Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Social Justice, Salmond-Style

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Social Justice, Salmond-Style

Article excerpt

Alex Salmond spent two years campaigning for independence for Scotland on the grounds of 'social justice'. Now, claiming that the vote was lost because of the 'old' (subtext: the rich), he says he might declare independence anyway. His unprincipled demagoguery puts one in mind of Athenian society, as described by the 'Old Oligarch' (whoever he was).

The O.O. saw Athens as a society in which the poor lorded it over the rich. His central point was that, because the poor were ignorant, ill-disciplined and evil, while the wealthy cared for what was good and just, the interests of the poor were not served by allowing the rich to hold power.

So a radical democracy, giving the power over all political decisions to a majority of citizens, inevitably favoured the poor, there being far more of them than of the rich. In that way the poor ensured that they were not enslaved to the educated wealthy. For the wealthy would simply pass laws that punished wrongdoing, and 'not allow lunatics to participate in politics or meet in assembly'. …

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