As about 20,000 demonstrators protest proposed new budget cuts and tax hikes outside the Greek Parliament today, and a general strike nearly shuts down the country, none other than the timeless philosopher Plato is hot on the Web.
The protesters turning out on the streets of the cradle of democracy are demanding 'bread, education, freedom, in response to the government's plans to consider the IMF austerity bailout package for the Greek debt crisis, Dean Foster blogs at The Culture Prophecy.
Apparently, classical Greece and its traditions of philosophy and democracy, are alive and well with Athens' citizens, although the state is still searching for Plato's philosopher-king, Foster writes. While the politicians are knuckling under the economic realities of an EU-dominated political organization, complete with its dependency on the IMF, the citizens are ready to hew to a higher goal, and question the justice of a system that has brought them and their country to their knees. This represents a revolution of ideas, in true classical Greek cultural tradition, in the streets of Athens in 2012 AD.
Luboš Motl says the strikers should be fired. He posits that strikes can be a legitimate tool for employees to show that their work is more important and valuable than what their employer seems to think. However, he notes, Only if the strikers bear some responsibility for their decisions and behavior and if they are at risk of losing advantages because of their decisions, strikes may turn out to be a tool that improves the life of the society.
He warns, Once a nation enters the mode of thinking in which the employees are always right -- because the government and the employers who are in charge are just reflections of the same striking employees -- the nation is just destined to drop to the bottom of the sea. Glub glub glub. Such a nation is going to give ever greater advantages to the employees for ever smaller amount of work.
Motl, who lives in the Czech Republic, says there will be a strike in his country tomorrow and that public transportation systems will be among the sectors that will make many consumers upset. Of course, the strike won't occur in as dramatic conditions as Greece, but it's still annoying.
Plato, who lived from circa 427 to circa 347 BC, was a great Greek thinker, mathematician, and author of The Republic, one of the most influential books ever, which set out his vision of a utopia ruled by a philosopher-king. He was a student of Socrates, and founded the Academy in Athens.
In the West, the Greek philosophical tradition, represented by the works of Plato and Aristotle, was diffused throughout Europe and the Middle East by Alexander's conquests in the 4th century BC, Ma'am Grace notes at her blog.
Here are some more quick hits on Plato in the books blogosphere today:
? Adam Kotsko aspires to read several of Plato's works in the original in future years.
? Nadette Ramirez, a 17-year-old student, writes, I have to finish this post so I can start reading Plato's 'The Republic' before I go to sleep.
? At Reece's Blog, the writer ponders modern image management, particularly on social networking sites. If I want to look intelligent, I add a few books and authors to my profile and drop the occasional quote in my status update, he says, and thereby draw people into believing that whatever is true about that person or group is also true about me, on some level.
The same trick works with having bookshelves full of books that you're never read, Reece notes.
If you want people to think you're cultured and intelligent you pick up a few really old editions of Plato, Shakespeare, and Hemingway and throw them up on the shelf...done, he says. This is a more old-school way of doing it, but it's the same thing. It's just gotten much easier and quicker these days.
Edward B. Colby is the Books editor of the International Business Times.
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