Plato’s Lost Dialogue from Euthephro 23c
Whilst walking through the Agora towards Wall Street, Socrates notices a large group of what seem to be followers of Heraclitus.1
SOCRATES: Please excuse my ignorance of current events, but may I ask why this protest? Why this civil unrest?
OWS BOB: Where have you been, man?! We’re the ninety-nine percent. We’re fighting against the one percent who are oppressing us.
SOCRATES: I assume you mean that you are the majority fighting against a minority oppressor. Is that correct?
OWS BOB: Yeah! You got it man. The rich are going down!
SOCRATES: Do you mean that you intend to send the rich to Hades?
OWS BOB: If Hades existed, we’d send them there. They deserve the deepest pit of Hell!
SOCRATES: Again, I assume that you are equating the one percent to the rich, and that the rich have done something worthy of the wrath of the gods?
OWS BOB: Yeah, they’re rich!
SOCRATES: What have the rich done?
OWS BOB: I don’t get your question?! They’re rich!
SOCRATES: Forgive me if I assume too much, but are you saying that those who have wealth are by virtue of said wealth evil?
OWS BOB: Isn’t that obvious?
SOCRATES: Perhaps I am a fool, but it is not obvious to me. I personally have forsaken wealth, but would not call everyone who has wealth evil. May I ask again, what have the rich done against the ninety-nine percent?
OWS BOB: They built their wealth off of us. They pay us unfair wages! They rip us off at their stores! They get the government to give them our tax dollars to bail them out!
SOCRATES: These are serious allegations. If I may pry more into the subject, might I inquire what a fair wage would be?
OWS BOB: The minimum wage should be twenty dollars per hour.
SOCRATES: I did not ask for a minimum, for even a minimum wage would be unfair to one doing a herculean task, wouldn’t it?
OWS BOB: Umm? Yeah. I guess I mean equal pay for equal work.
SOCRATES: Would you also go as far as to say unequal pay for unequal work?
OWS BOB: No way! That would be unfair!
SOCRATES: So, you would say equal pay for unequal work?
OWS BOB: Of course.
SOCRATES: In other words, if an employer is working less than a hard-working employee, both should be paid the same wage. Is that what you mean?
OWS BOB: Wha… uh… you’re putting words in my mouth man! I don’t mean that at all. Employees should be paid more than employers!
SOCRATES: So, a person’s wages, in your opinion, should not be related to their performance?
OWS BOB: Yeah. It should be equal.
SOCRATES: I don’t think I’m being a good teacher in this instance. Perhaps a story may help. You are obviously passionate about your movement. Let us say that another protestor was not as passionate, and merely sat and watched everyone else protesting. Now let us say that your movement is victorious. In the victory celebration, should the idle protestor be given the same glory as yourself?
OWS BOB: No way! He should be shot man!
SOCRATES: Yet, should not he be given equal glory for unequal work?
OWS BOB: What are you talking about?
SOCRATES: I see my illustration has failed you. You have been arguing for equal pay without respect for the quality or quantity of work done, have you not?
OWS BOB: Yes.
SOCRATES: Would you agree that one can be paid in either money or glory?
OWS BOB: [a faint light glimmers] You know what you sound like? You sound like a dead white European male! You’re just as bad as the one percent!
SOCRATES: Just as I asked what was bad about the rich, I must inquire what is bad about being a dead white European male? After all, I am a dead white European male.
OWS BOB: Huh?! How can you be dead man!
SOCRATES: My writer has a fixation with creative philosophical anachronism.
OWS BOB: Huh?
SOCRATES: Never mind. Is there something inherently wrong with being dead, white, European, male, or any combination of those characteristics? After all, you seem to be a white male of European descent.
OWS BOB: I am, but I reject their oppressive ideologies. They are just as dead as their thinkers. I’d never accept any idea from a dead man!
SOCRATES: So, being dead makes their ideas invalid?
OWS BOB: Yeah… no… I mean… you’re putting words in my mouth again! You’re oppressing me!
SOCRATES: I see I am upsetting you. It is not my intent to upset or oppress you, but to seek the truth. What makes being a dead white European male or his ideas invalid?
OWS BOB: They are oppressive.
SOCRATES: Are all dead white European males and their ideas oppressive?
OWS BOB: Yeah! Down with DWEM’s! Down with DWEM’s! [the crowd starts to repeat the chorus]
SOCRATES: Is not your esteemed Karl Marx a dead white European male?
OWS BOB: Aaaaaagh! [Bob and the crowd, still chanting “Down with DWEMs,” start throwing excrement at the deceased philosopher as his ghost fades into the ether.]