Why Socrates Hated Democracy

We’re used to thinking hugely well of democracy. But interestingly, one of the wisest people who ever lived, Socrates, had deep suspicions of it. For gifts and more from The School of Life, visit our online shop: https://goo.gl/mQYmze
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“We are used to thinking very highly of democracy – and by extension, of Ancient Athens, the civilisation that gave rise to it. The Parthenon has become almost a byword for democratic values, which is why so many leaders of democracies like to be photographed among its ruins…”

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Produced in collaboration with:

Mike Booth

  • Areté

    There should be a short educational note on points and intentions of each representative that are mandatory to read before voting so each person makes atleast a bit more intelligent decision. Also video on Venus project would be nice

  • I am a Crusader

    If democracy killed Socrates, how is democracy good?

  • Akos Sam

    Wow! Everyone completely missed Socrates's point. He didn't mean for the few smart people to rule. He wanted everyone to be educated to the point that they became smart.So that they don't put people to death for not believing in their God(s), to present a rather ironic example.

  • Pohorex

    I mean the US isn’t even a full democracy, it’s just a constitutional republic.

  • Shift Beatbox

    Democracy killed Socrates

  • Rick Pyle

    The Founding Fathers of the US were wary of democracy because they were afraid if they gave to vote to the mob who had no land or stake in their town they'd "vote themselves the treasury". Of course, our trillions of dollars of debt has justified their greatest fears!

  • Zed

    Brexit and Trump are proof of this.

  • Dr. Mond

    Democracy is a government system in which the stupid majority choose a leader based on looks and social status

  • abdel aziz ibrahim

    Socrates is right. That is what happening to philippines, It is the reason why we keep on voting the wrong people to hold a position in govt our govt.

  • Cam Rhys

    "I'm with her" total demagoguery

  • Noob Tramp

    Modern day government is controlled by the same religous and ethnic minority. We all know who they are, they own it all. Banks, media, politicians. Heck they even killed Jesus.

  • Ix The Best

    Americans must love sweets then...

  • ReThinking

    I don't think this video should say more than the first minute with the ship example. Great example. Democracy is a fraud

  • Jaco Jordaan


  • Jakromha

    I like how right wing and left wing people are accusing each other of being pro democracy.

  • ndfvbaihgi dfgeagniaj

    He didn't hate Democracy. Even according to your own video, he wanted a Direct Democracy with educated voters, aka Pure democracy. There's nothing democratic about someone trying to run the lives of others in matters he's ignorant about via ignorant and nefarious representatives and a violence monopoly (state).

  • johnny cat

    That's why the USA is a republic.

  • hadi erturk

    It's obvious that democracy isn't perfect. It has a bunch of flaws. But that's not the point. The point is that it's the most practical system. Any other system that relies on people being good is doomed to fail.

  • Nature Cure

    Sweet shop owner =Trump

  • Rohan Parsewar

    Your videos are too awesome. Really easy to comprehend. Gratitude from India. And God Bless You

  • Robert Johnson

    Trump is a doctor. He doesn't sugar coat his message with considering how PC it will be !

  • Mu Effe

    Socrates should liten up. Nothing lasts forever. Not even civilizations nor countries. Voters should just vote which ever candidates they think can do the job. Just live through the moment. We are candles in the wind. America Good night to you.

  • JRH

    The only democracy that exists is Switzerland

  • Northernspear

    I find it harder and harder to communicate with Americans even on Youtube. The erosion of education and decadence win votes.

  • TheBugsy

    As a trump supporter, I agree with this. More educated voters = Less people voting based on the gender or skin color of the candidate.

  • Charles Anthony

    The real problem with Democracy is this : 2 wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. That's why Franklin said, we've given you a Republic if you can hold it. The Republic takes into consideration the minority. So, following the logic, the ultimate style of government is a Democratic Republic. Unfortunately, Trump doesn't understand this and his idea is a homogenous racial civilization. Get rid of the minorities and we can be one country. Is this the kind of America we want? I sure don't.

