Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Conservatives, Liberals, and Socrates' Cave

In Plato's Republic, he relates a (probably fictional) story about a conversation between Socrates and Glaucon in which Socrates postulates a set of prisoners bound in such a way that they had to face a wall on which shadows of the real world played out.  He first posited that those prisoners, raised thus from birth, would believe what they were seeing to be "the real world."  He further expounded on the difficulties if just one of those prisoners was let free, and then even compelled to see more and more of the real world.  Finally, he suggested what would happen if that prisoner, finally having acclimated to the world outside the cave, returned to that cave to try to educate the other prisoners.

The Wikipedia article on the story is pretty good.  Go check it out before you get to the rest of this post.  I'll wait.


Good.  You're back.

I don't know why I was thinking about this the other day, but I was, and I think I hit on a glimmer of understanding.  People, in general, are those prisoners in the cave.  The Media (by and large) are the ones who stoke the fire, decide what order people cross the bridge, and who make sure the prisoners don't break free on their own (not a hard thing to do, once they're acclimated to their position). 

Conservatives are that prisoner (by and large).  We have, by whatever means, broken free from that imprisonment.  At first it was painful and frustrating.  The world shouldn't work like this.  The world didn't work like this.  But, as time passed and we re-verified our new perceptions, we came to accept the real world for what it is.

Liberals, on the other hand, fall into two or three camps.  The first are the prison guards.  They are in league with the Media (actually, the other way 'round.  The Media is beholden to them), and like the situation as it is.  They want people to remain ignorant.  I won't even say that all of them have wholly nefarious motives.  Some of them really believe that "ignorance is bliss" and that those prisoners "aren't capable" of understanding/coping with/dealing with the real world.  Many of them, however, like the power they exert for its own sake.

The second set of liberals are the people walking on the bridge.  They know what the real world is.  However it happened, they are not in the cave.  Some of them escaped.  Others were never in the cave to begin with.  But they never think of the people in the cave unless something happens to bring them sharply to mind.  They support the prison guards for a variety of reasons.  Some of them believe that the prisoners are dangerous- why, they wouldn't be prisoners if they weren't dangerous.  Some of them believe that the prisoners "deserve it" somehow- they'd never be able to tell you how.  Still others believe that if the prisoners were loosed, their own station would suffer.

The third set of liberals are the prisoners themselves, or are a subset of them.  They are comfortable with what they know, and any attempt to instruct them otherwise is heresy.  They believe that conservatives are crazy, and that our tales of the real world are fanciful, even deranged, projections.  They don't believe in the prison guards, because they've never seen them for what they are.  If they give any thought to the possible existence of the guards, they assume that the guards have their best interests at heart, or are doing what they're doing for some justified reason.

Democrat politicians and the Major Media Outlets are the prison guards.  They have allowed some to be free in the sure knowledge that those can be counted on.  Hollywood "limousine Liberals" and other Celebrity liberals/moderates are the people carrying the bundles.  They know how the world works, because it works that way for them especially (Hollywood gets far more targeted tax breaks (read: any) than "Big Oil").  For their various reasons they either don't consider the plight of the prisoners to be something worth worrying about, or (worse) they believe that it is good for them for people to remain in the dark. 

The few principled liberals (about as common as a Conservative Democrat) are the liberals still chained up.  They believe that (for instance) Government should "take care of the people."  They believe the trite that "hard work should always lead to success."  They believe, deep down, in "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."  Any attempt to warn them, to teach them, to give even the most minor shake to their illusion will be met with hostility.

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