The Attitudes in Greek Philosophy Towards Athens and Sparta

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The attitudes in Greek philosophy towards Athens and Sparta, as well as sympathies and actions comparable to those of Plato, can also be seen in the Twentieth Century. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's foreign policy adviser and later Secretary of State, is supposed to have remarked once, privately, that the United States was liable to lose the Cold War to the Soviet Union in the same way and for the same reasons that Athens lost the Peloponnesian War to Sparta. While America, presumably, was enervated by the political squabbling characteristic of democracy and by the crass materialism of capitalistic consumerism, the Soviet Union was lean, disciplined (i.e. Spartan), morally upright (no pornography or gay rights demonstrations there), unified, and remorselessly purposeful. At the same time, it was not uncommon in the United States for leftist academics and intellectuals to harbor much admiration for the Soviet Union, or later for Communist China, Cuba, Vietnam, or Nicaragua, despite widespread knowledge of the police state apparatus of those regimes, of the mass murders, slave labor camps, torture, brainwashing, false confessions, etc. -- Josef Stalin can be credited with as many as 50 million civilian deaths, as opposed to "only" 20 million for Adolf Hitler. Nevertheless, like Plato, most sympathizers voted with their feet to stay in the United States. Despite the Fall of Communism, much disdain for commercial democracy remains. As Greek philosophy never came to appreciate the social, political, and economic context in which it originated, grew, and thrived, many modern intellectuals continue to despise the very kind of society in which they are uniquely to be found -- uniquely in great measure because the kind of society they evidently want would actually not allow them to express their own opinions, or to subsidize such expression so lavishly, either at state expense (e.g. at state universities) or by guilty philanthropists (e.g. Ted Turner). So, although...
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