Socrates, the first pacifist

correct me, if I’m wrong: 5 nations didn’t say yes in the last United Nations security council to the resolution, to make war vs. Libya. 3 of the prime ministers are female: Brazil, India, Germany; surprising: Russia and China joined that small group … I am not amused that the title for the military actions in the Mediterranean Sea is “Operation ODYSSEY DAWN”. Socrates would agree to me, I’m sure. Once he stopped in the middle of a battle and said: “WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?”



Greek philosophers’ mood …

photo originally uploaded by Frizztext

Perikles pushed Athens into risky power politics, those led into the Peloponnesian war (431-404 before Christ). The second woman of Perikles, Aspasia, participated in the philosophical discussions of Socrates and became highly estimated by him. She was accused like Socrates of being not as religious as she should be.

Of course the boring-questioner Socrates became a feedback not only ironically (e.g. by the comedy poet Aristophanes) but also others with heavy rage: started by the government clique around President Perikles. To awaken the people from their sleep of propaganda-smeared opinions, – this had to provoke counter actions.

In his defense speech at court Socrates didn’t own much time. The limit was set by a pot of water, having a whole. The moment, all the water had run out, that was the very moment he had to stop his speech. The jury of 500 Athenians didn’t like to listen at all – and they were happy, to bring that thing quickly to an end.

The three prosecutors of Socrates by the way had been lynched a few weeks later: Probably the thoughts become accepted to which Socrates had wanted to inflame: “… perhaps you might possibly be offended, like the sleeping who are awakened, striking me, you might easily kill, then the rest of your lives you might continue sleeping…” –

Socrates maintained his integrity as hero until the end. His radical critique of the Athenians fundamental values are the starting point of western philosophy, of the modern debate over civil disobedience (compares Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jane Fonda and so on…). Today it’s still amusing to follow the way, how the master shredded the weaknesses in faulty arguments. Socrates had tried to make publicly, what later should be named as “try-and-error procedures of thinking”.

And he didn’t allow the mighty ones to intimidate him. There are cultural fluctuations with regard to the allowance to think opposite. Jesus or Spartacus (or the American Socrates-scientist Vlastos, notified by the FBI and threatened with deportation to Canada because he didn’t agree to the Vietnam-war), Angela Davis, Sinead O’Connor or Michael Moore – they had their special versions of trouble.

Today we don’t need a death-sentence; there are smaller and more effective tricks, to produce a YES to nearly everything. So we still need such a hero of dissidence like Socrates – or should we stop thinking self-confidently? Nearly 500 years before Christ this Socrates gave an unforgettable sign of a solid character.

He didn’t beg the judge committee, to stop the death penalty, he didn’t agree to accept exile – in the contrary he made a request for the highest honor in Athens at that time: the daily free meal-supply in the city hall. He was an ironic man and he knew this request had been a little too much for the nervous jury…
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