Joshua Laferriere is graduating in December from Cal State University Dominguez Hills (Business Analytics). He is a hobbyist in philosophy and classical history with a focus on the Greeks but covering most Mediterranean civilizations. He has a basic understanding of voting systems (ironically). He has arrived at an independent conclusion that allotment is the best form of expression of the “will of the people” (the idea coming from statistics first, Greece second). He has done some work in the field of information systems and follows US politics closely.
Obviously we have issues like Socrates being executed. So we have a potential for the mob rule being easily swayed this way and that. We have the Sophist movement which was spearheaded by Protagoras who believed rhetoric was the key to success in life, because it allowed one to sway public opinion.
Plato was rebelling against Athenian Democracy with his work the Republic, some of it directed at the very issues the Sophists were manipulating. What is interesting is the Demagogue was something that benefited from the ideas of Sophistry (sway public opinion with fancy arguments, but not necessarily arguments that are for the betterment of the people) in a system that didn’t even have elections. Where as today there is more ripe for abuse by sophistry than in Athens where the rhetoric abuse was just kept within the voting on issues itself.
The Peloponnesian war ended before the Republic was written (by at least 20 years) and Athenian Democracy was in decline. After the fall to Sparta, the 30 tyrants were instated. Athens had reclaimed their democracy from the 30 tyrants (miraculously), and shortly after condemned Socrates to Plato’s dismay. Socrates had rubbed this democracy the wrong way with his constant inquiries (probably because of his gadfly status, but also his penchant for questioning the established norm, which certainly would have rubbed the 30 tyrants the wrong way). This may have been a backlash against old Athenian inquiry and questioning the norms during the Athenian Empire’s expansive golden age. This new reduced Athens probably wanted a scapegoat for their past ways, to set an example against those who try to push the envelope of accepted norms.