I dread to think what Plato would say about the current situation in Greece. Greece is supposed to be the cradle of civilisation, the starting point for all world democracies. Now the country seems on the verge of collapse, and all because the population have "had it too good for too long" and have no intention of tightening their belts sufficiently to start a movement back to solvency. One can easily understand why they are not pleased, as their situation is mirrored to a lesser extent by many other countries, including our own.
This then is the logical end of our much vaunted democracy. Government by the selfishness of the people, whatever the consequences! As long as we stick to the principle of "one man one vote" there can never be any change, and the Greek situation will keep repeating itself in every democratic country round the world. So is the only answer dictatorship? Do we see in North Korea and many Middle Eastern Arab states the only answer, - where the rich and powerful tell everyone else what to do, and if you disobey you will suffer!
There is perhaps another alternative, but I doubt if any country has the courage or the mechanism for trying it. It is not my idea, - I trace it back to the famous novelist Nevil Shute who wrote mainly in the 1940s and 1950s. \he emigrated to Australia, partly because he was fed up with U.K. politics even then, I suspect. In his book "The Far Country" he visualises Australia in the future, with a "multiple voting" system. This works as follows.
Every citizen above a certain age, say 16, has one vote. If you stay on in education to the age of 18, you qualify for a second vote. If you continue, and get a university degree, or train as an apprentice and get a qualification, you get a third vote. If you work or travel in at least three foreign countries you get a fourth vote, and if you are married and have a family, for at least 10 years, you get a fifth vote. The sixth vote is given for recognised community service, over a period of at least 10 years. The seventh vote is a direst gift of the Queen, given for exceptional service to the state.
I'm not sure I have got the details exactly right, but you will get the idea. It would mean that someone who educates themselves, and then lives the life of a good citizen, making the maximum contribution to their nation and local community has a greater say in the running of their countries affairs compared to a person who drops out of school at 15 and lives on benefits with out attempting to get a job or make any contribution as a citizen whatever.
Many would feel that this might be a system worth trying, as you would have a far higher proportion of votes being cast by those who take the trouble to try and understand what is going on in their country, and how the whole situation, say, in Britain in 2012, might be remedied and improved.
But how would you ever introduce it, as if the principle was put forward by a party as an election manifesto it would automatically be voted down by the "non-thinking" majority?
Yet many members of the population who do struggle to understand what is happening to us, and do hope that we can create a more stable future for our children and grandchildren, will recognise that some such system as the "Multiple Voting" system which rewarded education and endeavour might be a help.
But would it still be "Democracy" and could we ever give up the principle of "one man, one vote" which we fought so hard in the past to attain?
And next week I shall tell you all about "The Great Scam."