SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 JUNE 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 JUNE 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


Topic: World History

1) The era of Pax Americana, witnessed in full bloom in the era post World Wars, is being challenged by Trump. Analyze.(250 words) 

Indian express

 

Why this question

Ever since Trump came to power, several changes in American foreign policy has taken place, which reflect that American hegemony is on the decline, and America is ready to accept this truth. What is the meaning of Pax Americana and American hegemony, what are the challenges to it in Trump era, how relevant is it in the changing geopolitical environment are important topics to be discussed.

Key demand of the question

The question demands us to bring out the meaning of Pax Americana, the history of it as well as the implications of it. Thereafter, we need to describe the policies of Trump which is challenging American hegemony and the impact of it.

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what is meant by Pax Americana.

Body

  • Mention how post world war, American hegemony grew and it became the global policeman
  • Explain what are the components of American hegemony – pole position in Human Rights, global policeman, wide definition of national interest etc
  • Examine how Trump’s policies are reversing this trend. Examine the major changes brought by his foreign policy (as explained in the article) and its impact on the global order

Conclusion – Mention that it will have a huge impact on power relations across the world and India must adapt to prosper.

Background:-

  • Post-1945 international order is often called Pax Americana, in which the United States employed its overwhelming power to shape and direct global events. That era of American dominance is drawing to a close as the country’s relative power declines, along with its ability to manage global economics and security.

Pax Americana:-

  • The term applied to the concept of relative peacein the Western Hemisphere and later the world beginning around the middle of the 20th century, thought to be caused by the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States.
  • Pax Americanais primarily used in its modern connotations to refer to the peace among great powers established after the end of World War II in 1945, also called the Long Peace. In this modern sense, it has come to indicate the military and economic position of the United States in relation to other nations. For example, the Marshall Plan, which spent $13 billion to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, has been seen as the launching of the pax americana.
  • For more than 70 years, the United States has been the world’s leading champion of free trade, democracy, and international institutions, particularly in Europe and East Asia. 

It’s been challenged by  trump:-

  • has signalled “end of the west” as a coherent ideological and geo-political entity by disrupting the G-7.
  • He is making it clear that America does not want to sustain Pax Americana. It is not willing to pay the price for it in terms of troops or financial commitments.
  • He is putting America first, and in rhetoric, rolling back on post-Cold War globalization and signaled that a radical reorientation of American foreign policy may be in the offing.
  • The starkness with which he pursues them has also exposed the contradictions of dominant liberal approaches to international order.
  • Trump’s three disruptions i.e.., the end of the West, the accommodation with authoritarian great power rivals and therefore signalling the end of Pax Americana, and his attack on globalisation have an odd coherence to them. The traditional foreign policy establishment thought it could hold on to these ideas without paying the price for the pathologies that went with them: Western privilege, imperial overreach, and inequality.
  • He took steps that alienated American allies, strengthened enemies, undercut institutions and alliances on which US have depended for three-quarters of a century.
  • Trump called NATO obsolete and promoted the breakup of the European Union 
  • Trump sent the dollar tumbling after he said he favored a weaker dollar so as to reduce the trade deficit, abandoning traditional policy.
  • Trump’s other pronouncements and, even more strongly, his protectionist personnel picks, indicate that he may be gearing up for a trade war against nations such as China and Mexico that he views as unfair competitors.

However Trump alone cannot be blamed:-

  • Pax Americana has been an idea in trouble for quite a while, torn between overreach and underinvestment.
  • On the one hand, the overreaching interventions in Iraq and Libya created the conditions for protracted instability. These interventions also convinced states that possessing nuclear weapons is a necessary currency of power.
  • On the other hand, the sense that America does not wish to fully finance Pax Americana has also been evident for a while.
  • But there was a tension in American approaches. On the one hand, it wants to, not entirely unjustifiably, resist Chinese and Russian ascendancy. It also wants to wear the mantle of liberal internationalism. But it did not want to pay the price.

Conclusion:-

World may finally be seeing the long-predicted breakup of the Pax Americana not because of external pressures but because of an internal decision that the burden of global leadership is no longer worth shouldering.


