republic (books 6 - 10)
Glorious indeed, he said. But what is the next step?
The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same
disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democ-
racy--the truth being that the excessive increase of anything
often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is
the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal
life, but above all in forms of government.
The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals,
seems only to pass into excess of slavery.
Yes, the natural order.
And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the
most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most
extreme form of liberty?
As we might expect.
That, however, was not, as I believe, your question--you
rather desired to know what is that disorder which is gen-
erated alike in oligarchy and democracy, and is the ruin of
Just so, he replied.
Well, I said, I meant to refer to the class of idle spend-
thrifts, of whom the more courageous are the leaders and the
more timid the followers, the same whom we were compar-
ing to drones, some stingless, and others having stings.
A very just comparison.
These two classes are the plagues of every city in which
they are generated, being what phlegm and bile are to the
body. And the good physician and lawgiver of the State
ought, like the wise bee-master, to keep them at a distance and
prevent, if possible, their ever coming in; and if they have
anyhow found a way in, then he should have them and their
cells cut out as speedily as possible.
Yes, by all means, he said.
Then, in order that we may see clearly what we are doing,
let us imagine democracy to be divided, as indeed it is, into
three classes; for in the first place freedom creates rather more
drones in the democratic than there were in the oligarchical
That is true.
And in the democracy they are certainly more intensified.
Because in the oligarchical State they are disqualified and
driven from office, and therefore they cannot train or gather
strength; whereas in a democracy they are almost the en-
tire ruling power, and while the keener sort speak and act,
the rest keep buzzing about the bema and do not suffer a word