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

  • sylvestre gagnon

    i hear people always assuming Trump is this big idiot without giving any proper example as to why is this so. what to this day have trump made that so wrong. and please no missquotation or benign things like what hé said in private to his friends about the lady. and keep in mind that for every trump mini scandale There is Clinton 10 real and big scandale that the mainstream média barely talk about

  • Doge

    thats why voting right to all people isnt the best tool to conclude or decide, never underestimate stupid people in large numbers

  • The White Elephants

    The candy man is the Democratic Party! All they do is give out Gives. Saying it’s trump is so 🤦🏼‍♂️

  • unwinsis

    So, Socrates wouldn't have been surprised at Trump's election, he would have expected it.

  • 1ucasvb

    So, the problem with democracy is that it works. The weakness of democracy is the culture that sustains it.Fix the culture and you won't have a problem with democracy. We have never fixed our culture, and the way all of our democracies work and have worked is goddamn awful, because we don't give it enough thought and we don't listen to mathematicians.Virtually all of the voting systems being used today in democracies are mathematically flawed and unrepresentative. We live in a world where if three candidates get 40%, 30% and 30% of the votes, the candidate that is disliked by 60% of the people wins. And we're totally OK with that nonsense, even though there are dozens of alternatives out there. (Score voting is by far the best alternative, but we need a runoff stage with it to please people. Check Equal Vote Coalition's website.)I think it's quite fair to say we never really had a proper democratic system anywhere in the modern world. So the whole basis of whether or not all people should have a say is nonsense, because we never had that anyway. Creating any artificial barriers will only add another layer to the unrepresentativeness to the system, one which will only benefit people who can pass that barrier.We treat elections as ideological weapons and not as systems for picking representative leaders. That's the real problem.

  • Logan Slimcock

    this video is a great introduction to what the actual foundation of true fascism is.

  • JohnJohn John

    Am I the only Greek here?

  • Andy Kench

    The problem occurred when we put some sweet shop owners in charge of education; now they have no incentive to educate people fully, just enough to get by but not enough to ask critical questions. Oh well, democracy was a good experiment, what's next?

  • gjjk84

    Wow! You don't know much about Christianity, do you? The crucifixion of Jesus isn't a tragic thing to Christians; it's the source of they salvation, so they celebrate it.

  • Medna Luka

    Guess who decides the education material to keep people voting for those sweet shop owners?

  • Ed Am

    a right given by birth has no value at all and thus, lacking of value, it will be treated like trash by its owner because he doesnt know the effort and sacrifice behind it and take it lightly read starship troopers

  • Rocco Anders

    Americas President is literally this.A businessman. A shop owner.He doesnt know how to govern, but he knew how to advertise himself during the election.

  • Christian Lemus

    Socrates hated Democracy because the people might end up voting for a complete buffoon (i.e. Donald Trump)

  • George T

    hm I wonder if he'd have uploaded this if Clinton had the won the election and not Trump..

  • imperator epaulette

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

  • RandomNumber

    If we want to solve the education problem, we need to quit teaching all the fluff we teach and make LOGIC a required course to graduate high school. Instead of teaching kids WHAT to think, we need to teach them HOW to think. Problem is, the liberals will never allow that.**(Waits for angry responses from liberals)

  • Bill Dollarmovie

    Everyone should have the right to pass a test before they can vote.

  • Hypatia4242

    The problem with creating participatory thresholds or tests in a semi-democracy is that the elite will inevitably figure out how to game the system in favor of their children and ideological partners. The fringe will be discouraged from voting, threatened, and or simply prevented, no matter if the fringe is defined on technology promoters, tax, social views, race, or gender. Example: in the American south there used to be a reading requirement to vote (designed to discriminate). When a white man showed up he was given a paragraph from a local newspaper as his reading test. When a black person or woman arrived she was more likely to be given a paragraph of US law including relatively obscure phrases about "municipality regulation" or "fiduciary re-alignment" and then quizzed on the content and marked on pronunciation. Reducing the number of eligible voters is unlikely to do anything because the percentage that do vote is never guaranteed to be the "right" group over time. All people should vote, but, as the video says, they should first understand the ship and the ocean in which they find themselves.

  • MuhfugginMike

    You can blame the people for their lack of education, but also factor in the media for either directly or indirectly manufacturing their opinions.

