As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic.
It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it
in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where
Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different
political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly
evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering
point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than
democracy.” What did Plato mean by that?