Zapatero: The True ‘Philosopher King’

So Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, is a much more remarkable person than I thought. It turns out he has chosen a model for his government, that described by the Irish philosopher, Philip Pettit, in his book, Republicanism.

Zapatero has, in fact, invited Pettit to Spain to observe the functioning of his government, and see if it is in accordance with the principles of Pettit’s Republicanism (and Pettit has said, that is indeed largely the case).

Now if you are familiar with Plato’s the Allegory of the Cave, you would find this quite remarkable, as you would realize that it is quite a big deal for a Western Leader of the 21st century, to be so cautious of moral principles and justice to go out and chose a philosopher as his adviser, and rule according to philosophical wisdom.

While acknowledging the political ineptness of one “returning from divine contemplations”, Plato has all the while been describing the ideal state, ruled by philosopher-kings, a qualification of which is that they are in regular intercourse with the Form of the Good.

There are lessons for GW Bush, Ahmadinejad and others here, even though they’d probably have a hard time figuring out what’s going on here and dismiss it as over-intellectual and useless.

Viva Zapatero!

PS. It’d be much appreciated if someone could find a translation of this article. Unfortunately, much of what I found was only in Spanish.

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