  • Admiral Brittania

    I'm an absolute Monarchist so I'm good

  • Harm Hoeks

    Basically: Believe in experts. Climate change is real

  • Τραντέλλενας Ακρίτας

    Well, if we want it or not, the majority of individuals in our society are highly uneducated. The worst part of this is, that it's their choice to be uneducated cause todays it's very swag to be a ''bad boy'' withour even knowing what that exactly means. So let's don't blame democracy that it is giving rights to useless people, since it is the same democracy that makes plenty of schools for them. Don't give up people, democracy is the strongest political regime. Cause, you not only can say anything you want to your stupid co-citizens, but also you can make them follow you and make you leader for that little thing you said ( the exemple with the candy shop owner ). So it's up to you if you are strong enough to say that ''i wont be a candy shop owner, because i want to help my people'', the part of make them share your ideas and beliefs is the easy one. Because it's harder to throw away your personal benifits and care for the others. And that's the perfect ruler, peace. :D

  • Michael Calibri

    There are 2 types of stupid: those who know too little and those who know too much. The latter are never wrong.

  • milk and cookies with a sad ghost


  • Imtotallydiggingthis

    A side note, but the comparisong at 2:00 misses the mark by a mile, as the crusifiction of Jesus was the greatest achievement of all history, rather than a tragedy for Christians.

  • Tori Nguyen

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

  • Dustin Keele

    LOL....All I can think of is Trump and the uneducated people that put him in power

  • Chase H.

    You should be able to pass a test in order to vote. Like a driving test. You must pass this test and prove you meet the qualifications of an upstanding citizen.

  • GAMMODE 1992

    Well there is a very simple solution, we need a law that forces politicians to work on their promises! The power of a country should belong to the people...We do not really live in a democracy but rather in a oligarchy, people should have a veto on certain decisions...Politicians should have a kind of books where they will have to write all their promises and how they intends to get them, and then the book should be checked and approved by experts!And with serious consequences if they do not respect their book!I think we will see much less clown stand for the presidency...

  • Thomas SK

    I stopped at "Make Athens great again". Go fuck yourself, Alain

  • Vikram Bhat

    Monarchy is best way to rule , but the method of establishment in the hands of the wise and learned and with king trained by wise people and they later acting as his council of ministers . The only problem with monarchy is that it cannot handle large countries as the concentration of power is too dense into hands of few people which unfortunately causes lack of control and eventual break down of large empire . Having monarchy in a country makes country susceptible to civil wars if the country is large enough , and small countries are/were susceptible to invasion and oppression by other large and surrounding empires. All ancient empires were wise enough to know the drawbacks of democracy and hence they adopted monarchy as more viable option but the problem is that as these empires grew they became more and more unstable and there was eventual breakdown due civil war and finally destruction due to foreign invasions ( be it romans , greeks, indians ,persians ) , only china survived the foreign invasion due to geographical shield. If nearly all the countries adopt the right kind of monarchy then we can say we have a sustainable and fair administration , but sadly that will not happen , atleast some nations will have tyranny disguising as monarchy and eventually that nation will disturb the balance of the world and cause invasion and wars.

  • Quina

    Pretty sure Trump is the doctor. Obama on the other hand....

  • lexxon11

    I do believe a person should have to pass a rational thinking exam. Along with a civics test. That confirms or disconfirms the voters knowledge of Government, Policy , History and Philosophy(maybeeeeeeeeeeeee, some basic economics). Just like when you need an exam to drive a vehicle. This would show how important it really is to those who want to be part of the process and its repercussions .

  • Jorge Luis

    This critic of democracy is too simplistic and ignores the main reason behind democracy: conflict of interests. What if those educated in the rules of seafaring are simply not willing to send the boat to the place most people want to go? What if they use their education and skills to exploit and subjugated the majority? People should learn and educate themselves to make good judgments in terms of politics and economy, but if we wait until those who monopolize this knowledge and skills dare to share it probably we would have to wait forever.

  • moismyname

    1) Stop pretending Plato's fake constructed strawman dialogues give insight into anyone's political and philosophical ideas other than Plato.2) Plato was an aristocrat and a close relative to the tyrant Critias. He was deeply reactionary and tribalist. Yes, he hated democracy. His answer to it in The Republic is an Orwellian 1984 style dictatorship. That's not hyperbole, Plato's Utopia and Orwell's Distopia are almost identical in structure and implementation! It's ironic how Plato gets heralded as icon against demagoguery when in the final chapter of The Republic he lays out how it's totally okay to lie, deceive and miseducate the plebs in order to uphold a rigid hierarchical system of power.3) Plato and the strawmen in his fake dialogues do not represent the entirety of Greek philosophy. There were other major schools of thought that were significantly more individualist, democratic, liberal and even abolitionist. History would have taken a much better turn had it been Democritus, Epicurus and Alcidamas who's philosophies and writings had survived into late antiquity and the middle ages instead of Plato and Aristotle.

