Power grabs, partisan stand-offs, propaganda, and riots make for tantalizing fiction, but what do we do when that drama becomes a reality all around us? For a country founded as an escape from British tyranny, the United States seems to have devolved into a land where tyrants rise to power, sycophants blindly follow, and the entire nation suffers.
As ancient Greek philosophers warned us, chaotic tragedy unfolds in the absence of reason, and the only cure is a return to wisdom and virtue. America’s founding fathers knew this lesson all too well and dreamed of an enlightened citizenry guided by better-than-ideological dictators.
Using contemporary events to illuminate universal human weaknesses, Andrew Fiala charts the perennial history of tyrannical takeovers and the masses who support them and ultimately suffer under their rule. Ultimately, Fiala also points to a solution. Knowing the cyclical nature of tyranny, we can build safeguards against our worst inclinations and keep alive the freedoms our founding fathers envisioned for this nation.
Andrew Fiala is a respected professor of ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of religion, and nonviolence and pacifism. He is director the Center for Ethics at California State University, Fresno, and is a frequent contributor to the Fresno Bee newspaper.
Chapter 1: From Trump to Plato and Back Again
Chapter 2: Tyranny as a Theological Problem
Chapter 3: The Tragic Trio and the Midwife Who Enlightens
Chapter 4: Political Tragedy and Historical Wisdom
Chapter 5: The Tyrant’s Pride: On Ambition, Power, and Greatness
Chapter 6: The Fool’s Stupidity: On Willful and Vicious Ignorance
Chapter 7: The Sycophant’s Complicity: On Cunning, Flattery, and the Trojan Horse
Chapter 8: Wisdom, Vigilance, and The Citizen-Philosopher
Chapter 9: The Constitution of Wisdom
Chapter 10: The Mirror of Philosophy
Appendix 1: Trump’s View of Morality in Context
Appendix 2: Cast of Characters and Key Events
It is always heartening when a classicist applies the lessons of ancient political thought to the contemporary world; there is much to be learned. Fiala points to the ancient critique of tyranny, especially as found in Plato’s Republic, and shows how frighteningly relevant it is to the Trump phenomenon…. This book draws timely lessons from the ancients and leaves open questions we must grapple with. Highly recommended. Undergraduates and general readers.
Tyranny is an important phenomenon, well worthy of historical and philosophical study. Andrew Fiala has made a fine beginning on this enduring problem not only in politics but in the recesses of every human soul.
Well-written and striking, this book was hard to stop reading. It provides a systematic lens through which to understand our present moment.
4/5/22, KPFA (CA), Letters & Politics with Mitch Jeserich: Andrew Fiala was interviewed on the meaning of tyranny.
11/29/22, Choice Reviews: This book was featured as a top community college title.