Topic: Regionalisation of world politics

2) Examine the contrast in the story of ASEAN vs SAARC?(250 words) 

 

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to delve deeper into the difference in growth trajectories of ASEAN and SAARC. The focus is to remain on bring out the contrast and examining the reasons why.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain ASEAN and SAARC.

Body

  • Highlight the contrast in economic, political, social progress of SAARC and ASEAN
  • Examine the reasons why – external enemy vs internal enemy, disproportionate size of India which led to mistrust etc

Conclusion – bring out what should SAARC do to emulate ASEAN.

Background:-

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is among the world’s largest regional intergovernmental organisations. SAARC was established with similar aspirations like ASEAN in south Asia.

Progress:-

  • Integrating the region:-
    • Since ASEAN inception, the countries in the region have become more integrated through enhanced intraregional trade and connectivity.
    • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) over time has failed to deliver. It has been unable to integrate the region through trade and connectivity and continues to be stuck in the quagmire of regional politics and rivalry and stagnates from historical distrust and old animosity.
  • Issues dealt:-
    • In its first two decades, ASEAN focussed on a limited range of issues, but over time its mandate expanded and now includes climate change, disaster management, counterterrorism, drugs and human trafficking.
  • Dispute resolution:-
    • ASEAN’s greatest success has been its ability to deftly resolve disputes. In the early years, for instance, its unity was challenged by the Philippines-Malaysia dispute over Sabah, but the founding members found a peaceful mechanism to mitigate opposing claims.
    • In the case of SAARC, political squabbles, deep mistrust and military conflict between India and Pakistan have frustrated regional cooperation. The whole region is suffering from lost potential due to India-Pakistan hostility leading to even cancellation of SAARC summit.
  • Economic:-
    • Trade in ASEAN has grown rapidly and it has focussed on promoting rapid economic growth and modernisation.
      • It has created the Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA), which ensures liberalisation and protection of cross-border investments operations, together with best practices for the treatment of foreign investors and investments.
    • On the other hand, trade amongst the SAARC members stands at 3.5% of their total volume of trade.
    • Initiatives under the South Asian Free Trade Association have failed to make much headway. Subregional initiatives like the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement also have stalled.
  • Projects covered:-
    • ASEAN:-
      • The Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations (FATA) has called on the ASEAN nations to waive entry requirements amongst the member states. A feasibility study has been conducted on the development of a rail link from Singapore to Kunming in southern China to enhance seamless connectivity among the ASEAN nations to boost intraregional trade and people-to-people connectivity.
      • Projects aimed at promoting the region as a tourist destination have also been undertaken.
    • On the other hand, the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme only allows certain categories of dignitaries to be exempt from visas, excluding ordinary citizens from accessing unimpeded travel in the region. It is difficult for Indians to enter Pakistan and vice versa. Even citizens of other SAARC countries who have visited either India or Pakistan before and now wish to travel to the other face hassles during visa issuance by either country. And SAARC infrastructural problems plague connectivity.
  • Shared perceptions and values 
    • One of the reasons for ASEAN’s consolidation in its formative decade was a common threat
      The concern about the spread of communism acted as a glue to bind the member 

      states and subsequently gave international visibility to the Association when it opposed 
      Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia. Over time, there developed a common commitment to ensure a harmonious and peaceful regional order.
    • By contrast, South Asian countries hold widely divergent views on many important issues and lack a common political culture.
  • Excluding nations:-
    • SAARC
      • India is trying to exert leadership by forming subregional initiatives like the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
      • Another objective is to isolate Pakistan.
    • Such attempts to forge sub-regional ties at the cost of jeopardising the regional vision for unity have not been witnessed in ASEAN. When ASEAN was criticised for taking in Myanmar in spite of its military rule, the grouping emphasised the importance of keeping open the channels of communication and engagement as a better means to influence the regime. Bilateral bickering never got in the way of trade and travel.
    • ASEAN members have avoided showing outward hostility against each other and have tried to resolve differences through dialogue, engagement and cooperation. Politicians in SAARC have mostly catered to their domestic constituents without having any broad regional vision, so that it takes years to sign agreements and even more time to implement them.