  • Aleena Prasannan

    The reason why sweet talkers like Trump and Modi gets elected. People even ridiculed Manmohan Singh for being a man of few words. Today's Democracy needs some fixing, so that it won't become a mindless majoritarianism. For that, our education system needs fixing.

  • Blackrainbow

    And this is how we voted for Brexit.

  • ziah Reid

    There should be a test on basic economics and the systems of government, that a person has to pass in order to register to vote.

  • Kyle Rushford

    "If you have stupid, ignorant citizens, you're gonna get stupid, ignorant leaders."- George Carlin

  • Rev. James C

    Democracy is a terrible thing.

  • علاء الدين لطفي

    amazing work! keep it up.

  • Aditya Sanjeev

    As an indian i can confirm this theory. We have elected a lot of incompentent, corrupt, populist scum.

  • Panino Manino

    There's another problem. Before we can vote, for better or worse, the candidates we can vote are limited. In most cases the doctor can't even participate in the election.

  • Soros cuck shill

    Socrates predicted trump the demagogue!

  • Druinkisk337

    Aristocracy = Rule by the BestPlutocracy = Rule by the RichOligarchy = Rule by the FewPeople seem to get these confused. Moreover people seem to be confused by the nature of Monarchy and Tyranny. Tyranny (as defined by Aristotle) is when one rules the country for the good of their self, whereas Monarchy is where one rules for the good of the country. We (in the western world) have forgotten the virtues of Monarchy, being too arrogant to look to countries like Oman, which in the course of one King has gone from a land of civil war into an indisputable Golden Age. Monarchs differ from the likes of politicians, because instead of future citizens reaping the results of their decisions, a monarch's own bloodline inherits it. There is a clear reason for them to only want the best for their country, in both short term and long term.

  • shanighias

    democracy in Pakistan and India is typical example of how fucked up this philosophy is when voters are uneducated

  • 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

  • Sherlo

    Why did anyone in the history of the world hate democracy?-They were smarter than average

  • The 12 year olds Perspective

    Democracy is non negotiable

  • Angan Bhattacharyya

    Socrates is my favourite personality from ancient Greece

  • Abe Honest

    🤔😰.... so that's how Mr Trump got elected.....

  • Garrett Seno

    If you're taking human stupidity as a given, then I can just as easily take human corruption as a given, and assert that those in charge of the government could make the criteria for voting something that'd reassure their own power. That's why the voting criteria is so basic, it views corruption as a greater threat than stupidity.

  • Δημητριος Σ

    Socrates hated STUPID people NOT DEMOCRACY

  • Daniela Bunyip

    Legalising same sex marriage is a perfect example of the sweet shop party/politician. They give the people what they want, what feels good, what appeals to their sense of justice, rather than what is actually good for society.

  • Linktothepast83

    People seem to forget though that in ancient Athens democracy was direct and not through representatives as it is today, you can even call it elected oligarchy nowdays. The change is pretty big to make direct comparisons with then.

  • Marlon Munguia

    This is why the US is a republic

  • Napoleonist

    Wish Socrates was my Grandfather

  • mario gutierrez

    This bullshit don't even know that Sócrates was a critic of direct greek democracy, how the fuck can't this shit put in the same bag greek democracy and representative western democracy?

  • Ricky Sterling

    democracy is failing all over the world now after Communism.Stupid religious people are voting and appointing their own in the democracy who supports killing of people of other sect.Well next 30-40 years will be very crucial in the humanity.

  • James Lockwood

    It was not Socrates, but Plato, that "hated democracy". An important distinction has to be made between the thoughts and ideas of Socrates and those of Plato. Socrates never wrote anything, so the only accounts that we have of his philosophy are thanks (mainly) to Plato's works. So the books written during his youth, and closer to the death of Socrates (such as the Apology) will portray much more the thoughts of Socrates than later works, such as the Republic, which only use Socrates as a Speaker. Therefore, it is very likely that Socrates did not "hate democracy", his disciple Plato, on the other hand, did.

  • Putin The Great

    Socrates had a very good point. Today's democracy is a joke

  • The Spanish Inquisition

    This is why the united states was created as a republic and not a democracy.

  • Mesh He

    Presidential election in USA is just like a clown show.Medias and politicians are the servants of Wall Street's money.

  • The M

    "people don't know what they need"

  • 1978ajax

    But Socrates never worked out exactly how to divide those fit to vote from those not fit (of which, following Labour's gains in the UK recently, there are clearly many) - and neither has anyone else, AFAIK. His ship analogy is deeply flawed, since the fitness of a sea captain is easy to understand and to define, and does not represent any useful parallel. So, in effect, all he did was state the obvious while offering no solution to the problem.

  • LMM 666

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