Ancient and modern

Aristotle wouldn't have rated Jeremy Corbyn’s fan club

The enthusiasm of the young is not an unmixed blessing, as the Greek philosopher knew

1 August 2015

9:00 AM

1 August 2015

9:00 AM

Jeremy Corbyn says he is very excited about his campaign to become Labour leader because lots of young people are becoming involved in it, which ‘must be a good thing’. Aristotle (384–322 bc) would have his doubts.

In his Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle pinpoints the sorts of thing that can be said on a large number of topics which will encourage your audience to agree with you. One such topic is the character of the young.

In general, he says, the young are pleasure-loving, impulsive and optimistic. Of the desires of the body, he says, they are keenest on sex, and powerless against its demands. But since they are keen rather than determined, their lust is quickly satisfied. They are impulsive, hot-tempered and follow it up with action. Because being admired is very important to them, they cannot bear to be belittled, and get angry if they think they have been wronged.

They are not especially interested in money, because they have never needed it; they are not cynical, never having experienced much wickedness; they are naive, never having been deceived very often; and optimistic, never having experienced much in the way of failure.

For the most part, Aristotle continues, they live in hope, ‘since hope is for the future, but remembrance for what has passed, and at the beginning of life, the past is short but the future long’. So because they easily hope, they are easily deceived, but they are more courageous too: for their passion prevents them fearing, while their hope inspires them with confidence. They also prefer to do what is fine rather than what is in their interest, since they live by character rather than calculation, and so are inexperienced in making judgements to their own advantage. Thinking they know everything, they are obstinate; but they are inclined to pity because they judge others as they do themselves and assume all men are honest.

All rather like the charming Mr Corbyn himself. If only the world of politics were so innocent.

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  • Arthur

    Well, unlike the venerable Aristotle who didn’t make it past sixty two and wasn’t much concerned with what the slaves thought, some of us on getting older begin to wonder what became of us, was cynical gain really worth the suppression of idealism. Or did we just choose the easy led path because we didn’t have to work or think to hard.

    Youth and socialist old fogies, who knows what Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t achieve with that sort of following. As for Aristotle, he’s dead and Ancient Greece was never a democracy.

    • Dan O’Connor

      I don’t get your point. What connection is there between slavery being part of all human societies across the planet and modern democracy being a totally alien concept across the entire world, with the truth or falsehood of Aristostle’s observations on the issue of youth.
      I am sure that if Aristotle had been from a non-White culture you would have been swooning over his wisdom and whether he had slaves or was democratic or not would never have occured to you..because that is a typical Lefty civilzational self-loathing knee jerk reflex
      What you really mean is that unless Europeans have been an historical paragon of spotless virtue ( like the rest of the non-European world ) that any philisophical observation made by some ancient European philosopher is invalid.

      • Arthur

        European and non-European are almost non existent concepts if related to the Ancient World. But that aside, the point was that you cannot have genuine democracy in a slave society.

        • Dan O’Connor

          White Left man speak with usual forked tongue .
          For the Left mind, European and non-European, whether modern or ancient, are very real and concrete concepts .
          In other words, for the Left, the concept doesn’t exist, unless it does. The Left have a number on ON / Off switches for the existence of the European race or culture.
          I still don’t understand why observations made by Greek philosophers who lived in a pre-democratic society that had slaves, should be invalid. This is the klnd of attitude that is typical of the oversimplifications of the prissy, kumba ya hippy, Western Liberal / Left / Progressive.
          We will never hear from them a moral equivalence reaction to the wisdoms of some Non-European ancient sage regardless of how many slaves they had or how non-democratic they were. Example; Chariman Mao, Trotsky, Che Guevara, Islam.
          Leftism is a cult of which seeks moral supremacy by demeaning its own culture, civilzation and race at every available opportunty and pedastelising non-European cultures as being more worthy and virtuous because Leftism considers it as proof of their intellectual and cultural sophistication, of modernity and the greatest display of charity and virtue on can aspire to.
          In ten years of tens of thousands of on-line debates , I have never heard a self-identified Leftist say one positive word about European civilization, because the two are incompatible

          • Arthur

            I didn’t realise I had said anything un-positive about European civilisation. Perhaps I haven’t mentioned it as being demonstrably democratic because until the last hundred years or so, from Iceland to the Aegean, autocracy was the rule. And Althing or Senate just servers of whoever was in charge.

  • Dan O’Connor

    Diana West ; author of ” Death of the Grown Up ” .

    ” The baby boomers inaugerated a culture of perpetual adolescence that erodes Western cultural identity. This erosion of identity renders us incapable of countering potentially existing threats with adequate resolve and harshness.
    Multiculturaism is a childish refusal and fear of making moral and ethnical distinction between right and wrong, good and bad.
    Instead they succumb to the childishness of relativism and nihilism, rather than face the more cumbersone questions of adulthood. “

  • Dan O’Connor

    Since ” Revolutionary ” Bolshevism, and in particular since the 60’s, Western middle / upper class cosmopolitan youth has had a weakness for every utopian New Age / New World Man fashion fad and novelty. This is where utopian idealism and moral nihilism merge together and become one and the same thing, because that which they have in common is they are both motivated by an undying hatred of reality and the world as it actually is.
    That which we call the Left Mind state is about the rejection of centuries of wisdom and about being in a state of constant civilizational self-critiquing ourselves to death
    ( Critical Theory / Deconstructionism ) . It is about destroying whatever exists and replacing it with something ” new ” because for the cult of Western youth utopian Leftism, the present is always better than the past, and the future is always better than the present.

  • Terry Field

    Aristotle was clear as a bell about the corrupting influence of mass populist vote-buying politicos. He identified mass populist democracy as the worst form of government simply because it is the vehicle to allow this perversion.
    For proof, I offer New Labour!

    • Clive

      Populist ?

      I think you mean ‘demagogic’ which involves lying

      ‘Populist’ means popular with the people without lying

  • ohforheavensake

    The way you describe it, the young sound rather nicer than the old. I’d go with them.

    • Dan O’Connor

      ” the young sound rather nicer ”

      The tyranny of “Nice”
      The West is nice-ing it’s own historical peoples to death.

  • Dan O’Connor

    In the West since the Left’s anti-culture wars of the 60’s, many concepts that have been accepted as obvious, have been inverted and stood upside down on their heads One particular trait of Leftism is the belief that the younger you are, the more wisdom and intelligence you possess.

    • Grace Ironwood


  • Dan O’Connor

    ” The Great Unlearning ” Tom Wolfe; in referrance to the baby boomer youth cult of the 60’s and onwards.

    ” The jetisoning of centuries of wisdom, larger amounts of tacit knowledge, intuitive knowing –stuff everyone knows without explicit reasoning “

  • MikeF

    “Because being admired is very important to them, they cannot bear to be belittled, and get angry if they think they have been wronged.” That is pretty much the modern left irrespective of how old they might be – arguably they even get more like that as they get older. The rest of Aristotle’s evaluation is also rather astoundingly pertinent in the same respect – except for the bit about being “inclined to pity because they judge others as they do themselves.” That is something the left never do.

  • Bonce

    Its extremely cynical and outright deceptive for any politician to stand on a platform of being different when on the two major issues – immigration and the EU, their views are identical to the establishment.

    If he was truly left wing and not establishment faux left wing, he would at least support immediate withdrawal from the EU.

    Supporting the reincarnation of the European Nazi party that is driving down wage rates, actual employees rights and destroying British jobs, is simply not left wing….it is lacking in basic humanity!!!!!

    Its simply establishment, that has been paid off or expects to be paid off by suitcases of EU cash. Thats Corbyn.