Lessons to be learnt from ASEAN :-

  • Regular meetings:-
    • One big lesson from ASEAN is that having regular meetings makes a huge difference to trust levels. SAARC should consciously study ASEAN and build a habit of regular meetings at all levels.
  • India should be in a much better position to have better relations with every SAARC country than China has.
  • India must integrate Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, etc. so closely economically, that they will always have to consider India’s views. In addition, as the biggest country in the region, India should study Indonesia’s role in ASEAN which let the smaller countries of ASEAN run the group, and took a back seat
  • A good start can be adopting a ‘South Asia First’ policy, making SAARC countries import products first from within the region.
    • For example, major garment-manufacturing countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka import more than 80% of raw materials from outside SAARC, even though India and Pakistan are net exporters in this sector.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

3) Municipalities are not yet autonomous units that can be genuinely called as the “third tier” of government in India’s federal system. Critically analyze.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

On one hand, we talk of democratic decentralization, and on the other hand, creation of SPVs for implementation of governmental schemes like Smart Cities Mission dilute the authority of local governments. This raises questions on the status of municipalities as genuine third tier of the government and needs to be critically analyzed.

Key demand of the question

The question demands us to assess the role of ULBs from the point of view of its powers and functioning and analyze whether it can be genuinely called as the third tier of governance. We need to provide arguments both for and against its role as third tier of governance and provide a fair and balanced conclusion.

Directive word

Critically analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. You need to conclude with  a fair judgement, after analyzing the nature of each component part and interrelationship between them.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the overall objective of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment act. Mention that 35 years later, questions still arise on true nature of democratic decentralization in the country.

Body – Examine the main issues why questions arise over the role of ULBs as genuine third tier of government. Answer under headings like power, finance etc. Here, also assess the functioning of  ULBs in rolling out schemes like JNNURM etc which compelled the government to institute SPVs. Examine how SPVs are eroding the authority of ULBs. Bring out how raising questions over the third tier of government is premature as the institution is indeed delivering albeit slowly.

Discuss the way forward as well.

Conclusion – provide a fair and balanced view by summarising the arguments made above.

Background:-

  • The Constitution underwent its most significant transformation with the passage of the 73rd (mandating the creation of panchayats) and the 74th (creation of municipalities) Constitutional Amendments

Reasons why municipalities are failing.The disempowerment and depoliticisation has happened in multiple ways:-

  • Elected representatives at the city-level are rendered powerless by making them subservient to the State government. 
    • In most municipal corporations, while the mayor is the ceremonial head, the executive powers of the corporation are vested with the State government-appointed commissioner.
    • This disjuncture in municipal governance has been exploited by State governments to ensure that no city-level politician challenges their control over a city.
  • Parastatal agencies:-
    • Municipal corporations are further denied their political role by the continued operation of various parastatal agencies created by the State government.
    • These agencies, which function with a certain autonomy, are accountable only to the State government, not the local government.
    • Even urban planning and land-use regulation is with State government-controlled development authorities.
  • Special purpose vehicles:-
    • Central government programmes such as the Smart Cities Mission mandates the creation of special purpose vehicles (SPVs) for Smart Cities and further encourages a State government to delegate the decision-making powers available to the ULB (urban local body) under the municipal act/government rules to the Chief Executive Officer of the SPV. So local governments are neglected.
  • Even for performing functions that are within its purview such as levying local taxes or undertaking civic projects above a certain budget the local government requires State government permissions.
  • Many of 74th constitutional amendment key provisions are not mandatory for the State government.
    • The functions listed under the 12th Schedule which a State government is expected to devolve to the local government do not include essential civic issues such as urban transportation, housing or urban commons.
    • The 74th Amendment also contains an industrial township exception whereby a municipality need not be constituted in areas which are declared as industrial townships. These provisions have been employed by State governments to keep local governments weak.
    • Civic activism has often been focussed on the creation of two bodies mandated by the 74th Amendment ward committees and metropolitan planning committees. However, an over-reliance on such semi-representative bodies does not augur well for creating a genuinely democratic city government.
  • The State legislatures are required to make laws to ensure maintenance of accounts and auditing of such accounts by panchayats and municipalities. However these provisions have been observed in their violation rather than compliance in most of the States.
  • It is expected that 100% legislative devolution across all the states should have been achieved by now. But, this does not seem to be the case. Rather, on average only about 82% of the legislative devolution has taken place until now. Data highlights that only 12 states have completely devolved all the functions to their respective ULBs

