Republic 327c

“Could you really persuade,” he said, “if we don’t listen?”

Plato, Republic, 327b

   Plato is known for spending a great deal of time on the opening of his dialogues and on his first sentences, crafting them like jewels to reflect light in so many directions that commentary does not have time and paper to trace their refractions. This gem, though, happens to pertain to the present, and to the crucial turn in world history leading, we think, to the procession of the apocalyptic things. We have been dwelling amid these things since 1917, according to Sister Lucy, the seer of the vision of Fatima. Had the electors considered, these things would have dissolved like the Wicked Witch of the West. But now, America may well prove to be a part of what is called the “Whore of Babylon.” She is of course destroyed, and the traders at sea watch her smoke rising as they lament their self interest, since now they will lose money.
The horrors of the apocalypse are not necessary, but occur because, given the free choice to avoid them, humans, our political leadership, won’t listen. Polemarchus, the “war lord,” is responsible for the compulsion of Socrates playfully mimed at the opening of the Republic, and this compulsion by force of the war Lord leads to or is turned by Socrates into the discussion that night which leads to what may well be the greatest piece of writing yet produced by humanity unassisted. John, in his Gospel and the Revelation, is one of the few writers, and this one of the few writings, that makes the short list of other possible contenders for the greatest book simply, along with Genesis.

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