Now after seeing the founder of eugenics tell me I’m a negro next to the Greeks I simply have to study them more, obviously.
I was impressed by Saxonhouse’s daring interpretation of Greek drama and its decline so I’m going to look at one of her books, which has the word “democracy” in the title, and knowing that she’s a Straussian not really expecting that word to have its usual meaning when she uses it. She begins it with what I find to be moving poetry
The gravity has shifted, and now the Persians are arguably the ones with free speech in the world.
Saxonhouse follows a theme from another study I mused on the other day which links freedom with freedom from shame. In her reading, Socrates was executed because he didn’t feel shame for what he said.
If you think of the vulgarian Aristophanes, this is also similar to his charge against Socrates. How shameless do you have to be to question the gods? Aristophanes of course does the same, he’s just not quite as shameless. So in Greece you could get to a certain point, a certain line drawn in the ideological sand, and you’d blush, you’d be too embarrassed to cross it.
The striped pajamas, don’t you have any shame!
See how she indirectly is talking about our own time and place with this?
The democratic regime cannot be pure in its commitment to unbridled speech.
So Galton exalts the Greeks as the most admirable civilization and I just go right to the heart of it, i.e. the most admirable Greek of the Greeks. And this is what he was like- shameless. Just a stray thought- Puritans are “renowned” for their shaming, aren’t they?
I see this kind of person everywhere
A million churches in the world talk about Jesus every week, and where is anyone talking about Socrates, and in a “shameless” way? Nowhere!
This is a real existential way of thinking about it
Athens, when it executed Socrates, acknowledged the city’s dependence on Αἰδώς [shame]
Examine your mood when you refrain from saying something- is it fear or shame?
Refraining from saying something sexist for instance, I get the sense it’s more shame at play than anything. “I’d be too ashamed to be a bigot.”
Haha your country is an open-air brothel now. At least you’re not a bigot.
Saxonhouse is consciously moving away from the rhetoric of “rights” in talking this way
Shame and free speech represent opposing points in the political order that play off one another in the construction of a stable democratic polity.
Let’s try to get really fine-tuned with this. It’s not purely shame, it’s shame about how one is perceived in the eyes of the demos.
I am shameless so I will say that bringing up how well-treated the slaves were is something that would cause most to feel shame in the eyes of the demos. “We’re stickin with our narrative, HOW DARE YOU?” I swat you away, your opinion means nothing to me. In fact I strive to shame the demos instead! Get on my level, someone.
The demos itself will only misinterpret what I’m saying here- they will continue to be “shameless” only in ways that are convenient to their near-animal level of existence, describing the smell of their queef or something like that. Don’t get it twisted, let’s be precise in our concepts, I am speaking of a very particular form of shamelessness which is not beholden to the demos. The demos openly embraces toilet humor of all sorts so don’t try to cheat your way out of this. There’s likely a type of shame you cannot endure at all. Try it out sometime, put yourself out there, I BET YOU WON’T, coward. It’s because they control you.
“Y’know, I’ve been studying Oriental Despotism and I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence that today’s west has so many similar characteristics while at the same time our central protected group is from the east.” Too ashamed to say something like that? Examine yourself closely. I don’t think it’s purely fear that prevents you from saying it. You’ve internalized shame from the demos.
Saxonhouse is a first-rate scholar
The challenge that Plato faces is whether the forms (eide) are an adequate alternative to the historically grounded feelings of shame in providing new foundations for a political order that previously depended so much on the power of aidos – whether eidos can replace aidos.
A “feels” centric political order vs. a reason centric one. Can the latter be done? My observations of contemporary America lead me to say no. They’re ruled by shame and they probably always will be.
When you examine yourself closely you might find that what we think of as “shamelessness” can easily be equated with reasonableness. “Having shame” is really a euphemistic way of talking about being shackled to the irrational mob. You know, that irrational mob I’m speaking to right now without any shame at all. You know why? Because I see irrational feels-centric people as inferior cretins.
This is my daily challenge to you- say something that might possibly invite a light shaming. I bet it would help you understand yourself. You have to throw yourself into trouble to ever really understand yourself.