Way forward:-

  • Present model of urban governance that vests power in a singular municipality need to be reconsidered. While urban governance reforms can take multiple shapes, they must be foregrounded in the political empowerment of local government that furthers local democratic accountability.
  • It is important to have clarity in the assignment of functions and the local governments should have clear and independent sources of finance.
  • There should be clear mechanisms to ensure that States comply with the constitutional provisions, particularly in the appointment and implementation of the recommendations of the state finance commissions
  • Sustainable decentralisation comes from the demands of the people and advocacy should focus on a decentralisation agenda. Indeed, the framework needs to be evolved to accommodate the demand for decentralisation. 
  • Technological upgradation is necessary to cater to the needs of urban India and this will be plausible through investment inflows to local city economies.
  • There is a dire need for more clarity on the status of SPVs vis-à-vis the newly empowered ULBs within cities.

Topic: e-governance- applications,
models, successes, limitations, and potential

4) LIMBS will play a key role in reducing the litigation burden. Examine.(250 words)

Financial express

 

Why this question

Whenever we talk of judicial reforms, easing the litigation burden is an important concern. The role of LIMBS in their regard is crucial and needs to be examined in depth.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to describe what is LIMBS, how can it help in reducing the litigation burden, its shortcomings and the way forward.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – explain what LIMBS is – Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) is a web based application created by the Department of Legal Affairs under the Ministry of Law and Justice, to make the legal data available at one single point and streamline the procedure of litigation matters conducted on behalf of Union of India

Body – Bring out the need for limbs in fulfilling objectives of “Minimum government, maximum governance”, “Digital India”, “Ease of doing business” and enhance the Transaction Capacity Governance of the government with an efficient legal framework for speedy resolution of disputes.
LIMBS reduces the huge expenditures involved in resolving the cases, saves time and makes the working of different departments under a ministry, efficient.

Examine the impact that LIMBS can have on the judicial process and the risks that might arise.

Conclusion – Emphasize on the role of LIMBS and discuss the way forward.

LIMBS:-

  • Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS) is a web based application created by the Department of Legal Affairs under the Ministry of Law and Justice, to make the legal data available at one single point and streamline the procedure of litigation matters conducted on behalf of Union of India.
  • The application serves a wide range of requirements of various departments and administrative authorities for effective handling of court matters.
  • LIMBS being a repository of data, gathers information relating to various departments, tribunals and categorizes them into groups of customized Management Information System (MIS) reports that can be accessed through a user-friendly drop down menu.
  • At the moment, this is about civil cases and about the union government though there is no reason why the idea cannot be extended to criminal cases and state governments. 
  • Earlier, information about cases involving 64 ministries/departments was scattered in different places, typically, in the form of physical files. That information is now available on a single platform, in electronic form
  • Some data will no doubt be in the public domain, but not everything. An advocate, an arbitrator, or a new user from a ministry/department can log in. A ministry’s designated nodal officer authenticates the user’s credentials and only authenticated users are allowed to access the website and enter the case details.
  • Centre and the States were responsible for over 46% of the 3 crore plus cases pending before the Courts across the country. This was revealed through statistics provided by the Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS).

Need for LIBMS:-

  • This expedites different levels of administration by sending timely alerts for catalyzing actions by concerned functionaries in a given case.
  • About 46% of the cases pending in various courts across the country are those in which the Government is a litigant. The executive power must be put to use to reduce further grievances of future litigants and the government must alter its image of being a compulsive litigant, as a petitioner or a respondent.
  • The court cases on behalf of the Union of India are taken care of by the concerned departments themselves and there is no unified system for collecting information with regard to pendency and status of these cases before various courts.
  • Though certain departments have made their own arrangements by developing systems for handling the cases related to their department, centralized data with effect to this is unavailable.
  • The National Litigation Policy of 2010 is ineffective to a large extent due to ambiguity.
  • LIMBS would help the government in achieving its objectives of “Minimum government, maximum governance”, “Digital India”, “Ease of doing business” and enhance the Transaction Capacity Governance of the government with an efficient legal framework for speedy resolution of disputes.
  • LIMBS reduces the huge expenditures involved in resolving the cases, saves time and makes the working of different departments under a ministry, efficient.
  • Once data are available in this form, several questions can be asked about the cases like the types of cases, financial implication etc
  • LIMBS is meant to improve the Union government’s handling of cases and would lead to some reduction of cases in courts.

