  After all, Socrates would easily show that the Arabs are committed to Israel's dismemberment.  He would point out that the Islamic religion urges Muslims to kill "infidels" in general, and Jews in particular.

        Socrates would expose the moral cowardice of Israel's political leaders.  He would show how they are responsible for the murder and mutilation of Jewish men, women, and children; how, by their weakness, they incite Arabs to despise and butcher Jews.

        Socrates would also reveal the stupidity and lack of honor prevailing among Israel's political elites, who make their Arab executioners their equals in the Knesset—of course in the name of "democracy."

        All this would get Socrates in trouble with the truth-haters that control Israel.  How they would resent this gadfly!  Needless to say, these shameless pseudo-democrats would severely restrict Socrates' freedom of speech – naturally in the name of democracy!  Indeed, they would enact a law making it a crime to tell the truth about Israel's Arab enemies!

 Socrates, however, would not remain silent.  The unexamined life is not worth living.  Nevertheless, Israel's truth-hating intellectuals would bar him from speaking at universities, fearing he would undermine their standing with students.  They would conceal their fear of Socrates by calling him a "racist" and even a "fascist." 

        Socrates would also be denied access to the media where he might answer his calumniators – who would justify this censorship, again in the name of "democracy."  Under no circumstances must Socrates have the opportunity to corrupt the youth!

        And were he to form a party – admittedly, not his way – it would certainly be banned from the Knesset with the connivance of Israel's High Court of Justice.  No "racist" (and undemocratic) party must be permitted to sully the dignity of an assembly that boasts of such patriotic parties as Balad (the Arab National Democratic Party) and the United Arab List!

        Socrates could not survive very long in "democratic" Israel.  No, its ruling elites will not poison this truth-seeker with hemlock.  Instead, they will simply defame him by slanderous lies, until lying became the modus operandi of the only democracy in the Middle East.  


from the September-October 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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