On the Daimons' Wisdom

If the laws are so easy for factions and plutocrats and autocrats to seize, why do we think laws are fit to rule at all? How can so frail a thing as civil law be trusted to protect our livelihoods and our borders, keeping citizens safe from each other’s bad humors? The answer is that laws can rule if we equip them to—but not by themselves. Even the kingliest laws need constant support from citizens who understand their human origins and all-too-human vulnerability. Plato expressed this through a myth. When men first walked the earth, the god Cronos gave them a race of wiser beings, the daimons, as rulers. When that age vanished in the mists of time, human beings made laws in imitation of the daimons’ wisdom, which was second-best after that of the gods. These legislative efforts have always been flawed, often fatally. They are, after all, only a thirdhand imitation of reason and justice. But they are still the best we humans can do.

Erica Benner, "The Daimons’ Wisdom: How do you preserve the rule of law when tyranny is on the rise? Lessons from the Florentine republic." laphamsquarterly.org/rule-law/daimons-wisdom

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