 

However LIMBS is in its infancy. To make the working of the government, more coordinated and to achieve the desired results, various departments must submit the data as early as possible in a time bound and integrated manner.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic – Indian Economy – Issues

5)An agency like PARA is much needed to alleviate the NPA issue being faced by indian banks. Discuss.(250 words)

The hindu

 

Why this question

The idea of PARA discussed in depth in last year’s economic survey has again gained traction. Understanding what PARA is, and how it can help in alleviating the stubborn problem of bad loans is thus important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to first explain what PARA is and how will it function. The main focus of the question is on understanding how effective PARA will be in dealing with the problems of bad loans. Both the hits and misses need to be brought out.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain the problem of bad loans and the suggestion of PARA to tackle this problem

Body

  • Explain what PARA is and how will it function
  • Highlight why an agency like PARA will be effective in tackling the problem of bad loans. These reasons have been discussed in detail in last year’s economic survey. Have a look.
  • Explain why PARA might not be successful

Conclusion – Emphasize on the importance of resolving the problem of bad loans and whether PARA is the way forward.

 

Background:-

  • The Central government has revived the idea of setting up an asset reconstruction or asset management company, a sort of ‘bad bank’ .This agency has been proposed in Economic Survey 2016-17.

PARA:-

  • Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency would take on public sector banks chronic bad loans and focus on their resolution and the extraction of any residual value from the underlying asset.
  • Will be an independent entity that will identify the largest and most vexatious NPA accounts held by banks, and then buy these out from them.
  • This would allow government-owned banks to focus on their core operations of providing credit for fresh investments and economic activity.
  • Unlike a private asset reconstruction company, a government-owned bad bank would be more likely to purchase loans that have no salvage value from public sector banks. It would thus work as an indirect bailout of these banks by the government.

Positives:

  • Hiving off stressed loan accounts to a bad bank would free public sector bank balance sheets from their deleterious impact and improve their financial position. If managed well, a bad bank can clean up bank balance sheets and get them to start lending again to businesses.
  • By consolidating problem accounts across banks, the PARA is expected to solve :-
    • Can effect speedier settlements with borrowers by cutting out individual banks.
    • As a single large lender, it can drive a better bargain with borrowers and take more stringent enforcement action against them.
    • PARA is expected to raise capital for its buyouts by issuing government securities, tapping the capital markets or receiving a capital infusion from the RBI.
  • Why its necessary:-
    • The stockpile of bad loans has had several ill-effects on the economy at large. One, with 16.6 per cent of their loan book tied up in stressed assets (bad and doubtful loans), banks have been fighting shy of new lending. This is constraining new investments in projects that can power the economy. Even if the Government were to infuse fresh capital into public sector banks, there’s worry that this may go to write off older bad loans rather than kick-start lending.
    • Two, public sector banks, which hold over 70 per cent of all deposits, are the worst hit by the bad loan problem. For some of these banks, the provisions for bad loans have already overtaken operating profits, leaving them short of capital to sustain operations.
    • Three, high NPAs force banks to keep their lending rates high to boost their profits.
  • PARA is expected solve all these problems at one stroke, by relieving the banks of their NPAs and expediting ways for the corporate borrowers to settle their debts.
  • For depositors:-
    • As a depositor, PARA will mean greater safety of your deposits with the tottering public sector banks.
    • As a taxpayer, it is your money that the Centre uses to recapitalise public sector banks .By moving large problem accounts to PARA, the government can separate the capital infusion exercise from the clean-up exercise. PARA can raise money from institutional investors rather than looking only to the Government.
    • As an honest borrower, bad loans weighing on bank balance sheets mean higher interest costs and slower transmission of RBI rate cuts. Once stressed assets are sold to PARA, the RBI can lean harder on banks to pass on its rate cuts.
  • It could solve the coordination problem, since debts would be centralised in one agency. It could be set up with proper incentives by giving it an explicit mandate to maximise recoveries within a defined time period.

Issues:-

  • Private asset reconstruction companies have been operating in the country for a while now, but have met with little success in resolving stressed loans.
  • Will not address the more serious corporate governance issues plaguing public sector banks that led to the NPA problem in the first place.
  • The solution is not without problems since with the bad loans off their books, banks can get reckless with lending again

Way forward:-

  • Economic survey also suggests that instead of investing funds and recapitalize the banks year after year, it would be better for the government to focus on recovery.

 


General Studies – 4


TOPIC:  Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers
and administrators;

6) Critically analyze Plato’s thoughts on the system of democracy.(250 words) 

Reference

Reference

Why this question

Plato was one of the most famous ancient philosopher who had great impact on the western philosophy. However his ideas and thoughts on democracy are not in line with the present liberal thought and given that democracy has so many virtues, it becomes important to discuss what views Plato had on democracy. The question is related to GS 4 syllabus under the following heading-

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to bring forward the thoughts and ideas of Plato on democracy. We have to discuss why Plato had such thoughts/ ideas, why he was right in having such thoughts and why he was wrong. We have to dig deep into the issue and come out with a personal opinion in the end.

Directive word

Critically analyze- we have to dig deep into the issue/ question and identify its key demand. We have to discuss all the essential and related aspects of the question. Discuss why Plato was right and why he was wrong. Based on our discussion, we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Mention that Plato believed that, as a just and healthy person is governed by  knowledge and reason, a just society must be under the control of society’s most cultivated and best informed minds, its “lovers of wisdom.”

Body– Take the help of the articles attached with the question to frame your answer in the following way;

  • Discuss how Plato viewed the society ( comparing it with soul).
  • Discuss why Plato was right. This could be best discussed by mentioning Plato’s own reasoning and thoughts on the topic.
  • Discuss why Plato was wrong. You have to be creative as well as highly analytical in answering this part of the question.

Conclusion- Form a fair, balanced and a concise opinion on the issue.

 

 

Answer:-

According to Plato, a democracy could turn into an anarchy in which every citizen is out for himself and no one has the long-term needs of the state in mind when making political decisions.  Plato wanted a nation to be governed by elites who would look after the needs of all the people in a way that ensured that the state continued to thrive and prosper.  Plato’s focus on “order” over “freedom” has been taken in other republics as well.

 

Plato organizes government into a hierarchy: 

  • Aristocracy (rule by philosophers) 
  • “Timocracy” (rule by honor seekers) 
  • “Oligarchy” (rule by wealth seekers) 
  • Democracy (rule by majority)
  • Tyranny (rule by corrupt)

Plato dislikes democracy because:

  • It allows ignorance rather than knowledge to control the city
  • Makes freedom the supreme good
  • Creates strife because it doesn’t not prioritize goals
  • Easily devolves into tyranny
  • Has false ideas about what’s good and bad, and so doesn’t pursue what’s good
  • Democracy comes about as a result of discontent with oligarchy and will lead to tyranny once thirst for complete freedom devolves into autocratic rule. While democracy today is held as the most enlightened form of governance, Plato views democracy as the penultimate step in the inevitable descent into tyranny for societies undergoing political decay. 
  • Challenge that Plato’s critique of democracy still poses is the question whether the citizens of today’s democracies are interested and informed enough to participate meaningfully in the democratic process.
  • Cultural divisions during the 2016 election in the United States mirrored those Plato articulated as signs of descent into tyranny, with demagoguery as the winning candidate’s favorite tactic. The winning candidate’s goals also appear to be the wealth accumulation for a select few, which Plato decries as an eventuality of democracy. 

 

However, Plato’s argument that the appearance of democracy is necessarily followed by the onset of tyranny is not as convincing, and it fails to account for why democracies have flourished in recent history.

 

Plato’s assertion that the valuation of wealth necessarily leads to tyranny is problematic. On one hand, it fails to address why the United States and many other democracies around the world have elected virtuous leaders. The descent into tyranny has not occurred in spite of the undeniable relationship between American identity and capitalism.

 

Plato’s portrayal of democracy accounts neither for virtuous governance nor why individuals eschew lucrative private lives for scrutinized public ones. Plato’s characterization of democracy as unable to control unnecessary appetites ignores the role of political institutions in providing checks and balances on power.