Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Plato rules – OK?

By Peter McCloy - posted Monday, 27 June 2011

About two and a half thousand years ago Plato suggested that a truly civilised society would identify and educate ‘the best people’ and put them in charge of things. These ‘guardians’, he believed, being unusually wise, would bring about good government.

Plato didn’t think much of the idea of democracy (rule by the people), which he saw as the penultimate step in a gradual decline from aristocracy (rule by the best), through timocracy (rule by the honorable) and oligarchy (rule by a few), then democracy and finally tyranny (rule by a tyrant).

This is a concept eagerly embraced by people who see themselves as natural guardians. Politicians, stars of stage, screen and radio, sportspeople, shock jocks, newspaper columnists and the like – all self-appointed guardians of our moral and physical welfare.


One of my favourite guardians wrote recently in his column that Cate Blanchett was ‘the target of a tightly focused hate campaign’ for ‘having the temerity to put her name to an advertisement in favour of a carbon tax’. Furthermore, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch is in for more of the same, he writes, having put her ‘far wealthier’ name to an open letter calling for the carbon tax. Good heavens, ‘I mean if they did that to Blanchett because of her wealth, what on earth will they do to Murdoch’s mother…?’ And if you attack his Mum, you attack Rupert, and that’s surely not on!

This is great propaganda. By claiming that criticism is ad hominem you can avoid discussion of the idea. By making the claim in advance, if criticism arises you can say ‘Told you so!’ It shifts attention away from the idea. If you’re a guardian it’s better to be seen as a martyr than ill-informed.

Julia Gillard is a great guardian. She knows exactly what we need. Never mind that she promised she wouldn’t do it, and that the majority of voters are against it, she knows we need it, so she’ll bravely soldier on, and she won’t apologise for that.

You’re either for her or against her. It’s no use saying, for example, that Australia is a very small player in the creation of carbon emissions, and that it might be a good idea to follow the rest of the world rather than trying to lead it. What do Julia and Kate and Elisabeth want? A carbon tax! When do they want it? Now!

In the interests of gender balance, I need to point out that Greg and Ross and Tim agree. Carbon tax! Now!

Being one of those who had the temerity to criticise Cate, I want to set the record straight. I think Cate Blanchett is a truly great actor – I love her work. I go to movies just to see her. I believe she is entitled to every penny she has earned. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that I hate her, and I’ll bet the same goes for most Australians, who like to see her as a worthy icon.


I don’t think Cate knows a lot about the issue of climate change. I think she lives a very affluent lifestyle, and has a far greater ‘carbon footprint’ than most. I think she is very rich, and a carbon tax will have no more effect on her way of life than it will have on the environment. I don’t think she is in any position to tell me what to do. From her, it tends to be ‘Do as I say, and not what I do’. I think she’s wrong.

But I do believe that she has the right to express her opinion, and that I have the right to criticise that opinion without any suggestion that I’m indulging in some kind of ‘hate campaign’. Same goes for Dame Elisabeth. I’m an admirer, she does lots of great things for the community, but this isn’t one of them.

I can’t resist pointing out to the journalist in question that if a campaign exists aimed at Cate personally, ‘tightly targeted’ is a tautology, with only one purpose – to add a little emotion to a ridiculous assumption.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

8 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Peter McCloy is an author and speaker, now retired, who lives on five acres of rock in an ecologically sensible home in the bush. He is working on a 20,000-year plan to develop his property, and occasionally puts pen to paper, especially when sufficiently aroused by politicians. He is a foundation member of the Climate Sceptics. Politically, Peter is a Lennonist - like John, he believes that everything a politician touches turns to sh*t.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Peter McCloy

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Peter McCloy
Article Tools
Comment 8 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy