Don Pablo Edronkin

Liberty (VI).

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It is like the happiness of the passengers of the Titanic shortly before they realised that the ship was really going to sink, remaining in the warm, closed decks instead of boarding the boats as the crew told them to do.

Plato does not assign much value to freedom of choice in general. This is, according to him, in lieu of the bad use that a free man makes of his liberty, as well as the democratic society, and he would be right in this if it were for something that escaped his analysis: control by opposition. This concept, initially studied by the Romans and clearly expressed in the phrase Divide et impera, is based on the fact that opposing interest can control each other or at least, opposing subordinates are easier to control from an executive level.

It is true that the Romans used this principle to rule over conquered territories, but it can be extended to control by opposition in peaceful times as well, because it relies in the creation of controlled conflicts between sides in both cases. What is different is that when we talk about conquest and rule over new subjects, there is usually a forceful action implied at some point, while controlling an organisation during peaceful times entails a lower degree of violence.

Thus, for example, a democratic president who wants speed of decision is checked by a congress or parliament of some sort, slower in its resolutions and decisions, but usually much more representative of the general will of the people. In healthy democracies, this derives in a balance of power somewhere in the middle between speed and reason.

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