Plato on politics

Plato said ‘The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men’. Why is this quote still relevant today?

The most developed, richest and liveable countries are, almost without exception, liberal democracies. Noticeably, human fantasy, innovation, and the desire to learn and build can really be fulfilled in the economically and socially freest countries. Without real liberal democracy, exceptional development and prosperity cannot be achieved – this is what we see around the world. This means that everyone who wants to move upwards shall go in this direction – and it is true for Hungary too.

A functioning democracy does not only mean that there is an election every four years, but also that institutions are independent, and civilians can and do think and speak their mind. Democracy cannot exist without real civilians – and the key to it is that they have to form and express their opinions about economic and social matters.

Many people say (regardless the side they favour) that they would rather not share their political opinion because they are afraid that their jobs would be at stake or they would lose some of their customers (of course, those who do not agree with them) if they did, or simply, people who have different beliefs would give them a stern look. However, this is not right. The foundation of a real democracy is participating in public affairs in both micro and macro-levels. If we do not like something that was changed in our street, then we have to say and express our discontent at a municipal level, and if we do not like what we see in our country, then we must go higher. As Plato said, we cannot allow ourselves to be indifferent to public affairs. If people refuse to do so, then there will be no real and functioning democracy, and without it, we can do anything to our tax system and get every external support but we will never be able to catch up to the most developed and liveable countries. This is why – for our own benefit – everyone shall take Plato’s words to their heart.

Original date of Hungarian publication: October 16, 2017.