The Rame and Torpoint Branch launched a new venture on Tuesday 24 July with the first meeting of a Discussion Forum. The idea had been around for a while that we needed to take a step back from time to time from the business of the Branch and give ourselves – and everyone else who was interested – a chance to think about some of the big ideas that form the background of politics in our time. We launched the Forum with a discussion of Plato and Democracy, led by Jerome Satterthwaite.
Jerome briefly outlined Plato’s views on democracy: his pessimism about rule by the people, which in his view would inevitably deteriorate into mob rule, chaos, and the rise to power of a tyrant. Jerome pointed out that Athens in Plato’s day was very far from being truly democratic: women did not vote and nor did slaves, so that it was left to some 30,000 free men – about 10% of the adult population – to make political decisions; and 30,000 was a lot too many as a decision-making body, so that in practice a very much smaller group called all the shots. We were faced with the fact that the notion of classical Athens as the cradle of democracy was a myth.
Discussion then took off and continued energetically for an hour and a half, with all 25 or so of those present taking a lively part. People were quick to make connections between this account of Athenian democracy and our present-day experience of political decision-making. We talked about the enormous power of the media in shaping public opinion and about the systematic and increasingly cynical distortion of the truth in the interests of a tiny minority of the wealthiest and most powerful members of society. Donald Trump’s careless disregard for truth was seen as only the crudest of many examples of the kind of contempt the most powerful members of our society display towards the mass of the people: ‘Tell them whatever fools them into keeping quiet. Who cares?’
There was unanimous agreement that we should keep the Forum going. Details of the next meeting can be found here.
These meetings are free, and open to everyone. The pub serves good food and is a really attractive venue. We hope more and more people will want to join in.