I seem to get a little less fiery each time I play Plato during this lesson. I don’t know whether I’m just going soft or whether I’ve got more genuine pedagogical motives, but even without the grand pyrotechnics, Plato’s offensive against democracy on its own was enough this year to get both classes fighting. The raw datum that’s hard to combat (and which makes playing Plato so easy) is that so much of modern life does not trust democracy: the multitudes per se do not vote on who gets into med school, who becomes UGA’s starting quarterback, who becomes an English professor, or much of anything else, yet almost all of my students (I’ve had a couple who have doubts) hold the conviction that when it comes to justice, everybody eighteen or older should have equal say in who administers justice in human communities. And I tell them each time that holding such convictions is fine, but they need to do some reading and some reflecting on why they think so. Although Jeffersonian rhetoric is inspiring in the abstract, once I get students to think on it a while, they realize that not everybody has the same degree of expertise in medicine or football strategy, and the answer to the riddle of democracy is not that everyone has the same degree of expertise in justice. The answer lies elsewhere, though for the moment, since this discussion still might continue on my WebCT site, I’m not going to say right now what I think the answer might be except to say that I’ve read a whole mess of eighteenth-century philosophy, and it’s hard work, intellectually speaking, to turn Plato on his head on this question.