  • imperator epaulette

    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter" Apparently not Winston Churchill

  • Ayoub Khalil

    School systems need to change and they need to start helping students early on to harness their creativity and formulate ideas and use their imagination. While instilling a moral code that they should follow throughout their life in order to obtain happiness, something like what religions do without you having to fear god but just a being conscious from right and wrong cause you know better, without having to lie to yourself with these fantasies. These are all just tales of old wisdom that our ancestors knew and we have just forgotten since our society is now sadly driven by materialistic things and constantly just thinking about the now, instead of the future. Our leaders should be philosophers not someone that succeeded in a system that in itself poorly judges you as a potential fit for the position. While holding these traits in high value, we critique people based on these in order to determine who is fit to role, but they must be competent as well, not just virtuous. The whole system needs to be reconstructed in a way that helps promote the best characteristic in people and not the bad one. Companies shouldn't have any form of power over the government either, but the government should have power over them. The system needs to care about the individual just as much as the whole, and the individual needs to care about the whole just as much as he cares about himself. We're setting the rules to the game, we're not forced into them. The system should be able to change and integrate new ideas constantly, ever evolving and adapting. There's no reason why we should abide to a static form of government in a forever changing world. Times of great change are coming and using a clearly outdated system could potentially lead to catastrophic results. The potential threat of future innovations such as AI is undeniable, unlikely, yes one might argue but "impossible", that would be wrong to say. We need to make sure that the system will be able to handle this level of change, and thrive as much as possible out of it. We constantly try to categorize things and that habit needs to stop, that habit is what leads to conflicts just as racism, discrimination, always avoid labeling things especially ideas, constantly keeping an open mind should be a main rule in life that everyone should follow if one truly wishes to make the world a better place. You cannot categorize creativity or else it wouldn't be creative. The environment should help promote creativity at its max, invest into art to help stimulate our brains into thinking in a state of higher consciousness, we live in a time of peace we should take advantage of that an maximize our potential as humans. Imagine what beautiful master pieces we could create today compared to what has been crafted in the past. In general as a species we need to make sure the next generation is better than the last, just like how you wish that the following day will hopefully be better than today. But first and for most we need to stop being lazy, and postponing things, what can be done today should be done today and not tomorrow.

  • Joseph

    I disliked the video because I saw "make....great again" referring to Trump. Trump won the state vote, not popular=old athenean democracy. This is biased, I'm out. You claim Donald is one of these evil democratic leaders, yet he didn't even win the pop vote, he won because of our American system that protects us in a scenario of "two wolves and a sheep [voting democratically on what to eat] for dinner." So, guy with the UK accent speaking here, go to hell, thank you. Our country is a republic with a delegate system not a purely democratic one. It is a system designed to protect minorities, yet maintaining a balance between democracy and minority rights. That's why in the U.S we have a rule called the "super majority". Read on that a bit. Anyway I called you a U.K guy because I can't detect where your accent is exactly from.

  • Pete Holmes

    Democracy cannot function in diverse societies. diverse societies can easily be divided and conquered. before women could vote large monopoly were broken up and the needs of the family came first. now that women can vote, the most important issue for them is whether or not they can kill their unborn children. Add 40% minority groups and we will never do anything significant again. just vote for or against abortion or gays

  • unv unb

    Considering that Athens had much more slaves than civilians and from the civilians only men could vote, already only few could vote. I suppose this video is suggesting that technocrats should make all decisions and all the others only pay them

  • Glial Cell

    TL;DR: Socrates realized that most people are incredibly stupid.

  • xavvor1

    It also lead to 100 trillion dollars in debt.

  • RealIllyrian4life

    Democracy doesn't work!Nationalist Socialism is the answer!

  • Yetaep

    So Donald Trump is our Demogrog

  • Deimos

    Love how people here are calling Trump the sweet shop politician, but he has actually delivered on some of his promises. I can't think of any western leader who has done the same, so far.

  • Matthew Revell

    Define wisdom. Any extremist will consider following their ideology as wisdom and dissent as irrationality.

