Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, probably the most erudite political philosophers of the twentieth century, writes:
Not only the democratic government, but the "dear people" were opposed to Socrates, and he can, without exaggeration, be called a victim of democracy, of the vox populi.From Leftism Revisited: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot. (If you're at all tempted by Jonah Goldberg's new book, skip it and read K-L instead).
Salvador de Madariaga has said that Western civilization rests on two deaths – the death of Socrates and the death of Christ. And indeed the Crucifixion was also a democratic event. When our Lord was brought before Pilate, He told him that He had come as a witness to the Truth, and the governor, a true agnostic, asked Him, "What is Truth?" And without waiting for an answer, he passed Him by and consulted "the people." The vox populi condemned our Lord to death as it had Socrates more than three centuries earlier. But if we despair of truth, if we believe that truth either does not exist or cannot humanly be attained, we are left with two alternatives: we have either to leave things to chance, or we must be content with preferences – personal preferences or "preferences statistically arrived at," which often means accepting the "verdict of the majority." The latter, although a handy way to settle differences of opinion, neither tells us the truth nor offers us rational solutions to burning problems.
Photo: The democratic process in action.