1. Plato; “The Republic”; Penguin Classics; New York, N.Y.; 1987; p. 161.
Philosophy is at the center of governance. In “Why Plato Wrote,” Danielle Allen (2013) notes, “…(philosophy) is not an activity apart from politics; its core work – of understanding and/or fashioning concepts that have their full life only as principles and rules for action – directly engages the formation of values, norms, and interests, and so touches the heart of politics…The concepts of philosophy come to be implanted in students through language that is…vivid; this includes both dialogic language and language that is full of (our note: appropriate) metaphors, vivid images, allegories, and other techniques that engage cognition in all its registers…If the concepts of philosophy (our note: for instance elemental “justice”) are broadly disseminated, they will affect contests over values, norms, and interests for the mass of (our note: Rawls’ citizen-legislators), and not merely the elites.”
In “The Republic,” Professor Allen notes, Plato launched philosophy on its political career. He described the administrative state, which entered into the subsequent political vocabulary and practices of Athens in the first half of the 4th century B.C., modifying its direct democracy.
Effective government today requires both foresight and the administrative competence to handle large problems such as international conflict, global warming, epidemics, restoring domestic economic growth (it won’t just happen) and establishing a new social equilibrium. Solutions to these problems require good leadership. The late New York governor, Mario Cuomo, said “You campaign in poetry, and you govern in prose.”
2. James Madison; “The Federalist Papers, No. 50”; Bantam Books; New York, N.Y.; 2003; p. 316.
3. James Madison; "The Federalist Papers, No. 49”; Bantam Books; New York, N.Y.; 2003; p. 310.
4. Both Reason and Spiritedness are constituents of Democracy, but which is more? Here we emphasize Reason, because it is behind the laws and administration of established democracies, and the effect of its dearth in Donald Trump’s presidency is becoming increasing obvious.
In 1992 Francis Fukuyama, now at Stanford, published the best seller, “The End of History.” He identified Thymos, or the spirited desire for recognition, as the main driving force of the Hegelian* process of history which would end with the universal establishment of Democracy, no further questions asked. “The End of History,” more accurately describes the motive force behind revolutions: for instance the American and French revolutions; and more recently the Eastern European and Arab Spring revolutions.
* The German philosopher Hegel (1770-1831) wrote during a period of great social ferment and change. Karl Marx adopted his historical “dialectic” (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) to describe the inevitable victory of Communism, the capitalist and the proletariat being the protagonists.
The usual role of ideas is to work in concert with the economic and political changes already underway. Adam Smith's, “The Wealth of Nations (1776) was an example of this. But as noted above, ideas can also be considered a set of rigid, unrealistic ideological recipes that promise people a way to regain that which is lost, for instance regard or prosperity. It is in this sense that Allen (2013) writes, “…nothing precludes the deployment of power such as this in contexts of (sought) stability. Consequently, we have reason to recognize ideas as having the potential to be independent sources of change.”
Ideas have a third function, to set the moral direction for an entire society. The U.S. Constitution is an example of this, for the preamble states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect (of course not perfect) Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...” The specifics should then relate to the promise of this moral direction in some way; so as presidential candidate Joseph Biden quotes, “…hope and history rhyme.”
5. Edward Luce; “Time to Start Thinking”; Grove Press; New York, N.Y.; 2012.
6. John Gray; “False Dawn”; The New Press; New York, N.Y.; 1998; p.82.
7. Dani Rodrik; “The Globalization Paradox”; W.W. Norton & Co.; New York, N.Y.; 2011; p.p. 69-70.
8. Ibid.; p. 76.
9. Ibid.; p. 77.
10. Ibid.; p. 241.
11. Rebecca Henderson; “Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire”; Hachette Book Group, Inc.; New York, N.Y.; 2020; p. 8.
12. Ibid.; p. 12.
13. Ibid.; p. 20.
14. Ibid.; p. 35.
15. Ibid.; p. 37.
16. Ibid.; p.p. 38-39.
17. Ibid.; p. 40.
18. Ibid.; p. 43.
19. Ibid.; p. 235.
20. Ibid.; p. 122.
21. Ibid.; p. 202.