  • Kyllian Masson

    You really know nothing about true Democracy. It is completely different to a Republic.

  • Hipster Eagle

    I’m not the first to type this probably but...”and that’s how Trump got elected!”

  • MyLife

    Democracy and Capitalism aren't perfect. But they are better than the options available

  • Goutham Krishna

    Conclusion: Socrates supported technocracy

  • MC Mark Markson

    Democracy is great, until the racists get the majority.

  • Anastasios Kontizas

    Nowadays there is no democracy but republic. Res publica, the roman system

  • Xantog

    Most democrats are sweet shop owners; promises of socialist programs at the expense of the tax payer...

  • Celestino Portela

    This is true for Athens at that time, undoubtfully. But, nowadays, this argument is most often presented by people who actively misinform the masses and distract them with futile things, and it loses its validity because you cant say "uniformed people shouldnt vote" and at the sime time contribute to the desinformation of said people. Indeed democracy is as good as the education system that surrounds it, so the issue we need to fix is our education system not our election system. If we started restricting those who can and cannot vote, sooner or later, it would become an elitist system where the right to vote could be bought(because the people deciding who voted would base their decision in subjective criteria, and everyone is corruptible) and the discrepancy between the richest and poorest would agravate even more than it is today.

  • sitamun


  • NewHampshireBoy

    He was right on the money about a dictatorship of the majority.

  • bio2020

    I am downvoting you because you compared Trump to a sweet shop owner. "Make Athens Great Again" was the sign you used. Dumb.

  • Tori Nguyen

    "We have forgotten this distinction between an intellectual democracy, and a democracy by birthright." no truer words have been spoken.

  • Ona zvalas' T

    2:55 #make Athens great again 😂😂😂

  • dilluminatilair

    Hillary is a sweet shop owner.

  • Felipe Doege

    We don't need democracy.

  • Anastasiya Andreeva

    1. It was right approach about doctors tho. 2. Nowadays system achieves these goals by setting voting age limits. 3. If we set up more complicated criteria it would be too easy to exclude people from education and leave them without right to decide what to do with their lives (maybe, in future, but not so fast: we just have given women rights to vote, 50 years ago only few could study in Ivy League)

  • Berethoris

    We don't really know if these are Socrates opinions, as there is no material written by him directly. The student Plato wrote these books and it is safer to assume that he portrays his own personal opinions

  • Stefano Cussotto

    Bellissimo, complimenti!

  • Visionary

    That's why you have to be a sweet shop owner and a doctor at the same time.

  • ValtonikOdin

    Makes sense, ideally. And this somewhat worked in the ancient world of which Plato's Socrates was a fan. This way we get the communist system, or one of ancient Egypt (and may be even Atlantis) where leader would be chosen by power elite of politics and/or priesthood. Plato' s "Laws" however shows how none of this would work well if put to practice in a modern, democratic republic, e.i. this system would be prone to corruption and would need to be strictly enforced (which is undemocratic), otherwise it will not survive.

  • Tianna K

    After Brexit, I agree with Socrates.

  • bat man

    this is right, democracy is bad

  • 癌Weeaboo.Nightcore4Life

    The only issue with this is that creating a state were only the "smart" people could vote would just create a one party state.

  • Flynn Parish

    Modern day voting system literally assumes every voter is of an equal quality.

  • Steffan Blanco

    Democracy isn’t one thing. Athenian democracy failed because it was direct and led to internal wars. Democracy as its nowadays in most western countries is very different and works better than any other system in place.

  • Killerlightning _

    Democracy was a bad thing back then because most people were uneducated and even illeterate. Instead, there was a theorized system called politeia which translates to statehood. In that, only the citizens of a state, excluding the slaves would vote.Then democracy took the meaning of politeia. So, in that system, for citizens to have their political rights, there needed to be uneducated slaves to do the unnecessary time consuming chores of the citizens. Of course, there was no way they could vote

  • Comoroo

    Thank God we live in a Republic :-)

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